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By Gary L Morton 

Contact gary.morton at sympatico.ca

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   Fright Library Toronto - Online since January 1996.  This site contains public domain fiction texts, my fiction, and lots of other links.

   Fright Library founding thought: Information wants to be free - we have all heard similar statements. The truth is that information has no will - it is people that want to be free. The truth will set you free - unchain it on the net. Tomorrow the web could be a world that is mostly free. 

 The Future - Here's a short description of things to come - via  a mysterious e-mail source.

Letter from Wave 6 
Date: Unknown 07:41:38 -0800 (Mars Standard Time)
From: Gary Morton <command@mars.wave.edu>
Reply-To: Gary Morton <command@interlog.com>

   Gary, I've been picking up on some of your questions regarding the future and decided to get back to you on them.

   Perhaps you've noticed that we share the same name, and that's because you have survived and are alive in this distant future. I am you in total but let's not waste time on that when the design of this discussion is to paint the simplest picture of the future.

   The new world really began in January 2000 when it was announced that hydrogen in a near unlimited supply could be created through use of pond scum. You can guess the rest - the fuel monopolies died and the public domain gained an unlimited energy supply.

   IP Next Generation or IP 6 came on the scene around the same time. This new Internet Addressing scheme gave every person on the planet the potential of connecting nearly one hundred million personal devices to the Internet.

   Breakthroughs in wireless technology followed and nano technology gave us the ability to broadcast high resolution video from nearly any surface. Everything became a potential communications device with a connection to the world wide web.

   As software eliminated all language barriers an explosion of human communications took place that changed the human psyche. Near telepathy on such a large scale brought about the quick end of the old world.

   The concepts of commerce, money and value began to shift. You now rise to your position in the world telepathic exchange, pursuing an occupation on behalf of humanity. Wages are only paid in the sense that you are given what you need.

   Local communities and nations still exist as the physical nature of the planet has not changed. Sense of community and all institutions are embodied in ongoing mental activities and archives on the net. Nearly everyone broadcasts their daily activities to others, which means that reality or each person's vision of the external world is rich, detailed and accurate.

   News and media is a broadcast activity of the mind as select ideas and events filter up from the web to the individual. Nearly everything is public, but there is also a private realm for those personal parts of our lives - family life, religion, romance.

   Of course it isn't a perfect world, though it is close. Error means there will always be pockets of emotional poverty and suffering. Madness can filter down the net like the viruses of old.

   And then there are those of us who didn't quite make it all the way into the new world.

   I am you in total, as I said in the beginning, but that totality is a mental snapshot. They have recreated your brain in me. If there's a difference I would say that it is only in physical appearance. These spindly metal legs and my spidery body are not much like your body. 

   Rest assured that you have a place here in the future. You have survived, though you are not quite human. 

   You are content, though abandoned, here on Mars. 

====================

 


 

QUAKE II - The Story
As redone by Gary Morton

Long shadows rise in the relentless sun of a late Texas afternoon, and you briefly daydream, but even that dream is invaded by the alien nightmare. 
You claw desperately at the air. You kick up dust with your combat boots. And you lash out at every shadow. 

Shadows are death. Death born in the poisoned netherworlds of alien empires. Death that has rained out of the skies -- and death that is here on Earth where the enemy has struck. 

Shading your eyes against the glare, you can't tell if you are staring through sweat, tears or blood. And it is like another dream as you squint for the thousandth time at the line of soldiers ahead of you. They stretch on endlessly across the rubble of a broken land, disappearing at last into the armored shadows of a troop carrier. Soon you'll walk up the ramp into the ship, climb into your energy cocoon, hyper-tear through the interplanetary gateway, and smash down light-years away from the blowing sand and blasted ruins that surround the Dallas-Metro crater. 

"Why in the hell is this taking so long?" you snarl, slamming the battered barrel of your side-arm blaster against your scarred palm. "I've waited long enough. Time to kick some Strogg ass." 

Unrest and the sweltering August sun leave you rocking on your heels. You spit impatiently out of the side of your mouth, rub your eyes, and think back to the day when the wretched monsters first attacked. 

Their ships spun out of the night sky, racing in like flaming meteor to scorch runways into the Earth as they landed. Bio-mechanical aliens...hideous cyborgs...they swarmed out while their ships still sizzled with reentry heat... and they killed or captured everything that lived.

At first people believed that the Strogg were after the planet's resources: minerals, metals, and water. But probes of their onboard storage facilities revealed fleshy limbs and organs for new cyborgs, and of course, food. The Strogg read as war machines, beasts and cannibals -- feeding, living and growing on human flesh. Earth's destiny was to be their torture pit, to burn with highways of torn flesh while they fed and grew strong on the limbs and organs they needed. 

The line moves. And moves again. Shifting Into the cool shadows at last as the assembled armies branch off into new lines divided by corps and unit.

"I can't deal with this shit - what's the friggin' hold-up?"

"Cool your jets, marine," Tokay mutters and smiles over his shoulder. 

"We'll all get a few Strogg heads to take home as souvenirs.  I promise you that." 

"Yo, soldier, 3585." The medtech's voice startles you. 

"You in or out?" 

Competent hands guide you into the coffin-like opening of your Mark 9A drop pod: sleek, dark, and invisible to the Stroggos defense systems. One of the techs begins to drop the reinforced pod door.  "Sleep tight, soldier. You'll see sunlight in less than six-and-a-half hours. Not our sun, mind you." 

The door slams and its pitch black except for the mild glow of the video readout system in front of you. You've done this a dozen times in the sim classes.  No sweat.  Just a few short hours to sleep, recharge, and then the moment of glory. But this time it's for real. 

It's also time to think. You recall your first official day of training, your unit commander discussing how these damn parasites made it to Earth and other nearby colonies in the first place. By employing our best satellites and long-range scanners, we learned how they traveled light years so quickly - the Strogg used black holes like gateways, forging a highway through the heavens. We still don't know if they created these rips in the fabric of space and time, or if they simply discovered them by accident.  Either way... it's just like opening the door to an all-you-can-eat restaurant for these bastards.  In about two hours, we'll be entering the 
same interstellar portals, to hit 'em where it hurts... on their own turf. 

You close your eyes and relish this thought. Eventually, you nod off to the low hypnotic hum of the troop carrier. 

*Crackle* ... *fzzzz* ... "Greetings to the people of the Coalition. This is Flag Admiral Crockett, speaking to you from the bridge deck of Phobos. We are entering the outer orbits of Stroggos, the alien's home system. As we had postulated, Stroggos' atmosphere is harsh but breathable. We expect to make planetfall soon. Now is the time to switch on your debriefing panel if ya need it." 

"Boomer?" the voice crackles through every soldier's headset. "Drop X-ray squad in 30 on my mark. You copy?" 

"Roger that!" In another pod, your sergeant snaps back. "OK boys and girls, you see the clock on your heads-up. Two demerits for anyone who up-chucks during bounce and roll!" 

You hear a heavy metal rattle as your drop pod is shot from the side of the carrier and hurtles downward. A war cry races from your lips as Incendiary atmosphere howls past the pod's rapidly heating shell. 

A hard clanging bounce and the pod wall suddenly buckles to your right, but stays intact. Another pod must have clipped yours on its way in. ECM didn't indicate enemy fire. Shit. Thrusters and stabilizing gyros are fading. Based on the pings, the other pods are pulling away. Below you, the large alien city roars into focus on the screen. But where are the other pods? They were there a minute ago. 

Suddenly, distorted radio chatter lights up, "Mayday! Mayday! Lost all power... shielding failed... missed dz... some kind of EMP is... kzzzt... us out.  We're dropping like fli... zzzzkkkzzzt". Silence.damn!  If the Strogg have electromagnetic pulse defenses and we failed to detect them... all of us are in the shitter.  That HUGE blip has to be the Big Gun. You do a slow dogleg left as your navcomp finds a place to land when all of a sudden retros kick in and propel you south. 

"What the...?" Before you know it you skip across the lip of a crater and slam into a structure, a good distance away from your target.  Dazed and bleeding from a head cut you toggle open the labeled arsenal bins and reach for where your gear ought to be stowed. Damn. Nothing but your sidearm. 

Damn again. 

You leap out the crushed pod door, alone, with just a blaster in hand, and tear off into the room with the bittersweet stench of vengeance coursing through your veins... 
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