Join Date: Nov 2002
...Let the betrayer find no quarter, nor succour, nor rest within your walls. For he is more vile than a heathen. He has seen the light and turned away...
Exempt from the teachings of the Legion
...All good citizens should rest assured that the CGC forces will find all traitors and that the CGC forces will punish all traitors and that the CGC forces will deny all traitors...
Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast
Calina remembered instantly why she hated cold sleep. It took a couple of seconds before her body began to respond to her brain, and even after that she was nauseous and felt weak. Getting out of the stasis capsule she saw that someone else was in the room. It took a while for her eyes to focus properly. Then she saw Jhonsson sitting on a chair next to the door.
“What do you want?” she asked, a little edgy from the fact that someone had snug up on her while she was defenceless.
“I don’t quite know what I want, but I know what I don’t want,” he replied. And that is walking around like a drunk because I cannot control my legs. I hate cold sleep,” he said indicating with his hand that he had been in the other stasis capsule in the room.
“That makes two of us,” Calina responded, relieved that no-one intentionally snug up on her.
“So what do you fight for, now you’ve turned your back on the Legion?”
“I don’t quite know,” she said. “I was fighting on adrenaline in the city. I’m certainly not fighting for the CGC. I think that I’m fighting to stay alive long enough to find out what I fight for. And you?”
“I once fought for the army. But after an exceptionally brutal battle at Sontal, I was transferred to the PDF. Since then I fought for my home.”
“I remember Sontal. Vividly. But there weren’t any CGC survivors.”
“Not on the ground, no. But some of us just saw death coming up those cliffs, chanting and all. We hijacked a dropship and got off the planet in time.”
“Yes. There was a craft leaving the planet. Then the commander made two mistakes.”
“Letting us run?”
“Yes. And taking the place with the Regulars. He kept the Templar as a mobile force to drop if a counterattack materialised.”
“From what you told me of the Templar, that seems like a sound plan.”
“It is not. The Templar are commando infantry. What he should have done was to move in with the Templar, have them take out key structures and then charge en masse. He answered for that with his head.” Even as she mentioned the penalty of failure, Calina’s face or bearing didn’t reveal any of her thoughts on the matter.
“Don’t you think that it is a little hard?”
“I had a brother with the regulars. They gave me his dog-tag.” She betrayed no emotion as she recounted for the loss of her brother.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be,” Calina said calmly. “Some memories should not be disturbed. But now you’ve lost your home and your career. And you don’t have a god. What’s left to fight for?”
“Lots of things. Staying alive being chief amongst them. But also I fight for such things as progress.”
“Yes. One of the benefits of living under CGC rule is that things improve. We have – had – rad-suits back home for example.”
“The Legion has rad-suits too.”
“The only Legion rad-suits ever captured were TO-pattern class four suits. That is a fifty-three years old republican pattern. In other words: The Legion never developed improvements. Back home some fool wearing such a suit would be fried instantly if he ventured out of the city. It was only fifteen years ago that we got the new suits. Before that repairing a breach in the outer wall was suicidal at best.”
But that isn’t all. Seven years ago we refitted our reactors. They new ones are prototypes. They yield twice as much, meaning that we could almost double our industries. We had the lowest unemployment rate in the entire sector. And the best industry output pr. person. Prayer-junkies didn’t make that possible. And no priest could have made my arm.”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t notice. It’s cybernetic, second generation. It’s actually due for replacement, now that the third and fourth gens have hit the streets, but I haven’t had the money.”
“Cybernetic. Come on.” Calina’s voice was disdainful, as if she doubted the truth of the man’s words. She did.
“Yes. Cybernetic. When the Legion was founded it was science fiction. Twenty years later it was science. The first generation was produced twenty-seven years ago. Second generation came six years later. In a couple of years they expect to make hands, and we’ll have eyes within the next century if the eggheads keep up the pace*.”
“Fascinating. But I don’t understand how you can just replace the Creator with science. Don’t you need a god?” Calina sounded genuinely curious.
“A god is just a way to explain why things are the way they are. Science is a way to improve how things are,” he shrugged. “Thus they don’t replace each other. I simply don’t care why we are here. Only that we are here.”
“You’re a philosopher!”
“No. But dog-soldiers have a lot of time to think. And I had a lot to think about after Sontal.”
“They prosecuted you for desertion?”
“No.” Jhonsson’s face was distorted by the unpleasant memory. “But the escape was living hell.”
“Worse than this one? Half the Legion troops were already planetside and the other half was in transit. And the Templar were never deployed.” Even her extensive training could not hide Calina’s curiosity.
“Imagine this: You are running for your life, like we are now. Only you have friends down on the planet you’re running from, so you try to contact them. And then,” a dark look crossed his face. “Then you are being scrambled by a blanket broadcast.”
And not just any blanket broadcast either: Recordings of screaming people. Of men, women and children being tortured, begging for the release of death. No-one knew how to shut it down. It took half a minute to cut the transmission. Those thirty seconds aged me thirty years.”
Jhonsson was visibly shaken and his eyes were watering. For a fleeting moment Calina remembered her own ghosts. Faces. A thousand faces pale with terror. It took her but a faction of a second to shake the memory, but she still felt like she had been stabbed. She would never be able to truly forget those faces. They would haunt her until the day of her death. Then again, that might be so short a time that she didn’t need to worry.
“Perhaps you were right about memories,” Jhonsson said. “Some shouldn’t be disturbed.”
Suddenly a voice rang out over the loudspeakers, interrupting their conversation: “Attention all personnel. This is the Bridge speaking. We are initiating perimeter orbit of moon FI-/263. Gravity is about half standard, so iron soles are recommended.”
Surface data read this: Background radiation: Not detectable. Atmosphere and average pressure: Terraformed to Terran Standard. Time to make full orbit around its planet: 2.3741 years. Day time: 23.73 standard hours. Magnetic field: None. Lifesigns: Not detectable, except for a single CGC base.”
All data on the base are encrypted beyond our security clearance, apart from the name: Lunar Installation ZK-32. Several hundred lifeforms are evident in the complex. By now everyone should be out of cryogenic stasis. Our time-delay is 4.927 standard days. I hope that everyone is well.”
“As if!” Jhonsson said, but Calina was already on her feet. She strode out of the cryo-room, leaving Jhonsson to wonder how she managed that, given his own, still shaky legs.
*www.sciam.com had a Feature Article about mind-controlled robots (with electrical circuits, mind, it’s not psyker-stuff) some time ago. If you run a search on it or go dig in the archive you may be able to find it. It’s called “Controlling Robots with the Mind. This research could very well lead to cybernetics, IMO (though I am by no means an expert).