FICTION / FANTASY /GODS
THE ULTIMATE ENEMY
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Berserker is a registered trademark of Fred Saberhagen and can not be used without permission.
BERSERKER THE ULTIMATE ENEMY
by Fred Saberhagen
Copyright (c) 1979 Fred Saberhagen
The death machines are capable of any treachery, able to assume any disguise, motivated only by their prime directive: to seek out and destroy life wherever it may hide.
The fragile life-form that hides within its puny frame a curiously unquenchable something . . . call it 'spirit'. This odd facet of an otherwise undistinguished example of the disease of life has been a source of deep annoyance to the berserkers since first the two forms met: no wonder then that for each the other is THE ULTIMATE ENEMY
Taken from: Pressure
The universe has given life its own arsenal of weapons and I am no longer surprised that even tenderness may sometimes be counted among them. Even the most gentle and humble of living things may demonstrate surprising strength . . .
The ship had been a human transport once, and it still trasported humans, but now they rode like well-cared-for cattle on the road to market. Control of their passage and destiny had been vested in the electronic brain and auxiliary devices built into the NEW ENGLAND after its capture in space by a berserker machine.
Gilberto Klee, latest captive to be thrust abouard, was more frightened than ever before in his young life, and trying not to show it. Why the berserker had kept him alive at all he did not know, and he was afraid to think about it. Like everyone else he had heard the horror stories--of human brains, still half-alive, built into berserker computers as auxiliary circuits; of human bodies used in the berserkers' experiments intended to produce convincing artificial men; of humans kept as test-targets for new berserker death-rays, toxins, ways to drive men mad.
After the raid Gil and the handful of others who had been taken with him--for all they knew, the only survivors of their planet--had been separated and kept in solitary compartments aboard the great machine in space. And now the same berserker devices that had captured him, or others like them, had taken him from his cell and led him to an interior dock aboard the planetoid-sized berserker; and before they put him aboard this ship that had been a human transport once, he had time to see the name NEW ENGLAND on her hull.
Once aboard, he was put into a chamber about twenty paces wide, perhaps fifty long, twelve or fifteen feet high. Evidently all interior decks and paneling, everything non-essential, had been ripped out. There was left the inner hull, some plumbing, some light, artificial gravity and air at a good level.
There were eight other people in the chamber, standing together
and talking among themselves. They fell silent as the machines opened
the door and thrust Gil among them.