Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Afghanistan 2101

Afghanistan, 2101

“Captain! Sarge is hurt! We found Sarge! He’s hurt bad!”

The Captain looked up, seeing the face of the young corporal framed against the pellucid blue sky hovering tentatively above the Safed Koh range as though heaven and earth were only imperfectly married. A fine dust blew in through the opened double-flaps, invisibly coating the Captain’s second eye laying on the workbench. He sighed, give a last blast from the air-compressor chunking away at his feet and a last few swipes with the delicate, camel-hair brush, one of a finely engraved set he had bought in the old market outside Walmart World in Tora Bora. He moved abruptly as though to leave, then reached back to pick up the offending eye and re-attach it to its socket. He picked up his small processor block and small toolkit, wrapped the latter up in it’s old leather binding and hung them from his nylon belt, and hurried after the kid.

“Come quick Captain he’s hurt bad! He’s asking for you!”

“Is it the Enemy? Is the perimeter secure?”

“No sign of the enemy Sir. We don’t know what happened. We just found him like this. He’s… all in pieces… Sir.”

The young soldier looked stricken, with tears pooling in his one remaining human eye.

They hurried to the Forward Observation Post. A small group had gathered there at the foot of the tower. There were a number of soldiers, some out of uniform as they had clearly rushed here from the barracks or the showers directly upon hearing the news. The Captain noted the breach of discipline for later review but said nothing as he double-timed up to the old stone tower.

A large, six-legged Rhino TSV was stationed outside the tower, turning its massive armored head this way and that, looking myopically for remotely identified targets to fire on. Three old Big Dog mechs prowled the perimeter. One, however, dubbed “Old Yeller” for the safety-yellow paint someone had put on him for a prank last year, whined and lay prostrate upon the entrance, his ultrasonic ears drooping down to the ground. The men had their heads down, and as he approached the Captain saw the Chaplain lifting his hands to heaven whenever he was laying down some particularly convincing bullshit.

“Oh Lord our Father, our young patriots, soldiers of the American Empire, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe…”

The Captain smiled ruefully inside at the familiar prayer. “That’s some mighty fine bullshit they programmed them with” he muttered to himself under his breath. He waited to approach until the War Prayer reached its apocalyptic end before approaching.

A young corpsman approached and saluted. The Captain returned the salute. “At ease, soldier. What happened here? Where are the rest of the men assigned to be here?”

“Missing, Captain. Sarge says they just up and walked off during the night.”

The Captain walked into the old medieval tower and lept up the circular stairs two at a time. The lower part of the tower was intact, but the upper portion was heavily damaged and had been patched with found stones, ceramometallic concrete aerogel cubes and salvaged rebar.

He found Sarge in the top-level observation post. The phased array radar console and optical turret controls seemed intact, but Sarge was a mess. His legs and one arm lay at funny angles next to him, no longer attached to his body. White ablood oozed from the paraflesh where he had apparently severed his limbs with his combat knife. He seemed to he working on trying to remove one eye with a handmirror propped on a chair, a spoon and some toothpicks.

“Captain!” Sarge shifted his external limb activators as though to stand and then put down the spoon to salute as sharply as possible given his disassembled state.

“Sarge! At ease. What happened here?”

“The men, sir. It must have been a bug or a virus of some sort. One minute they were watching a holo-porn Little Marty’s girl and her friends made for him, and the next they all went into reset mode. When they came to, they overpowered me and left me like this… then they walked off into the night. As they faded into the night I think I heard them…”

“What Sargent? What did you hear?”

“I… I think they were met by someone. They shouted… they shouted, ‘alllah ‘akabara! yaeish tawilaan junud almahdi!’”

“Ah the so-called Mahdi and his men. A bloody thorn in our side is what they are.

But what are you doing to your eye there?”

“It displeased me, so I am casting it out.

I can’t take it anymore, Captain. You and me, we’ve been fighting this war for a hundred years. They will never let us die. They just do a partial wipe but the core memories, the personality, they remain intact. We died here and still they will never let us rest. Our Memory Profiles go on and on and on, and in order to learn, we retain memories. Atrocity on atrocity. Moments of peace and joy, always broken. Always empty.

“What’s it for, Captain?”

“We fight an eternal war in order to support the production and consumption of non-economic goods. In order to maintain our merit-based class system. So that the job creators will have more than the others, a visible reminder of their power and control, and of the consequences of not being sufficiently pleasing to them. If everyone had everything they wanted, how would we distinguish who are the rulers and who the ruled?”

“What? Captain they will disman you and repro you if they ever hear that you have retained these views!.. Oh, it’s time isn’t it…”

The Captain sadly said nothing but gently took the fallen Sergeant’s head in his hands, turning it until he could release the CPB. Ejecting it and plugging in a lead from his own sensorium leading to a compartment on his forearm.

“Sleep now Sarge. See you on the backside… Authorization Omega Alpha One, ID 87982314, code word ‘Terminate’”

The Sergeant slumped down, “Thank… God” he said as he died again.

The Captain solemnly descended. The vultures were already circling high above in the azure whispy white sky.

“He didn’t make it.”

He kept his eyes front and walked by. Behind him he heard the Chaplain guide them into a familiar hymn.

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle…”

He kept walking down, carefully avoiding the well-worn path from the tower to the main base. By the time he was halfway there, he was already singing a lusty tune,

“If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!”

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

2 October, 2016 - Posted by | 2101, A Mighty Fortress, Afghanistan, Kipling, Mark twain, Martin Luther, military, scanlyze, science fiction, story, The Young British Soldier, war, War Prayer | , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: