Summary: They called it the Slurpee Machine, even after the field test resulted in multiple fatalities.
They called it the Slurpee Machine, even after the field test resulted in multiple fatalities. The project manager reported it was a resounding success. The initial retrieval team could only be identified by genetic testing and the names on their uniforms, since they'd been reduced to hollowed husks. They all possessed the signature puncture wounds of the subject they'd tracked.
The project started after the cancelation of DARPA's Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, or EATR. The original concept was a robot able to use organic matter it found to power itself for long-term recon missions in enemy territory. The successor was derived from a soft robotic exoskeleton, initially designed to carry life support equipment for outpatient care. However, its energy demands were met by advancements in bio-artificial fuel cells.
Officially, it was the Necro-Organic Metabolizer, or NOM. It worked similarly to a spider's digestive methodology, injecting enzymes into a body to break down internal organs for liquid ingestion. When the device was activated on deer and pig carcasses, it quickly made loud, wet slurping sounds that gave it its nickname. Despite testing multiple organic materials, the system worked most efficient with red meat.
The scope of the project grew from a scout robot to a way of supporting a long-term special operations deployment. A single individual would be tasked with commencing combat operations deep behind enemy lines, either as an individual or as a small unit. The suit would need to interface their mind with a tactical artificial intelligence and life support system capable of meeting transhuman metabolic needs.
The tactical AI was the endeavor's most controversial component. It required neural interface through a highly invasive microelectrode array, in order to bypass less efficient traditional heads up displays and augmented reality. The system would enable the user to comprehend military tactics, the use of equipment, tactical suggestions, and power sources for the suit. While convoluted, it was essential to ensure the platform was technically legal under the international rules of war, as it was not a true lethal autonomous system.
It was officially an augmented soldier. The first user was a private security contractor told to defeat a conventionally-armed unit in a simulated war game. However, the tactical AI was optimized for lethality, rather than simple training scenarios. It quickly killed the first team by wounding one member, picking off the others, and slurping down their entrails like a protein smoothie. The last thing that came in over the radio was the wet slurping sound like smacking lips.
The second team was fully armed and equipped, and they met a similar fate. So too did a family of four who lived just off the testing facility. The initial model was a wild, literally runaway, success. The corporate board of directors pressed to begin production immediately.