Friday, July 31, 2015

In Transit Monsters 9 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Nasr (H minus One Month 26 Days)


"They already possess training of that kind."  Dr. Putnam informed me.  Although the two Putnam
sisters were informal with each other, I made a point of keeping us to some sort of formality.  Not that I liked formal military manners and all that.

But the good doctor had coddled her monsters for too long.

"They don't have experience.  Daemons and pre-loaded katas mean nothing.  Prescient heuristics and all that is helpful, but experience still has some value."  I tried not to show my irritation.

"Experience is overrated human emotional BS."  Dr. Putnam scowl deepened.  "Everything you've done so far, is pure intimidation and social reprogramming.  It isn't necessary.  They already possess the means to act in the field as trained as possible-"

"No they don't.  They lack confidence.  They have rarely, or never have dealt with equipment designed for them.  And they have not developed enough of a team ethic."  I shook my head.  "Yes, they have field training and know the basics from all the preloaded data.  But I can't teach confidence.  Its developed, not trained."

"Confidence."  Director Putnam flicked on a screen of Charlie.  "You know about that, don't you?"

"Although Charlie had been the first figure out my first training exercise, she still lacks confidence.  That lack of confidence in her actions, her lack of trust in her compatriots, that isn't acceptable."  I pointed to the repeated visuals of Charlie and the others never working together.

"You keep referring to them as being fodder."  Dr. Putnam looked at me warily.  "You said you were here to train them to die."

"Miri, we've been over this.  He's one of the few people to have survived Haven.  He knows how the Enemy works.  That's why the major was asked to help train them."  Director Putnam gave her sister a tired look.  "He doesn't have to explain himself."

Dr. Putnam didn't respond.  She continued her withering look.

I stood up.  "Doctor, you haven't been helpful to them.  Whatever you've done to them- your compassion is dangerous at this point."

Director Putnam sighed.  "Major, Miri and I still want to know.  What happened on Haven?"

"It isn't relevant to their training."  I replied.  "And it isn't something we need to discuss."

"On Haven you were the last to Transit back."  Dr. Putnam flicked on a screen of me.  Years ago.  A dirty face that had transited in from Haven, collapsing on the ground.  "There were no microtransits or feeds from Haven after Zeus Protocol had been invoked.  You were the one that survived to say what happened at the very end."

"I'm not going into this."  I moved to the door out of the conference room.  "My dreamspace session should be ready to begin with the Monsters.  You two can go over your own history."

The two of them exchanged stares.  Neither liked being around one another for too long.  Clearly moments like this where the two of them could agree and work on something must've been meaningful.

I wasn't going to share what had happened to them.  No one got to have that one.  My last few hours with Dom weren't going to be out in the open.  It was mine.

Time to continue doing the only thing that justified my continued existence.  Some little bit of honor to redeem before humanity finally took the final bullet.

...........

"The planet of Haven."  My avatar floated above a recreation of Haven along with the monsters.  I wish I had a better name for them than that.  Names were never my thing.  At least the designation seemed clear.  "You've interacted with a very basic version of the Enemy.  But you need to understand more than just what the enemy is capable of."

Their avatar forms matched their realbodies.  After that first training session, they all had always come in their realbody avatars, eschewing the dream forms that Dr. Putnam had accustomed them to.  They wouldn't need them this time.  But preparation had been something I'd hoped to see.

"What happened at the Battle of Haven?"  I asked openly.  Instant texts bombarded me from the monsters.  Of course they knew, none of them were brave enough to say it out loud.  "Humanity was routed.  We failed to anticipate the tactics of the enemy on Haven, because we failed to obtain one of the central tenets of warfare."

"You failed to understand the enemy?"  Foxtrot asked, noticing that I had enabled them to speak verbally.  I nodded assent.

"Exactly.  Human warfare is fundamentally incapable of handling the Enemy.  You encountered only a very basic virtual facsimile of one.  Even then, you noticed how fast they were.  What you did not notice is all the ways in which human conventions fail against them."

I waved a hand.  My avatar still towered over their forms, a purposeful decision on my part.  As long as I appeared bigger, I thought it would antagonize them.  To give them something collectively they didn't like.

The dreamspace responded.  Dozens of drones and unmanned missiles appeared before us, in a blue sky.  I pointed to them.

"Humans created the means to conduct war without endangering human lives decades ago.  Soldiers were removed, and most tactics we had developed prior to the enemy had been directed toward asymmetric warfare.  Small-scale conflicts where large coordinated forces were never necessary."

The image morphed into recordings of the first human attacks on the Enemy.  All of the drones and missiles fell out of the sky or exploded.  They never reached the enemy.  The monsters looked at this with knowing certainty.

"We evolved our warfare, our militaries to handle small-scale, fast conflicts with minimal lives directly involved.  Transit only reinforced that kind of tactic.  The Enemy's tech and methods rendered them useless."

"How?"  Whiskey spoke up.  The youngest of the monsters stared at the exploding drones.  "What could stop you from being able to fight them?"

"These."  I flicked a hand.  The dreamspace presented a Jammer.  Like the soldier members of a Cyst, the massive multi-legged creature looked wrong.  Unlike the soldiers, a Jammer's head was abnormally huge.  Electricity crackled from a series of tiny horns covering it.  "These are Jammers.  They are part of an array of soldiers that prevented us from being able to rely on our accustomed forms of warfare.

"The enemy is slow, however.  It took us the better part of a year to learn that Jammers and other members of a cyst can emit electromagnetic pulses.  They can interfere directly with EM fields, frying out tech that isn't shielded in some way."

I flicked another hand.  "So you need to understand what happened Haven as well.  These all tie together.  We do not understand the Enemy, we don't know what they what, and we don't know what their goals are.  On Haven things changed in a way no one anticipated."

The dreamspace changed to old memory of my own.  Solace, the capital of Haven.  One of its biggest malls was below us.  The crowd of refugees rushed through barricades.  They were human, but something looked wrong.  Each of them were covered in orange-pink slime, from the top of their foreheads, down their backs to the top of their legs.  At the edges of the slime were cilia, which twitched and moved.

The horde of slime-covered people rushed the barricades.  Soldiers behind the barricades panicked.  No one maintained order.  Smoke filled the air.

"On Haven, the Enemy started to convert humans into them."  I pointed at the people rushing the barricades.  "They weren't forced.  Humans on Haven joined the Enemy.  Those who embraced them joined their Cysts.  We don't know what happened to them afterward.  You understand the significance of this?"

"Humans are part of the Enemy too."  Foxtrot supplied.

I shook my head.

"We could be converted."  Whiskey said, her face frightened.

I shook my head.  Still not the answer I was looking for.

"The Enemy knows us.  They have the superiority in information.  We don't know them.  They know us."  Charlie spoke up.  Her eyes were focused elsewhere.  She didn't make eye contact with anyone as she spoke.  "Humans lacked the technology to beat them.  And on Haven, the Enemy learned all it needed to beat us."


Aftermath 9
#InTransitMonsters is a story of the Hecate Project, the last possible hope for humanity's survival against an Enemy too alien for us to understand- technology as messiah, we allow monsters to be created, violating rules we forbade science to ever break.  This is a #FirstDraft of my attempt to tell a version of Frankenstein where science and technology don't terrorize us, but set us free.  Also, giants, weird tech with magical names and characters with secrets abound in it.

This one is more of a expository segment, although I feel like it helps convey Nasr a bit more.  Oh well.  Always glad for input on what others think.  This is still just a #FirstDraft, and I'm open to ideas for how best to direct things.