It was years after the war that it first appeared.
I'd never actually heard it referred conversationally as anything other than 'mech,' though I can say with conviction that this term was short for
'mechanical minutia breakdown.' I can say with conviction, as well, that no one was quite sure where it came from, though it was an unsaid legend
that it'd made its way from the streets of Neokinawa to the rooms and barracks of the rest of the world. That Neokinawa had been working on it before
the war, an exercise in free energy and power, that the aftermath had loosened the security, that it escaped on a wing and a prayer and the quantum
feeding frenzy. The scientists had been able to track its spread, but it began growing exponentially after about three years. It would take a few
people down, the sick, the old, the young, the decayed. It moved quickly, though: The strangest part was that the younger, more strapping fellows were
most succeptible. As if it strove to dimish the most virile among us.
No one was really sure when the war started, either. Again, my recollection seems to be that it was 0413, nearly half a millenia after the first
revolution. It didn't last very long, less than a year: I remember my father discussing it briefly with me as we leaned over our makeshift dinner
table, my mother nervously eyeing the glass at her setting and shifting uneasily. She was the carrier, it was presumed. Though she never spoke of it,
my instincts tell me that she was all too knowledgeable and, as a result, wholly unable to discuss what had happened. This was the first and only war
that had the cameras. Each soldier on Nordica's side was equipped with one.
If you were interested, you could clip your mask into the port and experience the fighting first hand. I'd done it a few times, when I was young and
could slip easily into my father's library. We'd lift drinks and spend the time at the ports, in the government's misguided way of attempting to
intrigue the populace, making the war interactive. Different people would become enraptured, following these soldier's lives day to day: What they
ate, what they did, what missions they were on. Nordica had kept military forces the world over since the close of the war, and while there still
wasn't any declared hostility, it was implied by actions: Thousands of troops kept in holding tanks, with the cameras documenting their every move.
Of course, the films at this point were so sensory that, frankly, the idea of standing in the port for some shoddy bottle of stupor didn't incite too
many thrills: It was fun when one was drunk, it was fun when one was bugged. But that was about it. The familiar hum and buzz of the port settling
into place and the uncomfortable clicking you felt at first: I didn't quite associate it with a pleasant thing, however thousands fed off of the live
feed. Like a surrogate for living; though, to be honest, for most there wasn't much else. Port access had been mandatory in each housing unit for
some decade now, so it was the closest many could get to entertainment. Or education.
The news reports had varied widely, but they all centered on the same thing. It started with a rather innocuous port, a shadowy, grainy of one man,
Albatross Lee. He was bookish who, despite being born into such a technophilist time, remained fairly unaware of what was available to him. Perhaps
this naivitee was what contributed to the stark fright of the port: the shadow was an obvious sign of how inept he was, though maybe he left it there
intentionally, this film of his incompetance. How strange though, not to remove the shadows, the very proof which traced him back to his actions! They
would, the shadows, interfere with all of his camera activities: after awhile, they'd pile up so much that anything he attempted to camera would most
likely interfere with whatever he actually did - war or news or anything.
Albatross had tapped into an Ensign's camera. Since he was so low ranking, this ensign, had viewing hours for most of the day. From the port news,
Albatross would cooks his breakfast and enter the port for an hour or so, then returning to his work as a data refiner. It was on the turn of the year
that Albatross saw "his" ensign busy at work, storming a small bunker in Neokinawa.
By now, I know the sequence by heart. It was a brief stumble in the beginning, which jostled the shot slide in and out of focus. The details
sharpened, and there was the left-right sweep that was virtually engrained into all of our minds. The barrel of a gun swept the lower portion of the
shadow. There was a brief hesitation - it seemed like a stagger - and another sweep. The shadow cut out with the ensign using the gun barrel to lift
up a lid off of an industrial drum. A quick glance to the contents, and what was there was nothing more than a dark, viscous looking fluid.
That was when man and mech had met.
Force records further indicate the ensign reported to infirmary some weeks later, with the ambiguous symptoms of a headache and rash, having spread
over his chest and back. Tucked away in a cot and given some rest, the symptoms progressed. A cough arrived, gentle and congested at first, soon
moving its way up to a throaty whooping. A thin, milky fluid with aslight bit of irridescence followed only a few days after. His skin started to thin
out, taking a paper-y, brittle look to it, the breakage followed after. Doctors only approached in white suits and muffled regulators, understandably
inquisitive of what was happening.
[Note: This story is a work-in-progress, and I figure that I will be posting it sporadically...one-three parts/week, as it is written. I am
interested in any feedback, either in replies or u2u's Good luck and thanks muchly for reading!]