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November 24, 2108

Happy Thanksgiving, I believe you have much to be thankful for. I read the second email you sent after the 15th of September. Yes I will be attending the wedding in December. Now on to less loftier matters, the speech pretty much confirmed a lot of conspiracy theories you picked up on the web, some I believe myself. The African European State Union, AESU for short, is real and is happening. The paper work will take a while, but when they get that conglomerate up and running we are going to have a big shape up of regional powers. At worse this may cause panic, which will show up as tension, and may escalate to something more. This is pretty much unprecedented, no one really knows what to make of it. If you want to know my theory (which you probably do), the old OWG is rearing its head on this one. Many of the OWG are praising this move and I can’t seem to blame them, the world just got smaller.

P.S, if you’re going to send pictures of your supermodel wife to my email, the email of a soon to be married man, at least make sure you’re in more than one of those pictures.

-November 24, 2108- Erik Riddler Burton to Becker Bradley Jr. On November 27th, 2108 the French Prime Minister also severing as the president of the EU speech was leaked to the public. In this speech the Prime Minister called nationalism the root of all evil, and called for all nations to make way for a new age, where the people will live on one earth and under one sovereign government.

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Chapter 5

“Primed and ready!”

The first bug dies in a burst of napalm.

“Not enough”

Is there hope? No room for gambling, since the odds are already less than zero. No, as long as I’m not downwind I can keep the odds at zero … of course I’m covered in swarmling blood, feces, and other material … so it probably makes no difference. But who cares.

So a bug approaches low from the corner of my eye. I lunge at him; first smashing it under the forward momentum of my goliath armor before rolling to my feet in an instant to burst down, one bug, three bugs, twelve bugs in time to turn around and roast two dozen more. Not enough; the explosions attract more bugs, the corpses attract more bugs, I attract more bugs. How long ‘til I’m swarmed?

Am I in hell? The demons don’t care. Brother, sister, living, dead? Eat, attack, lung, gorge, buffet their stomachs until their wings are forced to unfold. It makes no difference: one blind sides the other, and buries its face into the loser’s underbelly, chewing and ripping its way inside. The loser fights back, smashing his assailant’s head three times with its claw and cracking its armored back, but it makes no difference. Natural selection in full display and we evolved from this? The ones I cut with the sword become food to his brother; the ones I burn with the torch are feasted on by his sister. I’m chest high in death and goo, as the wanderers and the curious come at me by the hundreds and soon thousands.

No escape. I duck under the leap of a swarmling, cutting it in half as I twist away from his raining organs. I recognize one heart in the mix – funny what you notice in crisis situations – before I bash the nozzle of my II into the gaping mouth of a fast-approaching swarmling. My timing’s unreal! As it tugs at the metal, I shove the barrel deeper into its mouth and swing the creature into his brothers, who take no notice of him as he is quickly trampled under the weight of the armored sea. The swarmling I just cut in half gets beset on by his brothers as it struggles to regain some sort of balance. And the battle moves as I move, forward and away, but never far enough.

The fight goes until the ground is soppy with the lickerish they call blood. It sizzles and pops with each release of napalm. Swarmling blood at boiling point releases gasses that rapidly expand the swarmling’s body until the pressure becomes unbearable for the rigid insect body. This process is aided by the four hearts that pump blood into the swarmling’s seven foot body at extraordinary speeds, a necessity to keep all of the organs and extra organs filled with nutrients and the keep the muscles oxygenated.

One bug rears up on four legs, allowing his other four to act as claws capable of punching dents into the pride and joy of human war engineering. I could already see the complaint form I would file as I dodge the first swing with a step back, twist around to let the swarmling behind me lunge at my attacker, and then watch them tackle and fight each other as they suddenly found better things to eat. I lit the dueling pair on fire as one finally got the advantage over the other after a 0.512 second life-and-death duel that saw the loss of 3 limbs, the snapping of one mandible, and multiple puncture wounds that must have caused the failure of four to five important organs.

“Endless.” I cut down three swarmlings in a frenzy of haphazard swordsmanship.

“Axe-Hand,” the name of a Samson I’ve gotten to know since my 10 years of being assigned to the 122nd mixed infantry, “Why do you insist on taking melee weapons when range combat is safer and more effective?”

He looks at me and shrugs, “Well, when your tech boys invent a gun that doesn’t run out of ammo, I’ll leave my axe at home.”

I rip a female swarmling from her head to egg-sack; some eggs are large enough to hatch, pop, and spill out into the ground, some crack on impact, while others bounce. I take a moment to step on one, taking note of how hard they become when exposed to fresh air. The Sword of David, or SoW, sizzles with the blood of the slain. I drip sweat despite the suit’s best efforts to keep me cool. My vision takes a lapse as my conscious slips for a precious moment. I feel the sudden weight of a swarmling, I shrug it off, another swarmling, I knock it aside, I stumble forward feeling dehydrated for the first time in my life.

Too much! The smell alone; of the living, the dead, and the burning, is too much! Oh mercy, if anything was to kill me right now it would have to be whatever manages to seep through the air filter. The smells are poignant even to my soul. Of all the creatures on God’s green earth, the cockroach, despite its order in the food chain, is the one insect that elicit the most hatred. And now I see why as I smash one with a back hand swipe of my sword hand. It stumbles without a head, but turns toward me despite having no eyes to see, and claws with every limb. I shove the sword inside its mid-section and let the blade rip out its side, effectively folding the creature’s carcass upon itself. I take another backhanded swipe as something approaches from behind, it’s cleaved in two with no effort, I choke on bile as its inwards spill mere inches from face.

But carnage doesn’t stop and neither will I. With a turn I let a cartridge of napalm go before doing an odd one-handed reload procedure that required me to hook the II between my shoulder-blade and elbow, swipe a fresh cartridge, and jam it in when I let the Industrial Incinerator fall. How I manage to do that while on the run I have no idea, but I burst down a group of swarmlings before they approach within 50 yards of me and twist sideways to torch a flanking party without missing a beat.

I dive and roll to send a few bugs sailing over me, experience with humanoids must have taught them to aim for the chest. Or to be more exact, “experience” is more like the genetic memory of the ones that survived long enough to breed. I wonder what this experience will teach them. It’s probably not the fear of fire. I press and swing the flamethrower into mob, blood and liquefied guts shortly follow. I take a step and meet a swarmling, I cut it down, avoiding its claws as it twitches, and nearly step into the fury of another bug before I incinerate it out of frustration. “Too many!” and I’m exhausting my supply of napalm. I could have insisted on getting some smokers or mountain poppers, but I only managed a SoW because they forgot to remove it from the scabbard.

“Think!” I look around, forcing my eyes to see past the smoke and my own tears to see the chaos unfolding before me. I see a vision of hell; of chaos and death eating death, raping death, and spilling forth more death. I won’t sleep after this; if I survive, I simply won’t sleep. Who thinks of rest in this vision of hell? When life is obscenity that causes the eyes to bleed? But here stands the reaper man armed with lance and fire, surrounded by smoke and abominations, baked in the blood of the profane things. The smell dries and drips down the naval cavity, allowing me to taste hell.

“Enough!” As my adrenaline levels spike, letting the heart explode while everything becomes a blur of red and orange, black and yellow, screeches and roars, both human and demonic. Hell burns and I step through the carnage into the bosom of more beast. Why don’t the demons flee before the reaper man? The question taunts a response from hell’s denizens; they collapse on me from all sides, mandible click and chip at steel, both arms are trapped before the tide that sweeps away forty tons of war machine.

But who am I if not the reaper man? They meet fire, if only for a second, before the cartridge ejects; but I’m not defenseless. One meets my elbow as I pull out the fresh catch of napalm while another meets the back of my right hand. They attack from all sides and there is no end to this sea of black in site. The swarm is focusing on me now; the dozens is now hundreds and soon thousands.

“Come try to eat me demons!” because it’s reassuring to shout at things that don’t speak English. They come at me in one push, but I’m ready this time and lunge into them like 40 tons of inedible space hull approved steel. Their bodies of flesh and fat shatter under my weight; the armor that evolved to handle the hardest blows any living creature is capable of producing splinters like dried wood.

I drive my SoW into a swarmling before it can rear itself up to my height, disarming myself for a second to reach for another cartridge. I twist with my hips to avoid one lunge before shattering the exoskeleton of another attacking swarmling with my right knee, snapping three mandibles off the face and driving the fourth into what’s left of its compound eye.

I catch a shallow breath before driving my elbow into the mid-section of another bug, knocking it off-balance, as I pull the cartridge out of my ammo pouch, only to hammer the same fist into the face of a diving swarmling, sending it sprawling.

I even bash my head into swarmling just as it rears up to claw at me, forcing its body to cave inward due to the pressure, while I complete my reload. I dive to ground, rolling past and under swarmlings as they dive for me, before resting at the spot where I left my sword. I clenching it with my left hand; I spray the fire of man into the crowd, scorching the blood soaked ground along the way.

“Primed and ready!” The SoW rips through three swarmlings in one swift horizontal slash that parts mid-sections, heads, and legs from body. I twist and high-step to avoid being weighed down by the bugs. I wade through them with fire, and check my six with blade in hand. The barely living that I leave behind crawl desperately to their next meal before being eaten by healthy and hungry; the cannibalism won’t stop! Even I’m just another swarmling to them. Baking in their stench for god knows how long now … some have probably tried to mate with me …

Then that thought goes away with one thrust of my SoW. The bug is skewered from the side, I lift and toss him as he screeches, his brood devours him before he meets the ground. I have to keep moving, but hell seems to have no exit. The nest is stupidly large, the mounds seem to go on and on for miles. God help me, I’m going to die here.

I let out a jet stream of napalm, making sure to cover a wide area, as the bugs come dangerously close to surrounding me before letting go of the trigger at the worst possible second. Before I can raise a hand, a swarmling comes and nearly tears my overworked helmet from head with a quick swipe of his front claws. I only manage to twist my head in time to avoid his blade embedding itself into my visor. The crack impairs my vision for a second as I stumble in wake of the hit. I flail the II frantically to ward off the approaching swarm while my sword hand zims and zips through empty air. I get my bearings in a breath before a swarmling latches itself onto my back. I twist and turn violently in the hopes of shaking it off, but its legs are wrapped tightly around me in full embrace.

In rage I break three legs to no effect. It pecks and rams its head against my helmet in a vain attempt to find an opening. But that’s not entirely true there is a self release button around the back of the neck…

And that’s when I took a running leap into the air twisting myself mid-air in order to land squarely on my back. Smashed beneath my goliath armor lays the one swarmling that made me piss my pants. I roll and push myself up to my feet, thanking whatever divine providence saw fit to allow me to get up unmolested, before coming face-to-face with a swarmling’s moving mouth parts. Two pairs of mandibles click to my helmet as it attempts to pull me down.

“Oh look, we’re kissing!” I land an uppercut with my sword hand that ruptured it so fast into the air that it forgets to take its lips with it. With callouse efficieny swing through four and burn down several dozen in a long screeching ark of fierier death in my rage.

“Not any closer …” then I notice a ridge not so far away from where I’m currently standing and compel myself forward two meters in an outburst of joy.

“How did I miss that little detail when I looked over the Swarms’ nest? Was I heading for it the entire time? Does it matter?”

“Say goodbye to the reaper.” Then I notice a mound’s worth of swarmlings moving in unison; ignoring their imperative to eat each other in the face of a meal that smells like mother of all meals – me.

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April 2, 2108

Becker I greatly apologize for the lateness of this email, a lot has happened since our last exchange. I have a fiancée now, and the wedding plans, my web column…so much stuff I need to take care of! But at last now I have finally time to address concerns you are probably too busy to truly meditate on. Congratulations on your Nobel Prize!! I did get a chance to read that article concerning your work, unfortunately I did not understand a word of it, but I wasn’t a science major at USC like you were. Now concerning the meat of this message; I have to say I too am startled at the speed in which our world is changing. Though many would say “progressing”… I leave the word choice to you my friend. Do not be mistaken what Doc. Trenton and those who have published similar pieces of work are suggesting, is a One World Government. By proxy the United Nations, the largest international body to date, would be a logical starting place for these reforms. The idea flaunted a year ago is now a full-blown political movement, global in retrospect. So the idea of reforming the UN, though grass-roots at best, is not completely out of the question.

But the movement soon realized that they will be hitting a brick wall, unable to adapt a true One World Government, or OWG for short, through the UN. It might not make a lot of sense inherently, but it is quite common sense to people who understand the nature of the UN. The UN, despite the bureaucracy, is still a democracy with very loose and limited powers over the individual laws of member states. In which case you might as well say it has no powers over its individual members, except the power provided by enforcement via sanctions. Even then, sanctions, if even voted on, can only “strongly” persuade a nation from its original course; which again assumes said nation even cares. UN cannot be vested more power beyond its initial democracy and even if it did; we by all means would love to see the UN actually enforce these powers (which you might have deduced it can’t).

Many would argue that if all nations adopt the same laws unilaterally, according to whatever guidelines that come out of the UN of course, that the UN’s job will be made easier and we would have a true OWG. The plan coined the Universal Constitution is a logical idea, but lacks foresight. As I, like many others, have pointed out; even if you do get everyone to adopt a Universal Constitution unilaterally to avoid the mess of having each nation vote to adopt it, than by what means do you ensure that there isn’t 100 different versions of a legislative document that you couldn’t get anyone to vote on in the first place. Not only would enforcing one version of that document be impossible, finding a version of the Universal Constitution that all the states of the world can agree on will defiantly never happen.

So thus a new, even more efficient approach was taken, where the UN simple recognized “nations bond together by treaty or alliance forming a union. With the exception of alliances formed solely for the purpose of co-military dependence or trade.”Effectively allowing the EU, AU, and the USAN to be voting blocks with the weight of all its member states, instead of observer status members or only allowed full participation during certain occasions at best, and also effectively reducing the number of countries needed to pass resolutions without getting rid of vital votes. The perfect start to the OWG, since now individual nations held less sway over the decision-making power of the UN. Pressure for nations in the Middle East, Asia, and even the USA with North American region, to become part of a multinational organization sharing a common currency, possessing a legislative body, common borders, courts, free trade, and joint military is mounting.

-April 2, 2108- Erik Riddler Burton to Becker Bradley Jr. Becker never got a chance to read it until September 1st, 2108. NATO was disbanded August 29, 2108, because of concern over non-EU nations having influence over the global policy of the EU. America, Canada, and Mexico form the NAU, North American Union, August 30, 2108.

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Chapter 3

How do you project the will of man, what is holy and just, upon the unholy and the abominable? With a big gun? Easy answer, but you wouldn’t pass the first class of tactics 101 thinking like that. Big guns require either big men or big enough platforms; in which case, guess which one is cheaper than the other? Simple answer: if genetic engineering matched the expansion of weapon research, – both arts running in perfect parallel of the other – then warfare, now infused with man’s ego, would look much different. We may have never invented firearms. But thank the ignorance of man that we invented the hydrogen bomb long before we invented computers capable of mapping the genetic code of millions of species.

This isn’t a course on, “Why we have Samsons,” but an explanation for the Goliath in the age of large guns capable of piercing, roasting, and flailing a man alive. It must be considered, with great gravity, that the best of mankind is being sent to do battle and expected to return home all the same. We engineer the defense of these assets with the utmost resources made feasible; assuring ourselves that the life of one David is worth many times the combined martial prowess of a full battalion of Samsons.

In this think tank comes the Goliath; not just a two-ton life preservation suit, or merely plates of armor slapped on top of already near-indestructible skin and hardened muscle as the mighty Samson, but a full-combat suit that brings the wearer to superhuman levels; combining high-grade armor, machinery, and regular injections of stimulants and hormones to keep the David as battle-ready and fatigue-resistant as possible.

“I’d thought you’d drop me on top of the closest swarm mound,” having confirmed a thousand times that the big red dot we were approaching was not a swarm mound by heat, historic, and live data. In fact, passing one gave my curiosity the extra push I needed to overcome my intense hatred for conversations with Patriarch Gecko.

“Oh you are. That red dot is only your next assignment.”

“Are you serious?”

“Very. Assuming you survive of course, your first supply drop will be a week from now at that location.”

So I’m still a military asset to these people.

“Surprised?”

“No.”

It hadn’t occurred to me that Noah wouldn’t agree to treat me like common garbage to be disposed of casually. Well no, they would agree to that: sending me down with one of the highlights of human engineering to be torn apart for the Wise Men’s leisure. Not so much.

“Getting their money’s worth huh?”

“What was that?!”

“Nothing.”

Black dots in the horizon tell me the time to drop is near. The correlation between the rows of black hills and the absence of any sign of life since I started staring at the display map of South-West North America, does not go unnoticed. The amount of kilometers between the Swarm and the next indigenous population are measured in the hundreds.

“You make light of your sins Patriarch Matchworth.” He pitches the ship sharply to the right, and then rolls to the left. My poor balance and loose grip nearly sends me plunging to the earth below.

“Son of a —-“

Another sharp pitch followed by a barrel roll in the opposite direction.

“My, my, are we getting angry?”

The Michael takes a sudden nose dive; I let go of the handle bar, cursing my idiocy for not strapping myself in to one of the six available seats, when I go crashing into the back of the Michael before sliding into the door of the captains compartment. I reach for the door slide, when I go sliding in the opposite direction when the plane banks. I scramble to my feat as the plane levels, reaching for the II holstered on my back.

“Are you angry yet?” Silence, “Still mocking us I see. I always knew something was wrong with you boy. Two hundred years of cryo wasted and for what? FOR WHAT!!? You’re nothing more than a cow with horns.”

I lower the II.

“Prepare to drop in fifteen seconds.”

I look out the open door and see the lush green, the gentle tops of hills, and the mountains that line the distance further west. But not the black, as if the brain refuses to acknowledge something of that scale and horror could exist in a world so peaceful and serine. The black hills almost look natural, unless you refuse to consider what they represent.

“Remember this Matchworth, you have no brothers in Noah.”

I nearly bite my own tongue to hold back the desire to argue. Gecko makes sense, I am not a Noah.

“You have 5 seconds to decide to jump yourself. Five.”

I back up a little.

“Four.”

And bolt for empty space.

“Three.”

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Chapter 2

“If you wanted me dead, you should have dropped me naked,” a simple fact I spit in the face of an indignant Patriarch of the Plant Life Research Division. More unhappy to be here than concerned with the fate of an accused murderer, his suggestion to remove the “smirk” off my face is his own way of showing it. He doesn’t bother me, in fact most of the room doesn’t; the Wise Men purposely stuffed the East Wing with civilians whose opinions, by default, doesn’t matter frankly.

It is still a strange sight to see none of my brothers and sisters in Noah moving about carrying on their regular duties for the glory of man. This skeleton crew of volunteers and the unlucky are so tense and clueless, fumbling about with no aim and purpose, half wondering the difference between their left shoe from their right. Most look pissed, whether at me or at their petty misfortunes, while others attempt to not trip over themselves and each other avoiding the Samsons, who now make up a startling amount of foot traffic especially in the eyes of the nonmilitary personnel. Fear, not damnation, is the name of the game. Some save that fear for me, not the man, but the David in Goliath armor. They hide behind smiles, keeping their anxiety at a surface level, well masked by the pointless insults and comments on my morality.

But they are not Noah; and no man, woman, or even new blood from the academy could wear Goliath’s armor and have the insignia of a David carved into his breastplate with his name gleaming in the blood sliver, without a hint of a shameless pride. I was two tons of manmade evil, or justice depending on which end of the barrel you stand. Since the formation of our war department the concept of Davids has always been there, only made obsolete by the need for Samsons. In truth, we had no idea what we would face when the Wise Men and all breathing Patriarchs at that time decided to return to Earth. Noah, the closest thing we have to a department of war, was original a self-defense force in case of dire emergencies or merely the need for a human footprint on foreign soil, so naturally the idea of pure-blood men and women trained for combat was on the table from the beginning. In fact each Patriarch currently working as officers in Noah would have been the equivalent of a small counties special forces if the need were to arise.

However, what we thought The Scientist may have left behind gave little pause to seriously pursue said option besides token readiness. Subsequently Noah evolved to become research, development, and planning and little else… until we discovered the Earth was teeming with sentient life – a beyond worst case scenario for Noah… and all of mankind. In which case a simple self-defense force – no matter how well-trained and equipped – risked unnecessary casualties; a single death would be the equivalent to 100,000 of theirs. From that crisis came the Samson’s: sixty percent man, forty percent other. To many, the overwhelming advantage of a clone army composed of genetically altered super soldiers placed the need for human-beings to step down from the stars and wage their own wars unnecessary and worse unpractical.

To draw contrast, all decisions regarding the war are made unilaterally by Noah. Any debates regarding the war are made internally inside the umbrella of Noah. Even a new blood on his first assignment has more to say in what gets researched, where the next hot zone will be, and how many resources will be needed, than a Wise Man. At most, the Wise Men rein in Noah by setting budget, though even the budget can be called into question by referendum. However, Davids, though considered a part of the military complex have been under debate since the first Patriarch expressed desire to step foot on Earth clad in whatever protective armor he managed to weld together and two Goliath Slayers in each hand. To become a David is beyond the boundaries of physical training or military discipline often given to elite Special Forces in the past. Extensive psyche evaluation followed by a private hearing before the Wise Men, among other test, restrict the pool of Davids to only a select few Noah who feel obligated to subject themselves to the opinions of others. The only other shortcut was self-promotion by becoming a General – a pain in the ass by itself.

No, for me the honor was out of reach; my only serious attempt at moving toward that rank has been my practice rounds with a personally decommissioned Goliath Slayer. To be an actual David – all prevailing circumstances considered – was a cause for celebration, if only privately behind my grim mask. Again, they chose the wrong punishment for a true Noah– I plan on enjoying this thoroughly.

“Well, well, Commander Matchworth; no, David Matchworth is it now?” speaks a man approaching 323 by my last count as he materializes himself next to me, matching our pace stride for stride.

“Gecko, you’re my pilot? Go figure.”

“They had to make sure they’d found someone willing to tip the plane over in case you suffer from cold feet.”
My senior takes this opportunity to pat my left cheek three times; bold move, considering I’m the man with the flamethrower.

“My, my, is that the same look you gave Steward before the ‘you know’…”

“No.” I flash my pearly whites, which he can’t see, as I say this, “I was much more relaxed.”

“Oh my, no regrets huh?”

“Not few you can have, especially in Goliath armor.”

We both exchange shark-like grins.

“Well you’d be the first to die in one.” Gecko shakes his head, “I’d rather drop you naked.”

I take a second to laugh out loud; the Samsons were undisturbed so I laugh even louder and harder until I remember Mr. Gecko unimpressed, impassionate face staring at the spectacle that is David Matchworth newly minted warrior of mankind.

“You must excuse me,” I chuckle, “my senses are starting to take their leave.”

Sighing Commander Gecko pushes on past me, like a bored cat leaving behind a new toy. I’m glad his company will be saved for the drop; the safety on my Type-52 Industrial Incinerator may be disengaged by then.

A slight rap on my left shoulder pad signals the need for the oxygen masked to be engaged. An unnecessary precaution, but I’ve heard enough hanger bay horror stories – some of which are well documented – that I don’t hesitate to do myself the favor when reminded. Hanger B-7 is one of 4 sets of hangers converted into force projection platforms, and doubles as an R/D lab on the weekends. In here, my fellow Noah are busy at work, too busy winning a war to be concerned with the fate of a disgraced Patriarch. To them, I’m just another David, which works out for me.

“David Matchworth, right this way.” My escorts tug my arm in the desired direction; I was wondering unintentionally, too caught up in the sounds and memories to remember that I’m an enemy of mankind. The little boy in me cranes his neck to see his squadron, the 122nd. I shake his heart still. First, my unit has always been deployed in Hanger B-2 or B-5. Secondly, the Wise Men are far too paranoid of the rippling effects of my sins to let a man so heavy-laden with his crimes anywhere near his own men. And third, they aren’t my men. A desk jockey is no more a commander than a squire a knight. An attachment to a Samson unit is an exercise in vanity. Seeing them would just remind me of what I’m not … a soldier. And if you look past the bravado and honor of merely holding the title of David…solely wearing the armor doesn’t “make” you one. But why am I torturing myself?

Nonetheless … the alien nature of this old world I’ve always been a part of is starting to encompass me. As a soldier, not an officer, I find a new sense of nervousness that I haven’t felt since I first started as a new blood. I hid it better under arrogance and bravado in those days; I can’t help but laugh with myself at that. For example, the first time seeing a Samson: 9 feet tall, 400 pounds of muscle, and eyes capable of seeing your every detail, access your worth, and grunt it back before you have time to automatically blink… I couldn’t imagine not taking note of them when I was a new blood, a mere volunteer to the cause, like I do now. Yet, the most startling thing about them– what draws you away from the elegant dove-like design of the drop ships, or the massive scale of the hanger itself– is how human they look. Not a mask, or a few common features, but common an ancestry that if one didn’t know better, may have stretched millions of years. Something beyond looking past what is obviously not human, and more like staring into the mirror called a distant cousin, who is 9 feet tall and built like a semi-truck. It’s not hard to believe that the Samsons are only 60% human on average.

No, the curiosity stems from the small scientist in me, wondering how far away from humanity can we go before crossing the threshold that divides “enhanced” human and walking monstrosity. It is their undeniable humanity, despite being physically un-human in every proportion, which makes their alertness; and the undeniable feeling that they will kill, and worse, prepared to be killed, much more subduing.

So of course, if my memory served me right, I wanted to have a conversation with one at the first opportunity. I planned a thirty minute interview, badgering my superiors for the opportunity of a lifetime. It didn’t last five seconds. Children in the academy often pass rumors of Samsons being mere brutes incapable of even speech. This assumption, which is held by even some Patriarchs (A minority, a minuscule minority, I assure you, less all of humanity be shamed!), is due to the heavy use of nonverbal communication and natural assumptions we humans, who use our brains to do much of the hard work, make of the more physically endowed. A Samson’s voice, which I quickly learned, was deeper than anything a human voice-box could possibly produce casually. But it also possessed another quality: a sound that went completely unnoticed by the human ear, but felt in the nerves. That is what ended the interview – which started with me fidgeting like an 8-year-old visiting the dentist, and ended with me running at full speed to the safety of my bed and blankets. Dubbed the ‘predator frequency,’ our ears pick up some sounds, though they can’t technically be heard, and will register in our minds as the personification of fear. Since hairless chimps spent a good part of their time being on the lower end of the food chain … we’ll needless to say it took much discipline and frequent trips to the bathroom to avoid treating an ARK ship like the hot plains of Africa.

A second tap on my right shoulder pad; the Michaels are ready for me. I turn around, almost with some hopes to burn a good picture into my memory. Only a squad of Samsons with guns at the ready met my longing gaze; I flush in my stupidity and embarrassment.

“I’m not going back; I shouldn’t look like I want to.”

Not the best self advice, but it must suffice. My home. I take a single step towards the Michael, originally a line of civilian vessels designed for scuttling between places of interest. Not truly fitted for long term space travel, but at the very least it can go in and out of a planet’s atmosphere with repairable wear and tear. They weren’t called Michaels until we turned them into scorch earth military aircraft. Though the outside looks as friendly and weapon-free as you would expect of a civilian vessel, it is only for the sake of practicality that its array of weapon systems aren’t hanging out every wing and free space. Trust me, nothing says “kaboom!” like a bunch of missiles and MM cannons being exposed to dropping in and out of the atmosphere where metals easily reach temperatures that could make the Atlantic Ocean sizzle. Like a dove folding her wings, her true size isn’t truly understood until it’s ready to fly. Troops, like me, are loaded in from the sides, while munitions, supplies, and drones are loaded in and simply dropped from the back.

I take another step. The deck looks inviting. Step. I know how many Samsons I’ve watched climb in without hesitation. Step. And the few that don’t return. Step. Made for war, not made for war. Step. Born to die, groomed to live. Step. I could just disengage the safety and … Step. I shot a man, this is what I deserve. Step. He deserved it, I’m a hero! Step. The fools. Step. I am better than this. Step.

I hold out a hand to the side of the door: the armor that turns my merger-sized fist into something capable of delivering 20-50 tons of force when wielded by even a moderately fit Patriarch looks otherworldly to me. I was prepared to die, prepared to be stripped of all freedom and privilege. But was I prepared for Earth? I let out a howl: am I ready? I grunt and scream: am I ready? The sound of the Samson’s terrors, priming for action, send chills down my spine, not of fear, but giddy.

“I AM THE REAPERMAN!!!” Laughter possesses my body and I can’t control the otherworldly howls.
“I mock you all! Justice, man, demon, I reap you all!”

Is this insanity or awakening? True acceptance: No regrets, no hesitation. Pull the trigger. For what is holy, for what is human. But the blood…so much blood! Can’t hide . No need to hide! Wrong isn’t so easy … Why was this so easy?

I stepped into the Michael, a warning shot was fired, my eardrums did pop, but that wasn’t what made me go.

“It was so easy …”

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