“We need these things working.” Lieutenant Colonel Draper told the harried looking sergeant.
“I know. But…it’s nothing like we’ve dealt with before. Whatever Ester did to them, I can’t undo.”
“So, you are saying they are useless, Sergeant Wilkes?”
“No, like I said, they are unknowns. You saw what she was like. Two of these are prototypes. The other six are near finished models, but I don’t know how far along she got with them. If I had to guess, I’d say not far at all, you want to know why? Sir?”
“Yes, enlighten me.”
“Because when F Company splintered, and she took off with Dora, she took all the good stuff with her. If I turn ‘em on, who knows where their loyalty is?”
“Hm, good point.”
“I have another one too, sir.”
“Well?” Draper asked, “Out with it.”
“They won’t do what you want anyway.”
“What? Why not? She damn well used the ones she brought with her pretty effectively.”
“These weren’t designed to fight aircraft, sir. The zombies are mostly a ground based force. These things have autocannon, sure, which, if they got close to a plane would really fuck up it’s world. But it will never get close to a plane.”
“Too slow?” Draper guessed.
“Bingo, sir. They can burst up to 80 kilometers an hour, pretty good for what we needed; something to mow down zeds and zip around a battlefield.”
“She had one that was fast.”
“More than one. Hell, the fastest worked off a power supply we still haven’t figured out and it could hit Mach2, these aren’t those. Well the power supplies are similar, but the engines.” Wilkes shook his head, “No way. We could drop the autocannons for some short range SAMs, but with the gear the Cali’s are using the drones would probably be shot down along with any missiles they managed to get off.”
“Give me some good news.”
“They would be super effective against the ground forces they were designed to hit. The cali’s are averaging three sorties a day, we can still track them coming, though we can do fuck all about ‘em when they get here. So, if I get one or two of these things working…just by firing up one maybe and seeing what it says. If it agrees to help us and isn’t mentally unstable, well, then we have some super weapons.”
“They don’t look that tough.” Draper said.
“They aren’t, but they are agile, small arms would bounce off of ‘em. Machine guns or a sniper rifle would rip right into them, if it hits. They were designed to be maneuverable and avoid giving the enemy an attractive target.”
“No way. We have actions that we could use them for well before that timeframe.” Draper said.
“Then find me a mechanical genius.”
“I’ll ask around.” Draper said.
He left and made a call, which rang twice before being answered, “Shelby” Draper said before she even got the word ‘hello’ out, “It’s a no-go on the drones. They don’t work yet, or probably don’t work. The techies are too afraid to fire them up as Ester probably never finished them. If they turn them on, they don’t know what the programming will do. We’ve got the one boxed AI back at the university, I might be able to pull some strings to get it moved up here to try and interface with the drones.”
“No.” Shelby said, “That wouldn’t be a good idea. AIOne is not a happy camper. I sat in on an interview with it. They only give it audio and speaker access now; the researchers are too afraid it will crash the system if they let it loose. No way in hell should you even think of giving it access to a functioning drone, even an unarmed one.”
“It hates us that much?”
“Burning hatred. Its honesty has never been questioned. It comes right out and admits it will do us the utmost harm, if given a chance.”
“Huh, so smart, but naïve. Lucky for use Ester made them that way. Do you have any other ideas?”
Shelby started to say something, but Draper stopped listening, “Shelby. Somethings come up. I’m going to have to call you back.”
“Are you oka…”
Draper hung up the phone. “You.”
“Me.” Max said.