M i l l e r . . .
M i l l e r . . .
r e s p o n d . . .
M i l l e r   t h e
T a l l i e s   h a v e
a S M E R C H

I was privileged, in that moment, to behold something few soldiers ever get to see...

My own face the moment I squeezed the trigger.

I couldn't stop laughing.

It was the most supremely satisfying moment of my life.
An enemy had threatened me....

And I had destroyed him.

Laughing, I staggered over the boy's corpse,
then vomited up the Hooah bar I'd eaten an
hour ago.

I heard a sonic boom, then a muffled thump
in the canyon below....

Finally, I collapsed.

I lost count after a hundred.
Don't call itmurder.
It was communication.
They are deaf to women's voices, so I spoke to them in the only language they'd understand...
Bullets through their brains.
But... where does the killing end?
When all the men on this planet are dead.
I've been talking back through the spiders. Teaching girls around the world how to use firearms.
Al Qaeda's a joke compared to what's coming. Believe it.
Ohhh sssshit...
They've got a SMERCH.
Maybe there really is a god.
M i l l e r . . .   f o r   f u c k ' s   s a k e . . .
M i l l e r !
SMERCH: Good old-fashioned 20th Century Soviet killing technology. No lasers, no GPS systems. Just brute-force incendiary chemicals sheathed in flesh-shredding heavy metal.
Old school, but effective.
On-the-fly analysis: The Tallies must have had it running hot in a cave, then rolled it out just as they initiated launch sequence. Crazy/gutsy maneuver. (These guys never cease to pique my professional interest.)
Two missiles off. Not well aimed, but with a SMERCH, you can afford to be sloppy.
Side note: time seems to be slowing down. (Adrenalin? Drug effect?)
First missile splashes out.
We don't die immediately.
(So far so good.)
Time is definitely dilating. I have major kinaesthesia going on. Motion sense. I'm aware of the position, velocity and trajectory of every single piece of rubble, simultaneously. Dodging the big pieces is an easy dance. (I remember Dock Ellis's no-hitter pitched on LSD.)
Sniper twists away, runs toward the blast. Not good. (Find her.)
Left eye, you got to be shitting me.
The distraction costs me. While I'm buggin' out, the second missile hits. A flying chunk of statue dislocates my shoulder.
G e t   o u t   o f t h e r e   N O W !
T a k e
t h e
s o u t h
p a s s . . .
Miller, what's your status?
Just got bitch-slapped by Buddha.
Simultaneously, the bots afford me/Celicia an intimate view of the approaching enemy. As he emerges from the shadows, I see that he's a boy. Fifteen years old, tops.
He can't stop his teeth from chattering.
He's terrified, but determined to push past his fear. He will avenge the Mullah. He will prove himself to the older men of his tribe. He will earn their admiration and respect.
Ultimately, he just wants what every other human being wants...
To be loved.
Pain floods in. Celicia Miller's nervous system goes offline for a moment....
I shift into zero-space.
No sensation.
No thought.
No identity.
Just awareness.
Pure, uncut I AM.
Celicia's my flesh-and-blood Spider.
I'm the receiver of her signal,
but I'm no longer "inside" her.
(Was I ever?) I am not sensation, I am not thought.... I simply AM.
If Celicia survives, she won't be able to describe this experience to her fellow humans, anymore than a Flatlander can point "up."
Celicia Miller's nervous system comes back online, augmented by satellites and hundreds of tiny robots. Sense data floods back in. The pain is great.
She lifts her left leg, pressing her right shoulder into the ground (a variation of the half-locust pose she learned in yoga).
Woe unto any combatant who gets between her and her mission objective. The Celicianator++ is in effect. 14
Her shoulder grinds back into its socket.
Sure, it hurts, but pain is just information. It can be relegated to background noise, ignored.
Miller, respond...
Resuming mission.
Negative, Miller.
Evacuate the combat zone now. That's an order.
The attorneys say let her go.
I say again, do not attempt a recapture.
The sniper?
Lieutenant Miller, acknowledge.
This operation's already FUBAR.
If you get killed, your platoon'll break ranks and go apeshit.
It'll be fucking Somalia
all over again.
Please Miller, just get the fuck out of there.
Ooohhh... That was good...
Awww jesus...
You're about to be overrun, Lieutenant.
I feel Celicia's reflexes kick in. Every individual hair on her body bristles. Her jaw clenches. Saliva flows. A low, gutteral growl emerges from her throat... Some other mammal dares to threaten her..... and some other mammal is going to die.
I see him.
I feel the Internet shiver with magical adrenaline:
A Taliban soldier is approaching...
The Celicianator
is in effect.
I can feel the intruder's approach with every cell of Celicia's body. Her muscles slide smoothly into a loose and easy crouch, like a great cat settling and re-settling on its haunches, coiling for the strike....