Author : Chris McCormick

There was no dramatic music swelling, no handsome actor reciting prose. Instead there was my friend the dev, lying on her back in the grass convulsing as the electricity ran through her, arms and legs unfolded from the lotus position she had assumed only moments before. The police drone floated over her, lights flashing blue and red, blades whipping.

When the drones had first descended, and the silence of the crowd with them leaving only the whirring of their wings, I had known exactly what she would do. I’d whispered to her fiercely “Submit to the search! Let them do it.”

She had turned and looked at me strangely, her eyes full of something like quiet curiosity.

“If you’re not doing anything wrong, why not submit to the search?” I followed up. One too many excuses for the powerful.

Her eyes burned with calm intelligence and her voice was low and steady, just above a whisper. “You’re asking the wrong question.” She paused and I could see her pupils expanding gently. “Are they doing anything wrong?”

Now she lay there on the grass in the afternoon light, convulsions over, a moment on pause.

The drone above her seemed to quiver slightly, the pitch of its engines changing down an anharmonic octave. If a machine can sound sick then that is how this drone began to sound. It gently, comically tilted and began an awkward sideways sliding descent, parting the crowd before plouging into the ground with its angled blades, churning the dirt and lofting clods of grass into the air like a pile of manic robot worms. Then it suddenly stopped, dead.

Other drones began to sputter, wobble, gently dive, lights flashing out of time. One by one they dropped clumsily to the ground, mashing into it and flailing on the ground like bugs after spray.

When they had all fallen and the last flickering light had faded, a cold wind blew across the grass. Nobody wanted to look at anybody else. Complicit in our weakness, except for one lone hero, our collective cowardice now revealed by the silent aftermath.

I crouched down where she lay. Skin white and clammy, I saw a tiny black cube with a single flashing green LED in her left hand. I thought I saw a weak smile tickle at the corner of her mouth and in that moment I knew what she had wrought.

“This is fucked. I’m fucking out of here,” somebody muttered and the crowd began to slink away like jellies sliding off a table, rivers of people moving off between the trees.

That is how the fight began.

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