Good Boy

Summary: A robot dog with a sniper rifle picks off the enemies of the status quo.

The partisan never saw the machine that killed him. A four-legged robot, superficially resembling a skeletal dog, bounded back into the ruins as the mounted sniper rifle searched for another target. A teenager with a bag that might contain a weapon was the next one shot, followed by an old woman pointing a walking stick at the source of the gunfire. The other members of the robot pack attacked from other directions, cutting down the entire column of guerillas.

Half a world away, Clarice Wilson felt happy as the algorithm confirmed her kills. The focused ultrasound headset non-invasively stimulated her brain's pleasure center, her reward for an ambush well done. Her parents and teachers were proud of her career as a drone pilot, a profession appealing her background as a gamer.

Like her computer games, Clarice had a running scoreboard with other colleagues in her office. Her name topped the list of enemy kills, although Pedro was gaining on her again. Both had almost unlocked all the achievements on the current deployment. Their company's contract would be up for renewal with the nearby government, and if it was, they'd have new achievements and a fresh scoreboard.

Clarice figured it would only be another year or so before they had enough data to fully automate the armed drones for this theater. Their autopilot was not yet robust enough for all theaters of combat, so each region required its own fine-tuning for automated war. In time, the machines could potentially hunt and exterminate all human inhabitants of that foreign land. However, her employer's client only wanted to eliminate a specific ethnic group, an indigenous people laying claim to untapped mineral deposits. Their only crime was resisting their own extermination.

Clarice neither knew or cared about the politics. Her view was common with the others in her comfortable office. Thanks to their stimulation headsets and augmented reality feeds, they only received data from approved information sources. Things that disagreed with such authoritative sources were rapidly reported and rejected. All she needed to know was when she killed someone, her robot dog was being a good boy.