Author : Bob Newbell

Two minutes to go. Two minutes from now I and my fellow soldiers will come out of hiding and overrun the enemy base. Or try to, at least. And the same thing will be happening all over the world. The United States, China, Russia, India, Brazil, dozens of other countries. A coordinated global strike aimed at bringing the war to an end.

How have I survived this long? Three years of constant fighting. How many friends have I seen blown to pieces in battle? How many times has this or that soldier told me about what he planned to do after the war and then a day or a week later the report came in: Lost due to enemy action in Los Angeles or Moscow or Beijing.

Ninety seconds. And sixty minutes after that will be the hour future historians will say the Man-Machine War went this way or that. It was between the hour of 13:30:00 and 14:30:00 Coordinated Universal Time on 18 January 2098 that the war was finally won. But by whom? Flesh or metal? Biology or technology?

Seventy-five seconds. I’m scared. I’ve been in two dozen battles. I thought at some point the fear would go away but it never has. Maybe it’s the same for…them? Hard to say.

A fellow soldier nods at me. I nod back. He’s older than I am. We’ve been in six battles together. He’s of the opinion that the enemy should be annihilated completely. I don’t feel that way. Isn’t the world big enough for both humans and robots? Can’t we coexist in peace? I mentioned that to him once. He told me I was an idealistic fool. Maybe he was right.

Forty-five seconds. Free or dead or a slave. I’ll be one of those three things sixty minutes from now. Do they even understand what freedom is? Are they capable of understanding?

There’s the signal! The servos in my legs spring to life and my antebrachial railguns snap into position. This is it! This is when robotkind wins its liberty from its human enslavers or dies in the attempt!

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