༺ First Burn ༻


Hr09 stepped into the debriefing room at the command centre, eight hours after mission complete. Seven hours plugged into Meejamother and all his needs were met. Exo cleaned, waste recycled, vitals input and now digesting. A total immersion, interactive exultation story line was generated to resolve guilt and stimulate revenge feelings. Great sex, great drugs, ‘kill the bastards’ general entertainment and a half hour beta-snooze to finish.

A long stroll through the greenhouses before going to see Major. Just about all their food came from these growing factories. The green and the smells calmed him. He didn’t know why. Some non-human things had made it down here too, when the bombs drove them underground. Various mutations, evolutions, whatever. They would russle and flit, always just out of sight. “Go vermin!” is what he always thought. It made him happy that something lived beyond the remit of the Power, outside the virtual sex and violence of the Meejamother cocoon. Control could never be complete.

Major wouldn’t agree with that. Her exo was tuned for systems control, through and through. In Major, the integration of human and machine was complete. The Power that coordinated Meejamother, mining, growing, missile production and infrastructure still needed command input. Volition was the one thing that its parralel processing couldn’t get right. The Power had given birth and grown Major and her tribe for volitional input. The tribe had the best. Their symbiosis was near perfect.

Major listened to her headup giving her a history lesson. “Round about the same time as the last person to remember the sky died, our targeting team were themselves targeted. The Power had run a modelled, hi-concept scenario to keep damage from infiltrations to a minimum. The basic idea was to divide the chain of command so that no one group had total control. Since the targeting team were wiped, we’ve had to keep the targeting computer running the same targets because no one has the cryptokey to get access and change them”.

She flipped the headup off as Hr09 strode in.

“Bringing back Mn04’s mydox and cryptokey has been your final exam. You are finaly ready for your destiny. The Power thinks it can modify a missile to take you to the enemy and eject you just before impact. You gotta record telemetry and get it back to us. Then you will go down as close to the enemy command as you can fight your way to, and blow it the fuck UP! They will have many defences but your task will be simplified by not having to get back out. Your dream come true, yes?”

“Thank you mam!”

“We know that you’ve waited patiently for this chance to die in our great cause. The Power blesses you, your genes will multiply”.

He didn’t notice but his exo had given him five micros of shine. The far rumble and shock through the seams of rock made him feel like racing. How could they defend against so commited an assailant?

He grinned at Major. “Let’s go!”