MACHINE HUNT, 1ST DRAFT
You wake up in a sand dune. You see a clear sky and a midday sun through hazy vision. You sit up
and breathe. Silence, apart from the gently whistling wind as it skips over the dune. When you stand,
your knees almost buckle. “What happened?” You think, “How far out am I?” You pick up the pieces
of your scattered gear – your gun, your equipment belt, and your protective mask, and you leave the
rest in the sand.
When you reach the top of the dune, the wind hits your face, blowing the rest of the sand out of
your hair. In the distance you see the city. “That’s where I was. But how am I here?” The sun catches
the ruins of some of the taller buildings. “It’s a beautiful sight, when you forget that it’s dead.”
You rest your head in your palm, trying desperately to remember.
“The scouting party. The machines came close again. Closer than they’ve been… My pod!” A flood of
memories. You were air-dropped in with the other members of your team. “They must have landed
somewhere close!” Looking around, you see nothing. “The rendezvous point was in the main square
in the city. Maybe they’re waiting for me there. I hope they all made it.” You fasten your mask to
your face – the sandstorms are unpredictable – and you walk, while you still have the light.
Soon into your journey you are attacked by a small group of machines. You remember them, they
are easy to deal with, but can be dangerous in larger groups. You battle them, quickly regaining your
ability to fight.
Your ammunition is almost gone. You’ll need to restock soon or you won’t survive another attack.
You unfold a scrap of cloth from your pocket. On it, a crudely drawn map of the city and some of the
surrounding desert. You compare it to what you see ahead of you and pinpoint your location. You
drag your finger across to the nearest X marker. “A cache, hopefully I can resupply. If anyone else
survived, they might have headed there too!”
Your wandering is interrupted by a large crash and an explosion of sand behind you. A huge machine
bursts up from the ground. Hesitantly, you raise your gun, before deciding to drop it, remove your
mask and hold your arms in the air. “Make it fast!” You say. A beam of light comes from the
machine, scanning from your head to your feet and back. A booming artificial voice echoes around
you. “WHO ARE YOU?”
You think “The machines have access to all the human databases. How can it not know me?”
“WHO ARE YOU?”
“My name is Jorge Wolf,” you say.
It scans you again. It seems confused… somehow. You wonder how this could be… “Maybe the
Organization scrubbed our records before sending us in,” you think.
Slowly you lower your arms and step towards this towering beast. “What’s it gonna do? Scan me
closer? Take a blood sample? Maybe I could use one of my grenades if I get close enough…”
A hatch opens up on the front of the machine and a long mechanical arm draped with cables and
metal rods emerges. It latches onto your head. You clutch a grenade, ready to make your move. “A
good blast inside that hatch would do it I think. I’ve never seen this kind of machine before… I
thought they covered everything in traini—“. Your head pulses with energy as you suddenly
“Thirty years ago, humanity made a breakthrough in the field of artificial intelligence. We created a
prototype model of a robot that could learn and think for itself. The creators promised that
everything was under control, that we were safe from the robot uprising we’d seen in the movies for
decades… Something went wrong somewhere.
“The machines wiped out most of the human population within the first six years. The next decade
was a struggle. People took refuge underground, and in military bases. Some decided to brave it out
on the surface. Most of them, if not all of them, are dead now.
“My name is Jorge Wolf, I was recruited by the Organization to infiltrate Steelcog City, a place now
crawling with machines. A few weeks ago a weak distress signal was detected, originating from
within the city. The Organization believes this could be a group of scientists who might hold the
knowledge that will turn the tide of this war for survival back against the machines.
“A team of us – me and another three soldiers – were air-dropped in separate pods. Our mission was
to rendezvous in the middle of the city and make contact with the scientists, but we took fire as we
were descending. I saw one pod explode, and my landing gear was damaged, speeding up my
descent. Luckily, I survived the impact.”
You open your eyes, breaking through the surge of memories, your arms are weak but you manage
to place the grenade inside the machine’s hatch. Its arm retracts.
“YOU HAVE BEEN DESIGNATED AN ENEMY, AND MUST BE DESTROYED.”
“After you!” (Or something that sounds cooler, I’ll change this.)
You dive backwards and slide down a small hill of sand as the machine explodes. You shelter yourself
from the debris. Coughing, and scrambling to your feet, you proceed to the marked cache, hoping to
find out if any of the other soldiers survived…
You take a drink from the flask on your utility belt. The sun is much lower now, you figure it must be
around 5pm. Ahead of you are the sandy ruins of a small town on the outskirts of the city. “The
cache is just through this town. I better keep my head down, these buildings will make great cover.”
As you think, you hear some sounds coming from up ahead. You dash into a side street and peek
around the corner. A couple of small machines are carrying off some old machine parts. You see a
ladder opposite you and dash towards it, but you knock over some debris and the machines hear
you. You curse at your carelessness and ready your gun.
One of the machines opens its head and fires a beam into the sky. You stand away, holding your
position. Out of nowhere, a flying machine rockets by overhead. You curse again and start to run.
You fire the last of your ammunition into the machines and holster your rifle on your back. The flying
machine comes back around for a second pass, firing down at you.
You dash in between buildings, avoiding approaching groups of small machines, and trying to stay
in cover from the air attack. You run into another group, and behind you more machines close in.
You pick up a nearby metal pipe and attack the small robots.
Once you have an opening, you continue to run. “The cache should be just through the next street!
On second thought, I hope none of the others got to this one. A weapon would be great right now.”
You emerge from the alleyways onto a large open road. The flying machine circles around for a
straight pass at you. Frantically looking around, you spot a signpost with a large X sprayed across it.
You duck for cover behind the wrecked cars along the road as the flying machine tears through them
with its railgun. It misses you on this pass, so you sprint the rest of the way and head inside the
marked building. You see it – it’s a metal safe, like a torpedo, half lodged in the ground. You scan
your hand on the top and it opens. You look inside – it’s a missile launcher, and plenty of rifle ammo,
and some food and drink supplies. You laugh with relief and take the launcher.
Using the cars for cover, you make your stand, switching between your rifle for the small machines
and targeting the flying machine with your missile launcher.
After downing the ship and clearing the town of robots, you collapse to the ground and eat a power
bar. Injured, but alive, you then proceed on your way to the city, which lies just up ahead…
The main road into the city look clear of enemies, but a sandstorm is quickly starting. The large
towers of glass before you ripple and reflect like a puddle of clear water, like an oasis amongst all
this chaos. But you know that within its streets only lies more danger, even worse than you’ve faced
so far. The gates to the city open in the distance, and your light jog slows down. You watch, as
swarms of robots, both small and medium, emerge from the cracks like ants, heading straight
towards you. You reload your rifle and cast aside your empty missile launcher. You put your
protective mask on, then run towards them.
For this fight, a sandstorm gradually gets worse and worse as you fight, and everything is quiet,
even the gunfire. All you hear is the voiceover, memories of your briefing:
“The smaller machines are drones, being controlled by a nearby commander. The commanders are
slightly larger than the drones. Most of the ones we have seen are equipped with machine guns,
but some have been known to be merged with experimental laser technology. The weak points for
both of these types are the body. That’s where all the important stuff is located. Couple of shots to
the chest and it’s night-night.”
You fight the machines and continue to remember:
“The bigger machines are the ones you should worry about. Each one we’ve seen so far has been
unique, unlike the drones and commanders, these beasts are unpredictable. Each one will look
different, have different weapons, and approach attacking you very differently. This is why you
need to stick together as a team. If you get separated, you have flares, and you have your
emergency rendezvous, but you must not face the big machines alone under any circumstances!
“Men, these scientists could be the most important people alive right now. They could be the
answer we’ve been looking for since the world went to hell. If it’s life and death and it’s them or
you, they must survive, no matter what.”
The city gates start to close as you get nearer. Unable to kill every machine, you scramble through
the narrowing gap. A few robots make it through before it closes. You finish them off.
You look around – you’re in Steelcog City, finally. You take out your map and flip it over to show a
better map of the city’s streets. The rendezvous point is a few blocks over, and there is a cache near
you. You decide to restock then head to the meeting place.
You explore the city, killing the stray machines that you encounter. Everything is in ruins, cars are
destroyed, windows broken, buildings burnt out.
Eventually you reach the cache – it’s open already, and there are dead machines lying around it. You
quickly root through it, finding some ammo and a communicator. Excited, you turn it on.
“This is Jorge Wolf, does anybody read me?”
“I repeat, this is Jorge Wolf, does anyone read me?”
“Holy shit, Wolf, is that really you?”
“Yes! Who is this? Where are you?”
“It’s Jerome, and Garza’s here, we saw you take a hit and figured you were a goner.”
“Thank God you’re alive. So, it was Warner’s pod that got hit… I just got into the city, the place is
crawling with those things.”
“I know! We had to take down this big guy when we got here. Man, where are you? Can you get to
“I’m on the outskirts somewhere, are you near the rendezvous?”
“Probably nearer to it than you are. We’ll meet you there. Keep radio silent, those bastards can track
the EM waves.”
You turn off the radio and hook it onto your utility belt, pleased at some good news for once.
You reach the location marked on your map. You slowly climb the stone steps leading to the
building’s main courtyard, and you see the sign: [STEELCOG ADVANCED ROBOTICS]
You think: “You’d think the machines would have searched every corner of this place for surviving
scientists. Could they really be here?”
With no warning, a huge machine bursts up from the underneath the main lobby, destroying the
fountain that was there. It doesn’t fully emerge from the ground but stays mostly buried. It sets its
sights on you, on the 1st floor balcony. You prepare for the fight.
When you deplete the machine’s health bar, it climbs up from the ground and destroys the balcony
you were standing on. You realise now that this battle isn’t over, and you are very low on ammo.
As it prepares to destroy you, several rockets hit it from above, disabling its huge arm and part of its
face. Jerome and Garza are abseiling down towards you from the top of the building, firing missiles
at the machine.
The big machine collapses, destroyed. Jerome and Garza reach the ground and meet with you.
“Great to see you in one piece man!” Jerome says.
“Yeah, sorry we took our time, we had some problems on the upper floors.” Garza says.
“I’m just glad you saved my ass in time. What’s happening upstairs?” You respond.
“Oh, nothing now. We want to go downstairs!” Garza continues.
“See, the signal we got from the scientists was sent from an array on the roof, so we checked there
first when we got here. This is before we knew you were alive.” Jerome says.
“So if they aren’t upstairs, they must be underground. And this bastard was kind enough to open the
front door!” Garza laughs.
The hole through which the huge machine appeared is now your entrance to the underground
tunnels, where it is likely you will find the scientists and complete your mission. The three of you hop
down and Garza performs a scan with a wrist device he’s wearing.
“Anything?” Jerome asks.
“I’m getting nothing…” Garza says.
“Well, there are three tunnels, and three of us. I say we split.” Jerome says.
“I agree. Wolf?” Garza responds.
“That sounds best, yeah.” You say.
“We have our radios. Regular contact, report anything unusual.” Garza says.
“Here’s a resupply. Watch your ass down there.” Jerome hands you some ammo.
The three of you split up, heading down one of three different tunnels each. A sliding door closes
behind you as you enter.
You pick up the railgun and inspect it. It’s charge-based, not ammo based. One blast every 10
seconds. It looks pretty devastating. “I guess the scientists were working on a weapon to fight the
machines. Maybe that’s why we were sent to find them. They have the knowledge we need to build
more of these!” You think.
You reach the next room. This place is cleaner, less like a sewer, more like a science lab. In the
middle of the room is a huge machine. You pick up your radio to contact Jerome and Garza.
“This is Wolf, can you read me?”
“Jerome. Lots of metal heads down my end, but it’s cool. I found these super strong glove things.
Must have been an experiment the scientists were working on.”
“Garza here. I found something pretty neat too. Don’t know what they are but when I put them on
my legs I could run pretty damn fast! They just saved my ass.”
“I found some kind of energy gun. Takes out a bunch of the machines in one shot. Rechargeable too!
What the hell were these scientists doing?”
“Isn’t it obvious? They were testing out ways to create the perfect soldier. Something that could
destroy the machines for good!” Garza says.
“Well it didn’t work out well for the people down here. I’m guessing we all found these things on
corpses.” You say.
“Maybe they were prototypes. The scientists didn’t have time to finish them and make more!
Imagine an army of humans with these babies.” Jerome says.
“We have to find these scientists.” Garza says.
“Something doesn’t add up… Why wouldn’t they tell us about these things? Retrieving these
weapons should have been part of the mission brief, in case the scientists didn’t make it. The
Organization has people that back-engineer this stuff, don’t they?” You say.
“They’re obviously not the prime objective. Wolf. Don’t go questioning orders on us now. Not when
we’re this close.” Jerome says.
“He’s right, Wolf. Orders are orders. We follow ‘em to the letter.” Garza says.
“Of course,” You say, “I’m just saying, something doesn’t feel right… Find anything else guys?”
“Nope.” Garza says.
“Me neither,” Jerome says. “You?”
You look up at the strange object in the middle of the room. It has several lights that flicker. You
follow the cables to an upstairs console.
“Nothing down here but water and shit.” You finally say.
“Right. We’ll check back in 10 minutes. Stay safe fellas.” Garza says.
“Out.” Jerome says.
You stare at the object in silence and put the radio away. You see no way to reach the console above
you, so you continue through the door on the other side of the lab.
You reach another lab. In the middle of this one is a small pedestal with a device on it. At the bottom
of the pedestal lies a scientist’s body, his arm reaching up as if he placed the device on there as he
died. Someone has put a towel over his head. The towel has bloody fingerprints on it. “Nobody
would stop to cover up a body if they were being attacked… And why didn’t they cover any of the
others?” You think. “They knew him, he was a friend, someone they worked with! There’s a scientist
alive down here!”
As you think, a loud metallic crash is heard from the tunnel ahead of you. The tunnel you came from
collapses, and a large ball-shaped rolling machine comes in, heading straight for you. You grab the
device on the pedestal and dive aside as it smashes through the pedestal.
You quickly look at the device, turning it around, finally slotting it into the top of your special railgun.
This device increases the damage of the weapon and reduces the time it takes to recharge. You
laugh, turning to face the ball machine as it rolls around for another charge. Your railgun is ready.
With the ball machine destroyed, you proceed down the tunnel, tossing aside your assault rifle – you
won’t need that any more. As you run, your radio goes off:
“Wolf! Do you copy?”
“It’s Wolf!” You answer. “What’s going on?” You hear gunfire in the background of the transmission.
“It’s Garza, I met with Jerome! Our tunnels connected and I think yours does too! We could really
use your help man!”
“I’m on my way, what’s going on there?” You say, and start running.
“Big fucking machine! We could use that energy gun you mentioned right about now! Running fast
and punching things isn’t helping us here!”
“I’m not far, I can hear the gunfire!” You pant.
You stop. You turn around. You just ran past a small side tunnel. Above it there is a sign that says
[UPPER LAB ACCESS]. You think back to the strange object in the middle of the other lab, and the
console you couldn’t reach…
The gunfire continues from the tunnel. You stand still, thinking. Looking.
You make your decision, and continue towards Jerome and Garza.
You reach the final room, where all the tunnels meet. A huge machine that looks like a man’s head is
flying around, spitting out smaller machines. Above you is a massive cavern leading to the surface.
You see the sky, and the stars.
Returning your attention to the fight, you see Garza shooting machines in the distance, but no sign
You reach Garza. He is propped up against a propped up metal plate. All he’s holding is a pistol. Lying
just past him is Jerome’s broken body. He is dead.
“Took your damn time!” Garza says.
“Jerome, he’s…” You pause.
“He went out like a soldier. Take his super gloves. And my super boots.”
“No, you need them, I have this gun…”
Garza turns his body – his other arm is missing. Blood is gushing from the wound.
“Oh my God.”
“Only one of us can get out of here. You have to go!”
“Garza, what about the scientists?”
“We found the scientists! They’re all dead. Everyone is dead! Now get out of here!”
You look up from the cover. The giant head is smiling. It spits out more machines.
Quickly, you take his equipment. Then you put on Jerome’s power gloves. When you wear
everything at once, the lights on all three parts glows blue, and you feel energised.
As you turn to leave, Garza grabs your arm and says, “Tell them about what we did here.”
You nod. His arm drops to the ground. You stand and prepare for the final battle.
As it collapses and drops to the ground, you hear applause. You turn around to see three men, two
in black suits and one in a labcoat. The one in the labcoat is applauding.
“Who are you? What is this?” You ask, still shaken from everything that’s happened.
“Mr. Wolf. You have done incredibly well. The best we’ve seen yet.” The scientist takes out a device
and points it at you. Your energy suit powers down. You try to fire the gun but it doesn’t work.
“Are you with the scientists that worked here? Did you send a distress signal?” You ask, confused.
The three men laugh. “No, Mr. Wolf. See, there never was a distress signal.”
“…Then you’re with the Organization.”
“You could say that, yes. But not the one that you know…” The scientist continues.
“I didn’t realise there were other branches.” You slowly reach for your sidearm – a pistol tucked
behind your belt.
“Enough games, Mr. Wolf.”
You pull the gun and point it at them. “You’re right. Now tell me what’s going on. Who are you?
What happened here?”
They laugh again. “Put it down Mr. Wolf.” Without wanting to, or meaning to, you lower the gun.
“Wh-what? What is this?” You can’t believe what you’re seeing.
“Shut down.” The scientist mutters.
“I can’t—“ You begin. Your voice slows down and your head drops. Your eyes stare at the ground
and you stand motionless.
The scientist pulls out a tape recorder and speaks into it.
“Test Subject 6 has far exceeded expectations. When presented with the choice between ‘man’ and
‘machine’, he is now the first and only model to choose ‘man’.” (Back when you were torn between
saving your team mates or entering the upper lab.)
“We will analyse the results more closely over the next few days, then we will wipe his memory and
start again. Subject 6’s performance today has been a big step for us. I’m fully confident that one day
very soon, we will create the ultimate soldier, and we can once and for all turn this war back against
We look down at them from above, as the scientist speaks and walks towards your lifeless body. We
zoom out, up through the crater, slowly, and everything fades to black.