Artwork by Joey Hi-Fi

Drone Commander Tidek

Chapter 10

Drone Commander Tidek is a novelette by Eduard F. Vinyamata. Check out previous chapters here.

At the front, the Atlas was almost through the barricade. Tidek took a step back. Her drones moved back and behind the crumbling defenses. The Anons were definitely breaking off, falling and pushing each other out of the way. Some were frantically trying to get inside the houses. Via Haf’s feed, she saw some Anons climbing the back barricade and jumping out. The first of them was tasered before hitting the ground. Three agents were on the second, batons flashing in the air. They smashed at their victim once. A burst of anger was all Haf, Paul and Rouge needed from Tidek to fall on the agents.

“Tidek, the Atlas isn’t faster than your drones,” Eluard’s voice came alive in Tidek’s head, finally replying. “It’s a matter of bandwidth.”

“What do you mean?” Tidek did her best to direct Haf and her other two drones while talking with Eluard at the same time. More and more Anons were pouring out the back barricade.

“We have an extensive botnet network calculating your drones’ combat and avoidance algorithms in real time. Over five hundred in total, including your Battle Mode DCI, all avionics and all the coms. But if we double that, your drones will improve their avoidance solutions, and they might have a shot at the Atlas.”

“Do it,” she said, halving a policeman’s baton.

“It has a cost.”

“Do it,” she repeated, disabling a riot gun that had just been fired point blank against an escaping Anon.

“It will be nearly impossible to mask your location at that bandwidth.”

“Do it already, damn it!” Tidek yelled as the Atlas appeared, bending the last iron panel standing between it and her drones at the front barricade.

A few seconds later, as the Atlas stepped through the barricade, Eluard said, “It’s done. We’re sending two Anons to your doorstep to try to hold off any police as much as possible. They are making the same sacrifice as you just did. We do not forget, Tidek.”

“Yeah,” she replied, almost waving him off.

The Atlas produced a couple of battle prods. They were similar to plastic batons but with an electric blue tip that made scary crackling sounds. Anyone poked with one would be immediately and painfully taken down with an almost life-threatening electric discharge of between three and five million volts.

Omega, Tidek thought. On the Atlas. It wasn’t easy to suppress her concern for Omega, Mandé and Foie as they rushed to meet the robot. The Atlas swung one of his battle prods against her drones, but missed. Tidek gasped. The robot tried again, and her drones out-maneuvered it once more. Tidek heard sudden cheering behind her and she exhaled in relief, unable to restrain a grin. The robot began using both prods to try to take down her drones.

Broadcast, Tidek thought. She was taken aback at the size of the live audience, now nearly a million people. Her profile was almost complete as well, call sign and all: “Tidek, daughter of Sam and Pamela. Born in Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana, on 19 October 2013. Raised in Paris, France. Fighting for Freedom since 2033.”

“I’m done,” she couldn’t help to say out loud, her grin now gone. It was then that she noticed the other sirens. They sounded different. Because they are French.

She felt, through her naked feet, violent thumps rocking the old building. They were coming from downstairs. They are here.

“Tidek,” Eluard said in a somber voice.

“I know,” she replied.

The Atlas was flailing at her drones, trying to take them down with sheer speed. Omega, Mandé and Foie’s feeds were nothing but a blur. The drones moved in and out of the robot’s reach, trying to prick at its sensors and cameras. It seemed like a stalemate: the robot couldn’t afford to advance and risk having its expensive sensors damaged. The Riot Police started to pour inside the barricade, behind the Atlas.

Tidek made all her drones sound the Anonymous bungle call. ‘Auuuuuuuu, auuuu, auuuuuuuu.’ That produced more cheering and yelling behind and around her. Vasu, Étienne, Fajita: disable the Riot Police behind the Atlas, and just like that, they rushed to meet the Riot Police agents, and their batons, tasers and rubber guns. And as her drones pushed forward, so did the Anons behind her, meeting the police with sticks, stones and bottles.

“Tidek!” Eluard called in a whisper channel. “You’ve done it! You maintained the Alternet connection for the time we needed and the node is now being safely destroyed. Mission accomplished! Evacuate your drones and get out of your flat, right now!”

Tidek tried not to lose focus on the two drones she was directing at the same time, pointing where to cut, punching in the air, indicating attack vectors and formations with her fingers, her hands and her arms.

“It’s too late,” she answered on the public broadcast channel. She was breathing hard and sweating harder. “They’re downstairs; I can hear them.” And I’m naked, wearing the underwear you like, you idiot! she almost added. “I’m not abandoning the fight.”

Not five seconds after she said that, she noticed on the little broadcast window that her profile now showed her picture. The one she took nine months ago, when she passed her final flight exam. I was so much in love with you. She lost control of one of her drones, unable to hold two of them at the same time and think about Eluard too. I’m still in love with you, and you don’t even deserve it.

“I’m sorry…,” Eluard said, and she wasn’t sure what exactly he was referring to. She just kept on fighting, regaining control of a second drone.

Anons fought the police all around her. They kicked and punched and fell just about everywhere, while the Atlas, in the middle of it all, kept flailing at her drones.

Then Tidek heard the loud ‘crack’ of what she guessed was her flat’s entrance door being broken down. Part of the yelling she was hearing came from the hall behind the door to her room, mixed with the fighting sounds seven thousand kilometers away. She knew it was only a matter of seconds now. She focused her full awareness for a split second in each of her drones, finishing with Coco, who still spun around her axis but kept on fighting.

The door to her room flew open with a deafening noise. She opened her eyes and took several steps back towards the window, almost falling, dizzy and protecting her face with the back of her arm. Several piercing lights pointed straight at her face.

“Tidek, are you there?” she heard Eluard say. He sounded as if he were in the room with her, although she knew he was a thousand kilometers away, in Barcelona.

“On your knees!” a deep distorted male voice screamed at her.

“They are chanting your name Tidek! The whole city is chanting your name!” Eluard exclaimed.

And they will forget it tomorrow, she thought.

“Stand down, pilot!” the voice behind the blinding lights screamed again.

“Tidek, are you still there?” Eluard insisted.

“Drone Commander Tidek,” she corrected him with an icy voice.

Next: Afterword, Sources, Acknowledgments & Credits

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Eduard F. Vinyamata is a Catalan writer in development. He was made in Barcelona and educated in the US. He lives with his dog Trutx, who is a big time foodie like him. Eduard is a traveler, a bon vivant, a geek and taller than you.

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