"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
"Manifesting Destiny"

Just a little exercise from a couple weeks ago. Minor amount of editing. Lots of obvious thievery.

There is only the vaguest appreciation for death while it's happening. It's only later, after, that you can make any sense of it. Attempt to comprehend the enormity of loss as your short reLife is either ripped or trickles away from you. That you can consider the millennia filled with people who went through this same experience, in its myriad, fractal manifestations. So you'll be perhaps better prepared, the next time.

The field around me is full of crying soldiers who should know better by now. Not that I can see them, my eye sockets filled with flaking flesh and ash. The bugs on this world have what amounts to a laser grenade. One of their older, unadapted, pre-Contact weapons. No doubt it worked wonders on each other, incoherent light cauterizing any portion of their sight-bands. 75% of your body being covered in optics, all of which you consider crucial, makes for a lot of area lacking armor. The bug version of a land mine.

Humans (or anyway, those of us currently inhabiting vessels derived from human stock), though, with comparatively tiny optical surface area makes us inherently less vulnerable to such a peculiar weapon. Our helmet visors do well enough blocking the majority of the effect, and the lasers are nowhere near powerful enough to make our armor even tingle in retaliation. So all in all, the cornea bombs are pretty ineffective against us, unless you happen to have taken a couple rounds to the face, shattering your visor but miraculously not your brainpan.

While I was on my knees, screaming, eyes wafting away on the wind, one of the damn bugs came up behind and impaled me with one of those long spikes they favor for close-in combat. The ghostbeam managed to dig enough holes in my skull to compromise the neural mesh, screwing up my communications link and no doubt some as yet undiscovered autonomic functions. So I'm blind and mute, armor holding up like paper against the bug's blade.

So here I lay, modified blood already clotted the wounds, but enough major organs and their redundancies have been shredded that it doesn't matter. I lay here, listening to the screams of my fellow hitchhiking soldiers and the inhuman cries of our enemies, and I wait to die.

Of course command wouldn't want you to be able to pull your own plug. You'd have guys popping off as soon as they lose an arm or a leg, or had their lungs liquified while their exchangers are still happily oxygenating what passes for their blood. It's just pain, they tell us. Use it. Get over it. Take the fucking hill.

But laying here, I can feel the meanest part of my intelligence trying to cram itself into the entangled uplink wrapped around this body's enhanced spine. Desperately wanting to find itself back in the safety of our true home, the quantum womb we so rarely inhabit these days. Knowing full well that any respite will be brief but not caring; knowing the reBirth will be worse than this, this laying here and waiting to die.


May 19, 2007 2:38 PM