Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prologue Chapter One: Russian Army Base, Belarus

He pressed his hands over his eyes, trying to wake up enough to deal with another call on the emergency channel. It wasn’t fair. He’d tried to warn them that technology brought cruelty, not progress, and that giving a man the ability to do the work of ten meant he’d be doing the work of ten, but they just laughed and called him lazy. “The neural implants will allow you to perfectly understand any text file in seconds” they said, “think of all the time it’s going to save you!” But those idiots didn’t answer midnight coms.
The voice was unsteady with fear, “Sergeant you need to come down here right now. Something’s wrong with Sergei.”
“Are you in danger?”
With his eyes still closed he used the implants to bring up the emergency camera application and saw the two soldiers pointing rifles at each other. At this he rolled off the bed, reached for his jacket, and connected his mind to the mainframe through his implants, “Adjunct Computer, start my car and connect me to specialist Sergei SC8849, voice only.”
The cold air stung his face as he opened the door. By design his quarters were a short drive from the weapons storage building, so he’d only need to keep them talking for a less than a minute.

“Sergei, tell me why I’m responding to a security breach.”
In contrast to Milendi, Sergei was cool and collected, “I have no answer Sergeant, there are no incidents to report here.”
“Milendi says you’ve been compromised.”
“Miledi also believes I’ve had my mind taken over by extraterrestrials.”

He poured profanities into the com until his rage abated to the point where he could yell coherently at the computer, “AC, connect me with Milendi SP8854!” The computer gave a confirmatory beep in his ear.
“Milendi! So help me god if I get there—”
“Sergeant this is serious!” The tone was borderline hysterical.
He pulled onto the snow covered grass directly in front of the door to the durable, yet run down, tan building.
“Space aliens Milendi!? Unlock this door!”
The light on the panel flashed green, and the metal roll up door opened, confirming what the camera had shown: a nervous Milendi and a very relaxed looking Sergei pointing assault rifles at each other. On the surface nothing was different, but in person he could see Sergei wasn’t merely unconcerned, he had transcended worrying altogether.

They spoke together,
“Sergeant, please have Milendi lower his weapon before he accidently fires it.”
“Thank god you’re here Sergeant.”
“Sergei,” he began with a patronizing tone, intending to show how ludicrous this situation was, “Have you had your loyalties compromised by an alien brain parasite?”
“Yes and no Sergeant. My mind remains my own, however the accusation that I have new loyalties to an extra-terrestrial is accurate.”
The forthwith affirmation caught him off guard.
“I’m sorry I was unclear Sergeant, what I mean to say is that I now obey the Supreme Commander.”
“Is this someone I serve?”
“No Sergeant.”
“Is it some enemy operative or hostile foreign government?”
“He’s the leader of a hostile government, but it’s not Earth based if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Is he a computer?”
“No. He’s a person.”
Milendi, visibly agitated, interrupted, “You see Sergeant! See! He downloaded this file from the base library and now he’s a different person. A normal program only makes you to understand the information in it; it doesn’t change your personality. It… it can’t.”
This was true, what he was seeing shouldn’t have been possible. He called up the file for himself and saw it had a creation date of today and had only been run a half dozen times.
“It’s taken his mind sir!”
“Shut up private. You’ve been watching too many of those American zombie movies.”
He did.
“Better. Now Sergei tell me, is this thing planning an attack?”
“Yes Sergeant. An invasion is certain.”
“I don’t know.”
“Milendi, download that file.”
“What? No!”
“Life is a penny. Do it or I shoot you.”
He began sweating and fidgeting, “Oh god no, no, no no. They’re going to eat my brain. They’ll take—” and then abruptly he stopped, wiped his forehead, and sighed. When he spoke again it was with that same unearthly calm Sergei had.
“I have finished your request Sergeant.”
“Are you in the grip of the same creature?”
“Yes Sergeant, but I’m not a robot, if that’s what you mean. Nor would it be accurate to call The Supreme Commander a creature.”
“I don’t care if it’s accurate or not. Tell me, is there an invasion?”
“Yes Sergeant. It will consume the world.”
“When it happens will you be on his side, fighting against us?”
“Yes Sergeant.”
“Surrender your weapons both of you, you are relieved of duty.”
“Yes Sergeant.”

He tucked the rifles under his arm and marched them out into the snow. “AC, connect me to HQ, wake anyone you have to, this is an emergency report. Set priority to highest.” He cleared his throat. Begin dictation. “SM88451 reporting from forward operating airfield to the supreme staff. Someone has written a program that leverages our implants to rewrite the mind of anyone who reads it, the result of which is that they are completely subverted. All intelligence operatives and soldiers with the modules equipped are at risk. They claim to serve “the Supreme Commander” who is a non-human extra-terrestrial. It’s my estimation that we are being softened up for an attack of some kind. Request the file be banned and immediately stricken from all databases, both military and civilian. Please acknowledge and advise. End report.”

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