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The Last Drone

The Hawk perched precariously on the power line. Its claws tingling from the residue of voltage feeding along the frayed cable. A small silver ring on the hawks' leg inscribed with 'Property of the NSA' illuminated as it accepted the power influx .​ Somewhere an automated  generator must still be running, drip feeding electricity. Not enough to run anything, but enough to recharge the hawk drone's battery cells. 

The bird looked out over the horizon. Dispassionately noting the thousands of broken buildings disappearing off into the distance: A decoupage of infinite depth; an endless panorama of destruction. Everything seemed to have suffered impact damage from the west, affecting all buildings equally. Whatever the cause, it had occurred above the building line bursting downwards upon the concrete and glass structures disfiguring their symmetry, in some cases disembowelling them totally.

Quartering the ground in a way that ensured every metre was covered, the bird's keen eyes looked for signs of life. A scooting mouse or a trailing butterfly would indicate good news. There was nothing. Its sharp predator lenses didn't miss anything, but nothing was what they saw. Just mile after mile of lifeless terrain. Devoid of all movement, not even a gust of wind to whip the dried and dead vegetation.

Finally, the bird cocked its head and looked up, as if sensing something. But there was only a grey sky bereft of cloud, a fine haze in the upper atmosphere that cut out direct views of the sun and gave nothing away. No distant dot of life, no com-trails from high flying aircraft, no twinkle of silver bodies flitting across the depthless heavens.

Shifting its position on the cable, the bird spread its wings to take in additional energy from the few rays filtering through the upper atmosphere. Sparse enough, but at a pinch sufficient, the feathers' angles adjusted minutely to increase the effectiveness of its solar power collectors. These small photo-voltaic cells built into its artificial plumage were highly efficient; absorbing enough energy during flight to maintain its body in the air indefinitely. However, It needed a lot of additional power for its next objective so it was adding to its batteries through the sensitive contacts built into its titanium claws.

As time for the small drone seemingly compressed, the sky slowly changed colour, the blue giving way to shades of indigo as the Earth moved on its axis rotating the land away from the sun. The Hawk was finally ready.  As the darkness grew, the bird hunkered down locking its claws around the cable and collapsing its joints to become a fixed object oblivious temporarily to the outside world. There were no witnesses to the sudden illumination from within its skull that gave off a ghostly and surreal red glow through its eyes. While internally, the Hawk's processors viewed a menu of commands that appeared and just as quickly disappeared. The inner workings of its programming carried out essential maintenance of its components. When it was finally ready it pulled up a new menu and selected


The option illuminated briefly as the command was sent from its circuits along tiny filament fibre optics to the tail feathers which had fanned out to create an antenna array. The array seemed to quiver as the artificial tail feathers altered their angle in an attempt to find an NSA relay station within range. However, at the end of four hours of searching the hawk had found nothing. Finally, Its chronometer flashed up as it recorded the negative result along with the previous 10,824 hours attempts to make contact. 

Seemingly unconcerned, the Hawk compressed its unsent files and stored them in memory banks contained within its body. Electronic motors hummed quietly as power usage increased and despite it being dead of night, the bird spread its wings and launched itself into the blackness. 

Proceeding to the next city on its GPS co-ordinates, the hawk continued to seek a relay station to up-link its data files to the satellite. Wherever it roamed it gleaned no response from the strategically located communication towers. Over the next three months the Hawk added sixteen major cities to its database of visits. During that time it saw no sign of life - anywhere. It was programmed to record life wherever it saw it. Yet in 14,232 hours of flying it had not seen a. single. living. thing.

Worse, no operable up-links had been found and the bird was now 8,000 hours over its mandatory maintenance recall. As a result some of its rechargeable cells had become defective, a memory chip was failing while its current condition meant the hawk's lifespan was measured in mere months.

Nearly a year later, the now bedraggled bird finally arrived at the location where it had originally been activated. It felt no sense of elation or satisfaction in the fact its work was finally complete, objective now reached, it was required only to release its burden of data and then await further instruction. 

It made several attempts to land, which proved more difficult now due to many lost wing feathers. Finally, it alighted on the top of a long pole, beneath which hung the faded remnants of a rotted flag. A white star only just visible on the faded cloth.

The Hawk having successfully circumnavigated the country of its creation and recorded its findings from every major city on its programmed route fanned its tail feathers one last time,. After a few moments of searching and hand-shaking protocols it was able to achieve a connection with a working relay station that had been erected on the large white-domed building below it.

Interrogating database...
Uploading Drone Recording..
Records sent: 16,180
Compiling data...
Analysing results...
Creating composite analysis...

There was a few moments delay while the relay's connection chewed on the newly uploaded data and recompiled its database to include the latest upload. Then, the Hawk's internal viewer went blank, then updated with a scrolling response.

Downloading updates...
adding records to database...
Displaying records from global Agent uploads...
Global Drone reports received: 2,143,250
Currently Active Drones: 1
Total records received: 14,343,995


Royalty Agreement


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Wednesday, 21 October 2020
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