If a body becomes an interchangeable shell then some will lose their attachment to it. Life and death will lose its most basic meaning and they will trade and change with no more thought than one might switch footwear. But some people will be unable to make the distinction between what we are and who we are. I can see this becoming an issue the Church might have some thoughts on but I have become leery of discussing it with the Chaplain. Someone was in my personal files, last night, according to access logs. I don’t know what to think . . . what to do.
Drop pods scattered across the sky as though it was a major invasion. Only one of them was occupied. “See, if they don’t know which way we are coming down then they have less intel to go with. If they guess wrong we might be in and out before . . . ” The Commanders briefing was interrupted by a loud ‘WHANG CHUD’ as something hit the drop pod. “One of these days, dammit, this is going to work.”
Mike grinned a humourless smile that was more about showing teeth than it was anything to do with happiness. “I am not used to flying unless I am at the stick . . . this truly sucks.”
“I’d say you get used to it, but I don’t want to be called a liar.” The pod shuddered at another glancing blow and then they were all squeezed down into their seats as the deceleration began. Old training made Mike tighten his abdominal muscles and he growled low, as though a dog about to attack.
As soon as the pod hit the ground doors flew open and the main team hit the ground, taking up defensive positions. Mike tried to move and found the lock on his harness would not release. He fumbled with it until the commander tapped him. “Remember, you are the recruit here. you go when we say, and stay where we put you.” The commander hit a remote and Mike spilled out of the seat. He staggered three steps then followed the commander out of the dropship and into the forest.
“Sir, yes sir.” Old memories rushed at him from the distant past and he let reactions take over, right up until he clothes-lined himself on a low branch. “I can fly a ship worth hundreds of millions through the eye of a needle . . . and a stupid tree takes me down?”
^I gotta babysit this klutz?^ Arrow flicked to the commander. ^He’s fallen twice already and we ain’t 20 meters from the drop.^
^He’s the key, you are the keyring, keep him to the back and try not to let him run off of some cliff.^
^Flat land round here, according to the maps.^
^I have a feeling he would find one in spite of that. Keep him close and watch out for him, remember he is carrying and I do NOT want him shooting us by mistake^
^Understood^ “Come on Key, you’re with me.” Mike hesitated then nodded and fell in behind his guide. Aside from the stumbles he moved well enough and seemed to be in moderate shape. Arrow noted that pilot carried the bull-pup in a practiced field position. Old school style. The camo he wore was also vintage, about 35 years out of date. They moved at a moderate pace sweeping around the target zone just in case a response team was dispatched.
Of course one had been and even more naturally . . . they ran right into them. The fire fight was swift and brutal but the superior numbers of the rescue team cinched the deal and they moved on, losing only two men in the process. Mike spent most of that engagement face down, Arrow kneeling next to him and scanning for any stragglers.
(High above the golden battleship monitored progress and noted the loss of some ground units. The lost units were assigned penance for their sloppy execution of mission orders and reinserted into the fight. Beyond them another battleship, a Scorpion, swung into an overwatch position, Keilidgh and her friends were now the angels on high)
Mike spit dirt out and rolled to his feet. ‘I am the Key, If I don’t shoot, don’t get shot, I can still do my job.”
“Damn right, Key, now haul ass. This stopped being a stealth mission about three minutes ago.” Arrow jerked his head towards the distant buildings and they set off at a flat run. The team fanned out automatically so no single burst would get a clean sweep. The CO noted that the podder had adjusted his own movement as was well spaced as any of the others, just a little slower.
Huffing and puffing he tried to keep from holding a hand to one side where he had developed a stitch. ‘Too much soft women and hard booze. I gotta get back in shape.” He then shut up at a glare from Arrow and tried to move a bit faster. The distance closed quickly, it was becoming a race between getting to the objective before the Amaar replacements arrived.
Thunder in the clear skies indicated that company was on the way. Mike did not bother looking up but just kept his eyes on the door ahead with the lock to one side. THAT was his only purpose. He did not hear the CO giving orders over the company comms and as a result, was the only one not taking up defensive positions for the incoming drop. The stitch caused him to stagger slightly as he kept pounding towards the door . . .
The stagger probably saved his life. The spine cutting shot of a burst from an assault weapon plugged him in the shoulder and he went down hard before another shot could finish the job. Pain blanked out his vision except for a set of sparkles and he rolled till he hit something solid.
Pain, not something a podder was used to . . . usually anything bad enough to hurt killed you damn near instantly. Mike blew out and tried to get a handle on the shock . . . the door . . . he had to open that damn door. His right arm was useless, he let go of his weapon and left it there, by the tree. His shoulder screamed as someone slapped a nannypatch on the wound.
“I leave you alone for one second . . . ” Arrow snarled and heaved Mike to his feet. “Open the damn door, then pass out.” A rough shove sent him stumbling forward as his keeper laid down heavy covering fire.
“Come on, open the eyes . . . .” Mike had to verbalize, to keep going. “There it is, bit to the left . . . right, left right, keep going . . . ”
(High above the Golden battleship monitored the progress and decisions were being questioned. The presence of the Scorpion had been noted.)
He slammed face first into the doorway, which initiated the bioscan. The door whooshed open and Mike fell through the doorway and onto his bad shoulder . . . he passed out again.
@Sir the infidels have entered the complex. They are carrying their wounded and fighting a running retreat. We are in puruit but if we go deeper we will be unable to comm up to you.@
(You have the orders, stop them and any information from getting out. When you exit used the agreed signal or prepare for rebirthing.)
A different form of cloning? How will respawns work in dust?
Are troops going to have a common weapon or will their be racial differences? Amaar gonna be peggin us with lasers? Or just laser sights?
I hope to finish this and get back to space soon, but I wanted to get this one out . . . I apologise to those of you here wondering where the internet spaceships went.