Has absolutely no life
- Jun 6, 2011
Camp Shiprock (formerly known as Independence, California), Mojave Redoubt
He was a hardened, salt-and-pepper man, clearly born to be a soldier and had spent his entire life fighting, judging from the ancient scars lining his face. The nametag on his fading uniform identified him as “Centurion Douglas.” There was no life in his gray eyes, and a small bit of drool leaked from his cracked lips. It was difficult for Colonel Begaye to look at the catatonic man on the table before him.
Privates Telayeseva and Omura had caught the Centurion and a handful of other Republican legionnaires inside the wire. Only Centurion Douglas remained out of the 5 sappers, who had fought viciously to the death and taken 3 TSF troopers with them. He had only been captured when, by a stroke of luck, the powered exoskeleton bolted to his frame malfunctioned, paralyzing him from the waist down.
Dr. Nuvangyaoma, Camp Shiprock’s head surgeon and specialist for liberating SkyNET slaves, had discovered a bio-synthetic implant in the nape of the Centurion’s neck. The process of removing Douglas’ exoskeleton as well as this implant was heavily damaging as both were connected to his nervous system, and Douglas was now paralyzed and braindead on the surgery table. Around him stood Dr. Nuvangyaoma, Colonel Begaye, and a husk of a man, walking skeleton with barcodes tattooed on both arms.
“David, what can you tell me about this man?” The Colonel turned to his companion. David was a liberated slave, the scars from his controlling device still healing on his temples.
David shrugged weakly. “I don’t know, Colonel. This is new to me.”
“David” had been under SkyNET control for several years, and had taken this name because he no longer remembered his life prior to his capture and indoctrination. Colonel Begaye had appointed him and Emmanuel Shaw to lead a small community of other freed slaves inside Camp Shiprock. They were a small group, mentally and physically shattered, but united in their common appreciation for life, and their desire to make up for past deeds.
The sweaty Nuvangyaoma lit his cigarette, standing aside in his bloodied labcoat. “We knew that the Coyotes had conditioned the Republicans to do work in their favor -- call it brainwashing, I guess-- but we didn’t know there were implants to help this along.”
“Are the Coyotes actively controlling them through these...implants?”
“It’s definitely possible,” Nuvangyaoma agreed. “But we can’t say for certain how it affects his brain. Is that his real personality, and they were watching him? Is it directly commanding him? We definitely can’t ask him,” he said, pointing to his lobotomized patient, who continued to stare intensely at the tent ceiling.
Neither of these answers were at all reassuring to Colonel Begaye. Since Shaw’s arrival, the Colonel had forbidden the killing of “vesties” of any kind, urging for them to be captured alive. With the guidance of TC, Camp Shiprock had begun liberating and rehabilitating every slave it could. Hatalii such as his uncle Frank Arnold Yazzie had urged minimal combat with other humans in general, and it was of spiritual importance- not only pragmatic- to allow these slaves to have a chance at redemption.
If Republicans were now also slaves, it would logically stand that Begaye's general order would extend to them, as well. However, from the state of Centurion Douglas, it would not be possible to achieve this without effectively destroying them, and the reason for freeing them in the first place. For the Navajo, putting a man in this state- one equidistant from life and death- was tantamount to banishing an innocent man to hell.
The Colonel turned again to David. “David, do you remember what it felt like, being told what to do by the Coyotes?”
David shrugged. “The drugs kept us in a haze, made us more susceptible to doing things we wouldn’t. A word here, a suggestion there. Other times, it felt like someone else was driving my car, and I was in the passenger seat. Sometimes it felt like I had exited my body and was not allowed back in.” He rubbed his shaved scalp anxiously. “Maybe Douglas was trapped inside, and the Machines have gotten better at hiding the voice, making him think he was still in control.”
Dr. Nuvangyaoma puffed on his cigarette, eyeing Douglas with dull pity. “Whatever the case, Douglas still believed in what he was doing, and if the Coyotes were manipulating him, he had no idea.” Nuvangyaoma picked up the surgical tray, on which was an elongated, silicone device, with a small radio receiver and a neural spike. “If I hadn’t been operating on him, we would never have known this was there.”
As a child, Begaye had gotten to visit a Navajo Ranger sheep monitoring project with his class. The Rangers would pick certain sheep to wear a collar with a GPS receiver, and then release them with the herd. The geeks at Arizona Bureau of Land Management could then monitor herd migrations as they moved across the Monument Valley, and decide where they should graze next. The entire scenario was becoming increasingly familiar to Begaye.
The tent flap flew open. Private Telayeseva, a young Hopi grunt, entered, apparently taken off-guard by the whole scene. He removed his helmet and saluted. “Colonel, The New Fresnos are here, sir.”
Colonel Begaye exited his introspection, glancing to the other men in the room. “Right. None of this leaves here, understood? The last thing we need is the average Joe finding spies in their breakfast.”
David simply walked away, head angled downward. Colonel Begaye turned to Telayeseva. “Take me to Lieutenant White,” he muttered, a task which the Private seemed eager to complete as far away from the triage tent as possible. Nuvangyaoma put out his cigarette, and grab a single, long syringe.
As the Colonel made his leave, he saw Nuvangyaoma insert the syringe into Douglas’ limp arm.