Author : Geoff Revere

“I’m resigning. That’s it. I’m done!” Doctor Holmes spouted, pacing back and forth before the commandant’s desk, his hands shaking. “The boy was eighteen Michael, eighteen!”

“You’re referring to Private Loman?” the commandant asked.

“You know damn well who I’m referring to!” Holmes spat, clearly forgetting to whom he was speaking. “How could you let this happen? There were supposed to be rules, protocols! This is unacceptable!” With a gentle hum, automated climate controls lowered the temperature and humidity in the room, doing nothing to cool the doctor’s temper.

“Unacceptable? The boy understood the risk. He knew about the food shortage experiment before he allowed himself to be plugged into the Hive. Can we be blamed if it was him the collective chose to sacrifice?”

“Sacrifice? You call what they did to him sacrifice?”

“THEY didn’t do anything to him. The Hive is one mind. Every action and decision is checked and approved by the collective. In a very real sense, Loman chose this for himself, for the good of the Hive.”

“I refuse to believe that. He could never have chosen this. Did you read his file? Did you even talk to the boy before you plugged him in? He was the only candidate, the only person who ever really wanted to be part of the Hive. He actually thought the collective consciousness was a desirable way to live. No arguments. No conflict. I tried to explain the uncertainties, but he wouldn’t listen. He didn’t care that we’ve never proven if the Hive makes decisions based on unanimity or majority rule!”

The commandant eyed Holmes coldly. That was the crux of his argument, then. Was the boy for or against the decision to sacrifice members of the Hive? True, they couldn’t prove how the hive mind really worked. The technology had been stumbled upon by a start-up networking company and quickly snatched by the government. It was just as likely the boy had been murdered as he had been a willing volunteer.

“Say something,” Holmes demanded.

The man behind the desk sneered. “The Hive is the future of the military. They work as one, coordinating effortlessly. Exacting. Efficient. Sacrificing a soldier was the best choice, strategically, in that situation. The only question was whether the Hive would do what was moral or what was best. Now we know.”

The commandant hadn’t addressed the chief concern. Seconds ticked by. The climate controls lowered the temperature another few degrees. Realizing he would never get the concession he wanted, the doctor finally sat down.

“They didn’t just let the boy starve, you know,” Holmes sighed, his head in his hands.

“Your resignation is noted in my logs.”

“They could have at least shot him. But I suppose that would have been a waste of ammunition, right?”

“You understand you can never talk to anyone about this project. To do so would be to forfeit your freedom, as per your contract.”

“Did you know what they would do? Did any of the other behavioral specialists predict this outcome?”

“I expect your office to cleared by the end of the day. You’ll receive reassignment orders in a few weeks. You’re dismissed.”

Holmes looked up into the commandant’s eyes, half expecting some show of pity or remorse. He was met instead by the harsh blackness of years of military service. Exacting. Efficient. He would find no sympathy here. At last the doctor stood to leave.

“They ate him, Michael. They fucking ate him. And when it gets out, it’ll be on your head, not mine.”

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