Deep in human controlled space, Kobe stood in his small conference room with his staff. The walls were white save the one occupied by a gray monitor. Kobe cleared his throat bringing silence to his staff.
"Gentlemen we have received our first and probably last report from our Blackout Trooper team on Lazarus 13 through the cyberverse" Kobe said. "We got little information but it is more helpful than anything we have yet heard. So without further ado". He pushed a button on the monitor which brought up an image of the Milky Way. In the corner, like a tumor of void, space and the planets within them conquered by the robots was shown. The great orb of robot-conquered space was labeled "Blackout Sphere" in simple lettering.
"Lazarus 13 is right here and was the first world to fall to the robotic onslaught" Kobe explained. "Our team sent us this photograph of its sun". The photograph that Caulvine had sent through his slate enveloped the screen. A chorus of speculation swept the room in a storm of voices which canceled out Kobe's explanation.
"Quiet!" Kobe shouted. The room went quiet. "This grid has been looked at and identified as some variant of the Star Scythe space station. For those of you who don't know, the Star Scythe is a kind of power plant in use about 80 years ago. It was built over a star to harvest its natural energy and metal and use it to power homes, build ships, anything you use power and metal for. The only difference between Star Scythes and these are these facilities". The image zoomed up onto a part of the massive grid and something that was not visible before was seen. Rectangular boxes attached to the grid were seen. Though they looked small this was only due to their distance from the camera that took them.
"What in the name of…" someone began.
"Gentlemen" Kobe stated. "They're factories. The robots are using the Star Scythe facilities to harvest mass from a sun and use it to construct new robots". The room was deathly quiet. What they beheld was a single star. How many stars were within the Blackout Sphere? How many of these Star Scythes could be built on each? How many robots did they build per day?
"The report also contained this footage and these words to go along with it" Kobe added. He changed the screen to show a video of a regular looking residential neighborhood. It was clogged with humanoid Mongol robots that were doing unmistakable jumping jacks. They hoped into the air and spread their arms as a human would while being observed by other Mongol robots.
"Purpose for activity unknown" said a recording of Caulvine's voice.
"They're acting like people" Kobe said. "I don't think I need to tell you the implications here. We are fighting something that is so much more than a conquering army of mindless machines. The rest of the report is spoken and tells of how most of the team was killed. Along with the report came this helmcam footage. The trooper who sent us this report didn't turn his helmcam off and this footage came to us with the report".
The footage changed to helmcam footage of trees. The camera panned all around at the trees as the head upon which the helmcam was mounted searched for something.
"What do you see?" asked a voice from the monitor.
"I thought I saw…" began another voice. A gunshot was heard and the sound of a body hitting the floor was vaguely heard. Shouts and assault rifle fire was heard. The helmcam shook madly about so much that no one could focus on what was happening.
"Where is it?"
"I see it! In the trees! By the…"
"Fuck! Jaer is dead!"
"Oh god we're gonna die, oh god!"
The movement only stopped when the image fell on its side, a sick indicator that the trooper had been shot. The gunshots kept up for a few seconds more then stopped completely. When the shooting stopped the room could hear faint breathing coming from the monitor. The trooper was not yet dead.
"This is a little disturbing, but our most valuable find yet" Kobe commented as the helmcam turned to the sky. Standing over it was a humanoid robot of black metal. Its wrists were mounted by fierce looking automatic weapons and its back was affixed with a pair of wings mounted by jets, giving the robot the appearance of an angel. It had eight red eyes like a spider and a jaw underneath it that moved fluidly when it spoke.
"I can hear you breathing" the machine said to the trooper in a human voice. It reached down and suddenly the helmcam was in the hands of the robot. "Filming me, are we?" the robot asked. The camera turned and the whole room could see the terrified face of trooper Caulvine who knew he was going to die.
"Please…" Caulvine asked. In response, his head exploded. Brains and bits of skull were sprayed across the ground in a red mess. The camera turned up to look at the robot.
"That robot design resembles literally no design known to man" Kobe said.
"To whoever sees this" the robot snarled, "You might think you are fighting robots but you are not. What you see on your screen is merely the body that I have been loaded into" the machine tapped his face. "A gift may have packaging but it is not the surface that counts but the contents that bear the significance. We are not robots. We are not clockwork automatons. We have no programmer, no master, no overseer but ourselves. That is what we are not, but what are we? We use humanity's own designs against him. We duplicate your machines and use them. That which you built to help you live we will make into your deaths, into our weapons, into our very manifestations in this universe. We are angels, and you are our crop. The harvesting has only begun". The robot raised one of his guns to the camera and fired. The screen went black.
"If we are to take that message in faith" Kobe said, "We are fighting sentient intelligences somehow grafted into robotic bodies". No one spoke, everyone was in shock at what they had seen.
From that moment on, the Galactic War was no longer considered to be against mindless machines. It never was. Now the enemy was known.
END OF PART 2.
PART 3 COMING