rating: +25+x

"Think of reality as a tapestry. Each individual strand within that tapestry represents a concept within this reality construct. As in any fabric, these concepts are interwoven to provide a stable basis. Pick at one long enough and it will snag, creating highly localized damage to the structural integrity of reality. Keep picking at it, and everything unravels."

- Excerpt from "A Layman's Introduction to Structural Reality Sciences" (1980) by Prof. H.D.F. van Beusekom, Ph.D.

On 21 September 1999, hikers in the hills surrounding Hrastovica, Croatia discovered human remains in a cave system. The remains showed extensive trauma to the skull and brain. The following log was recovered from a miniaturized Solid State Drive (SSD) embedded in a recording device implanted directly into the temporal lobe.

» Subvocal Recording System initializing …………
» SRS v12.1.3a ©1997 Sobremarcha Systems SA
» System online
» No output device detected, saving to internal drive

» Command received: START
» Starting recording at 1999-07-23T13:37:58+02:00
» Ambient noise levels exceeding internal threshold
» Noise reduction filters activated

Watching that scroll across my retinal display is distracting and at the same time mind-numbingly boring. This thing takes so long to start up, it feels like I'm getting old while it boots.

Anyway, first things first. My name is…you know what? I'm not even sure who I'm recording this for. I'm me, I think. Anyway, so, first deployment…yeah. I don't know how long to go in this rust bucket, so I'll…wait. Grabenwald is looking at me funny.

I stared him down, don't know what his problem is anyway. Like I said, once again first mission time and I want to record this for my kids. Heh, kids. Wish I could do video as well, but they didn't install that shit this time round, so this'll have to do. What I was trying to say before Grabenwald went all bug-eyed on me just now is that I'm in a big old Mi-24P Hind-F heading to my first deployment, off to fight the big bad unraveling, again.

I remember the eighties, at least, I think I do. Maybe not me, but it's definitely in my head somewhere. I think I remember people back then whining about the Russians nuking us to hell and back; funny thing how we were the ones that managed to pick so hard at the scab holding this piece of shit reality together that we ended up breaking it completely, hah. I'm guessing we'd take a good old-fashioned nuking over what happened any day.

Anyway, we're en-route to some shit-hole called Hrastovica, supposed to be in Croatia or something. Reports about general faulting and distortions with possible extra-reality incursions, the usual. What it comes down to is bugs, things I can't look at for too long and things that have tentacles in all the wrong places. Doesn't matter, the stuff we have with us will take care of any nasties we…GODDAMN CABRERA, STOP FUCKING SINGING…anyway, NO, YOU DICK. Anyway, I just realized I probably sound jaded. Suppose I am, really. I don't know how many times I've done a first run, none of us do. All I know is that I would give anything to be able to turn back the clock and kick our asses, just stomp into that boardroom underneath Site-Alpha and kick their collective asses to make sure whoever came up with Project Arclight ends up pushing daisies, even if it's me. We never should have messed with those strands out in the Davis Strait. Let sleeping shit lie, people, that's your motto for today. And yesterday. And tomorrow, but definitely yesterday. If we had, maybe we'd still have more than one inhabitable continent. Gotta go for a moment, be right back.


» Command received: PAUSE
» Pausing recording at 1999-07-23T13:48:43+02:00

» Command received: START
» Starting recording at 1999-07-23T13:49:22+02:00

Told you it wouldn't take long. Had to slap some sense into Cabrera. If he opens up with "She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes", I swear I'll break his face. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, no more 'murica. Right. Well, I got this song in my head called "Yellow Submarine", don't know who it's by, but they sing something like "We all live in a yellow submarine" or something, and it's pretty much like that, only instead of a submarine, it's Europe and it's not yellow, it's grey. Almost two billion people squashed together, behind walls that probably won't protect us when everything finally collapses into insanity.

Wait a minute, MTFC is saying something. Oh, she's telling Cabrera to shut up. Good. Tough old fucker she is, twenty-four and a total veteran. I'm sixteen and if I'm lucky in eight years time, I'll be alive. Well, I'll be alive anyway, but maybe I won't. It's confusing. Anyway, heard she's taken so many hits there's nothing in her body that was there when she was hatched.

We're about to touch down, so I'm going to have to actually pay some attention to what's going on. Won't pause, not worth it.

Back. Had to adjust the noise reduction filter level though. God, this place really is a shit-hole. Houses cobbled together from Aircrete blocks and some kind of metal sheeting, goats wandering in the street, no asphalt, just dirt roads. Seriously, the fuck did they sent us now? Shit, have to go again, control estimates contact in six and Donovan is assing about. He's going to…


» Command received: PAUSE
» Pausing recording at 1999-07-23T14:18:16+02:00

» Co nd receive STAR
» Sta g rec ding at 1999-07-23T14:41:02+02:00
» System c omised, nois ering disabl
» Ret al display c rupted
» Please cont t our logical Enh cemen vision at +34 9 4 3 61

kay, I'm goi g to have t be b ief here. Fo thos rea ng at ho e…fuck, th s wo 't ork. Gim e a sec d.

That's better. One of my lenses got knocked off-center, I think. Probably damaged the nano-cables connecting them to the implant's core, or some other scientific-sounding bullshit like that. Seems to be okay now. Anyway, big old spatial anomaly to the face when we disembarked, pushing through unknown number of hostiles, nothing I've ever seen before, but that's not saying a lot. Big fuckers too, hard to focus on, look like…uhh…tapeworms crossed with little tornados? Doesn't make sense, I know, but that's the best I can do. Took out six of us and one gave me a nice little slap before we managed to neutralize them with Christophson's banishment gear. Sometimes I'm glad we're working with the GOC these days. I'd be happier if they'd stop using those god-awful code names. Christophson wants us to call him Snake. Seriously.

Oh, MTFC wants to advance to the center of the anomaly, so we're moving out. I'm in the zone here, pulse is racing. If this is what it's like every time, sign me up, haha. Be back when I've got something.


» Command received: PAUSE
» Pausing recording at 1999-07-23T14:44:57+02:00

» Command received: START
» Starting recording at 1999-07-23T15:28:35+02:00

Okay, I'm back. We had to slog through the village with the rain pouring down. Localized disturbances and a few simplex causality rifts, but nothing fancy. I'll tell you though, it's weird to end up looking at your own back. The temptation to hit that trigger is hard to control. Know better though. We just took cover near the entrance of some kind of natural cave system.

Sound is being suppressed for some reason, getting hard to communicate, so we're switching to hand signals. Sorry, need to watch the MTFC here.

Back, yet again. I'm good, all standard operational stuff for now. Looks like I'm being sent forward as a scout. Suits me fine. Gonna switch off again for a minute. See ya.


» Command received: PAUSE
» Pausing recording at 1999-07-23T15:33:14+02:00

» Command received: START
» Starting recording at 1999-07-23T15:51:12+02:00

Right, I'm right up near the mouth of the cave. Smells like balls here, but that may just be Croatia for you. No sound anymore, so let's just say I'm glad this is a subvocal implant.

I'm getting the shivers here and it's not because I'm so fucking hyped up on adrenaline. I'd say that something's not right here, but let's be honest, what the hell is right these days, heh.

Oh. MTFC wants me to go in. She's leading the rest up the trail to my current position. Better get ready for the shit to hit…wait, something's emerging from thWHAT THE FU

» ERROR 392-14355: Core disconnect at <HC032>
» Shutting down……..
» Buenos dias

July 23rd 1999, reality iteration X34-BH-SS1C

In a covert facility hidden beneath the streets of The Hague, Foundation lab technicians were preparing O5-6#5122 for birth.

"Again?" a mousy-haired tech with an ungainly hunch asked.

"Again. Can't seem to keep themselves alive, but then, that's some awful stuff they have to go up against," his colleague answered.

"I know, but you wonder why we don't give up. Most of the earth's population squashed into one continent, reality breaking up around us…why even bother anymore, you know?"

"Good question, Vin. If I wasn't busy doing my job I'd answer that that's probably just the human race for you. It doesn't give up, even when hope is a meaningless word."

Senior technical assistant Vincenzo DiGatta squinted at the vat. "What I really want to know is why they insist on cloning themselves instead of sending out soldiers."

"Well if you want to know, Meyers over in Strategic Command has a theory. Something about them being the ones who caused it, and them wanting to be the ones to solve it. Doesn't help that these days the peasant to professional ratio is something like a million to one."

"So why bother?" Vincenzo said again.

"I don't know, Vin. I just don't, okay? Let's just get this done so the boys in Cyber can add the mods."

They silently watched the monitors as the cloned fetus entered a phase of rapidly accelerated growth.

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