The techs call it a residual-image. The accumulated knowledge and experience of the previous occupant of the suit, all stored in a mono-crystalline mesh sandwiched between the opto-mechanical shimmer surface layer and the survival suit interior. But ask any grunt, and it’s their spirit.
First thing you learn about war is the fucking poetry of the bean counters: a small tac-nuke runs you about a million credits. And the forces’ll go through them like condoms on shore leave. But infantry-wear? Hah. You get a set of khaki’s, a lace shoved into the jelly of your eye and (if you’re lucky) a battle mesh that doesn’t have too many ventilation holes in it.
So when I got drafted and dropped into the twenty-first, recon strikers, I looked at the mass of material in front of me and wondered how the poor bugger had died. And thirty minutes later, after slipping on (and into, in the case of the catheter) the suit I pretty much knew exactly how he’d gone. I could feel him breathing along with me, the suit expanding and contracting at a different rhythm to my own. “It would take a few days for it to sync,” was the official tech advice/non-advice.
But we meshed. I felt closer to my predecessor than any bird I’d been with. I moved quieter. My scope didn’t shake like it did when they first put me through boot. Within six days I was acing the APWT. By six weeks, at the end of the selection process, I was outshooting the others on the range and the record books.
When you get deployed (typically military doublespeak for being shoved out the back of a sub-orbital with just a mask and wings) you realise, these are the quickest miles you’ll cover. I fell sixty thousand kilometres in less than eight minutes. It took me nine days to crawl the remaining twenty.
You see, the enemy, they’re us. When your country splits you realise you’re going up against guys who’ve had the same training. Who have the same equipment. So when you’re on your belly and still trying to get rid of the taste of the last e-bar you swallowed and see the little brown bulge of a phantom-mine in the dirt you realise crawling is just too freaking fast.
Now, I didn’t spot this. Mr Spirit did. My eyes had just passed over it. Dirt. Dirt. Dirt. But then the image took over, it focused my vision on the spot and when I stared (and stared) I saw it. Motion sensor, anti-personnell. It took me two hours to crawl the twenty-five metres past it. And then there were more. So many more.
But the voice in my head kept me going. He’d got bored, left messages and thoughts. Some of these were like stories. Others were more like a song you can hum along to, but you don’t quite know the right words.
And when we reached the TZ, and I could see the camp, he calmed me down. He kept watch while I slept. And when I put my finger in the guard and rested it on the trigger, it was him who pulled it.
On the way back, at the same inch-worm pace, I left my own messages. My own thoughts and tunes, for whoever picked up after me.
Prompt originally posted by Lorix_In_Oz on reddit and received 1 upvotes.