༺ First Burn ༻

Ground Zero

Since unhitching the rope at the bottom of the shaft, total warfare had filled his concentration. The outer defences had been blown away easily and he had made a good series of guesses to navigate down to the command centre. He felt exultant by the ease and competence that had cut him through the inner defence ring. The training had prepared him so well that the real thing had not seemed too different from the simulations. The blood and smoke where real though. He ignored them and set a charge against the command centre bulkhead to the side of the main door. He took cover.

Charging through the rubble, even as it was still settling, he primed his main detonators. His moment had come, glorious oblivion.

Entering the main chamber, he paused - what was it that was so familiar? The enemy centre was so much like his own. The same computer banks. The same display panels.

“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!” Major pointed a laser at Hr09’s head from behind.

What the hell was Major doing here?

Hr09 turned slowly, trying to comprehend what was happening. Major steadied his aim wondering what Hr09 was doing blasting open his own command centre. The two puzzled warriors stared at each other. Each had a finger on a trigger. Major on his laser, Hr09 on his bomb to vaporise a city.

Hr09 remembered the broken broadcast beacon. “Telemetry” he said to Major as he slowly opened his uplode port on the top of his left forearm. Major raised the laser a few inches and nodded. They moved toward the nav computer. The upload link slotted in and the screen came to life.

He chose ‘play’ and they both watched the little blinking light as it moved straight up the screen. Dead vertical all the way to the top and then its fall - following exactly the same path, right back down to its launch site.

Their minds fell dumb. Each pair of eyes not really seeing as the terrible logic of this revelation rolled through their imaginations. History unravelled, the whole world poised, waiting to see what the logic would dictate.

Each pair of eyes narrowed as each tried to guess what the other would do.