Chapter 1: Sky Colored Walls (new story)

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Chapter 1: Sky Colored Walls (new story)

Post  Neutral Contrast on Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:28 am

This is my world engrossed in fallacy, reinforced by its own complexity.

“Time: 02:53. Complex subdual: three casualties suffered, with two injured… one deceased.”

At one time, I understood the entirety of it all… or at least, that’s what I told myself.

“We’ve finished securing floor 2B, eight hostages recovered.”

What a joke to think that, at the time I also believed I could change the world.

“Alright kid, the weapon’s reported to be on the next level. Prioritize its acquisition; I’ll take care of the extra bogies.”

I guess things change as you grow older, can’t even remember the last time I felt that spark.

“Yes, sir.”

S’pose mine died the first time I saw someone else’s fade away. It always starts with approval.

“One last thing kid, you’ve been trained well. Don’t let it go to waste in a dump like this.”

And then there’ll be a nod in agreement.

“It’s only us two, so take care of yourself. Strike on three, one… two…”

Next thing you know, you’re drowning in booze with some fond memories at the pub.

“…The hell?! It’s a preemptive, this smoke is… Shi-Halmond, put your mask on!”

For a couple days, you’ll ask yourself “why?” or some other cliché questions.

“Dammit kid, where are you?! M.O., XM441’s been activated! Get everyone outta here!”

But it doesn’t really matter since, whether or not it’s your fault, it’s always your fault.

“Halmond! Respond, soldier! ...Fuck! Grab my shoulder, and keep your damn mask on!”

Because we need something simple; something easy to understand…

“M.O., unit ID 56553 is unresponsive! Prep an evac sly for a code theta 6!”

In this world founded by what’s behind the scenes, and encased in its own, sweet deceit.

“…Roger, this is M.O., return immediately to the safe zone. Leave unit 56553, that’s an order.”

“…What…?”
Sky Colored Walls

“Overview: Rescue operation 2a and territorial acquisition 2b were marginally successful, with thirty-three hostages rescued and two confirmed dead on site. Operation 1a resulted in failure, with four casualties- two injured and two confirmed dead on site- and attempted acquisition of class-A bioweapon, ID XM441 unsuccessful. Two AUGMENT units were confirmed disposed of on site, one is being held in custody, and the other six reported are currently unaccounted for. Pursuit of any possible escapees is currently underway.”
The metallic voice of that android used to make me sick to my stomach. I suppose some could consider me fortunate for having built up a tolerance over several years of working with them, but some might also regard keeping brain-dead patients on life support as ‘merciful.’ Discretely blurring out a few minutes of useless information every day may as well be in the job description, though I suppose it’s tolerable, at least. “Squad lead Emerrit, I’d like your input on the operation.” At the very least, it was far more tolerable than the new head honcho’s. He always sounds so gentle, but in this field I’ve learned more than well enough, that’s a flag for suspicion.
“Two of my men died, one probably won’t be walking on natural legs for the rest of his life, and another’s blind in one eye and smothered with some of the cancerous fuck-all that one of our guys developed. On the bright side, we saved most of the corporate scum who’re probably thanking us very… generously right now. I suppose that’s a successful mission to you guys?”
“Now, now Emerrit, no need to be sour. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made for the greater good.”
“Ah yes, excuse me for my intolerance of losing an entire squad to misinformation. I’d like to ask a couple questions, though I anticipate some more vague responses.”
“Of course, if it means one of our best talents can get some rest.”
There it is, the ass-kissing management which is used, with almost brutal effectiveness, to keep the top brass from losing their top brass knuckles. “My squad wasn’t aware that the enemy was in possession of I.S. 27, a contaminant whose formula includes a significant source of refined Gallium. Seeing as all the known Bauxite and Zinc foundries are under human supervision and the spray only has an effective shelf life of eighteen hours, I’m curious as to how the AUGs got a hold of them.”
“Ah, see now that’s news to me too, Emerrit!” I wish the smug prick would at least stop calling me by name. “This is useful information. Perhaps a nearby foundry has defected… Susanna?”
“Yes, sir?” A young, fairly ditsy looking woman stepped out from behind me. Perhaps I would’ve compared or acquainted myself when I was younger, but now the only thing that really left an impression with me was her desk-job outfit and the thought that she was probably having an affair with one of the higher ups at that age.
“Inform the bureaus in united sectors 43 and 62, we’re going to want some investigation squads looking for any traitors or AUGMENT-related influences.”
“Of course, sir.” As little Susie took her leave, I only hoped for a trip and some nervous looks from the other officers to make the day a little less serious. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Afterwards, those almost unnaturally bushy brows and deceptive eyes took a gander back at me. My boss seemed rather unaffected by news that our enemy had a new advantage, though I suppose nothing can ruin the mood of someone who climbed Mount Management by being pulled up with a rope.
“My second question is why we weren’t informed of the medium in which the new bioweapon was created. If it weren’t for the chips in my skull, I never would’ve been able to react to it. The stuff was more discreet than carbon dioxide, and infinitely more dangerous. I don’t care if it’s classified information, and I don’t give a damn exactly what these sick bastards come up with to make my comrades squirm, but we weren’t even told about or given effective countermeasures to reduce the odds of building up casualties!” Slamming the desk didn’t even manage to phase that calm expression. Sir kiss-ass even kept his guards from taking action, though at that point I would’ve probably been happier to get kicked out.
“Now Emerrit, the loss of unit 56-”
“Halmond.” That move may have been a bit bold, even for me. It was nice seeing those dead-faced bodyguards’ jaws drop, at least. “Ensign Yoin Halmond… sir.” Probably one of the most crowning achievements of my career thus far has been the twinge in those bushy eyebrows from frustration.
“Yes… the loss of Mr… Halmond, is certainly grave, but you of all people know that information on all of Xiao Manufactories’ products maintain rate B administrative classification at the least, and even in spite of your contributions to the war front, there’s just no way I could divulge class A information to you. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to supply you with four new recruits worthy of their rank in infiltration squad one. You won’t be stuck with the ramifications of the loss of a full squad considering the events which have taken place and your information on the probable defection, but I can’t guarantee the toll on your position were a significant loss like this to occur again under your supervision.”
“Oh, why thank you sir. While you’re doing that though, perhaps you’d be so kind as to provide one more thing?”
“I… suppose, if the request is reasonable.”
“Oh don’t worry sir, it’s nothing at all. I’d just like to request that M.O. provide his parents with a new son.”
“Squad lead Shae Emerrit-!” At least the guards were riled up a bit. Their acting’s not too poor considering how their brains may as well have been prosthetic.
“And when you’re finished with that simple task, it’d be nice to provide his loving wife of two years with a new husband, or maybe his newborn and one year old children a father with which to meet after years of what would’ve been quality time out in the field, risking his life for a country that’s willing to replace him at the drop of a hat?”
“Ah, I see. It seems Emerrit is irrationally upset, which is understandable enough. Please escort our esteemed squad leader to her private quarters so she may reflect and ventilate for some time, we’ve got more business to attend to.”
Being dragged off by a couple androids wasn’t enough to calm my anger. I’m not sure what compelled me, but even after the door was closed behind us I just couldn’t stop myself from yelling. “I’m sure Anise’ll be happy to cuddle with a new recruit when she’s feeling upset, or that the kids’ll be overjoyed to learn their first words, ‘mama’ and ‘unit 83705!’ Mr. and Mrs. Halmond probably don’t want their biological child taking care of them in a few years, anyway! Hell, while we’re at it, we can give PFC Mora’s husband a new unit to fuck! Not like it’ll be any different anyway, they’re just numbers to anyone and everyone!” Sure, perhaps I was just upset because I was one of those people who still held onto that archaic methodology of getting to know my coworkers, but I also didn’t have any reason to care. Half of the… “people” we passed by lack the capacity to care anyway, and half of the other half are so subservient under a strict watch that they lacked the time and patience to bat an eyelash in my direction. At the least, it felt good to prove that I had a bit of steam left, even if only to myself.
By the time we reached the hall between the main ops headquarters and the residential building, my fury had subsided for the most part. I didn’t need the wine that I’d saved for my full units first successful operation to become drunk with my own self-pity, and after years upon years of service, no one would’ve ever imagined the whimpering mess that I’d become upon looking through the glass walls to both sides. To the left was a shining example of what was recently deemed the dream of utopia, with its calm, suburban sprawl with in cookie cut fashion, occasionally breaking from the monotony with a rebellious cul-de-sac filled with those who lived just above the standard wealth. The yards were fair sized, green, and all cut to form with wooden fences, and every single one contained a single oak tree. I caught a glimpse of one of the city’s automatic lawnmowers before turning my attention to the right.
A mass of evenly spaced commercial and industrial buildings were set in such a way to avoid fire hazards and maximize road efficiency. Or, at least that’s the primary given reason, though a more prominent and hidden term for the whole setup would be land-value. Where there was a factory, not a single store was within several blocks, and in between the factories and its far off dependents would be a small, neatly trimmed block of forestry. Restaurants and hotels were clearly independent of any eyesores, aside from one which now haunted the rest of the district in its midst. A pillar of smoke, accompanied by several smaller exhausts hung overhead the building in which our operation took place. There were of course, no actual fires in sight, but the smoke acts as a nice deterrent in such a perfect city when the M.O. cleanup crew needs to rid a building of any remaining threats, particularly of the classified sort. Below that one pillar of smoke, way off in the distance, laid the corpses of two of my more recent recruits… Neither of which had the pleasure of going out with some sense of duty or pride.
Honestly, if I were some idealist I could just chalk it all up to my enemies being at fault. “AUGs killed my comrades!” or “AUGs are the reason there’s a war in the first place!” something along those lines. That wouldn’t solve anything, though. After all, it’s not like I was held at gunpoint by some AUGMENT goon and forced to join the united defense front, and it’s not like they forced me to try my heart to become a part of the esteemed Major Ops department, and the same held true for Halmond and Mora. Does that mean I can’t despise AUGMENT? No, of course not, but I also can’t hold them accountable for my actions. I was well past the hall as my train of thought continued, but it seemed appropriate to continue the charade and stumble into my room in a depressed stupor to assert my position. My generous associates even closed the door and locked it behind them without giving me a say, “It’s always so nice to have young androids looking out for the safety of their elders.” I said as the lock light turned blood red.
It was obvious that my release wasn’t scheduled until my boss’s convenience o’clock, so I took a peek at some nostalgic remnants of my time as a bright-eyed recruit, signing up to fight for the security of tomorrow. If it weren’t for the cleaning bots, I’m sure there would’ve been an abundance of dust covering the small, lone, metal nightstand just beside my typical military-grade steel spring mattress and bed frame combo. Opening the small drawer was probably the closest sensation to busting open a sacred, archaic treasure that I can describe and, sure enough, its contents were about as useless as the Ark of the Testimony would be nowadays. Containing a single, 120 page journal, a few strewn out photos and a voice recorder whose contents I wouldn’t replay on pain of death, it was obvious that my time in the service was one of great, social conquest. I looked fondly at pictures for nearly half an hour, though one was just of my family and the other two of some fellow recruits who were more open about making friends with everyone than myself. Luckily enough, the sun blared through the glass wall strongly enough that I didn’t have to rely on the worthless, military-grade night lamp to crack open the journal for a quick read.

August 1, 2056. Rank: Ensign 3rd class

It never really occurred to me how anal I was about useless details until now. I suppose everything changes with time, though.

Having turned 18 this year and undergone the preliminary summer boot camp, I finally got the opportunity to join the United Defensive Forces as a new recruit. People often complain that having a military force after the Chinese conquest of the United States and complete armistice with the rest of the world is a terrible allocation of modern resources, but I’ve never really liked that point of view. The reproductive purge is nearing its final stages after nearly 15 years, and the world’s population is estimated to be brought to reasonable levels within the next two generations, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t revolts at every turn. The thought of possibly fighting doesn’t faze me so much, and changes need to happen for the sake of humanity’s future. It may not be the prettiest way to go about things, but priorities need to be upheld.
Once my plane touches down, I get to count myself among the ranks of those who defend the generations beyond my own. I can only hope that those I have to fight along the way can forgive me.

Typical, I suppose. I can’t say I was wrong, considering the negative implications of severe overpopulation at the time. Looking back on it though, it feels like the UDF just used that as a cover for the chain skirmishes which have happened over the past 10 to 15 years. I flipped the past half the pages, hoping to find the point at which I finally stopped caring for the state of affairs.

July 16, 2059. Rank: M.O. Squad Lt. 2nd Class

Tomorrow, my new squad and I embark on our first op together. I’ve been lucky enough to secure a position in the Major Ops division over the past year, and now I finally get to work as the right hand to Lieutenant 1st class Grell, leader of the M.O. infantry’s 3rd division. Over a few months the five of us have trained together, and I’ve quickly learned how Lt. Grell climbed to such a high rank by age 21. The man’s a technical genius- he always seems to know where to go, how to react, who to order and how to order them. It’s almost stunning how smoothly he operates even under the stressful conditions they have here, and I can’t really say I’ve held up so well.
Lt. Grell’s told me not to worry, because I have some natural talent and a good eye in the training grounds. I hope I can live up to his, and the rest of our squad’s trust.

July 18, 2059. Rank: Same

The operation was a huge success! PFC Demois snapped his leg by getting caught on a ladder somehow, but he was tough about it and the surgical team says he’ll be up in two weeks at most. Lt. Grell was amazing in the actual battlefield; I thought he was always cool headed during drills, but during the actual op he took it to a whole new level. Following his orders, no one got caught in dangerous positions, and he’d always lead the charge and kept me nearby to scout bogies!
At one point, someone threw a stealth grenade at Lt. Grell while we were sidling across a bridge towards fort Macklemoore. I tossed my weapon immediately and caught it to keep it from detonating, and he used the opportunity to take out the attacker. He actually thanked me for saving his life, and said there was no way he could’ve possibly remained armed and stopped the grenade on his own without it resulting in everyone turning up as KIA. Ha! I’m really glad, I mean I managed to save the crew and sync together with my lead’s split second thinking, even if only once! I hope we can all stay in the same squad, I just know that with Lt. Grell at the helm, the five of us can accomplish anything.

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