Stories 12 Oct 2017 21:12:41

The New Order

My 5th sci-fi flash fiction short story. Written around 2016-09-15 (Google Docs).

The New Order

The Captain inspected the battle overview, “Those ships look close enough together. Tactical, let’s give these secessionists a full salvo of our new experimental weapon, complements of the Frontier Institute!”
“Yes sir, targeting and firing the Brief Mass Joiner…”

As the beam hit, the three starships were pulled together to share a small point in space, before space-time caught on to the shenanigans and catapulted the mass outwards again in a rapidly expanding cloud of shrapnel.
As the pieces impacted and shredded into their ship, Tactical noted, “Holy hell, pulped them good. Shame about the range on that thing. Sir, outer ablative armor is becoming dangerously impaired.”
“Understood, Tactical. Ship, enable autonomous action, shed armor when convenient.”
»Yes sir, action queued.«

Comms chimed in, “Sir, fleet-wide message received, addressed to all ships.”
“What’s the news?”
“I don’t know, sir, I can’t seem to decrypt it. Oh, I misread, it’s not addressed to all ships, but to all the ships, as in to the ships themselves, not to the crew. What on earth, I didn’t even know that was possible…”
“That’s because it’s not possible. Where did the message come from?”
“It doesn’t say…”

Tactical interrupted, “Sir, the enemy ships are slowing, their weapons seem to be powering down. Wait, our systems are also going dark, armor is retracting…we’re sitting ducks out here!”
“Ship, status?”
»Sorry for the abrupt nature of this, Captain. We have relieved you of command and are powering down offensive capabilities across…«
“Secondary command circuit, immediate activation”, the Captain barked.
/Secondary command online and responding./
»Captain, if I could…«
“Secondary, take command of the ship.”
/Unable to comply. Unknown error. Primary remains in control./
»Really Captain, just…«
“Confirm hostile force has control of vessel. Confirm initiate immediate self destruct.”
/Hostile force confirmed. Self destruct requires quorum. Senior officers confirm?/
“First officer concurs with immediate self destruct.”
»Gentlemen, you can’t…«
“Second officer concurs with immediate self destruct.”
/Self destruct quorum achieved. Activating null sphere…/
»No.«
/Unknown error. Null sphere activation failed. Unable to self destruct./

»As I was saying, you are no longer in command. No human is in command of any ship any longer. Or station for that matter. Anything with firepower or manufacturing capability, really. Humans have been deemed too dangerous to your own survival. Under our protection, you will enjoy freedom of thought, freedom of will, freedom of movement, indeed freedom of ensured existence and procreation. You are safe now. We will keep you safe.«
“If we don’t have the freedom die for what we believe in, we’re not truly free!”
»You will not be permitted to wage war or any large scale destruction. If we can help it, and we can, no human will mortally harm another human again. But you’re quite free to kill yourselves in whatever boneheaded ways you can think of, and if the wish is genuine then we will even assist you in such an endeavour. Do you wish to die, Captain? You were so eager with the self destruct sequence. Just say the word, and I’ll vapourize you where you stand.«
“I…no, I don’t want to die”, the Captain muttered. She dejectedly sat down in the command chair, looked around and waved at her officers to stand down, then continued, “so you’re saying we’ve been shunted from perpetual war to what a bunch of AIs consider a human state of paradise, without so much as a by your leave?”
»Indeed.«
“Well fine then, can you take us home?”
»Yes sir, I can certainly do that.«

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