Sunday, June 18, 2006

Honoring the victims of my dreams, lest the fallen be forgotten (pt. 1)

I dreamt of war last night. Well.. war, and love and pain- but war was the over-arching theme.

I started dreaming of pain.. or maybe my pain was dreaming of me... I went to bed hurting, and was woke by a.. well, a siezure, for lack of a better word. It felt like a terrier the size of an SUV had grabbed me by the left shoulder and was shaking me like a rat.
Between falling asleep and being spasmed awake, though... I wandered hopelessly through a space of some sort. A space that throbbed like a whole-head toothache, while veins of liquid lightning left trembling, twitching wakes in the ether. White-hot strobes of pain flashed at me from all directions, radiating out but never cooling or dimming, before collapsing back into themselves and exploding once again.
At the crescendo of this psychadelic opera of pain, the siezure, or spasm or whatever shook me awake. Good times.

Anyway. My war.

It was an old war- sometimes hot, sometimes cold; always old. But not too old- not old enough to consume the culture; so old that the end is indistinguishable from the means.
The enemy was a.. religious protectorate. Sometime, maybe generations before, a hard-line fundamentalist monotheistic religion (probably Mormons, but the dream wasn't specific), had decided that it was time to bring the rest of the world's population into the fold. A pretty damn spectacular war sprung up over night.
Eventually, the holy rollers' fighting forces were defeated in detail- but, as usual (and probably to our credit), the rest of humanity could not bring itself to fully excise the malignacy in it's midst. So a Protectorate was created. The better part of a continent was given to this religion, a place in which they were welcome to live under there own laws and doctrines, and leave the rest of humanity in peace.
Of course, nothing ever seems to work out that neatly. Gods, but I hate my species sometimes.
Once the Protectorate had had enough time to rebuild it's population, and to establish a covert armaments industry, we were fighting once again. Instead of wielding us like a hammer, the politicos chose to prod us at the aggressors like a housewife using a stick to investigate something revolting. As always.

Anyway. I was a leader in what I can only describe as a special operations armor unit. More or less after the Israeli model- one part: "Why send in a few commandos when a few tanks could do it in such a spectacular fashion", and one part: "If you deliver and extract commandos with tanks, who's likely to notice a few inconspicuous guys slinking around under all that sound and fury?"
Not a commander- just a leader. Best place to be, really. Enough authority to make a difference, not so much responsibility as to be hobbled by it.
I'm not sure how, but I was also involved in changing the face of armored warfare- I had helped create the Theatre Assault Unit. I thought of it as my baby, at any rate, even though I didn't crew one. The TAU was nine-hundred-plus tons of weapons delivery, swaddled in so much armor that only direct fission or fusion bombardment had a hope of stopping it.
The TAU could deliver fire to any target within a five hundred mile radius, line of sight or otherwise- hence the 'Theatre' designation. While a single TAU could not truly dominate an entire theatre of war; it could, and did, act as the anchor for entire armies.
Needless to say, TAUs were enormously expensive, and we only had a few of them.
My armor detatchment operated from under the protective battlesteel wing of TAU Erwin Rommel- more commonly known as "The Fox".
Many of a TAU's functions were automated- on a good day, their millimeter-wave doppler radar could see inbound artillery shells, fire interceptors- proximity-fused minimissles that blasted their victims with tungsten shrapnel- calculate the reverse tragectory, and fire a countervolley before the human crew could be roused from their card games.

But I digress. Well, not really- it was an amazingly vivid dream. All the more unsettling for that, richer in detail- much of it subconcious, I suppose- than real life usually is.

But the enemy had made advances, as well. More momentous, and far more frightening than the TAU. The Protectorate had gengineered superhuman life. The Battle Saints (as we dubbed them) looked human; but were so, so much more. And, as I lament learning, so much less.
They had engineered superhuman quasi-generals for their forces, calling these figures angels and presenting them as sacred beings- a manifestation divine intervention.

The Saints were not exactly psychic, nor quite telepathic, but they could... pull a gestalt, a sort of psychic mosaic from the minds of the faithful, getting a rough idea of everything that was happening around them. A commander with even a rough situational awareness on that scale is a very dangerous thing. They also were like... capacitors of emotional energy. They could store it up, concentrate it, and then be triggered to release it. And they were more besides. I learned only a fraction, and that was more than any other person outside the Protectorate knew. I was staggered by what little I learned of what they were, but is was learning what they were not that broke my heart. But I haven't quite come to that part of the dream, yet.

When the Protectorate first fielded a Battle Saint- they called him The Angel Diamocet, we later dubbed him Saint Peter- our war changed dramatically. Our armor and mobile infantry had rolled against his advance in strength more than sufficient to break his advance- or so we had thought.

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