A second daily sample:
Duncan spoke up. “I wonder if Rex’s hack worked?”
Blue raised his eyebrows. “We’ll see soon enough.”
Max reached down and picked up a rock. “Enough talking.” He loped off on three legs, carrying his improvised weapon cradled against his chest with one fore-paw. Blue and Duncan picked up rocks of their own and followed him.
A few minutes later Max barked in excitement and Duncan and Blue raced to catch up. As Blue crested the ridge he saw what had excited Max. The PKs had found the mules…and Rex’s last-minute coding had done it’s job. It’d more than done it’s job.
One of the mules was badly damaged from gunfire, and was pitifully trying to pull itself forward on its two remaining legs. The other two mules had reached their objectives, though. At their feet were five PK corpses. The bodies each looked the same – pristine suits marred only by one circular hole punched directly through the visors.
One of the other mules – number two – had a leg stuck in the helmet of one of the PKs. Every few seconds a behavior routine fired and the mule tried to shake the corpse off its foot, but the slightly flared base of the foot was stuck on something, either some mangled machinery inside the helmet, or perhaps the shattered bones of the PK’s skull.
Blue’s ears pricked and his tail wagged a few times. “Duncan, how the heck did you and Rex program this behavior? You guys only had ten minutes.”
Even with the bulky suit on Blue could see Duncan puff up a bit. “It was Rex’s idea to program the mules to attack, but it was MY idea to dig through the code archives and find a whack-a-mole program in the ‘games’ directory!”.
Blue raised one expressive tan eyebrow. “You reprogrammed it to punch helmets, I guess? But how did you do THAT in just ten minutes?”
“Rex ripped out the targeting code and replaced it with a pattern matching subroutine, and I did an image search for spacesuit helmets. There were a couple of MILLION in our caches – it took the neural net training system MINUTES to process them all!”
Blue tried to whistle – an affectation he’d picked up from John – but as usual his lips couldn’t quite pull it off. He gave up and silently thanked Rex – which made him think again about Rex’s bullet ravaged corpse. Without realizing that he was doing it he found himself howling in anguish once more.
Max slapped him on the shoulder then private messaged him. “You and I have to stay strong for Duncan.”