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Deus Ex Machina
Some said it couldn't be done. Others said it shouldn't be done. And here, our attempts to denounce these claims did nothing but confirm them to be true. Not that there's anything me or my colleagues could do about it; we're just the mercenaries sent in to clean up the mess caused by the eggheads higher up the chain. And here, I think I have every right to be envious of them. I'd like to see the day when they're on a one-way trip into this fog of red while we sit back on our a**** going over "e equals mc squared" a thousand times over.
Even if that were true, I doubt that the outcome would be any different. No matter who's in charge of technological operations, someone would have insisted they go along creating our own demise. Surely, they would've been warned about "when creative machines overtake man" several times over, and they would have ignored it just as many times. They would insist that machines, when replicated as close to humanity without creating a human, could live in harmony with mankind. Seemed innocent enough, but I suppose someone was stupid enough to suggest that they needed weapons.
And over the course of a week, a good half of these so-called "Replica Androids" defected and scrambled into a terrorist organization. "Irregulars" was the generic title we gave them afterwards. And here, they expect us to fight alongside the ones that remained "loyal". I'd say "try telling that to the Lambda corps", but we lost them during the incident. Where'd we even get that many bodybags, anyway?
No use worrying about dead bodies at this point. Not when we're trying to secure a front and my colleagues are dropping like flies. The ratio is about four of us for one of them. Meanwhile, I'm doing my best not to be one of those four, and a "one shot, one kill" standard is the only way to make sure of it. Unfortunately, that also means I'm stuck dragging around an anti-material rifle that's almost as tall as I am and I swear weighs about a hundred kilograms. I guess the Imperialist is about as practical as it gets; at least I don't have to reload it a thousand times before I get a kill. That's more than I can say for the other marksmen on my team. More ammunition for me, I guess; God knows I'm going to hate myself for saying that.
"They're coming up on our flank, we need ballistics up here yesterday!" Besides the screams, the only human voices were orders and commands that could easily be translated to "send more bodies out to die". Either one was prone to making me flinch; I got a break every now and then by the deafening blasts of artillery, plasma-based or otherwise. I'm surprised I don't have to rely on a hearing aid by now. On rare occasions, our spotter might alert us with "enemy armor, 33 degrees northwest" or some crap like that. Hearing him was a relief; not hearing him was a reason to worry, since it usually meant someone was going home in a box because of a railgun miles away.
Suddenly, my entire body flared up in pain, and world was drowned out by a deafening ring in my ears. It took a second or two for me to realize I was airborne, and another few seconds ticked by before I went tumbling forward. Eventually, I came to a stop, but trying to move afterward was somewhat impossible. Playing dead wouldn't work, either; these things knew whether or not your heart was still beating. I looked up to see the right side of my body scorched, likely from the blast. I probably would have lost a limb or two if they hadn't already been replaced by augments. Eventually, I managed to get back on my feet, but the pain insisted that I sit my a** back down. My mind insisted that it was just pain, and that I needed to keep going.
I wasn't in any state to wield the Imperialist again, but I could get by with something lighter. I managed to scavenge a Cirrus Marksman Edition and a few clips from someone I'm sure wasn't going to need them anymore. The Irregulars, on the other hand, were about to insist that it be back on the ground again and for me to join my fallen comrades. Obviously, I didn't agree with their plans. I set the butt of the rifle up against my shoulder and fought my way through pain and Irregulars. And here, I managed to get farther toward the objective than the majority of our forces. My body was in no shape to fight, yet I fought anyway. If the blast didn't kill me, I sure as hell wasn't going to let a bullet finish the job. I'm surprised that every bullet that was meant to kill me managed to miss, yet every shot I fired wasn't a waste and an Irregular fell every two shots. Maybe it might be something to brag about; I just had to get out alive to see it through.
Even I didn't expect to reach the Obelisk, especially considering that I had a limp. I looked up at the tower that supported the enemy's entire artillery network in the area. At one point, the Obelisk was well-protected; not so much now because of all the fighting. Neutralizing the few Irregulars protecting the console left me down to my last clip. Somehow, I expected I might be ambushed by a hundred Irregulars all at once as someone's twisted idea of a prank. Thankfully, none came in the time it took for me to break the security systems on the console. I set up a link with our command and leaned up against the console. Now I played the waiting game; command was responsible for the last step in the operation, uploading the virus that would dismantle the artillery network and bring the artillery under their control. I was the only one who made it this far. The rest didn't even make it through the front door. Was I even supposed to be here, according to fate? Was I supposed to have died in that blast? Disbelief in something that's already happened seems pointless, but could this have just been a stroke of pure dumb luck? I looked back at the console screens. The cannons were aimed at the enemy.
"Hold your ground! We have to stop them here and now!" Those were the last words that reached the ears of many soldiers in Lambda corps. Perhaps that doesn't hold true for a select couple or few, myself included. I was certain my death date was on the day of the rebellion, yet I'm still breathing now. How does someone like me cheat death twice? Most people are lucky to cheat him once, and he usually takes them not long after that. Maybe he likes me for some reason. Maybe he was replaced by an android and wants his damn job back. Maybe it's not my place to worry. I was prevented from thinking of another "maybe" when the sounds of artillery brought me back to the present.
That's it. After all that fighting, the battle was over. Ironic that it should end with the Irregulars being destroyed by their own weapons. Perhaps to them, it wasn't as devastating as it was for us at the time of the rebellion, but it felt satisfying. Surely, they might have felt something. After all, they are a recreation of man; they live, they breathe, they fight, they die, they feel pleasure and pain. Even if it is synthesized, they are a replication of human life. That's all they are, however; an imitation. In fact, they've yet to know life the way we do.
My body refused to move away from the console. The pain held me there, preventing me from moving. I suppose everyone else was too busy celebrating or counting their losses to take the initiative of sending anyone else to the Obelisk. So I waited, figuring I might bleed out before anyone realized I was missing. Instead, the console flashed for a moment.
"This is command. Is anyone alive over there?" At least someone had an ounce of intelligence to check.
"This is Staff Sergeant Martinez of the 14th Raven brigade, reporting," I struggled to get out.
"What's your status?"
"I'm incapacitated. Can you spare a paramedic team?"
"Affirmative. We're sending someone over now. Stand by and remain at your position until they arrive."
Did I really have a choice? I couldn't move anything besides my mouth.
"Guess they were right to keep you alive after the rebellion," the man continued. "Word from the other soldiers in the South America campaign says you've played a vital part in the last few operations. We might be able to pull some troops out of this war."
I liked the thought that I might be a hero to someone, whether they know about me or not. Other than that, I'm sure it instilled hope somewhere.
"At this rate, your service here might be over fairly soon. The Irregulars are retreating further down the continent, and we have their cell in South America surrounded on all fronts. I'll be sure to put in a good word about you with the Argentinean government."
"Thank you, sir," was the only way I could reply to that. I'm not sure what Argentina would think about me, but I'll accept it.
"Dismissed." His parting word was followed by a stretcher ride out of the Obelisk a few seconds after.