Dedicated to: Julian Assange
A great Australian and great fighter for the truth.
[Nothing in this story came from WikiLeaks, which does not seem to be accessible from Australia]
REPORT BY SERGEANT OTIS P. WAUGH:
"One short!" Those were the two words that caused a nation-wide manhunt across the continental U.S.A. in late 2184 AD, for a super killer whose existence DARPA has never dared reveal to the American public.
* * *
The day had started like any other day in the death camp. Actually that is only what the human staff calls them. The official name is induction and control enclosures.
"Sergeant Waugh!" snapped Murray Williams, a tall, anaemic looking youth at my approach across the gravel-covered compound.
At his words fifty-two human troopers wearing backpacks snapped to attention. And in a metal cage behind them fifty-one never-dying monster soldiers also snapped to attention.
Looking more like gorillas than the human beings that they had been genetically mutated from, the monster soldiers lived and died for the army. They were bred for absolute obedience so, despite their greatly reduced I.Q., they knew more about military protocol than most of the human soldiers under my command would ever do.
"Stand easy," I said and both human and monster soldiers did so.
"Otis," said another sergeant at my approach. Sergeant Lesley Phelps was a long-time friend of mine. He was also the sergeant of the monster soldiers who (unbeknown to them) had been brought to the camp to be liquidated.
Having reached the end of their long military life, we could not risk unleashing them upon the unsuspecting American public. After all, look what had happed two centuries earlier after the Vietnam War. Dozens of veterans had gone mad after their return to normal society and had gone upon killing sprees. And the Vietnam vets had not been genetically modified to take away all human emotions, all respect for human life, all sense of right and wrong, all hesitancy to kill.
As the never-dying monster soldiers had been.
Although they were not really never-dying; only very hard to kill. As they were about to discover when Doc Hansen called them in for a routine vaccination. Only this time they would die writhing in agony after being injected with strychnine.
"How are they hanging?" asked Lesley Phelps.
"About as low as yours," I said, making him roar with laughter. As did the fifty-two human soldiers. And behind them the fifty-one monster soldiers - although they were too far away to have heard my quip.
"So that's what the never-dying soldiers look like?" said Murray Williams, newly assigned to the death camp straight from basic training.
"That's them," agreed Phelps. "But they're not quite never-dying -- as they're about to discover."
"Ugly-looking bastards," said Williams. And one of the ape-like monster soldiers snorted at him, as though taking offence at the remark - although he cannot have heard.
"They were mutated from human beings to be bullet-proof and all-but grenade proof. And to have an active fighting life of sixty to seventy years."
"But why?" asked Williams, not the first nor the last person to question the ethics of mutating human beings into monster soldiers - I myself had questioned it to Doc Hansen more than once down the years.
"Because DARPA, that's the organisation that creates the monster soldiers, did a survey of World War Two vets two hundred years ago. They found that despite being subjected to a massive amount of military propaganda during the war, eighty Percent of U.S. soldiers in that war never fired their weapons at the enemy. Not out of cowardice, that would have been bad enough. But much worse, because they had been too human to murder another human being just because propagandists told them they were only the Nasty old Hun, or the Evil Nips, or whoever. Eighty Percent were too human to murder the enemy."
"That's great in peace time," I put in, "but in war time you need soldiers to be amoral, unquestioning killers. Who do not hesitate to slaughter anyone they are told is the enemy."
"In war there is no place for right and wrong," continued Les Phelps. "Only kill or be killed. That motto is bred into the monster soldiers from the moment they cease to be human beings."
"It seems a bit harsh to murder them after their military career is over," said Lance Corporal Williams.
"Maybe … " I started, stopping at the sound of boots crunching upon the gravel behind me. Turning to see the C.O. of the death camp Doctor Carlos Hansen approaching, I barked out, "Commanding Officer on parade."
Behind me fifty-four human soldiers and fifty monster soldiers all snapped to attention.
"Stand the men easy," said Doc Hansen, and I did as instructed. "And start bringing the monster soldiers into my hut one at a time for their vaccinations."
"Sir!" I said, saluting. But Hansen was already striding back across the gravel-covered compound to the black Quonset hut, in which the monster soldiers would be taken one at a time to be murdered.
"I'll take care of bringing them inside," offered Les Phelps, so Murray Williams and I strode across to the Quonset hut to join Doc Hansen.
* * *
"The first one should be here in about a minute," I assured Carlos Hansen as Williams and I entered his office near the front of the corrugated-iron hut.
"Good, good," said Hansen as we heard footsteps in the outer office.
Seconds later Lesley Phelps entered leading the first gorilla-like monster soldier.
Both snapped to attention at the sight of Hansen, who returned their salute and gave the order to stand easy.
"Come on, soldier," said Doc Hansen standing to lead the way. And moments later we were in the next room where the monster soldier was instructed to lie upon a long bench like a dentist's chair. Although re-enforced, it groaned audibly as the monster soldier lowered his great bulk onto it.
"As you know, soldier," lied Carlos Hansen, "you are here for a routine vaccination. Due to the possibility of side-effects of the new-style vaccine, you need to be strapped down to the bench for your own safety."
As Doc Hansen spoke, Les Phelps and I started to strap down the monster soldier. For a moment the soldier looked worried at the straps, and I feared that we would have trouble with him. But monster soldiers are bred to obey orders, so after a second he relaxed and allowed us to continue to strap him down.
After we had finished, Doc Hansen carefully measured a dosage of strychnine into the syringe and lied, "This will only hurt a little."
Hansen had barely injected the monster soldier, when the soldier began to shriek inhumanly, writhing wildly in a desperate attempt to break free of his bindings.
Lesley Phelps, Doc Hansen, Murray Williams and myself all backed away as the soldier continued to shriek and writhe and for a moment it looked as though he might actually tear his way out of the secure chair.
"Holy shit!" said Carlos Hansen, looking as though he was about to turn and run for his life - which would have been useless since monster soldiers can almost keep up with a loping cheetah, let alone a slow-coach human being.
Then the soldier's eyes glazed over as though his soul had just fled from his carcase (if monster soldiers even have souls). And with a crash the soldier collapsed lifeless back onto the chair.
"Are … are they all like that?" asked Murray Williams.
"Pretty much," said Doc Hansen, although I had never seen him looking so terrified during a liquidation before. "I'd like to be able to say you get used to it in time, lad. But to be honest, you never really do."
"Ain't it the truth," agreed Lesley Phelps.
Still looking shaken, Doc Hansen headed back toward the outer office saying as he went, "Get rid of that carcase, Lesley. Then bring in the next soldier right away."
"Sir!" said Les, and he and I snapped to attention.
"Still seems ungrateful to murder them like that after they fought for America for sixty or seventy years," said Murray Williams, who had been too shocked to even snap to attention as Doc Williams departed the room.
"What else can we do?" I asked as Les went out the back exit to get human soldiers to dispose of the monster soldier's remains.
"Couldn't they be held in detention camps in the desert somewhere for the rest of there lives?"
"For a hundred years or more?" I asked, seeing him look visibly startled. "That's how long monster soldiers live. At least one hundred and eighty to two hundred years. And do you know how many monster soldiers DARPA has mutated?"
"No," Williams admitted.
"Neither do I exactly. But there are thousands of them. Possibly even tens of thousands of them all up. How could we possibly store tens of thousands of obviously non-human creatures in the U.S. desert for more than a century, without some nosy bloody journalist stumbling across them and doing a Watergate upon us. You don't know what kind of a feeding frenzy the news media would go into if they ever were to uncover a secret like this. They'd blow the whole thing out of proportion and we'd probably all be dishonourably discharged and possibly even charged with human rights violations as well. No never trust the nosy bloody news media."
* * *
It seemed like days later, not merely eight hours when we watched the fiftieth monster soldier writhing and shrieking in his death agony, trying in vain to break free of his binding.
For just a second it looked as though he would get free, as to our horror one of the arm-bindings suddenly snapped in two.
"Look out!" shouted Lesley Phelps, and we almost fell over each other in out attempts to back out of the room. But the monster soldier was already falling back onto the restraint chair.
"Is … is he dead?" asked Murray Williams.
"God, I hope so," said Lesley, mirroring the thoughts of us all.
Almost hyperventilating from anxiety, Carlos Hansen turned to Lesley Phelps and said, "Get rid of that carcase, and then bring the last one in."
"Sir!" said Phelps, saluting.
"But that's the last one," said one of the privates helping to dispose of the soldier carcases.
"What!" cried Doc Hansen, as he, Les, and I all turned to stare at the private.
"That … that is the last one, sir," he said, saluting for no reason.
"That was the fiftieth, wasn't it?" demanded Hansen.
"Sir," agreed the private.
"There are supposed to be fifty-one," said the Doc, almost shrieking like one of the monster soldiers in its death throes.
"Sir … I …?" said the flustered private.
"There should be one more," I said, stating the obvious. To myself, I thought, There has to be one more!
"I'm afraid there isn't," said the private.
"Do a recount of the carcases, to make sure that there was only fifty," ordered Doc Hansen. Although he had been ticking them off on a list of serial numbers after each kill, as I also had been doing, so there seemed little chance that we could have both miscounted.
Lesley Phelps and the privates, plus Murray Williams, raced out to count the monster soldier carcases, which would already have been getting a little ripe in the bright sun.
Leaving them to it, Doc Hansen and I returned to his office next door.
Looking down at his handheld PC the Doc said, "LV11470."
"Sir?" I said, at first not understanding.
"If a monster soldier really has escaped, that's its designation."
"Of course, sir," I said, confirming that on my own handset. "Does that matter, sir? A monster soldier is a monster soldier."
"Not this one," disagreed the Doc. "LV11470 is the first of a new breed of monster soldiers with a slightly higher than usual I.Q. Just enough to not be feeble-minded like the average monster soldier."
"Jesus," I prayed as an icy chill set into my spine. "Whose bloody stupid idea was that?"
"One of America's feeble-minded presidents. About nine presidents back. She thought it wasn't fair to make them all feeble-minded."
"God save us from presidents with a conscience," I said.
"Here, here," said Doc Hansen, taking a half full bottle of whisky from his desk to pour us each a generous tot.
* * *
Eventually Lesley Phelps returned with the words we were both dreading: "One short, sir. A monster soldier has definitely escaped."
"But how?" I asked.
"Does it matter?" said Doc Hansen, an corpse-like grey coming over his face. Reaching for his key-chain, he removed a large golden key and unlocked the top drawer of his desk. Taking out a red landline phone, he depressed a button on the telephone and alarms started blaring around the compound.
Seconds later the red phone rang.
Picking up the receiver so nervously that he almost dropped it again, Carlos Hansen said, "Madam President … we have an escaped monster soldier."
"What do you suggest we should do?" asked the president.
So much for help from the top! I thought.
"Find it! Kill it and burn the carcase!" Doc Hansen almost shrieked into the receiver. "Hopefully before it starts killing."
"Maybe it won't start killing?" said the president, sounding more hopeful that confident. "Maybe it will try to stay undetected?"
"Monster soldiers are mutated to kill or be killed," reminded Carlos Hansen. "It's branded onto their souls, if they have souls. They know nothing else. They have no conscience, no guilt, no sense of compassion or mercy, no sense of right and wrong … And possibly worst of all … No fear of dying. Unless we kill him first, he will definitely kill every civilian he comes into contact with."
* * *
Doc Hansen was still trying to convince the president of the need for immediate and ruthless action, when the first of the explosions went off.
"What the hell is …?" cried Lesley Phelps as we were all thrown to the floor of the Quonset hut. But before he could finish his question, a great cannonade of explosions began like a series of linked fireworks.
"What in Christ's name …?" said the president over the phone.
"Come on!" I shouted, and leaving Doc Hansen to argue talking with Madam President, I started toward the outside, with the sound of running feet behind me, as Lesley and the other followed.
I had just touched down on the gravel path (having leapt from the top step of the doorway), when a great explosion resounded in Carlos Hansen's office in the Quonset hut behind me.
"Shit!" I shouted as I was picked up by what seemed like a giant invisible hand and thrown a hundred metres across the compound - careful to bury my face in my arms before crashing painfully to the gravel.
Behind me I could hear moaning and shrill, almost inhuman shrieking; but for the time being all I could do was lie in excruciating agony upon the gravel-coated compound, only hoping that I had sustained no serious damage.
After a few minutes I tried to push myself to my hands and knees, and failed - collapsing painfully back onto the gravel. Five minutes later I tried and failed again. But on my third attempt I was finally able to get onto my hands and knees. Then getting unsteadily to my feet (despite my instincts for self-preservation shrieking at me to stay down), I hobbled back to the black Quonset hut.
I found my lifelong friend Lesley Phelps blown almost in two - his screaming having died with him. The moaning came from Murray Williams, who was still unconscious, but slowly reviving.
"Easy, easy," I comforted him. Then, as my instincts for self preservation went into overload, I grabbed him under the armpits and as quickly as I could dragged him a good fifty metres from the burning hut. An action which saved both of our lives as another great explosion resounded from the doorway of the corrugated-iron hut.
Dropping the lance corporal, I nose-dived to the gravel, unable to block out the sounds of screaming from around the death camp, as the camp lived up to its name, this awful autumn day.
* * *
The screaming, intermittently cut-off by near-deafening explosions seemed to go on forever.
"Jesus, am I in Hell?" asked Murray Williams as he finally awakened.
"I think we both are, son," I said to him.
He turned and stared at me with a wide-eyed, child-afraid-of-the-dark look. Then as another explosion resounded we both ducked to the gravel-topped compound.
Finally, after what seemed hours, the explosions become rare, until finally stopping.
"Is that it?" asked the lance corporal, as we both looked up from where we lay. "Is it all over?"
"No, the worst is yet to come," I said, slowly, painfully pulling myself back to my feet, as the wailing screams continued from around the burnt out ruin of the death camp.
"What do you mean?"
"Now we have to go look at the dead and dying," I said, crouching again. "In the hope that there are still some troopers alive besides us two."
Around us shrilling screams continued to resonate, until slowly dying away to soul-rending moaning as the fifty-two good troopers either died or passed out from their injuries.
Low, gurgling moaning still haunted the mournful afternoon as I slowly looked around the ruined camp. Within my sight were a dozen dead or dying troopers, some so hideously injured that I would never dare give detailed descriptions within this report. Suffice it to say that you would not want to discover their ill treated remains just after dining.
Roaring flames whooshed up from a dozen or more burning buildings, leaving just four undamaged buildings I could see.
Hearing moaning, I looked round and saw Murray Williams trying without much success to sit up.
"Easy, lad, easy," I cautioned, giving him a hand to sit up. Only hoping that I was not aggravating any serious internal injuries that he may have sustained.
Looking around again at the sound of loud moaning, I saw fallen troopers with horrific injuries, which it should have been impossible to live with. But half of them were moaning, trying to sit up, or trying to stand upon legs that they no longer had.
Following my stunned look, Murray Williams said, "I see now why it's called a death camp."
I started to berate him for his lack of taste, then thought, What the Hell, he's right!
"You'll see a lot of worse sights before we finally kill the monster soldier," I said.
"Or before he finally kills us," insisted the lance corporal.
"Or before he finally kills us," I agreed, deciding that there was no point in lying to Williams.
The stench of blood, death, burning flesh, and faeces filled the warm air from where the dead lay.
Despite my better judgment, I knew that as the senior surviving soldier, I had to do a check of the dead and dying. And do it soon in the hope of saving the troopers who were not already dead.
"Are you all right, yet?" I asked Murray Williams, as I climbed unsteadily to my feet, which almost gave way under me.
Seeing the lance corporal watching my unsteady tottering, I knew that he must be wondering the same thing about me.
Trying, without much success, to smile as Murray Williams started ungainfully to his own feet, I asked, "Do I look as shithouse as I feel?"
"Worse," said Williams in one of his brutally frank comments, which often had me shouting at him. Then, "Sorry."
"That's all right," I said, wiping a mix of gravel and blood from my face with a khaki handkerchief. "I never did win any prizes for my looks."
"That's … " said the lance corporal, starting to put his foot deeper into his mouth. Before wisely deciding not to.
* * *
Despite my intentions though it was another few minutes before Murray Williams or myself were capable of attempting to assess the loss of life. Loss of property was obvious. Only four black Quonset Huts remained of the seventeen which had once stood within the confines of the barb-wire fenced death camp.
"Come on," I ordered, feeling as reluctant to look over the mutilated men as the lance corporal looked.
Going across to where the dozen troopers lay not far from us, we began to check them over.
"Hold on soldier," I said to none of them in particular as were shambled across to help them. I carefully checked the first man for haemorrhages, and then did the same to the next man.
"This one's dead," said Murray Williams, kneeling almost on a shard of corrugated-iron as he examined a soldier.
"Look out," I said pointing to the shrapnel.
"Thanks," said Williams before checking another soldier.
"This one's dead also," I said.
"Here too," agreed the lance corporal.
"What about me? Am I alive? Am I alive?" shrieked a youth who looked no more than fourteen or fifteen.
Looking round I was shocked to see that he was, since he had a hole the size of my fist in his chest.
"Hold on, son," I said. Placing my left hand over his eyes to shut them, I withdrew my revolver from my holster with my left hand. Clicking off the safety, I pointed it between his eyes and said, "Just relax, son."
Then I pulled the trigger, blowing off the top of his head.
"Holy shit!" shouted Murray Williams, falling on top of another soldier he was examining. "Why the hell did you do that?"
"Kindness," I said, pointing to the hole in his chest. "He didn't have a chance in hell."
"Jesus Christ!" said Williams, despite being Jewish. Then see where I was pointing he started to calm down. Although I could sense the others staring at me warily.
"Come on," I said, indicating the other injured troopers. "Let's get them checked out."
We confirmed four were dead. Three were mutilated so badly that they had little chance of survival and five, to my surprise, were climbing unsteadily to their feet. I had to shoot another poor bastard to the horror of the others, then we did our best to bandage the last badly injured soldier, a woman named Martina.
"They had no chance," I explained to the remaining troopers who looked shocked at me having shot two of my own people. "Would you have preferred them to be screaming in agony for hours before finally dying?"
They all mumbled a half-hearted (at best) agreement.
"Now what," asked Murray Williams.
"Now, the worst is yet to come," I said again, waving across to where we could hear more men and woman moaning.
Singling out a beautiful blonde, whose name tag identified her as Private Rae Lawson, I asked, "Rae will you stay to look after the injured here, while we go on?"
"Sure," she said.
"Come on," I said to Murray Williams and the other four, all of whom seemed reluctant to follow after me. They looked at each other, uncertainly, and then finally, obviously still unsure, they started after me.
By one of the burning buildings, alerted by the aroma of burning flesh, we found five more troopers. Three were dead and burnt beyond recognition; one was alive and relatively unharmed. The last was alive, but also burnt beyond recognition, with third-degree burns of a level I hope to never have to see again. Most of her lower body had been reduced to carbon.
"Am I going to be all right? Am I going to be all right?" the poor bitch suddenly started shrieking.
"Relax, relax," I said placing a hand over her eyes. Then, to the relief, I think, of Murray Williams and the others this time, I drew my service revolver and shot her through the forehead.
"Let's go," I ordered. And this time the others followed me without hesitation - I suspect relieved that they no longer had to see the poor woman who had been reduced to something akin to charcoal.
* * *
It seemed to take forever to check the entire camp. Perhaps because each new horror increased our hesitation at what we might find next. Finally though, we had accounted for all of the troops. Out of fifty-two, fourteen had been killed by the explosions, and seven more had had to be shot dead by me to put the poor bastards out of their misery. Seven more would pull through, but were in no fit condition to take place in a man hunt - or should that be monster hunt?
That left just twenty-six, including Murray Williams and myself.
"Twenty-six," I said, thinking aloud. "With one series of explosions he has managed to wipe out or disable more than half of us."
Then seeing the troubled looks on the faces of the remaining troops, I regretted having spoken out loud.
"What … what do we do now?" asked a freckle-faced redheaded youth, whose name tag identified him as Deke.
"Now we find out how the monster soldier got out of here," I said.
"Assuming that he did," said Murray Williams, making the troops look about themselves nervously. "Maybe after setting the charges he just hid out in one of the remaining four buildings."
As he spoke, the troopers started looking round again. Some even looked as though they could not wait for the order to hit the ground.
Instead I said: "He'd have to be a fool not to have used the cover of the explosions to get far away?"
"But aren't the monster soldiers little more than imbeciles?" asked Rae Lawson, having rejoined our group.
"Usually, yes. But this one was allowed to retain more of his I.Q. to make him a more effective killer," I said, silently cursing my own stupidity as soon as I had spoken.
"A more efficient killer!" Murray Williams almost squealed, looking around the bombed out buildings and horrifically burnt corpses. "I'd have to say they bloody well succeeded!"
"Relax!" I ordered, knowing it was a futile thing to say.
"He's probably just waiting for us to separate, so that he can pick us all off one by one."
"We won't be separating, we'll stick together," I insisted, finally saying something that seemed to calm the remaining troops a little. "We'll stick together as we check round the boundary fence."
"We could do it faster in two or three groups," said Rae.
Of course, she was right, but having finally calmed down the troopers a little, I wasn't about to risk spooking them again.
"No," I said, "we'll stick together. Just in case he is relying on us separating."
So slowly, we crunched across the gravel-covered compound toward the barb-wire fences, which reached nearly three metres in height. Taller even than most monster soldiers.
"Well, so far, so good," I said, managing to raises smiles from Rae Lawson and a couple of the others.
"But the worst is yet to come, remember?" she reminded me, causing a few nervous snickers among the troops.
"That's right," I agreed as we started along the boundary fence to the left.
"It's a pity they didn't think to electrify this thing," said Murray Williams as we strode along.
"They did," I said. "But after a few of our own men were electrocuted they de-electrified it."
We continued along for more than twenty-five minutes before we located where a large section of the barb-wire had been cut away with tin snips.
Looking back, Rae said, "We're at the furthest possible point from where the buildings were."
"Presumably that's why he picked this spot," I said.
Beyond the cut-out section was a couple of kilometres of grassland, followed by a forest of towering pines, plus a few Australian Eucalyptus trees.
"Where he was least likely to be seen," I said, thinking, And where we are least likely to find any protective cover if he is waiting out there at the edge of the forest!
"Do … do we follow him?" asked Private Rae Lawson.
"Not yet," I said. Reaching into my shirt pocket I removed a small container housing a pocket-sized PC-pad, upon which I would later start making this report.
"What's that?" asked Murray Williams.
"The pocket equivalent of a Presidential Hotline," I explained. "It can be used in the field to get help from anywhere in the world, by unlinking to Com-Sat-Dar."
"A great Idea," said Rae, as I started to uplink to the satellite.
"That's what the president who approved it thought," I explained. "But he soon changed his mind after it brought him down after a drunken orgy in which he used it to talk dirty to his mistress for forty minutes, before finding that he had dialled the wrong number and was actually talking to a Washington Post journalist."
Hearing the giggles of the troopers I was pleased to be getting them back at their ease.
"It also has a small hard-drive, barely seven-hundred yottabytes [a yottabyte is 1,125,899,906,842,624 gigabytes Philip Roberts]. Which allows me to record observations in the field."
Moments later I was talking to Madam President (as she likes to be called), the U.S.A.'s ninth female president. I quickly updated her from the moment that Doc Hansen had been blown up while talking to her.
"Do you have any weapons on you, besides fire-arms?" she asked.
Looking around, I could see the corrugated iron munitions hut, luckily undamaged and said, "Plenty, the ammo hut is still standing. But we will need rocket-launchers to be sure of liquidating the monster soldier. They're not easy to kill."
"I am well aware of that, sergeant," she said, angrily. There was a clinking, and then silence, making me think she had hung up. I was just about to say, "Prissy bitch!" when she came back on the line and said:
"Very well, take whatever weapons you can carry and start after the soldier. We're already arranging to airlift you more men and weapons en route.
She continued to give me (mainly useless) instructions for another ten minutes before ringing off. This time I was careful to hang up before saying, "Prissy bitch!"
Pressing a green button on the handset, I placed it into its little box and back into my shirt pocket, then explained to the troops, "Now they can track us over Com-Sat-Dar to drop more weapons and troops to help out."
The troops seemed relieved, with Rae, who looked young enough to be a debutante, grinning broadly. Until Murray Williams added:
"Let's just hope that the monster soldier doesn't have any tracking devices with him. Or else he can also use Com-Sat-Dar to follow our whereabouts."
Seeing the broad grin vanishing from Rae's face as though God himself had used a magic eraser to wipe it away, I glared at Williams, snapping, "Shut up! Let's just get the damn weapons."
Without waiting for an argument, I started quick marching toward the black corrugated-iron hut, relieved to hear the sound of boots crunching on the gravel behind me. We'll all feel better to have some real weapons with us! I thought.
END OF PART ONE