Obsolete protection, p.1
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       Obsolete Protection, p.1

           David J. Agostine
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Obsolete Protection


  A short prelude to Book III


  David J. Agostine


  ©2012 All Rights Reserved



  Sparks, Nevada

  31 October 2044

  HE WAS NOTHING WITHOUT his job. Being a troop leader was the only thing he liked to do- the only thing he was good at. He had so much time and energy invested in his third career. Now, it was as if all he had worked for over the past fifteen years had vanished in a flash. With his identity stripped away, the person left behind, was not much of a person at all.

  The man had sacrificed greatly for precious few achievements. He had no family or friends around to comfort him; they were all bartered away for a few colored ribbons and an endless stream of war stories. His only daughter had not spoken to him since she moved off planet to take a geology position with the USEA- his fourth wife had left him soon after that. He was the definition of alone, and that loneliness now enveloped him like a suffocating smoke, rising from a fire built with logs of ambition.

  Today, the former Chief Commander of the Nevada Sixth Regiment of the United States Security Police was reduced to a crying heap of fat and muscle, convulsing on his living room floor like some spoiled child. He was not taking his first day as a level-four-citizen very well.

  The disciplinary hearing had been quick, so quick, he had no time to prepare any workable defense. The bastards at executive command wouldn’t even make eye contact with him, as they read their statement and stripped him of his title and all his dignity in the process. There was no doubt he was a scapegoat; the one who had to take the fall for the public outcry. So many people had died; he did not dispute the charges, but still felt he had done what was necessary for the sake of his green zone.

  Death Valley wasn’t even a part of his territory; at the time of the incident he had been covering for old Kurt Phillips, the Southern Nevada troop commander. When he issued the order to engage, he acted without pause; making an informed decision based on the intelligence he had available. The herd of vagrants were headed due east and if they turned north once they crossed the border, they would quickly become his zone’s problem.

  In his own mind, his actions, however abhorrent, were fully justified, as there was no way his zone could have handled another stream of refugees. They surely would have reduced Sparks and Reno to a hellhole of violence and chaos like they had done just two years before in Phoenix. That city no longer existed. It was now aptly called ‘Ashes,’ as nobody entered its ruins by choice, and there was little chance of a happy life behind the city’s vast concrete walls and miles of razor wire.

  The inhabitants of Ashes lived in conditions worse than animals, kept in line by automated sentries, controlled remotely by the newest series of Cyber-cops from their underground bunkers, miles outside the city limits. It was one of many prisons for the unwanted of humanity. The once great city of Phoenix was now a land of the walking dead, never to rise from the ashes.

  Marcus would be damned if he would allow it to happen all over again in his own territory.

  He should have been hailed a hero, instead he was now infamously referred to as “Marcus the Monster,” at least as far as the US and international Cloud news channels were concerned. The media only talks about one side of the story- the side with the flashiest headline to attract the biggest part of the swarm. To hell with the Cloud and their zombie followers, incapable of thinking for themselves- he was still a human being and deserved more consideration.

  His personal rating, once protected from Cloud voting due to his position in the USSP, was now open to the swarm. As a result, he received over six million negative votes in the twenty-four hours since the verdict was announced. Nobody in the Cloud bothered to talk about facts, just opinions; never taking into consideration the hard truth- truth that people didn’t even want to think about. How many refugees had he saved from starvation and from the gangs? Unspoken among the swarm, was the fact he had spared them all a fate worse than death when he gave the order for the S-choppers and the NG Predator drones to open fire.

  “It was the only humane thing to do.” He repeated the words on his lips, trying to convince not only himself, but also his silent guardian that seemed to be taking an interest in his every move as of late. “Why don’t they realize that?” He had made the difficult choice between two evils. Kill them quickly or watch them suffer and die slowly as they crossed into the gang controlled red zone surrounding the Oasis Valley.

  He spent several hours agonizing over the details. Even if the refugees managed to survive the perilous hundred-mile walk through the blistering desert, they would soon come face to face with pure evil. The knot-head warlords who controlled the red zone would order armed raids on their camps, just as they had done during past disaster migrations. The females would be taken prisoner to be sold on the sex slave market and any undesirables would be killed off by games of chance. Landmine races, human target practice or even worse awaited the old and infirm. Any young men who survived, would then become initiated into the gang and soon become a part of the same raiding parties that continually harassed his own people around the Carson City settlements.

  “When I was a kid and you saw an animal suffering with rabies, you acted like a man and put it out of its misery, not only to spare it the pain, but also because you didn’t want to have to kill it later on, when it tried to attack you.” He was never ashamed of his actions but felt the guilt welling up in his soul as he scrambled air support.

  He alone gave the command for the drones to open fire, and apparently he alone took small comfort in knowing the herd of nine-hundred refugees did not experience any pain during their final moments of life. Their end came as microwave bursts raised their core temperature to one-hundred and forty-five-degrees and their brains stroked out. He wept from the privacy of his command post while watching the incoming halo transmissions from the aircraft’s HUDs- as silently, rows of bodies fell limp in waves across the scorching desert sand- their poor souls finally at rest. Some had been walking for so long, their legs continued to move in rhythm for several minutes as they lay on the ground. It was the march of the dead, an image that would be burned in his memory for all eternity.

  Some dipshit captain decided to stream the whole thing live to the Cloud, and it was not long before it attracted the swarm. Soon, millions of people were plugged-in with their cranial interface watching the carnage live in their mind’s eye. It was then recorded and rebroadcast to the rest of the public on the halo channels and within an hour, Marcus became the most hated man in America.

  Marcus let out a sigh and managed to sit up with his back leaning up against his couch. He instructed the house computer to increase the light level to twenty-five-percent and at last raised himself up off the floor, only to collapse again into his favorite recliner. On the arm, he traced the contours of the synthetic leather and thought how the ripples resembled the lines in the desert sand. He was not ready to stop dwelling on his personal injustice just yet. “Those sons-a-bitches knew there would be more earthquakes and eruptions, but no, they had to stay in their green homes and pray to mother earth for salvation. California assholes, they got what was coming to ’em.” His eyes quickly filled up with fresh tears and Marcus began to sob into his hands, “Ahh shit, I didn’t mean that. I am sorry… please forgive me. I had to make a decision. I am sorry for those people and for the poor kids, but dear God, nobody can take any more damn refugees. They would have been raped and killed or eaten for food or worse, used by the gangs for some sick blood sport. They are safe with you now Lord. I don’t know if it was right or wrong and I would gladly give my life for the
irs, but I had to do it, if not for them, then for Nevada. It’s the only decent place left in this godforsaken country.” He then wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his uniform and seemed to harden inside.

  It was then that Commander… no, make that level-four-citizen, Marcus Adario decided that life was no longer worth living, and he would keep his promise and offer himself up to the Lord as repentance.

  His eyes fell to his sidearm lying on the coffee table; it was the MRK-35, the best nonlethal-tech pulse gun on the market. He shook his head and spat, “Freaking liberals, the only thing I will get from that is a rash and a bad headache.” He then remembered he couldn’t even use his famed old 45 Colt from his childhood that he kept stashed in his underwear drawer, as they had stopped making bullets for it after the race wars of 2016. He was sure some people still made old fashion ammunition at home, but who had time to apply for all the permits you needed to purchase gunpowder? He also recalled the day he had turned in his old 308 hunting rifle. It was not much use to him after most of the deer had died off from disease and starvation; he also had been in desperate need of a
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