"Sir!" cried out a soldier in a headset, interrupting his CO.
Ordinarily, Captain Chueng would have reprimanded the soldier, but the battle had only just evened out, and he couldn't risk that it might be important. He went over to the soldier's terminal.
"What is it?"
"Sir, we've lost control of the enemy drones," he said, frantically manipulating flight controls with no apparent consequence, according to the radar. Flight camera was dark, and the code display indicated that the cracking team was trying frantically to regain control.
Chueng looked around and saw similar reactions among the other jump-jackers. "Have you tried nosediving it," he asked as he considered the next move.
"Yes, sir, and I tried dropping its payload while it was still over barren ground. I also saw the hacker try to force a shutdown."
"How long ago were the hackers booted out," Chueng asked into his radio.
"They're still in," came the voice back. "Every indication is that the hackers are still in, but there's some kind of super-root that's countervailing every command as fast as they make it, even from batches."
"Well, if there's a super-root, then why hasn't it just kicked them out?"
"We've got counter-countermeasures in place, constantly fighting for control. I don't think that they have spare CPU cycles to-- Wait, no, we're losing them!" There was a pause, and then, "I don't think that we're going to regain control. I recommend jamming all control signals and grounding the entire battle."
"Jam all controls!" shouted Chueng, as the jump-jackers got out of their seats, suddenly knowing that they'd have nothing to do. "Acknowledged," Chueng said into his radio, quickly, before he lost contact. He only just realized that the officer with whom he was strategizing had already left to oversee the anticipated mobilization of ground forces.
"Hey," Chueng said to a straggling soldier - that same soldier, come to think of it - who was still by the monitors, "Remember your training. When we start jamming, jump-jackers become regular troops. Grab your--"
"The enemy drones are still airborne," the soldier interrupted, indicating the radar screen, which now had a lot of static.
The captain peered at the radar, through the static, and saw the blips that indicated UAV-sized aircraft. They weren't just still on what was left of the radar - they were moving. Dread suddenly rose within him, and he went running for the jammer array.
"Cease jamming! Get our drones back in the air!"
Soldiers are trained to follow orders. Two specialists deactivated the jammers while the jump-jackers returned to their seats, to fill any vacancies left by the pilots back home who figured that they had a long break ahead of them - probably all of them. The lucky bastards didn't have to be in the field because they had a nice secure pipe from home to their own drones.
"Does anyone back there read me?" asked Chueng over the radio, hoping to get the hackers - or, anyone, really.
"Yes," came the reply, "we read--"
"We have weaponized AI out here. I repeat, we have weaponized AI."