Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In Transit Monsters 20! (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Charlie (H minus One Month, 17 Days)

I tried to focus my Oneiros.  Screw what Nasr had told me.  I could find her.  Whatever she was.
 Nicky's body looked like it had melted into some sort of monster.

"What's going on?"  A nervous Whiskey clung to my arm.  "Did you find whatever-that-was?"

"I-"  I tried to split my concentration between my friend and tracking Nicky's slinking form.  "I exposed her, I think."

"Exposed what?"  Foxtrot interrupted.

I froze.

"Charlie found something."  Whiskey told Foxtrot.  "I don't know what, but she says it's important."

My oneiros recreated the offices Nicky had escaped through.  I couldn't pin her down.  My dream-spiders were scouting through the net for a open port she had a connection to.  Oneiric nanobots blew around the air vents, seeking her out.

I tried to sink back into my concentration.  My awkward silence while Foxtrot and Whiskey talked.  I didn't want to talk with the redhead.  Everyone talked with Foxtrot.

"What did you find?"  Foxtrot asked.  It had been the third time she'd been asking.

"I..."  I couldn't find the words.  One part of mind touched onto oneiric feeds.  The other stammered for something to say.  "Er... I-"

"What is it important-"  Foxtrot starred at hole I'd punched in the wall.  "You broke the window.  We aren't supposed to do that."

"It was necessary.  Hecate showed me how to read the thoughts of others and..."  My cheeks flushed.  My plan sounded kinda stupid spoken aloud.  "I had... to stop the person planning to something to... the transit."

"You couldn't, the glass is carbon or something we can't break.  How did you even do that?"

"A little bit of Goetia."  Whiskey chimed in.  "And C's trying to get a fix on her now."

"'Her?'" Foxtrot asked.

"Nicky.  She's trying to sabotage and kill us."  I said.

"After you read her thoughts."   Foxtrot observed.

"You teleport. Whiskey makes things with glowing sparkles."  I pointed out.

"Seems less weird put that way."  Whiskey said.

I saw Nasr walking a catwalk between rooms.  No light.  I could make things out based on his movements.  My dream-bots had found a relevant port into Nasr's feeds.  I listened into it, trying to pierce clues as to where I could direct the microscopic dreambots trying to virally attach themselves to her.

"How could she kill us with Transit?"  Foxtrot asked.  "I thought it was safe.  I do it all the time."

"I... I don't-"  I paused.  I did know, but I didn't want to tell Foxtrot.  "Could you mind your own business?"

"Hey, I'm just trying to help."

"C's trying to work.  Give her some space."  Whiskey interjected.  As always, Whiskey to keep me from starting fights.  Even though I never knew how or why I always started them with Foxtrot.  Something about her asking me things.  It always made me nervous.

Foxtrot had a talent for getting everyone else to talk with her.  Even Whiskey, who tended to side with me, could have long conversations with the redhead.  I never could past a single sentence without getting annoyed or having Foxtrot annoyed with me.

"I think I can see where Nasr is."  I paused for a moment.  Then I one of my nanobots confirmed a connection to Nicky's BrainSys.  "I've got her!  I've got a dreamspace up with Nicky!"

"Ok, now what?"  Foxtrot asked.  "Can you do anything with that?"

I blinked.  Of course I had no idea.  Could I?  What could I do with it?

"You can slip into her head."  Whiskey nudged me.  "Then go into her head then.  Be a distraction."

"Oh."  I thought that through.  It wouldn't violate Nasr's idiotic rule either.  He loved people following his rules, playing his games.  Breaking it would be neat.

"Ok... Just keep an eye out for Aunt Miri for me ok?"  I told Whiskey.  Then I got my body comfortable in the water.

Foxtrot rolled her eyes.  "Whatever you're doing..."

She walked off.

"What is her problem?"  I asked Whiskey.  Whiskey gave me a shrug.

"You two, who knows.  You never seem to get along."

"You didn't say that the last time she tried to poke her nose into what we were doing."  I said.

"Yeah."  Whiskey agreed.  "But I also don't always have dreamspace stuff to run back to.  Sometimes you got to learn how to get along with people to live with them, C."

"See you in a few."  I closed my eyes and entered into a dreamspace with Nicky's BrainSys.

Ghale (H minus One Month, 20 days)

After one of the longest pauses in my life, Moira looked back up at me.  There were tears in her eyes.  There was a look too.  A familiar one.  The one I'd shared with Morgan years ago.

Moira didn't have a split persona or anything crazy like that.  Somedays she wanted to be a woman.  Others she felt like a man.  For the sake of her career, she gave each gender its own name.  Most places respected and laws that let her live her life in peace.  Only rarely had either of us run into anyone so put off by her genderfluidity that both of us spent more time being surprised than scared or offended.

But sometimes I swore I could tell a difference in his face when Morgan looked at me.  Something in his body and mind.  I don't know how to describe it.  Maybe I'm the one with a problem, that I think I can see a difference at all.

"So... Miri took our child's fetus... and saved her?"  Moira asked.

"What?"  I blinked.

"She saved our child."  Moira repeated.  "I mean, she undid the abortion, sure.  But-"

"She took it without even asking."  I growled.  "She just did it, probably minutes after I told her."

"You knew she wouldn't have approved of the idea."  Moira pointed out.  "She and your mother, both of them think its wrong to get an abortion to begin with.  Even ten years ago, justifying it like we did wasn't that sound.  We both knew things other people didn't."

"We both knew that humanity had ten years, maybe eleven, left."

"From simulations, yes.  I reported on it, you helped create the AIs that figured that out."  Moira put a hand on my shoulder.  "That isn't the same thing as knowing.  Even then, we both were unsure.  I've regretted doing it some nights- I mean, you've told me you sometimes wish you could've undid it."

"That-" I jabbed a finger at her.  "That isn't what happened here.  Miri ignored me and used her body to make something... to make this thing..."

"Person."  Moira corrected.  "You've said that all of these monsters are people, just bigger and more cybernetic."

"In some ways."

"Charlie was the first successful subject then?  How many failures did they have?  How hard did Miri try before defecting to this choice?"  Moira pressed.  Her journalist voice kicked in.

No, this wasn't how this was supposed to go.  Moira was supposed to agree with me.  Someone who would've been just as hurt as I had.

"Who knows, it's Miri!"  I exclaimed.  "She always gets her way in the end, even with you!"

"Hey, that's not fair."  Moira had tears in her eyes.  "You just told me the kid I thought I'd buried ten years ago is alive, healthy and has something she can do with herself.  I could understand you getting upset that Miri mad your child into a weapon, but we both know you just are pissed that Miri hid it."

"Yes!"  I tried to rein in my anger.  I wanted to throw something.  "No!  I don't know."

"And when you found out, you tried to wrangle me to help you prove something over Miri."  Moira shook her head.

"You make me sound like a child."

"And didn't say that."

"Might as well have."  I tried to look up at her.  My eyes stung from tears.  "Morgan- Moira- I don't know.  My daughter's a monster.  I didn't see it.  It took the military liason five minutes to pick up on it."

"You didn't know."  She assured me.

"Of course I did.  I should have."  I shook my head.  "I administrate her project.  Why didn't I find this?  Why didn't I just stop her?"

"Do you think Charlie can win?"

I tried to process the question.  Each member of the new species Hecate designed was a giant lifeform capable of surviving multiple environments.  As Nasr had reminded us time again and again, Humans weren't built or able to handle combat with the Enemy.  We had trouble comprehending tactics, let alone devising tech the Enemy couldn't scramble or destroy.

"I..."  I shook my head.  "Martin and I have seen so many projects fail.  All of them promised so much, but we always know the hard numbers."

"Hard numbers aren't the same thing as belief.  Faith."

"Faith won't save us."  I bit my lower lip.  "Monsters... I don't know if they can.  I just don't know."

"That's fair I guess."  Moira slumped.  "Sorry... I just slip into journalist mode so often..."

I laughed.  "It's alright.  I deserved a bit of a reality check, I guess."

Moira took my hand.  "I want to meet her, Ghale.  We both need to help her."

I gazed over at Moira for a moment.  I didn't quite comprehend.  Then it clicked.  I opened my jaw.


Moira shook her head.  "We're her Mom and Dad, Ghale.  We both need to tell her that.  We both need to get involved.  Help her understand what she's fighting for- I can't just live my life knowing she's out there, whatever she is, and never having met her.

"This... is a miracle, Ghale.  All things we create are.  I mean, it sounds like one of those old science fiction horror stories, but even then, those still touched on the same miracle of it all.  Even if Miri and some machine altered or recombined her, she's still something we made.  Even if she's never seen us, we are still a part of her.  She owes us a debt, and we have to help her through that.  That's what parents do."

Aftermath 20!
#InTransitMonsters is my #FirstDraft novel of technology as messiah.  Frankenstein retold, with the monsters being the last hope for a humanity that uses technology that feels more and more like magic.   

Yays!  Part 20!  And probably nowhere near a ending!  YAYS!

Kinda proud with how Ghale's bit with Moira went.  And now I'm starting to just drift around from moment to moment in each character's tale, without regard of chronology.  Hopefully that doesn't lead to any bad decisions.

Of course Moira is happy.  And of course, Ghale wants to have it both ways.  Humanity is weird that way.  

This novel makes a few assumptions, all of my writing does (or tries to): gender can't be binary or as simple as a yes/no question.  Most of my characters act female, but that's more of me choosing to avoid standard male tropes (SciFi loves to have a standard cast of male characters, with a female character part of the team in a almost inorganic fashion).  Moira/Morgan and that choice is me trying to experiment and push out in a particular way.

IDK if it works or not.  I'd prefer to see more of it in the fiction I read, so it goes in the fiction I write.  Write what you want to read.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!  Please like/share, if you don't mind.  Each time I get new eyeballs on this, I get more people to help me improve it.  And to be honest, I don't know if you enjoyed it unless you do.  :D