Year: 73 P.C.
The L.U. had pulled back from the front in the moments before they nuked it. Now they were trying to reestablish their positions before the U.N.E could reestablish their assault. That meant Tony had to venture out in his radiation suit with his unit to locate the enemy advance. They did have drones, just not many of them. Tony was small, so that helped the L.U. He was barely five feet tall. Tony didn’t think it was much of a benefit though. It meant, in order to save precious equipment he would often be planted in a rock cluster, tree, shrub, mushroom, or thing of that variety. There, he would sit with his gadgets and report.
That was what he was doing now. His unit had left for the safety of somewhere else and left him in a dense shrub. Plants didn’t grow tall here in the soft earth. Here they grew dense. Tony never really thought of himself as brave, so when he found himself reading a Project with two dozen men, he began his retreat swiftly. After transmitting his readings, of course. Projects were for soldiers to deal with, not him.
He was finding it a challenge to run in all his gear in the soft earth. After a quick look at has visual scouter revealed that the Project and its men were gaining on him, he quickly ditched the equipment. Except for his head unit. He was able to run now. He took evasive maneuvers: running in water when he found it, creating false paths, and he even planted a few false heat signatures.
The Project was still there. Then it was just his men and the project was gone. It had engaged its stealth, why it hadn’t earlier was beyond Tony. He knew this meant the Project would be leaving its men behind and perusing him.
“Damn you Rachet!” He cursed a bit too loud. “You said you’d get me non-combat roles. What kind of joke is this?!” A few minutes of wandering thought gave him his answer. This wouldn’t be combat. Him verse a project was no more combat than an ant verse a human. He had seen firsthand what some projects did to those they killed.
He was not going to be returned to Molly with his face peeled back, or with patterns carved into him with a Projects plasma weapon till he died purely from the pain of it. That was when he stopped running.
He drew his side arm. Before he took the next step he activated the messaging application in his head gear. An image of his wife flashed onto his head piece. He selected it and chose to send her and audio message.
“Hey Mol. Just need to say I love you one more time – so yeah, I love you.” His voice was beginning to crack. “And, well… maybe it may be good to hold on to this for April when she’s older… you know? Hey April, I know I never got to see you walk and stuff but I want you to know this. I love you. I love so much I got my self-involved in this mess. I can’t pretend like I understand you, or your future. Just know this… I love you.”
He lined up his side arm up with the back of his neck pulled the trigger. His hope was they would find his body intact with just the imperfection of whole through the neck. Tony would learn soon though how little end results mean in comparison to the totality of death.
Project Nine examined the dead soldier’s corpse. After taking his own life, Anthony Carter as his tags read, had slid halfway down the slope of the dune. Anthony’s head barely remained attached to his body. But his face remained unmarred though sand coated in bloody sand now.
Death perplexed Project Nine. It wasn’t that he didn’t understand what death was. It was more the total and complete irreversibility of it. We were organic machines with hard-drives and programing. Yet when we malfunctioned severely enough, there was little in the way of recovery.
He feared death. He felt like it was the only reasonable thing to fear. Its completeness felt foreign in this existence.
His unit caught up to him and he let his stealth fade. Officer Morcroft came up to address him, “I see your prey did not escape you.”
“He wanted to die,” Project Nine responded. “Death he found, though through his own devices.”
“Suicide?” Morcroft asked. “Aye, he must have known what was chasing him.”
“Death should never be sought,” Project Nine said.
“Well, as we are on a battlefield we should likely seek the deaths of the L.U,” Morcroft said. “So, where to killer?”
“Same, same way,” Project Nine said before turning. He could smell the blood of his victims. Those in the past and those to come. He didn’t need his gear to lead these men to more death.
He remembered carving out the innards of some rodent in a class room. The first generation of projects had spent much time together in classrooms. He was separating the organs and categorizing them as he was meant to.
“Nine, Project Nine,” He looked up to see his teacher standing over him. “Your hands are so delicate you are working at great pace.”
His teacher that year had been peaceful young women of calm kind demeanor. At the time she had no idea she would die soon, but Project Nine knew this. Every teacher died after a year or two with projects. It occurred when they’d seen too much.
Her name was Selina. Project Nine would be selected to kill her. He remember slicing her stomach open as easily as he had the rodents in her class. She had cried, and begged. She had even reminded Project Nine what a sweet kind boy he was. Still he had cut her down.
They were closing in on the L.U’s position now. Project Nine was fully stealth, so though he led his group he was not the first the sniper found. Morcroft dropped – a second – a third – a fourth – then a brief pause before death began again.
Pull the bolt back. Load four shells. Push the bolt foreword. Look through the scope. Find a target – a second – a third – a fourth. She had retreated before the nuclear explosion and had been one of the first to receive Tony’s report.
The unit he had located had been easy enough to find. They weren’t progressing in an elusive manner. They were being rather direct really. That was until she had begun reaping them like cattle. Pull the bolt back. Load four shells. Push the bolt foreword. Look through the scope. Find a target – a second – a third – a fourth.
There had been a project with this group but now she was certain he had left them to her slaughter. Other riflemen and units of defensive forces had joined in. She took this opportunity to hunt for the project. She was confident now in her ability to spy them even while in stealth. She would take the shot when she had it.
She found him. Or rather it revealed it’s self as it waded into a collection of defenders. She caught the glint of stealth gear and pulled the trigger. She put a shell into it – a second – a third – a fourth. Pull the bolt back. Load four shells. Push the bolt foreword. Look through the scope. She found her target again and it was not dead. Its stealth was failing but had not yet totally fallen. She wondered if her shells had even breached its armor. She took her shot – a second – a third – a forth. All of them ricocheting off its silver mask.
Pull the bolt back. Load four shells. Push the bolt foreword. Look through the scope. Find a target – a second – a third – a fourth. It was gone. It wasn’t anywhere. She didn’t need more than several moments to decide that it was time to move. That was when her stomach turned as the composition of the world seemed to change. As if she was being pulled. Pulled in a way that should never be.
Boom! The foolish U.N.E had fired right into the World-Destroyers reactor. Tammerin Latkis had seen this coming in time to duck behind one of the thick blast walls. Despite this, her ears still bled and her eyes saw nothing but hot white light.
She hadn’t even realized it, but she had stumbled into the center of the operations room by the time her sight returned. She tripped over what resembled a burnt skeleton rather than a recently dead co-worker.
Her hearing more clearly returned with the addition of clearer thought. She was kneeling in the small bunkers hallway, now open roofed, starring dumbly at a wall. She wiped some of the blood off her cheek. More blood replaced what she had cleared.
She wanted to kill the U.N.E now. She needed to figure out how. For what must have been most of the early afternoon she simply starred. She turned slightly and stared out of the blown off access door which gave her a straight shot view in the direction of the U.N.E position. She couldn’t see it with her human eyes but she was certain she was looking in the correct direction.
There was a spare singularity drive beneath the bunker. It shouldn’t have been damaged. It wasn’t particularly easy for her to move. She suffered some rather shocking falls, but she managed to get herself into the cargo bay in the basement of the bunker. Merry union day! It was fine, and was not alone. Three of the bunkers skidders were working and charged.
She had been junior technician here, and she was gifted whenever her hands handled technology. Even in her state she was able to rig the singularity drive to catastrophically fail and mounted it onto a skidder.
She opened up the bay hatch and picked up the remote to operate the grounded-class high speed transport. It shot from the bay as Tammerin slumped against a wall. She let herself slide into a seated position. Eyes on the remotes screen. Death was the only clear thought in her mind.
Project Fifteen listened, not overly intently, to the directions he and three other projects were receiving. Twelve, six, and Nineteen where also here. He didn’t feel this way or that about Twelve and Nineteen. Twelve was a miniature female. Her chemistry project had something to do with that. She was supposed to be nearly impossible to notice. Her character was more the lack of character. To Project Fifteen she had revealed next none of herself. She lacked personality to the point where Project Fifteen doubted that she had independent thought at all.
Project Nineteen was a variety more similar to Project Fifteen. Well, mostly they were physically similar. Project Nineteen lacked Fifteen’s developed love of art and literature. Project Nineteen had a developed love for the things he kills, and by love Project Fifteen meant all of its meanings.
Project Six bothered Project Fifteen though. Most of the first generation sent chills through Project Fifteens chemically enhanced nervous system. He had heard bits about their upbringings and he was happy to say that his hadn’t been straight out of Hannibal Lecter’s fantasies.
“The assault should force the L.U to flee into a different position.” Project Fifteen had nearly forgotten that he was listening to someone. “When they are outside the protection of their bunker you make your moves. Do not act before this moment. I want none of you to try to kill General Aasin before he attempts to flee.”
Project Fifteen figured that he could infiltrate and get to the general well before their ridiculous frontal strike forced the retreat. The six other projects were in the thick of the assault. Project Fifteen envied them, not because they were allowed to slaughter, but because he found this planet pretty and wanted to wander it more freely. He was here though, because he possessed skills and abilities that were rare even among Projects.
Sometimes he wished he had failed a couple more tests in his youth. The alarm com blared, “L.U skidder approaching us at speed.”
“Shoot the damn thing,” Captain General Spira yelled back at the communicator. A breath later Project Fifteen felt a powerful tug and his feet were no longer touching ground.
In fact he had been thrown several hundred feet into the air and was traveling with much velocity. The air was full of sand and debris. Beneath him and back the hundred miles to where he had been was a crater that he was only just beginning to make out. Debris ricocheted off him but none of it penetrated his armor. He felt himself began to lose altitude but it would still be a long moment before he returned to the planet’s surface.
Based on the data he had received at the moment of the incident, it seemed that a rather small black hole had been created right on the surface of the planet. It was gone now but the destruction was evident in the chaos surrounding him. The intense but short lived pull from the singularity had sucked in a sizable chunk of this planets soft surface. It had also thrown the majority of the U.N.E position into varying degrees of orbit. Project Fifteen had been far enough away that he would return to the surface eventually. It did appear that a sizable portion of their encampment would not. He figured himself and the other projects would survive this thanks to their armor and enhancements. He doubted much of anyone else would.
The U.N.E had lost this battle. He doubted those in the assaulting groups would continue their attack. He activated his extraction beacon. The U.N.E had kept a few ships in a distant orbit around this world’s moon. This included the project’s interstellar craft, Loretta. One of the chemists on the lunar bases had a fondness for a woman by that name.
He received confirmation that his personal pod had been launched and was heading towards where he would eventually land. The debris clouding around him faded with every moment, so he took this opportunity to appreciate everything that was still beautiful about this world.
His armor braced for the impact as he hit the surface and skidded in great puffs of sand. However, he stood up fine. He was hurt but nothing seriously impaired him. His escape pod shot another plume of sand as it landed just ten meters away. He hesitated to get in. his gear was picking up life signatures. Not close by but between him and the crater where about forty eight who had survived the singularity.
He already detected several other Projects leaving this world. Sometimes Project fifteen wished those normal people during his upbringing had shown him cruelty. He had heard of some Projects being forced to strangle puppies. Project Fifteen figured he would have turned out a lot worse if he had been forced to strangle a young canine creature.
Project Fifteen sent his pod back into a low orbit. He turned and in a brisk jog headed in the direction of the closest life signature.
Project Nine had felt and seen the singularity, and the damage it had wrought. He had watched his Unit flee from this place has the U.N.E’s defeat became merely an issue of time. He had taken high caliber rounds to his spine, his chest, his right shoulder, his left hip, both thighs, and had been concussed by shells ricocheting of his mask. The snipers still sought him. His rifle had depleted its rounds and he was left with only his plasma edge. He remember the scout he had discovered earlier, and how he taken the liberty of deciding how his life would end. Somehow this filled him with potent desire for the one thing had always feared.
Death was coming for him but he no longer felt fear, he did have concerns or worries. He was doing what he had been designed for. He was receiving commands to call his pod and to retreat, but that was the option he could no longer take. Project Nine was no slave. Project Nine was a killer, this was his task, and in this purpose he was divine. He the miraculous accumulation man’s science of how to best kill other men.
He was deep inside of the L.U’s encampment. They were falling back from him as fast as they could manage. Diving behind walls and barricades trying to take whatever shots they could at him. Blood, his stealth was nearly useless as he was coated in too much blood. He severed a man’s femoral artery, then another’s Jugular. Project Nine grabbed a man’s neck with his left hand and crushed it.
He had begun strength training at twelve years old and remembered benching half a ton at seventeen, and a full ton at twenty-two. He could long jump forty feet, and run a six point six hundred meter dash. Other projects had paled next to him.
His plasma edge had been shot from his grasp at some point and now he was simply killing with his hands. He didn’t slow much, though he was now dealing with some serious injuries. His armored suit was adjusting, adapting, and keeping him alive. It was juicing him so was so numb that he was barely self-aware. He was aware enough to kill.
He vaguely recalled a bladed weapons lesson when he was eight. At that age he didn’t have the patience yet to master the eloquent weapon. He remembered growing frustrated as his instructors lessons failed to create the improvements in himself he was used to seeing. It would take a later chemical alteration that would steady his hands. He would never be much of a shot with a rifle. He didn’t enjoy the waiting or fine attention it required. He had killed his first firearms instructor and two of his knife fighting instructors after the first one had disappeared.
They were gone – no they were just not near. He found himself alone in metal room with its dead guardians. He felt his legs weaken first, but he did not fall. Men entered the room to his right. Fourteen soldiers and someone else. Someone important looking.
General Aasin beheld the lone Project that had bloodily infiltrated his base. It could barely walk. Its stealth had failed long ago. It was giant of a creature though. Nearly seven feet tall and broad. It was watching him as General Aasin raised his right hand. The Project began to laugh slightly, then louder with its whole body shaking.
“Fire!” General Aasin shouted as he brought his hand down.
The project took a few rounds and its laughing stopped. It looked like it was about to fall, but didn’t, not yet. General Aasin felt himself get pinned against the wall behind him before he could mentally register the projects movement. It took no effort for the Project to crush his trachea and esophagus. It was unable to finish the job swiftly though as they both collapsed to the ground. General Aasin stared into the metallic half smile of the Project’s mask. He was suffocating and blood was all he tasted. He died looking into dark metallic eyes.