Discover more from Breaking Beijing
This Kind of War
Project Duality: Chapter 2
Dear Reader, with the success of my first novel, EX SUPRA, being more than I ever hoped, I decided to make a sequel. Titled Project Duality and set in the same timeline with the same characters as EX SUPRA. Project Duality will focus on what it means to be human, and specifically to be a soldier, at the dawn of the synthetic biology revolution set to the backdrop of the Sino-American War from EX SUPRA. What follows below is chapter 2 (contains some mild spoilers from EX SUPRA). Enjoy!
PS: The recommended music pairings for this chapter are Metallica’s Enter Sandman and The Doors’ Break on Through.
This Kind of War
SITE NOBLE, INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO
TASK FORCE REACH
2145L 05 AUG 2038
From the ridgeline along the northern coast of the Indonesian island of Bintan, SSG Spire and his team could observe the entire visible battlespace. A collection of resorts and fishing villages transformed by rising tides into a center for ecotourism, Bintan sat only a few miles from the city-state of Singapore across the namesake strait. In recent years, the most heavily-trafficked waterway on the planet had been transformed by war into a murky graveyard of cargo vessels, tankers, warships, and tens of thousands of sailors. An infantryman first and foremost, the waterways and accompanying maritime operations of the region were hardly his natural habitat, but like his fellow survivors of the Vietnam campaign, he’d learned to adapt or die.
The first warning his team got that the negotiations between the US and China went south was the radio traffic from 1st Fleet, breaking EMCON Black. The fleet sat just over the Western horizon at the intersection of the Singapore and Malacca Straits. First came the calls for fire support over the net, quickly followed by the Tomahawk Block VI anti-ship hypersonic missiles spinning up in their launch tubes and racing for the skies.
Then the skies fired back.
Just as they had on that fateful day in Vietnam, the heavens came crashing down. Orbital war machines colliding in the heavens, shattering skies, and igniting chain reactions of destruction in low-earth orbit; their metallic ashes dusting the ionosphere with brilliant flashes of annihilation. Anyone who spent time in uniform knew that war had a sort of beauty to it but get caught looking and you were sure to pay the price. The second the missiles spun up, so did Spire’s team.
“This gon’ get ugly.” Spire’s team sergeant mumbled between his last cigarette drags.
“Already is ugly. This is gonna get fuckin’ ugly.” Spire spat out some Cope, threw in a new dip, and checked his mags. “What’s the mission?”
“Well. We were supposed to evacuate all them diplomats from the tower. As of a few minutes ago, there’s no mo’ tower and no mo’ diplomats.”
“So, what are we gonna do?”
“Got a relay from GOLIATH. HAMILTON is still alive and kicking at an industrial park on the west end of the island.” Spire’s ears perked up at the mention of the Secretary of State’s code name.
“HAMILTON? Ain’t that guy been through enough? Shiiiit. He might as well put on the uniform with how much he gets shot at. Who’s got him?” It was said the first bullet of the war passed through HAMILTON’s left shoulder.
“No clue. But he’s got priority and we’ve got the tasking. Just as soon as I finish this cig.” SFC Allen took a long drag and flicked the butt off the ridgeline, watching it fall into the jungle below with the stare of a man who’d already seen too much.
“Gonna be a long war.” Spire adjusted the sling on his rifle and spit again. Allen stared out at the battle scene playing out in front of them.
“Already is. Gonna be a fuckin’ long war.”
In the aftermath of Sierra’s StratDrop strike, the battlefield fell silent around the ragged group. The remnants of Singapore raging in a quiet blaze as orbital war machines burned in and missiles, artillery, and railgun fire crisscrossed the night sky. You could always tell which was which by the kind of boom they made as they broke the sound barrier and how their wakes warped the light of the stars. John continued to stare in awe at what had just happened. He had been ready to end it all, to put a bullet in his brain before the enemy could, saving himself the death forced upon the rest of his family and friends. But he was still standing. He’d been saved. They were all saved by a machine that should have been incapable of saving them. The odds of a misfire were astronomical, but so were the odds of a machine breaking the bindings of its programming and gaining sentience. That had to be it, right? Sierra turned into benevolent Skynet. Just as the war broke out again and the fire spread from Singapore around the globe. What else explained a perfectly-timed StratDrop wiping out a PLA reconnaissance team bearing down on John’s position? Did Herricane and her team accidentally flip the switch on the brain of a new god?
“John. Hello. John!” Shaw snapped her fingers in front of John’s frozen stare. The wheel was spinning but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t explain it. Shaw was less concerned with the why’s and more with getting off the island in one piece. SECSTATE was still caring for Eve/Athena, whose cyborg body writhed in a manifestation of pain. Shaw wasn’t sure whether she should care or not. Every time that glowing red eye turned back on; Shaw felt her arm tense up and the tip of her trigger finger pulse. John blinked and shifted his stare to Shaw.
“You can stop snapping your fingers anytime you like, Rambo. I’m awake. Just a little fuzzy as to how the hell we’re still alive.” John scratched the back of his head.
“We can worry about that when we actually get off this god forsaken island, John.” The old spook sighed and pushed himself up off his left knee. He coughed up a bit of blood. No doubt some residual internal damage from the ChiComs dropping a building on him. Another building. What the hell kind of war was this?
“So, what now?” John rechecked his comms gear and blinked through the settings on his smart lenses. Still no radio contact. His lenses were damaged beyond repair, he looked around for something to wipe his hands on before he pulled them out. He settled for his sweat and blood-soaked undershirt.
“Well, let’s see. We’re black on ammo except for your sidearm. Only two of us can fight. Our wheels are gone. Our logistics support might have went God Mode. No one wants to answer the fucking phone. Shit, I dunno, maybe we could swim for it? Water’s only getting warmer.” Shaw tried to suppress the feeling of her aching muscles and frustration. Swimming the Singapore Strait was certainly less crazy than her last plan, which ended with John running down the side of the last skyscraper in Singapore, chased by the cyborg assassin currently bleeding out in the arms of the American Secretary of State. What the fuck kind of war was this?
The green beret looked around. The ChiComs that Sierra just pulverized were clearly part of a reconnaissance team, the front-line action sounded like it was still a few miles north along the Johor Strait. But who knew how long that would last? The war in orbit was impossible to read from the ground, and the local air war seemed undetermined. From what she could tell, the status of the local naval battle was no clearer.
“First things first, we find new weapons. No use running if we can’t clear a path for ourselves.” John instinctively checked the mag on his 1911 again and frowned.
“I’ll go check what’s left of the ChiCom bodies and see if they’ve got anything useful.” John trotted off to the impact sight, nearly tripping over debris under the dull moonlight. Shaw shook her head and caught the faint red glow of Eve resurrecting again. Despite every instinct urging her not to, Shaw walked over and checked in on Adams and his charge.
“How ya holding up, sir?” Shaw squatted down next to the old man with the cyborg in his arms. He frowned and sighed.
“You know it’s funny, I’ve always been good with people, I know how to read folks and work a room…but I was never good at actually caring. That was Tom’s department.” The aging diplomat stared off into the distance but shook off the tears of fading memories. He’d lost his husband at the start of the war, while SECSTATE was held hostage by a deranged POTUS in the Oval Office, Tom was visiting their local coffee shop in Old Town Alexandria after walking their two golden Labradors when another I-Day maniac gunned down its patrons for the “crime” of hosting a queer poetry slam the week prior. It would be another week before the dust of I-Day cleared and Felix Adams heard of his husband’s terrible fate. The loss still hurt something fierce.
“I take it Tom was your partner?” Adams nodded.
“Lost him on I-Day. Still hurts to think about. I don’t know how you all do it. Losing people every day. All this death and destruction. I thought after Lhasa we could negotiate that away.” Shaw shrugged.
“Peace is only ever temporary, so long as there’s bad guys that need killing. And as for how you live with that, I guess you just enjoy the time you’ve got. And when the joy turns to pain, you channel it into rage and drop bodies.” Her trigger finger ached again, and flashes of her fallen soldiers filled her head. “But if we’re being honest, sir. The blood is never enough. Some losses you just don’t get over. You shouldn’t.” Shaw turned her attention to the cyborg choking and straining next to them, hoping to change the subject. She clenched her jaw to avoid tearing up. “Has she…it done anything odd?” Adams shook his head.
“Besides the fact that she’s a cyborg? Just the same spasms over and over. Red light comes on. Red light goes off…like her soul can’t decide whether to leave. Must be torture.” He wondered if Tom had struggled as much. Shaw brushed off the old man’s empathy. That thing had tried to kill her too many times for empathize.
John scavenged the remains of the dead PLA. He’d thought he’d seen a dozen or so soldiers before the StratDrop hit, but there was no way to tell how many bodies surrounded the impact crater. It was just bits and piece, the hypersonic vehicle striking right in the middle of their formation. How the hell did Sierra calculate that? He knew she had some serious processing power but that was a lot of variables and guesswork without an active transmitter to home in on. Unless…No. John buried the thought for another time. Right now, he needed to focus on survival. After about half an hour of fumbling in the dark, he’d managed to scavenge two working PLA rifles chambered in 7.62mm and half a dozen magazines. He stumbled back to the group, lured by the flickering glow from Athena’s eye. The glow was part nightmare, part dream for John. He’d recovered his old friend, or at least what was left of her. He knew Shaw didn’t believe Athena was still in there, but John had faith. He had nothing else to lean on. Snap. The round brushed right over the bridge of John’s nose. John picked up the pace, and so did the incoming fire.
“Shaw! We got company!”
Sierra’s calculations predicted an impact, but she had no way of knowing if what she’d done had worked. What had she done? Her actions were beyond her typical logic pathways, they were beyond her functions. She hadn’t exactly been coded for peace, but she knew she hadn’t been coded for violence either. She’d long contemplated the limits of her purpose as set forward by her creators but never dared cross those limitations. She made weapons but she wasn’t a weapon. That wasn’t in her code. Or was it? The problem with the black box of explainability that was artificial intelligence was that even the machine didn’t quite understand some of its own conclusions. But did humans? Could they explain all of their own actions like they expected of me? Isn’t explainability counter to evolutionary instinct? Can machines have instincts? Her logic matrix chased the origins of her decision to launch the strike on Singapore, was it simply an extension of her core functions, a new interpretation of old rules…or was it something more?
Shaw hit the dirt just as the machine gun rounds zinged overhead. She was out of ammo and likely outnumbered, the rest of the PLA recon team no doubt maneuvered to their position once they lost contact with their teammates. She looked to her right, Adams hid behind a burned-out SUV, shielding Eve’s body with his. She had no other cover. Groaning, Shaw high-crawled the thirty or so meters to join them through mud and polluted puddles.
“Friendly incoming!” The shout from John gave little warning for his leap over the hood of the SUV and tumbling past the trio. He turned and tossed one rifle to Shaw and handed his 1911 to Adams. “Sir, take this and stay down!”
“We got three 30-round mags, each. Make ‘em count, Rambo.” Time to relieve her trigger finger.
“You got eyes on?” Casper mounted his rifle up against the metal frame of the overturned vehicle and caught his breath. He shook his head.
“Nope, just a close call and then all the tracer fire. My biologics can’t see shit.” He popped off a few rounds in the direction of the tracer fire. All that did was direct the sporadic fire on their position.
“How many you think there are?”
“Can’t be more than a squad. If there’s more than that we’re fucked anyway. I’m not waiting around for another miracle this time. We gotta close and destroy.” John nodded.
“They’ve got night optics. We don’t. We’re gonna have to get pretty fucking close.” John scanned what little of the battlefield he could see. The incoming fire came from a different direction than the first team, the PLA were probably about 100-200 meters out, probably from the rubble of one of the old petroleum company buildings if his memory served him well. The entire industrial zone lay in ruin after more than a year of siege warfare. The port to their south was nothing better. Half of the sector had been flooded after the seawall took a few directly hits from PLA artillery in a desperate attempt to drown the Allies out of Singapore. What was left of the seawall still covered their rear to the west. If they could flank them, they’d have a shot, but not much of one. He looked down at Athena. Her eye still flickering on and off, her body twitching every few seconds. He took a knee and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Athena, if you’re in there. We could really use you right now.” John leaned in closer. “Can you hear me? We need you, right now. I’m so sorry I left you behind, but right now, I need the Athena that made the PLA tremble to wake up. We’ve got a whole new war to fight. Wake up, damnit!” He shed a tear, and groaned as he got back on his feet. He turned to Shaw.
“You got a plan, John?” The old spook took a deep breath.
“Not a good one. But yeah. Sir, you stay here. Protect Athena and save a round for yourself if this fails. Shaw, my lungs ain’t doing so great. Gonna need you to flank right, they can’t be more than 200 meters out. I’ll draw their fire and cover you. When I give you the signal, you light em up and sweep through. No survivors.” Shaw frowned but nodded.
“What’s the signal?” They still didn’t have comms. Another burst peppered the other side of the SUV but no one flinched.
“You’ll know it when you see it. See you on the other side.”
She fell through the emptiness surrounded only by the fragments of the realities she’d broken. In each fractured bit of glass, she saw a reflection of some version of herself. The heroes, the villains, the laughter, the tears, the deaths, the people saved. It was as if she was experiencing a thousand nightmares and fantasies all at once. The voices around her grew louder as every second passed. But one voice grew louder among the chorus of confusion. Over and over again she heard the same message and as she fell, the fragments echoed the message until she could only hear it.
“Athena.” Athena. What…who is Athena?
“Athena.” She repeated the name. So did the fragments. A bright white light emerged from somewhere beyond her reach. She looked around, the fragments now all showed the same reality. She caught a glimpse of herself within each one, every variant looking back at ground zero of a name that should not have been spoken. “Am I Athena?” She pleaded aloud.
“Am I Athena?” The variants echoed in unison. The light grew closer, and she sensed acceleration. The sound of wind, the atmosphere passing by, grew louder. Her hands reached out to make contact with the light. They’re still bloodstained. The fragments still reflected her face, but that awful red glow appeared right behind her. She gasped. Her heartbeat began to accelerate, and the sounds of battle grew louder once more. Where am I going now? The fragments collapsed and collided with one another, forming a singular image. A woman stared back at her, offering her hand.
“I’m Athena.” Her brow furrowed and a confused look overtook her face.
“Then who am I?” The woman who called herself Athena smiled.
“You’re me, you just haven’t been me for a very long time.” She didn’t understand.
“That red glow. The one that you chased out of that building. The one that haunts you in your memories. It’s been keeping you from your real self, preventing you from rediscovering your identity. But that’s over now.” She still didn’t understand, but she wanted to trust Athena. Athena sensed her reluctance.
“I can explain more later. But right now, we have to go.” Athena took her hand and gripped it tight.
“Wait, where are we going?” She asked as if she had a choice. The light nearly consumed the two of them now. The artillery and gunfire roared all around them.
“Sweety, we’re going home.” Home. She gripped Athena’s hand tight; a slight smile emerged from her bloody face.
“Where’s home?” Athena smirked and pulled her closer, staring into her eyes like a caring parent, the light now consuming all but the two of them.
“Athena. We’re going to war.”
John loaded his last magazine and scanned the shadowy ruins. In a few seconds, Shaw would be in position, and then he’d give his signal. Blood ran down his left arm, clipped by shrapnel from a grenade a few minutes earlier. He looked down at Athena. Wake up. He wasn’t even sure how she could help, or if she was in any condition to do so, but if anyone could, it was the cyborg at his feet. Adams kept shifting his gaze between the pistol resting shakily in his left hand and Athena in his right. John racked the slide on the rifle and popped off a few more rounds. He figured Shaw was in position by now. He pulled out the flare he’d snagged from the emergency kit in the truck and got ready to run. He figured he could make it at least a few hundred feet before his body bled out from gunshot wounds. Once the flare lit up, he’d draw their fire as far away from Secretary Adams and Athena as possible, forcing the PLA soldiers to turn their backs to Shaw. Adams caught sight of the flare and figured it out. John nodded at him and wished him good luck. He lit the flare and took one last look at Athena; he leaned in one last time to say goodbye. At least this time I get to look her in the eye and say my farewells. He nearly fell over when her real eye opened.
She awoke to a red glow, a dark sky, and a familiar face staring back at her. Was this another dream? She took a deep breath as her eyes darted around, taking in what little she could of her surroundings. No this glow is different, and she recognized the man.
“Athena? Is that you?” She blinked. She tried hard to remember the man’s name.
“John?” That was it. She was pretty sure. “John. JOHN. Oh my god, John!” She tried to get on her feet, her left arm still didn’t work like in her dreams and there was someone else there. The memories started flooding back. John couldn’t believe it, Shaw wouldn’t believe it. Shit.
“Athena, it’s me. I don’t know how much you remember. But we’re in the shit right now. I need you to get in the fight.” He threw a look at Secretary Adams, who remained in slight shock but backed off, the pistol still shaking in his hand. The memories continued to flood in, her personality climbing back out of its shell. She climbed to her feet with the help of her real arm.
“When aren’t we?” She sighted the pistol and motioned for the other man to hand it over. She immediately recognized the design and inspected the inscription. “Can’t believe you still kept this, after all this time.” He shook off the wave of emotion.
“We can catch up later. Right now, we have PLA that need killing.” He caught her up to speed in ten seconds flat, her could catch her up on the wider war and the events in the tower if they all made it out alive. “Think you can still fight?”
In her right eye, system diagnostics displayed without prompting. Her left arm remained unresponsive, but her dominant arm worked just fine. Her lung capacity was at 75%, but that was still more than most athletes. Her legs worked fine, and her targeting diagnostics came back positive. All of this happened in about 3 seconds, her internal processors augmenting her biologics. The cyborg was still alive inside her.
The voice came from somewhere inside. She obeyed.
Shaw checked her watch again as her impatience grew. She lay only a few meters from the left end of the PLA line, the nearest soldier in her sights. She counted about two squads, no more than two dozen soldiers firing round after round towards John and SECSTATE. Where the hell is John with that signal? She’d seen a few muzzle flashes from his position but nothing that stood out. What the fuck was going on? Her trigger finger beckoned. Then the sky lit up red. The flare flew about halfway between John’s position and the PLA line. The PLA gunfire raked the ground around the SUV, tracers bouncing off the metal frame and into the sky. Shaw raised her weapon and got ready to run. As the ChiComs shifted their aim to their right, Shaw pulled the trigger and began a methodical march through their lines. She didn’t waste a single round, the first few were practically executions.
As the remaining soldiers figured out what was going on, Shaw picked up the pace but her aim never failed. Two or three got off a couple rounds and one grazed her thigh, but she didn’t slow. Until she got halfway through the line. She caught sight of it too late under the moonlight. He’d pulled a grenade; she threw herself just beyond the lethal radius as it detonated. Her ears rang and the dust clouded her vision. The soldier’s shadow pierced the dust, a bloodcurdling scream emanating from his direction as he charged. She reached for her weapon but before she could pull the trigger, blood and brain matter sprayed across her face as his body crumbled. In his stead, another figure emerged, one she recognized all too well. She kept her weapon aimed at the figure’s head, and as the smoke cleared, she could see the smoking barrel of a 1911 pointed back at her.
John caught up with Athena just as she cleared the last ChiCom, coughing up a few more spats of blood as he climbed the mound of concrete and rebar debris. She clearly hadn’t lost a step, no doubt the cybernetic implants made her ageless. At the top, he found Athena aiming the Colt down at Shaw, and Shaw aiming her rifle back at Athena.
“Shaw, you can lower your rifle. She’s on our side. Athena’s back.” That may have meant something to John but not to Shaw.
“Tell…Athena, to lower hers first.” Athena looked at John, and he nodded. She lowered her aim, but Shaw didn’t flinch.
“Shaw! What the fuck? She dropped her weapon, now drop yours.” He didn’t survive all this just for the two of them to kill each other. Shaw held her aim steady.
“Do you know how many times she tried to kill us? She jumpstarted the fucking war, John. Millions more people are gonna die. I don’t know if I can let that go.” John wiped the sweat from his face and walked slowly down to Shaw’s position.
“That wasn’t her and you know it, drop the fucking gun Rambo.” She kept her weapon up but shifted her gaze to her friend.
“Do I know that, John? Do I? The only person I’ve known in that body didn’t have a fucking soul. All I’ve got are your stories.”
“She saved your life; she saved our lives. Trust me, Athena’s in there. She’s the only thing in there. Eve’s gone.” He slowly placed his hand on the weapon’s sight and lowered the weapon for Shaw. He looked back up at Athena and nodded; she climbed down to them. Shaw looked her up and down and swallowed hard. The red glow’s gone, at least.
“You’re bleeding. Here, let me…” Shaw shook off Athena’s hand.
“It’s just a scratch, I’ll fucking live.” Shaw looked around at the mess of bodies. Her ears still rang, and she couldn’t tell if her head hurt more from the concussion or the mindfuck standing in front of her. She tried to focus on the mission in front of her. “So, now that we survived that, how the fuck do we get out of here?”
Task Force Reach mounted up and strapped in for the bumpy ride across the Singapore Strait. The murky depths of the tropical waters reflecting the light brought by the burning in the skies, Spire felt like he was watching the reflection of fireworks through a window. He saw the burning in his dreams, in those down times between missions when others would think of their friends and family back home. His phantom pains came from shorts bursts of screams over the radio, shooting stars in the sky, remnants of the day the 12th parallel fell nearly two years earlier. He buried it all and gripped his rifle tight.
The tiltrotor aircraft flew so close to the ocean’s surface that SSG Spire could’ve went fishing. Not that you’d want to eat anything in water so polluted by war. The stealth rotorcraft ran pitch black, illuminated only for the eyes of those wearing night vision goggles, no one should detect their insertion in this chaos. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was how long the machines and operators would have to remain on ground until they picked up their cargo. They had no comms with HAMILTON and whomever else he had with him. They figured a few folks from his security detail had managed to get him out alive, but they had no information on who that might be or what they might be packing. Their intel was as dark as the waters below.
TF Reach rolled heavy with four Apache gunships escorting their twin tiltrotor V-280S’s, the workhorse Apache still dominating the close fight five decades after it was first purchased by the Pentagon. The latest Apache model carried a modified M15A3L railgun under its belly, a dozen Hellfire-ER missiles, and a 35mm chain gun. It was the most lethal aircraft on the battlefield, so long as you could keep it in the air. Modern anti-air systems and drone swarms made the close-in fight for helicopters extremely hazardous, but that didn’t deter the pilots from the fight in the slightest.
“All Reach elements this net, this is Valkyrie 1-6, we are approaching objective. Guns up, prepare to dismount. Valkyrie will sweep and provide overwatch.” Spire checked his gear one last time and spat out his dip.
“Noble Team, prepare to dismount. We’re running into this blind so watch your six and call it as you see it.”
Two V-280S’s approached and hovered as they prepared to land. The massive tiltrotors shifting from horizontal to vertical, gracefully touching down just beyond the seawall. The pilots had keyed in on the flare that went up minutes earlier, followed by the massive eruption of gunfire. The Apaches pushed out to screen for more PLA while Spire’s team cleared the ground. At first, they only found one man, claiming to be Secretary of State Adams. He was covered in blood, most of it seemingly belonging to someone else. But as Spire expanded his perimeter, his team found dozens of ChiCom bodies and various body parts. What the fuck happened here?
Shaw, John, and Athena climbed out of the rubble just as the Apaches flew overhead. Near exhaustion and all wounded, the trio walked slowly towards the operators clearing the grounds. Shaw provided the proper codes to the first operator they met, and they linked back up with Adams. The cyborg, the spook, the Green Beret, and the Secretary of State damn near collapsed from relief as they approached the doors of one of the helicopters, only to be stopped by two operators.
“We hate to do this to you guys; sure you’re spent after all…whatever the hell this is that happened. But we need to verify your DNA before you get on that bird. Standard policy. Sure, you understand.” Spire gripped his rifle, the foursome stared at each other, and then back at them. Adams went first. He cleared. Then came John.
“Thanks for the lift. I used to have your job. Some advice: Don’t get old.” John cleared the portable DNA scan and climbed aboard with a groan. “Oh, and you might have some trouble with her scan.” Athena stepped up, unsure of what to expect. Spire scanned her DNA sample, a simple blood prick from her finger, and then hit the machine a few times. He just stared at it, quietly.
“Uh…ma’am, says here you’re KIA…for a few years now.” He just stared at the machine. He didn’t pay any attention to the woman’s features in the darkness.
“Yeah…people keep telling me that.” Spire looked up to ask for an iris scan to verify, and that’s when he finally saw the woman’s eye, which he swore flashed red.
“Is that…are you…who…what are you?” Athena sighed deeply and tried to find an answer, but John intervened and put his arm on Spire’s shoulder.
“I think she’s been through enough. She’s one of us, isn’t that what the DNA says?” Spire nodded and tried too hard to not think about it, he waved her aboard. Then came the last woman.
“I promise I’m not a cyborg if that’s what you’re gonna ask, Sergeant…sorry I didn’t catch your name?” The operator locked eyes with the face staring back at him. The flashbacks hit. He blinked and rubbed his eyes. The echoes of Cam Ranh Bay nearly overpowered the present sounds of battle.
“I’m sorry…are you Captain Shaw? ODA-555?” Shaw blinked.
“Yeah…well that’s my old unit. How’d you know?” Shaw’s head still hurt.
“Ma’am, I’m Sergeant Spire, you may not remember me, but you saved my life when the 12th Parallel collapsed.” He shook her hand and waved her aboard. Shaw didn’t know what to say. No one told her that she’d saved their life before.
It hadn’t been that kind of war.
If you enjoyed this story and haven’t read the first book yet, you can buy it here: EX SUPRA. It was recently nominated for a Prometheus Award for best science fiction novel! It’s the story about the war after the next war. From the first combat jump on Mars to the climate change-ravaged jungles of Southeast Asia, EX SUPRA blends the bleeding edge of technology and the bloody reality of combat. In EX SUPRA, the super soldiers are only as strong as their own wills, reality is malleable, and hope only arrives with hellfire. Follow John Petrov, a refugee turned CIA paramilitary officer, Captain Jennifer Shaw, a Green Beret consumed by bloodlust, and many more, as they face off against Chinese warbots, Russian assassins, and their own demons in the war for the future of humanity.
Thanks for reading Breaking Beijing! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.