It started innocuously enough. The prime minister-for-life never missed the annual “Liberation Day” parade. With the drums and platoons thundering, nobody noticed as the quadcopter, barely larger than a sparrow, floated down toward the dais, its faint whirr drowned out by the industrial machinery rolling by in formation.
It was at once a child’s birthday present and the summation of millennia of military science. A flying machine postulated long ago by Michelangelo, now equipped with a vial of biological toxin, a GPS chip, microprocessors, and facial recognition software.
The attackers had uploaded the prime minister’s face to the quadcopter’s onboard processor, given it a rough search grid where they expected the target to be located, and then let it loose. The drone found its target, quickly zoomed within a few inches of the man’s face, deployed its payload, and self-destructed. The prime minister and his coterie were dead within the hour.
His remaining lieutenants were at each other’s throats by the end of the day. Their respective clans lobbed accusations at one another on social media, live-streamed protests, and employed smartphone-wielding teenagers as spotters.
By week’s end the country was awash in blood, thrown into a full-scale civil war. Community centers equipped by aid organizations with 3D printers quickly turned into weapons-printing armories. An enterprising college student, sent away to the University of London by her urban middle-class parents, translated a copy of the U.S. Army’s Ranger Handbook into the local dialect and uploaded it to a well-known file-sharing website clandestinely built by locals on top of Wikipedia.
Read the Remainder at War on the Rocks