The Dog

Sunday, 24 April, Year 8 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

"D'ck's d't?"

"I d'n. B's l'ctr'f'd."

The one looked at the other. The indistinct mutt following them looked at each in turn, with a vague tail wag just in case. Meanwhile, the Wullenwever array looked at neither. Instead, it gazed far, far into the distance, thousands of nautical miles away notwitstanding that the sea was too far to see, or even hear, or much feel. Into the Gigahertz bands, it listened carefully for any signs of life - of which, there were none.

The bygone empire was still very carefully defended by any reasonable standards. Back in its heyday, a popular children's rhyme rung "that is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die". Yet it apparently didn't occur to anyone that strange aeons may take just a few short decades, somehow. Who's to ever know ?

The reasonable choices of an erstwhile era carried very little water in the present. Complicated, expansive, expensive SIGINT facilities capable of detecting any foreign invasion force, extremely well designed C&C facilities ready to direct response units of staggering scale and complexity while themselves outlasting a block of bronze in terms of simple, adamantine durability nevertheless could not detect, could not react, could not respond to one dog and two men in worn, dusty clothes, walking.

Oh if only were they battleships and cruisers arranged as per the proper yomi, how would bygone admirals win the new war with their perfectly adequate if extremely expensive tools. Alas - they weren't. By the looks of the scrawny pair, they didn't even likely float. If such sad excuse for an invader were to drown in three feet of muddy water nobody'd have even been surprised. Oh if only were they bombers and fighter squadrons, how death would have rained upon them. Yet obviously the vagrants couldn't fly, and didn't look even moderately interested in at least jumping a little.

If only they were tanks and armored units, how... But no, they weren't. They didn't even wear proper boots, and yet even without proper boots two men and their mutt walked right through miles' worth of defense, until they reached a concrete wall. Once there, the younger dropped his large backpack against it and they turned around, sauntering disinterestedly. They walked a short distance to a nearby pillbox, which was probably full of automated machine guns of impressive caliber, accuracy and other battle-relevant stats that nevertheless sat silent. Not in the right mode, you see. Or maybe they were flamethrowers instead. Same difference.

They sat down behind it, the younger looking up expectantly, the dog looking up expectantly. The older man, fully impressing upon his modest audience the sacerdotal importance of his deeds, extracted some doohicky out of his own backpack and pushed a button, three times in quick succession. Nothing happened. He didn't seem to care. The dog tilted its head, at which precise moment there was a deafening explosion, shards of concrete and debris flying overhead, some embedding themselves in tree trunks, some ricocheting off whatever rigid scenery. The younger man looked at the dog as if it had caused the blast. The dog growled pitifully.

"This is Sentrybot XJW - 667 responding to kinetic disturbance at perimeter wall." whirred an obnoxious female voice. "Please put your handcuffs on and lay face down on the floor. This is an emergency."

From where they sat, the two couldn't see the thing, nor did they apparently care to try. The older man whistled, a peculiar whistle, and the dog took to running. It was trained to do one thing, but do it well : when it heard the whistle, it ran off to the sentry bot and marked his territory. Easy.

You see, all good defense works by reasonable degree. It wasn't feasible, nor reasonable, and thus not desirable, to equip the outer perimeter with detectors so fine as to detect lone individuals. The Sentrybots were well equipped to detect, and perfectly capable to defeat, any threat at that level, provided a few unfortunate survivors managed to parachute out of their destroyed planes or dinghy ashore after their battleships and cruisers respectively sunk. But they obviously weren't equipped to detect dogs, nor had any protocol to take any particular action if they had detected them, because what sense would it have made ? Besides, the civillian population they existed to protect owned pets, and things would have gotten complicated.

Unimportantly enough, at least at the time, the engineers that designed the sentrybots baked into the design the unexamined assumption that a few fluid ounces of corrosive, electrolyte-heavy water weren't going to flood the superior ventilation intake at any point. Unfortunately enough, they did, at any time an undetectable mutt took a leak on the top of a responding sentrybot, and well...

The electric cackling was quite audible, and the puff of white magic smoke quite visible against the lovely summer sky. The two stood up, and walked at their tired pace towards the hole in the wall.

"W't 'f's t're two ?" inquired the younger with an excitement that seemed strange and out of place.

"'S n't 't 'typ'r th't." came evenly the reply. Indeed, this was a small facility, and not of a type that reasonably justified the deployment and significant maintenance costs of two sentrybots.

"P'ck'n.", the older said stiffly.

The young man looked through the few dozen vats arranged in a regular pattern. Men and women, suspended in some sort of goo, eyes closed, faces expressionless, bodies motionless. A faint hum from all the concentrated machinery, and blinking lights scattered about. Suddenly, with a great crash, a glass case came down and with it a few tons of the translucent goo and a human form captive in it.

The young man turned around, walked a few paces to a vat he had passed before, and applied his large socket wrench. The wall cracked. The older man smiled wryly, foot on the throat of a writhing, nude form captive in goop. The young man cracked the glass wall again and it all came crashing down.

"G'n'h'rn", the old man spat, while extracting a knotted cord out of his backpack. It had a noose on each end. He unceremoniously grabbed his flailing Dreamer by the hair, forced zer in a more or less upright position, put the noose around zer neck and then drug her like you'd drag a dog. The form slid along on the slippery floor.

The young man, abashed by the expletive, grabbed the hair of his chosen Dreamer, and helped the older man get the other noose around its neck. The old man pulled the cord up, visibly choking the two recently rescued Dreamers, and hung it on a solid hook extending from one of the varied contraptions about three feet above the floor.

Without a word he unzipped his jeans and moved behind his Dreamer, impaling zer in one long stroke. The younger man copied his example with wild, wide open eyes.

"P'll'r w'l f'ckr, g'n'h'rn", the old man spat again ; and at his cue the young one starting pulling on the hips of his momentary girlfriend. The old man was pulling the other way on his, and soon the rope was taut and the two nude forms apoplectic, flailing helplessly. After a short while the men were done, and so were the Dreamers.

The two buttoned their pants and resumed their shuffle towards the door. The paired Dreamers lay helplessly, motionlessly, breast to breast, mouth to mouth, suspended by the joint nooses. From a distance they may have appeared to be kissing, to be partaking in a crazed orgy of senses délabrées. Perhaps they were.

The dog cocked his head once more, bemused, then scurried behind the leaving two.

Continued >>

Category: Cuvinte Sfiinte
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11 Responses

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