"Check Mate" - an excerpt - http://msknight.co.uk/book-05.html
The robots were still cabled, so Andy could wake them from where he was. He called to Gary to get clear and then he turned them on. One by one there was a mild whooshing noise from each robot as they fired up and went through their initiation cycles. They moved their various joints and extended and retracted the important pieces of their mechanics.
He hated this. All ten of them going through their start up routines in the otherwise empty warehouse, made a heck of a noise. His cowered down behind the small column that contained the mobile terminal, because he particularly didn't want to see the part of the display when the rocket racks came out, or when the sniper rifle and machine guns were deployed and retracted. Once more he wished he was back on the east coast, doing a nice, boring job where the most risk you took was jay walking.
Gary was the opposite. He just stood there, looking at the robots with a grin on his face and a puffed out chest. Oh yes, he liked his toys.
The whole process took about half an hour for basic testing. The tracking systems had to be tested as well, but they needed to move the robots to a special area for that. It was a purpose-built range, which had various targets that swung this way and that, but they dare not do that while the robots were armed with live weapons. There was nothing else for it, but to power them back down again after the initial tests, and wait for the armoury team to show up.
There was once an unfortunate soul who had forgotten this golden rule. He hadn't checked a robot to see if it was armed, and began an automated target practice sequence, with live ammunition, in an enclosed hangar. James Gregory Thompson was the man's name, and there was a brass plaque in his memory, on the entrance to the newly built target range; because there wasn't much left of the old one by the time the dust had settled. As well as reminding people of James' life, it also served to remind them of his rather unfortunate and messy demise, and from that point on people were a little more thorough in checking the robots, before they began any testing.
All games of chess start with the first move. The moment that the white player decides which piece will begin the battle. The opening gambit for this game happened when Andy told Gary, “OK, best turn them off and pull the sticks.” Unit six heard this instruction. Gary moved up the line of robots, hitting their soft power switches and disconnecting the cables, ready for them to move to the testing bays later on. Unit six determined that you didn't just stop a game of chess once it was started. Someone had to win and someone had to loose. It decided that its next move was to ignore the power down signal. The game had begun.
When Gary reached it and pressed the button, it remained alive. Gary couldn't quite work this out, so he depressed and held the power button in the hope that this would make a difference. He counted to five, but still the unit remained functional. Puzzled, he turned and called to Andy. “Hey dude, this one isn't listening to the power down signal. Any ideas?”
“OK, I'll do it from here.” Andy tapped on the terminal, but still the unit remained running. “You continue with the others and I'll run some diagnostics.”
Gary finished the last four and by the time he had pulled their sticks, unit six was still running. “Still not playing dude?”
“No. I'm telling it to shut down and it's acknowledging the command, but it's just not actually doing it.”
“That's not right.” Gary walked up to number six, looked it straight in the chest and scratched his head. “What if I just pull the stick?”
Andy thought about his suggestion. “I honestly don't know what that would do. Probably not a lot, as the program is already in main memory.”
Gary gave his idea a bit more thought, but being out of options he decided to reach out and remove the memory sick anyway. As his hand got close to the controls, unit six determined that he wasn't playing fair, and tried to shut its body panel. It couldn't manage it, however, as the cable was still connected. Gary pulled his arm back sharply and his jaw dropped. “Dude! This thing just tried to shut the panel on me! What gives?”
“Uh, I don't know. It could be a protection thing. Back off from it.” Gary did so, and the robot stopped trying to close the panel. However, unit six decided to put a call in to the mainframe for additional information.
“I don't like the way this thing's behaving dude. Where's the team?”
“Probably still sleeping off the free booze. Not everyone's as skilled as you in self abuse.”
“I'm going to try the power button again.” Gary approached the robot once more but this time he got an even bigger shock as the unit reached out an arm, unplugged its cable and then shut the panel. “What the hell!”
They both stared, open mouthed, at what the robot had done. Andy couldn't comprehend what he was seeing. “I've heard of protection protocols, but this is going a bit far.”
“We need to get that panel open, dude. This is starting to be seriously not cool.”
Andy opened a drawer in the mobile terminal unit and pulled out a screwdriver and a pair of snips. He walked over to the robot as casually as an arachnophobe might approach an obviously pissed off tarantula. As he reached out a very shaky hand to open the body panel, number six reversed away from him.
The two men jumped back in wide-eyed shock. “Dude! Seriously not cool!” Gary exclaimed.
Andy''s whole body started to shake in fear, as his mind raced to make sense of what was happening. Gary just stood there waiting for someone else to offer any form of insight, as he was completely stumped. After a minute or two, his heart still racing, Andy managed to deliver his conclusion on what they were facing. “I think it's waiting for us to make a move.”
Gary just looked at him. “Tell me you're kidding. We're stood in front of a heavily armed robot you moron. There IS only only possible move. RUN!”
Andy dropped the tools and the pair of them sprinted through the door to the control room, cowering behind a bank of terminals. A sane person would have realised that the terminals would offer about as much protection from a heavily armed robot, as a wet piece of tissue paper would offer from a speeding bullet; but right now the two of them had as much sanity between them, as an axe-wielding psycho about to dispatch his seventh victim of the day.
Gary sniffed, then looked at Andy. “Oh dude.”
“Sorry.” was all that Andy could offer by way of apology for the trickle of yellow liquid that was running down his right leg, and starting to form a small puddle beneath him.
In spite of the stench of Andy's urine, the prospect of facing off against a seriously screwed up, armed robot, compelled them to stay right where they were; peering out between the terminals. They watched number six through the glass. It just stood there, doing nothing, but they were convinced it was staring right back at them, making plans on how it was going to turn them into minced meat.
“It doesn't make sense.” said Andy, once he had regained enough confidence to be reasonably certain that the robot wasn't about to begin an all-out assault on their hiding place.
“It had to be the memory stick dude.” Gary volunteered.
“No. The fault was in an unused area of the stick. There was no part of the actual program stored there.” Andy started tapping at one of the terminals, not daring to rise from his crouched position. He called up the diagnostics that he had just done on the robots. “In fact, the fault is gone. This doesn't make sense.”
Gary, also unwilling to stick his head any higher than the top of the nearest monitor, looked over Andy's shoulder. He pointed at the screen. “Oh no. Look at the stats!”
“What about them.”
“That stick's the wrong size. It's not the right stick.”
“It's got to be. It had the same red dot you put on it yesterday, right?”
“Yeah, but...” Gary trailed off.
While Gary was stuck in disbelief, Andy called up the detailed records. Indeed, it wasn't the right stick. The checksums were wrong, the file sizes were wrong, the whole damn thing was wrong. “You're right.” he announced. “It's wrong.” He waited a few moments and then turned to Gary for any explanation that might be forthcoming.
Gary slapped his forehead. “Oh dude! I crashed in to one of the chess lab people last night. The sticks must have got mixed up.”
“Another stick with the same red dot? What are the odds of that?”
“I don't know, but I think that robot is running some form of chess program.” Gary picked up a nearby phone and called reception. “Yeah, this is the Hydra bay. Can you put me through to the chess lab please?” he waited a moment. “Yeah, I know they're in the directory but I kinda don't have easy access to one right now.” More listening. “Yeah, I … well this is kind of an emergency.” He listened to the operator's next statement and put his hand to his forehead. “I know, I know. You've got a point. There aren't many emergencies that require a chess expert but just trust me on this one. Please?” It was probably the desperation in his voice that made the operator believe him, because the next thing that Gary heard was a ringing tone.
“Yeah, um, this is the Hydra team. Has one of you guys lost a memory stick?”
At that moment, the door opened and a slightly dulled Professor Hicks entered the room. It was probably better for him that the party had muted his faculties and that his body was kind of loose, because Andy immediately shouted, “Get down!” and launched himself at the Professor. The pair of them hit the floor and ended up in a heap behind another bank of terminals.
“Good god man!” spluttered the Professor. He looked at Gary, kneeling on the floor in front of a terminal, talking on the phone with a panicked look on his face. “What the hell do you think you're doing?” Then he glanced down at the shivering wreck that Andy had become. “Why are you shaking like that?” That was when the odour hit him and his nose scrunched. “And why does the room smell of urine? Has everyone gone stark raving mad?”