Help! I've Got a Human!(We hope you’ve linked after following our Intergalactic Most Requested: Should I Be Keeping a Human? infoburst. If not, link it before continuing.)
IMPORTANT: if you bought your human for a sub-adult of your race, please void the transaction and return the container immediately. Giving humans regular interaction with sentients they can influence is forbidden. The ban is there, with good and (sadly) repeatedly proven reasons, to protect YOU.
So, you have a human. Maybe you have more than one. (If so, IMMEDIATELY link the infoburst ‘Humans: Pack Behaviour to Watch For’ before continuing.)
Did you get your human from a reputable outlet? Human trafficking continues to be a problem, despite the terrible tragedies it has caused. Simply scan the docpak panel. Do it now. Our watchware will validate the whole unit.
Is the indicator red? This human is dangerous! Press the red panel to end this threat and call for assistance.
Green indicator? Then, link the infoburst ‘My
Flip OutHe’s at the door ag-
Loud. Never try and creep up on a paranoid woman with pre-menstrual hypervigilance and a pistol. I usually spend three days screaming at random people for doing things so trivial they didn’t know they were doing them – or even what the things were. Today, I’m shooting assassins between stomach cramps. Or overly cautious couriers. Makes no difference. Not now. Too many possibilities to risk compassion.
Like flipping through a book until a shape catches your eye, you choose a different reality. Quicker than a blink, a silent holocaust happens, leaving the world changed. If you don’t really like this one, flip on. You can’t go back. You might be able to resist your sudden memories of a life in the different reality – being the cause gives you a little leeway. But you can’t save anyone else. I tried.
I hear our coded knock, then hear his voice: “Don’t be silly, Genniphur, I’m on your side.
First to FallEvery anniversary of the counterstrike, they show that cursed video. You know the one: snow on the ground, ashes in the air, a lone woman in a ragged battlesuit moving cautiously across an open field. She’s gripping a Mantis 14 like the ancient beam weapon’s a holy relic.
She straightens, bringing the beamer up. The discharge is violet laced with blue lightning, a clear sign the main tube is overstressed. It also means the effective range is under eight metres. The Drandic were in no danger, but they didn’t know that. The pulsing green riposte is blindingly fast and actually comprised of two dozen needle-thin beams in a searing helix. Her arms go wide and she falls, pierced through. Hitting the ground, her limbs bounce once. The snow raised on impact sprinkles her body, mixing with the ashes caught in her dark hair. The field is still.
Music swells, poignancy segueing into stirring tones. From behind her – to the viewer’s left – a dozen battlesuited
Bad CyberThe Amour Club is light on love and heavy on by-the-minute. It’s popular with non-johns as the full-time privacy mode prevents surveillance and squashes infobuzz down to a whisper of priority feeds.
I usually enjoy being anywhere that quietens my ConstantTouch and serves JD in liquid form. But the Amour’s regulars are lowlifes who’ll never make it, because talk is cheaper than decisions and appearances are cheaper than experience. Tonight, however, I’m being paid to put up with them for a while.
“Lincoln Shields, as I live and breathe. Who cracked your rock and drove you into the light?”
The comedian on my left is Vinny Roe. The cybernasty on my right is Vinny’s latest goon, Clem. No surname on record. No specialities, either; he’ll do anything that pays him to hurt people.
Vinny waves at the ancient robot bartender – this place is so cheap it won’t even hire an android.
“Get Mister Shields another of whatever mouthwash
War GamesI’m impressed: the manufacturer’s claim was true. C-NhD – Compressed Nhildentium – really does make a ship unbreakable.
“Sir, the worst casualty is Engineer Ruson: both legs broken. Apart from that: cuts and bruises.”
I treat Dral to my best expression of disbelief: “How?”
“It spun us, sir. Everyone was pinned to a solid surface. By sheer luck, the majority were backs to the impact.”
I’ll be drinking a half bottle of brandy with our guardian angel as soon as we get out of this.
“What’s our manoeuvring capability?”
“None, sir. We’re embedded in a cliff face.”
“Can we blast our way free?”
“It’s a two-kilometre drop, sir.”
“Use launch boosters?”
“Tubes are buried in the cliff, sir.”
I perform a mental orientation from that info.
“So, presuming we’ve lost both turrets, surviving weapons will only fire along the cliff face?