Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lost Miracles

I got a job today. I got it because of what I am, and what I can do. I got this job because of what my government did to me.

It all started with a simple idea that some asshole at the Pentagon came up with: Make one soldier capable of replacing a thousand. They'd have laughed it off if one of the eggheads hadn't said that he had an idea for how to do it. So they made the Miracle Soldier Program, and that's where I fit into it.

Miracle Soldiers. MiraSols. Bionic Men. They only made a thousand of us. Handpicked from SEALS, Green Berets, Marines, Delta Force, Combat Controllers. Soldiers who could be relied on to get the job done with a minimum of conscience. They said they'd make us stronger, faster, smarter, powerful enough to replace whole divisions. So they shipped us off to a lab under the Rockies, and they changed us.

I don't remember much about the surgery. Bits and pieces. Fever dreams. I remember waking up on the table and seeing what they were putting into my arm. I got a good look once at the stuff they replaced some of my skin with. It looks like skin, feels like skin, but you can solder it back together and its tougher than Kevlar. Mostly I just remember the pain. The worst pain I'd ever felt. Pain that went on forever...except for the places that I couldn't feel at all, where they'd replaced something human with something metal. My right arm doesn't feel pain anymore, its just a complex network of pressure, heat, and texture sensors.

When they'd remade us, retrained us, they put us into the field. First Iraq. Then Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea. I was there when we sanitized Pyongyang. I watched my commanding officer put a flechette round in the head of Kim Yong-il and Kim Yong-nam from a micro-assault cannon implanted in his left shoulder. We were relentless. I lost count of how many people I killed. They just became a blur. I killed so many. Killed, and killed, and killed.

Then one day they told us to stand down. The Security Council, NATO, the European Union...they wouldn't stand by anymore and let America take over the world. Especially not after an overzealous MiraSol hacked his brain into a Chinese defense computer and turned Beijing into a glowing crater. The eyes of the world were on the United States. They couldn't kill us, but the only real demand that the world community could issue was to request that the MiraSols be stood down permanently, that we be removed from the Army's ranks.

There weren't many of us when it happened. We'd started dying the second they put us on the ground. We were tough alright. Skeletal structures reinforced with titanium and ceramics. Muscles interwoven with spider-silk fibers that conducted nerve impulses faster. Holographic defense screen projectors built into our chests, and skin that could stop most high caliber firearms, not to mention radiation, extreme temperatures, and replacement lungs that processed oxygen out of water, and filtered contaminants out of the air. We were the perfect killing machines. But we died when the fighting started, and we couldn't be replaced.

The Miracle Soldier project cost billions, and it was meant as a test. It takes 3 years to make a MiraSol, although we were the only generation made. The first year was spent training the body and the mind. Special diets, vicious exercise regimes, constant psychological and neurological testing and tweaking. Only half the soldiers put into the program made it to the second year. But by the end of it we were as ready as we'd ever be.

It took 6 months of surgery and chemo to remake us. They did it bit by bit, piece by piece. An enormous hospital ward of soldiers all under one part of the process or another. When they got to soldier 1000, they went back and started working on soldier 1. It took another 6 months to retrain us, teaching our bodies to cope with the implants. We had to learn how to walk again, how to hold a spoon, how to just hold a conversation with a regular human being. But the Army made good on its promise: we were everything they said we'd be, and more.

They made us stronger, able to lift at least a ton without stress. They put computers in our brains, let us process hundreds of pieces of information at once independent of our regular thoughts. They heightened our senses, let us see in infrared, ultraviolet, ultrasound, sonar. We could plug our brains into a computer and run it faster than a human operator ever could. We could outpace most small cars on foot, and could clear several dozen feet in a single jump. And they built weapons into us. Mostly projectile firearms, micro-flechette guns and small explosive projectors. But they also put masers, cutting lasers, sonic cannons, and electrical stun devices into us. By the end of the process we were fifty pounds heavier.

It took another year after that to teach us to be soldiers again. We only lost a small handful to psychological problems...most of those manifested later. We learned to fight as a unit, to use our weapons in concert with regular equipment and regular forces. We trained, and trained. We'd train for days at a time without sleep, piggybacking our meat into the metal in our heads, loading hundreds of hours of training into our computers in a single go. And by the end of it, we were the deadliest living creatures on the planet.

But for everything we had in us, for all our training, out of our original thousand, only three hundred were left when we were stood down. Of those, about 50 killed themselves. They couldn't stand the idea of becoming normal again. You see, the human body can't generate enough power to run the systems in a MiraSol. Field batteries, the power packs implanted in us, only store a 72 hour charge, and in emergency situations a satellite network could beam "transit mass" (some kind of energized fuel source) into us to keep us running in the field. Without those power sources, we were just tougher, stronger human beings. Our biological electricity would keep the base implants running. The limbs, the organs. But none of the backup systems, none of the weapons.

We signed non-disclosure agreements. We agreed never to talk. And they let us go on meager military pensions, our names stricken from the record. Miracle Soldier Program, Mr. Secretary General? What Miracle Soldier Program?

So now there are 250 of us out there on the streets of an America that doesn't need us anymore, on a planet that doesn't want us. We scrounge power where we can, storing it between uses. Some of my brothers and sisters in arms have gone home, tried to start new lives. But they can't leave the country. The government won't allow a foreign power to get their hands on a MiraSol, even a deactivated one.

Me? I'm still a soldier. For a price. Its the only way I know how to get by.

I just got a job the other day. From a member of the Yakuza. They want me to find a man who stole some very valuable information from them. They're willing to make it worth my while. Enough money to live on for quite some time.

My name is Vincent Verde. Its going to be a glorious 2032.


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