Sleeping Giants Page 53

—Would we stand a chance in combat with our robot?

—I don’t think so. You have to remember, the one you have is six thousand years old. It’s an antique.

You never know, though, you might get lucky. Their weapons might have evolved considerably, but they’re still fundamentally the same—focused energy. What they have now will do more or less the same thing yours can, just more of it.

—So the safest course of action would be to do nothing and hope for mercy, is that it?

—I hope not! I think you should fight your heart out. If they decide to get rid of all humans and start over, they’ll do it no matter what you do. If it were me, I’d rather go out swinging.

—I do not believe our robot could be victorious in a sword fight, not with our pilots.

—You’re probably right. I would fight from a distance.

—How can we when all we have is a sword?

—A sword? You didn’t destroy Denver International with a sword!

—So the energy burst is a weapon. We believed it might be a by-product of the material used to construct the device. It may be my underdeveloped cerebrum, but I fail to see how an omnidirectional burst of energy with a very limited range could allow us to fight from a distance.

—Nice try. You’ll have to figure that one out yourself. I’ve really said all that I can. You should go to your meeting. I’ll get the check.

—If I may ask, why are you helping us? Is that not against the rules?

—I’m just an old man who likes to tell stories. I can’t help it if you’re crazy enough to believe them.

—But why? Why not let them deal with us as they see fit?

—I live here. I know people, good people. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.

—I am well aware that you were born here and that you are human for the most part. You won’t tell us how to fight them, but you tell us we should. You speak of them as “they,” not as “we,” which suggests some ambivalence, but there is something more. I sense an emotion I am familiar with when you speak of your ancestry. I cannot quite put my finger on it. Anger perhaps…Resentment?

—That’s a lot to read into the choice of a pronoun.

—They abandoned you here, did they not?

—I was born in Michigan.

—Your ancestors. They left your ancestors here with no instructions other than to blend in as much as possible. They left highly evolved people—they would have been some sort of scientists, the elite—alone with primitive, half-clothed people who probably had not even invented the wheel. Centuries spent longing for what must have seemed like the most basic necessities. Having children, but knowing they will never be all that they can, because you will teach them to be…ordinary. I can only imagine what I might feel, but rancor does come to mind.

—Nice speech! You’re right about one thing: You have no idea what these people went through or what they could possibly have felt. I will say one more thing before you go. Stop worrying so much! Are you doing your best?

—I fear my best may not be enough.

—Then you should come to peace with whatever comes. All you can do is try your best. Go now. Next time, you’re the one buying lunch, and you have to hear that story about the fisherman and the seagull. By the way, you owe me a favor. A big one.

—For your advice?

—No.

—Then I do not see how I am indebted?

—You’ll see…But you definitely owe me. Remember that.

FILE NO. 256

MISSION LOG—CW2 RYAN MITCHELL, UNITED STATES ARMY

Location: Undisclosed location, near San Juan, Puerto Rico

—Where are you now, Mr. Mitchell?

—In Alyssa’s office. I broke in to get her sat phone and her keys. You have to help me, sir. Please! I have to get her out of there. Can you help me?

—I assume you are referring to Ms. Resnik. Is she in imminent danger?

—She’s in med bay one with Alyssa. She’s…They’re doing things to her, sir.

—Who is?

—Alyssa. She’s…Look, there’s no time to explain everything. I need to get her out of there now. Can you send in troops?

—There is already a platoon of Marines on-site, but they will not breach. They will not risk it without knowing what they are up against.

—I can tell you! Just tell them to breach! I’ll tell you everything they need to know. They need to hurry!

—Mr. Mitchell, the Marines are not there at my request, and they are not there to help you. They are there to arrest you, you and everyone in that base.

—Wh…I…I don’t care! Tell them to breach. Tell them to arrest us. We need to get to Kara now!

—I am wanted for treason. You, Ms. Resnik, Mr. Couture, we are all traitors in the eyes of the United States government.

—Then why not breach and arrest us all?

—I can only speculate, Mr. Mitchell, but if I were in charge, I would not risk the life of my men by walking into a possibly hostile environment with a single point of entry, especially when you have no way out.

—What are you saying, sir?

—I am saying that if you want the Marines to come in, you will need to open the door for them.

—I can do that.

—I was being facetious! There are over a dozen armed men protecting that base. Most of them are ex-military. They will not hesitate to shoot you.

—I’m telling you, sir. I can do it. I can secure the base.

—Do you have the key to the armory?

—I’m on my way there now…Sir?

—Yes, Mr. Mitchell.

—I know that if you had your way, I’d still be rotting at Fort Carson…I’m sorry, sir. I know it doesn’t mean anything, but I’m sorry for what I did. I just wanted to say it.

—…

—I’m at the armory. Looking for the key. This has gotta be it…

—Have you ever fired at anyone?

—Not with a gun, sir, but I’m not gonna kill anyone.

—You will not be able to simply disarm a dozen men on your own.

—Look sir, I got myself into this mess because I almost killed Vincent. I’m not gonna try and fix this by killing a bunch of people.

—Mr. Mitchell, listen to me…

—It’s OK, sir, I found what I was looking for. I remembered they keep XREP rounds to get rid of trespassers on the surface.

—I know very little about firearms. What is an XREP?

—They’re less-than-lethal bullets that deliver an electric shock. They’re mini-Tasers you can fire with a shotgun. Very expensive little things. Anyway, there must be more somewhere, but I found three boxes of these and two shotguns. I’ll just grab a few stun grenades and a lot of tie-wraps.

—Tie-wraps? Mr. Mitchell, I strongly urge you…

—You’re right, sir. I can’t do this alone.

—Where are you going?

—Living quarters, there should be no more than one guard at the door. I just hope I can do this quietly. I need to stop talking now.

—…Mr. Mitchell?

—…

—Are you there?

—I am. I tried to knock the guard out, but I caught him in the back of the neck. I had to hit him again. Now if I can just find the right key…Unless…Yes! Good man. He had it around his neck.

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