By the time I reached the fields I could see the glow coming from Sugar really clearly. Priya was taking photos with her ‘phone.
“You took your time.” she said.
“Got held up by my parents.” I sighed.
“Did you tell them?” she quizzed.
“Yes but they didn’t believe me. They were obsessed with Mum’s knickers. I’ve got to buy her some new ones.”
Priya grinned”Ooh I can just see you in the ladies department.”
“Not likely!” I said”She can get them, I’ll pay for them.”
“What’s that?” Priya said point to the box under my arm.
“This is our secret weapon.” I said.”It’s that radio-controlled dragonfly my aunt got me for Christmas.”
“I thought you were going to strip that down for servos?”
“I was but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m hoping we can use it to knock Sugar off the pylon.”
“But surely he’ll just zap it with his laser cannon?” Priya said.
“You’re joking aren’t you?” I sighed,”It’s not a real laser. It’s just a small lightbulb. It doesn’t actually work you know.”
“Oh really?” said Priya, folding her arms.”Yesterday you thought Sugar was just a toy robot. Now he’s walking, talking and calling down his mothership!”
“Ah yes, good point.” I said, sheepishly.”But I suppose we’ll have to risk it. Help me launch it will you?” I switched on the dragonfly and immediately the wings started flapping furiously. I gave it to Priya who held it up as I switched on the controller. I nodded and Priya let go.
The Dragonfly flew up into the sky. It was quite tricky to control but I managed to get it going up towards Sugar.
TIM ATTACKS SUGAR
Sugar was still standing with his arms up and the blue sparks were still flying from his antennas. I flew the dragonfly as close as I could to him and tried to distract him with it but he didn’t even flinch. I tried going round him in circles but again he didn’t seem to notice.
Eventually I flew the dragonfly away from the pylon and turned it around so it was pointing at Sugar. I then flew it right at him and with a bang we could hear on the ground it smacked right into his chest. I’m not sure whether that caused the sparks to stop or if they stopped just before it hit him but both the dragonfly and Sugar tumbled to the ground. It was only as I saw him falling that I realised what it was I had done.
Sugar, my favourite robot in the whole world, was falling from the top of an electricity pylon towards the hard concrete base below it. I watched as, almost in slow motion he tumbled towards certain doom, or at the very least to be smashed into tiny pieces. Priya watched with me. The pair of us were amazed by what happened next.
Sugar seemed to realise he was falling and started to flail his arms about. At one point it was almost like he was flapping them like wings. If it wasn’t so sad it would have been funny to see a toy robot flapping his arms as he tumbled through the air.
The dragonfly was falling, head-over-heels, slower than he was. That was probably because it was lighter. As I watched I saw Sugar’s chest doors open and suddenly an object flew out of the space behind them. It was small and round and it flew towards the leg of the pylon. Whatever it was it hit its target and stuck fast to it.
“It’s another magnet!” Priya gasped and as we watched we saw that attached to the magnet was a line of some sort.
The other end of this line was attached to Sugar who swung on it towards the pylon. He bumped into it and then clung on.
“Wow!” I said”That was cool!”
“Shh!” Priya hissed. Sugar had detached himself from the line and was now using the other magnets to climb down. The dragonfly landed in a heap just over the fence from where we were. It took a while for Sugar to come down but when he did he made his way back to where we were. I ducked down into the longer grass. Priya looked at me and I beckoned for her to hide with me.
“Why?” she said,”He’s not going to hurt you. It’s Sugar”
“No, it’s not.” I said,”Sugar is my toy robot. That”, I nodded towards Sugar,”is a probe for an alien invasion. Who knows what it will do to us.”
“Well I think you’re being silly.” Priya said and turned back to face Sugar as he arrived.
++WHERE IS TIM?++
“He’s hiding down here.” Priya pointed at me and I scowled back at her as I rose to my feet. Sugar came over to me.
++THE FLYING TOY WAS UNHELPFUL WHY DID YOU NOT TAKE MORE CARE? YOU HIT THE PROBE!++
“I was trying to hit you.” I said dryly.
++BUT YOU MIGHT HAVE INTERRUPTED THE REPLY+
“That was the plan.” Priya said
++WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO STOP THE PROBE?++
“To stop the invasion!” I said.”You can’t just take our planet!”
“Because we live here and we don’t want to be your slaves!” Priya said
++WHAT IS SLAVE?++
“A slave is somebody who is forced to work for someone else without choice.”
++LIKE A PROBE?++
“Sort of but not machines, people.” I explained,”But what we are saying is that your masters cannot occupy this planet. We occupy this planet.”
++BUT THE REPLY HAS BEEN SENT++
“What do you mean?” Priya said
++IT IS TOO LATE. THE PROBE HAS REPLIED. THE MASTERS ARE COMING++
We sat in silence. We were too late. The aliens were coming and would probably conquer the Earth in the next few hours.
“Shouldn’t we tell people?” Priya asked.
I shook my head.”No point, they wouldn’t believe us.” I turned to Sugar,”How long until your masters arrive?”
++THE MASTERS WILL ARRIVE SOON++
“Where will they arrive?” I asked.
++HERE. THE PRIMARY SHIP WILL BE HERE SHORTLY++
There was nothing to do so we sat and waited. Sugar retrieved the dragonfly for me, which was kind for someone who had just started the end of the human race. Eventually it began to get dark and I thought we should head home. Suddenly Sugar sprang into life. Whirring and spinning and flashing his one good eye.
++THE MASTERS APPROACH++
“Where?” Priya asked.
“Look! There!” I pointed to a small dark shape in the sky.
“It looks like it’s hardly moving.” Priya said
“It must be far off. So each movement will look tiny from here.” I said.
We stood and watched it together. Eventually it got a bit bigger and we could make out it was a disc-shape with lights below it. It seemed to be taking forever to land and at one point I wondered if it had stopped. Sugar’s antennas starting sparking again and suddenly the ship starting moving towards him.
I nudged Priya’s arm and whispered.”Look there’s a chance they might be friendly but if they look threatening we’ll have to run for it. If that happens, head to my house.”
“Ok” she said and we watched as the ship grew bigger.
Then an idea came to me. I turned to Sugar,”You know everything about your masters don’t you?”
++UNKNOWN BUT THE PROBE HAS A LOT OF DATA ABOUT THE MASTERS++
“Do you know their weaknesses?” I pressed
++DO NOT UNDERSTAND WEAKNESS++
“What are they afraid of?” I asked
“Tim”, Priya asked,”what are you doing?”
“Interrogating him. He might have some information which can help us save the Earth.” and then to Sugar,”What are your masters afraid of?”
++THE MASTERS HAVE NO CONCEPT OF FEAR++
“They must be afraid of something? Even if it’s just something they try to avoid?”
“Extinction?” Priya said
++YES. THEY WISH TO AVOID. EXTINCTION++
“So they are afraid of dying?” Priya asked
“Isn’t everyone?” I replied. This wasn’t as helpful as I had hoped. I turned back to Sugar and said”Is there anything your masters consider a danger to them? Anything on this world?”
Sugar whirred and crackled a bit and then said
++I DO NOT HAVE THAT DATA++
I tried again,”Why did they choose this world to invade?”
++IT IS COMPATIBLE WITH THEIR HOMEWORLD AND TIME IS SHORT++
“Why is time short?” Priya asked
“Never mind that,” I said,”look!” The ship was definitely getting closer now and it was slowing down even more. This seemed odd because it still looked too far above the ground to be slowing down to land.
“Why is it slowing down?” I asked
++THEY WILL SOON LAND++ Sugar said. Suddenly he turned to me and said ++TIM I AM SORRY++
“What?” I said.
++I NEVER WANTED TO END THE HUMAN RACE++
“Oh be quiet you bag of bolts!” I shouted
“Tim!” Priya said
“Well!” I said, throwing my hands up in the air,”A fat lot of good him being sorry will do us now!”
“But,” she continued,”Sugar just said ‘I’. He didn’t refer to himself as ‘The Probe’.”
“So, it’s like he’s different, like he knows what he has done.”
++YES I KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE AND I AM SORRY++
“So what have you done?” I asked
++BY CALLING DOWN MY MASTERS - IF YOU ARE CORRECT - I HAVE STARTED THE END OF HUMANITY++
“Okay, so you’re sorry.” I said
++YES I AM SORRY. I NEVER WANTED TO BE THE PROBE. I LIKED BEING SUGAR++
This was amazing, Sugar knew who he was and what he had done. This is what I had always wanted, a robot who was my friend. The only trouble now was that it might be too late.
“Why did you become the probe then?” Priya asked
++I HAD NO CHOICE. WHEN TIM FIXED ME MY ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING TOOK OVER++
“So what has changed now?” I asked,”Why are you suddenly Sugar again?”
++NOW MY MASTERS ARE HERE MY JOB IS DONE. I HAVE BEEN RELEASED. NOW I KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE AND I WANT TO HELP++
“That’s all well and good,” I said bending down to him,”But I’m not sure you can. For a start you are just a toy robot and secondly, it’s just about too late.”
“You’re right!” said Priya looking up at the ship,”It is too late. They’re landing. But it’s not what we were expecting. Tim, I think you need to see this.”