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A war machine of immense power, similar to Laumer’s “Bolos”, had been inactive after some long-ago war, but wakes up and begins to dig itself out, at the risk of bringing havoc to a now peaceful world. Read it in the 1970s, but it could be older.

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    not much to go on here. Any more detail possible?
    – Ben Bolker
    Feb 8, 2021 at 4:14
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    There is also another Bolo story where a Bolo "wakes up" underground in an enemy laboratory, xxx years after it was decomissioned, where the enemy is studying it trying to figure out how to control it.. It eventually activates itself kills the enemy in the lab and digs its way back to the surface. BUT it wasn't a peacefully world in this story, it was an enemy held planet now. I believe LogicDictates answer below is the correct answer.
    – NJohnny
    Feb 8, 2021 at 8:38
  • Sounds like one of Fred Saberhagen's Berserkers series, not one I've read though. Feb 8, 2021 at 13:42
  • obxkcd
    – msh210
    Feb 9, 2021 at 14:10
  • @markbaldridge - If you happen to visit the site again, please confirm whether my answer is correct or not, and if it is, please mark it as accepted by clicking the checkmark beneath the voting buttons. Thanks. Feb 13, 2021 at 5:09

1 Answer 1

26

The Last Command by Keith Laumer, originally published in the January 1967 issue of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact.

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Summary from bestsciencefictionstories.com:

The Mark XXVIII Combat Unit was a devastating weapon of war that was de-commissioned and discarded nearly 70 years ago. But when Chief Engineer Pete Reynolds of the New Devonshire Port Authority begins blasting for a new spaceport the Mark XXVIII suddenly comes back to life – and is not very happy either! It ignores the fact that it is buried 207 meters underground and begins its journey to finally accomplish its last objective: to seek out and engage the enemy. But who is the enemy now that the war zone is in the heart of a new city – a city with thousands of civilians and a high rise shopping mall?

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    If this answer is correct, please upvote it and mark it as accepted by clicking on the checkmark beneath the voting buttons. Feb 8, 2021 at 4:39
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    If it helps you recall, the bolo is unit LNE (Lenny); its radio call-outs start with "Unit LNE of the line." Lenny believes that it and the rest of its unit have been surprised and trapped by the enemy, but in fact they were buried because they are highly radioactive. Lenny's former commander is old and long retired, but puts on his old uniform and goes to meet Lenny, and convinces it to turn aside. The story ends with Lenny driving into the country with its dying commander lying on it.
    – DavidW
    Feb 8, 2021 at 11:56
  • I'd really like to read this, wow
    – Cyanite17
    Feb 8, 2021 at 19:39
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    OP said 'similar to Laumer's "bolos"', which suggests to me that the story they're looking for is not a Laumer bolo story??
    – Ben Bolker
    Feb 9, 2021 at 17:03
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    @PvParkour - much of the magazine's output can be found online, for instance at luminist.org/archives/SF/AN.htm which includes the edition containing this story. The legality is possibly dubious (the site states "This collection may contain copyrighted material which has not been specifically authorized for our use. Like a public library, we ... <their fair use interpretation>") though this edition would be considered public domain under the copyright laws at the time of its publication. Feb 9, 2021 at 17:29

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