A New Initiative
A story by Sergiu Jenescu
A pilot is standing on a cliff, near a quarantine zone. He is gazing across a desert, with large sand dunes and a few dead bodies near the cliff. He is dressed in uniform, and has a special mask to prevent him from breathing polluted air. He looks up and sees a small ship hovering above him, getting ready to land.
Upon landing, a blue hooded figure emerges from the ship, almost floating in its movement. The figure removes its blue hood and a pale, skinny, bald, veiny person, with yellow eyes greets the pilot.
“Hello. Thank you for coming.” says the hooded figure.
“It’s an ugly sight. I haven’t seen anything like this before.”
“Indeed. Is this your first time in the outside world?”
“I’ve been outside when I was a kid. But things tend to get intense out there with the viruses and all. I spent most of my time in Virtual Reality. It’s safer there, and you can learn things without being killed.”
“A very precautious person, I like that. Well, my sources tell me you are a very good pilot, one who can man a larger aircraft.”
“It’s true, flying has been my life. Mostly in Virtual, but for me it’s all the same. The senses feel and act the same.”
“We need to take immediate action to create a better world.”
“What do you mean? “
“Please proceed in my ship, I will explain.”
“What about mine?”
“We’ll take care of it. All will be revealed inside.”
The man follows the hooded figure in his ship. The door closes, and they walk a narrow and small hallway into the navigation cabin. The ship is turned on, and they glide towards launch. He approaches the figure and pus his hand on his shoulder.
“You look ancient. I recognize your voice from the secret encrypted frequency on the radio. But I’ve never imagined someone who lived this long in this place where live expectancy is short.”
“I… was lucky enough to be part of an elite part of society that retreated above ground, hovering in this nuclear and technological waste. I am Hamilton, high commander of the Sentinels. Your Virtual performance in flight is impressive, moreover, you seem to manage extremely dangerous situations, and also man large ships. We would like you to be on our team.”
“But I’ve barely been in the outside world.” says the pilot reluctantly.
“In all my years, I lived mostly in a ship doing research and exploring the dying Earth. There is not much difference between our environments, pilot QB-78, except for our skills. All my live I had the opportunity to work with competent people, and I can see one from afar. I also pilot in the Virtual ( Virtual Reality) and simulate quite many battles. Your ranking caught my eye, mostly no accidents, and good shooting.”
“Thank you. But I wouldn’t know what to say about joining your team on such short notice, since I don’t really know what you’re about. “
“These are dire times, and we require swift and effective measures. Follow me and I will show you your true purpose.”
The pilot frowns doubtfully and follows Hamilton.
A huge door opens up in the ship’s cockpit, the commander and the pilot take a walk inside. The pilot sees bits of metal wiring with organic material that connect all kind of monitors and server devices across the room, which is quite long, but narrow. A lot of red dots sparkle in the room, fascinating the pilot.
“We have the best technology available on the planet for any kind of infrastructure, in this fallout, we are surely to survive the longest if we have the upper hand in resources and save the Earth.” replies the commander
“So many power cells, those could last us for years. “ says the pilot
“And this is just for a small ship. I will show you our best project yet.”
Commander Hamilton does a hand gesture toward the ceiling and a monitor reveals blueprints for a large aircraft, with charts for attributes, size, and capacity. The commander looks pleased, and signals the pilot to take a step forward. He then makes a few hand gestures in the air which turn into laser beams, triggering the monitor to project a 3D image in the air, just a few inches in front of the pilot. The commander turns to the pilot and raises his hand in a gesture of great enthusiasm.
“I give you the ultimate teleportation tool: THE MOTHERSHIP. It can move faster and further than any other ship, but we can’t pack enough power cells to make it work. You will be the first to undergo this project, which is collecting nuclear power from the Earth’s core, you will open the hunt for resources, in THE NEW INITIATIVE PROJECT!”
“What kind of ship will I have? “
“The Sentinels committee has been extremely resourceful in the late years. We have managed build elite fast ships that have a considerable cargo capacity. We would like you to start immediately on your training and engage in action in about a week. After all, you are a champion in flight.”
“But my family still needs me…” cries the pilot
“We know who you live with. Those are just people you need to survive and stay alive. How long have you known them?
“It’s true, people are a mean of survival for me. Carrying attachments only hinders your survival and you only see the ugly things in life. That’s what Virtual is for, but still, I would like to have a better life.”
“The Sentinels could really use your help, as could you use our support and commitment. But we need you all the way, since this is a fresh and ongoing project. “
“I see…well…I said I would meet you and discuss collaboration, and here we are…What about my ship?”
“We’ve already beamed it up and took it apart for spare parts, any other questions?”
“If I am going to be part of this, I would require some rights as a citizen. “
“If you prove yourself a trustworthy pilot you will have the opportunity to work your way up.”
The pilot takes a badge out of his front pocket, which is inscribed “BLUE RESISTANCE 80”, and tosses it in front of commander Hamilton.
“Being trustworthy is about survival, that’s what they taught me. “
“A smart lesson, I’ll ask again, will you join us ?”
“Well, you seem to have all the credentials, but just like flying, life is a risk, and I’ll take this one.”
“Wonderful, head back to the cockpit. We will start your training and decontamination when we reach HQ.”