Time: 15 minutes
Prompt: Dreadful snake-headed creatures with turreted backs
Source: Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
Dreadful snake-headed creatures with turreted backs lay writhing in the muddy battlefield, impotent and forgotten. The rising moon reflected off the diamond lenses of their eyes and a chill wind hastened the freezing of the blood and mud that permeated their mechanical joints.
Garton picked his way carefully, keeping at least two lance-lengths between himself and any of these dying monstrosities. Though he had no reason to distrust the reports shouted gleefully from camp to camp, when it came to the battle-drones, one could never be too careful. Tales, there were, of drones whose recording analysis and functional optimization systems had gone rogue; the drones had become independent of their operators and pursued their own ends. So even if the war had been won and all of the drone operators were held captive, Garton didn't want to give some newly-hatched synth-mind a chance to wreak any revenge on his aching body.
One of the battle drones lashed out with a probe tentacle, but it was not aiming for Garton. The movement appeared purposeless -- just the thrashing of a dying motor core. The conflict within the machine's semi-autonomous subsystems, between exertion of adequate energy to stand and conservation of all remaining energy in case an operator cam online and gave a command.
Gorton paid less and less heed to the drones the further he went. His path, which had comprised a series of sweeps back and forth across the field, each taking thirty minutes, became more erratic as the moon crawled across the sky.
(about my timed writing exercises)
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