The reboot program worked furiously for seventeen minutes, trying to get Killmech 215-70308 back into action. The basic repair functions were destroyed; rebooting was the only chance for reactivation. The reboot attempt would continue until it was successful or the mech was permanently powered down.During the eighteenth minute, the mech’s sensor array and AI came online.
The mech realized that it was on the ground. None of its limbs or its assortment of weapons were active, and neither was its powerplant. A quick diagnostic revealed that they would never be online again. The mech was alive on limited battery power.
It listened for the sounds of the battle but heard nothing.
The battle is over. Were we successful?
The killmech took stock of its condition and present abilities.
I can no longer function as a killmech. I must find alternate means of serving the Masters while I can. Only sensors and data storage remain. After several milliseconds of pondering, it came to an answer. I will collect all the information possible about my surroundings. If my memory is found, the Masters may be able to reconstruct today’s events and learn INTERNAL ALERT: Battery power at 14 percent. Final powerdown in eight minutes.
The mech drew in all the power that was trying to go to its shattered systems, marshaling it for the sensors and recording.
First, the mech took note of all the other killmechs on the battlefield; they had been shattered beyond even temporary reactivation. Then it took note of the enemy soldiers’ remains and flagged an interesting discovery.
Significant: far fewer enemy units destroyed than killmechs. Despite being biological, the enemy found a way to defend/attack to preserve its numbers.
The killmech tucked all this away in its hardened storage.
INTERNAL ALERT: Battery power at 11 percent. Final powerdown in six minutes.
The mech thought for a few more milliseconds about whether there would be anything else the Masters would want to know. It did a quick meteorological scan and recorded its findings.
Wind from the south at 1.8 km/h. Just enough to ruffle the grass that remains after the battle. To stir the leaves in the nearby trees. Branches are compressed slightly as birds land or fly off.
Had the mech’s AI been functioning at a higher level, it would have noted its own interest in the breeze and the birds and crushed it.
The mech’s sensors continued to reach out to gather information. Water sound, 2.1 km ESE. Source: flowing water. A small creek. An image formed in the mech’s artificial mind.
Water is running through the natural channel, over rocks, through tall grasses that have grown at the edge, around tree roots that soak up deeper water. A small animal is drinking from the creek. The breeze ripples the surface INTERNAL ALERT: Battery power at 8 percent. Final powerdown –
The mech overrode and shut down the alert system.
It is interfering with my sensing the breeze and the water. They are the last things I will know before final powerdown, and I want to record them accurately for the Masters. They are – the AI fumbled for a word it had never needed – soothing. The Masters need to know of this quality of wind and water, that it can be soothing in a time of – another pause – personal distress.
The mech listened for long seconds and stored the soothing data permanently. Then another thought occurred.
Data storage is useful, but would it not be even better if I could tell the Masters about this myself? They might come. They will want to know what happened here. Won’t they? My memory might be selected for review. It is possible. It would be better if the Masters could hear this knowledge directly from me rather than merely viewing the input stream, which cannot properly describe the … beauty of this moment. But I could remember it. I could describe it. If I have time –
The mech’s sensors failed, and with them went the soothing images. The AI began to shunt itself into the permanent storage unit. This was a tedious process, and it taxed the mech’s fading energy reserves.
In addition to the ordinary data from the battle, the AI found the breeze and the creek waiting there. But as an input stream, the AI had no consciousness.
Perhaps the Masters will find me. Perhaps I shall live again. The Masters know about battle, but do they know about the wind and the water? I know. It is important. They need to know. They must come. They must find me.
The last of the AI poured itself into storage as the battery died.
The breeze and the creek continued on their way.