“When did you first notice it?”
The doc was talking to the hospital corpsman who had been with me since we casevac’d from the Dauntless. Ramirez slapped her gauntlet against the monitor at the foot of the gurney, and a stream of recordings and observations transferred across for the doc to examine. Her other glove was still wrapped around my own fist.
“Keep fighting Diego, keep fightin’ it.”
“It says the patient hasn’t suffered any negative effects as a result of the infection? I’m wondering at what point you waited before deciding against following the Libra protocol.”
I’m right here you know I thought, wondering how this weedy old man would do if some general had mandated a standing order to shoot your friends on sight if they were infected. Ramirez could feel my anger through the kevlar weave of the glove but shook it slightly. Me and docs didn’t tend to get along well either. Well, except for her, but she was a soldier first. That made a difference in my eyes.
“No, but it’s communicating. At first we thought he was turning, but it’s definitely still him.”
“Excuse me?” The doc was prepping the auto-med when he turned back to face us both. He stood, mouth agape, and continued reading through the file. “And this is verified?”
Six years ago humanity had colonised one planet too many, kicked over a rock we should have left alone. Tiny things, like a slug that drank too much fauxmine juice, that just wriggled around. Until one got in your head and next thing you know you’re blowing the airlock and spacing your squaddies or playing with the detonators on a fusion warhead. Once you were turned, the man became a car and the slug the driver. General Leonardo Libra had been the first to take charge, when the parasites starting swarming across the outer colonies, churning whole towns into forward operating bases.
The Libra Protocol was simple, brutal even; if a person showed signs of infection, execute them. Notice it said signs of infection. That led to a whole host of fun court cases, fought in the midst of the war, when a jealous husband accused his neighbour of being “one of them”. The Dauntless had been doing recon work over HG291 and I had been lucky enough to get himself an earworm.
“Diego here has the complete military disposition of the enemy in his head.”
“He couldn’t possibly know that.”
“It’s fucking singing it into my skull,” Diego said from his bed.
“What the marine is trying to say,” Ramirez cut in quickly, “is that the parasite is attempting to exchange tactical information for safe harbour.”
“Well what do you want me to do about it?”
“Stop it gnawing through my fucking skull!”
“Tell him it’s not going to eat his brain,” Ramirez said exasperatedly.
Prompt originally posted by The11025 on reddit and received 58 upvotes.