Recomissioned Warrior

by Howard Faxon

Tags: Romantic, Science Fiction, Time Travel,

Desc: : a cyborg soldier from the future finds himself 60 years in his past, destined to change the shape of what is to come

When I'm motoring around on my trike I look pretty normal--for a 6'6 270 pound biker in leathers. The helmet conceals many sins. In front of a mirror I've decided that I look like the Incredible Hulk had Hulk Hogan's baby--and dropped it, several times. When dressed I guess I look OK. You can't see the faint scars that cover my body like a fishnet. I've been re-wired. I'm faster, stronger, tougher and last longer than any man born of woman. You see, I'm a cyborg.

Fresh out of college I signed up for the Marines. I was tough enough and bloody-minded enough to make it into force recon. I served honorably with my team for 22 bloody months in central and south America until I wandered into a trap room. Boom, and the next thing I knew I was jelly in a vat. I'm a third generation recon cyborg. I'm roughly 70 percent titanium, 10 percent ceramic, 8 percent flesh, 7 percent brain and five percent computer. I know, this doesn't jive with what you know about technology. Well, here's the kicker--I was/will be born in 2166.

I weigh in at about 775 pounds. I can dead-lift about 1800 pounds and punch through a reinforced concrete wall. (If I don't use my special gloves the flesh of my hand will slough away, though. Yes, dammit, it hurts when I do that, and it takes about a week to recover.) I set off any and every metal detector within fifty yards. My power plant sprays neutrons around like champagne bubbles. When I stand down I have to plug in a smart dialysis unit that mimics my old liver and kidneys. I can 'see' visible, IR and RF spectrums. My eyes contain a Heads Up Display that shows computer-assisted target acquisition and avoidance data. I have built-in mil-spec radio and quantum transcievers. When I take a round they don't call the medic, they reserve time on the lube rack. That's what makes me a prototype--I stand out like an electronic sore thumb and require daily close-support maintenance. The're working on stealthing the whole thing but I think they're pissing in the wind. I constantly ping my environment with active sub-milimeter radar. How the hell are you going to stealth THAT? The one thing that made my life worthwhile was they preserved and enhanced my sense of smell and taste. I was a gastronome.

Three inventions were discovered and perfected/miniaturized for use around 2190-- a human-computer interface that didn't drive the human side irrecoverably insane, computer-reprogrammable nanites that work in a networked cooperative 'cloud' and the SQID--semiconductor quantum interface device. The last part is what made the whole project worthwhile to the military. It's a slow process, but I can see densities in 3-D up to about 1800 meters around me in all directions ... yep, that means I can find deep bunkers and access tunnels just sitting there reading/watching a viddie. I can call in an orbital strike or go into penetration mode. I was force-fed enough penetration techniques to bust all but a very few hardened networks and servers. My SQIDs (always in pairs, for some reason) can focus big and slow or tight and up close. This allows me to force electronic gate changes in security sensors and effectors, namely guns 'n locks. I'm a bigger, better can opener. HoooHa. 92nd force recon. Take no prisoners. Leave no evidence. Nobody gets out alive.

Two of my cyborg buds and I were running a deep penetration op in northern China when my luck ran out a second time. We were scrambling around in a deep lab bunker trying to figure out what was being worked on when we found out the hard way. I stepped into a hemispherical room. The floor and walls had compelling discolorations in the surface, and my SQIDs reported that the curves continued deep into the metal. It was thick, too! The floor was over 3 meters thick and the walls about 2.5. I started getting RF field readings off the scale. I could SEE fields sweeping around, curling around each other. The power density kept increasing. I was getting worried. I tried to monkey-wrench the system by un-balancing a driver. Holy moldy shit! It hit the fan with a huge flash and tore a hole in the wall from top to bottom. When I came to after the power went out the floor was tilted at about a 30 degree angle. The air smelled like burned electronics and ozone. I decided to get the hell out of there. I tracked back to the tunnel I came down. It ended in solid rock. Well, shit. The lights were off but I had a hold-out card--IR vision. It's blurry by nature and you can't see any distance with detail, but it's better than blind-man's-bluff. The three of us came down three different access tunnels. I proceeded to the next one.

Something had blown the hell out of the tunnel. There were huge piles of shattered rock everywhere and a big pit mine to the surface that wasn't there when we began this op.

I reached out to talk to big daddy and got nothing on the Q-strings. Shit. What happened to take down every quantum link near the planet? I tried for a location update and again got nothing. I tried a satellite ping and got a long, leisurely response--over 1200 milliseconds! Something was definitely wrong. I started an RF frequency scan, trying not to speculate, trying not to panic. Big boys don't cry. There it was. I had a lock. There, another. Another. This was ridiculous. I had locked into Generation II GPS satellites! The time sync really threw me. Instead of 2198 it was 1999. Riiiight. I was -67 years old. I was still on the Chinese side of the Russo-Chinese border though--the contested lands. I was between Russia, Afghanistan, India and Mongolia. It was very, very dark out and quite cold. November 11 near the arctic circle will do that for you. I scooted out of the pit mine being as quiet as I could to maintain stealth. I had no support, no backup, no cash, no home. I knew damned good and well that my "big brother" the computer had over-ride routines that could blow the hell out of what's left of me. I was surprised that I wasn't dead yet.

Interface. Situational ethics report summary.

>GPS returns impeachable evidence. Stand down. Unit must go rogue to exist.

Geopolitical impact report summary.

>destabilizing technology impossible. Unit too advanced for current forensics. Unit at risk from analytic decomposition. Run from people with screwdrivers.

Local impact report summary.

>run like hell. acquire funds and secure shelter. Stay covert or cease to exist.

Well, we had a consensus.

I was armed and dangerous. I could hack any network that existed but couldn't jump-start a car to save my electronic soul.

I had to hijack a vehicle and driver that could get me to a hospital. I needed dialysis within 18 hours. My SQIDs told me that this looked too much like a mining camp to be anything else. Mining camps needed food supplies. I needed to find the camp kitchen and hide out until a delivery lorry came. Easy.

I hitched a ride on the back of a decrepit old ex-Chinese military 4x4. Damn. We were out in the middle of nowhere. If I didn't get to a dialysis unit within about 6 hours I'd have to take the expedient route of pissing straight plasma and drinking water to make up the volume. It was hell on mineral balances.

City lights. I compared my GPS readings with what little map data I had. I was coming into North Urumqi--one of the largest cities of North-West China. I had to dump my ride and head West towards the airport. I could fly anything with a jet engine big enough to hold me ... there was a hospital near the airport which made my choice that much sweeter. At a stop-light I dropped out of the rear of the truck and started loping West in the pre-dawn light. Within an hour I'd broken into the hospital, located a dialysis unit, warmed it up (VERY important!) and plugged myself in. This wouldn't cope with all my metabolic problems, but given a half-case of type-O plasma and an IV rig I could take care of the rest. I relaxed deep in the bowels of the hospital for the next day and half the night.

I dined on boiled fish and noodles (asian hospital food) and made my way deep into the airport with a half-case of plasma secreted in my pack. I didn't know when I'd need to detox again and what resources I'd have available at the time.

I found a DHL jet that was being serviced and hopped a ride to Frankfurt, Germany. From there the jet took a hop to Norway, then great-circle route to Quebec city, Quebec. Jumping through the time zones I found myself in San Antonio Texas where I jumped ship. There was a large miltary base featuring a nationally known burn center there. I needed to visit their research labs to put together the backpack dialysis unit that I needed to survive. I had the chip templates stored in deep memory. I needed to prioritize my actions or I'd either be spinning my wheels or leave myself open to hostile investigation.

First I needed an impeccable, iron-clad ID. I investigated how to build a profile, layer by layer. A birth certificate appeared in Houston, a K-12 school record in nearby Conroe, a college and post-grad track record in Austin and the police reports of a hell-raising womanizer all over the area.

My SQIDs made me a hell of a card shark. I won a small property near Odessa and for the hell of it, travelled to check it out. It wasn't far by Texas standards.

My God. The place was sitting on an obscured oil dome the size of New Jersey. Geosoundings would never find it as there were several refractive layers above the dome that would banjax any seismic detection attempts. I needed some bucks to develop the property--sinking an oil well ain't cheap! I headed down to Corpus Christi to run a few intercept probes into the fiber feeding the data havens in the gulf--the fiber has to come up somewhere, and Corpus Christi is one of the places. A little hole-in-the-wall efficiency apartment netted me the access I needed. My interface and I went to work.

It took less that three weeks to peel their encryption like an onion. I had account numbers, balances, routing numbers, authentication phrases and transaction challenge/countersigns. Using Clearstream I opened several accounts in New Zealand and Singapore. Eighteen accounts in all saw deposits of twenty-seven to thirty-five million dollars. A blind digitally-only accessed account in Monaco held my reserves of 660 million. I used an account in Nevis as a feeder to my US accounts I set up three Nevis trusts with 170 million each as backing capital. If I wanted to establish credit I could use them as a base.

I moved into a double-wide trailer that I had shipped to the property so as to maintain a local residence and keep the tax man happy.

After transferring 22 million to an account in Houston and paying off the capital gains tax involved I had a large-bore well sunk into the Odessa property. We struck natural gas at the dome of the deposit. I was able to purchase several square miles of adjoining scrub land along with their attendant mineral rights on the merits of said gas well. I sat on the property for three years while working on my dialysis unit, then ran another land grab hit-and-run against all properties adjacent to mine. The twenty-two square miles I wanted cost me dearly yet I achieved what I desired--control of all drillable land over the narrow, exceedingly deep oil deposit I'd lucked into.

The first three wells were golden. So were the next three. Amoco paid for a feeder pipeline. The oil profits were self-sustaining. I went back to work on the dialysis unit. It was just a matter of time before I cracked the engineering issues. Meanwhile I sold the rights to manufacture several incredibly low-noise amplifiers for enough cash for a normal man to retire on. I kept on rolling. My power plant would quench in thirty years without a factory rebuild. I was racing against several clocks. I had to re-create a hundred years of technological innovation in thirty. Deep down, I was terrified. With the teleomere treatments that I had been given I had a chance to be nearly immortal. I had to fund, innovate and create several technological subspaces as well as maintain a private identity. Quite the three-pipe problem, eh Watson?

I had the dialysis machine down cold ... I built several as backups. I patented and licensed out a permeable membrane technology as well as plans for a simplified portable dialysis unit the size of a large tacklebox. My income exceeded my expenses by an order of magnitude. (means I made lots 'o bucks.)

Even though I knew what had to come next in several fields of technology I couldn't pump them out myself--that would draw unwanted attention. I began to fund the keystone people and projects that I knew would achieve the results needed for the next step forward. I established a holding company to hide behind as I worked.

I fed the plants. I operated the bellows. I provided the money and heat to kindle the next great step forward. I made sure that the engineers were hired that knew what they were doing instead of sweet fuck-all. [[[ We. Achieved. Greatness.]]] We took off-the-shelf fission reactor technology and a theoretical paper on travelling-zone fission and created a simpilified reactor that would burn radioactive waste. We used electrochemistry to implement catalysts that would break families of plastics back into monomers--plastic precursors that could be used again and again. We started turning over landfills to harvest the undigestible plastics. One of the biggest moneymakers in organic chemistry is inorganic to organic nitrogen synthesis. Likewise Phosphorus conversions, but MUCH more toxic. Organophosphorus compounds kill people. Add metals or metal hydrides and you get things like nerve gas. It took us decades to realize that the ecological cost of our packaging was killing us. The byproducts of our chemical syntheses were killing our unborn babies. We ran perfectly administered double-blind tests. We published everything we found. The corporations shut down the results. This was unacceptable. My interface agreed.

We went to war.

Monsanto and Cargill had to go. I knew the formulae for several universal defoliants. They were simple to produce. It took a little time to produce the agents in the volumes we needed as well as to hire the strike teams necessary to spread the agents on their seed fields. Within five years we bankrupted them. We broke the frankenfoods.

Next came the drug companies. Pfizer, Abbott, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Genentech, Novartis, Johnson and Johnson. One after the other they went down for testing fraud and wholesale murder. We nationalized their asses/assets. We freed their international copyrights to public domain. No longer would copyrights be held on genetic sequences.

I took sights on AIG, UNH, WLP, royal dutch shell, BP, Chevron, Saudi Aramco, Berkshire Hathaway, Credit Agricole Financial, WellPoint and JP Morgan Chase. We extracted assets, subverted employees and shined floodlights on the cockroaches. Fox/Turner tried to spin the news. We under-wrote and repurposed a phenomenon known as WikiLeaks into an international hammer. The governments of country after country fell as their corporate puppeteers failed The insurance companies refused to pay out. They were judged in breach of contract under international law and their assets seized. It didn't do the corporations one damned bit of good as they fell like dominos. The world-wide depression was savage.

Within six years the people stopped dying. The food markets stabilized. Home goods were produced in small scale--garage industries flourished. Some few computer-controlled milling machines showed up on the market and were snatched up by industrial cooperatives. I made a bundle on the tool bits too, but I didn't gouge. Rail heads went everywhere, highway bridges and levees got rebuilt and manufacturing centers sprang up everywhere. We had linen to cotton to rope to canvas to steel to sheet metal to nails and screws to lightbulbs to tires to bicycles being produced town by town, county by county. I made sure that the Internet never failed. The information on how to make damned near anything never got lost. I hid myself as a board member of Credit Suisse to get everything done. "Ignore the man behind the curtain" seemed to work and Toto remained a stupid little yarfie. We remained solvent as a culture and travelling-zone reactors went into place everywhere people had a geologically stable area to stabilize and burn radioactive waste. We were popular for the time being. I took on more and more responsibilities until I couldn't handle any more.

Jesus. I thought that I'd died and gone to hell. Everyone complained and nobody wanted to help find solutions. Twenty hour days were the rule until I smartened up and bowed out. Eventually the markets stabilized to the point that I could relax.

Killing the holding companies caused massive disruption in the value of the euro in several countries. Instead of killing them all simultaneously we attacked them one after another. France rioted itself into oblivion. The Greek financial collapse gave us a way into their production/transport sector. We moved north and east into the 'stans. When push comes to shove, people will do damned near anything to keep their children from starving. We sold their cloth, their carpets and their finished goods. They survived. They flourished. They learned. the gardens were patrolled by the old men. If you were islamic and mouthed off, or christian and mouthed off you got shot. The apple trees got fertilized. The rants faded away one body at a time.

I grew tired of all the political bullshit. I pulled my head in and started thinking of somewhere to retire. I still had fusion research to do. Hmm. Tennessee. There was a lot of government property to be had near the old fission isotope separation works. It had to be decontaminated big time but I had the nanite templates for that. I bought into a few hundred square miles at a distressed property sale. The NRC (nuclear regulatory comission) was on my ass pretty tight until I wiped their computers and forged some naval operations research bona fides. Persistent little bastards.

I had some deep concrete bunkers cast at the south end of the properties, away from any roads. The nanites took the field and proceeded to transport anything radioactive into the bunkers. Seven months later the property was pristine. We used hydraulic rams to forge the irradiated matter into slugs which were then warehoused to feed our travelling-wave reactors. I bought as much depleted uranium as I could get off the market to keep it out of the hands of the weapons manufacturers. It would feed our reactors and not poison the battlefields of the earth--arguably the poorest nations on the planet, the least able to recover from the metallic poisons that would destroy generation after generation of children.

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Story tagged with:
Romantic / Science Fiction / Time Travel /