Page 314

Author: Jae Miles, Staff Writer

“The Atrox is a perfect blend of artificially grown organics and 3D-printed cerametal. Able to withstand impacts that would crush a man to pulp, regardless of whether he is in body armour or not.”
General Navores looks back down into the glass tank.
“It’s very small, Cedric.”
Inside, a strange reptilian/feline hybrid displays greenish-white flesh between strips of a blue crystalline substance. It moves fast, changing direction like a startled fly. Tiny claws and needle-like teeth flash as it snaps and slashes at the air.
“That’s the beauty of it, sir. Fantastic infiltration capabilities, low noise, the option to use it for scouting ahead of primary mission groups as well as in active combat roles. It’s resilience allows it to be delivered by unorthodox methods, such as hollow shells or missiles, in addition to drones.”
The General sighs. This is the problem with boffins. So invested in their creations they become blind to any realities that might limit the applicability of their work to the real world.
“Cedric, I see the scouting potential, especially with that glorious video output.”
He gestures towards the three-by-three 4K widescreen array on the far wall, showing him the little monster’s less than flattering view of himself, its creator, and everyone else in the room: all thermal blurs and targeting icons.
“But active combat? Have you created a mouse-sized soldier to carry a sawn-off .22 while riding in a tiny saddle?”
His staff chuckle.
Cedric frowns. He stops watching his creation trying to kill invisible opponents, then points to the fat volume on the table between the General and his staff.
“Page 314.”
The General looks at him.
“Pardon?”
“You haven’t read as far as page 314.”
The General directs a glare at his staff. They respond with a selection of gestures intended to convey ‘we read the summary’ and ‘we were waiting for a digital copy’.
He turns back.
“What did I miss on that page, Cedric?”
“Readiness considerations.”
The General grins.
“Like needing the opponents to be lying down?”
Cedric chuckles, then fixes the General with a withering stare.
“No, they can pyramid up a soldier faster than that soldier can reload. What I’m referring to is the figure at the foot the page: I have two million Atrox ready to deploy.”
The General’s eyes go wide. He watches the little terror move like nothing he’s ever seen before, and lets his initial feeling of discomfort bleed through and blossom.
These things are going to revolutionise warfare – or end it.

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