Prologue: Unexpected ConsequencesMature

Years after mass genocide cripples the world's populations and leaves the survivors broken, severe problems begin to threaten the safety of the few safe havens left, putting the fate of millions in the hands of few.

2032 - SPACE STATION ICARUS, ORBITING THE MOON

I wake coughing. Blood that is mine and blood that is not mine cover my clothes. The pain in my left leg is indescribable and on examination the foot does not look like a foot any longer. White slivers of bone protrude from the ankle at odd angles. I focus on the nerves in my shin, and tell them to shut off. At the facility, they hammered into me to never modify my nervous system, but it is much to late to care about that.

The Gauntlet on my right arm is shutting down. It beeps twice, letting me know there is something wrong. I cough again, and blood hits the floor, splattering and splashing on the smooth surface. I check the readout on the machine, but it is dark and unresponsive. "Gauntlet," I say aloud, praying that the computer is still functional, "Vocal diagnostic." It beeps, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

"Beginning diagnostic," the machine says, and I recognize the voice from my time at the facility. Trish, her name was. I remember her being friendly, and I know she is long dead. It beeps again, and speaks, "Battery at 0.2%, four basic functions remaining. Coolant levels dangerously low. Detonation of core in 20 minutes 15 seconds." Four functions. That isn't enough to get very far using the air module, or hack into the computer system on the station. As if it could hear my thoughts, the console behind me beeps.

"Heating elements at 90.56%," it says, in a droning monotone voice, "Shot firing in 27 minutes." The time surprises me. Adam must have been lying when he said the launch was imminent. It's intriguing, and I can see a possible solution to the problem at hand. In twenty minutes, my Gauntlet will make an explosion large enough to wreck a significant part of the station. There was a significant chance the weapon would still fire, but if I could get into the core then maybe, just maybe I could stop the process. There was a problem however. The Gauntlet was bonded to me in such a way that removal without replacement would cause me to bleed to death. And there were no more Gauntlets aboard this ship. This meant I would have to enter the core myself and be at the heart of the explosion. It didn't seem like I had another choice.

The doors were all locked open, our first hack made sure of that. There wasn't any gravity, but at least there was oxygen. I floated past dead bodies, pushing off the walls and moving as fast as I could. Then a thought struck me. SmartGlove was a precursor to the Gauntlet, released six months before the Gauntlet hit the market. If this station was old enough, it might be equipped with SmartGloves. I pushed a dead soldier out of the way and tapped at an interface on the wall. The locker room was on the other side of the station. I had to hurry. 

My Gauntlet beeped again as I floated into the locker room, pushing aside uniforms that hadn't been properly secured. Most of the lockers were open, as soldiers often do not lock them in stations that have simulated gravity. There were two storage closets at the end of the room. I pushed toward them as my Gauntlet spoke, "Battery at 0.2%, four basic functions remaining. Coolant levels nearing zero. Detonation of core in 13 minutes 20 seconds." That meant there were twenty minutes left on the weapon. I was running out of time.

The storage was locked, but I had functions left. My mind was too focused on my leg to control the machine with it, so I spoke aloud. I was shocked at how weak my voice sounded, and the Gauntlet didn't register it. "Buzz Saw," I repeated, louder, "Initiate now." The hand on the end of the Gauntlet collapsed into a fluid like wave of beads, and they formed themselves into a circular blade. As soon as it came together, it started spinning, producing a whirring sound that was loud in the silence of the station. I jammed it into the first lock, and it sliced through the metal easily. Nanocircuits were old technology, but they still got the job done. The first container swung open, nothing. I swore. If the second was the same, I was going down with the station.

Three functions remaining. I pushed my saw into the second unit, and it swung open. At the bottom of the container, a small box. On the top left, a logo adorned in red and black read SmartGlove. My luck was beginning to change. 

It was newer model, nothing like the machine grafted to my right hand, but it would do the job. Without a second's hesitation, I spoke to my Gauntlet for the last time, "Surgical Blade, Serrations." The nanocircuits reformed themselves into a long serrated knife. I pulled it from the socket, and set it against my right wrist, just above the connection. I had cut my hand off countless times, but it was still so awful. I reconnected the nerves in my leg, crying out from the pain. I disconnected the ones in my arm, clenched my teeth, and began to saw.

The End

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