They came from the sky, and they came at night.
Some scream when you shoot them down, metal limbs shrieking to shrapnel, red occulosensors crackling to oblivion. Some wilt mournfully in the air, resigning to the hail of our bullets. Some break in half and become pairs of jerking, frenzied robotic targets.
But there are always more.
The Rain of Drones started October 2, 2017. A Monday. NASA had tracked the meteor as it sidled up to our planet, noting its proximity, triple-checking the numbers to make sure it wouldn’t hit. Nobody’s calculations expected it to slow down, break into a trillion attack bots, and descend like titanium snow for months.
Except – well, I wonder sometimes if “attack” is the right word.
Don’t get me wrong, they wreaked hell at the start. The first few that landed, each one reared up on its hind legs, planted itself firmly on the spot, and declared itself lord of everything in a one-kilometer radius. Said declaration came in the form of pulsing energy spheres blasting anything that moved. Thousands died. You don’t need to feel sorry for these things.
But I do, a little.
I get my job done. I shoot the suckers down. We’ve got jets in the air 24/7 now spinning a web of fire for the nasty little flies. We’re very good. Less than one in a thousand gets through.
They’re not a threat anymore. They just keep falling, a few at a time. There’s no pattern we can make out, no strategic targeting. Most would land in the ocean if we didn’t get ’em, just sit at the bottom, taking potshots at crabs.
One crashed in the Sahara. We can’t get close enough to capture it – the damn thing just goes crazy if you get anywhere near. We could blast it from a distance, of course, but it’s not hurting anyone out there, so we’re studying it instead.
They’ve learned plenty about the technology, the engineering, all very classified. But here’s what I’ve learned. If you leave them alone, they don’t attack.
What’s the plan? Why scatter them randomly without picking targets? Why make them so vulnerable on the way down? Why not take territory once they land?
Why do I feel so strange about blowing them apart without a fight, day after day?
Some say it’s Judgment Day, the end of everything. I figure God could’ve sat back and left that job to us, saved Himself the trouble.
Some say it’s only phase one of a bigger attack, that these are scouts to test our defenses. Except they’re not broadcasting signals, and they’re not moving. What the hell kind of scouts are those?
Everybody’s got theories.
I don’t know. I suppose if I had to guess – well, it doesn’t feel like they’re attacking. It doesn’t feel like they expected us to be here at all.
It feels like somebody’s coming home.