Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hot Liberty

A short piece of fiction about a possible future war as my entry for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction challenge. Enjoy!

It was war.  We were fighting the others. We didn't even know anymore who we were fighting. "Not us" is all we knew. We started calling them "Euraps".  We don't know who started it, it's just something that stuck. Benny64 swears it was from some guy in Unit 6, but TheRealGafton has this idea that it was made up by the higher-ups and "interwoven into our thought-processes to make us more brutal fighters". He was paranoid like that.

We were level 16 Trench Warriors. We fought in the trenches.  We were the only ones who had to wear enviro-suits and actually fight outside, on the ground.  None of the higher-ups ever got to see the ground. They said it was an honor that we got to feel mother America below our feet and fight with our hands instead of behind plastic.  They said our job was important.  We were the only ones who got to see the red sky for real.  We were the only ones who saw the enemy in person.  We were the ones closest to death. 

It was shit.  It was the lowest level.  It was dirty and bloody and demoralizing but if you paid your dues and got to level 20, they upgraded you to a "mechanizer", which means you got to sit back in one of those big machines and take out groups of Euraps with the press of a button. Why couldn't we all start as mechanizers, we would ask. "You can't ALL start out as mechanizers. That's not balanced. That's just the way the system is. You have to pay your dues."  It made sense I guess.

We'd been Trench Warriors for 2 years, we were used to the muck and the blood. We hated it, sure, but we were used to it by now. That was just our life. And we were lucky; we were still alive. That was the important part. Very few Trench Warriors made it to mechanizer because of the death rate. But we were almost there.

We were called into battle early in the morning. We always had to get up early because we had to be ready; we had to be on the front lines. It was me, Benny64, TheRealGafton, DaveIsCats, and Gaylord420.  Gaylord420 was a good soldier.  He was almost level 19, but he wasn't the friendly type. For the battle, it would be us, Unit 43, Unit 20, and Unit 59, and 2 mechanizers. And we'd have a Generalisimo guiding our actions as always.

We got there early, prepped our rifles, said our little prayer, "May we all find our way home...in bed." and Prepared for the worst. DaveisCats was scared out of his mind. "This time is different" He said. He was still pretty new, only level 3.  He hadn't learned the trick to war that me and Benny64 had known: always go in expecting to die.

And then it started and we realized DaveIsCats was right. This was different. The Euraps must have upgraded their training or their weapons. It was brutal.  People on both sides getting slaughtered. The mechanizers did the best they could, but they had to deal with the LaserCunts (We don't know what Euraps called those big laser machines, we just knew the name that everyone called them). It was up to us to hold the line against the invading Euraps. 

I was surprised how many headshots I got. That would really help my score. In the corner of my eye I could see DaveIsCats hiding in a trench, not trying to kill anybody. I didn't care too much.  It's his problem if he doesn't get any kills and can't level up. More kills for us. He'd just have to learn like we all did.

I had just run out of ammo and was busy reloading when a shot grazed my cheek. A Eurap was right there. I didn't have time to reload. I pulled out my knife and threw it straight into his facemask. He fell over in a slump. I remember it was the first time I'd laughed and shouted in months. I'd never got a "direct knife kill". I'd go up a level and get an achievement to boot. I was so happy at my luck, how he'd been only slightly off. I turned to Benny64. And I realized he hadn't been off. He had got a perfect head shot, just not on me.

When the battle cleared, the four of us huddled around Benny64. We were in a predicament. We hadn't yet logged in our kills.  If we took Benny64's kills, he'd be labeled a coward, but we'd all go up to mechanizer.  I've heard of people doing it, and the higher-ups didn't care one way or the other. It's just how the system worked. Gaylord420 had enough kills already; he walked away, not saying a word to us. DaveIsCats wanted to do it of course. He'd seen enough of the trenches. But Benny64 was the closest friend I'd ever had in this stupid war.

TheRealGafton and me agreed. We'd split the kills. We took enough so that we'd go up a level, and gave a few to DaveIsCats. He still had a while to go anyways, and we though he needed to learn.  We gave Benny64 enough that he'd get the "Died with honor" achievement. His family would be happy at least. We put in our kills, and said goodbye to DaveIsCats. Gaylord420 didn't come with us. He wanted more kills. TheRealGafton said maybe he was trying to go for the specialized Trench Warrior. It got more perks and maybe he'd get a nice achievement. 

We got to stay in luxurious new boarding room with two other older mechanizers. Well it was luxurious for us anyways, they were tired of it. Soft beds, new uniforms, more exotic food rations, a com-phone with games and even a common room TV.  I tried figuring out the TV flipping through channels. I couldn't get the wave movements right. The other mechanizers laughed at our naiveté. Had they ever been that young?  I found a page where I could customize my personal mechanizer, my uniform, even my bunkspace.  One of the Mechanizers, SamSamMike, explained it to me.

All the customize mods were bought with points. The way you got points was by rationing your food more. Not eat a meal for a day and you'd get maybe 5 points. For reference, there was a "Hot Liberty" mod, which was a little plastic Statue of Liberty you could place in the cockpit of your mechanizer that if you touched it, her clothes fell off.  It was 50 points.

I stopped for a minute and then me and TheRealGafton burst out laughing. Just uproarious laughter, something we hadn't experienced for years. We didn't know why we were laughing, but looking back, I guess I was laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. You had to give up on your needs to get a little bit of something useless you wanted. That's just the way the world works.

I talked with TheRealGafton and SamSamMike about my amazing knife kill, but in the back of my mind, I was trying to figure out which days I could stand not to eat.