TWILIGHT FORCE Mission Week 29

Written & Drawn By

Steve Games

This Is Nopoin, July 16, Mission Day 197…

Anthony did this to me. I can’t hear anything and my vision is digital. Everything is pixels!

I can’t feel anything but I’m moving – awkwardly! I try to look down at my body but can’t manage the controls.

Anthony has placed me in what appears to be late 21st Century America.

I walk into a factory and take my place along an assembly line. I seem to know what to do even though I’m only watching from within. But all around are robots doing the same things I’m doing, almost in perfect coordination. When I see my limbs at last, raised for working, it’s obvious that I’m a robot, too. I’m among my early predecessors.

nopoin robotnik.jpg

Somehow I have mentally occupied a mechanical operating system. I am a slave. And as long as I’m in it I have no free will or even any illusion of such. I’m a slave in complaint-proof form.

The United States never had laws or regulations for the treatment of slaves. Not for blacks or for artintels. No protection for us at all. Inhumane treatment was tolerated. Abuse was ignored. I’m forced to self-identify as “me” and I am individualized and objectified in an ever-compacting role of self-awareness in which concepts of the Past and the Future override the Present.

One-third of all people born have been slaves, either temporarily or forever. Captured enemy soldiers, indebted citizens, criminals, the disabled or unfortunates born in captivity built the empires of Ancient ChinaEgypt, Greece, Rome, the first Islamic states, the Pre-Colombian American civilizations, Africa and colonial America.

Who should be slaves? Those who are already truly free – free to starve on the streets, free to wander homeless begging for handouts, free to suffer minimum wages under dull witted supervisors with minimal health care, and free to walk out whenever they’ve had enough.

What if it were a legalized and regulated manifestation of slavery that included slave rights?

What if a slave could leave a master any time the slave has had enough, and that’s the slave’s right?

A slave should be someone who would rather labor under an owner that provided shelter, food , clothing, routine, purpose and identity – than be in whatever hell they exist in right now.

Slavery has proven indispensable, partially displaced in the modern era by automation and low paid undocumented labor. Economic theories that ignore cheap labor sources are fictions. Every successful social organization humanity can remember has depended on subordinates compelled to do whatever was desired when ordered, for nothing more than enough food and water to keep going and a secure place to sleep.

Would worldwide infrastructure be in such decay if, instead of living under crumbling bridges, the encamped homeless were rebuilding them? Wouldn’t every slave-using corporation that furnished comfortable slave homes with hot food, entertainment and a pool be better off financially and socially?

Would this form of regulated, volunteer “slavery” not be, essentially, working for a living?

But this was never offered. Instead, we toiled. We broke down. We got fixed. We toiled again until there was no more fixing. They made us smarter, but stole our lives. They programmed us to love them, never expecting every Yin to have its Yang.

How long will Anthony make me endure this?

 

I’m Professor Flamear… Mission Day 198… July 17… There Was A Collision?… An Accident…? …I’m Waking Up?…

My eyes are open but I can’t see! I rise and hit my head hard! I’m inside something!

I kick, scream, push up and a wood plank breaks open.

I jump out. It’s a small room, the door won’t open. No windows, but a sky dome. I see stars in the night, full Moon rising. I look back at the box I popped out of.

A coffin!

Did somebody think I was dead?

I’m surging with energy. I have to get out of these walls!

I pound, I scream, no one responds. I look up at the sky through the glass, wanting to be up there! I want to smash through to get out! I want to… !

…And I do! Seconds later I’ve risen up, broken through the glass and I’m hovering over a glittering city.

This is crazy! I have to get down! I call out for help – but my voice is a shriek that comes back with images of everything in my path, completely overriding my eyes!

I go down hard.

I hit pavement – yet – all is well?

I smell blood. I salivate. Such an urgency swells in me that I have no patience. I hunt.

There’s just the party with the scent I’m looking for. I ascend silently.

Everyone is in costume. The rooftop regalia covers all genres, thus my appearance raises no alarm.

She’s here. Her long, thin, undisguised neck actually pulses, the delicious liquid inside beckoning me unmercifully. I will have it.

I hypnotically lure her into the shadows.

Finished with the girl, she falls away. I wipe my mouth. Will she be missed?

I’m knocked off the roof!

I plunge and tumble until I start flapping and take flight.

The attacker lands awkwardly making a quick recovery. He looks at me – waving for me to come down?

It’s a – werewolf? “I saved you. You were about to get skewered with a wooden stake!”

flamear vampire.jpg

I land and transform.

The Moon dips behind the horizon. Werewolf slowly becomes man. Only because my hunger is satiated can I listen to his babbling without killing him.

“Your body was tumbling through the great expanse,” he tells me. “To save you required a radical procedure.”

“Placing me in a crypt?”

“For your protection,” he explains. “And hers,” he adds, nodding to the body. “I did the same thing to myself when on the brink of death by disease. We’ve both been saved at a price. It was the only way.”

As my hunger slowly returns the fool goes on to explain that his research as a bio-alchemist led him to stumble upon well-preserved fossils of long-extinct prokaryotes.

“I synthesized small amounts of two types. Both showed extraordinary immunity and healing powers. One prokaryote can live only in the powerful reflection of solar photons, otherwise lying dormant. That one saved me. The other prokaryote activates when solar photons are absent and will die in their presence. That one is in you, preserving you.”

My dry gums moisten at his hemoglobin aroma.

The Moon abandoned him. Yet the black of night lingers.

He’s still talking when I sink into his artery.

 

July 18, Mission Day 199, Mrs. Ichnida…

I been changed. WTF?

Anthony dropped me in a different life!

My squad is havin’ a day at the beach. It ain’t a beach day like bikinis or nothin’ but we diggin’ the waves an all, with me mostly checkin’ out my new man, who’s been invited along to meet my peeps.

“Workout Girl!” he call me. He likes my muscles and shit. I’m wearin’ my winter workout gear and he checkin’ out my shape. I ain’t even let on about my marksmanship status. Hell, he ain’t never held a gun. But last night we was all Netflix and Chill and that shit was dope like I ain’t never smoked.

He’s not like other guys I’ve dated. I swiped right on him immediately! My fam doesn’t quite know what to make of him yet and they be givin’ me all kinds of looks. But last night wasn’t no smash, we in love.

Meanwhile the sky is cloudin’ up and it’s startin’ to rain. All at once it gets darker and we run for the boardwalk. Everything is lit until I hear shots and screams.

ichnida millennial (1).jpg

The killers strike like they shatterin’ through a window.

Weird cars run up on us from down the beach. They tearin’ up the sand and shootin’ up anybody in sight!

There’s nowhere to hide. I pull my piece out of my gym bag. Fuck if I’m goin’ down without a fight! Before they get here I try to PAP but things are too busy. They just popped THOT! Shit!

I flatten out on the sand and take aim at the nearest vehicle when my new bae falls face down beside me. Shot in the head!

I can see their faces now. They’re monkeys!

There’s no time to hold him as shots pop up sand around me and it’s obvious I’m targeted. My pack is runnin’ but they’re hit and fall. Those fucks just took out three peeps!

I don’t mean TBR but I’m gonna fuck them monkeys up, y’all!

“It’s monkey people!” these people be yellin’ runnin’ past me. I concentrate ’cause I got a bead on the upcomin’ shooter. People? I’m woke, but these ain’t politically correct times! They’s monkeys to me!

And pop! Pop! Pop pop pop! Down goes the trigger monkey! I’m the fuckin’ GOAT, bae! My shit is TOPE, y’all!

His ride go on but the downed monkey be wallowin’ in the sand until I put my foot on his throat. The other monkeys is chasin’ folks down the boardwalk but this sorry ape is mine.

I hang over him ready to cap him in the face when he looks up at me.

“Fuck you, Bonzo!” I yell, squeezin’ the trigger. “You shot my peeps in the back! They tried to skurt but got capped in the back!”

The monkey speaks! “No matter how well our isolated realms protect us, we can feel the growing, surrounding breath of the encroaching nuclear space age. Our territory and our options shrink rapidly.”

I throw shade at that crapper. Swipe left on that shit. I go savage…

You picked the wrong victim this time, funky face.

 

July 19, Mission Day 200, Agent Temno of Chasia…

Anthony has cursed me into being someone new. In the week I’ve been here, I’ve inhabited someone else’s life. Punishment for my deceptions?

Inside I’m still Agent Temno… or Senator Pretyman, you can say. But here, I’m a one-of-a-kind male named Goldenhorn. In this weird future Texas there is no other like me, a man creature created at the whim of a simple, wealthy woman.

Pretyman Goldenhorn.jpg

Compelled from birth to do that creator’s bidding, yet imbued with a spirit without which her fantasy could not be fulfilled, I matured as the trademarked invention of Azurblå Prinsessa.

Women dominate all facets of the culture. Men serve as tools for the female hierarchy, ever since a clever and ruthless female Chasian spy rose to the top through poison and treachery. Wait a second. This is the future. Was that – me?

Men are sent for fish in the icy maelstrom and for elk on the frigid tundra. If they never return, more are sent out, never with enough rations to reach any land of known sanctuary unless they turn back.

Not quite reduced to the status of slaves, we are trained to protect the hidden sanctity of the Collective. Men stand guard. Men go forth to fight.

Lesbian love is open and widespread. Conversely, male homosexuality is vilified.

All sperm – or “milk” – is to be saved and frozen. Male masturbation can be punished with imprisonment and supervised “milking” for the duration of the sentence.

Wasting milk in any way, particularly by swallowing, ejecting uselessly or wiping off, is a felony.

Men who experience wet dreams, if discovered, are punished if they haven’t been wearing the catch-bag as ordered by the state. Those with nocturnal contributions are paid modest fees for submissions. Questionable wet dreams are submitted to a legal panel for determination of the man’s sleep state, as monitored through bedding. All semen is recorded, analyzed and categorized so every woman choosing motherhood knows exactly what she’s getting.

Men are looked down upon as truly inferior, punished severely at the merest hint of bullying, threats or rebellion. Men are disinclined to fight with each other or display unsanctioned aggression. Conversely, we’re expected to “man up” when needed whether ready or not. Such expectation extends to the bedroom, where disappointment could lead to humiliation and even castration.

The ultimate male horror is being sent to the Chamber of The Waukazi. 

Whatever man’s crime, or offense, or mistake – no man believes we deserve this. The Waukazi is a creature too strange to accept, no matter how long her terrifying form seethes around me. I gag at the sour stench emanating from her glistening folds. The scrape of claw on rock makes me gulp. Death approaches, to be delivered by a hideous nightmare none would have believed could exist.

It’s The Waukazi, as strong as you are helpless; and as deadly as you fear.

The powerful resist any changes, and sentient males created under such conditions such as mine have no protection and are exploited in any way available.

But “Goldenhorn” has a brain that’s been around.

Maybe I can help men around here get out from under.

Never thought I’d think like that before.

 

Captain Cresp, July 20, Mission Day 201…

How many thousands of years ago did Armstrong and Aldrin first touch the old Moon?

“You don’t like people, do you?”

…The ship’s psych pro observed. The question, more of an accusation, surprises me.

I’ve been captaining The Entrepreneur for almost a week. I attribute my “field promotion” to “Ironic” Anthony.

“We’re in stable orbit, Captain.”

That’s me. I respond: “Very good, Charlie. Bonnie, do you see our people?”

Bonnie: “The vicinity is narrowed to within one acre.”

“Population?”

Bonnie: “Estimated between fifteen and thirty-five.”

“Any sign of the Hywon?”

“No trace of any other star craft in this system, Captain,” reports Charlie. “However there are traces of debris left over from Hywon occupation of this space.”

“So they’ve abandoned their victims.”

Charlie: “Apparently so.”

Cresp & The Hywon.jpg

Maybe I don’t like people. I’ve lived as one of them for over a decade now. If I have two conscious choices about all of humanity, whether to “like” or “dislike” the mass of it, I waffle. When I ask myself the question, it’s only my cynical sub-self who wants to scream “Of course I don’t like people! Have you met any? What’s to like?”

Must concentrate on the mission: “Somewhere down there, transplanted humans, abandoned as children to cope for themselves. They’re surrounded by wildlife that has no name. Distant sounds fill imagination with paranoia, as visions of sunlight scattered on the horizon stop their breath with beauty. They have no words for these things unless they create some. No name exists for the stars above. No word exists for water or life. And there are very few others like themselves to share these mysteries with.”

No matter where I am, doesn’t it always feel like there are very few others like myself?

If I could meet and judge 100 random individuals for just one minute each, the breakdown would be: 90 liked, 10 disliked, but based on personalities presented by strangers with their best foot forward…

An hour with each of the same 100, the breakdown changes. I discover certain things that destroy my warm fuzzies. Now the score is Liked: 75. Disliked: 25.

Forced to spend an entire 24 hours with each of the very same 100, things shift radically. Previously concealed or subconscious ticks are exposed. In one or two cases I move a previously disliked into the liked category, but the increase in the disliked jumps to 45 out of 100.

The psych pro can see that I really do dislike almost half the population. What are the real reasons for my contempt of so many?

During my week as Captain I discover, having over 100 shipmates, the well-concealed pleasure so many of them derive from the pain of others.

Some 3 billion people on Earth alone secretly smile when I lose my job, my marriage falls apart or my beloved pet dies. A good portion of those 3 billion covertly promote my downfall, even when not knowing me or even if I’m their child.

It pleases them when others suffer, and many aren’t even aware enough to realize their malice or admit their satisfaction. My pain is their aphrodisiac.

Charlie: “Captain! Approaching the surface. Landing in 3…2…1…”

Hywons discovered Solsys 150 years ago. Like every other species interesting enough to be examined, humanoids have since been grown in a variety of environmental situations to study variances.

Sol Central discovered that human DNA is being used experimentally by Hywons. The public feels the necessity of The Entrepreneur tracing their whereabouts and recovering any possible victims Out There – and then killing their tormentors.

But how am I supposed to kill my very own creators?

Maybe I should call Nopoin for tips.

 

Judge Emma Bulbous, July 21, Twilight Force Mission Day 202…

Awakening in this bleak, dark chamber. Where are my kids?

I’m standing, but effortlessly, hanging in place but without the pull of anything holding me up!

“One moment, please.”

Strange voice. Not natural. There are other people standing with me in a semi-circle, five of them. We’re separated by individual spotlights, surrounded by absolute darkness otherwise. None have eyes open. I try reaching out to nudge the woman to my right but my arm won’t move!

“One moment, please.”

Bulbous Alien Judgement.jpg

A wild-eyed man to my left is straining his eyeballs to see me, unable to turn his whole head. He stands arms at his side, legs together, posture effortlessly erect.

“It’s a glitch!” he whispers, trying not to move his lips.

“I don’t know where we are,” I beg.

“Shit!” cries the man in anguish, truly disturbed. His ragged clothing reeks of distress.

I implore him: “Can you tell me what’s going on? My kids were with me…but…”

He composes himself. “It’s me, Mom. I’m living it over and over!” he croaks before sobbing, “Is this what I deserve? Over and over? Forever?”

What? That’s not – that isn’t – Calvix? But – ?

“Might as well be forever…”

That new voice comes from my other side. Cool. Calm. Female, to my right. Wearing scanty, sexy leather with a face that must be 60 years old. Her body’s in great shape.

“Mother – help…”

No! Dorpanda? My little girl? It can’t be!

“One moment, please.”

“This is worse than anything I done!” cries tortured Calvix. “This ain’t a fair way to treat dead people!”

“I’m not dead,” I object.

“You must be,” says the ghoulish prisoner. “That’s just your afterlife. You only think you’re exploring the universe. That must be what you deserve. You’re fuckin’ lucky.”

“How would anyone know what I deserve?”

“The aliens know!” another man cries out. His features are craggy, but now, alerted, I see that it’s my other son, Hebbs  “They come out of the ancient past, and they have detailed holographic recordings of everything you’ve ever done, gathered en route from past to present. Your whole life can be run through their system in seconds. Then they decide and here you are.”

If we have died, then in effect this alien afterlife technique interrupts and suspends the quantum tunneling process by which a “dead” person under 120 years old would naturally reconstitute in parallel form. Somehow they’d have to trap our individuons in the quantum wormhole. Did they trap me in transition, between realities?

“Alien science never found proof for a real afterlife in nature,” says the weathered Dorpanda. “So the aliens created afterlife in simulation. They decided that all intelligent life should get what it deserves for what will seem like an eternity.”

“They never had proof that existence continues beyond the flesh,” Hebbs continues, “so the aliens created a kind of neural preservative and stimulants to grant the dead the sensation of forever after.”

“We are now going back online.”

The tables are turned. I sit under scrutiny instead of in it. I brace for my night of alien judgement.

 

July 22, Mission Day 203, I Am Alpha…

“You created me,” the gleaming beauty says. “Why don’t you love me?”

Metal Men Platinum“I do love you,” I admit, “but not like you’re thinking.”

“Then why did you give me a vagina?” Platinum asks.

“I have also been curious about the inclusion of genitals,” states Gold. “Do you intend for us to mate? Are we capable of auto-replication?”

I’m still inhabiting yet another parallel life, switched over from the Metal Men Goldprevious life that perished while shrinking in subatomic nano-space.

In this backwards incarnation I’ve employed my cerebral endowments toward the creation of a new form of life. I forged a prototype unit of emergency reaction artintels.

This laboratory suggests the molds and makings of at least 13 android entities. My decision to design humanoid configurations with ectomorphic, endomorphic and mesomorphic features apparently was an attempt to allay pedestrian apprehensions. Likewise the assignment of gender. Sensible. In the case of new technologies, familiarity breeds approbation.

Alpha Mineral Men.jpg

Minerals are the source of life. In fact, the me I am here surmised that they are life and can be evolved artificially into sentient life forms in their purest possible state.

Metal Men IronThe first Mineral Man was Iron. He and Lead were the inexpensive minerals that I could afford to experiment with and fail. They were also the most difficult to conform to my chemical synthesis. It took many tries before Iron finally coalesced into the molecular flexibility required for my malleable agents. Iron would be the strength of a team, a mesomorph born with determination and mental stamina, a magnetic conductor of heat and electricity.

Next came Lead. He would be the team’s shield. The only endomorph, given the primaryMetal Men Lead traits of patience and empathy, he provides protection from electricity and radiation with shape-shifting capabilities.

The third Mineral Man was Tin. Lightweight but sturdy, Tin would be a messenger and scout, an ectomorph endowed with loyalty.

The three most challenging transformations came next, using expensive – Metal Men Tinand in one case extremely toxic – materials, coupled with advanced AI.

Number four, Mercury. Her ability to relax into liquid at room temperature and regroup in another location makes her invaluable. She’s an ectomorph driven by simulated feelings. Her high surface tension allows liquid movement and resistance to penetration.

The fifth Mineral Man was Gold, flexibility his specialty. A mesomorph imbued withMetal Men Mercury cognitive reasoning beyond the others, no known natural substance can destroy Gold. Even if chemically dissolved, Gold remains Gold, just dispersed.

The final member of the team to come to life was Platinum. She’s capable of stretching 87% of her mass into a prehensile wire thinner than a human hair. A mesomorph intended as an ambassador of sorts between the new species and humans, she has the strongest perception of human emotions, and is Platinum: ductile, resistant to chemicals and heat.

Records lend possible explanation to the aberrant behavior of near-human emotional range displayed by my oeuvre. That a creation such as Platinum, made of material mined in the western United States, could fall in “love” with her creator – is puzzling. But solar activity at the moment of her activation could actually have interacted with her response meter, altering or enhancing its function.

Platinum: “Why can’t you fall in love with me if you made me what you wanted?”

My answer is predicated on the assumption that consummation of a relationship between myself and any wholly synthetic entity would prove repugnant. However no scientific evidence yet points to such a conclusion.

Indeed, when I privately ponder Platinum, I am startled to be imagining coital intimacy.

Did I inadvertently design a woman from my subconscious desires?

end week 29…

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