Olpec - A Short Story

Dear Sirs and/or Madams, 

     I sit alone on the first day of the week at my empty garage sale. I've been open since seven but got so bored that I decided to write a short story as an exercise to keep me sharp. It is good to stay sharp as a writer, especially if one plans to continue to be a writer. Writing is good but it is a never ending exercise.

     This story didn't go the direction that I thought it would go, but ended up better than I had planned. I had first intended for our protagonist to do "this" but as I wrote the story, "that" happened instead. A spin in "this" direction from me, led me in "that" direction. In the end, I would have never been able to write this story the way I wrote it, had I known the ending. Such is the way with practice writing... One never ends up with what one sets out to have.




A short story
Pauly Hart
Sept 18, 2016

     It was the end, the last of Olpec's job. There was nothing else to do but wait on the coordinator. The air smelt of burned hair and garbage. Plastic littered the battlefield and Olpec's cannon was smoldering. The broken arms of spider tanks lay around... Or were they legs? The broken tendrils of spider tanks lay around him still twitching with residual programming. They were little beasts, to be sure. Although his twenty foot frame gave him plenty of room to maneuver, he had nothing on those little critters. They were only a foot high, but carried a .44 magnum mid sized barrel that packed quite the wallop. He was dented, and in some cases the armor piercing rounds had gotten through his skin but he was still mostly functional. 88% was a pretty good number considering his odds.

     There was an explosion off to his left. He swiveled in the direction and was disappointed to realize that it was only one of the tankers that had brought the miniature tanks. Another explosion behind it, and another. Then four more all at once and then nothing. Had they been on a timer of sorts or... He scooped up one of the critters with his left lower arm and examined it. He popped the top off with a satisfying kerwoosh. Oooh, he got it now. Each spider tank had an antenna built inside the top casing that was in communication with the tankers. There was no communication now obviously, but he reckoned that the tankers were programmed to detonate in case their army had been wiped out.

     It made sense tactically. If it were his army, he wouldn't want his tech to fall into the hands of the enemy. There wasn't anything to steal intellectually. The coordinators had taken all of the Russian's tech long ago and found out everything there was to know. Well now, except for the antenna. Oooh, he got it. He didn't need to know about the communication, so they hadn't told him of course. He had only been programmed with the needs of the battle at hand. That made sense. It also made him feel a little hurt. They had trusted him enough to go out alone onto the field, but they hadn't told him about their antenna. What else hadn't they told him about?

     He was curious now. He still had the spider tank in one of his hands so he popped open his scanpad from his lower torso and set the critter down on it. He would have to take his optics off-line but that wouldn't be a big deal. He still had his radar and motion-sensors active just in case. He ran a full scan and opened the results all at once. His CPU had 18 Terraflop of RAM so it could handle just about anything. The results were very interesting. The programming was simple enough, there were even options for air and sea tactics and strategy, but this model wasn't equipped with that hardware. This was land model 5.3 - assault build. The most versatile unit he supposed. But why would they send these guys to battle him? Oooh, he got it now. They didn't know what they would be up against.

     That was a shame. The battle hadn't been difficult in the least. Tedious to be sure but not difficult. Most of his time he just walked around strategically trying to squash as many as he could with each step. The rest of the time he was scraping them off of his legs or shooting off mortars. He had used his static-field only twice when a couple of them got on his head, but mostly he had been too quick for them. It had been too easy. The model on his scanpad had a “name” too but it wasn't a name a caring coordinator would give. 0583733-CLTY-522. Oooh, he got it now. There were so many of them that proper names would be too confusing. How sad. Were there more than 583,000 of them? Or was he 522 of the assault force? Most probably both. He decided that 0583733-CLTY-522 needed a better name. The most obvious choice would be to use the middle alpha characters. The consonants determined that he should add a vowel between the “C” and the “L.” He chose “O” for Colty. Hello little Colty. Nice to meet you.

     Olpec had never met anyone before. Of course Colty was dead, so maybe it didn't count. The coordinators were just implanted memories of course. And they didn't use actual voices, they had just spelled out the battle plan and told him about how the Russians were bad and they were going to try and kill him and he needed to stop them. Of course he would stop them. That was his purpose. That was his mission. Stop the Russians. And he had. He was a good soldier.

     He turned his optics back on and looked down at Colty. He didn't look so bad now that he was dead. As a matter of fact, even if Colty was alive he couldn't harm him because there was just one of him. All the other spider tanks with all of their guns hadn't stopped him, so how could Colty? He decided that he would repair him so he could say hello in person. Colty had been one of the many that had been crushed under Olpec's large feet. They were gloriously large indeed. Four feet in diameter with a toe on each of the four sides. He had three of them unlike Colty's eight. Reattaching Colty's wires and circuits was very difficult because several of them had been crushed beyond repair. He was forced to scavenge among Colty's brothers to find the correct pieces.

     When Colty came to life he shot him. He had tried to at least. Click click click went his gun. He scrambled up and down Olpecs frame clicking away angrily. He clicked fourty-two times. Even though Olpec had emptied out his chamber, He knew Colty would run the programming that he was programmed to run.

     “Hello Colty,” Olpec said, “Nice to meet you.”

     Colty did not care to meet Olpec evidently, for when it finally realized it was out of rounds, it scrambled up on top of Olpec's head and tried to pry his helmet off.

     “That won't work Colty,” Olpec said, “Not even ten of you could take that off.”

     Again, Colty did not care, and after several minutes when it realized it would not succeed, he exploded.

     This did not damage Olpec, but instead, horrified him. He had seen the cross-wires that connected the servo-manipulator to the power core, and he had even seen the self-destruct code in the programming, but he had not reasoned that Colty would actually do it, even though he was programmed to. The sheer thought that anyone would self-destruct was so foreign to him that he had dismissed it into the realm of the impossible. Was it really in the code? He checked his own code. Then he wondered: If you live too long, do you gain the desire to self-destruct? Did he have that code? He checked again. No. He didn't have that code. But he checked again. His code had changed. Before where there was nothing about self-destruction, now there were questions. And now there were even questions about those questions. Oooh, he got it now, it was because he was an artificial intelligence.

     Olpec had born yesterday. That was a long time wasn't it? How old was Colty? Does the desire to self destruct come with age or is it just programmed into you? He didn't know and the thought of it all really depressed him. He folded up his arms and went into power-down mode until the coordinators called.