#InTransitMonsters is a #firstdraft #novel about Technology as Messiah. Humanity is about to fall, and is forced to create monsters to save itself. Can these giant monsters succeed, or will humanity's old ambitions damn the species to extinction?
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Nasr (H +3 Days)
I shifted in place at the cocktail party. I felt uncomfortable in my dress uniform. A part of me didn't want to come here. Worse, I felt out of place sipping water next to a woman in a red dress. She kept guzzling down martinis.
I wanted to turn down Whyte's invitation. It didn't make sense to me. Why would the CEO of EpicVenture need to have me at a party? For what, some sort of end of the world demonstration?
Mother talked me into coming to this anyway. Despite whatever my father says, I always listen to her. She always could talk me into these things. She knew my buttons well.
Davyd Whyte stood next to one wall. The lavish room didn't seem to faze me. Maybe I should've acted impressed by it. I have a hard time conforming to what my superiors want me to say or do. Military or otherwise. Yet I still refuse to resign.
Maybe Dom was right. I'm a romantic.
A hologram completely replaced one entire wall. It looked as though Whyte's luxury apartment wasn't located on a skyscraper in Manhattan. One of the top floors, one of the newest buildings found in the city. No, the rich man gazed out over the Jefferson Memorial.
The other people at the shindig had their eyes glued to the fire. I didn't. The survivor gut instincts I'd had told me what was more important to pay attention to. He looked like a wolf about to turn on a herd of sheep.
I sipped at the tea in my hand.
"Chaos." Whyte announced. He said the word with a tone of shame in it. That same shame I'd heard generals use for dying troops on lost worlds.
Like we could've stopped any of it, I thought. Somethings were always bigger than you were. Not unless you never actually stood in the battlefield. It's easy to criticize soldiers if you never fought with them.
"It's spread about fifty major cities now." Whyte continued. "The Joiners set off counter-protesters. The lack
of police, the years of fatigue... Anarchists and the mad are torching abandoned buildings all over the planet."
The Jefferson Memorial continued to burn. My BrainSys told me that the feed was live. Whyte had a camera, or better yet, some sort of AI creating this image for us. I got the symbolism, for torching the memorial.
"Why isn't someone putting it out yet?" I mumbled to myself. The US Gov't still had one of the strongest
martial law enforcement in the world. You'd think they'd want to keep images like this from circulating.
"These Joiners..." Whyte shook his head. "They've given up on humanity. The anarchists and others in the streets... This is the first stage of death. Anger."
Heads nodded. I narrowed my eyes.
The crowd in Whyte's home included not just myself. Dozens of government and military officials from all over the world. I recognized a few faces. Higher ups. Clever people who never had to go offworld. Bureaucrats.
"They are expressing that anger. But I refuse to give up on humanity." Whyte turned to the group. "But I'm not a fool. I don't believe in false hope. Major Nasr?"
I blinked. "Yes?"
"What is the status of Project Hecate?" Whyte looked right at me. Into me.
The rest of the crowd turned to me. The mention of the project brought curiosity. The first of the riots had started in response to us going public with the project. I clinched my teeth.
"They think it might work. It's insane. It's a chance that could save earth and the species. We've always been saved by our own technology." Whyte shook his head. "We always forget about the Frankensteins. The Oppenheimers. What happens when we release the genie from the bottle."
Every eye turned to me. On the spot, Whyte had made this room of report-writers and minor politicians look like a herd of sheep.
"I'm no longer associated with Project Hecate." I said.
"You know the status of Hecate, though." Whyte continued. "Your BrainSys has been keeping up to date on it, hasn't it?"
I closed my mouth.
"Furthermore, anyone able to observe your reaction can put two and two together. You've become a believer in the cause. At least enough to do your job.
"It's clear you don't want to admit what has happened." Whyte looked at me. "For months, the UN had recorded you declaring how Project Hecate couldn't succeed. That all the monsters it bred would fail. In fact, you tried to argue out of training them, for your superiors to find someone else to do it."
"Yes, I did said that-"
"So. Why do you care if it did fail?" Whyte asked. "You already predicted it."
"The first squad hasn't reported in for about two days." I admitted. "We don't know why."
Murmurs filled the crowd. Their eyes widened. Some looked like they might try to join the protesting joiners. The mad lunatics that wanted the Enemy to come to earth so they could join them.
"Calm down." Whyte's voice seemed to placate the room. His tone vibrated, as if each word were perfectly preselected. Perfectly predetermined.
"I'm making a simple point." Whyte told us. "Project Hecate made monsters. Those monsters failed us. It was inevitable. We all knew that. We relied on the image of a witch to save us from death.
"What if there were another project?" Whyte asked. "Something secret. Hidden so well that only a few could join it? Something named for walking out of the depths of death?"
"What are you talking about?" My tone drifted into anger. "Some other project? There isn't anything more. Project Hecate hasn't failed. Not yet. Not until we get satellite or camera footage that confirms it."
"Major Nasr, you and everyone else here, are being given a chance to survive." Whyte retorted. "Not a meager opportunity. I have access to several high-level Daemons. This is only part of how bad Project Hecate will go."
The crowd murmured some more. This played right into their fears. The ones that helped motivate others to work with the Joiners. Those voices who didn't like Project Hecate from the beginning.
"I know that the monsters Project Hecate will turn against us. The cost of their fight is that they'll join the enemy. Giant monsters with the most advanced biotech this planet has ever devised. The remaining number will rebel as soon as they see the chance here." Whyte waved a hand to the rest of the room. "All the projections show that. We should plan to survive the day the monsters return leashed to the Enemy, at least."
"Survive?" I asked. "You mean run away don't you?"
"Project Orpheus is something the Enemy can never find. Something it could never deal with." Whyte explained. Behind him the holo of the Jefferson Memorial was replaced with a starfield. A long cylinder hung in the night. At one end was a large half-dome.
"Nuclear spaceflight?" Someone asked.
"It never had been approved by anyone." Another said.
"Not just spaceflight." Whyte chimed in. "Immortality. A system built on the discoveries of the Hecate Project. A system that can save the best of humanity. Those who have the vision to make a better humanity. One who has mastery over their technology. Their destiny. Not slaves to it. Not monsters."
Monsters. I pondered the word Whyte had chosen. More in the crowd peppered him with questions. I drew to the back.
I didn't like this scene. These scavengers. Survivors no matter the cost. Was I one of these things? These cowards?
@Lafayette: @Nasr_Muntaqim Interesting how they all crowd around a lifeline? He managed to skip to bargaining.
@Nasr_Muntaqim: Excuse me? Who are you?
@Lafayette: A fan of monsters. Say yes to Whyte, and I can help.
I looked around. My BrainSys didn't detect where Lafayette was coming from. He or she seemed to be able to contact me without being obvious to Whyte. What was this? Some sort of layered Dreamspace?
@Lafayette: Someone is blocking signals to and from Mars. You need to be closer to Whyte, Nasr. IF you really want to help that girl not be KILLED by her own side.
Ah. Lafayette at least knew the right leverage for me.
I raised my right hand. I forced a smile on my face. Then in a loud voice, I called out to Whyte, interrupting him.
"Where do I sign up?"
This post ended up being a tad late, but it feels like it ended up fine despite that. Nasr coming back seems like a better choice than going back to Davyd's POV. And Project Orpheus needs some sort of return, despite the awesomeness going on back on Mars.
If you enjoyed this, please feel free to share it. I'm open to comments. What effect they might have might be delayed until I actually get around to editing large chunks of this thing. More eyeballs always welcome, though. Thanks for reading!