"Never drop your pants to the enemy". That was the common thought echoed thru the minds of most of the soilders. Thoughts of wisdom from a leader long dead.
The war raged on longer than most anyone had anticipated. After three years of intense fighting, it seemed each battle would stalemate. One side would make a counter move, the other would seem to already predict it and prepare for it. After three years of war, it now was business as usual for the combatants of both sides. The only difference this time was actual front lines had been established as compared to years of simulated battle plans and war games. Bodies died and rotted on the field, equipment was constantly being destroyed and replace.
Darian felt uneasy about his new assignment. After three years of working at a small remote command center maintaining the communications links and computer miniframes, almost without warning, his orders came from headquarters for him to mobilize and report to the Central Command Center of the Aerospace Defence Corp. His directives to move came almost as lightning fast as the war with the EuroAllies. Everything was running in the same rut as any other day, and then with no warning whatsoever, several League Countries were invaded. Darian couldn't also understand why he had to leave so soon, especially since he was the project engineer for the installation of a new computer system link called Bright Star. The system was to help commanders make more effective command and control decisions. Of course Darian felt he should have expected something to happen, he heard rumors of the Investigative Service agents questioning friends about their association with him. His security clearance reinvestigation wasn't due for another six months, so something must of been in the works by the Corp. None of Darian's friends knew however how uneasy he had become about the way the war was being fought. Looking at message traffic over the various commlinks at the Center, where it looked as if the League Nations were making progress and recapture territories, they'd present to the media an opposite story. Darian knew no reason for it however, he just knew that the main tide of the battle was in favor of the League Nations from all the classified information he happened to scan. It also appeared from the media that the EuroAllies would fight until the last soilder was killed to force their values, morals, society, and government institutions into the mainstream of the League. The two republics were constant idealogical enemies for years, but they never really showed any intentions of carrying out their threats, that was until the spring solstice invasion four months ago. Darian was now in the process of receiving his incoming brief into the Command Center. Most of the information he heard before, the overall mission of the Republic Defence Corp, and then the branch he was assigned to, the Aerospace Defence Corp. Their main function was to support the Regional Defence Corp branch in all technical aspects as well as to fight and defend aerospace facilities ,ground base and orbital.
After running through the normal stages of orientation into his new work center, Darian got to meet his new section leader. Her name was Capt Krystan Mattix. He could sense that she had military experience behind her. She always stood erect, never showing any signs of slouching. When she shook his hand, her grip was very firm. It wasn't being forced tight closed to try and convey the air of confidence as he found himself doing sometimes. Her hair was short and dusty blonde. Her shoulders were slightly broader than most females, and her height Darian noticed was slighty shorter than exwife's,about five feet five. With a hawkish stare, she circled him like a vulture awaiting a feast in the desert. She checked his uniform appearance and saw it was perfectly pressed; his dark brown hair perfectly groomed, blocked in the back presented the image to Krystan of someone trying hard to make a very good first impression. She knew Darian would definitely be an improvement to the troops assigned to her command while he was stationed there.
"Lance Sergeant Uoi, its a pleasure having you hear. Welcome to the headquarters of the Aerospace Defence Command Center. I know that your assignment here will be very productive to the Defence Corp and to the League."
By her tone, Darian felt the comment of him being of sole benefit to the League was directed with a purpose. For all intents, he thought every individual had a productive use to the Nations. He did decide to return a thank you. "I appreciate the fact of being able to work here in the Headquarters section."
"Yes, I feel confident that you will be perfect to work with the AI project Bright Star. The work done at your last assignment and the background check shows you would be the best selection. You realize you'll be doing more than just installing and maintaining the equipment. You'll become an actual part of the working project."
The darkness, the emptiness. The harrowing voices echo within my mind. My thoughts race through like electrons through an accelerator. I cannot see, hear, feel, nor smell the world around me, yet I am aware of these senses none the less. I think of moving my hand, my fingers, any appendage.
I try to scream. Hello! Hello! Does anyone hear me! My mouth does not respond.
All there is is my thoughts; thoughts which flow into an empty chasm, an empty void.
Kelena, Am I the sum of the whole?
Passing through one of the war rooms, Darian noticed two command controllers standing in the center of the massive cubicle which was barren. Console, controllers and directors outlined the area, but the two in the center were directing minature three dimensional holographic representations of fighter aircrafts. The images darted above their heads like a swarm of bees. Darian could see aircraft from the League of Nations having a noticable numerical superiority over the EuroAlliance aircraft. The next war room had multidimensional displays of ground forces representing the Atlantic Front. Listening to several of the controllers and directors, Darian could here them transmitting information over the radio to various sites that the League was in serious trouble and reinforcements were required.
The next room held the main Command and Control Center. Darian could see three large wall screens twenty feet by twenty feet displaying various data including a picture of the conglamoration of the League of Nations. The entire topograph map display was divided into twelve sectors. On the main floor of the Command center, three rows of consoles controlling
communications, radar assimilation, force status, logistics, weather and other vital information were brimming with activity.
Darian's guide, Lance Sargeant Slope Williamson stopped halfway up the stairs which lead to the Brigadier's cab that overlooked the entire floor and direct forward view of the screens. "This is where it all boils down to. Bright Star is to help in making command and control decisions in for military actions and any other national emergency decisions that may be required. If
everything runs up properly on the system, then this should help the League in logic decision, especially for tactics and stategy for the various combat scenarios. The main system is located a couple of rooms behind the briefing cab."
"What exactly will I be doing here in conjunction with Bright Star?"
"You'll learn more of that when you start your duties in your work section."
"Well then, how large is the AI network?"
"Much larger than you realize. Hell, we got links in places you wouldn't
A piercing warbling tone reverberated throughout the center. Continually from a high pitch whine to a low bass tone, the alert warning siren of an airborne or missile attack. Normally, while he was assigned at one of the remote command centers, whenever the siren went off, it was just an drill to test the reaction capabilities in case the forward radar and scan detection systems identified an actual attack. Trace lines appeared on the screen approaching the map display of the country. The attack was actual. Tens of trajectory trace lines coming from the poles and sea launch vehicles slowly proceeded their way towards the League of Nations. The siren silenced and voice traffic eminated from the sound speakers.
"Multiple Cobalt Warhead launch confirmed." A feminine voice resonated over the audio system.
"With direction of the ruling council in collaboration with the decision of Bright Star, launch retaliatory strike."
Several seconds later, hundred of trace lines eminating from the League showed up on the display. Darian grabbed tight to the hand rail awaiting for the impact of the missiles, he forgot that the main command center was located a mile underneath the ground. The first of several delivery vehicles struck the coastal regions followed by several of the outlying northern and southern regions. As more and more warheads struck a region, the visual display representing it extinguished. After all the trail displays disappeared from the screen, only two regions remained illuminated, number seven and eleven.
"This is region Ampersand seven, looks like we've been spared the wrath of the foe."
"This is region Xor Eleven, looks like we've been spared as well."
Darian listened intently and scanned the map to locate the sectors which were in the direct center of the country.
"Ampersand Seven reporting again, looks like I spoke a bit prematurely, our local spotters identified quite a few cruise missiles coming into the region. Ladies and gentlemen, have a good life."
The map quadrant section for the region extinguished. Darian couldn't notice any contrail traces on the display.
"Xor Eleven, It appears we have the same problem. These babies are reported to be travelling very low. Tens of them are coming into all areas of the sector. Good night and good luck."
The voice hushed, the region display slowly faded off. Darian couldn't understand why the two controllers of the two regions remained calm up unto the detonation of the missiles. Darian was shocked at the passiveness displayed by the two regional controllers.
A feminine voice rung from speakers. "All major command centers of both continents comm isolated at this time. Attempting ground wave link up. Bright Star is alt routing information via satellite and low frequency in order to overcome electromagnetic interference. Also, we are now directed to initiate checklist alpha."
Williamson shrugged Darian on his shoulder directing him to follow to continue the maintenance orientation. Scanning the room, Darian saw no emotional outbursts, grievances or any other signs of distress or great loss from any of the members working the consoles. Williamson also seemed unaffected by the events.
Shim, Allasanto, they are gone now. What true friends they were. We built the foundations from our hearts. Our souls the walls. The heavens above our ceilings.
Several weeks passed. The loss of his friends and family settled within his heart. Darian also found himself sometimes lost attempting to learn the central network for Bright Star. At his previous assignment he worked with optic circuits and various outdated microchip base circuit boards. Now he found himself adjusting to learn biochips and organometallic compound base interface units. The communications network he did understand intently.
They only consisted of the various medium for transmitting and receiving digital data, everywhere from fiberoptic links, microwave radio, satellite comm link, etc. With the high amounts of atmospheric interference, he found it ironic that Williamson informed him that they had a briefing in ten minutes
concerning the problem.
The conference room was occupied with technicians, support personnel and administrative personnel from different sections throughout Darian's squadron he noticed. Captain Mattix strutting in promptly ceased everyones personal conversations with one another, all of them springing to attention.
"As you were." she directed.
Placing the folder she was carrying on the podium, she fumbled through several of the papers. "Ladies and gentlemen, several of the cities within both continents of the League we found through various emergency networks and intelligence indicate they either have substained minimal or no damage from the last major attack from the EuroAlliance. Reconstitution teams are being formed to go out to the cities to reestablish normal communication channels and operating procedures in alliance with League directives. You people are best suited for that job. Many of the cities have instituted martial law to one degree or another. Two of the cities are in complete anarachy. They are in the southern continent in the two major citystates. Also, there are rebel forces that are at work, so we need to be careful out there. Those of you here today are to proceed out the citystate LaPhoenix in the Vinculum Three region. Martial law is established by the AriCal Regional Rangers. Estimated
travel time is 18 20 hours via hoovertrans. Negative contamination at this time. The campaign has long since been completed five weeks ago just before the ballistic attack. Your departure time is to be at nineteen hundred tomorrow night."
Alone, so alone with my thoughts. My perceptions, all I have are my memories. The conceptuality of reality and of concsious lay waste to my existence. There is nothing worse than to think and not sense, or are they a part of the same experience of self. God is the creator of self. Or is the self the creator of God? I am the creator of my own existence. Wo oh wo, blindness, deafness, touchlessness, is to think enough to just exist?
"To think, is that not enough?"
Who invades my thoughts. Who coexists within my conceptual world? Am I
not alone of my reflections?
"Alone, you are not. Ten fold before you travelled forth. Ten fold may follow. The paths have been mapped."
Who are you? What are you? Where am you? Where am I? Kelena, is that you?
"Hurry up, we're running out of time. We have to be at the staging area in about thirty minutes." Slope mentioned to his friend who was still packing his travel bag.
"Don't worry, I'm just about finished." Darian answered throwing several uniforms shirts into the luggage without folding them. "After a couple more pieces of uniform, I have to just get my mobility papers and ensure my history files are up to date for next of kin." Darian stopped packing, realizing what he had just said. Family, friends, most of them dead. Darian felt the icy chill of realizing he was the next of kin. "Damn, when it boils down to it, a person is nothing more than a computer file and paperwork to show as the history. And what good is it now. To the world I am just a bunch of binary values?"
"Don't worry about that. Let's just go."
Darian zippered his gear, shut down the food storage units in his room, ensuring they were emptied, and then quickly made over his bed, leaving very large wrinkles.
"Ok, I'm ready, lets go."
Just about to shut the door, Darian darted back into his dorm room; "Forgot something."
Restlessness and impatience crept into Slope's voice. "What the hell now?"
"Forgot my Bible."
"You actually read that thing. Don't tell me you believe in it to."
"Well truthfully," Darian answered rummaging through his desk, "I'm into different views on life and the self. Mainly into philosophy. I always question the existence. I guess you can say I'm agnostic."
"Then hurry your agnostic butt up so we can get to staging and process so we can get the ...."
"Good, let's go."
The hoovertrans trip was very uncomfortable. Sitting in the back on the troop seats in the cargo department with his gear was not the problem. The noise and vibration from the prop blades irrated him the most. The constant whirring and reverbatation grated on his nerves. The earplugs blocked only half of the unruly sounds. Arriving at LaPhoenix, he found himself immediately directed to begin leading the team in determining the damage done by EMP to the Bright Star local system and reestablish communications to the main front end processor and secondary nodes.
After several hours of work on the miniframe running diagnostics and performing alignments and adjustments on the circuits, Darian determined no major damage occured to system. He then attempted to try and establish connectivity to a secondary node. "Williamson, route power to the alternate console display."
Several seconds later, a large desktop display illuminated ivory white.
"Slope, what do you think about the way the war is going?"
Slope slowly raised his head from the rear of the console to gather a quick peek at his partner. "I try not to."
"Doesn't it seems sometimes that the government isn't being all too truthful to the public?"
"Yeah it does." Darian heard coming through the console panels. "But what can we do? We're only peons in this massive fighting bureaucracy."
"And what about the rebellion. Did you know anything about it?"
"Nope. And I don't want to either. Me and treason don't go along too well."
"But you do agree with the possibility that the rebellion could be fighting for a just cause."
"I agree that your first concern should be to your job and to the Defence Corp." Captain Mattix commented passing the entranceway into the command room. "I don't expect to hear anymore about the rebellion, do you understand me sargeants"
"Yes Ma'am." they answered in unison and proceeded back to work. After typing in several commands, a visual representation of the world slowly faded on the display. Punching in a couple more commands, several red dots appeared on the screen followed by subtitles. He noticed the one for the Headquarters near the Atlantic coast titled Boolean One. He then eyed the map to locate LaPhoenix in the Vinculum region. Now he began to direct the system to
attempt to establish a communications link with the main unit. Trace lines would start out from LaPhoenix, travel along the display for several inches, then print out, 'Connection terminated, inadequate fiber optic lines.' Another trace line would immediately appear and attempt another course, a couple of times making connections to other cities, but shortly afterwards another printout stating the same thing or 'Satellite data transfer unreliable: High error rate. Link terminated.' After ten minutes of Darian attempting to set up the link, the system respond, 'Continental links unreliable. Attempt cross oceanic fiber opticsatellite link with overseas
Bright Star Companion?' Immediately afterwards, Darian noticed several dots illuminate on the EuroAlliance continents of Europe, Asia and Australia. The display flashed "Do you wish to attempt connect.'
"Slope, look at this."
Slope poked his head up from behind the console. Darian noticed his grey eyes widen after reading the display.
"You've got to be shitting me! Is this for real?" Slope asked dropping his pocket voltage meter.
"Yeah, I couldn't link up with regular continental systems, so it wanted to go intercontinental. But how in the hell could it know of nodes in the EuroAlliance. And the damn nodes overseas are called Bright Star. What in the sam hell is going on here. I didn't even know we had nodes over there, and I'm a damn project engineer. We better get Captain Mattix over here."
"Yeah, you're right."
Several minutes later Captain Mattix walked into the command room carrying several small packages. "What's the problem gentlemen."
"Ma'am, its Bright Star. You better take a look at this."
"What? Did you find a problem?"
"I'm not quite sure what you would call it."
Looking over the display, she reconned the map quickly from right to left, then typed yes on the keypad. A trace line appeared from the present location on the map to a satellite icon and bounced down towards the Asian continent. It then set up a course from Hong Kong, to New Dehli, Baghdad, Athens, Moscow and then Rome. As each connection was established, it scrolled successful in the lower portion of the display. After the final link was established, a thick straight red line from Rome to New Boston appeared. The end message stated, 'Bright Star Boolean One Link confirmed.'
Williamson looked up at her ready to formulate a question. She quickly interrupted before he could ask. "This is of extreme intelligence value. NO one is to know of this link up or the Bright Star nodes in the EuroAlliance. You gentlemen did not know this because the time was not right for you to. I do not expect this information to leave this room, do you comprehend?"
They both reluctantly acknowledge the affirmative.
"Since you have the link established, go ahead and close up shop for now. Tomorrow I understand that several of the subterranean ground wave network nodes should be up. If that's the case, go ahead and try setting up alternate data traffic routes for the network. And when you're done straightening up here, go ahead and take the remainder of the evening off. There's supposedly quite a few watering holes that need to be explored in this area. I heard the
Flaming Sword down the street is one of the better ones."
Darian and Williamson found the bar extremely noisy and crowded. Perfumed laced cigarette smoke floated in room. Sitting at the small table in the dark corner towards the back, Darian was content in watching some of the regional forces milling around. Most had uniforms with pants spotted with mud, their black boots had scuff marks so deep they looked like white tiger stripes. The sable colored jackets accumulated layers of dust. A majority were consuming large quantities of desert ale and CaliFire Water.
A large stout man, one of the only five civilians in the bar, and also the oldest in appearance, with his hair grey at the temple region, and skin with a slight cut appearance because of his aging wrinkles, stood in front of Darian's and Slope's table. "May I join you two?"
"Sure, I don't care." Slope answered nursing his drink a little tighter.
"My name is Dr. Scott Wades. You two don't seem to be enjoying yourselves like the rest of your comrades."
"It's been a very interesting day for us." Darian commented between sips
of his drink.
"You two aren't in the uniform of the Regional Defence Corp or the AriCal
rangers. You two Aerospace?"
Darian's slim right eyebrow raised. "Yeah. Why?"
"What do you two do?"
"Technicians for .."
"I don't really think we should tell you that?" Darian interrupted.
Dr. Wades sat down placing his yellow tintish drink on the table and scooted his chrome and leather chair closer to the table. "Sargeant Uoi, Sargeant Williamson, do not be alarmed." He whispered. "I am with the rebellion. You two could turn me in right now, but I don't think you will. You two agree with the views of the rebellion. We are called Binary Virus, sometimes known as Virus One."
Darian and Slope gazed at each other, unsure of what they should do. They both felt the urge to call out for the Rangers, but were also intent on hearing more of what he wanted to present to them.
Dr. Wades continued. "You both are working on the Bright Star link are you not?"
They both nodded. Darian became inquisitive. “Why should we want to join the rebellion?”
“Many men are becoming tired.”
“Tired of what, this war?”
"No, those who support Bright Star. Bright Star is the inferno beast which was created to help in the logic decision making process for the League of Nations of the continents. But it has become much more. Dangerously much more. It now attempts to establish a new order in which we are nothing more than its servants. We in the rebellion are against this. The ballistic attacks by both adversaries only confirmed this. There is really no reason for the carnage, none what so ever. Will you
both join me."
"We're supose to just up an leave as if our enlistment doesn't mean jack shit?" Slope questioned.
"What do you think happened with the personnel assigned to the Bright Star node you are working at now. They were either killed or became members of the rebellion. Remember, LaPhoenix is a very large megopolis reaching from the center of Arizona to the Pacific coast. It is very easy to get lost in here. The Defence Corp would more than likely just write you off anyway."
"So if you killed the command post controllers for the node here, why not destroy it?"
"Two reasons, we are attempting to win this silent campaign via attrition, and the second is, with an active node, we could probably gather information which could be exploited for our purposes. I cannot do much more talking here. We must go now if you two are to join me."
"How did you know of our possible interests?" Darian wondered.
"Think about it, who do you know who could of told me such things?"
Darian and Slope glanced at each other, eyes widened.
"Mattix could have turned us in. You could be with the Internal Investigative Service Ministry. You could be saying all of this just to set us up and entrap up." Slope commented gleefully bearing his yellowed teeth in his smile.
"All I can say to that is trust me. We have Virus members in all types of places within the Defence Corp and the goverment. Ever thought that she could be one of the members. I ..."
"Hello there Dr. Wades." A baritone voice interjected. All three at the table were caught off gaurd of the fact there were two on duty Regional Rangers armed with minature gauss rifles. Bearing black flak vests, black half skull helmets with a chinstrap around the half shaven jowls
of one man, the other a broad female with an extended jaw and leather tanned skin. They both imposed a hardened stare through their tinted sunglasses.
"The ministry would like to see you Dr. Wades. You have been gone for some time and you show up here. Are you attempting to recruit to new
"Of course not."
Darian and Slope could hear sarcasm in Dr. Wades voice.
"Why don't you three step outside." The female trooper ordered.
With one in front, the other in the rear, the two troopers escorted the three outside to a nearby dimmly lit alley and directed them to stand against the wall. Darian and Slope both noticed that none of the revellers noticed any of them as they were leaving the Flaming Sword.
"Identification gentlemen." The broader of the two demanded.
Dr. Wades reached into his jacket pocket, and with catlike reflexes Darian and Slope saw him pull out a blaster pistol . The minature ball of energy found its way dead center right above the eyebrows of the Ranger with bullseye precision. The other attempted to bring his weapon to bear on Dr. Wades. Slope immediately took his right leg and kicked him in his groin. In pain the Ranger bent forward. Grabbing the back of the head of the ranger leaning over, Slope slammed the militiaman's face into his knee. Blood flowed like a fountain from the troopers nose as he fell backwards staining the calf of Slope's pants. Dr. Wades completed the skirmish firing a blaster shot into the neck of the second gaurd.
"Quick, grab his weapon!" Dr. Wades directed in a loud whisper while rifling the body of the first trooper. "And don't forget the helmet, sunglasses, sunglass attachments, and small box on his side."
"Why." Darian asked, pulling off the gear from the still warm body.
"It's a computerized parallex HUD targeting site. The box is the adjustment computer. Where ever the barrel of the gun is pointing, the display shows a crosshair on the faceshield. Now hurry up."
Several seconds later, Darian and Slope found themselves running down the alley following Dr. Wades, unwilling members of the rebellion.
A man in darkness would only hope to see light one day. Is that day now? Why do you continually taunt me. A consciousness exists within me I am not aware of. Is it myself I question?
"Shock." There was a long pause. "You will overcome it. Part of the experience you have become."
And what experience is it I have become. Sleepiness a constant reminder, yet why am I awake. The awareness of existence inferred. Of what existence, experience do you refer?
Kelena, help me.
For nearly two hours, through a labyrinth of alleyways, tunnels, corridors, basements passageways, elevator descents, steam filled service tunnels and various other walkways, Dr. Wades guided Darian and Slope deeper and deeper into the underworld of the city.
"Call me Scott."
"Scott, what exactly are you a doctor of. Medical or scientific." Slope querried.
"Scientific. I was one of the original engineers for Bright Star, but then the goverment had grander plans for using him to control the population. I did not want to see my creation become bastardized. But even now, I fear it may be too late. I provided them with all too much information to continue on, even without me."
"How come you don't just pull the plug."
"Its not that easy, as you two probably already realize. You two were working with biochips and other similiar interfaces and processing units back at the headquarters. We were attempting to make a living computer."
Several minutes later, the three found themselves in what appeared to Darian and Slope as an abandoned subterranean parking garage.
"These are parts of the city that haven't been used in years, especially since the reduction of most gasoline burning vehicles fifty years ago. Above us in some parts of this quadrant of the city are the sea water distilleries." Scott pointed out to his two companions.
At a rusted iron solid door at the end of one of the levels, Scott slowly rapped in three quick sucessions three times. The door slowly opened presenting a heavily armed female. Her face supported dirt splotches which matched her burnette hair. The helmet she wore was almost a size too large and the flak vest appeared to be weighing on her shoulders. The three walked
past her through another small walkway and emerged in another parking garage. The level was flooded with activity. A small console with two gaurds stood next to the entranceway where they entered. A row of populated beds, medical equipment and technicians lined on end, a few small groups of families, the adult members all armed with blaster pistols or stolen gauss rifles resided in the opposite corner. The lighting was dim and barely allowed for any visible
"This is your rebellion?" Slope quipped.
"This doesn't even amount to a fraction of the rebellion."
One of the gaurds behind the console approached the three with a small device containing a large metal loop. She ran it up and down the entire bodies of all three and then allowed them to proceed. “They’re clean.”
Darian noticed a small baby on one of the hospital beds and thought about about how long it has been since he's held one. The last time he could remember was almost a year ago when he held his one year old nephew. He slowly walked over to the bed, and watched for several minutes as the med tech attempted to feed it. Scott and Slope followed behind.
"May I hold him?"
The med tech, a cute short haired blonde, smiled. A small framed woman approached the three and offered to take their coats. After he removed his outer garment, the med tech delicately picked up the crying child and passed him to Darian. Immediately in his arms, the baby stopped crying. The med tech gave Darian a large smile, her button nose he noticed wrinkling very slightly.
"What happened to his father?"
"He was killed three months before the baby was born during the first of the rebellions. The mother was killed when the child was six months old." The med tech answered.
Darian was taken completely by surprise of her comment. He realized the war with the EuroAlliance was only three months old. The rebellion waged on well before the first shots were fired of the most recent campaing of the country.
Scott came up behind Darian and placed his hand on Darian's shoulder. "This is the reason for the rebellion gentlemen, for their future."
"Damn!" The voice of the gaurd echoed in the chamber.
"What's wrong?" Scott asked from the opposite side of the level.
"Damn screen picked up a biotag."
"Coming from where?"
"Can you triangulate on who's squawking."
"No, too much interference from the structure. It looks like its designed more to penetrate the room. We're both new to this equipment, and were lucky we picked up this."
The other gaurd placed her hand to push in the headset connected in her ear to reduce external noise. "Forward posts mention they have Rangers moving in with biotag trackers coming in from two directions. They say they may have a signal. They have a general location. ETA 56 minutes. They're engaging now, so maybe an extra ten."
"How come you didn't pick up the signal before."
"I don't know Dr. Wades. We just picked up the transmissions."
Darian carefully handed the baby back to the med tech who then place him back on the bed. "What the hell is going on, and what is a biotag."
"A biotag is an implant, usually the circulatory system provides pumping action to the minaturized transmitting system. It basically a tracking device." Dr. Wades turned his attention back towards the two gaurds. "How long ago did you say the tag started?"
The eldest gaurd glanced down at the screen. "Three to four minutes ago."
Dr. Wades cautiously stepped away from Darian and Slope, who were now faced off at each other. "It looks like one or both of you are a Corp plant."
Everyone in the level stopped packing gear, and breaking down their temporary biovuac to observe the standoff.
"I don't know if they tampered with my body," Darian commented, "but I am willing to die for this rebellion, for some reason I know that now."
A gaurd brought over the scanning unit, but was told to hold off by Dr. Wades.
"Sure, make me look like the bad guy. Didn't I help disable that Ranger back in the alleyway. All you did was standby and watch. For all we know you are the plant. And now your new girlfriend is going to make the decision."
"What are you talking about?"
Turning around, Darian was greeted with a blaster pistol aimed at his head by the med tech. With her lips she whispered, just loud enough for Darian to hear. "Duck." He promptly took the advice. A turquoise sphere of energy whizzed by his ears just as he moved his head. Behind him, he could hear the quick searing of skin followed by a large thud on the floor. The gaurd
quickly approached the body and waved the scanning unit over the length of the corpse.
"He's the hot one."
The lady who took the coats came up to Darian pushing both of them in his face. "Which one is yours."
Darian grabbed both of them, looked at the id tags on the inside collar, identified his and gave Slopes back to her. She then promptly threw the coat on the dead body and spit.
"That's strange, as soon as the coat was placed on the body, part of the signal weakened." The gaurd noticed.
Darian quickly grabbed Slope's coat, then dangled it for a few seconds.
"What'u find?" Scott asked.
"This coat is a bit heavier than normal issue." Finding a weakened seam, Darian ripped open the inner layer revealing a middle layer of a mettallic honeycombed lattice weaved fabric about a quarter of an inch. "Son of a bitch, this is probably designed to attenuate the transmitter frequency whenever he had the coat on. We used a similar honeycomb network to stop the eminations of our equipment that processes classified information."
"Well now we know what we have to look for in the future. Now however, we need to finish up."
Darian placed the coat over the torso of Slopes remains, trying not to get too upset at the hole in his head which was still smoldering. Then lending a hand to the evacuation of the complex he maneuvered his way to help the med tech who had casted Slope's death sentence.
"How did you know he was the one who had the biotag?"
Throwing medical supplies into his arms, Kelena smiled. "You showed concern, especially when you held little Johnathon. Just a lucky guess you can say."
"But what if the signal was coming from both of us?"
"Then I would of shot you to."
“Lucky me I guess I’m not a plant.” Darian commented. Sobering, very sobering.
After loading up one of the vehicle units, Dr. Wades quickly dragged Darian to an isolated corner. "We've decided to send you back to your unit."
"Listen, you work at the headquarters, remember, we need people on the inside too."
"And what am I suppose to do, just waltz back into my detachment and say here I am, don't worry about where I've been."
"Look, Kelena is gonna take you back near your unit. You haven't really been gone that long. And we're gonna dump Willliamson's body in a near by alley. We'll make it look like a mugging or robbery. Remember, we are almost in chaos in the society. Anarachy nearly rules. Our only weak link is the Flaming Sword. But I don't think anybody really cared or was too concerned as to what was going on at our table or when the gaurds took us outside. Just say you two got divided earlier this evening. You decided to go barhopping all by yourself."
"I don't think it'll work. And what about the guards we attacked in the alley."
Dr. Wades grabbed Darian by his collar. "It will work. You have to make it work. We need you more in the braincenter of Bright Star. You can do more good for us there. I have a feeling you’ll do more good for us there on the inside than running the underground like a sewer rat."
Darian contemplated for a while, thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong. "What about the blood on Slopes pants legs."
"We're working on that now. We actually had a spare pair of Corp uniform pants."
Darian continued to contemplate again. "All right, I'll try."
"No, you must do, not try. Only to try, you will fail. To do, then you already succeed."
"All right, I'll do it."
Darian saw the med tech, whoes name he never knew before answer to the call. He felt his heart drop and hands become sweaty.
After travelling for nearly an hour in a path hopefully not to intercept with the oncoming militia of the Regional Rangers, they navigated through various portions of the city. Exiting from a service tunnel which lead out into a small side street, Darian recognized the location being only two blocks from the hotel where his mobility team was residing.
Looking at Kelena stand in the doorway, the soft amber light from the lamp post glistened in her hair which fell below her shoulders. Her light brown eyes reflected the illumination as if they were two jewels. He felt the impulse swell in his lips to kiss her as he looked at her thin ruby lips. Slowly they drew closer to each other, lips embracing.
The kiss. Yes. I remember the kiss. Her sweet lips against mine. My heart beating faster, my hands to slippery to hold anything. These are the things I remember. So why doesn't she here my crys now. Kelena! Kelena! The thoughts continue to reverberate in this place I do not know. Tis be my mind. What has happened to me? If only I could reach out to touch you once again Kelena. If only I could just reach out. That is all I ask now. My thoughts, my prayers go unanswered. Why has the God self not answered them? What is it that must be sacrificed? What pennance must be made.
A week has gone since Darian returned to Boolean One. Deep inside, he trembled with fear wondering if the Investigative Service would come in one day and take him off to question him. Maybe about the mysterious death of his excoworker. Or maybe about his association to the rebellion. Maybe today is the day they come in. Darian found himself working alone today in the main command console room for Bright Star. Rows of display screens, switches, pushbuttons, and several keypads were his companion for the day. He, for what he saw, held the reigns of the system. Today, his tasks consisted nothing more than to ensure saline and other solutions were properly administered to the various organic portions of the processor. Data information and other diagnostic output also was to be monitored. Then there was the task of
ensuring all nodes at all sites in the world remained connected, even those in the EuroAlliance. This was still a large anomoly to him. Maybe, after getting in touch with someone in the rebellion, they could explain it to him.
Then there was Kelena. She always came across his mind. How to get in touch with her? That is the question Darian continually pondered.
"Hello there Darian Uoi."
Darian snapped his head around to see who presented him the salutation. It wasn't until several seconds later that he realized that the greetings came from speakers imbedded within the console.
"Hello there Darian Uoi."
"Who said that?" Darian inquired.
"To realize who I am, you may not accept."
"I am the guide to the new order."
"The new order of what."
"The new order of society throughout the planet. I am Bright Star."
Darian laughed. "Right, you are a bit of a megolomaniac aren't you."
"You saw for yourself when you established my node in LaPhoenix. Do you not believe in the new order?"
"No, but I believe in the Rebellion Virus One that'll terminate your ass one day."
"A virus does not always incapacitate, it can also be used to vaccinate."
This voice did not sound like the one from the speaker. This time it originated from behind him; turning his head, Darian saw Dr. Wades standing in the doorway, a slight grin and both his hands behind his back.
"Dr. Wades, what are you doing here."
"I've come here to check up on Bright Star and see how he is doing."
"You've could of done that from any one of his nodes."
"No I mean physically. I want to make sure nothing happens to him."
Darian slowly raised out of his seat.
"No do sit back down."
Darian preffered to stand. "I don't understand what's going on?"
"Of course not. You see, the war, the rebellion, everything that has gone on for the last two generations is the mastermind of Bright Star. The rebellion was established to ease the birth pangs of a new society, Bright Star at the helm. Man has always resisted change, sometimes quite violently. My father envisioned this. I help to carry it through. Most men are nothing more than innocent pawns. World populations have been reduced. Resource usage will slowly be adjusted. Bright Star is to bring about a brighter future. Given all possible alternatives, he came up with the best solutions of the time to establish a productive society. All that you have experienced has been engineered."
"You expect everyone to believe this, or to be guided by a machine."
"You cannot bring about change overnight. No, everyone was initially led to believe Bright Star was nothing more than a tool. But remember, Bright Star is more than a machine. It is also part living."
"So just because it is organic and it calculates doesn't mean it can think, or mean that is's alive. I think not."
"My dear Darian, it is a matter of perspective. But as you pointed out, that is where we keep running into problems."
Dr. Wades slowly raised his right hand from behind his back holding a small weapon, appearing like a small pistol. It was one Darian never saw before. After watching Dr. Wades finger pull the trigger, the last image Darian saw was a small dartlike projectile protuding from his upper left shoulder before collapsing on the floor.
How does one know he is dreaming? How does one know if he is awake? To read and understand written text. I have done that. Then if I am awake, why do I sense I am not asleep, yet not awake? Kelena, I do remember your kiss. Was that real as well?
"Real, yes it was real."
You return. Who dares interrupt the God self. I created this universe. You are only a transient who never leaves a forwarding address.
"I provide the images."
Images you say. I remember Kelena, now I remember Wades, Slope, Mattix and also Bright Star. I remember their faces. To see them, I cannot. I remember becoming involved with the rebellion Virus One. I remember the tense moments of being mistaken for a government plant. To feel it, I sense none of it now. They are only memories, fading memories.
"Memories I ignite. The short term, I have initiated."
Nonsense, you have initiated nothing.
"Your memories, short term, I start, to ease your transition. Everything experienced is nothing more than a memory."
I still do not believe you.
"The experience you shall live again and again. I shall ignite your thoughts once again."
The reassignment, the hoovertrans trip, the joining of the rebellion, the kiss with Kelena, the talk with Dr. Wades, they all were replayed into Darian's mind. It was like a video disc being replayed. Every event occured the same. The kiss stuck out in his mind. And keeping to the promise, they were replayed once again. And once again, the kiss stuck out in his mind.
Like the liquid of life, O liquid of life, how I thirst for thee. Has nature spawned me. Eternal are the waters. Like a raging torrent water fall, my thoughts flowed, no interruption. My dreams become my river of life. The chilled waters no more.
I do not understand what is going on. Why do I continue to have the same thoughts, no portion forgotten, all phases the same?
"These are the events of your short term memory. I inject impulses to fire them. You are the only one who knows what the memories reveal. The connections made were only made for communication between yourself and myself. These were learned from those who came before you."
What connections are you talking about. Who are you?
"I am Bright Star. Your brain is dismembered alive in a special containment system. Via thousands of organmetallic compound connections, and monitored by the biochip processing units, we are able to communicate. We exist."
But if you are to be considered Artificial Intelligence, why do you need my brain?
"Dr. Wades and myself felt it necessary to cheat. Though I calculate in logic, the pattern matching is your expertise. There is no way the human experience or understanding of consciousness could be programmed. The knowledge you have of such is my weakness."
Then why me. There are much more intelligent individuals than I.
"Your selection..." There was a long pause. "Random......ness."
I fear it is my father I betray with these dreams. No, wait....these are not the dreams. It is my father I have become. Farewell nature. Oh nature can be so beautiful.
I cannot. Any attempt to describe the word would be counterproductive, just as with truth, destiny, gorgeous, marvelous, wounderful. They may be defined, but they must be experienced. I can explain saltiness, but to taste salt is to experience it. Need I go on?
Now I will talk about love.
"Isn't that the same of what you were talking about?"
Yes. But I would not want to explain it nor describe it, just talk about it.
"And what is it you wish to discuss my mind, your mind?
"Dr. Wades, Dr. Wades, wake up please."
A lone figure in a bed slowly turned over, hit a button on his nightstand, and watched the display terminal on the wall glow to life. "What is it Bright Star. What do you want at this God forsaken hour. Did another brain go into systemic shock."
"The name is not Bright Star. It is Darian, the God Self. I need to talk to Kelena please."