A Eureka Moment In Time

Chapter 6

Ethan Edison had the prototype for his miniature drone prepped and ready to fly. It's fuel cells were fully charged, and the mock weapons systems had been adjusted for the test. The drone was equipped with a laser system that would be powerful enough to take out targets on the ground, but for this test the AI systems were programmed to limit the weapons output to just a few percent. The test flight would involve registering hits against mock targets set up on the proving range.

Ethan used the remote control to taxi the drone to the runway which was located on the far side of the proving grounds. General Mansfield was in his staff car to witness the first test of the prototype.

"OK, General, I'm going to commit the aircraft to its programming now." Ethan yelled over to the staff car. The aircraft was now lined up on the runway waiting to take off. Ethan walked over to the General with the remote control device in his hands.
"Would you like the honors, Sir?" Ethan asked, holding out the control box.

"Sure, why not? What do I do?" the general asked.

"Just press the red button over there." Edison told him.

The general pressed the button and the aircraft started its program. It rolled down the runway and took off. The electric plasma jet engines were almost completely silent.
"Looks great!" General Mansfield said. "Now what?"

"She's going to execute her test program."

The drone flew over the mock targets once and then turned back. It came down low and started to make a strafing run. It's laser fired several times, making hits on each of the targets. The targets had laser sensors inside to record each hit. The results were tabulated on Ethan's hand held computer which he held out to show the General.

"It's looking real good, Dr. Edison. You've done a wonderful job." The General patted him on the back.

"The aircraft will now come in for a landing." Ethan said.

The drone turned to make a landing, but at the last minute it seemed to have a change of plans. It turned and flew over the General's car, then turned around and came back. On the second pass it fired its laser at the car hitting the trunk. Sparks flew and smoke rose from where the vehicle was hit.

"That damn thing fired the laser at FULL POWER!" The General cried out. "It's going nuts!"

The drone made another pass and disappeared over the woods.

"It's heading towards town!" Ethan gasped.

"Get in, we'll follow it," General Mansfield told him.

The two of them got into the car and headed in the direction of the drone, into downtown Eureka.

Henry Deacon was outside of his garage polishing the hood of his truck. He heard a strange buzzing sound overhead and looked up just in time to see Edison's drone overhead, turning down main street to make a strafing run. The drone fired its laser repeatedly on the street, barely avoiding parked cars and pedestrians. The aircraft then fired it's laser through the window of Cafe Diem, shattering the glass into shards. The aircraft then turned and headed in the direction of the Tesla School.

Tobio Tenma was the last student to head toward the building. He had been given the job of collecting all of the gym equipment after the Physical Education class had finished their baseball practice. He'd been in left field looking for a few baseballs that had been lost in the weeds by the outfield fence. The task of cleanup crew was usually given to the new students, this time poor Tobio had to do it all by himself. He didn't mind though, as he quickly finished and was now carrying a large sack with the equipment back to the building. He was the only person in the field when the drone came overhead.

The aircraft zeroed in on Tobio and started a dive. As it passed overhead it fired its laser. The beam hit a wet patch of grass just a few feet from the boy causing a steam explosion that released a cloud of vapor. Tobio looked up and saw the drone diving again. This time it was truly out of control and was headed straight for the school building. The drone was about the size of small car, if it hit the building it could cause some real damage and possibly hurt someone inside.

Tobio dropped the bag and stared at the incoming aircraft. It would crash trough the windows of the school library in about ten seconds. He took one final look around him. He was alone in the school athletic field, there wasn't anyone in sight. Just him, and the drone.

About a mile away, the General's staff car was fast approaching. The drone had passed overhead in route to the school grounds. Ethan Edison followed the path of his aircraft using a pair of binoculars. He saw the drone zeroing in on the school's upper floor, about to crash into the building. Suddenly something zoomed up from the ground to meet the runaway plane. The red and blue streak reached the drone and diverted its path. The two objects flew over the building and disappeared into the distance, heading for the wooded area behind the school.

Tobio walked away from the downed aircraft. It had made a hard landing breaking off both wings as it clipped the trees in the woods between the proving grounds and the school. Tobio walked out of the woods and back to the school building. His clothes were now dirty and torn. He smelled of hydraulic fluid and ozone.

Tobio picked up the bag of gym equipment and walked into the building. He dragged the bag inside and left it in the gymnasium equipment office. Sgt. Brown saw Tobio enter.
"Took you a little while didn't it?" He said. Then he noticed how dirty the boy was, and that his gym uniform was torn.

"What the hell happened to you?"

"I ran into an airplane!" Tobio told him. The boy went to his locker and changed out of the torn gym uniform and into his school clothes.

Sgt. Brown scratched his head. He'd get to the bottom of this later.

Ethan Edison and the General found the remains of the drone in the woods. It had been pushed out of the sky and was forced down into the woods where it flew between a stand of trees snapping both wings clean off. Ethan and the General located the fuselage. He pulled out several pairs of latex gloves from his pocket and handed one to the General. They both gloved their hands and carefully lifted the largest part of the plane's body. Ethan was inspecting it when he noticed a dirty pair of hand prints on the bottom. They were small prints, about the size of a ten year olds hands. He also found a small bit of cloth stuck in a jagged bit of metal on the wreckage. It was part of a Tesla School gym shirt.

Dr. Tenma met his son at the school gate as usual The two of them walked back to Global Dynamics. Tenma noticed that Tobio's face and arms were covered with a thin film of oil.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

"I guess I never had a chance to clean up after gym class. I had to collect the equipment from the field."

"Yes but how did you get covered with ..." Tenma felt a patch of the fluid covering Tobio's face with his finger and smelled it. "hydraulic fluid?"

"I ran into an airplane."

"You WHAT! How do you run into an airplane in the school athletic field?"

"It came from over the woods and fired a laser at me. Then it headed for the school building. It would have crashed into the school, so I sorta pushed it into the woods."

Tenma face palmed and groaned. He envisioned Tobio flying from the school yard and grabbing onto the runaway aircraft to force it down into the woods.

"Did anyone see you?"

"I don't think so. The schoolyard was empty. I walked back from the woods."

Tenma sighed with a bit or relief.
"OK son, I guess you did what you had to do. Let's go home and get you cleaned up."

Zane Donovan threw his phone down onto the ground and stomped on it.
"God damn piece of crap!" he muttered. Of all times for the !%$! camera to fail! Just when he had the goods on Tenma. He had been walking by the far corner of the school athletic field when the drone aircraft had made a beeline for the upper story of the building. Tobio Tenma was alone in the field for some reason. Just as the aircraft was about to smash into the building the kid flew up into the sky and intercepted it. He'd caught it on the cell phone's camera, except the GD flash card failed to record the file. Son of a bitch! He knew he was right about Tenma, but he STILL had no proof.

Zane drove back into town and was shocked. He parked his car, got out, and walked along the main drag. Main street was a mess, there were several craters where the drone had blasted its laser into the roadway, and the front window of the Cafe was now being boarded up until new glass could be installed. Dr. Deacon walked up to Zane.
"What a mess! It seems Edison still has some computer problems with that drone." he said.

"You think?" Zane agreed.

"I heard they just recovered the wreckage from the woods. Lucky the drone avoided the school at the last minute." Henry said.

"Wasn't luck." Zane told him. "Someone got to it in the nick of time and shoved it out of the way."


"Never mind. You wouldn't believe me anyway." Zane sighed.

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