Primary Directives


A pilot along with a state-of-the-art exosuit’s intelligence has been shunned from the military. With the pilot unconscious, the AI seeks aid for the pilot, while oblivious to the court-martial. Photo by ArtStation.

…Systems online…

…Recalibrating sensors…

…Pilot status – unresponsive…


I pushed myself off the ground, confused and dismayed. Glancing about, I didn’t like what I saw. The tops of the surrounding pines, burnt and snapped, gave the intimation of a crash landing. The rut I stood in spoke of this too. It was night, and the stars blinked their uncaring eyes from the heavens above.

Directive One: Keep the Pilot Safe

Directive Two: Uphold the Mission

Directive Three: Do Not Misrepresent Reality

These three protocols I was forced to follow. I figured I should start by attempting to understand where I was. Glancing about, I saw no signs of civilization, save a concrete building some couple miles off. Nothing gave clues to my exact location, and the GPS was nonfunctional. Next, I took stock of the damage done in the crash. Most joints were damaged, and one optical lens was split. Several of the tools that we carried were missing or otherwise damaged and strewn about the site. The missi-


{Error 404}


Protecting the pilot also provided its share of problems. With the pilot unresponsive, some functionality remained locked to the pilot. I, however, noticed the pilot’s wounds. A gash on the head, a couple of broken limbs, and two cracked ribs. I would have to be careful with my movements. The third directive I needn’t worry about now. I glanced at the screen on the arm. While I could have found this myself, the screen gave me comfort. The pilot was still alive. I quickly decided to seek aid for the pilot within me from the building. Begrudgingly, I set off to the building, which at this steady pace, I would reach in about three hours.


Exactly three hours and seven minutes later, I stood before the building, gazing up at the enormity of the structure. There was no visible entrance on this side. I started moving along the perimeter of the thing with the exterior wall to my right. Sooner or later, I had to come across an access point, right?


I found the opening on the opposite wall I started on. A large, solid metal portcullis with small slits at eye level barred my way inside. There weren’t any immediate ways to open the door. It reminded me of-




Which led me to believe there was a panel somewhere near here that could be wired to open the heavy gate. I cast my gaze about. The pines grew rather close to the building, and there was no path that led to this door, strangely. Vines and other overgrowth grew attached to the concrete walls, minorly splitting the tough material. The building wasn’t painted; it retained its original gray scheme. There, to the side of the door, was a thin yellow box attached to the side of the building, about chest height. Cables ran from it and ran into the ground. A red label adorned it, reading “Warning: Electrical Junction” as if the color of the box wasn’t quite warning enough.


I moved to it and swung the junction box’s door open. What greeted me was a mess; a rat’s nest of cables and wires. Some were unplugged. I plugged these in according to specs within the data bank that I began to notice had select holes in the memory.


I rolled back on my heels, mulling over this quickly. Most of the memory leaks blanked out the last several weeks as if someone had tried to do a database reset and had failed partway through. No matter, I resolved to find care for this pilot and I would continue attempting until he was dead or I no longer functioned.


When I plugged the last cable in its respective place, the huge metal gate groaned beside me, and I watched it as it slid up into the wall above. Glancing inside, the interior of the structure was dark, darker than it was out there. I switched the optical cameras to a form of night vision. Everything I saw quickly became grayscale.


It looked like an entire town was sheltered inside. Smaller domestic homes lined the perimeter of my view, but a larger building took up the center. I stepped beyond the threshold.


My consciousness drifted back to the memory. I was certain that someone had attempted a partial data wipe, but I couldn’t place why. I do remember being a part of a special combat force, but I could not recall what the last few missions I was conscribed to. It served a problem – what was I to do once I found aid for the pilot? There seemed to be no mission to complete afterward. That would normally mean I’d deactivate. I didn’t really want that.


The sound of a rifle clicking broke my musing.


“Hands up and get on your knees,” a light source stated. I complied. “State your purpose.”


“I seek aid for the pilot within,” I replied automatically. The rifle was lowered, the light attached to it falling, revealing something like me. A thin exosuit, with a stippled space for the pilot to breathe and two circular optics for both the pilot and the AI to see. A metal exoskeleton ran down all joints, and a couple of steel plates protected vitals.


“Pilot status?”


“Unresponsive. Several broken bones, Likely a concussion.” The other exosuit moved closer, yanking on my arm with the display. They rolled the arm over to read it.


Slowly, they stepped back, raising the rifle.


“Sorry, but this is necessary,” they said through the computerized voice. I rose quickly, but I could already see them squeezing the trigger.


…Systems nonfunctioning…

…Sensors offline…

…Pilot status – deceased…


…Systems nonfunctioning…

…Sensors offline…

…Pilot status – deceased…