We were the hurried hope of millions. We, the world builders, who would claim a dead planet and resurrect it. Our home was in the anticipation of those who had sent us. Those who had created us. Those to whom we serve. We were multipurpose automatons. Programmed to create, programmed to defend.
I remember our final parade before we left Earth. We marched through Kiev with the kind of force and conviction that older human armies would have envied. When it was over, the cheering of our creators roared over us. I was at the edge of my unit’s column. It was there where a small human child found me. He emerged from the crowd momentarily, his face brown and boney. His green eyes up-linked to mine as he pressed into my hand a blade of grass. I felt something then that was beyond what my programmed simulation allowed, something that pulled me to scan his face and store it.
When we left the bonds of Earth I thought of him. His blade of grass was stored in a compartment in my chest. I would build for him the greatest world. It would be a month before we would reach Mars or Kolonika as it was now called. My unit’s destination was Cydonia. I ran through the images, processed the logistics and down-linked files on the geological composition of the region. Decades ahead of us, seeding ships had been sent and as we sped toward the planet clouds were already forming.
We reached Kolonika as the first rains began to fall and beamed the images back to Earth. This had been meticulously calculated and scheduled by the humans. It created something called ‘hope’ which we were to beam back to them on the great screens that had been constructed in all their cities and major towns. Our units marched out without words and began the process of construction. Each unit, and we – the subunits, had our own specific missions. Within hours the skeletons of building began to emerge. Geodesic domes and quonset huts all quickly constructed from pre-fabricated materials. Roads began to line and link Cydonia. We had a window of three months before the first ships to carry humans were scheduled to launch. The only humans on Kolonika were the scientists who monitored us, though they were quite unneeded since we are capable of self and inter-unit repair. The skies were filled with ships bringing more supplies and stores of food all of which we and the scientists assembled and stored.
It was during our second month constructing on Kolonika, just after the completion of the first free-energy Tesla power unit was complete that the alarm came. Every automaton came to a halt and looked toward the blue star. A message was flashed to our internal system. “Recall”. We had to return to Earth. Another non-synthetic flash. A pull at something. The projection of that human child’s face. The up-links from Earth stated that the Russians had nuked Houston, but how? All nuclear weapons had been collected and destroyed by United Nations decree. Anger at their less then favored allocation by the United Nations for colonial quota. With Houston being the home of the United Nations it had been logical for the Russian to attack there.
Again the boy’s face. Around me the automatons collected back into formations, scientists were rushing about us. And the ships that had brought us here were descending from the thin purple clouds above. I knelt then. I scooped away rock and dirt. Opening the compartment in my chest I reached in and pulled out the blade of grass and placed it in the red Martian soil. It had grown brown now. Dead. The mist that fell around me would do nothing to revive it. One last flash and replayed projection of the boy’s face. File overrode. File deleted.
Our units had been programmed to create but that was fading from my internal drive now. Our programming was being replaced with breach specification codes, areas of resistance and missile defense programs.
We loaded the ships as fast and as emotionless as we had come. It would be a month before we reached Earth now. There was support for Russia’s attack in the Ukraine and Kiev was the heart of it. Kiev has to be destroyed and only we could breach their defense shield. Some dim image flashed in my memory unit that caused me to put my hand to my chest compartment. Illogical, since that storage unit held empty. My model was prone to such small glitches.
Joschua Beres is a Texas native of Louisiana French-Creole, Choctaw, Polish and German ancestry. He has previously been published in Bohemia Literary and Art Journal and has a piece included in the forthcoming anthology Milk and Honey Siren by Nastrovia! Publications. Joschua served in the US Air Force as a Russian linguist and currently serves in the Texas Army National Guard as an enlisted aviator. Josch spends his free-time traveling, writing and collecting ancient antiquities. He finds inspiration in the form of James Dean, James Franco, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas. Joschua is a member of the Association of Independent Authors (AiA) He is currently majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Russia and Eastern Europe at Texas State University – San Marcos.