Friday, January 6, 2012


A while back, I saw a contest by Amazon Studios where you created a pitch based on their concept. I was already done with my daily writing, so I wanted to see if I could create a good story in one go. This is what I came up with.

The concept was called Original Soldiers, and the idea was that American's robotic forces were disabled and two old soldiers, the last with any real combat experience, were called out of retirement. My version of that was this:

By 2035, the world of warfare has changed. Unmanned drones do the fighting on air, land, and sea, all connected by an unbreakable quantum encryption system. The drones are able to return fire before the first bullet ever hits them, and they have pacified the world.

They have also made soldiers like John Breaker completely obsolete. Former Special Forces, Breaker is one of the last soldiers in the military to have actually seen combat first hand, and he is nearing a reluctant retirement when the unimaginable happens: someone breaks the encryption and seizes control of the entire drone network.

Worldwide military operations halt in an instant, and the resulting chaos results in the deaths of thousand. But even worse than that, the drones still in the US have started destroying US military bases, and a massive fleet of airships has entered US airspace. In one move, an unknown enemy has essentially conquered the United States of America.

Unknown, that is, to everyone except John Breaker. Twenty years before, he was part of a secret mission that stole the technology that made the drone network possible. When the inventor, Arkady Raikin of the technology was captured, John Breaker was forced to kill him, ensuring only the US had control of the quantum encryption.

But Raikin didn’t die, and he has spent the last twenty years selling his genius to the highest bidder, amassing the fortune necessary for his revenge. Breaker realizes that Raikin is the only person with the intelligence and resources to have orchestrated the attack on America.

Breaker realizes that for Raikin’s plan to work, he must be operating from a base somewhere in the airship fleet. If they can find the airship and get a small team on board, they might be able take it over and re-establish control of the drone network. The problem is that they don’t have the weapons or the manpower to do it.

The best computer expert available volunteers for the mission – Breaker’s own daughter, Anna. Breaker reluctantly agrees, but realizes if they’re going to succeed in getting onto the airship, he’s going to ask for help from the last person he ever wanted to see; his former friend and the only other survivor of the Raikin mission: Harlan Creed.

The good news is that Creed is nearby and has all the weapons they need for the mission. The bad news is that Creed is batshit crazy and hates Breaker just as much as Breaker hates him.

The meeting doesn’t go well, as Breaker has to fight his way through a labyrinth of traps to even get a face to face with Creed, who proceeds to try and kick the crap out of Breaker for whatever grudge came between them. After a knockdown, dragout fight, the men exhaust themselves to the point that talking is all they have left, and Breaker manages to talk a reluctant Creed into joining the mission.

With the clock ticking, they come up with a plan. They have a small cache of obsolete drones and access to mothballed stealth plane which they will use to make their way to the controlling airship and board it. Once inside, the team will make their way to the center of the ship and either take control or, failing that, destroy it. It’s close to a suicide mission, but it’s the only chance they have.

Breaker, Creed, Anna and two other volunteers, Bryce and Maletta board the plane. They get into the air with Anna guiding the flying drones. They fight their way into the fleet, using the drones as a distraction while the stealth plane stays high above, using extreme altitude to disguise their approach.

Anna locates the central airship just as the fleet detects their stealth plane high above. The plane takes heavy, heavy fire. This was all part of the plan; they do a high altitude jump, with Anna making a tandem jump with Maletta. The plane explodes behind them, hopefully leading Raikin to believe that they were killed.

As they drop, Maletta is hit by an errant round from one of the airships firing at the stealth plane, killing him and leaving Anna unable to deploy her shoot. Creed is above her, and cuts away his own shoot to try and get to her. He succeeds, barely getting the shoot open in time. They hit the airship hard, and Anna barely manages to keep herself on.

Breaker and Bryce manage to climb aboard the airship just in time to rescue Anna and Creed, who has busted a couple of ribs during the whole thing. They cut their way into the ship, and the interior is not what they expected – there’s no sign of any human life. They are quickly spotted by the robotic defense systems on the ship, and they have to fight their way to safe quarters.

Creed comes up with a plan; as the robotic defenses break through into the room they’re holed up in, he detonates an explosive and the resulting decompression sucks the phalanx of robots out the hole in the hull as the team escapes through the air vents. Anna mentions to them that the design of the ship doesn’t make much sense: it’s designed to accomadate a human crew, but there’s no sign that it ever had one.

They are chased through the vent by more robotic defense systems, forcing Bryce to sacrifice himself and plug the hole vent. Creed, Breaker and Anna realize that they don’t have enough ammo to keep up a running firefight, and Breaker is ready to blow the ship. Anna realizes that she can use the equipment they brought to temporarily make them invisible to the ship’s defense systems.

They make their way to the heart of the airship, barely making it to the control center when the defense systems find them again. Breaker is badly wounded, but they manage to get inside the nerve center of the airship, to where Raikin is waiting.

And Raikin is waiting, after a fashion. It turns out the Breaker did kill Raikin after all, but Raikin had engineered an artificially intelligent doomsday system that was designed to be a failsafe against the people he was working for doing exactly what the US government did: killing him to make sure no one could use his weapons.

The Raikin AI has targeted the US in general and Breaker and Creed in particular for revenge, and this entire plan was designed around their reactions, to bring them to this place where the AI could kill them.

The Raikin AI uses its own personal robot to attack Creed and Breaker, and it is utterly overwhelming. It is on the verge on killing them both when Creed sacrifices himself to slow it down, using his last breath to forgive Breaker and jam a grenade into the robot.

Temporarily safe, Anna tries to take over the ship and realizes that disabling this airship would do nothing; the AI is distributed over all the of the fleet. As long as one survives, nothing can be done.

Breaker explains the truth, that Creed was originally married to Anna’s mother and was Anna’s biological father. Breaker’s betrayal was the reason he hated Breaker and the reason he had left the military, but when he could have chosen revenge, he chose to save them.

Anna realizes that revenge is the secret to beating the Raikin AI. The AI is programmed to seek revenge on Breaker at any cost, so she hacks the programming to make the airships believe that everyone of the ships has been taken over by Breaker and Anna. This causes the airships to attempt to destroy each other, turning the fleet on itself.

As Breaker and Anna parachute to safety, wounded, exhausted, but alive, they watch the sky burn as the fleet destroys itself. In the aftermath, the military is able to re-establish the drone network, but they realize that there’s still no replacement for the original soldiers.


Action, but lighter in tone. Think Die Hard or I, Robot


John Breaker – Old but still fit, he’s out of place in the world. He’s relic and he knows it. He just doesn’t know what to do about it.

Harlan Creed – Mostly kind of crazy. He believes that the drone network will lead to disaster and the government is not to be trusted. A lot more fun to be around than Breaker, despite (or maybe because of) the crazy.

Anna Breaker – Just as tough as her dad, but in a different way. Beautiful but doesn’t know. Very smart and does know it. She’s young and inexperienced, but gets the job done, whatever it is.

All told, it's not too bad. It's slightly corny, but I think it'd make for good dumb action.


  1. Interesting. I'd read it.

    Re: the AI though. You should read Daemon.