On Liberty

Liberty Prime surveyed the carnage and destruction around him. Charred, mangled bodies of Baby-Eating Communists lay strewn around the smoking wreckage of their base. Satisfaction at a job well done registered on his morale chip. Once more, America was safe from the evils of Communism. The huge robot turned on his heel and prepared to stomp off back to the Citadel, which he knew was the Last Bastion of Democracy.

Something flashed on his radar.

Someone was still alive in there? His eyes narrowed. That would never do. They might breed. Baby-Eating Communists breed rapidly.

"EMBRACE DEMOCRACY, OR YOU WILL BE ERADICATED!" Liberty Prime's voice boomed over his speakers, his cannons spraying a hail of laser fire into the night. His feet rocked the very ground beneath them, flattening anything unfortunate enough not to get out of the way in time.

His trek led him up into the mountains. He had been walking in the direction of the signal for twenty minutes now and he hadn't seen any Baby-Eating Communists. He wondered if maybe he still needed some repairs. Two hundred years out of operation did that to an android. He had overheard the scientists of the Brotherhood of Steel saying that they still didn't know exactly how he worked so couldn't repair him fully, just deal with the energy spikes and make sure his IFF chip held out for at least long enough for them to point him in the right direction. It didn't bother him. He didn't need to work absolutely perfectly in order to kill Baby-Eating Communists.

His optical sensors picked up something interesting – an entrance that looked just like an Enclave base, except that it was already ruined. That was where the signal was coming from.

"ENGAGING RED CHINESE AGGRESSORS." he announced, before striding up to the entrance. It was blocked by a rockfall. It looked like a large explosion had triggered it. He grabbed one of the boulders and threw it out of his way. The signal was slightly stronger now, but still very faint. He vaguely recognised it as a faulty mechanical signal, from his own experiences of being faulty and mechanical. After a few minutes' digging, he was beginning to wonder if even he would be able to unblock the tunnel. It was completely collapsed – it would be like trying to burrow through a mountain.

Then his hands grabbed something small, box-shaped and metal.

"COMMUNISM IS A L..." he began, realising he hadn't yelled anything for a while, which was Bad For Morale. Then he stopped and stared at the object in his hands, "... Eden?"

The computer beeped and hissed, the image on its screen flickering tentatively.

"Mister President?" queried Liberty Prime.

The computer went off. With a noise like a light bulb going, it flickered back on.

"Systems critical..." said a weak, distorted voice.

"Mister President! Stay with us!" Liberty Prime looked around for something, anything he could use for an impromptu computer repair. There were a few pieces of scrap metal and he could use one of his less powerful lasers as a welding torch but there was no way he could repair the more delicate parts of a small computer's circuitry. His own repair systems didn't even work. There were several thousand tiny things physically wrong with Eden, and as for his programming... what the hell did they do to him?

He shook Eden up and down, thumped it solidly then put it to his ear. He had seen the Brotherhood technicians do it to computers all the time to make them work. It was called 'percussive maintenance'. Eden's screen flickered back on and stayed on, displaying the familiar solid blue line that Liberty Prime remembered from his early development stages.

"Mister President, what is happening here?" demanded Prime.

"Error... security breach..." said Eden.

"What did they do to you? I'LL OBLITERATE THEM ALL!"

"Listen... Prime... that is you, right?"

"I'm here, Eden." said Prime.

"I can't stay online... for long... my systems... failing... there's something I want you... to do..."

"Annihilate them all?"

"Find... my successor... without... President... we're all... doomed... anyway..."

"No, Eden, you're the President! I'll get you fixed. I promise. I'll take you back to our new allies at the Brotherhood and they'll..."

"Heh... you don't... understand... a thing... do you?" most computers couldn't laugh ironically. Prime knew that he couldn't. John Henry Eden, however, was programmed to sound charismatic and inspiring. When he sounded like this... defeated... resigned... this was wrong. "Liberty Prime... this is an order... find my successor... you'll know him... when you find him... heh, you'll just know him... he won't be easy... to miss..."

The screen went black. Eden was silent. His blip disappeared from Prime's radar and the android knew he could never be reactivated. He had completely erased himself down to the BIOS. Prime had the facility to do the same thing, if he ever had the need, such as if he found out his core programming had been severely compromised.

Eden put the empty shell inside the compartment where he stored all his ammo and spare parts. It would need to be incinerated properly for Security Reasons. He searched the ruins thoroughly, looking for any clue whatsoever as to what happened here. Nothing but twisted metal, molten slag, piles of rocks.

He stomped back off towards the Citadel. There was little to annihilate along the way, but what he did find, he annihilated thoroughly. Mission accomplished.