by Chris Murray
Alien invasion, corporate war, cloning, bringing the dead back... It aint all that great.
|We’ve been telling children there’s no such thing as dragons for centuries. Wasn’t a bad stance really, considering we made them up. ‘Course, that was before we discovered space travel. Nowadays we have to amend the phrase slightly. ‘There’s no dragons on Earth.’
Little Timmy and Clarissa can sleep sound at night knowing that the monsters the Allied Navy found on that faraway rock on the other side of the galaxy aren’t here.
It’s bullshit of course, but since when do kids get told about exploratory ops or biogenetic testing of alien lifeforms?
The Bailey Institute crops up a lot in scientific journals. They were the ones who designed the model that allows us to keep a digital copy of dead friends or family around. A copy we can interact with. Crack jokes, watch vids, debate politics. Sounds great until you remember after you’ve shelled out half a year’s wages on the program that you were thinking of leaving your wife even before she died. Ever had your partner be pissed at you because you ignored her? Imagine her response if you’d simply unplugged her for six months and only turned her back on one dark and lonely night; just you, a bottle of Scotch and a thirty four year old dead blonde with an axe to grind.
It was The Institute who outpaced NASA when it came to understanding jump technology too, making space travel not just available to the private sector, but dominated by it. It’s no wonder privately funded militaries became so common when you think about it. Your government will buy tech and equipment from the lowest bidder then pay a marine a pittance to die for what? Patriotism? Birth geography? When you break it down all we’ve ever wanted is the good life and the simple truth is that costs money. So why not go to the highest bidder, especially if they’ll keep you safer?
Not that the private sector guarantees happiness. I’m a UN-recognised level 6 marine operative. Got the gig with TBI after my old company went bust in the Third Corporate War. No one really cares who you used to work for past the job interview. So long as you’re qualified, you’ve given notice and don’t skive off too much, the job’s yours.
Worked out great at first ‘cause it got me off Earth. Specifically it got me away from the wife. It’s not that I ever stopped loving Laura, more that I’d started to hate myself for it. You know how it is.
Couldn’t believe the irony when it turned out I’d swapped one fire-breathing monster for a planet full of ‘em. You know what they don’t tell you about dragons? Well, aside from the fact they’re bipedal, seven feet tall, don’t fly, are furiously intelligent and are called ‘Utraxi’ in their native tongue? Wicked sense of humour. Seriously, they’ll giggle like mad as they dangle your innards in front of your face.
Of course the other thing no one outside The Institute is aware of is that they could be the missing link we’ve been looking for when it comes to genetic and memetic transfusion. Or transmission or… something. I’m a soldier, alright? Point being that something in their makeup is good for cloning and since the entire human race is dying out, that sort of thing could come in handy.
So we go to their home planet, we kidnap a few… well, a few thousand and bring them back to Earth in secret. Aberdeen, to be specific. The Institute owns most of the eastern coast in what used to be the UK. We run tests on them. Said tests are usually pretty fatal.
I say we; I’m a glorified guard when not on assignment and I gotta be honest with you, I’ve had better postings, and better days. At least I’m busy though, and that’s something.
You see, two hundred of the fuckers just broke free. It’s one of those days.