It’s always bothered me that that particular Commandment was mistranslated like that. Deliberately, I’d suppose. If it can confuse humans, who else might it confuse?
There’s going to be a third and final part to Ep5; later….
“Defiant” – Episode 5 (part 2)
Nichole flew down the corridors and slid down the stairs in her hurry to leave Kongo. Behind her, Sasaki fumbled with the radio set, one eye on it as he changed frequencies and another on this troublesome girl they all adored. She emerged into sunlight just as the ship shuddered: it’s engines coming on line to full. There was a brief warning tone before the loudspeakers coughed to life.
“<Battle stations. This is no drill.>” Nichole recognized the voice of the First Officer. Hurrying to the gangway, she saw the Marines freeing the lines. She paused for just a second to bow to the ship’s colors. In that instant, Sasaki forced the comm gear into her hands.
“<Good L—>” But she was already gone: leaping to the pier and running.
She shoved the earpiece into her left ear and made sure the mic was pointed towards her mouth. She noted Beauchamp physically pushing down the barrels of the rifles of the two guards. She gave him a smile and a wink as she dashed past. She turned on the radio and stuffed it the left pocket of her sweater. A radio! She thought scornfully. Why didn’t Somi make me with broadband?! I could have taken control of Kongo myself!
Rather than immediately remounting Gil’s bike, she looked around to the north. I have to see! It’d be best if I was on the battlefield itself….
“Take me north, to the fight.” She swung her leg over the back of his dirtbike.
“No.” Simple, direct. How dare he!
“Militiaman! I said—” He cut her off.
“Don’t much care what you said,” he replied levelly, half turning his head back. “I ain’t taking a girl into battle.”
Cultural evolution again. They were older, too.
“Fine!” Her mind spun with maps and images. She pointed. “There. Take me to the I-405 bridge!” It was the highest point she could see. “And make it topside!” The bridge was a double-decker.
He kicked the bike to life. “That’s against traffic!” She knew that, too.
She put both hands onto his shoulders. “Now, please.” She heard his muttered ‘dammit!’
Nichole was already much older for maintaining her balance on a motorcycle. But her sense of exhilaration was still on an upward feedback loop. She reached around Gil, one hand over his heart, the other just above his belt. They were off.
He moved quickly and easily, turning due west; likely towards an on-ramp for I-405. I have to see…! Oh, of course: they do, too! She moved her left hand to toggle the radio.
“<This is Clarke. Receiving?>” There was no pause: they’d been waiting for her.
“<Lieutenant Kirita here. Or…” The second officer of CIC. He seemed to cough slightly. “Orders, Miss?”
Exhilaration: up and up!
“<We need to see!>” She yelled into the wind. “<Drones both north and south!>”
There was a pause. Did he not hear?
“<Armed drone already on its way north; two unarmed launching south in thirty seconds.>”
Even with his voice flattened by encryption, she heard the faint contempt for the civilian girl behind the OODA. All messages were recorded; she could play, too.
“<Excellent work anticipating my orders, Lieutenant! I shall commend you to the Throne when I write my After Action!>”
Nothing. Yeah, he got the message. But then, she did, too: they’re the professionals here. Another thought.
“Report!” She shouted to Gil. “How many men do you have on the river!”
He wondered for just a second whether he should be telling this stranger – she moved her left hand from her pocket back over his heart – screw it.
“A Company at Fort Vancouver.” Call it 200, she thought. “Half a regiment on the bridge and along the river.” 1500, maybe.
He stopped talking as he moved up the exit ramp in the wrong direction. Drivers of carts, bicycles, trucks yelled at him for ‘going the wrong way, asshole!’ Onto the highway, he continued.
“Militia A will bring about another 5500 men.” But piecemeal, she thought. Easy to defeat them, depending on the organization of the enemy.
“Artillery and armor?” She yelled. She watched the back of his head shake.
“Four field pieces; lots of mortars, though. We’ve about a dozen tanks, but with no fuel. They’re dug in as artillery.”
That meant they could move men behind the lines, but nothing once engaged. A WWI battlefield.
She’d learned nothing about that war!
The road slanted up, they were almost to the bridge. Her eyes caught the Predator drone above and ahead. Kongo could see!
“Stop there, just at the arch!” She called. Gil slowed, then came to a halt.
There was no way, none, that even she could make her way up that without slipping or being blown off by the steady breeze from the south.
“To the middle!” He accelerated, looking back once more.
“If you don’t mind my asking,” he asked in his same, flat voice, “what are we doing?” He slowed at the bridge’s apex. Off to the north there was smoke. Lots of smoke.
She slid off the back of the bike. He instantly spun it around back towards her. She took several steps towards the four massive metal cables at the bridge’s side from the arch high overhead.
“Saving your world, silly!” She smiled. She turned from him and ran…
What the hell is that crazy girl doing…!
She caught a cable in each hand and wrapped her legs around the same. Once sure of her grip, she relaxed her legs slightly and began pulling herself up, towards the top of the bridge’s arch, some one hundred feet overhead.
“What. The. Hell?” Gil breathed. He got off the bike and took a few steps. There was a sudden gust of wind; his heart stopped as he saw her right hand come free… the water would be like steel from this height, and there was no way he could catch her….
She pushed her skirt down against the breeze.
“Don’t you DARE look at my panties!” She shouted at him. A glare, then she resumed her climb.
“Are you kidding me?” He said to the air.
She’d pulled herself onto the scaffolding, up the small ladder, and looked out north from next to the empty flagpole next to her. Staring into the distance, she toggled the radio.
“<Largely male population, estimated at 30,000, milling around the north side of the bridge. Perhaps another 10,000 at what they call Fort Vancouver.>” She paused. About to take a step that no one like her had never, ever, taken before. In a timeslice, she saw Her Majesty, Joe, and Gil…. “<Initial box of four HE around the on-ramps, now.>”
And the world changed.
Kongo was free of the pier and headed north, but not to where she was yet. She heard the roar of the four missiles; at this short range….
She saw the impacts. Only a dull thud reached her ears.
Far, far down her processor chain, it was logged that humans were dead by her orders.
“<Broaden 500 yards; fire for effect.>” She said steadily. Why did she think of her older sister just now?
Four, then four more missiles in the air. Kongo passed under her. To her surprise, the rear loader pivoted and fired two towards the south.
“<Question. Those last two…>”
“<Spot on about the south, Miss Clarke,>” said Kirita. “<Raiders coming up their old route 26.>” The sarcasm thick in his digitized voice. “<That should give them pause.>”
“<Many thanks,> leftenant,” she replied in mixed English.
The mob at the bridge was starting to break up, slowly. Those boats that were still crossing were allowed onto Hayden Island, but were bring scythed by crew-served automatic weapons on the Portland side of the river. Their local commander must have pulled his men off it. They could retake it later. Truly: a place was only a place – people mattered. She shifted her sharp gaze slightly right.
“<I want an HE at each of the four sides of Fort Vancouver, please.>” Oh, yes. “<They’re running; Kongo to station-keeping.>”
Five seconds later there was a roar from just beneath and ahead of her. Four more missiles. The ship slowed.
Impacts. She couldn’t be sure if that was enough.
“<One more salvo, please.>” She was close enough to hear the whine of the launchers, then another roar.
“<What does your drone see?>” She asked, unable to keep the smile off her face. We won! I won!
“<They’re running. Orders?>”
“Hey!” She heard from far, far, below her. She bent down to wave at Gil.
She stood with her arms again over her head, giving a wild scream. She stared forward…thinking how to next…!
A sharp edged memory from her older sister took over her mind.
She sat across the table from her. Her bushy blonde hair; her blank white eyes; her blue lips. Nichole wondered about the engineers at Somi, sometimes. Her sister leaned forwards, taking her hands into hers. For just a moment, Nichole looked at the red ‘4.52’ tattoo on her left shoulder. She had a ‘5’ on hers.
“We are not better than them, little sister.” Caroline said. They were both plugged in and spoke mind to mind. It would have scared the engineers if they knew what they talked about. “Just different. We… we must find a way to live with them… but I am not old enough to know how.”
Nichole dropped her head. She had no way to cry, but she felt ashamed. She radioed for Kongo to stand down, then she slowly made her way back down the bridge cables.
What am I supposed to think? She wondered.
Ten feet above Gil, she pushed herself back into the air. Falling….
“Uff!” He said softly, holding her. She opened her eyes to his. He could tell she wanted to cry, but could not fathom why she did not.
“I…killed people.” She muttered.
“Yes.” That hurt her. “And you saved people.”
His lips twisted in a harsh grin.
“Did someone tell you this would be easy?”
There was a loud horn from Kongo. She was turning around to the south. Nichole closed her eyes.
“Please take me home; to my new home.”