Thursday, April 05, 2007

remembrances of things ahead

Doesn't feel real.
I know about the transit sickness. I was ready for the heat and the cold, the constant rain dripping through the trees, the billions of strange microorganisms in the air, the water, the food, the smell of the air, the headaches, everything... except this feeling of deadly lethargy.

Psi warfare is murder on your head, but I'm starting to think... spiritually.

After the last recon, I got out, stumbled into the trees, and just fell into the damp grass and mud. And I'm just lying here now. Wishing my body deeper into the mud, slowly settling in, until it closes over my head, blocking out light, air, life.
Blocking out the tachyon static.
Blocking out the voice in my head that's all the more terrible for being my own, blocking out the deja vu.

I used to laugh at the old time-travel movies at first, until I stopped because I could hear hysteria after a point. They had it so easy... They though you are something separate, standing outside Time, learning from your past and changing your decisions.
They didn't know memory can't make the trip, did they? The first experiments were horrible failures, with the intrepid time-explorer arriving bristling with gear, prepared for any possibility, and his mind the mind of an infant, a foetus.
Blank, brain-dead idiots. Most died.

It works now... in a way. Dunno if it's worth it, though...
I was born with a genetically engineered mutation that lets my midbrain detect positive-energy tachyonic radiation. Tachyons exist in pairs; and sending a negative-energy one back will simultaeously create a forward-energy one coming ahead. And my midbrain can feel them, and after nearly twenty years of training, implants, and force-feeding on identification and translation algorithms, I can understand them. They come through as memory.

So... I can remember what I'm going to be doing in the past, from my remembering that remembrance from the future.

Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

If trying to visualize this knots your thought process into a mobius strip, imagine how I feel. I have to actually do it. And do it fast enough, and well enough, to keep me alive when the bielek are doing their best spread me and my crew all over the sky or ground.
The crew. They're the ones that have it easy. They come in blank and get reprogrammed, born again. All they need to do is sense and move their weapons, their machines.
They don't need to remember. This is their world.
Me? I'm trying to live three lives... What I have, what I had, and, hopefully, if I do my job right, what I will have.
Enough with this shit. My headache's bad enough on it's own.

Sarkar is still catatonic, and it's been nearly three hours. Idiot. When you esp-guide a missile, you become the missile. You need to pull back into your own head before impact. As far as his mind is concerned... he's still a gradually expanding cloud of smoke and metal fragments a couple of thousand feet up. His body's being here in one piece is irrelevant.


We took the boat through the jungle... there are no roads, but don't let that stop you... the sooner you understand your territory, the better your chances of making it back in one piece. If you're really lucky, still more or less sane.

It's full monsoon, and we can barely tell night from day. It's always a wet gray twilight, with jungle noises and the steady hiss and drip of rain. You can nearly forget where you are, when you are... but deja vu is always there, a fishhook caught in my head, reminding me always of the war spread out over the planet, across most of the millenium.

I wonder what the current inhabitants make of us? We must be their gods and demons by now, present through time immemorial, always at war... I might find a century old-temple today where there'll be a frieze or sculpture depicting the the battle I'm going to fight tomorrow, a hundred years ago.
History isn't what it used to be anymore.

Flashes. Deja vu as it happens. You remember what's happening right now, as it happens. Hopefully, when I remembered it the first time, back at mission-prep base, I understood the situation well enough to prepare myself for it. Not very comforting when you're actually there, rounding a bend through the hanging leaves, wondering if there's razor wire strung across and did I remember it then, and will I remember it now...
which is probably why I'm taking us so slow...
And quiet.

We stopped at a cave on the side for a while, ate. Hundreds of some kind of insects scurried about, underfoot, crunching occasionally under our feet, and for a brief moment some kind of large animal appeared through through the undergrowth, looked at us for a moment, perfectly calm, and melted back into the trees again. Everything seems strangely dreamlike in this light... but I'm definitely hungry.

We reached back to base just in time to see our squad leader get chewed to ribbons in a strafe on the riverbank, dead white lines ripping through the vines on the other side of the bend. They were using glaser-like rounds, and completely silent. Soft thuds as they hit the earth, hit the human body, but when they blossom inside you at mach 5, the exit wound tears out your flesh and bone on the opposite side with a sound like ripping silk. Ripping wet silk. A grisly, poignant sound.
This is what we are.
Bags of blood and fibre. Fragile, delicate, and somehow, twisting the laws of the universe, we have become it's masters... but the universe, too, never forgets to extract that price.

Flash of memory. The fire came from two points, on the bank, but there was a third on top of the rise beyond the bAnk... not a gunport, but something else... communicator, or maybe an OP.
Will not risk it, though; even a single observer could do a lot of damage from that vantage point before we get it. And it's not like there's any point catching it either... there's nothing new, nothing left for them to say.

This is a bonus, the premonition. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have remembered the third point. Or maybe it was the sight of the three, not two, psionic tracker missiles packed in their nest in the boat that triggered the flash. Either way, I'm grateful.
And I get to live some more.

The first two are a classic textbook strike, taking out the gunships under the trees. The third leaps into the sky, spreading it's wings, balancing on a thin blue flame, somehow just clearing the missile vector. Every time I watch one of the bielek gunships fly, I'm struck by how silent - and how beautiful, how streamlimed, they look. The sun breaks through the cloud cover for a moment, and we're suddenly bathed in dazzling, after the rain-shadowed gloom of the day, sunset light.

There's a prickle on my neck, and memory floods, violently, painfully.
On pure adrenaline reflex, in one movement, I twist the radar sheet behind me into an angle; a patch of sunlight flashes across the river, and illuminates a single bielek on this side of the bank, chaingun in its hands, eyes screwed shut against the dazzle of the sun's reflection, wings already swinging up into takeoff; then he's torn to pieces in the small-arms fire.

I know it's nearly over now, and the last of the lethargy vanishes. The first part of the mission is almost over; I remember that, too.

Their bird climbs higher and higher, nearly vertically but tracing out long, elongated curves trying to shake off the missile; but this isn't dumb machinery, it's one of my own people's minds in there, and he's not letting go. The air is surprisingly clear; we can watch the chase for a while, getting smaller and smaller, but the actual kill is just a muted flash of orange in the clouds.

We've already docked and in the camp before the little pieces of metal patter down, just ahead of the quiet rain that starts as the sun disappears.


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