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Foxtrot (H plus 26 Days)
Tossed a few more trophies atop the pile. Uniform sighed at my hard earned work. I'd spent the better part of the last day collecting the Sewer Spawn.
"It's been easier and easier." I told her. "Still, I imagine I've gotten the most so far."
"Hotel's gotten ten more than you." Uniform said, not looking up.
"Well... mine are bigger."
"The mass ratios for sewer spawn tend to be the same."
I crossed my arms. "Well, then I got mine in first today, didn't I?"
Uniform looked up. "Sure, you won that."
I smiled. "See? We do make a great team."
"Right. Team." Kilo interjected from her quiet corner in the room. "It's easier to catch them now then before Trash Heap, right? So how amazing is bringing a big pile to Uniform?"
"And why do you all think I want them?" Uniform asked.
"You need samples." I replied. Kilo nodded agreement with me.
Uniform growled. "I swear... you guys never listen to me."
"You said you needed samples." I provided. "So we are-"
"You're dumping your catches on me like weird its some sort of weird sporting event."
"How else are you supposed to analyze them?" Kilo asked. "You're like our doc."
"My tech is Gnostic, not medical." Uniform said. "How many times do we have to go over this?"
"You never go over it." I said. "Well, you do, but you always end up growling at the end of it."
Uniform started to go over each of the Sewer Spawn I'd dragged in. She went over each. I didn't know what she was looking for. But something she would nod at before going to the next one.
"It isn't fact-based." Uniform said. "Its... holistic. Medicine is diagnostic. What I do, it... I'm not practicing something. Gnosticism just gives me an answer based on the information provided. It's based on the model inherent in the data."
"You see things, and know how the thing works." I replied.
"It isn't like that... I don't do anything." Uniform shook her head. "I'm not an expert, Foxy. Experts can suppose, they can make hypothesises. Gnosticism just gives me an answer to the Whys of a thing."
"And whats, and hows, and whens." Uniform continued. "Holistically. I don't get the context for it. If you didn't tell me you had taken this spawn down, I'd have no solid guess on who done it, just how they died."
"You can't make guesses like that?" Kilo asked.
"I can, but it has nothing to do... well, my expertise is just augmented by my gnosticism. Even then, I'm limited. I can only compute so accurate here on Mars. Back home, I could rely on the entire Net for running scenarios."
"But the Enemy isn't known." I said. "We don't know, and we don't have the same brain power like Earth has."
"Yeah." Uniform pointed at one of the Sewer Spawn. "They've been getting easier to kill. You've been finding them alone, acting in strange ways, haven't you?"
"Compared to before... Yeah. None of them have ambushed me. Some were just lying on their backs, like they were sleeping."
"Weird." Kilo said. "One day, they are all over us and dangerous, next they can't stop their naps to face us."
"Oh... Well, I'd kinda hoped they'd gotten scared of us."
The two of them stared at me incredulously.
"You have got to be kidding me." Uniform shook her head.
"Are you really surprised by that? I'm not." Kilo said.
"Hey, I'm right here." I glared at them both. "Okay, fine. If they aren't just scared of us, then what is it?"
"They aren't getting signals anymore, that's one thing." Uniform said. "And Trash Heap is no longer relying packets to them too."
"Uh..." Kilo and I looked at each other.
"How do you know that?" Kilo asked Uniform.
The Gnostic Medic's head bobbed up. Surprised, she tilted her head at us. Then she saw we weren't messing with her.
"Oh. You don't know."
I tapped my head. "Y'know, gnostic stuff? We don't got that."
"Uh..." Uniform paused. "I guess... okay. It's in a report I sent Earth and Charlie, but... Sewer Spawn, Trash Heap, whatever they are, they all have some sort of wireless capacity. Wifi, I guess. Or radio. I haven't figured that all out yet."
I blinked. "They have the Net?"
"I'd think someone would've seen that." Kilo said. "Y'know what I mean. Noticed or whatever."
"Well, they have." Uniform pulled out a silvery organ from the sewer spawn under her. It had been coated in orange-pink blood. It looked like a seashell. "But I don't think anyone's ever killed something like trash heap before. Nor do I think they recorded the aftermath. It's an awful like swarm robotics in a way.
"I mean, they all acted in coordination and moving together. After we took out trash heap, the remaining parts of the swarm lost their coordination. If I were guessing, we took out something important."
"Oh." I paused. "So trash heap was their brain?"
"For the whole of Mars?" Uniform shrugged.
"It can't be that easy." Kilo retorted. "Or else they'd have done it before."
"I..." I thought my words over a bit. Sometimes I could say the stupidest thing. But this stuck in my craw a bit. "They dream too. Charlie showed us that."
Uniform and Kilo paused.
"That means something too, doesn't it?" I asked. "If they dream, if they coordinate, it they work together... that means they're civilized or something doesn't it?"
"I..." Uniform didn't respond.
Kilo looked just as confused. "Wow, Foxy, that's a bit much to swallow..."
Instead of processing it, I thought about Charlie. She'd put this together too, hadn't she? She had seen it.
My stomach lurched in sympathy. She had seen a mind in there, right when we killed Trash Heap. That stuck in my mind. How do you talk to someone whose seen something die from inside it's own dreams?