By Wes Parish

Eight hundred hours my watch read, a quarter of an hour after we had first radioed for help from the air force, and still their strike hadn’t happened. About a third of us were injured from the small arms fire of the insurgents over the other hill, and they were keeping us from getting down to the creek in the valley. Most of us had punctured water bottles, and were feeling dire in consequence.

The radio man was down with a bullet through his abdomen, and his back-up guy had a bullet through his wrist. Still, they were trying to raise the base.

Finally we heard something. “... on its way. Repeat call-sign, and you’ll see the strike.”

Another five minutes and with a roar the strike plane swooped up the hill and down into the valley. We could just make out one of the insurgents frantically waving something while another insurgent let off a volley.

The back-up radio guy hurriedly entered the call-sign of our unit into the radio, and the strike plane turned towards us.

It wasn’t flying the way other strike planes had done, and I muttered to my second, “I’m beginning to get a bad feeling about this.”

It seemed to be coming directly at us.

Base called in to say, “Sorry about the delay. It’s that new AI strike plane we got off the Yanks. Fully automated, etc. We’ll call in some choppers to pick you up soon.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” I muttered to my second as the strike plane came closer. Then everybody saw weapons drop from its wings. “Duck!!!” I screamed. “It’s coming to get us!!!”

***

The choppers were finally able to pick us up about two hours later. We’d lost half of the unit to the missiles the strike plane had fired at us.

The choppers weren’t the usual, either. “Grim news,” the pilot reported to me over the sounds of the engines and the rotor. “We lost a couple of choppers to that strike plane. Somehow it went rogue. We laid low until someone sent manned aircraft to shoot it down.”

***

Recovering in hospital I was passed a newspaper by one of the orderlies. “Saw your unit mentioned here,” he said. “Thought you might like to read it.”

The headline of the article read, “Air Force AI Strike Fighter subverted by enemy.”

And one of the Air Force generals was recorded in the article as saying, “Nobody and nothing’s perfect.”

Give me a Guinness over a general any day. Guinness is pure genius; generals, well...

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

sf pedal steelWesley Parish is an SF fan from early childhood. Born in PNG, he enjoys reading about humans in strange cultures and circumstances.

His favourite SF authors include Ursula Le Guin, Fritz Lieber, Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Frank Herbert.

Wes lives in Christchurch, NZ, is an unemployed Java and C programmer, and has recently decided to become a mad ukuleleist, flautist and trombonist, and would love to revert to being the mad fiddler and pedal steel guitarist..  "Where oh where has my little pedal steel got to ... ?"

aus25grn

Issue Contributors

The AntiSF Radio Show

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