Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“Section three. All clear.”

That’s Christov. Which is clever, because according to the heartbeat monitor I have, Christov’s heart stopped beating ninety-four seconds ago.

My claw comes down on the ‘Section Three Purge’ button as people about me register my movement and open their mouths to shout. Far to our west, an outlying section of the metropolis dies under neutron charge detonations and layered EMP.

“Section three was compromised one hundred seconds ago. The dead man talking confirmed it.”

Shock registers, then sorrow, gratitude, and finally: renewed resolve.

Nanowar is a tainted thing, a combination of chess, sociopathy and gambling. As the enemy can work through things so small, a certain paranoia has to be practised, and it is hard keeping the equivalent of Level Three Disease control everywhere that could be threatened. Errors occur. People die before they are even aware of being killed – or even invaded.

I am a Telemeter, the latest edge for my side. A totally sealed armoured unit, impervious to anything below macro-scale invasive attack. I look like a giant beetle and move with a silence that makes anyone who has a fear of multi-legged things incapable of working with me.

My purpose is to monitor everyone else, to make tactical decisions and enact suppression routines that are simply too hard for humans to make in the correct timeframe. They lose precious seconds in emotional quandaries, seconds that cannot be lost if we are to counter the insurgencies.

“Section four. All clear.”

That’s Michaela. She’s clever, and has a heartbeat too.

I do not move.

There are sighs of relief.

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