As directed by the aliens, I report to the CI. He's visibly upset.
The CI asks me, “Were you told about a work assignment?”
I carefully reply, “Yes sir, I was told only that there would be a work assignment and that you would provide me with what was needed for me to do the work assigned.”
The CI takes a deep breath, leans back and asks me, “Do you know what a live exercise is?”
“Yes sir, two military commands are set conflicting objectives. They each attempt to carry out a mutual training exercise and have to fight each other to try to achieve the conflicting goals set for them. Deaths aren't uncommon during a live exercise.”
The CI looks grim. He says, slowly, “You have been selected to take part in a live exercise. This was done over my objections. I don't believe that a student should start his military training with a live exercise. However, I have no choice and no real say in the matter. Neither do you. You can, in theory, reject the assignment. In my experience such a rejection will merely result in an even harder assignment. Your best bet, in my judgment, is to take the assignment.”
I look the CI in the eye and say, “I have already accepted the assignment. I arrived at the same conclusion you did. I have no choice in the matter, I must do the best I can with what I have now.”
The CI looks even grimmer. He says, “You not only have been selected to take part in a live exercise, you'll lead your team.”
“Who's to be on my team?”
The CI just shakes his head and looks even grimmer. He says, “There are two of them, ... mercenaries. I wouldn’t want either of them on my team. You got ‘em and no choice. ... It might be I can soften them up a bit for you ...?
I again look the CI in the eye, “I need your advice and your help to get the equipment I need, plus anything you can beg, borrow or steal, which might help me make a success of my first mission. I need the best the two mercenaries have to offer. The mercenaries I can handle. What can you tell me about the exercise?”
What the CI tells me shocks me in a way you would not believe.
My team is to conduct a raid on a village to retrieve an artifact. My team will have a limited time to find and acquire the artifact and to return to an exit point. The artifact is an egg, made of some stone like material and it supposedly has strange (magical?) powers.
I want to throw up.
If you grew up in a normal sort of way, presumably you see the egg in a grim stone castle, guarded by a fierce dragon with a beautiful maiden held captive.
Yeah, right dreamer!
Assuming that an egg of the type described to me exists, who created it and why does it exist? How did the mysterious egg get to the village? If some hero obtained the egg, why would he then abandon the valuable prize in a little village? If the aliens know where the egg is, why not send in an army to retrieve it? If the egg is held captive, what do those who hold the egg want for it? If the holders of the egg will destroy it if the army attacks, why would they not destroy it when my team attacks? If the holders of the egg can destroy an attacking army, why will they not destroy my team, when we attack? Why do I have a time limit in my efforts to recover the egg?
Literature has never been my strong suit. Of necessity, reality is my strong suit. The egg and the village are obviously constructs. They were created to provide a setting. A setting so that men can fight and die. Fight and die for what? An egg, even a magical egg? Not a chance. There's a reason that men have historically fought and died in such circumstances. The reason is called a circus. This isn't a modern circus with clowns and tricks. This is going to be a circus such as was used in the final days of the Fevellian Empire, to hold back the day of collapse a little while longer. The village is a stage set. We are gladiators, picked to man the circus. The game may be based upon make believe, alas the sweat, blood and death will be real.
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About the Author
I'm the co-author, with Sunset Thomas, of Anatomy of An Adult Film. I have 45 novels and over 150 short stories currently published. I spent my early years in the part of Los Angeles known as the South Central. I was known as Whi' Boy, which was sufficient to indentify me in that place. I'm a skilled kung-fu player, using a system that I learned from a Korean I knew only as 'Pak.' It would be easier to tell you the places that Pak wasn't wanted by the police, rather than the places where he was wanted by the police. Pak's kung-fu system, augmented by some bits and pieces from some Chinese practicioners is quick and effective, or I wouldn't be alive today. My early education was mostly obtained by stealing books from the public library (I always returned them and the Librarian even began to provide me with reading lists.) I did go to high schools, but I never really learned anything there. I eventually graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA, with a degree in mathematics. I work as a Systems Analyst and also make a part of my living as a professional gambler (legal in Nevada.) I write science fiction and erotica. My published novels are: Anatomy of An Adult Film (With Sunset Thomas) 1. Second Chance: God Killer 2. Second Chance: Sky Pirate 3. Second Chance: Scroll Seeker 4. Second Chance: King of The Islands 5. Second Chance: King of Zaya 6. Second Chance: Duke of Averon 7. Second Chance: King of Golomon 8. Second Chance: King Of The Sky 9. Second Chance: Warlord of Ifrequeh 10. Second Chance: King of Ariby 11. Second Chance: King of Mesodania 12. Second Chance: King of Avuls 13. Second Chance: King of Kemet 14. Second Chance: King of Zorran 15. Second Chance: King of Two Worlds 16. Second Chance: King of Averon 17. Second Chance: King's Duties 18. Second Chance: King of The New World Adventurer: Simulation Problem Adventurer: Pannar Problem A Programmer's Gambit Amateur Stripper Beach Murders Bondage House Corporate Sex Slaves Friday Night Go Naked In The Software Grasshopper Winter Involuntary Nude Layoff Not A Hero Pirates of The Keys Summer of Sex The Lake The Last Moon Dance The Nude Adventures of Plain Jane The Secret Life of Wanda Wilson Tails of the Pussycat Lounge To Keep A Job Topless Restaurant Toy Whores Vix: The Marine Wayward Boy Short Stories: A Christmas Visit