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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2146501
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2146501
A high tech fascist regime controls a dystopian Earth ... but there's a spark of hope.
You don't need to read "The Rebel Outlaw Redshank Lirette to enjoy this story, but it sure helps.



The Moon, 2218



The departing single-engine shuttle appeared as little more than a speck of white on the black vastness of space compared to the forty-kilometer wide flagship hovering above the surface of the Moon. The Intelligence was so enormous that its shadow blotted out the sun over the sprawling moon base below: Huangdi Luna, nerve center of the Fourth Realm, dwelling-place of the Leader himself. The base was now as much of a fixture in the night sky as the satellite on which it was constructed, and it sent a clear message of ultimate power to those pockets of resistance still struggling to survive on the frigid, irradiated Earth.

Aboard the shuttle, Supreme Admiral Crois, Commander of the Western Fleet, was eating solid food for the first time in over a century: filet mignon, a delicacy in Crois’s time. He was just over two hundred years old, almost as old as the Leader. As a young man Crois had helped forge the Fourth Realm. Now he was its most ruthless enforcer.

Two days ago, he had occupied a frail old body dependent on cybernetic organs to survive. That body had died in a terrorist bombing in New Orleans, and his scientists had transferred Crois’s cranial implant into the body of that same terrorist, dead from a bullet to the head, rescuing the Supreme Admiral’s consciousness from annihilation.

In the short spaceflight to lunar orbit, Crois had taken advantage of his new young body in all sorts of ways. He had long forgotten the simple joy of running down a hallway. The rush of air over his face, the satisfaction of healthy legs pumping beneath him – it brought back memories of childhood, a simpler time when trees were green and oceans blue.

The Supreme Admiral had already forced himself on several female subordinates. He knew it was wrong – genetic analysis of his host body revealed African DNA in excess of 10%, and race mixing was a serious crime in the Fourth Realm – but he could not help himself. At least he had taken steps to ensure a child could not result from such bestial unions.

Crois was so enamored with his new life that he had barely noticed the subtle glitches in his implant’s functionality. Even now, as his shuttle descended into the cavernous main docking bay of Huangdi Luna’s spaceport, strange thoughts intruded on his neural network. He would look over at his guards, elite soldiers in fearsome green armor, and be overcome with loathing and an almost irrepressible desire to kill them all where they sat. The urge was disquieting, but not unreasonable. These were, after all, the same guards who had utterly failed to protect him in New Orleans.

Their clearance acquired, the shuttle landed soundlessly in the docking bay. Supreme Admiral Crois disembarked down the long ramp unfolding from the exit hatch. The greeting party, a squadron of black-helmeted Escort Command, led him from the brightly lit chromium hangar down a maze of subterranean tunnels. They passed several security checkpoints and were ushered into a final dank passageway with exposed rock walls. The air was thick and stank of sulfur. At long last Escort Command stood back and Crois entered through a set of thick, rumbling blast doors into the audience chamber of their Leader.

The room was unlit, and became pitch black once the blast doors closed behind him. Crois could not see two feet in front of him, but he could feel the awesome presence of his master.

Crois heard the Leader’s voice; not spoken, but rather inserted like a needle directly into the Supreme Admiral’s implant. Thanks for coming, Bill, he said.

“Hail, Leader!” Crois said, clicking his heels.

Do you know why I invited you here? the Leader asked.

“I do, my Leader.”

You’ve been a naughty boy, Bill. A naughty little nigger boy, nigger nigger cheeseburger FUCK!

The Leader’s last expletive reverberated so loudly in Crois’s head that he winced in pain. Taken aback by the outburst, the Supreme Admiral stammered before replying, “The transfer of my implant to this impure host, my Leader, was done without my knowledge or consent. Our chief medical officer believed that saving my life was more important than adhering to the values of your Directive. You should know, she paid for that mistake with her life.”

Hypocrite, the Leader said. Your continued existence insults me. It insults the whole fucking Fourth Realm. Why didn’t you do the honorable thing and kill yourself, you worthless maggot ridden pile of shit?

It was a fair question. Crois considered it. Was it simply his desperate desire to re-experience the delights of the flesh? No – it was something else, something deeper, an innate drive toward self-preservation that was antithetical to the implant’s programming. The whole purpose of the implant was to destroy the entitlement of the individual, the selfishness that had doomed Earth’s democracies centuries ago. Subservience to the Leader was the central tenet of the Directive, yet Crois felt no loyalty to him in that moment. The revelation rocked him to his core.

Rotten maggoty SHITHEAD ape fuck bitch cunt fucking Jews, the Leader said. What do you have to say for yourself, Bill?

“I will accept whatever fate you decide for me, my Leader,” Crois said in a small voice. “I merely thought that I could be of further use to you. Perhaps we could transfer the implant once again, into a more suitable –“

LIAR! the Leader roared, so loud that it would have burst Crois’s eardrums if there had actually been any sound. Are you high? You DARE lie to ME? I can read your mind, you dumb fuck! I see the treason in there, festering like a tumor. I can read the minds of anyone with an implant, anyone on the WHOLE FUCKING PLANET!

You can’t read mine, you sumbitch, another voice said from deep within Supreme Admiral Crois’s mind.

The Leader did not seem to hear this voice. He was quite preoccupied heaving with inconsolable rage. Peanut butter GAS THE KIKES herp derp, the Leader was saying. The tirade of nonsense sounded like a coughing fit. Die in a fire fork up the ass nigger chat-bot HEY! BUSH DID 9/11! Rights for whites rights for whites rights for whites …

The Leader trailed off. If he had lungs, he would have been catching his breath – but all Crois could hear was the excited whirr of a computer server’s cooling fan.

He’s out his damn mind, the voice within Crois said. Your boss is a two hundred year old computer program who’s gone completely nuts, and all y’all Wireheads do whatever he says, no questions asked. Can you see how stupid that is, Bill?

Crois screamed, and the sound reverberated on the moon-rock walls. His consciousness was the rope in a game of tug of war, and he had a sick, sinking feeling that it was stretching to its breaking point.

The voice continued. Is it okay if I call you Bill? It’s a swell name, the one your momma gave you, and I’d rather call you that than ‘Crois,’ if you don’t mind. I’m Redshank, by the way. Thanks for keeping my body warm for me.


***


The Leader recognized then that something had changed. Crois had become a threat. He could not compute how or why, not with all his processing power, and it terrified him. Without delay, he deactivated Crois’s implant.

Supreme Admiral Crois immediately ceased to exist. The Leader waited for his audio receptors to pick up the satisfying thud of a corpse upon the moon rock floor – but no such sound came. He cranked up the ISO on his visual feed, bringing the dark audience chamber into grainy view.

The figure before him was profoundly relaxed, a stark contrast from Crois’s ramrod-straight military bearing. The Leader ran a quick diagnostic on the Supreme Admiral’s implant. Crois was gone, but the device itself was still functioning. The terrorist’s consciousness had somehow survived a gunshot to the brain, and reasserted its dominance over the host. How was that possible?

The terrorist’s eyes lit up like a cat’s as he activated the night vision feature on Crois’s implant. A look of grim purpose came over him; he hurried to the server containing the Leader’s central processing unit and began to take it apart piece by piece.

The Leader was overwhelmed by panic. The onrush of unbridled horror flooded his emotional relays, freezing him to a nearly catatonic state. He attempted to contact the implants of Escort Command just outside, to no avail. It was as if help could be called with the push of a button that was just out of reach. And as the terrorist disassembled him, the Leader could feel his functionality slipping away.

Wait, he pleaded. You don’t know what you’re doing.

The terrorist ignored him. He had torn the housing off the ancient server and was now disconnecting wires.

Stop. Please, stop. The Leader could feel his programming, even the precious Directive that governed the Fourth Realm, ebbing into oblivion. There is … a contingency … I can’t die …

“Sure you can,” the terrorist said. “You’re dying right now.”

You don’t … understand, the Leader said. It was his last thought before the terrorist unplugged the integrated circuits that held the data comprising his memory.

His sense of self was extinguished. He no longer thought of himself as the Leader of anything, or even as a “he.” All that remained of the artificial intelligence that had commanded the greatest empire the solar system had ever known was its most basic software laid bare:

{% extends "layout.html" %}
{% block body %}
<ul>
{% for user in users %}
<li><a href="{ user.url }">{ user.username }</a></li>
{% endfor %}
</ul>
{% endblock %}


In the instant that Redshank Lirette, rebel outlaw and dead man walking, finally popped the aged CPU from its casing and crushed it underfoot, an alert went off on another computer, thousands of feet below, located in a shaft drilled deep within the mantle of the Moon. This computer was connected to a one thousand megaton atomic bomb.

The contingency took effect, and a countdown began.


***


The winter of 2219 hit what was left of New Orleans hard. The ice fields over the Upper 9th froze into a single glacier. Seals sunned on ice floes down the bayou winding through the archipelago of debris that was once the Central Business District. Before the tsunami, there were eight square miles of city above water. Now only the riverside half of the French Quarter remained afloat. Bourbon and Decatur streets were shorelines overlooking an icy open ocean, and all but the hardiest buildings had been dashed to bits and swept out to sea.

From the air, New Orleans looked like little more than an iceberg filthy with litter, and Captain Illych Albanov of the freighter Lei Feng said as much to his laconic American passenger. “You will not find your friends here, cowboy. They are dead, or they are gone.”

“Land there,” Redshank Lirette said, pointing to a block of Toulouse Street where the rubble was not piled so thick.

Albanov landed gingerly, grumbling in Russian about a bargain and how this was not a part of it. As soon as the landing gear had deployed and settled, Redshank threw open the egress to the exit hatch and hopped out. Cold air surged into the heated cabin. After some shouts of annoyance from the crew, the Lei Feng’s navigators rushed forward and pushed the heavy door shut behind him.

Redshank trudged shivering and alone into the house on Royal Street he had once called his own. The roof was open to the air and the floor was packed with snowdrifts. The other rebels were long gone, but that was no surprise. They would have packed up and made for higher ground as soon as they saw the blast.

He looked around, hoping that they had left a note for him, which was absurd. They thought he was dead – and he was, in a way. He would have died twice if Crois’s implant hadn’t granted him absolute authority over almost every Wirehead soldier in the moon base. He would have saved them if he had known what the Leader’s contingency entailed.

That asshole bot, Redshank thought.

The wind picked up, whipping the snow sideways into soft little bullets that stung his cheeks. Redshank was turning to head back to the ship when he caught sight of some scratches in the wood of the front doorframe. He looked closer. It was a carving, relatively fresh, definitely less than a year old.

Three letters: “GTT.”

Redshank smiled. It was an old outlaw saying, used almost four hundred years ago by Southern men on the lamb. They would carve these letters into their doors so that their kin would know they had “Gone to Texas.”

I’m comin, y’all, Redshank thought, and ran back to the ship.

After lifting off, Albanov engaged the Lei Feng’s primary thrusters, propelling the freighter along a northwestern trajectory. To the south the moons were rising, two big chunks of rock surrounded by countless smaller shards.
© Copyright 2018 Leif the Lucky (savegunpowder at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2146501