US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)
Fort Jackson, neoFight Briefing Area, 8th June, 2018
Along with the other rookies gathered in the hall Private Eugene Badowski rose – reluctantly - to his feet. He hated the briefings given by Captain Simmons: the guy couldn’t lead a dog on a leash.
‘Greetings to all you neoFights of the 5th US Combat Regiment. Please...stand easy.’
The fifty or so grunts shuffled back down into their seats Badowski’s groaning in protest as he did so, but then when it had to support two hundred pounds of gym-hardened muscle that wasn’t surprising: he wasn’t called the Big Bad for nothing.
‘You guys and gals had thought you were gonna be shipping out to the Asia Minor theatre to mix it with bad asses like the nuTaliban and the ultra-Mujis who have been kicking our butts for the last ten years but there’s been a change of plan. Uncle Sam in his infinite wisdom has decided that you are the very people to send on a real important mission...a holding mission. And the things you’ve gotta hold are the US Army’s redoubts in a place called the Demi-Monde.’
There was no reaction, just a few furrowed brows.
‘To explain: the bigwigs here at TRADOC have been using a computer simulation to prepare neoFights like you for the stresses and strains of Asymmetric Warfare. Unfortunately this simulation has gone FUBAR and it’s our job to enter this virtual world - the Demi-Monde - and fix it.’
Badowski’s asshole began to twitch: he’d heard rumours about the Demi-Monde and none of them were good.
‘This is the Demi-Monde,’ and the Flexi-Plexi screen behind the Captain flared into life to show a map of a circular world. ‘Classified Top Secret, the Demi-Monde is the most sophisticated computer simulation ever devised. To play the Demi-Monde you have to be hard-wired into it which creates a full sensory by-pass. Once you’re plugged into the Demi-Monde it’s the only perceivable reality: you’ll have no memory of the Real World. So, guys and gals, make sure you pack plenty of spare underwear because you’re in for the ride of your life.’
Yeah right. Badowski yawned: as far as he saw this was so much horse feathers; no computer game was gonna put the frights on the Big Bad.
The Captain must have read his mind. ‘I’ve a feeling those sad-ass computer-gamers amongst you don’t believe me, so prepare to be a-mazed. The Demi-Monde is the first program to be run by ParaDigm CyberResearch’s ABBA-class of quantum computers, computers possessing almost unlimited processing power…enough to simulate sentience in each of the thirty million digital duplicates – the Dupes - that populate the Demi-Monde.’
Badowski’s asshole gave another warning tweak. Thirty million Dupes was a powerful lot of characters for any computer to simulate.
‘Yeah, there’s thirty million of these cyber-suckers waiting to meet, greet and turn you into meat. But ABBA went further. Research has shown that the warlords who lead enemy forces in Asymmetric Warfare Environments tend to be psychotics…the type of charismatic lunatics we in the military call Singularities. So we had ABBA select appropriate individuals from history - people like Mao ZeDong, Beria and Selim the Grim - model them and then seed them into the Demi-Monde. These PreLived Singularities look, think, and act just like their Real-World equivalents did and as their Real-World equivalents were horrible, horrible people, so are their Dupes.’
Nuts. No computer could resurrect dead Singularities. It wasn’t possible.
‘Horrible but real smart. So smart that they’ve come to understand that neoFights like you enter and leave the Demi-Monde through cyber-portals scattered throughout their world. So smart that they’ve begun to close these portals. Your job is to keep them open so the neoFights already in the Demi-Monde can find their way out.’
Bad news alert. There was something, just something, in the way the Captain said this that made Badowski pay attention.
‘Platoon Alpha is being assigned to keep the London portal open, this portal being located in the ForthRight Sector of the Demi-Monde, a Sector run by an über-evil Singularity called Reinhard Heydrich. Yeah, that’s right, he’s the same Nazi b****** who organised the Holocaust, so you better believe it when I tell you the ForthRight ain’t no holiday destination. There are five Sectors in the Demi-Monde each with own power-crazed leader but as power-crazed leaders go, this mother is in a class of his own. So keep your eyes peeled for the Valknut symbol...that’s the emblem of the SS- Ordo Templi Aryanis, Heydrich’s bully boys.’
Badowski felt his Sergeant, Sol Edelstein, start to fidget next to him. For a Jew like Edelstein, going up against an evil mother like Heydrich wasn’t something that jingled his jangles.
‘What’s the ForthRight like? It’s a crowded hell-hole, with twelve million Dupes living so tight packed that they can’t bust a fart without the whole street knowing about it. Most of them are either of Anglo-Saxon or Slavic origin though there’s a sizeable minority of Jewish Dupes, known in the Demi-Monde as nuJus. As might be expected with a fascist like Heydrich in charge the nuJus are getting a pretty lean deal of it...not that the rest of the population are faring much better. The ForthRight follows a joyless religion called UnFunDaMentalism which espouses clean living, vegetarianism and an abstention from all the good things in life like alcohol, tobacco and recreational sex. Believe me, UnFunDaMentalism is about as much fun as a kick in the nuts.’
The Captain smiled. ‘Now for the benefit of Platoon Bravo let’s turn to the second Sector, the Quartier Chaud...’
Check out the Demi-Monde of www.thedemi-monde.com
All images © Rod Rees/Nigel Robinson