Its assassins have the ability to strike anywhere and everywhere. Their reach is unlimited, their scope undefined. They exist both within the law and above it.
Technically, no other lifeform is safe - though some targets are prized more than others, and easier to pass off as legitimate. Covering the skies of poor nations full of human beings with dark skin tones, these most murderous of machines have no need to descend on their marks. From lofty heights, they launch chunks of fire and steel onto those unsuspecting souls below who, thinking their complex thoughts, are charred and torn to pieces. A ligament here, a piece of bone there. Witnesses quickly rush over and sift through the mess of flesh and metal in hopes of finding survivors, and then, wrought with complex emotions, are just as quickly destroyed. A hope here, a dream there.
The bloody, stretched, torn, and jagged pieces of complex biology, which moments ago made up a son, daughter, mother, father, or friend, are silently read their last rites:
Another human being, who lives on the other side of the planet in comfort you could not imagine, who probably has never personally witnessed the type of violence inflicted upon you, and who will surely not imagine having to collect each of your remaining body parts in order to find some way to properly bury you, has decided that you - or someone who happened to be nearby - needed to die.
The loving, caring individual who either ordered your death, or decided that it was necessary in order to secure the death of someone you were nearby, assures you that your nonexistence will contribute significantly to the preservation of peace and freedom the world around. Thank you for your understanding.*
* - Your understanding is not in any way necessary to satisfy the legality of this action.
* * *
The cacophony never ceases - not for a moment. The ravens of death have become so bold that they hover in the air, day and night, buzzing loudly with anticipation. They cry out for attention, alerting all to their presence, terrorizing us with glee. Any moment they could unleash hell, but there is no indication of when it will happen.
We must be brave. In order to survive, things must get done... But every time I close my eyes I see death. I see the barely-recognizable visages of my family, whom I will never enjoy the company of again. I see my own charred husk staring back at me with cold lifeless eyes. And then I look up and curse the sky. Who will it be this time, you bastards? What's the hold up? Why not just get it over with? What sick pleasure could you possibly take in sitting there, beyond reach, watching? Watching, at all hours!
How can you be expected to carry on when every movement is but a reminder of your mortality, every sound a symphony to your impending doom? How do you stay sane living like a caged rat, with no control over your own fate? What can you do but hope your actions are seen as the right ones? You try to stay away from those who you think may be targeted, but how do you know when they will come too close?
How do you know it's not you they're looking for to begin with?
All you can hope for is a swift end. Yes, quick and painless! It will come with a sharp hiss and a bright flash, and then it will all be over. Sweet release into the arms of oblivion.
* * *
Death's sanctum is a cold, sterile place. Beige walls enclose a sophisticated array of wires and gadgetry, designed to facilitate the interface of human and machine. Glossy metal boxes conceal rare earths dug from the ground and processed somewhere far away, all now aligned in specific composition. Electrons dance on carefully positioned video screens, a soft hum emanating from the entire construction.
The art of killing may not yet be perfected, but who has come closer?
The executioner's muscles twitch sightly, shifting his grip on the weighted axe he holds high above the heads of the condemned. Reacting to his will, the grainy display centers on the next victim. The executioner wonders what thoughts course through the man's mind. What life does he aspire to? What emotions does he feel? Does he love his family as I love mine? He quickly purges this from his train of thought. A signal travels through neurons, compelling a lone digit into action. Muscles again twitch. The message is redirected thousands of miles in seconds, the same macabre scene unfolding again.
The executioner blinks. Got the bastard... Yes, that's the right thought.
* * *
In the homeland, a great sense of pride is taken in being masters of the world. To hold life and death in one's hands is seen as the greatest of achievements. What else but a noble burden could it be: to act as gods, to reign over past, present, and future all at once? How could one not find pleasure in poking and prodding the unwashed masses of the world, gauging their reactions, and destroying those who refuse to bend to one's will? This is our calling! Our manifest destiny!
A man dressed in the finest of clothes walks up to the podium and reaffirms this as truth.
The crowd roars.