Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer

I’m not in the moment. I am the moment, locked in by law-enforcement combat conditioning. Beyond my fixed perceptions, there is nothing. The instructors told us to take in the whole enhanced experience at these times, letting the moment become us instead of becoming our madness.

There’s a nanopede traversing the barrel of my gun, its tentacular manipulators working devotedly to provide gecko-like traction in the sheen of tarnish-repellent gloss upon the burnished alloy. The legs move in waves, reflecting little coruscating showers of light as it makes its way about its incomprehensible business.

“One.”

The stock of my gun is jammed tight into my shoulder, so tight my clavicle aches, but I can’t diminish my grip. The sights are aligned to the probable target vectors and the filament to my combat eye swings rhythmically in time with my heartbeat. My peripheral vision shows my team and headman distributed for optimum coverage.

“Two.”

The warehouse is silent. Our stealth gear means we are invisible even to a Tabino, the plastic addicted rodents famed for denuding citizens in moments. Thankfully the only citizens nearby are in the passing air traffic that illumines the darkness fitfully with bright beams through the torn roof. They strobe by like the strides of giants made of light.

“Three!”

The darkness is hurled back by the phased pulse of six demolition charges that turn air into energy with an efficiency that can suffocate the unprepared. Which is what we all hope our targets are. As the expanding rings of blue fire flash along exposed conductive materials, the bass thrum of a grazer amped from it’s workcycle of plasma cutting up to illegal death dealing autopulse reveals some of our targets were very prepared.

My legs are a separate entity, hurling me forward on an irregular course. My sights show no targets yet the autopulses increase from one to eight, stretching out towards us like ribbons of purple light. They must be cycling the grazers without regard for cooling.

“I’m hit!”

One of the ribbons intersected with my headman and his right thigh has been blasted to superheated mist. Now I understand why they’re running the grazers so hot – they can chop us down. I desperately try to find them, overriding the sights to fire at the originating end of the nearest lethal ribbon of light.

“Bastard!”

The scream over open comms coincides with the ribbon I was using to orientate my fire winking out. I’m just fighting my single-minded kill directive to rediscover speech, so I can pass the sight-override manoeuvre on, when two of the ribbons slash sideways and bisect in my chest, vapourising my forearms and detonating my gun. I watch in macro-awe as the nanopede executes a flawless pike off the gun barrel and drops from view behind the expanding pink and silver ball composed of gun shards, denaturing chest armour and limb fragments. Then the physics happens and I am dropped off the impaling spears of energy, falling behind a thankfully solid stanchion.

The medical unit on my belt exhausts its entire repertoire in under five seconds. I am going to live, my arms and weapon having reduced the death dealing beams to merely searing.

Released from combat mode, I open our tactical channel and tell my remaining team-mates about overriding their sights. Wordless growls of thanks make me smile.

The moment stretches and snaps, normal time and senses are resumed and I manage to race the pain into the welcoming embrace of sedative oblivion.

 

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