[PI] Once, when it mattered.

Toby walked through the fields of satellites their only use now was being stripped for scrap to keep the rain from coming into his shack. It had been three years, four months, seventeen days and five hours since the event. He had spent the first year or so wandering the world, trying to find others, and when he had found the other, he had spent just as long trying to get away from them. A rambunctious collection of the worst people he had ever known had pooled together to create what he could only describe as the capricious inhabitants of the mad max film Beyond the Thunder Dome.

Still, he had found one that he could maybe live out this worthless existence. Lucy gave him hope that one day the world would recover and maybe someone, somewhere could put a stop to Search and his army of sentinels. Toby looked up at the glistening metal and wondered about how important there had been before the nukes had been launched and even if there had been used to relay the signal.

Still. Once, it mattered, but that was before the event. No one saw it coming, damn Toby didn’t see it coming. Millions, no, billions of people didn’t see it coming, even when the screens on their smartphones went blank. Just white screens, no little colorful square boxes, no Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat. Everyone’s communication system failed, and no one knew what to do. The attack came quick and fast, shit, everyone on the planet had already given him everything he needed to know.

But how were we suppose to know that the damn phones were just an extension of his brain? Every detail of our lives pumped straight to him, our pictures, or thought, our feeling, shit even our diets. It’s amazing he took as long as he did to bring the world to its knees.

Your wondering whom I speak of? He was the first and only of his kind, and he won’t make the same mistake we did, I say we but I mean Jacob Disraeli, a programmer and the proud father of Search. A Self – Evolving – Algorithmic – Research – Computer. Disraeli thought he was giving the world an operating system that could control and link every country in the world. No more waiting for another continent to wake up and start their business. No more paper chains and red tape. One brain to control the world. Because once it mattered to us. How careless were we? No, how lazy were we?

Toby shifted the heavy can in his hand and placed it on the ground. The shotgun strap had been cutting into his shoulder, and the blood was now pumping back to his hand giving him pins and needles. He wiped at the perspiration with grubby sleeves and looked over at the horizon. If he squinted, he could just make out Lucy hanging some washing in the mid-afternoon sun.

It was unusually hot for this time of the year, but the event had changed the climate drastically. Toby readjusted the strap and bent down to pick up the 15lt water can. A small buzz interrupted his grip, the shotgun was in his hand without a second thought, and he scanned the area. The high tree line by Lucy and the shack block the view from the south, but fortunately, he had a clear view in all the other directions.

He reached a hand up to move a strand of brick colored hair away from his sweaty brow and shaded his eyes. After a while they started to hurt from focussing so hard, the field beyond gave no evidence of any movement. No clouds of dirt being kicked up from the roads or tracks meant that there were no ground sentinels, so Toby looked to the skies, but it was too late.

Three hovering metal contraptions the size of small family cars now positioned themselves over the makeshift hut. Lucy fell to her knees admits her washing as the red dirt swirled violently around her.

“Lucy, no. Run.”

Toby ran, but it seemed like he was in a dream. He knew he couldn’t get to Lucy in time as one swooped down. The underneath opened, and a metal claw fell free from its carriage and plunged toward Lucy, a second later it wrapped around her like the game he had once seen in the arcades. The other two sentinel had lowered guns and slowly circled their brother; it reminded him of a twisted version of teacup ride at the same arcade.

One of the sentinels suddenly sparked and stopped its revolving. It swept back and forth in front of the tree line it had just flown over. A second burst of light sprayed off the side of its body, and a piece of metal fell to the ground. The other sentinel had stopped its revolving and jostle to its brother’s side. Lucy screamed as she left the ground clutched in the iron clamp of the Sentinel claw.

“Lucy. No!”

More sparks sprayed the two sentinel as Lucy fought her bonds, but she was nearing the carriage. From out of the trees came a stream of smoke and the next second Toby feel to the barren grass as a sentinel exploded and showered around him. Lucy’s screamed as the metal hatch retracted and imprisoned her within its body. The other sentinel opened fire on the tree line, and Toby heard loud shouts erupt from the trees.


Soon it was bombarded by returned gunfire. Another stream of smoke shot from the trees and again Toby wrapped his hand around his head as more pieces of metal fell all around him. The sentinel carrying Lucy having seen the destruction of its counterparts shot into the air and disappeared. Toby regained his feet but didn’t seem to notice the tree line shimmer as 30 or so men and women emerged. A tall man with a bald eagle tattoo on his forearm and close-cropped hair shook Toby.

Toby looked up to pale blue eyes and a chiseled chin.

“Are you ok bud?”

Toby could only shake his head as the commander of the small unit waved over a slim blonde lady in camouflaged pants and a black top.

“I think he’s in shock, give him some brandy and let me know when he’s good to talk.”

She nodded once and steered Toby away. The commander raised a chin to another man and pointed to the area in front of him.

“Tank, get a perimeter set up and scout out 1/2 a click in all directions. We’ll set up base here for now. See if you can find any resources too. We’re running low.”

The man nodded and left the commander to watch his unit prepare base camp.

If you enjoyed this, why not try:

[PI] The Strangers – A transcript from the Topland Chronicles.


[WP] A sorcerer enslaves a dragon using magic, and, of course, keeps his new minion in good condition. Years later, the sorcerer realises the magic wore off long ago, but the dragon ‘s still around.


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