The Drone

   The crater, a smoking, attenuated V, cut a ragged furrow across the prairie. At the head of the crater a lopsided ball of metal twitched and hissed with stress fractures as slabs of earth, crystalized by the heat, settled across its dome. The external communication arrays were slagged, melted by the re-entry or scraped from his shell on impact, and Blister ran diagnostics with little hope that any of his core systems would be online. Given what happened he was surprised to get cognition at all.
    He had been attempting to slingshot off the planet’s gravity well when the first missile gutted his fusion drive and dropped him into the atmosphere. The second missile knocked out his anti-grav sending him spinning towards the surface. If he had been a war drone, with heavier plating, the missiles would’ve thrown him off course but he’d be halfway around the world by now and ready to catapult into deeper space with only a few dents to show. Recon drones weren’t made to take direct hits. But then, he had no reason to think he’d be at risk, deep scans hadn’t shown any indication of Separatist activity on the surface. Where had those missiles come from?
    With no external cam and no link to the outside he was blind and mute, waiting for the inevitable cleanup crew to investigate the wreckage and finish him off.  Whoever fired those missiles would need to verify the kill. They would assume he had sent a message to the State but needed to be cleaned up regardless. They couldn’t know that his com and weapons systems were down, that his drive had been reduced to an unstable fusion reactor that wouldn’t get him off the ground. That he was paralyzed.
    A cloud of white dust was settling over the crash, thick flakes of burning ash. Blister was thankful that he’d been mem-cached before this mission so his death here wouldn’t be permanent. The State would have him loaded into another drone chassis and, once they’d run his psyche profile, he’d be flying missions within days.
    He’d run some scenarios and, in his present condition, his options were few. All of which made his next decision a little easier.
    He needed to let the State know the Separatists were running an operation quietly on the planet surface. He needed to make some noise.
    With a thought he accessed controls for his fusion drive and evaluated it’s remaining output. There, he thought, that should be enough to attract some attention. He engaged the reactor and felt his body hum with the power. The damaged drive had melted and been fused shut by the missile strike and there was nowhere for the energy to go. Blister watched the reactor cycle up.
    His parent, a dreadnaught battle cruiser, was a u-space jump away and would be listening for him. They would have registered that he went off-com but might assume that was the result of a solar flare. He needed to let them know, unequivocally, that trouble was brewing.
    The reactor was hot now, on the verge of running wild. Blister hoped the Separatist crew was near, he’d love to take them out in grand fashion. The explosion would be enough to level a city and it would be seen clearly from orbit. More importantly his crew would read its signature and know to where he disappeared. On the planet surface the energy discharge would knock down coms for everyone within 50 kilometers. He prayed that would leave the enemy blind to the dreadnaught advance.
    The fusion drive was burning well into the red and his remaining systems were shutting down, pointlessly, and protectively. Good-bye you bastards, he thought, I’ll see you soon.