Doris was really bored. In fact, everything was so routine on this run that she had put most of her systems on standby to save on fuel consumption. The shadows were getting a little long behind the mountains but she was able to sort out the shadings with very little difficulty. She was getting ready to make one last sweep along the northern edge of her area of responsibility when she saw the non-conforming intruder moving slowly from right to left but not fast enough to keep pace with the fast-moving shadows announcing the loss of daylight.
She double-checked her data banks and made several different initial probing actions into historical patterns to discern if this movement was innocuous or the first move in a developing threat. Everything appeared to be in order except for one blip that expressed concern with the lack of background data on the specific point of origin for the oversized unmarked truck.
Doris decided to activate her communication systems and began to upload data to her source hub located several thousand kilometers away in the Nevada desert. She knew that the option to activate her firing systems for engagement was her decision but it seemed remotely necessary at this juncture.
Back inside the deployment bunker, Captain Marsha Spears scanned the bank of monitors that comprised her sector and saw that Doris13 was blinking with new uploaded data. She put down her fascinating book on New Age Philosophy and removed the encrypted tape to feed it into her threat console in the center of her station.
It was only a matter of seconds before the new advisements flashed on her situation screen.
023115Z ... Intruder designee in sector Charlie Mike is considered 58% non-hostile. There is a 42% probability that the subject presents a threat to sector assets 31, 32, 33, and 34. Sectors Charlie November and Charlie Oscar are dormant at this time. No action required.
Marsha got up from her station console and went over to the side table to fix a much needed cup of coffee to chase the slight droop in her eyelids.
When she returned, she stopped at the Doris13 monitor and punched in a three digit code that sent instructions to the sentry that all was in order.
Doris13 accepted the instructions and immediately shut down her communication systems but continued to eyeball the intruder as part of her final sweep before departing the sector. She also did a quick assessment of sector assets 31 thru 34 to determine their current status. All assets with the exception of 33 evidenced fully implemented defensive postures and no issues to report.
Sector asset 33 was a fully functional gas pumping facility operating as a commercial venture under the flag of a Scandinavian county as a cover. The pumping station was also involved in the production of a rare material needed in nuclear fission. There were normally 155 personnel at the compound including a security force of 24 that provided round the clock protection. Unfortunately, a recent spate of viral illnesses had reduced the numbers to only 115 personal and a reduced security force of only 11 personnel. The security analysis rating had dropped from 98.5 all the way down to 78 indicating it was in a severely vulnerable category.
Doris13 was a bit startled at this analysis because she knew it was not factored into the threat prediction for the recent unmarked truck intruder. When she did an offline analysis with the security data, it showed that instead of a 42% probability of an attack specifically on asset 33, the actual threat indicator was 91.5%. She was in a bit of a quandary with these facts because it put her at odds with her human controller.
Quickly, Doris wheeled in a wide slow circle above the slow moving truck. She knew her presence was unknown because of the height of her flight and the fact her tiny motor was muffled.
After a long period of indecision, Doris decided it was time to activate her weapon system. She knew that the moment she did that simple activation procedure, an alarm bell would go off in the control bunker and her controller would be alerted to her new status of dangerous armed drone.
The strident beep of the warning alarm made Captain Spears jump up from the armchair with just a trace of confusion.
BEEP ... BEEP ... BEEP...
Marsha saw the red flashing light on the weapon deployment display. She saw immediately that it was Doris13 that had come on red alert. Quickly, she checked the display panel and realized that the drone had made the decision without her input. She opened her protocol folder to the right section and consulted the procedure manual. Her activities log indicated the last communication was the stand down instructions she had recently transmitted. To make matters worse, Doris13 was in a communications shut-down mode which made it seem like she was “off the grid” and possibly rogue.
According to the manual, she had only two options. The primary option was to establish communications and over-ride the drone’s weapon deployment. The alternate or backup option was to activate the fail-safe self-destruction sequence built into every remotely controlled drone in active service.
Marsha also was well aware that no matter what course of action she took, the shoo-in for promotion to the rank of Major had just flown out the window and she would be lucky to keep her present rank.
The sector Charlie Mike was now in complete darkness.
The unmarked intruder truck had stopped at a dirt crossroads and waited with the engine still running. Doris13 could see the infra-red tag that confirmed the heat from a warm engine and a total of 14 human entities sitting motionless in the moonless night.
Suddenly, the back of the truck came to life and twelve of the human forms mounted six two-wheeled transports moving quickly away from the mother vehicle moving due south to asset 33. The other two human forms stayed in the cab of the darkened truck and the engine was turned off to conserve fuel.
Doris saw that messages from the control station and from three other government agency departments were jamming her hold box. She was also aware that the mother satellite was frantically attempting to gather her systems back into her guiding arms. It was really nice to know that so many human forms were giving her that much attention.
The various external attempts to influence her decision-making process amused Doris13 but she was still focused primarily on the situation unfolding in her assigned sector.
The six transport units were speeding ever closer to asset 33 and she estimated time of engagement to be exactly 35 minutes and 10 seconds. She did a quick status check for incident intervention window and found that she had to initiate response in less than 24 minutes. Doris also knew that if she opened communication channels with any of the agencies or her own control, her ability to make a decision would be immediately terminated.
Her surge defense system informed her that an unknown entity had attempted to disengage her A.I. chip (Artificial Intelligence) and she raised her screening defenses to Level One. It was most likely one of her sponsors but there was no way to analyze the source.