“Drone 682 to spaceport twelve.”
In the giant hangar the drone came to life. It had been slumbering in a forgotten corner for years, hidden between bigger robots, never being called upon to do the task it was purpose-built for. But with those five words its boosters charged, the red lights that dotted its spherical body lit up and with a mighty buzz it lifted itself from the floor.
The path to spaceport twelve was not something that was hard-wired into the drone’s circuits. It had to rely on the digital pings that were being beamed through cyberspace once every second. Ping, turn left. Ping, straight ahead. Ping.
In the enormous hallways, the drone passed several robots – cleaning machines, sometimes repair-drones – but no humans. Had the drone been capable of artificial intelligence, it would have found this puzzling. Andromeda-7 was an exoworld after all, constructed to house the billions who excavated the precious ores in the nebula.
The pings came faster now, so drone 682 could safely navigate its way past the scattered debris of the exploded spaceport eighty-one. Its destination was now directly in front of it: spaceport twelve, one of the oldest of the lot, but still brimming with ships waiting to travel to Earth through the wormhole at its centre.
Ships, not man-made, but alien.
Drone 682 positioned itself in the middle of the port and though it was attacked immediately by the alien vessels, it did not budge and – as planned – opened its belly, releasing the fission bomb into the wormhole.
The surviving alien ships, their envious eyes still bent towards Earth, turned towards the next wormhole.
Through the speakers in the hangar, a message echoed.
“Drone 683 to spaceport 541.”
The drone came to life.
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