Liam felt as if he had been walking for days, the wound on his side took his breath away, and his fractured leg made him almost impossible to walk, with every step he felt how a flare of pain ran through his body. After being hit by a plasma charge from one of the fighters of the rebels of the Cepheus confederation, he lost consciousness and his ship was adrift for about five hours, when he woke up he was in a decaying orbit and had lost his engines after the plasma explosion.
Fortunately for him, he landed in the middle of the forest of the southern continent, where the trees cushioned his violent descent enough to eject into the escape capsule before the ship was completely torn apart, unfortunately, upon impacting the ground, the electronics of the capsule had been damaged and he was seriously injured. He was now injured and completely isolated, unable to communicate with rescue units.
The forests of Cepheus were known for their density and the scarcity of animals, only some rodents, reptiles and insects, plus birds that used to live in the tops of the tall conifers, and a few species of fish and mollusks in its rivers and lakes, were the only inhabitants of its vast territories.
The navigation system of his hull indicated the presence, to the north, of an old military installation, abandoned after the war began, but which still kept its emergency communications unit active, as well as an electric generator, which would be enough to operate it.
With the help of a branch, which fell to the ground along with the capsule and carrying his weapon and the backpack with emergency equipment, he started his way to the building, guided by the navigation system.
Sore and exhausted, he made it past midnight, he had traveled the twenty kilometers in seven hours, had it not been for his injuries, one hour would have been enough to get through the forest and get here.
It was an old park guard post, which had been abandoned when the guards assigned to it joined the rebels. Behind the perimeter fences, the place looked overrun by undergrowth, its walls were partially destroyed and one could distinguish shatters caused by plasma explosions, as well as holes, caused by high velocity projectiles, as it seemed, this place had not been simply abandoned. No light was visible in the entire building, not even in the guard post, it was completely alone.
After using the thermal visor of his helmet and not distinguishing any body that emitted heat, beyond small creatures hidden in the undergrowth and nooks and crannies of the building, he decided to enter, he walked slowly and heavily, he knew that, if something was hiding somewhere in that place, he must be seeing it at this moment, but he had no choice but to risk it, the pain in his side was increasingly intense and it was becoming more difficult for him to breathe.
When he entered the building, he could perceive an intense smell of mold and rust, the infrared vision of his helmet was not of great help, so he decided to risk turning on the flashlights, at the back of the room was the cabinet of the forest ranger robots, the doors of the cubicles were smashed, as if it had been made by some kind of angry beast, He approached and could see that inside the cubicles were still the robots, but all of them were destroyed, they seemed to have been beaten viciously, using some heavy object, the floor made of polished concrete, had absorbed the hydraulic fluid, spilled by the destroyed machines, forming a huge stain around the entire cabinet, from there came the smell of rust that he felt when he entered.
To the sides of the robot cabinet, were the doors to the sleeping quarters, at some point about thirty soldiers, assigned to the ranger service, were occupying the abandoned rooms, down a hallway to the right of the main room, were the dining room and kitchen. The tables and chairs seemed to have been pushed and thrown against the walls, many were smashed, a similar panorama was seen in the kitchen, strangely the food reserves remained in place, they were not taken when the building was abandoned, several sacks of flour and grains were scattered on the floor, after being damaged by rodents. Above, at eye level, a wide but low cabinet, crammed with cans of vegetables, meat, fish and crab, looked like some kind of big grinning mouth, full of rust-rotted teeth.
The dampness of the forest had rapidly aged the remains of the unit, it was as if behind the five years of neglect, there were hidden centuries of decay.
Liam still could not find the generator and the communications console, it was expected to be in a sheltered place, next to the unit's weapons. He walked to the corridor located in the opposite wing to the dining room and kitchen, after checking several doors that hid offices, which were as shattered as everything else, he reached the end, where a large polymer security door was located, here must be the radio, he thought, if the procedures had been followed the door should be closed.
Pushing, the door gave way easily, the reinforced hinges, slid smoothly without making the slightest sound. He illuminated the room from one side to the other, apparently everything was in order, unlike the rest of the place, here time had not passed, everything was tidy, although dusty. At the end, partially hidden by a large chair, was the console and at the opposite end, a generator powered by a cobalt isotope battery, while on the side wall was the weapons cabinet, which as expected was open and empty.
He entered the room and approached the console to take a closer look at its state, despite the apparent order, a deep smell of mold and dirt hung in the air, he rested his hand on the chair and a shiver ran down his spine, he stumbled and was about to fall, he leaned his weight on the branch that helped him to move, When he illuminated the chair with his flashlight, he saw clearly what had disturbed him, sitting on it was the partially mummified corpse of a soldier, with his head turned around, in an unnatural position and with his dry and bony hands resting on the controls of the console.
Suddenly, in the middle of the desolate silence of that structure, he heard a murmur, coming from behind him, he turned around, still disturbed by the image of the dead soldier, he illuminated the corridor and the walls without seeing anything, again he heard the sound, It was similar to the squeaking of rubber boots on a polished surface, but it seemed to come from above, he pointed the flashlight above his head, attached to the ceiling he saw the pale and stylized figure of a robot ranger, looking down at him with his empty white acrylic face.
Like a cat falling from a table, the robot collapsed on top of him, spinning in the air to land on him, crushing him against the dirty concrete floor, Liam let out a sharp cry of pain, the robot expressionless, raised its fist and drove it violently into Liam's side, striking his wound. Liam let out another shriek and the robot jumped backwards, propelling itself with feet and hands, and landed in a crouch next to the pilot's feet, grabbed him by the ankle of his broken leg and lifted him up like a sack, flipped him in the air as if it was about to throw a hammer, during the turn, Liam's head hit against the weapons cabinet, just before the robot released him and flew off to hit against the wall next to the door of the room.
Liam felt his body burn from the pain, his head was completely deranged, his ears were ringing and he could barely see, if it hadn't been for his helmet, the blow would have cracked his skull open. He blinked until he could focus his eyes, to see the robot standing in the same place from where he had thrown him, staring at him, the android took a step towards him and collapsed shaking, Liam, now with several broken bones, crawled towards the machine that was convulsing on the floor and with the butt of his electric pulse gun, with which he had managed to shoot it moments before, successively struck its flat, white face, until the android's acrylic and reinforced polymer head was shattered and it lay completely still, then fell backwards, lying next to the defeated machine and lost consciousness.
Liam awoke as he was lifted onto a ship, lying on a stretcher held by two rescue androids, sitting next to where he was placed was an individual with captain's stripes, who watched carefully as the stretcher was secured in place by the robots and they retreated to the rear of the vehicle, where they stood by the hatch as it closed and the ship began to rise.
Liam watched the robots carefully, while the captain watched him with a slight smile.
-Don't worry Lieutenant, these are ours, as they should all be," said the captain.
-How did they find me, what happened sir," Liam asked awkwardly.
-One of the tracking satellites saw your ship enter the atmosphere and followed the trajectory here, we found the impact site, then your capsule and followed your not inconspicuous trail here," replied the captain.
-But what happened, why did that robot attack me," Liam asked again.
-It seems that the rebels reprogrammed robots to attack humans, which they identified as soldiers, other crimes that at some point will have to be added to their list of accusations before the court of Cepheus and Parliament," answered the captain.
One of the main prerogatives of AI programming has always been the protection and preservation of any life form, in Cepheus, the anti-parliament rebellion had violated this basic rule, faithfully respected by every builder and developer, by creating a computer worm that was able to alter the software of robots and other AI devices and make them act against humans, according to certain targeting criteria.