Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

“During the mission, your memories are yours. After the mission, they belong to the military.”

The sergeant had droned on at the beginning of this op. It was a standard briefing. I remember seven similar briefings followed by months of blank space in my head. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a soldier.

We were on a stealth run in Tehran. The radioactive crucible that used to be Qom was a warning shot but they hadn’t listened. Or rather, they hadn’t aimed their warheads away from the east coast of the states.

Our non-reflective gear made us into shadows on the night floor, oil on the city streets while the scared civilians stayed locked inside their houses, praying. We made our way to what our intel told us was the squawk box. It was our job to slit the throats of the button-pushers in the underground missile lobby quietly.

It was real wet work. Proper analogue. None of this remote-control warfare. I was happy to be a part of it.

Because of the memory wipes, none of us knew if we’d worked with anyone on the team before. I knew some of the other players from enjoying each other’s company here and there on R&R and from declassified training but for all I knew, we’d either never been on a mission together before or we’d saved each other’s lives a bunch of times in past missions. It took a special kind of mind to roll with that.

The speakers above us blared the prayer. That meant it was 4:28 in the morning. There was rustling from all of the shuttered apartments around us as people woke, knelt and prayed. I felt powerful, knowing that I was an instrument of what they were afraid of.

We edged up near the fence of our target building. It was a broadcast station set up to look like a corner store. Using the prayer as cover, the six of us slid bonelessly up the wall and through the windows. A ganked keycard allowed us to bypass the keypad into the stairwell and ghost down the stairs to the sub basement.

The sweating, nervous men were looking at the radar screens for any form of airspace incursion. The feeling of tension in the room made me smile.

I looked left and right at our team and nodded.

Thirty seconds later, we were the only living things in the room and no alarm had been raised.

The army had been kind to me. It had augmented my entire body and gave me special abilities. I’d seen parts of the world I’d always wanted to see in between missions. And the memory wipes meant I never had any lasting psychological damage from the horrors I inflicted on people or war crimes I witnessed. It was a pretty sweet deal. Plus no interrogation could work on what I couldn’t remember.

We put the looper into the computer system and the encrypted signal seamlessly slotted in, continuing to let our target know that everything was okay on this end. All intel correct. All systems green.

I pushed the squirt on my arm to tell beta team that we were a go. Then everything went black.

I wake up in the barracks. It’s a beautiful day outside. I check the calendar. I’m missing six days. I hope the operation went well. The news is saying that the nuclear standoff is over. I hope I had something to do with it.


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