Sunday, June 28, 2009

Upcoming story: Dark Brigade

Here's a fiblet for my loyal fans. This is a pretty damned rough cut chunk from the latest story. Tentative title:

Dark Brigade


Overhead the UAV’s are negative stars on blue backdrop. Look directly at one and they disappear, gaze ever so slightly aside and there it is. These pixels account for more human casualties than both world wars combined. Something like twenty thousand patrol around the continent, sipping power from their ventral photovoltaic cells during the day and guzzling ground based laser light at night.

Thousands of aimbots garrison the countryside. Each holds a sphere of territory, stopped only by the earth boundary of air and earth. I imagine transparent blue domes, like a force shield that doesn’t just block out attacks but actively seeks and destroys. Anything human or human built crossing into the killspheres has about one tenth of a second for acquisition plus travel time of 40mm hypersonic grenades. Aimbots look like plumbing, just a bunch of tubes surrounded by a giant canopy of solar cells. Don’t be fooled, these things can vaporize a chicken at their nominal effective range. Semi-intelligent rounds can track and intercept anything on the ground. I have seen moving light armor slagged with zero warning.

The UAV’s assist the aimbots by guiding munitions beyond and through obstacles the aimbot itself cannot see. Everything in our LPS network created by bases, aimbots, UAV’s gets flung to the heavens up to the unmanned orbital weapons platforms and out to the encrypted GPS network.

And then there was us, frontline soldiers in the Dark Operations Theatre. Only six hundred actual people had boots on the ground. Most of these are Base and maintenance personnel. Even us chosen few are largely superfluous as a fighting force. The machines react and kill faster than I or any other human could even blink.

Our opponents are new have little time to learn the art of war. Every soldier and device in the DOT knows the art of killing as deeply as our native language. GM’s hold local omnipotence within MMO’s but we hold that sway over huge swaths of Africa. Killing a handful or a hundred people isn’t scary or thrilling, it’s just work. Our domination of this war is so complete that we have yet to suffer a single casualty from enemy fire.

“Orders came in,” Wren says. Well, he signs it out since he doesn’t have vocal cords. His modded suit monitors both gloves and translates his sign language into text which appears on my HUD. Wren loves war, it’s the only time in his life where he can easily talk to other people. Our latest assignment scrolls in brilliant green text across the faceplate heads up display. This screen, crafted from some arcane meta-material in the hellish evolved design labs by DOT scientists, tells me more about the world than my eyes, ears and skin ever could. Fist sized chunks of shrapnel ricochet of it without leaving a scratch, leaving the glossy proteins of my eyes free to prosecute immediate retaliation.

“We’re going back into the city,” I say. Wren’s head wiggles his Mark III into a nod. So much quicker to subtext, I think.

“You think we can snag another thousand kills, and still be back to base in time for dinner?” Wren holds his thumb up; I don’t need tactile text protocols to interpret. We do a gear check and the two of us walk towards a city populated entirely by people that would sell a thousand souls to see us dead.

“You know what’s funny,” I say to Wren. “We have the safest job on earth.”

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