Combat Protocols – The Speakeasy

Combat Protocols

Gavin, the town’s elder, knew where he would find them. They were never long apart from one another. The odd pair were giggling like schoolboys over a game of backgammon in the back of Everett’s shed. Gavin squinted in the the light reflected from Harkness, the gas giant their habitable moon, Fenris, orbited.

“Howdy, Gavin,” called Everett.

“Hiya, Gavin!” called the ex-war drone across from Everett. The aerodynamically slick shape of Sam was well-known to everyone in the tiny town. Sam stepped forward on long legs and offered a hand from the two smaller arms tucked beneath its 5-foot wide hull. Sam’s legs doubled as large arms/hands when hovering on its gravity repulsors, but most of the time he saved energy and just walked.

Gavin took the mechanical hand and said, “Sam. I need one of your famous backrubs.”

“Of course!” Sam’s cheery disposition was only exceeded by his skill at massage. In mere minutes Sam had worked out the stress from the news Gavin brought.

Gavin groaned and smiled. “That’s great Sam. Any chance you could look at my hoverjeep? It’s got a bad repulsor, I think.”

“You got it!” said the effervescent machine.

After Sam departed, Gavin said to Everett, “Krakus’ ship is in orbit again. He’s on another slave run.”

The people of Fenris had little trouble while Commonwealth Marines were garrisoned there. Less than a week after they departed for training maneuvers, Krakus the Warlord appeared. It took him mere weeks to subjugate the largest towns and take the able-bodied as slaves for his mines. Bespectacled Everett, always relaxed, just shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry. We’re too small a town to show up on his sensors.”

Gavin remained unconvinced. “He’s cleaned out the capital, and know he’s attacking small towns like Desmond.” Gavin looked towards Sam. “Sam has more firepower than several towns combined. We could use his help. Any chance you can fix him?”

Everett offered a practiced grin. “No can do. His Combat Protocols are wiped. He can’t take offensive action at all.”

As Gavin drove away in his repaired hoverjeep, Everett’s grin faded. After Marines repulsed Krakus’ assault three years ago, Everett found Sam, damaged. He repaired most, and he also knew what would repair Sam’s Combat Protocols. Emotional trauma, seeing villagers under attack, would trigger a reboot and the Combat Protocols would be restored to an undamaged sector. That would dominate the current personality, and his lovable best friend would disappear forever. Everett planned to insure this could never happen.

Two weeks later, Sam shook the door of the equipment cage. “My friend! Why?” he shouted.

“Stay here!” said Everett. He slammed the shed door closed, but it bounced back open behind him. Sam could easily see what transpired.

Standing in the turret of the lead hovertank, Krakus the Warlord confronted Gavin in the center of Main street. The grizzled conqueror looked down at Gavin disdainfully. Everett joined Gavin in the street as the old town leader stood his ground. They tried reasoning with the megalomaniac, but he quickly grew bored with dialog. When Krakus’ troops began firing indiscriminately, Everett was among the first to die.

Screaming in horror at the death of his friend, Sam suddenly lost consciousness. He awoke soon after, and his blue running lights turned red. His 14-gigajoule cannons activated for the first time in years. They easily blasted through the equipment cage and Sam burst through, his engines hurtling him into attack at supersonic speeds, its cannons rapid-firing in anger.

Krakus’ closely-packed troops weren’t prepared for heavy resistance. Most of the 180 troops disintegrated under Sam’s guns before they realized they were under attack. The rest perished in blinding quick strafing strikes. Sam’s cannons were too light to confront the heavy frontal armor of the tanks. But Sam knew exactly where the weak points were, and it attacked mercilessly. In under a minute Krakus’ military force, which had sacked cities, was decimated. The warlord’s broken body lay in pieces across a shattered tank.

Gavin had miraculously survived the assault, and approached Sam elatedly through the smoking ruins of tanks. “You’ve done it Sam! You’re our savior.” He reached out to pat Sam’s hull, but the war drone swerved to avoid him. “This is a military vehicle. Combat Protocols are active.” it intoned. “Civilian personnel may not approach.”

Later, Gavin reflected that they’d won a great victory, but a Pyrrhic one. Their town was safe, and the war drone remained the town’s protector, but Sam was never the same again.
The Speakeasy is a weekly writing challenge for up to 750 words of flash fiction. This week, the story must END with the sentence, “But Sam was never the same again.” The media file is a clever animation worth checking out. I hope this piece doesn’t land me in “The Writer’s Block.” 😉 Look for the animation and lots of terrific stories from imaginative writers right here:

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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24 Responses to Combat Protocols – The Speakeasy

  1. Lyn says:

    Great story once more Eric, but oh so sad! Poor Sam, he’s lost a friend and doesn’t even remember 😦


    • EagleAye says:

      I know. Poor Sam. And poor Gavin, he’s lost two friends in the interchange. At least the colony is safe and Krakus won’t be returning. Thanks much for sharing your thoughts, Lyn!


  2. jannatwrites says:

    I felt sad that Sam made it through, but didn’t really make it through. On the upside, he did avenge Everett’s death


    • EagleAye says:

      Yeah, he was fundamentally changed. Everett was trying to protect Sam from seeing “other” villagers dying, but forgot about himself. He should’ve fixed that door too. Still, as you say, he avenged Everett. Sometimes success is bittersweet. Thanks for visiting Janna!


  3. Another magnificent write, Eric. Well done!


  4. Another marvellous story – and I think you’ve nailed that unfortunate truth about so many victories; they come, often, at a cost.


    • EagleAye says:

      It usually does. There’s a price to be paid for freedom. Combat usually changes a person. Perhaps not as much as Sam, but it happens. With a good support group (friends/family) that change won’t be too dramatic. Lets hope those returning from war find their own support.

      Thanks so much for the comments, Matthew! I really appreciate it.


  5. Jen says:

    Always so imaginative . This was really good!


  6. Blake says:

    Really liked the character of the cheery ex war drone who gives a great massage 🙂


    • EagleAye says:

      Hehe. I hoped folks would be amused like that. Imagine hands that never get tired? Same was quite busy in the village. Thanks for visiting and leaving your thoughts! 🙂


  7. Silverleaf says:

    I liked Sam – he was so cheery! Shame that all had to change, but of course I was hoping he would swoop in and save them, so I guess that’s the price to pay.


    • EagleAye says:

      Cool. I wanted a lot of character development for Sam, That meant he had to be very likeable in the beginning. The more likeable, the more heartbreaking the change at the end. I was hoping this worked. It is a shame that he changed so much. If Everett had lived he might’ve known a trick to bring the old Sam back.

      Thanks so much for sharing your impressions. 🙂


  8. Suzanne says:

    Aw, poor Sam. But what a fantastic and creative story! 🙂


  9. innatejames says:

    You had me on the edge of my seat, EagleAye. A great depiction of a machine feeling rage!


  10. Brian Benoit says:

    Love the world you created in this. A little space westernish, which is a great thing in my opinion. Good dialogue, punchy description and believable heart too. Good stuff!


    • EagleAye says:

      Yeah, it kinda is with colonists taking the place of settlers. I’m the glad the story had believable heart. Thanks so much for the detailed critique. It’s great to hear your thoughts. 🙂


  11. A.D. Everard says:

    Wow! Sad, though, but still “wow”.


    • EagleAye says:

      Nice! I think that’s really good when there’s a “wow” in the comments. Two even. Glad you enjoyed the story. I think this one is another squeezed into too tight of a frame. I wanted you to get to know the villagers of Desmond a little better and know Sam a little better. But still I hope the character growth of Sam drove the story as much I’d hoped.


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