← back to stories

The Delivery

Delivery bot ST4N has a simple job: get the package to the general.

Delivery bot ST4N hovered determinedly to the huge entrance of the Galactic Headquarters. She admired her fresh coat of paint in the glass walls of the building: metallic blue with a giant yellow flash. Underneath, bold letters read: Senko, the Best Delivery Service in the Western Quadrant

The city’s vast energy shields crackled with electric fire. There had been some news about some orbital engagement, but ST4N had sent it right to the junk folder. She needed total focus for the new job!

“Urgent personal delivery for General Toko-Sho-Ji!” she piped as she reached the heavily armed soldier, stopping a short distance away from the uniformed woman.

“The General will not accept any deliveries today! This building is under lockdown! Don’t you see what’s going on?”

The guard scowled and made a dismissive gesture at the robot. “You can drop it off at the Lieutenant’s office, next to the delivery entrance.”

ST4N wasn’t deterred that easily. “Oh, but it’s a personal delivery! And it needs to be delivered today! Senko promises a same-day delivery to the sender,” she said eagerly. 

Unimpressed, the guard’s fingers did a little dance in the air. A nearby security bot emerged from it’s vigilant slumber and came over. It grabbed the protesting delivery bot and dragged her on the sidewalk, releasing her with so much force that she bumped against a lamp post. A quick chassis check revealed a fresh scratch on the left side. ST4N had just gotten the job to deliver for Senko, along with the fresh paint and some nice benefits in terms of battery extensions. It was unacceptable to fail in the first week!

ST4N hovered around the glass sides of the building for a while, trying to ignore the delivery countdown and the messages flagged as “urgent” from her depot. How could she ensure a personal delivery? As she reached the back of the Galactic Headquarters, her proximity sensor suddenly fired, warning her of an impending collision. A number of foreign bots in black were emerging from a large transporter and gathering in front of an unremarkable wall, blocking the path. 

“What are you doing?” ST4N messaged to the party.

“Do you have access to this building?”

“I was just turned away from the main entrance…”

“Aren’t you a delivery bot?”

ST4N hadn’t really checked all her privileges yet. Maybe there was some alternative way into the building? The guard had said something about a delivery entrance. As she bothered to parse all the documents that were attached to the delivery contract, she found a number of security certificates. Bloody beginner’s mistake, trying to take the main entrance! She send the access codes over to the headquarter’s AI. Not two seconds later, an entrance slid open in the wall, revealing a corridor lit in red emergency flashes. 

“Where do you need to go?” ST4N asked the black bots.

“We need to see General Toko-Sho-Ji,” they answered.

“Oh, me too! What a coincidence! I think I have his coordinates on my delivery contract. Follow me then!” ST4N was happy about the new friends and very proud to be of service. The black bots started to swarm into the opening in an orderly queue, right behind ST4N. The entrance closed itself behind them. Now, where to find this General? ST4N set a query to the receiver’s location and was first directed to an elevator. They all rode a few seconds and spilled out into an empty hallway, somewhere on the topmost floors. Keeping up with the guide, they all trailed behind her as they zigzagged through corridors and doors. The building was curiously quiet, only slightly disturbed by the low hum of the black bot’s engines. This was some really nice hover tech, the delivery bot noticed. Maybe she would get an upgrade to this tech when she had proven herself. Weirdly, they hadn’t met anyone else in the building. Where were they?

At last, they came to a set of metal doors and ST4N used another set of access codes to open this one, too. Behind it lay a room full of people and monitors - most screens showed scenes of starships in combat, lasers lancing through the blackness of space. The man closest to the door turned around in surprise, but before he could yell out, a black bot came very close to him and pressed a long cylinder to his chest. In fact, all of the black bots were suddenly sporting menacing cylinders in their metallic limbs, pointing them at the personnel in the room.

A blackhaired man with a lot of stripes on his shoulder looked in shock at the group of newcomers. He stepped down from his elevated podium in the center of the room.

“What is this? Who sent you?” he said, still mustering a measure of command.

“We are envoys from First Fleet Capitan Samantha Carlyle,” said the first black bot. “We have infiltrated your headquarter thanks to this delivery drone here. We have you surrounded! Stop the fighting now and the First Fleet Captain will accept a peaceful surrender!”

ST4N circled around the black bots that held the soldiers in check, coming to rest next to the first black bot. “General Toko-Sho-Ji! Personal delivery from Senko...” She was just about to open the parcel hatch, when it noticed a strange programming routine being injected remotely. Someone had entered her operating system and started to initiate a shutdown. Just before she hit the floor, the delivery bot could finish: “...the Best Delivery Service in the Western Quadrant.”

When ST4N was finally able to complete a reboot, she found itself in a small office, surrounded by the people who had previously been in the large war room. They had been stripped of their uniforms and sat morosely around in underwear. One of the black bots that had come in the building with her was guarding the door. The delivery bot scanned the faces of the humans around him until she matched the same black-haired man who had been commanding earlier.

“General Toko-Sho-Ji, a personal delivery from Senko…”

“Did you let them into the building?” the man said, pointing at their guard. ST4N delayed the answer: “Certainly not! I’m only programmed to deliver! Personally to you, sir!” 

She clicked open the parcel hatch. “Please accept the package,” ST4N said, offering the fingerprint scanner to the man. He sighed and placed his thumb on the pad, then retrieved the package from the slot. Putting it on the desk, he pulled off the tape that ran along the top. Inside, there was a sweet-smelling sticky mess of brown and white. The former general picked out a greeting card. A hologram started playing as he flipped it open and an elderly lady smiled from the projection.

“My dear boy, happy birthday! Your father and I are so proud of you. We hope you don’t work too much and please come visit us on your leave!”

“Thank, mum…” the general mumbled, closing the card. He scooped up some dough that had been tossed around the parcel all day, then he looked around the room, at his personnel, at the proud delivery bot and at the guard bot next to the door. He sighed again.

“Anybody want some cake?” the former general asked.