Category Archives: Routine Wars

Routine Wars: Chapter 6

The smell of gun powder wafted over the battlefield and filled Nelson with visions of a history he had never been a part of.

This battlefield was more a battlefield than any he’d encountered yet. The main reason is it actually WAS a battlefield. They had entered Pea Ridge, Arkansas, where a Civil War battle had taken place hundreds of years before. Nelson had visited once or twice but could not now remember who had won the original battle or how it had started, he only knew how this one had started and that, for a moment, his side was losing.

For weeks they’d been coming across tents and campsites outside of small towns which made it easy to determine where the defectors were staying. Today, however, was much different as they came into the valley and there were no tents and no campsites. The only sign of life was a decrepit building from the Civil War era with smoke coming out of its chimney. He had his men spread out just to be safe and sweep an entire side of the hill they had arrived on but there was no one else. Finally he sent in a small squad of ten soldiers to check out the building which turned up empty.

His senses were immediately heightened at the news and as soon as he ordered everyone to be on the lookout they were ambushed.

The first sound he heard was a cannon from across the valley when he then sensed a number of his men being knocked down. Gun fire then started filling the quiet air and several more of his men started to fall. He scanned all the area he had access to but could not yet see more than the people loading the cannon.

Once he told his men to spread out and watch for gun fire it didn’t take him long to realize that finding his attackers would be quite easy as almost every weapon they had appeared to be civil war era. The cannon that was firing along with several muskets to its south were very easy to point out and he started having men head to flank around their back as he and another group stayed to provide suppressing fire.

This, too, was a mistake though as the men he sent to flank were also caught by surprise by various booby traps and another group of defectors that had remained silent until needed. A couple of soldiers were tripped by wire while another one fell into a camouflaged hole. A couple more were knocked over by a swinging branch leaving the rest to be stabbed by men with bayonets.

The massacre continued to deteriorate as Nelson tried to follow the new group of enemies with one of his fallen soldiers but was quickly blinded at that end when the runners removed all the spinal implant pieces protruding from the backs of the fallen.

He called his men to retreat back up the hill a short ways and called for backup which he was immediately aware that there was none. He relayed the current status to his superiors who relayed back to him how his situation was remarkably similar to numerous other groups around the country. The only groups not having trouble were the urban soldiers and pulling them would mean losing position in the most vital parts of the country.

They were not to lose ground; that was the only real order. Retreating now would mean large groups of defectors like this one could meet up with other large groups and combine their power and organizational skills along with their knowledge of all Wartines goings on.

‘Stay put. Fight or don’t fight, but do not leave your current position and don’t let any defectors get past you.’

He relayed this message, minus the fight or don’t fight, to his men. He wasn’t sure if he was going to send them to fight or not. He needed more information on their numbers and positions and tried hard to think of how to get this.

He asked for airbus fly-over for intel gathering. He was immediately placed on a waiting list. Currently they could guarantee they would have an Airbus to him by late tomorrow.

This was too long and not knowing how many people were standing against him made sticking around and doing nothing one of the worst options he could consider.

Continuing to scan the area he looked on top of the ridge to the south, behind the cannon brigade that was still firing shots. He thought he could make out another group of runners on top of it. This made sense and had he been able to come in from the south there would have been no ambush.

He only wondered for a few minutes how they could have known which way his troops would be coming from since just over a thousand troops walking across the mountains of Arkansas were bound to raise a few eyebrows. Still this was the most organized any resistance group had been and it seemed to be coordinated across many areas of the country.

This was not his concern, however, and he had to push it out of this mind. The less he concentrated the more he lost control of what thoughts were fed to him from his men. If he let his mind wander for a second it could soon be filled with hundreds of random thoughts that may or may not be his.

He gripped his cane tighter and considered his options. His cane was the new toy he’d purchased the night before. It was made of a shimmering black metallic substance with tiny waving lines etched throughout. The bottom had a tiny needle sticking out that one might think were to get better grip in wilderness terrain if one didn’t know any better. The only other feature on the cane was a tiny silver button just under the handle.

Leaning on the cane made Nelson think of what he’d given up to be here. He couldn’t actually remember anything specific but he was sure it had to have been pretty special. Then he considered the option that it could have easily been a pretty horrible situation he’d been in which had pushed him to join the military in the state it had been. If only he could remember…

His mind raced again and a headache instantly formed. Someone, or many someone’s, were hungry and it made his stomach growl. Someone else wanted to shoot the people who had shot at them and it made him angry. Someone else was cold and he shivered.

Nelson regained himself again and straightened up, as though a superior officer had just walked onto his battlefield. He had not had a rush of thoughts like that since he’d first tried the router programming, and that had only been with five soldiers.

He started making a list of their weapons they had with them. Mostly rifles and only a couple of snipers, more of which would be helpful but most of the talented snipers were kept on duty near the White House. He had no rocket launchers or artillery as they were heavy and cumbersome to keep on the move. They had also been deemed as unnecessary.

They did have grenades, though, and lots of them. He started looking around to see what other features the land might offer. There were broken, worn, and burnt buildings scattered here and there. He had some of his men search them for any other usable items that may be around and to ensure there were no more surprises waiting on this side of the ridge.

It took a few minutes and more shots from the opposing cannon to get what would make him reconsider whether to fight back or not, a cannon of their own.

It was beside one of the buildings and though it had no cannon balls of its own but there was some old gun powder and the barrel looked to be in good shape. He began considering his options for projectiles and quickly came to one grizzly conclusion.

In just under fifteen minutes they were ready to test his plan. There was a rag filled with a dozen grenades stuffed into the canon and a string attached to each of the pins, tied at the other end to the bottom of the barrel. Their first test at this was rather unsuccessful as the pins did not come out cleanly and threw the explosives in every direction but the one that could have hurt some enemies.

This test did do one thing, however, and that was getting the attention of their opponents. The cannon fire from the other side stopped momentarily as they watched these explosions occur all around the valley in front of them.

After the smoke had cleared they went back to firing only this time they were firing from multiple directions. Another cannon set atop the ridge was now firing down at Nelsons brigade and getting much closer than the one directly in front of him. He quickly rethought his plan and instantly his men jumped to action.

Two men filled the barrel with more gun powder and fuse and then stuffed another rag down the barrel. This time, however, they lit the fuse before putting the grenades in as Nelson timed it out. Just before it was about to go off another twelve men pulled pins on grenades and threw them down the barrel before it went off sending them towards the ridge.

A couple of the grenades exploded in the air above the runners’ cannon which drew the people operating it out from behind their cover, giving snipers behind Nelson just enough time to pick them off.

The rest hit the side and front of the ridge causing rock and dirt to plume up over the area. This was the perfect distraction and all of Nelson’s men charged towards their enemies.

Most of his group, including himself, went up the ridge and rushed the bulk of those who had been firing at them while a few went to secure the lower cannon and ensure there was no one else hiding out there.

Before they made it to the runners the smoke had cleared and they were being fired upon again yet the old muskets were no match for modern semi-automatic rifles once they could see their attackers. People started falling on both sides and then rushed into close combat.

To his right, Nelson saw a runner stab at one of his routines with a bayonet before it was swiped away and a knife was dug into the runners chest. Another runner ahead of Nelson snapped the neck of a routine and made a bee-line for him. Nelson started fighting the runner, using his cane to block blows dealt by an old civil war sword the runner had procured and sharpened.

The sword came down above his head and he raised the cane to stop it as he turned his body and elbowed the defector. He swept his leg in a circle and his opponent jumped over it, however as the attacker touched ground again Nelson touched the pointy end of his cane to the man’s chest and gently squeezed the button under the handle.

A loud ‘whoosh’ filled the air and Nelson’s arm was shoved back violently. His attacker, however, was less fortunate and was thrown back ten feet and knocked unconscious. Nelson kept fighting a few men around him until he was surrounded. At this he pushed the cane hard into the ground and pushed the button again. This time a loud thud moved the earth beneath him. He was quickly lifted as though starting a jackhammer while the people around him were knocked down and stunned.

He turned and knocked a woman rushing him across the head and she fell in a short scream as he moved the cane under his arm and pushed the button again to take down another man behind him.

He tensed and turned but no one else was coming. In fact, no one else seemed to be left. He scanned the area and found they had killed and/or captured 33 people.

It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t near enough and he knew there were more somewhere. His men scoured the ridge and farther south but could find no one else. They did find a few abandoned guns and another cannon that had been prepared yet never fired.

He reported the outcome to his superiors who congratulated him on a well fought battle with a bonus 200 credits. They then deducted 100 credits for each of the 11 routines that were killed in the battle.

He also let them know about the small number in the end and advised they could probably catch up with anyone else that had fled. This was denied, however, as new orders were quickly issued. His brigade and 4 other larger brigades were to meet at the Oklahoma border and await further instructions. A more important battle awaited them.

The next day, President Hope would think over all the results from various battles across the states. He would note that the intensity of each of these had risen dramatically and the Midwest was being more of a pain than he had anticipated.

A few days before he had been wondering which city to bomb however now it was simply a matter of when. “How about now?” He chuckled to himself.

Turning in his desk he pushed a small hidden button which produced a small hidden number pad. He entered a sequence of numbers which then opened a small hidden drawer with a hidden compartment which in turn opened to a hidden control panel. He entered the destination, thanked God for the wisdom he had been given to see clearly what needed to be done, and turned a key.

Somewhere, in the middle of a desert in New Mexico the earth moved and opened up revealing a missile smoking and shaking, itching to be fired. When President Hope saw a green light he pushed a red button which started a dark day. The missile zipped into the air and headed for its destination.

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NaNoWriMo Update

If you’ve been following along with my NaNoWriMo posts you’ll know a lot has happened. I still plan on writing today yet may not post until later tonight or tomorrow so I thought I’d do a quick synopsis and let people get caught up who may enjoy Science Fiction/Dystopian stories.

Here’s links to each chapter followed by a short synopsis.
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

–          President Hope took office over 9 years ago and through some clever law enactments was able to seize control of America in the name of Homeland Security.

–          Nelson is a War Routine/Router in charge of a brigade of more than 1000 troops. He’s from a rural part of Arkansas which is where he has been assigned to clear out any runners who may be defecting from the government or have refused to give up their guns for the new laws that were enacted. His troops recently raided a large camp of runners around a lake and learned they were looking for a man named Jonah who was leading this group of dissidents.

–          Sarah is a Medical Routine and is stuck in the same small town Nelson was from. She, and some locals, respond to the raid at the lake and find 2 children alive. One of them is a 12 year old boy named Jonah that doesn’t speak and has a routine implant that is said to have been made before the technology even existed.

–          Kimberly is the daughter of Echo Corp CEO Kendrick Keys, whose company first created Routines. She was the first ever routine to be created by the company but has moved away since the government take over. She lives in a neighborhood full of other private citizen routines who tell her they have heard of a group in Oklahoma City who is building an army to fight back against the government. They need her help to get into Echo Corp to speak with Mortimer, the original designer/programmer of routine implants and friend of Kimberly.

So there we have it. Some good questions so far, I think.

–          What more does the president have in store for his new America?

–          It’s hinted that Nelson is headed in the direction of Oklahoma, will he find the underground resistance?

–          Is this boy Jonah that Sarah found the same Jonah that Nelson is looking for?

–          Will an entire neighborhood up and leave without raising suspicion?

These are questions I’m asking and I’m the WRITER! It’s an exciting adventure and any comments are welcome. Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Are you reading along? Are you just glad it’s Friday.

Me too… Happy Friday everyone.

Routine Wars: Chapter 5

When the sounds of gunshots echoing through the valley below filled the air around the small town, Sarah initially didn’t give it a second thought. When she was growing up the military, the real military would use parts of the mountain on the other side of the valley for training exercises.

They would shoot up this bit or bomb that bit and the sounds of it would liven an otherwise boring weekend afternoon. And while that had not happened in years, the sounds were still familiar enough to not only fail to faze her but also soothe her nerves on some subconscious level that a psychologist could have a field day with.

But in those days there were no airbuses, so when the sky above was covered by a slow moving object and darkness covered the town for a few seconds, people started talking and watching. They saw it land on the other side of the lake for about 10 minutes before taking off again and trailing off over the mountains.

Airbuses were called so not because they looked like an oversized Greyhound bus with two propellers attached to it, which it did, but because they could actually be a bus. Once on the ground, their propellers would collapse vertically in line with the bus roof and the tiny back propeller that looked, relatively so, like a toy piece on the back of the large bus would fold up making it look like a cat with its tail in the air.

Its doors could then open and close and a steering wheel replaced the sticks. This made airbuses versatile and very useful in transporting people, usually runners, from here to wherever, though wherever was usually an education camp.

The airbuses were the brainchild of some faceless and nameless engineer at the request of President Hope who then took all credit. He wanted something big enough to transport a large group of people but versatile enough to quickly get in and out of places. Large planes needed runways and buses needed time to get over mountains while traditional helicopters were too small to carry two hundred people.

Sarah jumped up from her desk in time to see some other citizens running to the edge of town that looked down over the valley. When she got there they were speculating exactly what it was they were seeing. The crystal blue water twinkling in the sunlight below was being mixed with a darker color.

“Oil?” Someone asked. “Nah, it’s mud.” Another person offered.

“It’s blood.” Sarah said this more to herself than those around her. One person dismissed her saying that’s crazy while others started realizing it was true. “We need to get down there and see if anyone needs help.”

“Daniel’s got some four-wheelers, I’ll go get him,” a lady next to her ran off and came back quickly riding a four-wheeler joined by two other boys doing the same. She got off hers and offered it to Sarah who jumped on and started for the trails leading to the lake. It had a small trailer hitched to the back that would bounce off its wheels on bumps because it was empty. One of the two boys, Daniel, who was behind her also had a small trailer but it had some tools tied down to it which weighed it down enough to remain somewhat stable. The other boy was Daniel’s older brother Dennis who used the fact that he didn’t have a trailer to his advantage and zipped ahead of both of them.

Their engines rang through the valley and caused hundreds of birds to fly out of their warm tree houses, fill the sky for a moment, and then go visit their neighbors.

They arrived at the campground and chose to split up to cover the whole lake. Daniel and Sarah headed north with the lake on their left while Dennis went west along the bottom of the lake to the other side.

The first few campsites Sarah and Daniel came across were still filled with tents and food but void of any life. It wasn’t until they got to the biggest campsite that they found bodies lying on the ground.

Sarah rushed over to the nearest one, a man, and confirmed he was deceased. She went to the woman next to him, and she was dead as well. Six bodies in all and none survived. She looked up at Daniel, “Do you know any of these people?”

“No,” he looked a cross between sick to his stomach and shocked with a dash of forlorn. “There had to have been more people here, these six didn’t use up all these tents.”

“Agreed, and the same for all the other tents we passed. We should head on around. If we haven’t found anyone alive we can carry these people back to town.” Daniel nodded back at her and they continued along the lake checking each site then around the top where they found Dennis standing over some lumps on the ground.

“Sarah! Hurry, these kids are still alive.” Sarah immediately jumped from her four-wheeler which kept rolling another twenty feet before slowing to a stop. She pulled a medical kit she’d stuffed into a backpack and thrown on when they left. She started checking them for wounds but quickly realized there was no actual blood.

“These kids weren’t shot. This is ketchup.”

Daniel looked around the campsite and saw that all the condiment bottles were in pieces. “There had to be some kind of explosion, but nothing is burnt.”

Dennis didn’t look up but offered an answer, “Concussive blaster. A weapon made to knock people down but not kill them.”

“But why wouldn’t they have used them at the other campsite? We found dead people back there,” Daniel was shaken and panicky.

“Who can say why those implants do anything,” Dennis said and then looked at Sarah, realizing what he’d said. “Sorry, I didn’t mean anything.”

“It’s fine. I agree. Glad you aren’t still lumping me in with those mindless brutes. Help me get these kids on the trailers and strapped in. We’ll need to go slower so they aren’t shaken any worse than they have been. It will be easier to check for injuries at the clinic.”

“Yeah, and those guys might come back.”

“If they haven’t come by to check on us yet they are probably half way up the mountain by now,” Dennis assured him as he started to pick the boy up, “This kids an implant.”

“What? Kids aren’t allowed to get implants.” Sarah rolled the boy over and saw the familiar spinal implant just below the bottom of the neck. He was newer than she was. “Who would do this? How would they know what routines he could handle?”

“Can’t you guys just learn any program you want?” Daniel had never been out of the small town and Sarah had been the first routine he’d ever met.

“No, well, you can but it wouldn’t do you any good. It is only truly useful if already know a great deal about what you are getting programmed for. Let’s get them back to the clinic. We aren’t going to learn anything here.”

“Would they have left such a young routine behind, even if they thought he was dead?” Daniel was scanning the trees, ready to get out of there at the first sign of trouble.

“Doubtful. They obviously missed it. I wonder if they are always this careless.” Dennis placed the child on the trailer of his four-wheeler and strapped him in tight. He waited for Daniel to get the girl on the other trailer before they set back towards town. It was getting colder and the sun was starting to go down as they got back to the clinic after an uneventful yet anxious ride back.

“Put them up there,” She pointed to a couple of beds in an exam room that normally waited for emergency patients. She struggled to not immediately look at the boys implant. She had so many questions about it and what it was doing on him. Besides it being impractical for programming as he grew the implant would start to come apart. She remembered hearing that in one of those lectures.

She went through her exam routines on each child, checking their vitals which seemed to be fine. One of the only pieces of large equipment they had in the clinic was an old X-Ray machine which she used to conclude the girl had two broken ribs while the boy was fine. She continued to try to wake them up fearing possible concussion. Eventually the boy woke up and stared at them.

He didn’t sit up, or scream, or ask where he was, he simply stared at them.

“HI! My name is Sarah. What is your name?” She asked but received only silence. “How long were you living at the lake?” There was more silence. “Do you remember what happened?” She looked closely at his eyes, they followed her movements and he seemed awake, just silent. She started to check his pupils when a voice behind them crackled to life.

“He won’t talk to you.” They jumped having been so engrossed in trying to get the boy to speak. “He doesn’t talk to anyone.”

“So you know him then?” Sarah turned and then backed up so she could see them both. Daniel and Dennis sat down on chairs against the wall when the girl gave them a bit of a frightened look.

“Well, yeah he’s my brother.”

“Oh, that’s very nice. What are your names?”

“My name is Faith and I’m 10 years old and he is Jonah, he’s 12!”

“Faith and Jonah, my name is Sarah and they are Dennis and Daniel. They are siblings too, they are brothers.”

“Are you their sister?”

“No, but they helped find you and bring you back here.”

“Well that’s very nice of you all, but we should get back to camp.” At this Jonah looked at her with a soft glare. “Oh, right. Camp was raided wasn’t it?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.”

“Our parents were with us at our tent, did you find them?”

“No, we found no one else by your tent.”

“They were taken by the war-tines. They will be going to camp.” She looked towards her brother who seemed to consider this.

“It’s pronounced ‘ROU-tine’ there Faith.” Daniel couldn’t contain himself.

“No, it’s WAR-tine. He’s a routine and doesn’t hurt anyone. War-tines go around carrying guns and kidnapping people taking them to camp. You’re one, too, aren’t you Sarah? I mean a routine, like my brother.”

“Yes, I suppose I am like your brother in that respect. Say, you don’t know what type of routine he is do you? I’m a medical routine; do you know what he is?”

“Yes, he’s a knowledge routine.”

“Knowledge of what?”

“Everything important in this world,” Faith said without any irony and then glanced at her brother again who was now playing with the stethoscope that was setting next to him. “He is the key to a mystery no one yet knows about. He is the solution to a problem no one talks about. He is the hope when hope has turned on us.”

“Wow, sounds like he’s pretty special,” Sarah said with a smile making Jonah blush.

“Wait, key? Solution? What does all that even mean?” Dennis leaned forward to get another look at the young child.

“I don’t know. It’s what my parents always tell us.”

“How long has it been since your brother said anything?”

“I’ve never heard him talk. Mom says he’s just a good listener.”

“I bet he is. Do you know how long he’s had his implant?” Sarah pointed at his back.

“He got it before I was born.”

“Didn’t you say you were ten years old?” Dennis asked.

“Yes sir.”

The three adults exchanged glances and Dennis continued, “But how would that be possible. There weren’t any routines 10 years ago. The technology didn’t exist.”

“Maybe you mean just as long as you remember. You would have been very young when I got my implant; maybe it just seems like that long.”

“No ma’am. My mom told me he got his before I was born. It’s changed a little but it has always been there.”

“Changed?” Sarah looked at him again and then asked him to sit up. She lifted his shirt and examined his back closer. There were tiny scars dotting up and down his back on either side of his spine where a full spinal implant used to lay. “This is impossible. Implant removals, changes, upgrades; it’s all untested. No one has ever done it. How could he have gone through this?”

“Is that why he doesn’t talk?” Daniel asked.

“It’s possible. It would take brain scans and a host of other tests to be sure but we don’t have any of that equipment and going to a hospital with him would be dangerous. There are routines, or WAR-tines, I should say, all over every hospital.”

“We have to get back to our parents.”

The adults looked at each other again but with a look of despair. “Honey, if your parents went to a camp, we can’t help them.”

“Well of course YOU can’t. You have to take us to the one who can.”

“Who could possible help you get inside?” Dennis asked with a great deal of doubt.

“I don’t know his name. But he is the one who can unlock the key.”

“Ok this girl is crazy,” Daniel stood up and waved his hands about as though mimicking craziness. “You can’t UNLOCK a key, Faith; you use a KEY to unlock a door.”

“I’m just telling you what my mom used to tell us every night before bed. ‘If ever unable to find me, there is only one man to see. No matter what he does or where he be, he’ll use the back door to unlock the key.’”

“Ok, Daniel’s right, she’s starting to sound a little crazy. Actually, her whole family is starting to sound crazy.” Dennis joined in making crazy faces with his brother.

“Maybe she’s not. She’s called her brother the key earlier.”

“So we need to unlock him.”

“In a sense, yes; he doesn’t speak and he has a routine full of knowledge. Maybe that knowledge needs to be released. If they were runners it could be information about the War-tines they were running from.”

“Well then we need it unlocked like we need a whole in our head, which is what we’d have if any of them drones found out we might even possibly have secrets on them. And we don’t even know who could unlock him anyway. It could be a trap to begin with.”

“Whoever put an implant on him did it before Hope even took office.”

“So she says, you don’t know that you’re just basing it off of one ten year olds word who just survived a concussion blast. You say she has two broken ribs yet she hasn’t cried once. Doesn’t this all seem a bit odd to you?” Dennis had raised a valid point and Sarah looked at Faith with intensity.

She finally bent down between the girl and the boy and took a deep breath. She shook her head realizing what she was about to say and where she was about to go. “I think I know someone who can help us. We’ll leave in the morning.”

 

NaNoWriMo: Routine Wars – Chapter 4

Kimberly stood in line to get through the security checkpoint. They weren’t typically slow however it was Friday night and the bars downtown had just closed. While she was against what the government was doing she had never felt safer traveling alone at night in any part of the city. Downtown alleys could still be bad with homeless people who had nothing to lose, but there were even less of them than before.

She scanned her ID Badge at the gate and a guard waved her through. On a little screen opposite of her another guard watched her picture, finger prints, social security number, and current job pop up. She pushed her thumb on another pad past the gate and the screen confirmed her finger prints matched.

Three gates away a screen flashed red indicating finger prints of the person trying to get through didn’t match the ID he flashed. Instantly and quietly six guards appeared from a little shack and escorted the man away.

Kimberly just glanced his way and then continued towards her home. She lived in a suburb that was mostly filled with routines. Most were pregov, civilian routines implanted before the government buy out. And all of them knew Kim, she was THE daughter. She was THE routine. She was routine zero.

Her implant was the most crude of the lot. Despite all the advances upgrades were still difficult and a change in implant was untested because no one knew what would happen to the brain if it all of a sudden stopped receiving the flow of information provided.

Her spinal implant ran all the way down her spine and connected into her body between every vertebra. It was essentially an exo-spine and only a handful of routines had one. The implant in her stomach was even worse. While other routines had a small device inside their body, her control unit was too big to fit inside. Where the appendix would be covered by flesh, there was a small glowing sphere protruding out with a metal ring surrounding it and connecting to her stomach to keep the unit in place. It was bigger because they weren’t originally sure how much power would be needed to supply the information to the brain. They knew how much power it took to send one piece of information but they could only guess at how many times it might actually be accessed in a given second.

So besides the kinetic recharging system and micro battery pack, it had an additional battery pack that could be removed and recharged if needed. It had not been needed which is when they scaled the design down. They would have been able to upgrade her to a newer unit and graft skin back over but she chose to keep it for the other reason it was bigger.

Her unit, with its larger size in back and front, had one distinct advantage over every other routine implant; it could hold more than one program at a time.

Despite the small devices’ ability to hold two terabytes of information, over eighty percent of that is the program that simply tells the device how to actually communicate to the brain. The base communication program itself covers half of that amount while the rest is allotted to error handling. With so many things the brain can do, Kendrick and the designers felt that taking every possible outcome and providing a way to avoid it would avoid any unforeseen errors.

“You know what every Microsoft Windows release is like? We want to avoid that because we only get one shot at it,” Kendrick had quipped on a talk show.

Also, because she had ready access to her control unit, she could switch out programming as she needed. She left the main program and her initial routine running while she uploaded and downloaded other information. She was the closest they had seen to what removing an implant would look like, and it was scary.

The first time she changed her programming she forgot her name. The second time she forgot her family. The third time, she started having recurring acute memory loss. She could be fine for a month and then forget what she had done the entire day.

“Ever walked into a room and forgot why you went in there?” She once asked her friend, “It’s like that except I don’t remember even going to the house the room is in.”

So she had made it a rule to avoid doing it anymore, but she enjoyed having the option if she needed.

Her original routine was in numbers and calculations. She was the worlds’ fastest calculator and more. She could solve equations before you could ask her to. She could remember numbers she heard years before. She was a casinos worst nightmare. And she couldn’t care less.

She had always been good at math and that was what she excelled at when her dad asked her to get an implant but she didn’t feel she should be defined by numbers. That was when she started adding and changing out secondary and tertiary programs. The first one was on flying. Unfortunately she’d never flown before so despite knowing all the technical aspects she still panicked and downed Echo Corps company chopper.

The second one was in martial arts which she actually did have some experience, when she was five years old. It didn’t translate into expertise, however, and she sprained a leg because her body wasn’t used to moving in the way she knew it should.

The latest was her favorite, however, which was an engineering and design program. She had always tinkered around in the garage with her dad so she had a basis. While she couldn’t build the ten story building she was able to envision in her head, she could build and fix small electronics. Tinkering was not just her hobby, it was her.

Being the daughter of one of the richest men in the world means you don’t have to try too hard to get the necessities in life. He had always given her everything she’d ever wanted and after making her routine zero he felt even guiltier and basically put her on the payroll to do nothing. She had everything she needed but nothing she wanted.

Friends were hard to come by as well. Real friends were anyway. Sure she had plenty of girls and guys who would hang around so they could get a piece of the free pie, but few that actually wanted to stay around her. Guys wouldn’t get too close because of the glowing belly and clanking metallic back. And she would hear the girls laughing about what she looked like when she went to buy drinks.

Routines, however, at least had a genuine interest in something other than money. She could help them fix pieces on older units as long as they were still running and they enjoyed picking her brain about what it was like at Echo Corp when ideas started flowing. Echo was known for hiring people and then letting them come up with anything they wanted. It was that kind of freedom that led to the routine revolution. And she actually enjoyed recalling the story.

“Each month, my dad would gather everyone together in this large meeting hall. You didn’t have to come unless you had an idea and it didn’t matter how small or dumb the idea might be, he wanted to hear it.

“Well he’d hired this young hotshot programmer who had never gone to school but taught himself everything called Mortimer, though he went by Morty. Morty had not been there but that first month, he’d never even seen one of these meetings, when he got up there on that microphone and started trying to tell his idea.

“He was shaking and obviously never been in such a position. And Morty is a big guy but he looked so small on that stage. People were still murmuring about some idea from the guy who’d just gone up about a toaster for frozen pizza. No really, you take a frozen pizza and slide it in vertically and hit the button and then a minute later you have a pizza. The idea was actually pretty good if you take out the vertical part.

“Anyway my dad realizes someone is up there already and trying to speak so he sits back forward and gives his look like, ‘I’m listening.’ Normally when a CEO gives that look it’s just B.S. but my dad always meant it. So people keep murmuring while Morty is trying to speak because no one else seems to realize he is up there either so my dad clears his throat a few times before I stand up, turn around, and yell “SHUT UP, MINIONS!”

“So Morty and my dad start chuckling at this while everyone else just kind of goes to a stunned quiet. My dad finally asks him, ‘what’s your idea, Mortimer?’ Daddy always had a knack for remembering names. So Morty clears his throat and says ‘Brain enhancements.

“Seeing the quizzical look on my dad’s face he went on to say if a brain uses electrical impulses to speak to the spinal cord and computers can use electrical signals to send information back and forth, why couldn’t we build a computer that could supply information to a brain.

“So my dad cocks his head to the side and looks at Mortimer and says, ‘son, you are either the craziest person in this room,’ and some people chuckle behind us, ‘or the smartest. Why do you think we could ever communicate with the brain. Have you ever studied the brain and how it works?’

“’No sir.’ He kind of stuttered realizing what it’s like to face my dad who is sharp and on top of things, he always knows a good question. ‘Then what makes you think you could do this?’

“’Because no one has ever proven it can’t be done.’ Morty, through all his self-education, had one advantage over every college graduate in that room. No one ever told him what he could and couldn’t do. He simply thought of something and tried it. And that was what he wanted to do now. My dad told him to meet him in his office and after the mice test, he was made vice-president. He was in the right place at the right time.”

Kim had spent many hours with Morty even before she had a real implant during the programming phases. They would hook a series of wires that would flash small electrical pulses through her skin to her spinal cord. It was not as precise as actually connecting turned out to be but it allowed him and the other programmers to perfect everything.

During testing he proved that he could control involuntary movement by making her smack herself at which point she voluntarily smacked him and that they could not recreate muscle memory like playing the piano. A test in her trying to play a piece by Mozart caused him to quip that that had certainly not worked and Mozart was lucky to be dead so he didn’t have to hear it at which point she voluntarily slapped him again.

He got slapped a lot.

But she had not been back to Echo Corp in over two years. Things were different after the government buy out. Her father rarely came to the brainstorming meetings and people were generally less thrilled to be working than before. The company still made innovative products and created more routine implants for the lessening number of people who wanted one but the joy of doing so was gone since they got blamed for creating routines in the first place. All the life had seemed to leave the building.

She moved away from Houston to Chicago so that she could avoid most of that. She inadvertently formed this community of routines who just wanted to live in peace and she was content. Content was better than a lot of people were doing.

As she walked up to her apartment and opened the door someone rushed in behind her and closed the door. There were no lights on for her to see and she couldn’t scream as the intruder had quickly covered her mouth and pinned her against the wall.

“SHHHH. Don’t scream Kim, it’s me.” She relaxed a bit.

“Alex?”

“Yeah, look I don’t have much time but there’s something you have to know.”

Alex was a neighbor of hers and a fellow routine. He was missing an eye that he lost when he’d tried to resist. He’d done it before the education camps were built so he felt pretty lucky to have just lost an eye. He moved back and the glow from her implant shone through her shirt. “What are you doing here? I’ll see you tomorrow at the party.”

“No, you won’t. You won’t see a lot of us but we will want to see you.”

“Alex, WHAT are you talking about?”

“It’s happening Kim. A bunch of us are going to fight back.”

“That’s crazy, how could anyone win against tens of thousands of military? What would you fight for? What would it even prove?”

“Look, it’s all a little crazy if you take the time to rationalize it but that’s life, life isn’t rational. We hear that there is a group of routines building an army under the governments’ radar. They even have weapons they just need more numbers.”

“That doesn’t even sound possible.”

“But what if it is?” Kim considered this for a second before Alex went on. “Look, we’re leaving tomorrow and heading to Oklahoma City. No one wanted to tell you at first because leaving as a big group will raise a little suspicion but nothing really works without you. You’re the key.”

“How am I the key?”

“You can get us into Echo.”

“Echo? What does that have to do with anything? Alex, really if you all want to go off getting killed then…”

“There’s not enough time to explain it but I know you’ll understand when I say Morty can help.”

“You’ve talked to Mortimer? Is he ok?”

“No, we haven’t. We only know what you’ve told us which is plenty to know we need him. We need you! Come with us.”

“I just don’t know.” But Alex was already heading out the door. She stood there questioning everything he’d just said. She agreed Morty was required for any chance to take down government routines, but numbers were needed as well. That was when she knew she would be leaving, she had to see the army that would overthrow the government.

 

NaNoWriMo: Routine Wars – Chapter 3

When Charles Hope was elected into office there were no routines in the White House. That was just over 9 years ago and at that time there was only one routine in the entire world and that was Kimberly Keys, daughter of Echo Corp CEO Kendrick Keys.

When he was a senator, he saw the government folding. There was no bi-partisanship and the republicans argued with the democrats on every issue. The president, the house, and the senate all butted heads constantly while America fell into a recession and faith in democracy hit an all-time low.

He ran a campaign with the slogan “Don’t just hope for change, change your vote to Hope,” and several variations. It was clunky and he didn’t come from a rich background, however he did know what people wanted, and that was an overhaul of the system. And that’s what he did.

It took more than just him of course; in fact it took a perfect alignment of political stars to make all the changes he saw lining out before him. His party had to regain control of the house and senate and he needed them all to be on his side. He also needed people who could spin his proposals into bigger, people friendly proposals. The old trick of putting gun legislature in with school reform was nothing compared to giving more power to Washington while taking other freedoms away as a diversion.

His initial intentions were just a simple change in the ways things were done but coming into power he was told a few key things that skewed his view even more. When any president comes into office they are given a briefing on various things that most people don’t know about. What’s really in Area 51, who has nuclear weapons pointed at us, and what exactly is going on in the war overseas are just a few things that he might hear in his first few weeks. The job itself is enough to feel overwhelming but add onto it information you weren’t even ready for and it can get stressful.

The report that stuck with him though was the list of suspected terrorists living in America at that time. It was basically everyone over the age of 8 and showed how more weapons led to more shootings which led to more security measures in private homes which led to more guns which led to more shootings. It was a circle that they were unsure how to deal with as they all liked their guns a lot, but a circle that President Hope saw an end to. Hope and his friends in the Senate realized that because there were so many guns anyone could have more than one and anyone could have a semi-automatic rifle, great for when you’re deer hunting more than ten deer at once.

He understood that limiting the number of guns in America meant people giving up guns they already owned and that would cause a lot of uproar. And everyone who objected would not only be upset, but armed as well.

He also knew that a large change in gun laws was the only way his future plans would be able to occur. It had been long decided that four years in office is barely enough time to get anything done. Even if you get bills out and laws started a disgruntled congress could hold things up until you were out and someone else would come in and veto everything you’d fought for. Were you lucky enough to get a second four years you had better make something of it because that was the last chance you’d have. Or was it?

“But why do we accept a system that seems created to keep everything at a standstill?” he had asked when running for office. This had resonated well with citizens who didn’t realize it meant he wanted to be in office for more than 8 years.

He pushed the gun law through in his third year and his approval rating tanked. People in rural areas refused to give up any guns that had since been banned and fought back against anyone who approached them. Crime started to drop but gun lovers didn’t care and just wanted less Hope.

Around this time, routines were becoming more prevalent. Sarah would have had her implant for just over two years and in the last year they went from just under three thousand sold to over seventy-five thousand. Hope saw the power in such technology and started convincing his influence circle in congress as to the authority they could provide a military as well as the need for such power.

The deal was shady and it forced Echo Corp to turn over all patents and technology, as well as over half of their staff. They could keep making routines for the private sector, however if anyone showed an interest in being in the military they had to send them to the government firm that started creating the next big thing in war tech. And it all happened the day before Hope lost his re-election. And that was his day to shine. As the would-be future president took to the podium to thank everyone for voting for him, the major news networks suddenly cut-in and said the President was making an announcement.

It was unprecedented to address the country while your successor was giving a speech and the whole world listened close to see what could be so important.

“Good evening. I would like to start by congratulating my opponent on a great campaign run. When I took office I promised you all change would come and while I have delivered on that promise you have chosen to go yet another way. I tell you the truth when I say that nothing good will ever come from flip-flopping from one candidate to another every 4 to 8 years and constantly bickering about the same issues. The problem is these candidates simply want the power and money and influence that comes with the office of presidency and they don’t care nor even have an idea what it is like to be a working middle-class drone in America.

But there is no need to worry about this mistake as I have had the foresight to fix it before you even made it. A new law, recently enacted, allows a sitting president to remain in office if the U.S. is in a state of disillusion and disrepair. I am enacting this ordinance now and stating that I will remain in office until I feel that America is once again strong and united, and we are again the powerful nation the world once saw us as.

My apologies to Candidate Williams, I know he was looking forward to taking office and had lots of ideas even I hadn’t considered. I will be extending to him an offer to be a top advisor at the White House and I hope to work closely with him, so that when I leave office he can step in and take over without any hiccups.

Changes will soon be coming to the nation, because we can’t fix the world unless we ourselves are not broken. Stand with me, work with me, build a better tomorrow so that today won’t be in vein.”

There was a great backlash at this announcement from most groups. While plenty of people took this as more political shenanigans others felt they had been duped by an already controlling power. The policy allowing Hope to stay in office had been added by him to the Gun Control bill. It was buried deep and used only enough words to make it iron clad while still vague enough to give him more power than any president since the founding fathers.

Under the Emergency Executive Proclamation or E.E.P., the president could enact any law temporarily even if it went against the Constitution, only to be released at his resignation. It also stated that a Constitutional right or amendment could be removed, changed, or overridden permanently if the majority of Congress agreed to it.

There was no voting by the people, there was no debate, there was only presidential power, and Hope now had it.

Hope had withdrawn all troops from foreign soil 2 years prior and they were now deployed to major cities to avoid as many riots as possible but this was only a small band-aid for a gaping wound. His plan had been to do this at the end of his second term but he had to move it ahead before he lost all chances entirely. He immediately charged his new firm with making war routines. The major programming had to remove emotions and political opinions while increasing knowledge of weapons, their usage, and tactical warfare in all environments.

His office started recruiting new military personnel by the thousands. Offering financial incentives and free food for family members of military they started building their routine army and then filling them with steroids to make them as strong as they were smart. Within 6 months, large groups of routines were sent out to every state capital city to start patrolling.

By the end of the year, a large education camp was opened in the middle of the Mojave Desert to help citizens understand how great President Hope was. The first students to attend were non-routine military who had originally been charged with maintaining the streets they grew up in yet instead started and led riots themselves.

By the end of year two, life was basically back to normal. People went to work and paid taxes. They went to grocery stores and movies. They traveled from city to city and could even leave the country, though getting back in was more difficult than ever. People speculated what exactly went on in the education camps and stories would pop up on social websites about family members that had never returned, though these were often taken down and replaced by notes that apologized for overreacting and their family members had contacted them and were doing fine.

And news media continued commenting on news stories including what was going on in Washington. They would break stories of freedoms being removed or people disappearing yet since they had always overreacted and overstated or misstated facts in the past, none of this really seemed to matter to anyone.

The truth was America was numb to drastic and devastating occurrences. Whether it was a natural disaster, a bombing, or political scandal they saw so much negativity spewed through all sorts of media outlets on a near constant basis that they didn’t really pay much attention to what was going on in Washington. There were extremists holed up in rural areas screaming that this was the end of the world and our rights were gone but they had been doing that all along as well. The only difference was there were more of them but no one noticed because they WERE in rural areas.

And the routines were effective. There was less crime in New York City than ever before and no one could really argue with those results, not that people didn’t try. But the routines had a flaw.

The problem with an army of thousands in a small area is getting consistent and concise orders out to the right people in a timely manner. One person couldn’t relay information back and forth with more than a handful at a time. They played the telephone game with information up the chain until it was distorted and useless. But Hope had been working on this problem as well.

He had the acquired scientists and programmers working on a way for a single routine to be able to instantaneously communicate with other routines. What he got was even better, as they created routers who could not only instantly communicate, but do it without using a radio and be able to see what they see as well.

They called them routers, filtering information to and from routines as needed, and they were an upgrade to the existing programming. Communications could happen from across the lands thanks to the infrastructure already being full of cell phone towers, which bounced information around perfectly. They started finding the people who would make good leaders with a large need for the ability to multitask and oversee large battle areas. To their chagrin America had been training such people for years so they started putting a requirement on applications that you would have had to play hundreds of hours of strategy and war video games to be considered.  Applications flooded in.

And so he had his army to squash any negativity to his rule in no time at all. He became a router himself to be able to receive information from all the other routers around the U.S. He was powerful, full of diplomatic information with an army at his complete control, and a nation practically getting out of his way so he could rule it.

Now just 5 years after taking total control of the U.S. he had one thing on his mind, which city would he bomb first?