I recently saw the film Cloud Atlas, having read the book some time previously. After seeing the film I kept asking "Where is the final story?"
I've since re-checked the book and cannot find this "final story," so I think my memory is playing tricks on me and getting it tangled up with memories of another book.
If I recall correctly, it was a similar jumping-forwards-in-time multiple-story setup - maybe a short story collection? In this story, a man and his daughter are scavengers in a post-apocalyptic world. They come upon a futuristic aircraft and its pilot and kill the pilot. When they investigate the plane, it takes off? I can't remember exactly the order things happen.
Either way, the plane is in communication with its home base, and the commander at the home base asks that they complete the pilot's mission. The plane is mostly autonomous so they only need to do things like watch gauges. The plane encounters enemy aircraft but evades/destroys them and I think it completes the mission. There is a sense of hope at the end of the story that society may be able to rebuild, but that if so, it will be a very close brush with complete annihilation.
Does anyone know this story?