Flyswatter

Summary: Those outside the Blue Zones are subject to random drone strikes for inscrutable offenses. One day, an outsider gets to turn the tables.

Growing up outside the nearby Blue Zone, Umberto Martinez lost his share of friends to 'bug splat' drone strikes. The first, Dan, built a potato cannon in the field outside his uncle's house, only to be blown up by a drone he never saw. The second, Regina, drew unwanted attention with her fireworks and model rockets. The third, Marcus, drew the ire of unseen authorities for running a free clinic. His uncle Armando went down in a blaze of glory, defending his cache of old books with a shotgun, blasting them out of the sky until they overwhelmed him. All of them were craters in the fields around the repurposed suburb he and his family lived in.

Umberto accepted it for most of his life that the Blue Zone was the source of the drone strikes, and there was little he could do about it. The drones were how the governing elites within determined which laws would be punished, with no room for appeal or even knowledge of execution time. The drones came in explosive and bladed varieties, guided by a lingering surveillance craft that undoubtedly knew where all of them lived, breathed, and where they'd be. Even his grandparents, old enough to remember the pretense of due process, accepted the way of things. He tried not to think about it.

One day, Umberto no longer had that luxury as he smelt something acrid on the wind. He saw smoke billowing up from the nearby Blue Zone, a self-contained suburb with its own security force. Power was cut to its electric fence, as his friends and himself snuck inside. Recognizing them, they gestured Umberto inside. The cameras stared with dead electronic eyes, not responding as intruders moved in with the alacrity of ghosts.

Umberto saw the houses were aflame. Their front doors were bashed in, the windows broken, and the bodies of the former owners left to rot in the streets. To the dismay of his friends, they were already stripped of wallets, wearables, jewelry, and other valuables. The adults and children had their hands and feet restrained with plastic cuffs, and they'd all been shot execution style. He did not have to look far for the culprits.

Umberto led his compatriots into the central structure, which possessed a small hangar and launchpad for drones. Within was an automated clinic, a fabrication shop, a recycler, a longue, and a security office. He saw a television showing scenes of frantic firefights and protests in other parts of the world, resulting from disputes between the Blue Zone elites and the mercenaries they'd hired. As casually as they'd outsourced medicine, manufacture, and machinery, the elites handed over defense to an outside party.

Umberto saw the murderous mercenaries marching away from the Blue Zone, drunk on their victory over the soft elites. The men who struck down his friends and family with drones were heading for his hometown to deal death more directly. He sat at the empty the drone control console. It was time for him to splatter some bugs with his flyswatter.