Space to Breathe. Part 1.4

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My head starting to clear, my breathing a little less ragged and my heart is back in my rib cage and out of my ears, I’m about to climb to my feet, when my vision flashes red, and I hit the deck.

‘I’ve picked up an active scan at extreme range, but the downed lifter is lit up like a bonfire, you’re in a depression, and out of immediate sight, but stay down, low and quiet.’

I tapped my finger to my left ear twice, a little nonverbal acknowledgement we have used before when silence is key. I fought the urge to pop my head up and just focused on staying still and pretending to be invisible. Slowly I glanced around to ensure the bag was packed in case I needed to move, but then again, on this open grass, where was I going? Anyone doing an active scan, is not likely to be on foot, and I’m not sure how fast I can cover 2200m but I’m pretty sure it’s not as fast as any skimmer, drone or flyer is going to be. So simply put I ate dirt and tried to be a mouse in the bushes.

I strained my ears, and I could just make out the tell-tale sound of rotors spinning at high speed, not under strain, so something small. I was a little over 3000 meters away as the drone flies, and there was plenty at the crash site to keep a drone busy, but I was exposed.

‘Suggestions?’ I whispered under my breath

‘Sit tight, I’m picking up scans on various frequency bands and ultrasonics, probably mapping the wreckage, the only burst I got from it so far was limited to confirming location with no further data, so it looks like it’s a drone.

I’m not picking up any other signals nearby, so it may not have support in the area, heck at this point it could just be a kid snooping around with a toy’

Some toy I thought, location data means someone knows where it is, and will soon know what it’s looking at, the one saving grace is that unless it sends out a data packet whoever is on the receiving end will physically need to retrieve the drone to get an eyeball on what it’s looking at, and that gives me time.

‘Can you hack it?’

Not without giving our location away’

‘Can you block any transmissions from it?’

Up close maybe, but not at this range, no.’

‘Is it moving at all, I can’t tell?’

‘Sounds like it’s scanning around the wreck, there is a slight Doppler shift as it goes around’

Come on brain, think, I need a way out of this, and fast, all this technology and I’m resorted to eating dirt and hiding like a caveman.

‘Sharon, send out a low power distress ping, very short range, I want to get the drones attention out this way’

‘You crazy or something, why would you want to go and do that?’

‘I’ve got a cave man solution to the problem, just get that thing over here and block any transmissions when it’s right on top of us’

I reached into the pack, searching around for the tool kit and the first-aid kit, I pulled out the knife blade and the suture material, handily on a nice spool, just how much stitching were they ever expecting someone to do? Really! I tied one end solidly to the knife and ran out some line off the spool. Then I ran out some more line, no idea exactly how much I’m going to need, but don’t want to skimp when your fishing. Rolling onto my back I tucked the end of the spool through my belt so it could not just fly away and held the knife down the side of my leg, being careful not to tangle the spool, I could hear the drone buzzing my way but not see it just yet.

A counter and red arrow popped up on the edge of the depression above me quickly counting down, I guess Sharon wanted me to have some warning, when it hit 10m the drone came into sight heading straight over me.

‘Not yet….not yet……’ I muttered under my breath.

As the drone swooped in to ID the weak signal it had picked up I launched the knife up towards its centre of mass, I missed anything vital, but the blade passed up through the twin ducted fans and was clipped by the upper fan blades. Then all hell broke loose. The knife spun off a fan blade, but the two fans spinning in opposite directions immediately caught up on the suture thread, with a bang they locked up, only helped by the blade being dragged into the mess as well.

The drone dropped like a stone, all lift gone. I scrambled up towards it grabbing a rock and went all cave man on the thing. I kept hammering away at the drone’s case, I smashed the fans, I gouged out it lenses, and dug into the casing for anything which looked vaguely sensitive. I spotted the main battery and just ripped it out bodily, then brought my makeshift hammer down repeatedly on the motherboards I could see.

After a few minutes of wild abandon I was panting hard again, but I had burned off much of my pent up frustration.

‘Monkey see, monkey smash, right?’

‘Just tell me if this damn thing is transmitting any more’

‘Transmitting? This thing is scrap, but you could burn out the relevant memory stores just to be on the safe side if you really like?

A little dancing “No Smoking” sign began to float over a couple of the components, so I grabbed the Utility torch, fired up the mini plasma cutter and really went to work. After a few moments the drone was an unrecognisable wreck and the air smelt of burned plastic and ozone. I’d really done a number on this thing, reducing it to so much charred scrap. I was breathing hard again, but I needed to get moving, I had no way of knowing if the drone had a local handler, or even where it came from, and I could not take the risk of someone coming looking.

I grabbed the remains of the suture thread, using the knife I had also recovered to cut it free, waste not want not. Sliding the knife back into the utility tool I threw everything back in the pack and headed off towards the dubious shelter of the facility I’d been heading for.


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