Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The green circle of power irised open on the wall, filling the reception chamber with a medicinal glow. A body flipped through, smoking and wounded, over the ledge of the portal and landed wetly on the pads with a thud. The sickly green light of the hole clamped shut like a magic sphincter-ring and plunged the room once again into darkness.

These were the battles. The knights were welded into their suits and connected. They were more of a virus now than a collection of individuals. Volunteering for defense was a one way trip. What started as a human shield of nimble pilots had, over three decades, become a cyborg invasion force of desperate hybrids of flesh encased in metal.

A wrist-gate’s singularity snagged the lab’s co-ordinates again with a stuttering flash before glinting open with a bone-vibrating hum. Another two bodies flew backwards through the circle before being hooked by gravity and pulled down to the mat. The green luminescence looked like the light from a firefly. The tunnel folded inward with an arcing snap that echoed away before collapsing back to the battlepoint.

Each knight looked different. The custom tech was adapted for every warrior with programs designed to accentuate their strengths and protect their weaknesses. Some were huge and some were slight. Some were quick and some were armoured. Some were armed with a vast array of weaponry and some were given a specific weapon they’d shown an aptitude for in training. Then they were sent to The Front. One wave every two days.

Two bodies groaned. One lay still, breathing but unconscious. Two of us and one of Them.

Every person’s body image was augmented with the memetic colourmetal to make their permanent transition to Guardknight as smooth as possible. Battle-scars, trophies, graffiti and tags took care of further individuality as their career spooled out. To this day, we’ve only had eighteen psych-deaths in the waking bay. We’ve done all we can to create happy monsters to protect us.

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