Shortly after the January Massacres
It was yet another wait in the Nyrene system, and he Neohumans under Captain Viktor Tarau extremely bored with their experience. Waiting around was the job of Uskoks, not Reislaufers; the present company had signed up for adventure, not glorified guard duty! Much time passed before the first alert came. This was different than the last one. This was an actual fleet, even if a small one. The savages of the Kingdom of Orleans had arrived, likely upset over the animals they called proxies being slaughtered. An urge to spit was barely suppressed by the Captain, who promptly opened a line with other Councillary ships in the system.
Orders were simple, move in as close as possible. Aim weapons, and surround the Kingdom's vessels. Do everything to provoke them possible, whilst remaining absolved of any blame for potential escalation. But it seemed the diplomatic fleet had good resolve, and did not respond to the bait. "Shame." the Sergeant said. "I'd have liked to squash a few more heads. The frogs had such soft ones, very pleasant to bash in."
"No such luck Sergeant. Take us back to Sol, we're done here."
A little later
The Varangian returned to the Sol system, its home, its genesis. The crew reported for their upgrades, improvements to the genetic composition and cybernetics provided over the course of a day. Little by little, Neohumanity got better. There were new recruits to the ship, a few men fresh out of the factory, a few people simply out for adventure being tired of their quiet lives in Sol, a few people just now maturing and being told by their aptitude testing that it was a soldier's life for them. For the next assignment of The Varangian the crew would be hunting some pirates to ease in new members, just a quick few purges to get a taste of combat beyond the simulations. They refuelled and restocked, before once more leaving Sol for new space.
They were sent to a frontier system prowling for pirates. Not a system that was a tributary of the CCN, but one to welcome the free security provided by their hunting (provided of course, they didn't come in numbers to signal it was a potential invasion). They activated the stealth regime of the vessel, before settling down just by the jump gate. Now the wait begun, sorting civilian from pirate ships until some real prey was found.
Viktor was sitting in the command bay along with the Sergeant, just finishing up the activation of stealth protocols until one of the people passing through the room caught his eye. A young woman by the natural black hair, the sight of which made him lament that he hadn’t wholly reviewed the staff yet. “You there, can you come here?” he beckoned, and as the woman turned to him realization dawned; it was the same psychic as he had fought on Uracao. She avoided his gaze, having clearly recognized him first and instead looked to the ground. “It’s, it’s you… you’re different.” Viktor said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
“Yes, they made sure of that.” she replied, finally looking up. Her eyes, previously a very dark brown much like Victor’s were now glowing red prosthetics. Her skin was largely the same visually save for a few lines making her new cybernetic nature obvious. She was bigger of course, as Neohumans tend to be in contrast with their outdated cousins and her thin frame was bulked up with muscle here and there. The Sergeant looked up at the hubbub, eyes narrowing on the girl. She looked back at him, after a moment raising a finger and muttering “Y-you’re the butcher, aren’t you?” He didn’t quite recognize her at first, but in the precise moment he did his chainaxe roared into action before he even grabbed it and ran forth at her with a savage growl. Fear gripped the young woman but she didn’t panic, using her abilities to swipe the chainblade from the Sergeant’s hand. This did little but marginally increment his fury as in milliseconds he closed the distance. He flung a fist that would tear open vehicles, but it stopped mid-air by a psychic shield his quarry generated, hairs and then skin slowly burning away. Oleksandr didn’t relent though, fists cycling at the shield one by one and in moments cracking it with violent arcs of electricity across the room. Both he and the psychic were sent airborne, but before Kjaro could get up Viktor put his boot on the man’s throat. “No, stay down. Relax.”
“What? She’s one of them! She fought for them let me go! Let me go!”
“She joined us, Sergeant. Relax, before you become Private.”
Kjaro didn’t bother dignifying the Captain’s words with a response, grabbing him by the leg with both hands and sending his body flying. He righted himself and once more threw himself at the psychic. Every punch he threw was lethal and it was by pure luck the woman avoided them. Viktor grabbed the Sergeant from behind, doing his best to restrain the man. But it was pointless, for from the depths of Kjaro’s rage came strength, speed, and skill unimaginable. But what was imaginable was the half dozen Legionnaires that came and restrained the beast. Even they struggled against his violent thrashing, but he was ultimately subdued.
“Recruit… what’s the name?”
“Alyx. Alyx Fuentes.”
“Recruit Fuentes please get to your quarters I have to speak with the Sergeant momentarily and then I will check in on you. Go on.”
Watching her exit the room, Viktor motioned to the Legionnaires to let go of the Sergeant, who was no longer red in the flesh.
“Right then, Sergeant Kjaro. Tell me where all this hate comes from.”
“She fought for the Federation, for the bastards that want nothing but our end! She has-”
“No, Sergeant. Tell me where it really comes from. Tell me the story you’ve been avoiding for the many weeks we’ve been together. Tell me why is it you’re ‘the Butcher’. You rank depends on it you know, and I’ll find out anyway.”
The Sergeant spat, still shaking with desires for violence in spite of having relatively calmed down. “You want to know? Fine. It fucking hurts me you little shit, that’s why I don’t tell it but fine, just to please your little sensibilities I’ll tell it. Maybe you can learn something from it.”
About a century ago
It was a true hail of fire. Captain Oleksandr Kjaro really hadn't seen so many combatants in one place before. Like ants the Feds stormed the bunker, but valour held the position. Valour, and some really big guns. "Like water from a fucking hose!" an Uskok called out, the unending stream of fire eternally keeping him pinned down.
"Don't worry, we've had worse boys!" Captain Kjaro cried, but he knew it was a lie. The Feds really weren't fucking around.
"I see twenty more running up from the right!"
Messages of this sort flew across the noosphere, but as more and more lucky shots from the enemy came the amount of outgoing messages decreased one by one. The bunker had to hold, or else the Federation would know the real item of interest on this world and then bad things could ensue very, very quickly. But with an ever decreasing amount of soldiers something had to change or within an hour this swarm would break through and a whole company of the outdateds would poke around in the… facility below the bunker.
Kjaro dropped from his spot of cover, slowly crawling into the depths of the bunker. "Sir! Sir what the hell are you doing?" Demanded an Uskok.
"Saving us, and the bunker!" Oleksandr replied.
"Sir get back here! There's too many of them, we need you!"
"Just keep your heads down." the Captain muttered, crawling on. A few bullets ricocheted at him, but they lost enough velocity to no longer even hurt.
"What the hell are you doing?" Demanded a soldier, as Kjaro went to fiddling with the bunker's defence array. The turrets were long since blown apart in the fighting but preventing a simple charge were the radioactive and sonic emanators. This insured only foes in heavy power armour could get close, but the fodder had to kill the defenders first. Slowly, he weakened it, before with slight intermissions turned these defences on and off. The region's reactor was busted, and the enemy could suppose that the defence array was losing power, in addition to receiving more and more battle damages. They could not possibly know the facility had auxiliary power. After a few more moments, Kjaro wholly turned the radioactive and sonic emissions off.
It took several minutes for the attackers to realize through the noise and smoke of their firearms that the defence keeping them at range was off. But the moment it was apparent, they were emboldened and rushed forth. Now suppressive fire was the aim, not just the result as of their shooting, men getting ever closer. They were just about in grenade throwing range with some of the foe reaching to do just that, as Kjaro screamed: "I know what I'm doing boys!" before violently turning the defence array back on to full power and then some, having spent the last few minutes overclocking it in the terminal.
The first thing the enemy soldiers felt was the series of sonic pulses, each violently rupturing organs and blood streams internal and external alike. Then the effects of the radiation was clear, more of the same happening to the attackers in addition to skin melting; the combined effects of Sonics and radiation turned the infantry to human(oid) slurries. The troops in power armour now found themselves without support against an entrenched for and those that wouldn't run didn't take long to be overwhelmed by the weight of fire.
"That wouldn't work ninety nine times out of ten Sir, you risked our lives for a gambit."
"It only has to work this time. 's why I'm Captain, you're Lieutenant. Now then Kessler, what’s the news from the rest of the world.”
From the eyes of the Lieutenant projected a hologram of the world, many key points on it being marked.
“Several counter-offensives have been met with success, I-sector parts one to thirty-nine have been retaken as well as the entirety of K sector. It seems the enemy decided to go for a heavy advance into the A-sector, an unexpected and bold push but they’ve gone very deep in mere hours.”
Oleksandr's smug demeanour instantly dropped, his subordinates for the first time seeing him unsettled. Knowing he had to keep up morale Kjaro quickly went back to his previous appearance but the veneer had cracked in everyone's eyes. "How far?" the Captain demanded.
"Kilometres. In some pockets they're about to cross into B sector." the display shifted to show precise troop movements, and a mixture of fear and frothing fury started to rise in the man. "We're only a few kilometres from there we're going to flank the enemy and assist the defence of A sector."
"Those weren't our orders."
"I am your superior, Lieutenant, and I give you your orders."
"My orders were given directly from the Governor and supercede your authority."
"Shut up! Everyone come with me!"
Oleksandr started walking off, but he didn't have to turn his head to hear nobody following. "So that's it, is it." He spun on his heels, walking over face to face with Kessler. "Fine. You want to defend this useless bunker? Go ahead. But as a defender you have no use for that jump pack. Hand it over."
"It was issued to me."
"You know Lieutenant, it wasn't a question and somehow you still managed to give a wrong answer."
A fist swung in to strike Kessler on the chin, removing his balance. With that his legs were swiped out from under him and the Captain jumped on him. He flipped the man over and his hands dug into the flesh of the Lieuyenant's back." I didn't want to do this Andrei." he said, ripping out the jump pack from the man's body with much meat still attached. "Come to think of it, might need these too." Kjaro continued, ripping off the arms and legs from Kessler. They weren't his size, but if he lost his own then they'd suffice for quick replacement. Mag-locking the limbs and necessary supplies across his combat webbing Kjaro looked up at the Uskoks with rifles upraised. He laughed. "None of you little shots are going to shoot me. Why would you? You'd only damage an already poor situation. Now if you’re all too cowardly to come with me then lower your weapons, have a rest.” Kjaro stood up, turned and after jamming the jump pack into his flesh got a running start, before soaring on wings of fire.
He flew for some time to A sector, the cold wind in the skies relaxing Captain Kjaro and letting him clear up any negative thoughts about his family’s state. They’re safe, they’re safe... he reassured himself, not even noticing the first shots that hit him. But he was soon made aware of the fact anti-air fire going at him, his flight suffering noticeably. Looking down he noticed a proper anti-air cannon taking aim, and acted fast. The soldier broke the mental link connecting his cybernetics to the jump-pack, disconnecting him from it. The pack kept on flying, taking the AA fire while the Captain plummeted towards the ground. He spun trying to slow down his flight, but it was to no avail. As he crashed through the roof of a building he hit, he at least noted he was close to his destination. This was A sector, the designation for the city of Anselm. It was one of the few true cities of the planet, a small oasis of high-life from the rough deserts of New Babylon. Naturally, the Neohuman arrivals to New Babylon of course settling here — Svetlana, Helga, Jaako, Karina and Stepan Kjaro all among them.
The Captain righted himself, checking his ocular display for his exact location. He was close to his family residence, but not close enough. Righting himself, he looked about and listened to check his surroundings. It became pretty clear he was deep in Federation controlled territory, and he had to move fast. This was the third floor of the building, and while there were no troops on it a quick scan revealed there were some on the first floor and in the cellars who were promptly going to his position. The Neohuman ran forwards to smash through the wall and jump to the street below. There were several soldiers of the Federation present, quick to their weapons. But whilst airborne Kjaro was already preparing for battle and having landed his pistol hit the first man to properly aim his rifle, before going to full-auto and suppressing the rest. In but a second he crossed the street into the building on the opposite side, the sliding doors having been blown off and on the ground. It was formerly a shopping complex of some sort, but now it mostly housed the vile invaders of this land along with a few locals or refugees.
Kjaro knew that the men from the street were hot on his trail and while he was considerably faster than them they could easily get backup to surround him, and he had to be quick. The Captain ducked into a corridor with several small shops on either side, but unfortunately man were already in it rather than just in the shops. Bullets and lasers instantly flew at him forcing him to side-step into one of the shops. He took out his own rifle and a cluster of grenades, throwing four at once with one hand whilst taking aim with the rifle in his other hand. The foe ducked for cover regardless of if a grenade was directed at them and they all handily gave him the opportunity to shoot them in the back or their sides. Rifle upraised he continued on through the corridor, breathing heavily. A man poked his head out to check why the hell was shooting happening in the zone of respite. He didn’t even have time to process Oleksandr’s presence before his head was vapourized by a laser. Oleksandr could hear men descending down stairs to open the door on the opposite end of the corridor, and knew he had to act fast. He ran past the many shops which he promptly noted had people within, but he couldn’t kill them all and he had to ignore them. Just as the soldiers on the other end were about to open the door, he barrelled into it with his shoulder, knocking down the man hit by it before falling down together with him. Being more prepared he reacted for faster than the enemy’s comrades and so he unleashed a beam of laser to the throat of every enemy. Even more were coming down the staircase and so Kjaro worked fast dropping the almost empty battery of his rifle and slapped in a new one. The wall was far stronger here and Kjaro likely couldn’t so quickly smash through it so quickly by himself, and so he threw another grenade upwards to a turn in the staircase. It forced the men above to stop their progress, and it softened the wall so that the Captain could simply run through it.
He dropped into a grassy patch below, not bothering to roll with his augmented frame. He ran forwards, noticing he was by the unloading bay of the shopping centre. Men were at rest here, having used the garage to store tanks. The man tried to crouch past them at first using the now unwatered bushes of the place as cover, but he knew the men behind him were in hot pursuit and quickly it dawned he wouldn’t be able so simply sneak past the tankists. He stood up sprinting, the enemy soldiers first not taking notice of him. But soon they did, and all had different reactions. Some ran to raise an alarm, others to weapons, while a few went inside the tank and a few simply ran for their lives. Cursing, Oleksandr fired carelessly hitting some men whilst forcing others to hit the deck. He ran towards the tank, which the Feds got operational in record time and were about to fire on Kjaro. But they hadn’t considered the range he was in, and with a jump in an underhand throw landed his last grenade down the barrel of the tank. Only one man realized what happened quick enough to hop out, the rest were vapourized inside their metal cage. The Captain felt bullets hit him in the back, but he couldn’t deal with them and he simply had to keep moving.
He ran through a smaller building with its original purpose now forgotten save “office” of some sort, this one thankfully being abandoned. On the other side a patrol was going down a street and it was through sheer luck Kjaro got behind a tree before it noticed him. The marching column of soldiers passed just in time for him to run across yet another street into a building he recognized a little more. This was formerly the police station of the city, quite a large complex, the paramilitary nature of which was clearly capitalized upon by the Federation occupants.
Through it was the quickest route to get home.
By the sound of gunfire it was clear he was reaching the frontline, a thought that did not go down well for the Captain. But he powered on, walking into the station that had it’s doors open, given this was the side upon which combat was not supposed to be happening. But he heard voices and movement which indicated that it was still heavily populated. For about a minute he hid behind the reception of the station as a squad of soldiers in power armour walked past, before continuing into the depths of the building. He held his breath (a purely cosmetic action that helped the man concentrate) crouching down a hallway, checking a scan of the building’s layout for his quickest way out. His plans were promptly interrupted as he overheard the same power-armoured squad marching towards his location, clearly a regular patrol of the building. He ducked to the side into an office which he came to realize was an interrogation room. Locking the door behind himself, Kjaro realized that perhaps this was for the best given it meant it was sound-proofed, and this would make sure nobody was aware of his coming fight with the very large, gorilla-like Simmie in the room. The beast pounded it’s chest, but in spite of its bulk it was very fast. Before the Captain could raise his rifle to fire the thing swiped it out of his hands before trying to grab either shoulder. But Kjaro was a Neohuman, and he could more than match this filthy alien! The man’s hands locked with those of the ape, and he laughed as he saw the look of surprise on the Simmie’s face when not only was it unable to push the man’s hands back, but instead Kjaro was pushing it’s whole arms back and rather painfully behind its body. It hooted in suffering, but nobody could hear it. It’s hands broke, and Kjaro let go of the thing that now tried to crawl backwards and away. It was to no use however, Kjaro wasn’t going to let it be and twisted it’s head so violently that it came off. Perhaps this moment of savagery was a mistake, as it let blood splatter onto the tiny window of the door to the room. The Captain panicked believing the patrol might be alerted by this, and seeing no other option jumped down the garbage chute of the room. He had trouble fitting in it, but after breaking a bit of machinery he quite happily slid down. This was no longer a police station however, and sliding down Kjaro didn’t hit a pile of garbage, instead falling simply quite hard onto a steel floor. But it was nothing compared to the recent trauma he took, so it was ignored. Getting upright he wasted no time, climbing out of the garbage repository and looking at the scene before him. The basement was something of a storage for the Feds it seemed, crates of all sorts about the place. From here the warrior decided it was best he go on to the sewer, perhaps cutting into the catacombs of the locals if he could find an entrance. Walking by looking for a grate or manhole he was pleasantly surprised to look into a room which seemed to be something of an armoury. Oleksandr stepped in, smashing his ammo-starved weapons before overloading their batteries so that they wouldn’t fall into enemy hands for research and development so easily. With that he grabbed a nice assortment of weapons from the cache. They were ballistics that wouldn’t stand up to the lasers he had just discarded, but they would suffice and more importantly they had ammo in abundance.
With that Kjaro went on, passing by a doorway into the sight of a man with a clipboard. He was open-mouthed, and didn’t utter a word before Kjaro pounced upon him. He was about to sink his razor nails into his throat, until noticing the red-cross armband he had. Oleksandr looked up, realizing this was the prisoner holding cell of the police station. The bars were cut away, and wounded were stored here. Every single man looked at him in fear, the different states of their injuries leaving them nevertheless at Kjaro’s mercy. “Please….” the doctor below Kjaro begged. “Please I’m just a doctor, these men are hurt. They’re not a threat! Please!” Looking into the doctor’s eyes and that of the men, Oleksandr didn’t know what to do. He stood up, raising his pistol and cycling his aim between the many targets he found present. The medic stood up himself and raised both hands placatingly. “Please, we won’t say anything just don’t do anything!”
“Shut up!” Kjaro replied. He rubbed his forehead, walking in a circle. “Fine, fine. But tell me where the last manhole you saw is.”
“You fucking heard me!”
Kjaro’s voice was amplified to the point of causing physical pain, but it got urgency across.
“Outside! The room, I mean. Walk out and take the first turn left; there should be one I think.”
The Captain ran out and did as instructed, glad to find the man was right. He removed the cover of the manhole, and closing it behind himself went home. It was a straight line that he went through with speed, emerging with his family’s home in his vision. There was gunfire everywhere, soldiers from both sides everywhere in his vision.
“Sveta!” Oleksandr cried out, hoping his wife would reply. He got none, but he noticed a federation soldier going by the building’s balcony and firing inside. The thought this man might be at this very moment hitting a member of his family was perhaps the beginning of now Sergeant Kjaro’s mania. Quite literally he saw red, his cybernetic ocular overlay glitching with the imbalance of chemicals flowing through his brain as an unimaginable state of rage came over him. He ran forward ignoring all the shooting coming at him only stopping to grab a Federation soldier by the neck and biting his eyes out so he wouldn’t fire his rocket launcher. The cry of pain soothed Oleksandr, but only barely. He ascended the steps to the building, smashing through the door to a scene that engrained itself in his memory to this very day. Helga holding little Stepan on the ground, whilst Jaako tried to protect them with their body and Karina lying wounded by his feet. “They’re just fucking robots.” A soldier said, and emptied a magazine upon the children of the Kjaro family. Oleksandr was dazed, and he had only one possible reaction: violence. He was a blur of movement, but with his bare hands the Captain turned each damned Fed into red mush. The perpetrators of the crime were dead, and for now that would be enough; Svetlana could still be alive. “Sveta!” he roared again, checking every part of the building for her. In a small destroyed section, he found her, or at least what was left. Her head, and the upper right part of her torso was all that he could find. The wetware records of Oleksandr Mikolaevich Kjaro showed that this was the first time in his life that he cried, but it was a cry like no others. “What have they done to you?” he said to nobody in particular, laughing blissfully as her eyes opened upon the words being said. “Sveta?” he asked, the beginnings of a smile coming upon him.
“I knew I would see you one last time.” Svetlana said, returning Oleksandr’s smile.
“No, no, I’ll get you out let me just check the scanner I’ll-”
“No, Oleksei. You won’t.” She coughed, a mixture of blood and hydraulic fluid coming out.
“They’re dead, aren’t they. I heard what happened. Don’t lie to me.”
“Yes. Yes the Fed bastards shot them.”
“I see. Then my fight was for nothing.”
“No! No, it wasn’t, please, hold on!”
“It’s too late my love. Remember us, please.”
“I will.” Again Svetlana coughed, her eyes dimming.
“Go, Knight of honour, go Knight of faith. Show them your valour, bring them their fates.”
Svetlana’s eyes closed, and that was the end of her life. Oleksandr simply remained where he was for about an hour, not caring for the fighting happening around him and he was unphased when the building collapsed with its rubble burying him. The shooting had subsided, and Kjaro got himself out of the rubble. With a thoughtful expression he went back through the sewers, again emerging in the police station turned Fed barracks. He went inside the makeshift hospital, blocking it off with a few large crates he grabbed on the way there. All present recognized the Captain, the Doctor standing up from a seat he was taking.
"We didn't tell anyone anything I swear!" He managed before Kjaro grabbed his mouth, shushing him into silence.
"I have only a single question for you. Are Neohumans, for your people, machines? Robots?"
“There’s… there’s many different opinions you can’t just reduce-”
“It’s a yes or no question.”
Go Knight of Honour, go Knight of Faith.
Show them your valour, bring them their fates.
In a flash the Captain pulled out one of the Doctor’s ribs, and turned him over to cover his mouth so the screams of pain would be stifled.
“Now I won’t have any remorse.” He ran the rib like a blade down the length of the doctor’s back, then pulled off his skin in one great tug. Kjaro laughed, spinning the skin in a circle like a gymnast a rope. He went over to one of the injured men, placing his hands in the folds of the dead doctor’s face and doing a poor mimicry of his speech.
“I say, you seem to be afraid of your dear old medic. I think some sort of pathogen is in you, I see you’re having trouble breathing!” This was a very short foreshadowing for the skin being used to strangle the injured soldier. A similar act was repeated with the skinless body of the medic, and after that a series of brutal murders proceeded by the end of which the room was quite literally an abattoir. The Captain didn’t return to the CCN lines after this, staying deep in occupied territory leading one man terror campaign, such gruesome slaughter being his distinctive trait that gained him the moniker “Butcher”. When the war was over he finally came back to his comrades, and he was demoted to Lieutenant before promptly being returned to Captain once the full extent of his actions was discovered. It was done tentatively, but accounting for the tragedy he experienced high command was somewhat sympathetic. But in the century to come many battlefields would be scarred by the Butcher, Zion being on particular case, his actions of shoving live humans into meatgrinders for slow, painful deaths giving his name renown across all Eden quite quickly. As the Captain’s madness spiralled his actions became such that even the Councils became disgusted, demoting him to Lieutenant and more recently to Sergeant. Thus, one arrives at the modern day.
“Yeah, I told you so. There were about two-hundred trillion cells in the bodies of my family. For every cell must die a single Fed or other bastard. It is my life mission.”
Viktor Tarau opened a link to one of the international wikis, instantly finding “The Butcher” for a quick summary of more gruesome events.
“Bloody hell.” he repeated.
“The only have little bits of you recorded, how did she know it’s you?”
The Sergeant shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s a psychic, probably something to do with that.”
Indeed, being a psychic had something to do with it. The woman had not gone to her quarters, instead just enough distance so with her powers she could still hear them but they wouldn’t know of her ethereal presence. She couldn’t so simply let all the Sergeant said just be. She sprinted past the two Legionnaires guarding the way to the command centre, coming face to face with the Captain and the Sergeant.
“You’re a fucking madman. You’re obsessed, that shit was a century ago and you’re still murdering all that time after, people unrelated to what happened to you! Do you really think your kids would be happy to know their father ran across Eden killing random people because he’s insane?”
Until the last sentence, Kjaro was apparently calm. But when the girl spoke of his children’s thoughts and wishes he roared standing from his chair, or at least trying to. At the last moment Viktor grabbed his leg to force a fall and yelled to Alyx: “Go, go to your quarters!” Then he leaned in to whisper to the Sergeant. “She’s not wrong.” and gave the man a kick before going to speak to the young psychic.
The Captain stepped in, noting the currently unfurnished nature of the room. The woman was cross legged on her bed, head in hands. “Recruit.” Viktor said, taking a seat on a chair in the room’s small study.
“I’m surprised to see you here. I would have thought they’d do training and integration longer.”
“We did it, but they had… well, they said my situation was unique, rarely are psychic migrants found they said. They told me I’d be better off with familiar faces to help me get used to it, and that my powers were best suited for conflicts anyway. I’ll have an easier time getting eased into the Noosphere with less people at the same time.”
“Oh, do you?” she said, rather sarcastically.
Viktor shrugged. “No, not really. I was born into the councils, my life was so easy I got bored of it and went to become a Reislaufer just to find hardship for the first time in my life. But I said that I see because I thought it might make you feel better, instead you’re being smarmy.”
“Oh please you think I’m going to respond well to being called smarmy just after you told me how great your life is?”
“Yes. Ad Hominems, and all.”
“No, I don’t think I will. I only got you into the CCN because I wanted to save my own life. But now you’re my responsibility and I have to make sure all is well with you. So, tell me all your troubles, I can listen to another sob-story after hearing out the Sergeant.”
“Alright, alright yeah I’ll tell you. I was forced out of my previous life which was horrible, but you know what? It was mine, this new life isn’t mine, I belong to the CCN now. Everyone I knew is dead, and I’m a toy of the people who did that. You want me to say thank you? No, of course you don’t you’ll have some little clever answer. My brain, it’s tuned into this damned Noosphere of your’s, everyone feels what I feel and I feel what everyone feels. This is supposed to make me closer to everyone, right? Fat chance, everyone here looks at me like trash; your damn Sergeant tried to cut me in half. I even… I can't....”
Viktor was about to ask her what it was she couldn’t do anymore, but looking at her face he could tell what she was trying to say right away. For her new bionic eyes they had to remove her tear ducts — She could no longer cry.
“Oh.” was all that he could reply.
“All that was me before, it’s gone. I just have my memories, and apparently I’m supposed to count my blessings because I was let keep those. You’re people, Captain, those Federation soldiers the Sergeant mentioned were wrong. But you’re different, too different, you’re certainly not good humans.”
“I’m sorry.” was all Viktor could offer. Alyx couldn’t cry, but she came the closest one could without tear ducts. Perhaps it was wrong what they did to her. She wasn’t even old enough to drink in much of Eden, she was just a girl, they should have just let her work for the CCN as an auxiliary and let her make the choice to become Neohuman down the line. But they couldn’t remove the cybernetics and gene treatments, it was too late now.
“I had a piercing in my stomach, like all the girls pretending to be different back in Uracao did. They didn’t even let me keep that.”
Viktor raised an eyebrow. Usually people going into processing were let keep their jewellery. He checked the roster of his crew to find Alyx Fuentes, and then opened her file. He couldn’t help but start laughing.
“What’s so funny?” she demanded, visibly hurt at the laughter.
“I’m sorry it’s just that, well, the reason they took your piercing was that they thought it was a wound that went left untreated because of the backwardness of frontier medicine.”
Slowly, she smiled and then even giggled. Viktor was glad, moving over to sit on the girl’s bed with her and giving her a sympathetic (if not quite empathetic) embrace. Maybe you’re right, maybe the soldiers were. Maybe we’re not quite humans or even people. But that can change.
The Sergeant gives his origin story, the Varangian gets an interesting new crewmember and then heads off to hunt some pirates.