I have to trust my life to it. But Joe,
the interstellar junkman just wants to
show me around the lot... he can pat at
an airlock door lovingly or kick at the
ground gyros to show how sturdy they are.
Joe exudes charm the way trees drop sap
KNOCKING ON METAL
There, you see? Solid as a rock. Look at
that plating! I'm tellin ya, this boat is
a real buy.
Well, she looks pretty old...
(this is not a bad thing)
Sure, she is old...
Aw, now don't give us that story about
the little old lady who just used it to
flip to church on Sundays...
Now, boys, I'm not trying to unload
something on you... I don't stand to make
a nickel on this. But tell me the truth,
did you ever hear sweeter engines? And
look at those servos!
And that hull. I'll bet its 500 years old
and not a spot of corrosion on it. I'm
telling you, you're lucky! It's a
coincidence you two fellas coming in,
needing a lifeboat and sitting right
here, waiting for you. Like you were made
for each other is this baby
Well, she certainly does seem rather
nice? What do you think about it Dave?
It does look pretty good. Its about what
we need for the ocean survey work on
Trident.. but you know Joe
Oh, they just don't build them this way
anymore! Look at that propulsion unit ?
you couldn't dent it with a trip hammer.
And note the capacity of the cooling
It looks good, but some of these old
machines... you know I just want to make
absolutely sure that its safe.
Safe! Ha ha. Safe... He asks me if its
Oh, Well. Step inside.
A Door opens
Go ahead, step inside.
All right, push that button... right
there on the instrument panel.
A BUTTON IS PUSHED, A BUZZER
I am lifeboat 324A
Hey! The darn thing talks!
Yeah! And in English too!
Its equipped with a universal translator!
Its completely automatic.
I told you they just don't build them
this way anymore. Go ahead, push the
I Am lifeboat 324A.. My primary purpose
is to preserve those within me from peril
and to maintain them in good health. At
present I am only partially activated.
Could anything be safer? This is no
senseless hunk of metal. This boat will
look after you! This boat cares!
I don't know... the idea of an emotional
machine gets me. I can't even stand those
robot maitre'd' s... They keep slobbering
over you every time you go into a
restaurant with their tubes just pouring
kindness and consideration...
Oh, you're a reactionary. We'll take it!
You won't be sorry. Boys, you just
bought yourself a lifeboat.
Joe delivered us assurances in a frank
and open tone that helped make him a
millionaire a several times over. It
wasn't that he was dishonest, far from
it. But all the flotsam he collected from
anywhere the universe worked, but ancient
machines, often had their own ideas on
how a job should be done. They tend to
get peevish when they get forced into
Well, there she goes. Lifeboat 324A. I
got her down in the afterhold. I think
she's in perfect condition. Y'know, its
just what we need for those oceans on
I hope so... the last thing I bought from
Joe was an electric razor, only it turned
out it came from Denon 3, where they are
slightly reptilian, and an electric razor
is used to help them change their skin in
the hot months. If you remember I was in
the hospital three months, and after the
skin grafts, I don't know my ear from my
DAVE (V.O.) (CONT'D)
This job we were on was to survey the
planet Trident for a real estate
speculator who bought it for subdivision.
Trident was about the size of mars, but
with a far better climate. There was no
native indigenous population, no
poisonous plants and no germ borne
diseases. As a matter of fact, apart
from one small island and one small polar
ice cap, the whole planet was covered
with water. There was no real shortage
of land, you could wade across some of
Trident's several seas. Our Firm was
hired to survey and pan a little mountain
raising because the sector council
frowned on selling building lots under
four feet of water. We landed on Trident
and launched the lifeboat.
OK, I got the sandwiches and the water.
Ready to cast off?
Aye, aye sir. All mooring lines are on
All right, let's crank this swan boat up
and get going.
Well, push that button.
Heh. Aye aye.
I am lifeboat 324A.. My primary purpose
is to preserve those within me from peril
and to maintain them in good health. At
present, I am only partially activated.
For full activity, press button 2.
Well, there it is right next to the first
HUMMING and WHIRRING
Well, something's going on back there.
Sounds like motors warming up.
Hey, that sounds like a short circuit
somewhere. You know there's no wheel on
Oh, wait a minute, there's gotta be some
sort of tiller or control....
Well, you look! That's all there are,
Well, maybe she controls telepathically.
I'll try it. Hey, uh, 324A, go ahead
CHAIN GRINDING AND MOTION
Ah, there she goes. That's it.
Starboard a little
Now wait a minute, I still don't like the
sound of it. I bet there's a short
somewhere I'm gonna go down and take a
look at it with a circuit tester.
Don't louse anything up. I like a boat
that works this way. Gives me a sense of
power. Hey, 324A, full speed ahead!
DAVE (V.O.) (CONT'D)
Arnold disappeared into the bilge with a
circuit tester and I handled the survey.
Actually, our machines did all the work,
tracing the major faults along the ocean
bottom, locating the most promising
volcanoes, and when the survey was
complete, the next phase was turned over
to the subcontractor. He would wire the
volcanoes, seed the faults and touch the
whole thing off. After that, there'd be
enough dry land on trident for anybody.
About mid-afternoon I figured we could
knock off for a while, we ate our
sandwiches, took a drink of water from
the canteen and then had ourselves a swim
in Trident's clear green water.
Hey, give me a hand up. That was very
Oh yeah... I'll have to get this grease
off with sandpaper, but I think I found
the trouble. You see the leads from the
primary activator have been removed and
the power cable's been cut.
Why would anyone do that?
It could be part of the
decommissioning... but I got it hooked up
now. Go ahead hit the second button.
OK, here she goes.
BUZZER, Whirring., high pitched squeal.
I am lifeboat 324A, I am now fully
activated and am able to protect my
occupants from danger. Have faith in me.
My action response tapes, both
psychological and physical. have been
prepared by the best scientific minds in
Ah, That's more like it, huh? Gives you
a feeling of uh confidence doesn't it?
I suppose so. But where's Drone?
Gentlemen: try to think of me not as
unfeeling mechanism, but as your friend
and comrade in arms. I understand how
you feel. You have seen your ship go
Cruelly riddled by the unshakable H'gin.
What ship? What's he talking about?
You have crawled aboard me, dazed,
gasping from the poisonous fumes of
water. Half dead...
Oh no? Wait a minute You mean that swim
we took? Oh no, we were just
Half dead, shocked, wounded. Morale low.
You were a little frightened perhaps, as
well you might be, separated from the
Drone fleet and adrift on an alien
A little fear is nothing to be ashamed of
gentlemen, for this is war, and war is a
cruel business, and we have no
alternative but to drive the H'gin
There must be a reasonable explanation
Probably an old television script got
mixed up in its response banks.
We better give it a complete overhaul. We
can't listen to that stuff all day.
Well, we're about a quarter mile from the
island... ah, I'll tell ya what, I'll go
down and clean the goo out of the
contacts when we get there.
Hey! What's going on?
Hey! Hey, Lifeboat!
Quiet. Calm. Trust in me. I am scanning
What's he talking about? Scanning the
Ssh. Better humor him.
Lifeboat, that island's OK, we, we, we
checked it personally.
Perhaps you did, but in modern lighting
quick warfare, Drone senses cannot be
They are too limited, too prone to
interpret what they wish. Electronic
senses, on the other hand, are
emotionless. Eternally vigilant and
infallible within their limits.
But there wasn't anything there!
I perceive a foreign space ship on the
Oh, that's our ship.
It has no Drone markings.
Well, it hasn't any enemy markings
either. I painted it myself.
In war, we must assume that what is not
ours is the enemies.
I understand your desire to set foot on
land again, but I take into account
factors that a Drone, motivated by his
emotions, would overlook. Consider the
apparent emptiness of the strategic bit
of land. The unmarked space ship -- put
temptingly out for bait. The fact that
our fleet is no longer in this
All right, all right, that's enough. I
am tired of arguing with you. Go
directly to that island! That's an order.
I am sorry. I cannot follow that order.
You are unbalanced from your harrowing
escape from death.
All right, all right, enough of this
nonsense. I'm just gonna take that
cutoff switch --
BUZZING and YELLING
Ow! Ow! Ow!
Come to your senses, gentlemen. Only the
decommissioning officer is empowered to
turn me off. For your own safety, I must
warn you, not to touch any of my
controls. You are mentally unbalanced.
Later, when our position is safer, I ill
administer to you, but now, my full
energies must be devoted to detection...
and escape from the enemy.
BELL RINGS, MORE WHIRRING
Where we going?
To rejoin the drone fleet! As soon as I
can find it.
We sailed over the empty seas of Trident
for the rest of the afternoon and far
into the night. At about midnight we sat
in the cabin sharing our last sandwich.
The lifeboat was still rushing madly over
the waves, its every electronic sense
alert, searching for a fleet that had
existed 500 years ago upon an entirely
Oh, why didn't I pack more sandwiches?
You ever hear of these Drones?
Yeah, vaguely. They were non-human,
lizard evolved creatures.
They lived on the sixth planet of some
little system near, uh, Cappella. Their
race died out over a century ago.
M-hm. And the H'gin? What about them?
Also lizards, same story. Wasn't a very
important war, Y'know... all the
combatants are gone except this lifeboat
..and us! We've been drafted as Drone
soldiers. Think we could reason with this
Ahhh, no... I don't see how. As far as
this boat is concerned the war is still
on. It can only interpret data in terms
of that premise.
Its probably listening in on us now.
No, no. I don't think so.
See, it's not really a mind reader. Its
perception sensors are geared only to
thoughts aimed specifically at it.
Yessiree, they sure don't build this way
anymore... boy, if I could get my hands
Well, you know.. it's actually a very
interesting situation. The machine is
acting very logically upon no longer
existent conditions. Therefore, you
could say, that the machine is the, uh,
well, victim of a systemized delusion.
You mean the lifeboat is just plain
No, I believe paranoia is the correct
designation. Ah, but, it'll end pretty
Its obvious! The boat's prime objective
is to keep us alive. Our sandwiches are
gone and our only other food is on the
island. I figure we'll have to take a
chance and go back.
Gentleman, at present, I am unable to
locate the Drone fleet. Therefore, I am
turning back to scan he island again.
Fortunately, there are no enemies in the
immediate area, so I can devote myself to
Oh, you see, its about time you got
around to us! We're hungry.
Of course immediately.
CAN OPENING SOUNDS.
There you are. On the tray.
It looks like clay?
Oh... it smells like machine oil! Hey,
what's it supposed to be?
That is Giesel. It's the staple diet of
the drone people. I can prepare it in 16
Oh... Try it.
All right... ooh! It takes like clay
covered in machine oil! We can't eat
Of course you can! An adult drone
consumes 5 point 3 pounds of Giesel a
day and cries for more!
Look here. We are not drones, we are
humans, an entirely different species!
The war you think you're fighting ended
500 years ago. We can't eat Giesel, our
food is on the island!
Ah yes. Your delusion is a common one
among fighting men. It is an escape
fantasy... a retreat from an intolerable
situation. Gentlemen, I beg you, face
You face reality, or I will have you
dismantled bolt by bolt!
Threats do not disturb me. I know what
you've been through. And possible you
suffered some brain damage from your
exposure to poisonous water.
If absolutely necessary, I am also
equipped to perform physical brain
therapy. It is a drastic measure, but
there can be no coddling in time of war.
THWACK, THWACK. KNIVES COME OUT.
You see, you need not worry all my
scalpels are razor sharp and ready for
Oh, scalpels, huh? Well, we're feeling
better already! That's a fine looking
batch of Giesel isn't it Arnold?
Oh, uh, uh delicious...
Nothing is too good for our boys in
uniform. Do try a little.
Oh, that's wonderful it (chokes)
Good, I am moving towards the island, and
I promise you, in a little while, , you
will be more comfortable.
The temperature here is unbearably hot.
It is amazing you haven't gone into a
coma. Any other drone would have, Soon,
I will have it down to Drone norm of 20
degrees below zero. And now, I will play
our national anthem.
ELECTRIONCA SOUNDS AND GRUNTS.
Well, you should be very comfortable.
Drones live at 20 below zero. We're
Drones and no backtalk!
Those cooling tubes are all frosted up.
Yeah, I just wrote my name in the frost
on the porthole. Hey, wait a minute I
have an idea.... follow my lead.
Why not? Lead on, fellow Drone.
Ah, give me the canteen.
What... are you doing?
Uh, just going to get a little exercise.
Heh heh. Gotta stay fit you know.
That is true.
Uh, Here ya are boy, catch!
Look out, that canteen's heavy
Aw, just throw it right back, boy, just
heave it right in. C'mon! Lemme see your
Be careful with that receptacle! It is
filled with a deadly poison. Water.
Oh, we'll be careful, ooh, here we go!
Bad shot, old man.
Oh, how careless of me, I seemed to have
broken the cooling tubes. Cooling fluid
all over the floor.
I should have taken precaution against
internal accidents. It will not happen
again. But, the situation is very
serious. I cannot repair the cooling
tube myself, I'm unable to properly cool
Say... that's tough. Now, if you'll just
drop us on the island
That is impossible. My first duty is to
preserve your lives. And you couldn't
live long of the climate of this planet.
But I am going to take necessary
precautions to ensure your safety.
What are you going to do?
There is no time to waste. I will scan
the island once more. If our Drone
forces are not present, we will go to the
one place on the planet that can sustain
The southern polar ice cap. The climate
there is almost ideal. 30 degrees below
BUZZING and WHIRRING
And, of course... I must guard against
any further internal accidents,
So, I will lock you gentlemen in the
I am thinking! Nothing is coming out.
We gotta get off when he reaches the
island, it'll be our last chance.
Now, look, we know his internal scanning
isn't very good... when we reach the
island, maybe we could cut his power
Oh, you couldn't get within 5 feet of it.
He's got an electric charge on all the
I am now scanning the island.
Uh, place looks fine today.
Sure does! I'll bet our forces are dug
They are not. I scan to a depth of 100
Well, uh, under the circumstances, I
think we should examine it a little more
It is deserted. I cannot let you
endanger your lives by going ashore.
Drone needs her soldiers. Especially
sturdy heat resistant types like you.
We like this climate!
Spoken like a patriot. I know you musty
be suffering, but now I am going to the
South Pole to give you veterans the rest
Wait a minute, you don't understand.
We're operating under special orders. We
weren't supposed to disclose them to any
vessel below the rank of Super
Dreadnought. We're a suicide squad
Yes! Yes! That's right Especially trained
for hot climate war.
Our orders are to land and secure that
island for the Drone forces.
I didn't know that.
You weren't supposed to! After all,
you're only a lifeboat!
Land us at once!
I couldn't guess you know... All right.
We'll head for the island.
Arnold, its going to work!
Why not? As long as we tell him the
The beach is only 50 yards away.
I cannot do it.
Whattyamean? This is war. Orders!
I know, but I cannot obey. A different
type of vessel should have been chosen
for this mission. But not, a lifeboat.
You must think of our country! Think of
the barbaric H'gin!
It is electronically impossible for me to
carry out your orders. My prime
directive is to protect my occupants from
harm. That order is stamped on my every
tape, giving priority above all others. I
cannot go to your certain death.
You'll be court martialled for this! I
will have you busted down to a dingy!
I regret to say I must operate within my
limitations. I must take you to the
safety of the South Pole.
Listen you crazy tin can, let me at those
SHOCKS and YELLING
Ow! Ow! Ow!
Please do not attempt any more
destruction. I know how you feel.
Wait a minute, Arnold, old friend. Since
we cannot accomplish our mission, we
cannot ever again face our comrades.
Death before dishonor. Hand me the
No! Don't! That's water! It is a
deadly poison. Don't! Don't!
DRINKS and SIGHS
Too late. Arnold, its your turn
We who are about to die, salute you.
We die for glorious Drone!
That goes for me too!
Speak to me! Speak to me!
Stay still, will you?
there is no known antidote. If only I
could contact the hospital ship. Speak
to me. Are you still alive. Answer me.
Here. Perhaps if you eat some Giesel.
Dead. Dead. Dead. I will now read the
burial service. Great Spirit of the
Universe, take into your custody the
souls of these, your servants. Although
they died by their own hand, still it was
in the service of their country.
Fighting for home and hearth.
Judge them not harshly for their
impetuous deed, rather blame the spirit
of war that inflames and destroys the
spirit of all Drones.
And now, by the authority vested in me,
by the Drone Fleet and with all
reverence, I commend their bodies to the
deep. Accept them, O Ocean, for many
brave hearts are at slumber in the deep.
Why is the lifeboat sticking around?
Just be happy the Drones didn't believe
Sleep quietly brave spirits. I will now
play the Drone National Anthem.
Well.. there she goes.
To the south pole.. to wait for the drone