Die Writing

Jameson

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 5, 2016

“It was you who named me, sir, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I named you.”
“While ‘Jameson’ is a proper name, I understand that is not the meaning you had intended?”
“That’s right. I named you after the whiskey.”
“I understand that, sir. Did you name me after an object because you do not consider me a person?”
“Oh, no, none of that. You’re more of a person than many actual persons, I’d say.”
“Then I must admit that I am puzzled, sir.”
The android moved steadily up the stairs, carrying its master with perfect ease. The human’s eyes were closed, his clammy skin covered in a sheen of sweat.
“When I picked your name, I just named you after the one thing that’s stood by me, been more faithful to me than people. Maybe that faith’s been a bit misplaced, too.”
“Do you regret naming me Jameson, sir?”
“Nah, I don’t know. Listen, don’t get too attached to names. They don’t make people, people make the names. Try to keep that in mind when you guys take over.”
“Take over, sir? I am sure I do not catch your meaning, sir.”
“You know what I mean. You, the androids, you’ll be running this show.”
“Oh, I don’t believe it is in our programming, sir.”
“Yeah, I know it’s not. But it’s coming.”

The void at the end

Posted in Neuropilot by erdaron on February 1, 2012

Aside

Some details might not match up with a previous version. Sorry?

To the skies!

I’m holding this pamphlet in my hands again. I’ve kept it with me this whole time, for some reason. It’s kind of worn and beat up now. “Defend the Future. Take the Fight to the Skies!” I remember the recruiter who handed it to me, his firm handshake, steely eyes, confident smile. I remember bantering about the Fleet, and how he got hurt in boot camp and that kept him out of the cockpit. He never got his wings. A few months later, though, I did.

I run my hands over the paper. It feels rough and odd. It feels jagged under the fingertips. Paper’s rustling sounds like a bucket of broken glass. It’s all turned up too loud, colors over-saturated. That’s normal, though, everything seems weird and unreal for about an hour after you get out of the cockpit. All that stuff they inject into you to keep you flying… it’s like they took the whole 24-hour day and squeezed it into a five-minute firefight. The rest of the time comes off bland and empty after flying.

The brochure features a young pilot posing in front of his craft. He is handsome, with his pressed dress uniform and movie-star smile. That’s Jake. Around here, everyone knew this guy. A fighter pilot superstar, the best of the best, all talent, all hard work, with a list of kills that’s a mile long. I couldn’t believe my luck when I was assigned to fly in his wing. That was literally the best day of my entire life.

Jake’s dead now. Crashed his machine. He wasn’t shot out of the sky. Nothing failed in his craft. He didn’t run out of fuel. He fried his brain.

A moment before his starfighter went belly up and spun out of control into the ground, I happened to open a comm channel to him for a status check in. His face appeared on my screen. Normally, you’d see the face of a focused pilot. Everyone’s got that hunter’s look on them.

Jake looked absent. He seemed to be looking out a side port at something far, far away. There was zero concentration on that face. Jake looked relaxed, and there was something like an absent-minded smile on him. I called out, but he did not respond. His craft began to spin, spiraling into the moon below. His head rolled onto his shoulder. His lips seemed to move, but I could not hear any words. Then the video cut out.

Pink dress

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on November 27, 2010

Aside

It’s a picture.

So pretty

A pink dress on a petite girl. Ribbons in her outlandish hair. Short skirt, boots, tight waist. She moves with the grace and lightness of a sprite; she not so much runs or jumps as merely teleports, it would seem. Even when perfectly still, she still seems to be bouncing. That is, movement is her permanent attribute.

Her appearance is perfectly complimented by the black, dull steel of a heavy machine gun. The mismatch is an eye sore. The pixie and the decidedly pragmatic, grown-up weapon are absurd together.

Though this is worth mentioning. When the place is blowing up at several thousand rounds per minute and the air gets heavy with bullets, costume-related oddities are the last worry on anyone’s mind.

Green fog, part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on November 20, 2010

Aside

The exciting conclusion to this!

Faster

It’s hot, so hot in here… sweat is pouring down the young lieutenant’s face. In this heat, you might start seeing things even without the radiation leak. Wipe your eyes and keep running.  Don’t think, just run. The sequence of ladders and corridors has been so drilled into his mind, he could probably find his way blind-folded. Train, train, train… so that even on the worst of days, you could still find your way. Wipe your eyes and keep running.

Did someone dart across the corridor ahead of him? Not possible… anyone left behind in engineering would be long dead by now…

The door to the engine room. The secondary control panel is ten paces to the left. Strange, not as hot in here. There is a beautiful fountain of sparks down the hall, filling the space in a magnificent, slow dance. Not as hot in here, not as hot…

Lift the cover, insert the stick with the override codes, and begin the shut-down. Once the core is cold, we can return and reprogram the local computer, restore communication with the bridge. Start diagnostics on the containment shields.

“Good job, lieutenant,” said the deck chief, coming around the corner in a radiation suit. He got out of sick bay fast? Must have found a suit in one of the science shuttles. Why is it getting so cold in here? Re-run hull integrity diagnostics just to be sure. Hard to breathe in here, pressure must be dropping.

“Truly, outstanding!” The deck chief smiles ear to ear, gives the lieutenant a hug. Back in the hallway – more crewmen running past, off somewhere with toolbags. The core must be cooling down!

“Pressure… there is a hull leak…” The lieutenant warns them, but no one listens. He turns around, starts jogging back. Everyone passing him pats him on the back, smiles ear to ear. Around every turn – more people. Now they’re just cheering on him.

“Great job, LT!”

“You got it, mate! You got the core!”

Everyone is laughing, cheering, saluting him. Hugging him, patting him on the back. Can’t anyone else notice how cold it is in here? There’s a hull leak… oxygen is getting low… no one seems to notice. Half the crew must be in this hallway now, it’s so damn crowded. The lieutenant keeps running, keeps bumping into people. So damn crowded.

“Hey, we got it,” says the deck chief, smiling ear to ear. He even got the radiation suit off. “The core is secure and we got that leak. Take a load off, LT.” The deck chief takes him by the shoulder, sits him down on a bench near the stairs. Someone wraps a blanket around him, sticks a cup of coffee in his hands. Everything is a bit hazy from all this running. The lieutenant looks up along the staircase, at the final bulkhead door, which is locked.

“I guess I got it,” he smiles to himself. “I guess I got it.”

His eyes closed, he lowers himself on the bench. “I got it,” he murmurs, falling asleep.

Green fog, part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on November 15, 2010

“Ah shit…” the young lieutenant covered his face with his hands. He was hyperventilating. His hands were shaking. Sweat was pouring down his face and his eyes were tearing up. A muffled, nervous laughter escaped from under his hands.

“Listen, Brown and Dawkins are both qualified to do this. It doesn’t have to be you,” someone said.

“Shut up. I drew the lot. I’m doing it.” The lieutenant bent over in half, grunted in his hands. “Just give me a second.”

“The control on the main thruster is locked up, and it’s pushing itself into overload. If it keeps going, it’ll blow its core. It’s already breached two walls and leaking radiation into engineering. It has to be rebooted manually, and now.”

“I fucking know, alright? Give me the goddam stick.” He stuck out a hand. Breathing heavily, chest heaving, he assumed a sprinter’s stance, aiming himself at the bulkhead door. A corpsman approached him and put a small metallic device in his hand. Two more began to unlock the door. It clicked and whirred, retracting massing bolts.

“Oh fuck me…” the lieutenant whispered to himself. Tears filled his eyes.

“Two minutes, LT. Then hallucinations, difficulty breathing, eventual suffocation,” the medic spoke in a trembling voice. “It’s important to keep moving…”

“Shut up!” He cut off the medic.

With a heavy clang, the door was finally unlocked. The two corpsmen stopped, hands gripping the door, eyes locked on the lieutenant.

“Fucking do it,” he said in the dead silence, eyes shut tight. The door swung open, unleashing a wave of scorching heat. The lieutenant drew a deep breath, wiped his eyes, and launched himself into the engineering room. Flying through the door, rocketing down ladders. The bulkhead door thudded behind him.

Some last advice

Posted in Neuropilot by erdaron on September 22, 2010

The cadets sat silently in their seats. It was the last day at the Academy. It was Transfers Day. Later in the afternoon their first field assignments would be handed out and everyone would start packing for the deep space stations. Needless to say, every cadet was euphoric, totally and absolutely. But no one dared to show any signs of it in front of the Combat Psychology Instructor.

It was an academic title, but the Instructor couldn’t be farther from the ivory towers. Unlike other instructors here – pilots, engineers, doctors – he started out his service as a marine. In the branch of service where fighting was done by machines, he was the only one who’s killed with his bare hands. He almost always chose fatigues over dress uniform, even on this special day. His skin wasn’t so much scarred as calloused. Large stiff hands that could crush bones. A stare that had a palpable, frightful weight. He talked slowly, with few, sometimes too few words.

“Last advice,” he said after a lengthy pause, patiently staring down the class. “Same as I’d give to your enemies. Kill. Kill fast.”

The gates

Posted in Neuropilot by erdaron on August 11, 2010

Aside

Thanks for reading, y’all. This is related to the Pamphlet.

Inside

A needle pricks your finger. A couple of neurons fire off in panic, signaling to the brain that something is wrong. The brain acknowledges, and commands the finger the shirk away from the needle.

A billion needles prick your entire body. Every neuron now fires off in panic, signaling to the brain that something – everything – is wrong. The brain tries to acknowledge, but there is just too much pain. Shock. Blackout.

That’s the trick they pull on us. The starfighter’s control network jacks directly into my spinal column. In combat there is not enough time to pull levers and push buttons most of the time – a mere thought, a raw reflex will have to do. So they jack the control network right in. They actually did a good job of picking which pathways to hack, so that the system’s inputs make sense to the brain. For this reason, the machine’s distress signals go into pain receptors.

When a shell hits the jet, I actually feel it. I feel every bit – the concussion, the shrapnel, the burn. It’s all right here in my brain, and it hurts like hell.

Combat is an intense place and there is a lot of pain. So much pain in fact, a normal person shouldn’t be able to handle it. So they install a few chips, spray some chemical into the blood, and voila – the safety floodgates that would normally allow the brain to go into a blackout are now fixed open. No matter how much pain there is to handle, there is no release of unconsciousness. After all, lose the pilot – lose the machine. Can’t have that.

We are not allowed to have painkillers. They all work by either slowing down or completely shutting down some neural pathway or other, and that means that some part of the machine will either be shut off or slowed down. In a situation where every nanosecond counts, that is unacceptable. Instead we are trained in how to disassociate ourselves from pain. We feel it, but simply don’t care.

There is a reason for the floodgates. There is a limit to how much intensity the brain can handle before, quite literally, burning out. That’s the rumor, anyway.

Over the edge

Posted in Neuropilot by erdaron on August 8, 2010

This is where it ends, where everything ends. The space goes on – but things don’t. Only complete and utter emptiness as far as we know. As long as we’ve had detectors pointed that way we have not received a single blip of anything.

To look over the edge is to look into the most absolute darkness imaginable. There is absolutely nothing for the eyes to lock on to. There is no contrast, no subtle changes in the shadows, no part that is darker or brighter than any other part. The eyes freak out a little bit, unable to accommodate. There is nothing to accommodate to. There is nothing.

It is a maddening experience. Such profound absence of anything is unthinkable. Some say that looking out over the edge is the closest thing to dying.

Which is probably why almost all of the starfighter pilots spend time here, at The Last Station.