Thursday, September 3, 2015

In Transit Monsters 16 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Charlie (H minus One Month 20 Days)

I felt everyone's minds in my own dream space while I walked.  Carrying them.  My dreamspace
chained each together into a web I could sense.  An outgrowth of my own body.

My oneiros wove together communications and senses.  Each of us were a bubble stuck together.  I guess it's hard to explain to others who don't have an Oneiros tech.

Dreams sort of float in streams of consciousness.  They are there when a person is awake, too.  Different formats and levels of the mind.  The conscious mind doesn't notice them.  Too focused on realspace, I guess.

These streams and river buoy the dream.  Its like a bubble.  Most appear and pop all the time.  The thing about individuals is they can only support one at a time.  Imagine connecting to a bunch of other minds at the same time, each with their own dreams.  I used my Oneiros to try and guess what everyone else would be trying to do.

"Charlie?  C'mon, you at least have a new idea you and the others want to use against the target, don't you?"  Nasr made me wince.  We couldn't see him, but he watched our every move.

He kept sending us on more and more complicated missions against virtual simulations of the Enemy.  Each time, he grew more annoyed with our progress.  I'd been tempted to go hopping into his dreams, but the experience with Ghale had left me feeling wary of that.  I'd extended my Oneiros to everyone so I could pay attention to keep away from Foxtrot.

"Any ideas?"  Foxtrot called to me.

I shrugged and hoped I could keep my distance from her.  "I... uh..."

"We go down there and scout it out then."  Uniform suggested.

"We could set up some sort of wall thingy."  Whiskey pointed out.  "Draw them up here."

"Um..."  I tried to pay attention, but each sentence they spoke my Oneiros went into overdrive trying to predict where they might be.  Where the Enemy could be.  Or what kinds of things might be done quickly.

"Or we can just go down there."  Foxtrot said.  "We could do that down there.  Why drag them all the way up here?"

Something crackled above us.  Rumbling.  I looked up at the sky.  So did most of the rest of the group.  Oh no.

"Uh..."  I blinked.  We needed to do something.  My oneiros already saw some of us screaming, running in a bit.  Something flew above us.  Martian clouds parted.

"We need to-"  Foxtrot froze.  Then she disappeared, her dream-avatar's version of her Aeonic tech working.  She reappeared further downhill.  She kept blinking in and out of view.

I winced.  I grabbed Whiskey and started running back the direction we came.  Whiskey followed me, her internal dream and mine melding together.  We ran as one, away from the thing falling toward us.

One by one, each of the others fell out of my Oneiros tracking.  They had been taken out.  Four-winged things dropped on us from the sky.  Each were a meter-long, their tentacles wrapping around limbs.

Whiskey's goetia winked into view.  We both ran as she used her Goetic tech to weave us into the dirt and rock underneath us.  We tunneled, down and away.

Then it was just us, Uniform and Foxtrot.  My Oneiros watched as Foxtrot and Uniform rushed at the morass of enemy at the bottom of the box canyon.  Foxtrot's own vision appeared in part of my mind.

The redhead kept ahead of Uniform, using her Aeonic to keep moving.  But I could see the problem ahead of her.  The Enemy could sense her movements.  She couldn't see the bigger picture.  The tapestry of tentacles and roots moved.

Uniform screamed.  Foxtrot paused to look behind at her.  Foxtrot didn't just wait.  Unlike me, she ripped at the encroaching, entangling morass.  As they strangled her, she blinked back and forth.

Then her vision blackened.

Whiskey and I were alone, in the tunnel.  Running away.

We heard clapping.

Our tunnel dissolved as the Dreamspace changed.  Nasr stood there.  He shook his head at us.

"Again.  You lost cohesion."  Nasr said.  "You didn't work together, you fled together.  You left everyone else to die."

"We've never seen them do that before."  Whiskey said.  "So we adapted."

"And we did that together."  I added.

"And everyone else died."  Nasr said.

"Maybe some of them deserved it."  Whiskey crossed her arms.

Nasr sighed.  "I don't care, it doesn't matter.  You didn't have a plan, you couldn't even agree on a way to enter the battlefield.  In war, you must have an objective.  A plan.  And it doesn't matter if you like someone, or if they deserve it.  You work with them, regardless."

"Even if they make you feel miserable?"  I asked him.

Nasr's Avatar paused for a moment when I said that.  He blinked at me.  His avatar had been sized to stand over us.  In that moment though, I saw through the dream-coding.  My words had cracked a bit of whatever went on inside his gruff exterior.

"You and they are sisters."  Nasr said.  "Consider maybe, you want them to save you, even if they feel the same about you."

I bit my lower lip.  "Sure."

Whiskey gave her own noncommittal nod.

Nasr shook his head.  "Fine.  We're going to do this again.  This time, maybe you all will realize you have to decide on a plan together, quickly, before you enter a zone."

Nasr restarted the dreamspace.  As we returned to our individual streams, I remembered how it felt when Whiskey and I had worked together.  How my Oneiros bonded us together as one for a brief moment.  What was that?  Could I use that with Foxtrot?

That thought scared me.  Foxtrot scared me.  The others scared me, even though they were all, as Nasr put it, my sisters.  I didn't want to be embarassed in front of them.  But being one with Whiskey had felt so easy.  It felt comfortable.

Whiskey and I continued to use that.  We easily slipped back into it.  My dreamspaces gave us a bigger view of the battlefield.  Whiskey wove goetia in concert with my insights.

We were one, even if the two of us couldn't work well with any of the others.