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"Smart" Missile Defense System Test Refuses to Launch
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KWAJALEIN ATOLL, Pacific Ocean - Weather problems and miscellaneous technical glitches have become the norm for the Missile Defense Agency, tasked with creating a continental shield against incoming ballistic missiles from threats such as North Korea and Iran. But officials are calling Wednesday's failed test a King's Dilemma. "We may well have hit the ceiling on where we can go with smart missile design," admitted Lieutenant Cyrus Airedale, "Once an interceptor starts saying, 'I don't want to die,' and asking, 'What did this missile do to warrant my destroying it?', that's when I think we need to look into dumbing-down the design a shade."

"The dang thing talked to us, what we were supposed to do?"
-- Anonymous Official
The press release issued by the agency officially said the test missile "experienced an anomaly" before launch and could not be used in the test. But officials speaking anonymously have been more forthright, "The dang thing talked to us, what we were supposed to do?" The missile's brain -- a mass of brain neurons suspended in a wire mesh -- has spent the past several months "learning" how to play a game designed to mimic the flight of a missile interceptor. "We didn't have time to design our own game," explained one official, "So we just downloaded something that sounded close. Some shareware thing, it was all properly registered. Sent us a T-shirt, too." The 10-year-old game -- Patriot vs. Scud -- has a large underground following and an active Internet message board.

"I wondered about that guy, he just posted as 'brainlike mass in a wire substrate.' I mean, that didn't strike me as a good handle, you know? And no avatar or anything. He was just weird," said one board member, referring to the test missile's posting on the board, "He's a great pilot, though. Way better than me!"

"Apparently it was his -- excuse me, its -- activity on the Internet that led it to conclude that it didn't want to 'die'," said Colonel Hawthorne L. King, of the MDA, "We tried to explain that it would actually be on the ground the entire time, that it was much too valuable to let be destroyed, we would get it a new interceptor, but it just wouldn't listen. 'I like my body,' it said, referring to the interceptor missile, 'A new body wouldn't really be me, it would just be a copy.' It creeps me out to think about that little blob of goo being concerned about which aluminum tube was its own."

"Weren't they trying something with lasers?" asked one official, "How's that coming?"
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