Raymond, how much can we trust this thing?
My first name! It must be serious.
I'm not asking for your professional analysis, I have that on my desk. You're the conscience of this project, Shen, and everyone knows it. Give me your personal feelings on this.
We've run through it in simulations dozens of times, Phantom and I. It could be a consummate liar or genuine. There is no way to tell. But as a practical matter...our Interceptors are exceptional aircraft, but they are not unstoppable. It cannot fly forever, and the loadout of 12 Avalanches means the damage possible is limited. If it works, we gain much. If it does not work, if Phantom goes berserk even, then the results will be regrettable but no worse than anything a UFO might accomplish on its own. This is not the godlike AI the breathless proselytizers of the singularity predicted, Commander. Phantom has limits.
All right. Hook it up. God help us all if we made the wrong choice.
How often do you say that, Commander?
You have no idea, Raymond. No idea.
UFO over South Africa. Scramble the prototype. Squad One stand-to.
Phantom is in the air. Closing the target.
Central, Phantom. Request permission to engage.
Granted, Phantom. Bring it down.
Central, five Avalanches expended. Serious damage sustained. Inform Engineering the aircraft will require repairs. There are unidentified military aircraft approaching from the direction of the border with Zimbabwe. Request reinforcement, permission to remain on station while operations are conducted.
Phantom, this is the Commander. Request granted. Bradford, scramble the Skyranger and Scotty. Coordinate with the SANDF. I'm going to remind Mister Mugabe that we know where he lives.
Operation Dark Sword, South African border with Zimbabwe, April 19th, 5:30pm
Deployed: Deathfun (support, mission commander), Micheal Sanderson (MEC), Admiral Ralwood (MEC), Irina Ignatyeva (heavy), Starslayer
"Both MECs, three of the original squad...we're pretty heavy this time."
"All right, you all know how this is done. We still need a Thin Man alive and the Commander has expressed interest in any spares we can pick up, mainly for their weapons."
"No hits, no hits, ****, what do we do?"
"Ral, got a shot?"
"Jesus Mike! That thing's in shreds, what the hell were you thinking?"
"We know it works and I don't feel like playing tug of war with Irina's head. Irina, you okay?"
"Da, just...give me a moment Micheal."
"There's still one more out there. MECs, you're on overwatch. I don't want to see any more hugs on this mission."
"Lotta heat here!" Aliens used suppression on Deathfun.
"Frak! Scared the hell out of me!"
"The man says no hugs. There are no hugs."
"No hitters. Great."
"I'm all right."
"Got a flanker, stupid jetpack aliens! Firing-X-Ray down!"
"Taking down another. Confirmed kill."
"Scratch the last Floater."
"Move into the ship."
"Got a materializer! Winged it."
"No further contacts, DF. Think we're clear."
"Sweep the site and confirm."
The squids again. Using the MECs for overwatch has helped reduce the threat, but Irina still got grabbed. No excuses, train harder on snapshots. Doc Shen is looking into upgrades to the targeting integration for the Warden, ways to reduce reaction time. This is what Science and Engineering does: we find a threat, they study it, they come up with ways to make it null and void, we implement them.
Had a late night with IronBeer and Shen in the cantina a couple nights ago. The Floaters...they got to us all, I guess. Here we have a sentient creature that has been so completely modified it's not even capable of meeting the conventional definition of life since it's incapable of reproduction. Even Sectoids can technically reproduce, they don't because they're all clones, but the equipment is still there. A Floater is a head and a jetpack integrated directly into what's left of the torso and some arms.
Shen worries that there will be a line in the sand, and we will not stop; that we will charge over it in pursuit of victory at any cost. As for me, I wonder...I gave my limbs to this job and Rodo reminded us all that we have offered our lives as well, and that offer might be accepted. If the cost is becoming like a Floater...if the cost is damnation, that the world may sleep safely...
Do I care? Should
I care? Does my damnation even matter
, set against the safety of humanity? If the description I've used jokingly about being a cybernetic killing machine comes to truly apply, does that make me a martyr or a monster?The List
IronBeer (MEC Project Lead)
-Joshua- (science staff; probably going to make him Biology Section Lead)
Waiting For A Turn
Scourge of Ages