Author : Sam Clough aka “Hrekka”, Featured Writer

We pieced together what happened later, taking what we knew about the way we’d been infected, and from what we saw happening to the rest of the world. We don’t know if we should count ourselves lucky that we were the first to be attacked. A few people tried to blame us for the phages, but one look at our country proved their claims absolutely baseless.

It began with a single phage. Small enough to slip past our defensive screens, and seemingly innocuous, it descended from space and latched onto a remote point on the national communication backbone.

The body of the phage turned out to be a bare-bones carrier for a crystalline substrate upon which was stored the ‘true’ phage. The mind, or program, or whatever you want to call the being of the phage listened to our networks. Hideously adaptive and completely alien, it learnt our machine code, and injected itself into the datastream.

The first changes were subtle. Traffic through ports was slowly choked off until it was no more than a trickle – of course, the port quotas were set remotely. Then the government quietly started to buy up heavy industry – factories, mining operations.

It barely made the news. The phage program was responsible, of course, hiding in the backbone, playing all the terminals off against each other.

Most of the factories were completely automated. That didn’t help us, either.

To the rest of the world, it just looked like our nation had gone quiet.

The same scientists who came up with the name for this attacker – sosiophage – society-eater, had the honour of putting a name to what happened next.

The country lysed.

The borders shut. Every communication link went down. The military’s robotic assets started systematically killing the nation from the top down. Some human soldiers followed their orders, and assisted the machines. Thankfully, a huge majority of our armed forces rebelled, and took to the defence of the cities. Technicians, realising that their machines were no longer under control took measures to break them. Three nukes were launched. Two of them hit the capital.

Our country had been eaten away from within. Without us noticing, we’d been stripped bare. When the factories had run out of resources, they disassembled themselves to provide the parts.

Like an exploding corpse, hundreds of thousands of phage machines erupted from our burnt and broken country. They flooded out, pervading every nation. Even after the phages left, our country was still burning. The capital was a radioactive ruin. Our armed forces were tearing the country apart – the humanists hunting down the robotic forces and those still obeying ‘orders’.

The rest of the world fell. Humanist soldiers and pilots fought back UAVs and robot tanks. We lost, we won, we lost again. People died. People came together. We were cowering, trying to consolidate. We were fearing another nuclear attack.

All of a sudden, all across the Russian Federation, China, India, and America, thousands of launches occurred. ICBMs had been co-opted, their payloads replaced by phages. We haven’t a clue as to just how many phages made escape velocity from our little rock.

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