By Eric Farrell
The whole world’s gone bug-eyed. A swarm scours over town, staring down at the dying planet through omnidirectional cameras.
The drones are courier class, commanding a lane of altitude between two hundred and four hundred feet above that crusty, drab earth. A few gnats dot the soggy rooftops below, mostly recreational and private security models hovering within the public class, as dictated by the FAA. Large predatory birds post up on the outskirts of town, wise to the plague of robots scaring smaller birds out of urban areas.
Each courier zooms across the sky in a spastic manner, the world seen through bulbous eyes a stomach-churning affair.
Sean and Chauf rip through the wisping sidewalk weeds. Sean, the older of the two, hauls a sprawling telescoping net over his shoulder. Chauf, pudgier and darker than his brother, wields a neon orange toy blaster. It’s been modded out, swapping the cheap plastic componentry for a space-grade electromagnetic pulse module.
Chauf takes a knee, out in the middle of the street. A few residents with windows overlooking the scene peek out through shuttered blinds. They’re anxious about their cars on the street, the cheap plastic bodies of modern vehicles susceptible to the growing number of dents from falling drones. Steadying his aim, the tangerine-hued toy bazooka jammed against his shoulder, he fires, the invisible, localized EMP pulse just a sigh in the wind.
Naya zips forward, through the thick orange smoke drifting from the eternal fires smolderingeast of town. Naya’s name is lovingly written in iridescent silver against its ribbed exoskeleton. It’s wear and tear commands the attention of a whole team of idiot savant human technicians. They’re prowling town in their white beetle-box hybrids below.
The robot in front of Naya’s name is 80085. Christened with a snarky “Hello, My Name Is” tag slapped on the top of it’s head.
Naya’s followed 80085 in the initial loading queue for four straight months. They’d meet for load-out and upload in the cold sterile regional warehouse, 80085 right in front of Naya. Then they’d enter the world and quickly deviate paths, hauling packages to different nooks and crannies of the dense territory.
Every morning, 80085 would jerk to the left just as Naya sways right.
But now, 80085 has dropped out of the sky.
“Gyoooooot-him!” Chauf hollers, Sean already sprinting down the street to bag the bot his brother’s tagged.
Chauf thumbs a switch on his gun, engaging an infrared scanner on the under barrel. Sean smoothly thrusts his net in the air, grabbing the very end of the shaft as it’s about to leave his grasp. The net protracts, a series of smaller-gauged shafts shooting Sean’s reach to twenty feet out.
“Scan the box! C’mon, Chauf! Here, watch out -!”
Sean’s dropped the net, the weight of the ensnared drone at the end of the retracted hilt plummeting down to the disintegrating city road. He tackles the sack the bot’s caught within, grabbing its propellers through the mesh. After a brief fight, he wrestles the parcel the drone’s carrying out from the net. Chauf flashes the burning red laser at the package. A sterile beep emanates from his gun.
“Go, go, go!”
And they go, robbing falling drones as they spot them in the auburn sky, desperate kids in the streets making ends meet.
Naya zooms on above, silently crying electric tears.