Starliner

The Ballad of Lucas Singh

Colonel Marquez reviews the datapad once more. Lucas Singh, born in Caracas, no other records until his enlistment in Solar Alliance Command combat arms at approximately 17 years old, issued a sin at that time. After basic, moved on to 0-gravity training and drop school. The colonel eyes the list of commands and campaigns, each annotated with “served with distinction.” He thumbs the next link, an application for OTS, overlayed with notes from reveiwers.  Nothing of substance in the notes, Singh was admitted with little problem. Next up are his school records. Nearly top of his class in each subject, sim ops records are outstanding. Review notes command style “crookedly direct,” whatever the hell that means. Graduated with honors.  Tapped by Special Warfare Command for high threat resource retrieval.  Marquez takes a moment to stare at the ceiling “Black ops, with all the fuckery that entails.” He sighs, and continues out loud, “but that is why we are here now, isn’t it?” The ceiling doesn’t respond, and he turns his attention back to the tablet. He pages forward the service record, right into an encryption wall.  Classified encryption ABRUPT PROPHET.  Marquez doesnt recognize the code, but he wouldnt be dealing with this if he didn’t have the access.  He pulls up his encryption keys, digs out abrupt prophet, and plugs in.  He waits for authentication and decryption to run its course.  Afterwards, a lot of redacted records are staring at him, but the details of his last operation, the reason they were all here, were open.  He rubs his face.  This shit was sketchy as hell.  What happens when the resource doesn’t want to be retrieved? He tabs back to the main page, pulls up medical’s report.  Extensive mods, fast and tough made faster and tougher.  Psych report boils down to, “not dangerous, probably.” He locks the pad, and comms the Masters-at-Arms.  “Bring them in.”

He is not waiting long, as guards enter the room, followed by a stately woman and the subject himself.  Not a particularly large man, but composed like a warrior. 

“Counselor Artemis, has Mr. Singh been made aware of what we face here?”

“As much as can be made clear in these uncharted waters, colonel.”

“Well then, Mr Singh, please, your own account of what happened on your mission?”

Lucas looks at the counselor for confirmation, recieving a brief nod in response.

“My fireteam was tasked with the retreival of a dark probe, an asset designed to be an undetectable wide spectrum e.m. monitor.  Extremely sophisticated passive sensors, with powerful filtering and analysis software.  No means of broadcast or ping, only way to retrieve its data is to physically crack it open.  They sit for years collecting intel, only retrieved under certain contingencies. Doesn’t get you real time, but is a tried and true method of getting data on particularly tough nuts to crack.  This particular one was pointed at an elven skunk works shipyard. We skip in in a prowler, and spend weeks in sub-light creeping up on this rock it bolted to, breaths held and sphincters tight, just waiting to be caught out by their security.  We get to the asteroid, find the probe, and our decker cracks it open.  Imagine our surprise whenit starts talking to us. It had a mind, and isolation had driven it a bit mad. It takes it about five seconds to go from excited at the prospect of rescue, until it realized we were here to rip out its mind and remove evidence it existed with an imploder.  It grabs our comms, and well, screamed. Wide-bamd distress call.  Right outside what the elves thought was a well kept, tightly secured shipyard.  Tactical channels lit up and interceptors started full burn straight at us.  We convince the mind that we aren’t going to kill it, allow it to piggy back, and boogie out.  We spend a week on random deep space jumps until we are as sure as we could be we weren’t being followed, nearly overhearing the powerplant, coupled with the damage we took on our run, so we limp back to base. Brass was not thrilled at all with how loud the op had gotten, and were waiting none to patiently for our return.  Fortunately, Bob, our emergent AI, was a far more urgent matter to deal with than us.”

He trails of for a bit

“Anyone who says those things aren’t sentient has never talked to one.  And that probe, Bob, was little more than a scared kid.  I couldn’t terminate it, not in good conscience.”

He goes silent at this, giving his interlocutor a defiant stare. Colonel Marquez lets out a breath he didnt realize he was holding, opens the pad, and pulls up the last set of documents stored there.

“Due to the confidential nature of this incident, there will be no court martial.  However, effective immediately, you are relieved of duty, and will be resigning your commission. Son, you are going to sign this, and in return for cooperation, you dont get fed to the wolves prowling at the door.”

Singh thinks on it, and makes the only real choice he has. He put his biometrics to the paperwork.

Colonel Marquez takes one last look at the pad, commits the resignation to long term storage, and drops the pad into an E.M. chamber, purging it of anything stored.  He turns back to the man sitting in front of him.  “Thank you for your service.  Mr. Singh, Counselor, have a good day.”

Comments

Nice work, as usual man.

The Ballad of Lucas Singh
GrinningCoyote

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