FICTION / FANTASY /GODS
BERSERKER is a registered trademark of Fred Saberhagen and can not be used without permission.
Once mankind feared the berserkers, killer machines determined to
eradicate all life in the universe. But the Berserker Wars are over
and the threat of the sentient doomsday devices is over.
The berserkers are back, stronger and more unstoppable than
before. And one strange child, half human and half machine, may be
humanity's only hope -- or its final destroyer.
Now the fate of civilization rests in the hands of BERSERKER MAN
He was driving them in evasive maneuvers now, while the hull
crashed like a gong, and flashes of enemy force were plain in the
simultaneous overload of instruments. Flash and crash again, blinding
stroke from the enemy and blending sigh of their own weapons lashing
back, more in defiance than in any true hope of damaging Goliath. The
berserker which had caught them by surprise was too big to fight, too
fast to get away from, here in relatively open space. Nothing to do
Yet again the berserker struck . . .
Well, Elly Temesvar thought gravly, we've given it a good fight,
done better than anyone might have expected, considering how little
ship we have to fight it with.
Out perpendicularly from the surface of a peculiar star there
jutted what looked like a transfixing spear of plasma, bright as the
star itself, as thick as a major planet, and so long that it looked
needle-thin. On the jet's brilliant, almost insubstantial surface the
little duoship that Elly and her partner rode in clung like a microbe
on a glowing treetrunk, in an effort to find concealment where there
was really none. And somewhere on the other side of the shining
plasma fountain, a hundred thousand kilometers or more away, the mad
berserker stalked them. Berserkers were pure machine, of course, but
still in Elly's most heartsure mental images of them they were all
mad -- she smelled on them the suicidal madness of their ancient and
The odd star that drained itself into the plasma jet was close
enough to have been blinding were not the ports all sealed opaque for
combat. And despite the nearness of the Galactic Core, few other
stars were visible. Bright nebular material filled cubic parsec after
cubic parsec in this region, hiding everything else and evoking old
legends of lightspace in which the stars were only points of
"Pull in the scanning nodes just a touch on your side, Elly."
Frank's voice, as usual sounding almost imperturbable, came into her
earphones. He was on the other side of the thick steel bulkhead that
completely bisected crew quarters when its hatches were closed for
combat. In theory one compartment might be breached, while the human
in the other one survived to fight on. In practice, this time, the
whole craft was just about to be crunched like a pretzel, and Elly in
moments of free mental time wished that she might have, at the end,
at least as much human contact as open connecting hatches could
She did not voice her wish. "Nodes in," she acknowledged instead,
in trained reaction that seemed to function independent of her will.
Her fingers had meanwhile remained poised but motionless upon the ten
keys of her auxiliary controls. Through her helmet the electrical
waves of her brain directly drove the equipment for which she was
responsible, in a control system that worked a large fraction of a
second faster than any dependent upon arm-length nerves.