Under the Gun
The general sat stone-faced in front of the observation windows. He looked to his right and left, seeing only the many technicians and scientists working feverishly at their computer terminals. Doctor Jamison, a pretty brunette, tapped command sequences into her laptop while running through data sheets with her free hand.
"Jamison, I can't fully express the amount of stress on this project. We need this cold lump of steel to move for us today, or we can all just collect our pensions and get out now." The general pulled out and lit his pipe, trying to calm his nerves. "We don't just have the Pentagon on our case, we've got every branch of the United States Army and the President himself that want to see her in action. She'd better work this time, Doctor." Jamison scrawled a thick line down one of her papers.
"You think I don't know that? Just sit down and shut up, sir, I mean it. We'll have her running in about a minute." She typed another string of code, flipped a switch, and spoke into her microphone, "Okay, everybody, we're live. Let's run her through some tests." Inside the gigantic test bay, a cold flicker of electricity scurried up a power cable. With a start, the massive robot, a trim, lanky-looking creature at least 200 feet tall, shuddered and turned on-line. It flexed its titanium-thread muscles and wiggled all of its fingers.
"My God…she's working. She's working!" The general dropped his cup of coffee and jumped from his seat. "Three billion dollars worth of research, and we've damn well done it!"
Doctor Jamison curled her lips in a thin smile. Finally! It wasn't like this was an easy job, especially with that loudmouthed General Richards always breathing down her neck about it.
"Yes, sir, we have confirmed a definite awareness inside the seal. She can run it on full power, now." Richards padded towards the elevator.
"Good job, people. You worked hard on her, and it paid off. I want her fully prepped for piloting on Friday, Jamison! Make sure nothing happens to that robot!" He had just stepped into the open door when it started to scream.
"What's happening!?" Jamison whirled on her subordinates and barked out orders. "Cut her feed! I don't want to charge her any more! Ensign, you shut down her control system. It looks like she wants to break loose." The robot was wrenching free of its restraints, arching its back in slow agony and wailing a hollow, electronic scream. In another second, the power line that fed it energy was jettisoned from its back-but that didn't slow it down.
"Doctor! It's not letting me shut down the control stem! She's assumed command of the nervous system!"
"Doctor Jamison! I flipped the power, but she's running on her internal reactor! She initiated it herself!" Jamison popped her laptop open again.
"There's no choice. I'll have to detonate the control stem. Ensign, get me a feed on the double!" One of her technicians ran through piles and piles of code, trying to find a working channel.
"I can't, ma'am! She's blocking all of the frequencies!" With a tremor felt throughout the complex, the restraints tore free from the wall and hit the floor with a resonating thud. In an instant, the robot was attacking the six-foot-thick observation windows with its fists. General Richards was captivated by fear.
"Oh…she…she's trying to get in…" Jamison blazed through the banks for open frequencies, being blocked each time by the power of the machine. Outside, the thing had stopped hammering at the windows with its fists and had begun instead to bludgeon the transparent surface with its head. Each blow flattened its cranium further, while apparently doing little to slow it down.
"Get everyone out of here that can move! To the elevator! Nearly all of the technicians bolted for the waiting doors, crowding into the small space. The general hopped to the side as the doors slammed shut. He looked out the window and saw, for a moment, the robot stop to tilt its head as if listening. Quicker than he could follow, one truncheon fist shot out and bored into the wall, instantly crushing the elevator and any people unlucky enough to be inside it.
With another wail, the titanic mouth ripped open and began to tear at the walls of the observation deck, taking chunks of concrete and steel with each bite. It gnashed at the windows, each blow pushing the set of spider-web cracks further along the glass. Jamison and Richards both dove for cover as the wall shattered under the psychotic rampage of the beast. It shoved both hands into the hole and wrenched the remaining barriers away from the cowering General and the scientist who was even now trying to shut it down.
The robot forced its crushed head through the opening, intent on killing this little man that was to blame for its creation.
"Jamisoooon!!!" The technician dealt the finishing blow in a flurry of keystrokes as she beat the Trojan system in the machine and ignited the explosives in its control column. With a muffled boom, the thing stopped cold and fell to rest on its knees, head still inside the deck. General Richards was curled up in a small ball of terror below the foot-thick jaws that had threatened to rend him limb from limb moments before. Jamison ignored him and instead crawled out of the massive hole that the rampaging machine had made, standing on its hunched back and looking down its spine.
"If there is a God, he must hate this damned…thing we've made." A lone drop of blood fell on her shoulder. She looked up to see the giant's hand, trapped forever in the act of scrawling a long gouge down the wall. The blood of ten men and women was splattered across the knuckles, and as she watched, another drop fell and ran a red tear down her cheek.