The Last Crusader.
(c) McWolf www.mcwolf.info (2000)

   "Everybody, alert! Attention! This is not a training! Everybody logs in! Attention!" - The speaker shouted above Alek's head.
   Alek crawled down his bed. His fingers found a cable, and he put it into a socket behind his right ear. He immediately recognized himself in an armored truck, driving through the night at the maximum speed. He sat in a row of fully armed battle androids. He looked down and saw he was the same android, his hands holding a powerful laser rifle. He checked his rifle's batteries. The androids around him began waking up one after one. Each looked around and began checking their weapon too. This habit originated since this particular squad was connected to androids in a storage by mistake with an order to clean up the room. There weren't any victims only because their weapons were unloaded. The Commander soon understood why the weapons wouldn't fire.
   The Commander woke up too. "Everybody here?" he shouted. All the androids raised their hands. "Good, all here. Brief: One of our warehouses was attacked. Number of intruders and their goals is unknown. Our goal is to neutralize them. We will be arriving in two minutes. Be prepared after one minute. Start!"
   Alek laid on the floor of his house again. He stood up, disconnected the cable, and ran to a bathroom, counting the seconds. He turned the faucet on and bent over, holding his head under the cold running water. He shook off the water and then made several squats. Then he ran back, sat in a comfortable armchair, and connected the socket again.
   It seemed that all the others did a similar procedure. When they all came back their motions weren't as sluggish.
   "Everybody here?" - It was more of a confirmation than a question - "Prepare!"
   The androids rose a little with weapons tilted. A half a minute later, the truck stopped, and the door opened.
   "Go!" was the command.
   All androids jumped out. All pilots had a scheme of a territory and move vectors of other robots projected directly to their brains, so it took less than one minute to block all the ways out, and set an anti-aircraft gun to control air under the warehouse. Another android squad blocked all underground communications.
   The police forces then began to arrive. Armed people filled up space between the androids, instinctively trying to keep off metal monsters; although each understood that they were controlled by people. Everybody awaited order to assault.
   Meanwhile, in a control center, all the information was being analyzed for making an assault plan. When the computer gave the information from the inner security system, no one believed it. At least not the first time.
   Alek aimed at the second floor's windows on the front of the building, when he heard a voice in his head: "Attention! We have very important information. The enemy has activated one of our battle androids inside. Repeat! There is an activated battle android inside. The enemy is armed and extremely dangerous. Everyone know his task? Ready your weapon! Go!"
   All next fight, Alek remembered by fits and starts. It was like a nightmare. The enemy had only one robot, but he used it perfectly. There was enough weaponry for a small army inside, and the enemy was excellently equipped.
   The androids opened fire. The density was enormously high because soldiers knew better than anyone the structure and capabilities of a battle android. In spite of this, the squad's androids were destroying one after one. The unknown enemy was the best fighter they had ever come up against.
   Finally, something happened that should be avoided - enemy went out, broke through the encircle by annihilating two more androids, and disregarding the weak cop's fire. All this Alek realized the next morning, because his android had been eliminated five minutes later the assault started, and he came to senses in his armchair, holding his left shoulder (the damage information comes as small pain impulses) feeling himself tired and weak.
   Next call, Alek got in a usual order one day later - two hours before log in. When he found himself in a new android, he was in a driving truck again with twenty identical androids. After all pilots logged in, the Commander said, "Ok, all data was carefully analyzed. We have reason to believe that it was no ordinary man. This is based on his top speed reaction level. It is much higher than a normal man's reaction. He simply moved too quickly."
   Alek knew it. Top speed reaction was a human's brain parameter. A pilot uses an android's body as his own and subconsciously supposes its' possibilities are the same. However, this android's speed was several times faster. It seemed that the enemy was free from it. But how it can be possible when nobody could do it before?
   Alek continued listening. "And since the top reaction speed of a normal man is not that high, we have come to the conclusion the he must have been under drugs. Our experts made a list of drugs that can act in this way, and we have recognized all possible places where it can be bought. Questions?"
   "How he got into a guarded warehouse?"
   "He was connected to a common robot SV type."
   "What is the level?"
   "Forth? Its probably a simple junk."
   Alek felt puzzled as all the other soldiers. SV type androids are servants, helpers. Multifunctional combined androids of first level can do almost anything. The second level androids have lesser functions. Poor people buy androids of the third level, because they are less expensive. Forth level androids are the simplest type and usually do such work as collect trash.
   "In this case, an infiltrated android was stolen from a hospital where its' duties were taking out the excrement. We can't check its' logs since only the first, second, and third level contain logs. And when our mister "X" reached the battle android, he immediately turned into the military net, that, as everybody knows, is made so that nobody can track logs in it. Questions?"
   "Our task now?" "We are going to the head boss of drug dealers in our city. We can't arrest him and formally charge him with anything, but we can question him extensively; threaten if need be. Our android has to be found. Our position will be much worse than if he will try to prosecute us later."
   The Operation was easiy carried out. The guards were disarmed, and the suspect was interrogated with use of "will suppressing" drugs. No one tried to resist. They all knew that if a squad of armed androids fights against someone, he would be better off to shoot himself.
   Alek knew of the results the next day, after the control center had analyzed and checked on received information. Some ways were marked to check.
   The next week, Alek logged in two times - both operations consisted of arrests and both operations were made by only one android. The Commanders were becoming more and more nervous. The investigation didn't make any desired results.
   Suddenly, there was a break in the case.
   "Everybody, alert! Attention! This is not a training! Everybody, log in immediately! Attention!"
   It was night again. Alek jumped to a work armchair while putting the cable in the socket behind his ear. The truck was driving regardless to road marks.
   "...they saw him only ten minutes ago. Confirm to destroy was given at once. Look at your weapons!"
   Alek looked down. In his metal hands, he held a big, large caliber machine-gun. A normal man would not have been able to raise it. "It's loaded with an ammo of a maximum pierce strength that is used against heavily armored objects. We have to act on a city's suburb, so we will need to set force fields around an object - these bullets can completely pierce through building. Questions?"
   "What is the object?"
   "Condemned building. Ten floors, high ceilings, no electricity - practically a concrete box with partitions. More questions?.. No? Good!"
   The truck came to a stop. Behind it, four more trucks stopped - here were all the android squads. There were much more androids, than people who controlled them were. There were only one hundred, and all of them were present.
   The androids quickly encircled the building and set generators of a force field that has the power to stop a missile volley. When the generators were turned on, the assault began.
   Alek ran inside the first part. At once, his motion scanner tracked the enemy. However, the enemy was also fast. An android near Alek was cut off by a bazooka shot. It was wrapped by a sphere of overheated plasma and flew somewhere back, damaging the android behind it.
   Alek opened fire from his machine-gun, but it was too late. The enemy had escaped through a white-hot deadly rain and instantly disappeared from the scanner screen.
   At the same time, three more groups broke into the building from different sides and the fighting began. Alek almost admired his enemy. He scared soldiers, so they opened fire if they only suspected an ambush so shoots were on all floors, diverting an attention. Meanwhile, androids were systematically destroying one after the other.
   The scanner showed a motion again. Alek ran in that direction, shooting without pause. He saw a shadow at the end of a corridor that rushed to the right. He remembered the armor piercing bullets in his machine-gun and moved the barrel to the right, trying to get the enemy through the walls. He watched the bullets from his gun tear bricks and concrete into pieces. After a few seconds, he was at the corner. The wall to his right was like a sieve. He turned right continuing to shoot.
   Suddenly, his android lost its' balance and fell down. After immediately jumping to his feet, Alek realized that his android had stumbled over an enemy android. He turned around awaiting a shot to the back, but nothing happened. The android lay in a strange position, his dropped gun laid nearby.
   Alek cautiously stepped closer to inspect the fallen android, but remained ready to shoot.
   The android didn't appear to be damaged.
   "Attention! The enemy is on the sixth floor. Take my coordinates. He isn't moving." Just as Alek had finished his last word, the fallen android shook, but it was more like it was in agony than a real motion.
   After a few seconds, in the other end of the corridor, two androids appeared. They ran, keeping close to the walls, ready to shoot at any moment. When he saw that the situation was under control, he looked around. Then, he saw what appeared to be a little light spark through the tattered wall. With the fighting passed, a quite dark and light intensifier makes the weakest light visible.
   Alek walked closer, turned on his flashlight, and hit the wall twice, making a passage wide enough for his android. There was a small room behind the wall. A generator stood on an old table that seemed almost black. Cables went from the generator to a strange device with an aerial that was on the floor. 'Transmitter' - thought Alek. A usual transmitter changed for connecting to a military net. Its lighted indicators were probably the light that Alek noticed earlier. However, first he saw an old man who lay on the floor unnaturally with his hands turned inside out. A cable from the transmitter went to a socket behind his ear. A fallen invalid's chair lay nearby. A bullet had pierced it, then the body and flown forward probably with almost the same speed.
   Carefully, Alek stepped closer. The old man was still alive. His lips moved as he tried to say something. Alek followed a strange impulse and turned on the maximum microphone sensitivity. "This... This is a system... And nothing... can..." Alek bowed closer. He hardly heard the last words. "...nothing can do." Then the old man died.
   The end of this story, or, if to be exact, its start, he knew next morning when he reported to his Commander concerning all the circumstances. The victory, even if it was an accidental one, belonged to Alek, so he knew more than other. The dead man was a soldier and use to pilote a battle android more than twenty years ago. Then he was in an accident and was fully paralyzed. The government placed him in a beneficent hospital and forgot him. And he devoid of a possibility to move used forth level androids to make his transmitter able to work with a military net. He also knew all the security systems which hadn't changed for the past twenty years and had passed them rather easily.
   In the end, the Commander said about a money prize and feeling himself just like an orator, said: "Yes, he was a product of an old system and couldn't see the death of his old stereotypes. We build new. The union of all computers in the Net is only a beginning. This is a beginning of a real union. We will build a new, perfect society under a single control. There are so many things we can do!" - Suddenly he stopped and added thoughtfully so Alek hardly heard the last words: -"...can do."

Back To Texts