Waking Gods Page 31

—You didn’t answer my question.

—Perhaps another time.

—Cute. And yes. I did agree, twelve hours ago. I agreed because it made strategic sense at the time. At peacetime. We cheat and we lie at peacetime because we know the other side does it too. This might be war, and in war, you don’t try to scam your allies. Except for you.

—What do you mean?

—Unless I’m mistaken, you’re the one who started the EDC.

—That would be an overstatement, but I did play a role in its creation.

—Then why are you trying to screw them out of a pilot now?

—I am trying to help this country.

—Nice try. Having one pilot would give us leverage with the EDC, but not enough to take control of it. I don’t know what you’re hiding from them, but at some point your secret will come out and we’ll get caught with our pants down. The more I think about this, the more I think we’re being played.

—You have a vivid imagination.

—That must be it. Look, you have your answer. We’re not going. If the Russians are stupid enough to go get her now, let them. They couldn’t do anything with just one pilot. We’ll sort this out…Excuse me one sec.

—What is it?

—Another giant robot just appeared on Scatarie Island.

—I am not familiar with the name.

—It’s a wilderness reserve near Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

—Is it attacking?

—There’s nothing to attack there. Besides, it’s ours…well, yours. Would you care to tell me what Themis is doing in Canada?

—I have to go.

—I guess not. It was a pleasure talking to you. Come back anytime…

 

 

FILE NO. 1547


INTERVIEW WITH BRIGADIER GENERAL EUGENE GOVENDER, COMMANDER, EARTH DEFENSE CORPS

Location: EDC Headquarters, New York, NY

—Damn robots are everywhere!

—I thought the second one was ours.

—Yeah, Themis is back. She’s on her way here, actually. Vincent insisted on…“beaming” her back, whatever that means. He’s OK. He said he should be here in an hour or so.

—Did he tell you where he was?

—In the ocean.

—Where?

—That’s what he said. I wish I could tell you more. I didn’t exactly have a lot of time to chat. There are robots showing up every ten minutes.

—There are more?

—Yeah. Eleven of them! Haven’t you heard? This is a goddamn invasion! We ran out of Titan names on the last one.

—Where are they?

—You already know about the one in London. The next one appeared on the tracks at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo around 4:00 A.M. About five minutes later, one popped up in Jakarta. There are two in India, one in Delhi, one in Calcutta.

—All at the same time?

—All of them showed up in the last hour. These guys are well coordinated. There is one in Cairo, taking a footbath in the middle of the Nile. It’s a hundred feet from the 6th October Bridge. You know what the bridge is named after?

—The start of the Yom Kippur War.

—Yeah. I think they’ll soon have a good reason to rename that one. There’s also one in Moscow.

—London and Moscow. Things will not go well at the Security Council.

—No they won’t. The French have theirs too. You should see the pictures of that one. It’s on Place Charles de Gaulle, perfectly centered in front of the Arc de Triomphe. Whoever is piloting that one has a good sense of aesthetics and a huge flair for the dramatic.

—Have any appeared near us?

—Not yet. The closest one is in Mexico City. There’s another one in São Paulo. The one in Mexico didn’t even bother to find an open space. It just crushed a small art museum, appeared right on top of it. Maybe the pilots just aren’t any good. There’s a pretty large city park across the street.

—Finding good pilots is very difficult. You mentioned London, Tokyo, Jakarta, Delhi, Cairo, Moscow—

—You forgot Calcutta.

—Thank you. Paris, Mexico City, São Paulo. That makes ten. You said there were eleven.

—Johannesburg.

—…

—I know…

—Is your family in danger?

—They live a few miles from where it showed up. They are trying to leave the city. I just spoke to my sister. She says the roads are still open. I don’t know how long that’ll last. Some of my former men are with them. Things are gonna get ugly. Delhi and Calcutta are the worst right now. The roads were useless about five minutes in. People have to leave on foot. I wouldn’t wanna be in Tokyo either.

—We could—

—We could what? Save Johannesburg? Since when is Africa on anyone’s list of priorities? I appreciate the sentiment but you know that won’t happen.

—Probably not. I am sorry.

—Did you notice anything about where they chose to land?

—They appeared in some of the most populous cities on the planet.

—Yes they did. And what does that tell you?

—That they understand resource optimization very well. The cost of an eradication effort is, generally speaking, inversely proportional to the population density.

—That’s a nice way to put it. It’s cheaper to kill the rats if they’re all in one place…

—It is certainly less time-consuming than to kill us one at a time. If that is their intention, they can possibly exterminate one-quarter of all humans with a handful of robots in a very short amount of time. Once all major cities have been destroyed, there would be no government to speak of, no supply chains. A significant portion of the surviving population would die of disease or starvation within months. Whoever is left would offer little or no resistance. You have to admire what they can do with twenty-two people.

[I’m sorry to bother you, General, but you’ll want to read this.]

—Thank you Jamie…Make that twenty-four.

—Another one? Where?

—Beijing.

—There might still be another explanation. They have not attacked us.

—Not yet.

—It is entirely possible that they are using this tactic to scare us into submission.

—Then it’s working.

—Would you surrender if given the option?

—Wouldn’t you? I’ll put up a fight because I don’t think they give a crap whether we surrender or not. But you know Themis can’t fight them all. Hell, she can’t fight any of them right now.

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