— Posted in Continuum, Gee Whiz!

Continuum, Chapter 11

The Briefing

“What I just saw wasn’t Mars.”

“Your destination has changed.”

“Then. I’m guessing that wherever I’m going, it won’t be in the company of a squad of Marines.

“Correct.”

“What I just saw was remote-viewing transferred to video, correct?”

“Correct.”

“How many previous aways?”

“Yours will be the thirteenth.”

“How many were exfils of aways that went south?”

“That’s need to know.”

“And. I don’t need to know?”

“Correct.”

Translation: Lucy has sufficient security clearance to have her question answered, but, she doesn’t need to know the answer to her question to fulfill her away mission.

EXFIL (also exfiltration or Extraction), in tactical combat and special operations use, is the process of removing constituents from a targeted site when it is considered imperative that they be immediately relocated out of a hostile environment and taken to a secured area under friendly control. Extraction may imply rescuing entities from grave danger or immediate conditions that they are incapable of surviving. Both extraction and rescue may be for unsuspecting and/or unwilling persons and involving rapid deployment, dynamic defense of the moving tactical envelope and high-speed extrication by a special force protection team. Extraction is also referred to as “dust-off in xx (minutes)”. The LZ is the landing zone for a helicopter or airplane, usually marked by coordinates, smoke grenades with a color recognizable in that area, or flares.

“Were all of the previous away missions to the same planet?”

“Again. That’s need to know, and you don’t need to know that.”

“Is our away mission going to a planet which was not visited by the previous aways?”

“Yes.”

“Have we [Borg] been involved from the very start?”

“Yes.”

Lucy and Alice. They are in the office of Oversight. Lucy, the warlock of AI Taryn’s Queen Ann “Coco” Mueller. And, AI Toy’s Queen Alice Wonderland. On this mission, Lucy is on loan to Toy, and, as such, will be paired with Alice as Alice’s acting warlock.

Alice is dressed in Borg selfware, including EXO, and looks like a Borg Queen. But. Like all Borg, it can “pretend” and assume a human guise.

Lucy is also dressed in Borg selfware, including EXO, but, she still looks like herself instead of Seven. Because she is still Lucy and not Seven.

Lucy has the feeling that she’s being watched, and she can’t shake it. Because. She is being watched. Watched by Hal Jordan and General Carol Banks.

“How many times did we have an onsite presence in addition to our remote viewing?”

Alice smiles at the girl’s question. This girl is very smart, Alice thinks to itself.

“The last away.”

“Possibly … An observing mentat, accompanied by a warlock in the role of CA?”

“Yes. Except that a sandman was in the role of CA.”

CA. Civilian adviser. A non-military combatant. Bound by rules of engagement that forbade initiating aggressive action. Strict defensive posture, only. If attacked, counterattack with like force.

Lucy makes note of the implicit correction that the previous sandman sent out was not a warlock. Hence, she represents a significant upgrade, since she is a sandman who is also a warlock. And. Being a warlock. Tactically, she’s equivalent to a Queen. Which means whoever or whatever the opposing force is, a Queen or its tactical equivalent was deemed necessary.

“Was there an initial expeditionary force?” Lucy asks the obvious.

“That’s classified.”

Translation: the answer to the question Lucy asked is above the girl’s security clearance to know. This speaks volumes, because Lucy has ultraviolet clearance.

“Limitations imposed on the remote viewing of each away?”

A very smart girl, indeed!

“Duration is 12 minutes. Then, nothing.”

“Exactly, 12 minutes?”

“Exactly.”

“In each instance?”

“Yes. As just previously stated.”

Lucy smiles at Alice’s dig. Both women are obviously having a lot of fun with this animated back and forth of theirs.

“I assume that the remote viewing is also tethered to the stargate.”

“You assume correctly. We can only ‘see’ a few feet in any direction from the stargate being used.”

“Do we know who or what is limiting our remote viewing?”

Alice pauses, and weighs its options, carefully. Answering this question clearly falls squarely on the line. Bottomline. It comes down to a judgment call.

“No, we do not.”

Although, Borg are always jacked into the Collective, they can still maintain their privacy and can be selectively opaque. This is one of those times. The Queen is being selectively opaque. Which can mean only one thing.

The Queen is lying to me, Lucy thinks to herself.

“Do we know how they are doing it?”

Again. Alice pauses, and weighs its options, carefully. Again. Answering this question clearly falls squarely on the line. Bottomline. It, again, comes down to a judgment call.

“No, we do not.”

Again the Queen is selectively opaque.

The Queen is lying to me, again!

“Is the Insect Civilization involved?”

“Not to the best of our knowledge.”

“Hostiles?” Again, Lucy asks the obvious.

“Yes.”

“What are my rules of engagement?”

“There are none.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me correctly. There are no rules of engagement. You are going to a black site.”

In military terminology, a black site is a location at which an unacknowledged black project is conducted. Recently, the term has gained notoriety in describing secret prisons operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction.

“Whose [black site]?”

“That’s classified.”

“Is it Dune?”

The Queen smiles even wider. And. Tellingly, sidesteps the question, altogether.

“Your away team will consist of Blackwater mercs.”

Blackwater is the world’s largest and most powerful mercenary army. A mercenary outfit with a notorious reputation for being willing to break the constraints on military systems responsible to state authority.

No rules of engagement. A Blackwater away team with a warlock onboard. Implication: the final solution—i.e., genocide.

“How long after egress from the stargate, before we lose contact?”

“Twelve minutes.”

“Precisely?”

“Precisely. It’s always 12 minutes. Then, nothing. Neither audio nor video from the away team’s comms.” The Queen pauses, and then it broaches the subject that The General has likely been waiting with bated breath for. “There’s been a request that you wear your hair differently on the mission.”

“Differently? How?”

“Sit down.”

Lucy does as she is told. Alice then proceeds to undo the girl’s Brünnhilde and restyle it into a Grune. When The Queen is done. The girl admires herself in the mirror, and decides that she doesn’t like this outdated hairdo.

“I don’t care for it.”

“It’s how you will wear your hair on the mission.”

“I thought that it was a request?”

“It is.”

Lucy switches to drone mode. A blank. She, expectedly, becomes somewhat stiff and robotic.

“Yes. My queen,” Lucy responds in the expected monotone.

Her voice is now cold and emotionless. She stares off blankly into the distance. But. Lucy is still Lucy, sort of.

“In the future, there will be other occasions when you will be requested to wear your hair this way. Understood?”

“Yes, my queen.”

Then, something totally unexpected happens. She becomes totally vacuous. A vacancy. She acts as if she were under the influence of a kronos device.

This is quite a bit beyond the expected mindless, robotic way she has heretofore acted in drone mode.

A kronos device. The small biomechanical device would anchor itself into the back of her neck. It looks like a hideous biomechanical spider. One of its least invasive effects would be to lobotomize her. And. She would remain lobotomized, while it was in place. Its other effects are much more insidious. But. There is no such device anchored into the back of her neck causing her bizarre submissive behavior.