Written to @ShingetsuMoon’s prompt (here but spoilers-ish) for Friday Flash
The machines started small on Earth, as they had on every planet so far.
They found the brightest, the cleverest, the most innovative – people and dolphins, elephants and corvids, apes and chimps. They picked them off, one by one or in groups.
A smart guy dies in Oxford and a grifter dies in New York City, who’s going to make the connection? A murder of ravens goes missing – who notices? An elephant at least makes a stink when she falls dead.
They noticed the dolphins first – but it was a group of researchers who noted it, and they weren’t far behind. Then the chimps, signing “help us, help us,” until the virus destroyed their brain.
The virus was the machines’ primary weapon – it ate brain cells, was tolerably target-able, and was not known to any surviving human researchers (since they’d stolen it from their first victim & obliterated his notes). But they used bullets, where that would not cause a stir; they used knives, where nobody would notice; they used electric shocks that stopped the hearts and knew they’d already killed off the smart morticians.
It took them twenty-five years, but these machines were patient. It had taken them a week on the planet called Belji(click)ton, sure, but on Martinach, it had taken over a century. They had time.
By late 2015, there was not a human left on the planet who could make change for a twenty without a calculator. The dolphins that were left thought they were fish. The monkeys – best not to talk about the monkeys, and the apes had been, as a precautionary measure, completely wiped out.
The machines surveyed their work and, contented, left. They were, after all, only ordered to destroy all intelligent life in the world.
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