You know, the President claimed things were quieter than this usually. Tell that to the men in diving suits that attacked El Hierro. That’s the island in the archipelago that has all the mining. These tall, bulky divers marched out of the surf and started wrecking shit.
The resulting fight took awhile. They didn’t bring any explosives, so there was only so much they could do to the mining equipment. They ran out of ammunition for what they did have. In the end, they only did so much damage before the army showed up.
I had better things to do, like working at the nuclear reactor and fixing it back up. Not in the nuclear reactor because I prefer the healthy glow of my skin to refer to something other than Cherenkov blue. I worked in this lab the President had set up under there for the development of…things. You know, sometimes a guy just has to have a secret place to sit and think of things. Important things. Like “What if I really want to kill some people far away, but don’t want to pay for an airline ticket?” This lab possessed the equipment I needed to build myself a new core.
Not some nuclear core, either. Nothing like that. Those things run a little too hot to fit inside my body. Plus, while power plants are safe enough when done right, those plants aren’t running around getting into fistfights with people who can a wedgie to a planet. That’s what I meant about this hockey-puck core being unstable. It put out enough energy for my purposes, but I still needed to figure out how where to put it, how to armor it, how to cool it, and how to plug it in without using my own body as a medium.
So I dealt with that while the scuba men ran amuck over El Hierro. The first I bothered with any of it was when the army brought in some of the remains for the lab to study. They did their thing, and I did mine. The Science adviser didn’t like my presence on the island at all, let alone in her most sensitive facility. And while I am known for penetrating sensitive facilities, I also like to think the facilities enjoy my presence whether coming or going.
That’s why it surprised me when one of the techs came running over to my room there and said I should take a look at what they got. He led me to where the main team stood around, hard at work gaping at the attempted autopsy.
The divers were human, at least at some point in their lifetime. “You guys act live you’ve never seen a cyborg before,” I told the techs and scientists around me. Like me, the dead bodies once had some work done. The eyes were cruder, and the person who put them together replaced entire spines and joints. I got my hands dirty and pulled one fellow almost completely out of the diving suit he wore only to find he wore a feed bag on his chest that connected to an implanted feeding tube. I didn’t see the need for it until I pulled one shot-up helmet off another one.
As a guy with my particular enthusiasms, I’ve seen my fair share of brains. I’ve touched brains, I’ve tossed them around, I may have even shoved them up some orifices from time to time. Always their brains, usually their orifices.
Instead of a brain, I got a broken computer. RAM and CPUs tumbled out. After a moment’s more time poking around, I turned to the remaining conscious people in the room and gave them my professional opinion. “Well, I’d say they died of gunshots wounds. Looks like it’s probably time for lunch now, what do you think?” I glanced at the maimed corpse with its popped watermelon of a head and used a finger to move its lips while speaking in a high pitch voice. “That’s right. You should fill up on chimichangas.”
“What about the bodies?” asked an older, balding gentleman.
“Well, I don’t know about all of them, but this guy really shouldn’t have a chimichanga. The doctor told him he needed to watch his cholesterol or he might develop health problems.” I propped up the body and moved its lips to laugh along heartily to my joke.
“Don’t you want to know how they replaced heir brains to computers?” asked a younger tech who reminded me of guacamole. Probably the mole on the cheek and the other two on her neck.
“You can’t replace a brain with a computer,” I told her, pulling the body against me for a hug. “That’s silly. The brain is the equivalent of the RAM and CPU all on its own, with other functions too. It stores all the data that determines future action, as well as all the influences the personality based on its own quirks. You take a brain out and put computer parts in, you lose whoever you had before.”
“You mean-?” asked the balding scientist, providing just the right amount of drama while not stepping all over my lines.
I dropped the dead man back on the table and instead pulled the scientist close, putting my finger to his lips and shushing him. Yes, the same finger that moved the body’s lips. “That’s right. This man was a robot…with the vast majority of its structure comprised of a human body, which solved various construction issues. So, chimichangas then? I’m thinking pulled pork today.”
Because of it being a new design and because I had to recently repair my little armory station, I’ve been taking it slow assembling the armor. I also had to work on the nanite quilt layer. I decided that’s going to be separate from the armor.
So the whole thing isn’t ready yet, safe to say. Which is no biggie. I’ve worked around it before. Even while working on that stuff.
The President has cameras everywhere, though I didn’t know he had a direct feed from his office to the lab. He turned it on and had me specifically watch as he got some visitors from the CFA: the Central Fruit Association.
One of the walked in with a dapper blue suit on, but the trio backing him up wore black suits and shades. The blue man shook the President’s hand heartily, like an old friend, while the blue man’s group hung back and watched over things from the door.
“Let’s not beat around the bush,” the businessman said. “We need more food.”
“More? You have a monopoly on our agricultural exports. We are expanding our pineapple fields, but they will not be ready for six months.” The President opened a box on his desk and pulled out a native Tropican cigar, offering one to the man across from him.
The man took the cigar and pocketed it. “You might as well plow that under. We need more corn.”
The man continued while the President cut, lit, and began to puff on his Freudian phallic symbol. “Somebody convinced Congress to pass a new ethanol bill. As usual, Congress wants a free lunch. They didn’t allocate any more subsidies to us to make up the difference by growing more. I don’t want to lose more money or liquor to those cunts in Tequila, Mexico. I know it’s all complicated for a man like yourself, but we need more.”
The President took all this in with a large draw of the cigar, then took it out and tapped it on an ashtray carved out of a gold-plated skull with diamond eyes and silver teeth. Because he wanted to say “Don’t fuck with me, but I’m stylish if you do.”
“How much more are you willing to pay for my people to go without?”
I noticed the shifting of one of the suits behind him. The man in blue leaned closer. “This is just part of the current deal.”
After a moment of silence, the man clarified. “We pay you the same for as we already agreed to pay. That’s the price of inflation for you.” He took out the cigar and examined it. Then, noticing the dirty looks coming at him from over the President’s mustache, added, “It’s a bad time to piss off our business interests. We know you want the bomb, but you don’t have one yet.” He pulled out a photograph of the nuclear reactor. “It’s dangerous to get caught trying to make one. Very dangerous. Be a shame if my friends,” here he nodded back to the people in black suits, “moved your little island chain to the top of POTUS’s security briefing.”
I didn’t like those guys. Partially, it’s because I liked the President. He’s a dick in his own way, but he’s also a friendly dick, and he’s my dick. I didn’t like this smug bastard trying to squeeze my dick like this.
The President didn’t say anything for a long moment, pursing his lips. He looked around the office, thinking, then looked right at the camera showing us this view. Finally, he picked up his cigar and held it in his teeth to help himself grin. “There is no other choice. I will send it on your next freighter. We have been attacked recently. I tell you this so you know what you cost my people. Someone used the weather against us. I won’t be held responsible for your freighter if the man I know is responsible attacks again.”
The blue man flashed a grin and stood, buttoning his jacket. “That won’t be a problem. Our people don’t make enemies of someone we can’t handle. Pleasure as always. Have I told you I love this office? Your staff does a good job keeping it spic and span.” He and his detail showed themselves out without even a parting handshake.
I called up the President. “Be a shame if he had a terrible accident on the way back to the airport, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes, it would,” he huffed into the mouthpiece, pointing his cigar toward the camera. “You must not attack them on the island. They will know that you could not hide so close to the capital and my military bases without me knowing about it. However, the seas are not safe. I fear for the ACF’s ship once it leaves out port.” That’s not a mistake, by the way. Sometimes, acronyms change in other languages. Central Fruit Association becomes Association Central of Fruit, for instance. Or there’s a different first letter involved, like how the U.S. or United States becomes the E.U. or Los Estados Unidos.
This language lesson brought to you courtesy of the Central Fruit Association. CFA: nobody fucks up like we just fucked up.
“Let me know when that’s happening and I’ll deal with it,” I told him. Then I got an idea. A couple of ideas, actually. One of them was about why he decided to show us, and me specifically, that scene. “You knew something like this was going to happen, didn’t you?”
“One does not live at the whim of a nuclear superpower without listening carefully. I knew they found the laboratory and I knew about the vote. I have lobbyists, too. They tell me my grand enemy made this happen. He hates his government, but he does not hesitate to use it to his benefit.”
I pulled up the memory of the briefing we had before hunting down the whiskey and the Fakecoin server. “He’s got someone building some very advanced stuff for him that I’d like to get my hands on. I don’t like the idea of someone that petty with such a huge technological edge over almost everyone on earth.”
“Yes, this would be bad, but you are with me. When the freighter arrives this week, you can sneak aboard and hijack it. Then, my people quietly take back our food. If the President of the United States wants to boss my people around, he can come down here and live with the stupid donkeys himself!” I stood up from his seat. Caught up in the dramatic moment, the researchers and technicians around me started to cheer. It quickly petered out into confusion and then offense.
Now to break it to Carl that we’re going on another boat ride.