Before the Gray invasion; before Day One, I was a professional billiards-player, one of the best in the world; that’s why, they chose me, for The Project. I’m pulled to the side, after completing the obstacle course. My drill-sergeant looks at me with concern. “Why you?” he thinks to himself; his facial-expression gives his thoughts away.
A man’s before me: private screen. Transmission originating from central-command: scrambled; coded. Delays, in the video-rendering, give the transmission’s origins away. Lips moving out-a sync with the sound, choppy; a poorly-dubbed Chinese-movie.
After the formal introductions, after our fealty-pledge, he speaks: “We’ve developed a new-weapon to fight the Grays. The Furai resistance are looking for 100 volunteers, to be trained in its use; it’s top secret; dangerous; the chances–”
I interrupt: “I’m in; tell The Furai Emperor: I’m in.”
The man smiles conveying admiration for my: bravery, brashness, confidence, boldness–
I ask: ”Why me?” The look on my face betrays: I already know he can not answer; I ask anyway.
He replies: “I have no idea. I was given a disclosure, which you didn’t allow me to finish; a list of 562 men; you were on it.”
It’s the start of my second-week in boot camp. I’ve done nothing to distinguish myself from my peers. Not the fastest, nor the smartest, nor the best marksman, (although I’m a proficient shot.)
The next day, I’m given a map and a backpack-full of supplies. Ordered to reach a spot on the map within 5 days, through enemy-controlled, (pretty-much 99% of Earth,) harsh terrain, and to avoid detection. The Furai Emperor’s on the screen in front of me; tells me how I will proceed. After he’s finished giving me my orders, the look on his face conveys: He’s open to questions.
I ask the screen: “No weapon?” my facial-expression conveying: doubt and concern.
The Furai Emperor: “Weapons are in short supply right now. YOU are not to engage the enemy! We’ve found when a man is armed, his chances of being discovered by the enemy, go up 90%. As you know from your training, we, each of us, create the universe: we desire. A man with a weapon is focussed on finding a target to kill; he will.
An unarmed man, with a map, is focussed on reaching his goal; he will.”
I begin my journey at night: moving quickly through dense-brush in near pitch-darkness. Night-vision green; high resolution. All senses heightened to super-alertness. I hear crickets, various animal-movement; the nearby river to my left about 100-yards away.
I move rapidly, quietly. Careful to not snap a twig, or loose a rock, as I devour terrain towards my goal. Keep moving forward along the path! This is all that matters, all that exists! Do not worry about the distant, nebulous, uncertain future! Focus on the next-step you can take, now.
Be here, now. Don’t look at the map! Listen instead to the river; the SOUND of the rushing waters, CONFIRMS your heading. Focus on: your steps; every movement; your immediate path.
I remember The Emperor’s instructions, as I continue navigating the forest: The Furai Emperor: “You will not need to look at the map. Your destination is near the river, downstream. Instead, keep the river within a hundred-yards to your left; keep moving forward.
If the river’s getting: louder, adjust to your right; quieter, adjust to your left. Focus your eyes in front of you, so you do not stumble; use your ears to gage proximity to the river. Keep moving forward, rapidly as you can. Time is not on our side! Move quickly, purposefully, with: faith, focus, energy, emotion, skill. Don’t rush.”
A-lot of ground to cover in 5 days. No sleeping gear, or tent; only a camouflaged-cocoon for rest. The Furai Emperor: “Only rest if it’s too-dangerous to move. Enemy patrols have no fear of man in this sector; you’ll see them, long before they see you.”
Briefly I wonder if that was true. Would I really see the Grays before they see me? Or is this a Furai spell? CONCUSSION? I.E. if He tells me: the enemy will be very easy to spot, and I will be invisible: it will be as I: think, focus, visualize, imagine, emote, direct my energy–and therefore CREATE!
Spoken; heard; imagined; believed; reality. I’ve had enough Furai training to know: anything I believe and have faith in is.
I: stop wondering, doubting; move forward with confidence.
Military-grade amphetamine courses through my veins. Nazi Crank. I move quickly, shaking off any desire to rest. Briskly through: various terrain–quicksand, sand, sludge, brush, mud, gravel; uphill, downhill; a hot summer-day; a sudden downpour and thunderstorm; another pitch-black night–I keep moving forward; I do not: stop; rest; look back; look at my map. In 44 hours, I arrive.
Doesn’t look like much: a quiet meadow, a hot-summer’s day. I pull out my map, for the first time in my long journey to verify: I’m at the right location.
To my surprise the map vanishes; replaced by a message: Congratulations Kenny! You made it! Get in your cocoon, eat, drink, have no fear; you’ve arrived; we’ll take it from here.
My “map” is paper thin, foldable, waterproof, indestructible. Like the Coke-bottle in The Gods Must Be Crazy. It’s Gray technology, hacked and repurposed by the Furai resistance. The same basic-functionality as an iPad before the war. Dropped from their ships to blanket Earth with their propaganda.
Furai have learned how to wipe them; Jailbreak them; transmit messages with them. The Grays control transmission-frequencies on Earth. Any attempt by man to use our own-frequencies yields attack, at the frequencies’ source.
So, we use Gray transmission-technology to send and receive messages. We send and receive messages over their internet, their ether.
The concept of private-communication is inconceivable to the Gray’s. Their civilization is a hive mind; Grays do what they’re told, period.
All Gray communication is dumped into a central-cloud “basket.” The intended recipients read their own-messages and no-one else’s. So, when WE transmit messages from one Furai to another over their network, it’s invisible.
From a Gray warrior’s perspective it’s not their personal-message–they just ignore it. Arrogant fucks. They don’t notice our messages, and even if they did, they’re hard-wired to ignore any message not personally-addressed to them. Japanese politeness.
I unpack my cocoon rapidly; get inside. From inside the cocoon I can see out; from outside I’m invisible. The cocoon bends light-waves around it, (and all waves I’m told.) Although I’m in the center of a meadow, any enemy viewing me, in any spectrum, would see nothing but grass.
If the enemy looked closer, they might detect subtle anomalies: insects bumping into a strange lump; a patch of flattened grass– but the Grays will not search that hard.
Men are nothing to them; less than insects! Their pride has become our ally; their arrogance a weapon! They own Earth; in the current environment they fear no man.
When free man controlled Earth with vast cities, armies, commerce, supertankers: did we worry about insect-movement in an empty meadow? I sit up in my cocoon, Indian style. My backpack in front of me; I open it.
As I unpack my MRE and my canteen: hunger and thirst kick in. First sip of water’s cold; fulfilling. I’m tempted to inhale my meal, but I don’t; I savor every bite, every sip. The best meal I’ve ever ingested. As I slowly finish my last-bite, right before taking my last-sip: something sharp pokes me in the ass.
My instinct: leap up! I suppress it, smile; finish my last-drop of water. This meadow belongs to US, the Furai, to FREE man; my destination’s underground; the Furai are letting me know: I’ll be THERE soon.
The base commander’s a young woman, of about 20 Earth-years. Beautiful; symmetrical; radiates: power; energy; emotion; confidence.
I salute her with emotion. She smiles warmly, conveying: she appreciates my formality and respect, but it’s unneeded.
She extends her hand to entice a handshake; I respond excitedly-grasping her hand. When the nerve-endings in my palm feel her warmth: my vision ceases to function; the whole-world goes dark.
Her thoughts become audible; a loud booming-voice, from the depths of her soul:
“Welcome Kenny; welcome Furai! Your journey’s over; a new journey begins! Been a fan of yours since I watched you, as a youth on ESPN; winning all-those 9-ball tournaments. A much simpler-time for a master! The skills you learned then, WE know can help our army now. You have a unique skill, which when applied to OUR new-weapon, can make you lethal; a terror to the enemy!
I reply to her thoughts with my own:
“Can you tell me about this new weapon?”
She responds: “In time. For now: know YOU are HERE because WE chose YOU; more specifically: I CHOSE YOU. You’re the first to arrive of all the volunteers, and you travelled the furthest! Why do you think that is?”
I reply in thought: “I guess because: I was well rested when I began, filled with energy; I desired to reach my goal, with emotion, above EVERYTHING else; I focussed all my energy and emotion on my goal, with faith; I did not: pause; worry; have fear; look back; look at my map; or rest. The Emperor gave me instructions; I followed them.”
She responds: “Exactly. LUKE 9:62. Your brain’s wired differently than most men, from years of 9-ball. Most men when playing 9-ball, can see a few-balls into the future. A master can see ALL the shots he needs to make, till conclusion. He sees the table; sees the sequence; sees every shot in advance; the english needed: stop; forward; back; back left; back right–how hard he needs to hit every-shot–
Once he plans out this sequence, perfectly, he executes every shot without worrying about his next. The whole-world vanishes. All he sees: the ball he’s shooting at; the ball he’s striking. He doesn’t notice the music, the crowd noise; doesn’t remember what he had for dinner, the fight with his girlfriend; doesn’t anticipate how much-money this tournament will-be worth; how tough his next-shot might be– All that exists: THE shot; THIS SHOT. Everything’s already mapped, the map’s memorized. He could play the game blindfolded from here, and know the sequence will play-out just as he imagined it, just as he CONJURED it–“
I interrupt in thought excitedly: I often practiced with my eyes closed!
She continues: “I know this. I’ve studied you, read your thoughts, downloaded your life, absorbed it all. When you were at your best, you never made a mistake, an iceman. You took large-bets to force yourself to shoot under pressure, and you did. These are the skills that’ll set YOU apart, from the other volunteers. WE have a new weapon, that has never been used in warfare. We’ll teach you all WE know about it. We will run drill after drill; practice after practice. Once you use this weapon, you’ll come up with new ways and techniques, that we can’t envision. (Because of the way your brain is uniquely-wired from 9-ball.)
These methods will-be visionary and effective. You’ll then teach your peers to use this weapon, as effectively as you can. There’s no training-manual for this weapon’s use, WE will write it!”
She releases my hand. We’re back in her executive-office deep-underground. Her XO standing at the doorway. She demands: “What is it!?”
XO: “Five new-volunteers just arrived, and 200+ will arrive within the hour.”
She replies tersely: “Yes I know. I’ve seen our volunteers approaching in my thoughts. Process them quickly. Open up the main secret-corridor; send scouts out: funnel them in. There are no enemy-patrols in the area, no need for them to cocoon top-side. Direct them to the dining hall, prepare a feast.
Set-up our last 5-Grays as a centerpiece; they’ll be the main course.”
Gray’s are delicious deep-fried with gravy. For a millisecond the XO conveys concern, a slight facial-twitch, before his facial-expression changes back to fealty and trust.
She smiles, warmly. She knows his thoughts. If I noticed the XO’s doubt; she definitely did. She continues: “Kenny meet Copeland my XO; Copeland, Kenny.”
I enthusiastically salute him. Copeland salutes me back, formally with reserve.
I detect an almost-imperceptible-HINT of something: fear? NO, not fear– What is it? Jealousy? Envy? Pride? ALL of the above. These are not usually dominant Furai-emotions. WTF? Oh! Shit! I know what Copeland is. A DOA!
She continues, interrupting my thought-analysis and conclusion: “Copeland is my right-arm, as such, you, (looking at me,) will treat him with all the respect and fealty, fitting of a Furai commander, in any public-setting.
Secretly, however, you Kenny, are in charge of our weapon’s development-program. You’ll infiltrate the volunteers, report to Copeland and to me. Privately, the two of you will be of equal rank. You, (speaking to me,) may challenge Copeland’s decisions any time, as long as you communicate with him in private. Any public displays of insubordination, will instantly revoke your privileged status; you’ll be punished publicly. Do we understand each other?”
Copeland and I respond: “Yes ma’am.”
She continues: “Copeland is a Disciple of Antwon, (D.O.A.) A fierce dark-wizard. He lacks the ability to empathize, read thoughts– But he has many uses as a task-master/ball-buster.
He’ll always crave power; always desire advancement by any means. He believes this project should be under his control. I did not choose him; he was chosen by The Furai Emperor for me. What he lacks in iron, he makes-up for in carbon.”
I smile, showing I understand the metaphor. Copeland is a dark warrior. A hard man, hard thoughts, lacking sympathy, compassion, ruthless, huge ego, self centered, full of rage– A useful-man to have in the foxhole, a terror to his enemies- The XO smiles, conveying respect for his beautiful-commander’s psychic-powers, her ability to multitask; her ability to see through him, and abilities of organization.
Our commander continues: “Kenny can also see-through you Copeland; he can read emotion, one of his gifts is that of the empath. He loves you, understands you, respects you, even though the two of you are opposites in many ways. As a DOA you are incapable of these things, but you do not need them.
As my XO, all Kenny’s talents and gifts, are at your disposal; they are under your command. Speak to one-another, now.”
Copeland to me: “What do you think of me?”
I reply: “You do not care.”
Copeland: “You are correct. Tell me something I don’t know.”
I reply: “You’re filled with jealousy, anger, rage, hatred, opportunism. You acquired your position of power because of nepotism, and heredity, rather than exclusively by ability.”
Copeland: “What difference does that make? Power is power, respect is respect, honor is honor; love me or hate me, you will obey. I have my position by any means necessary. Power is not something given; power is something you TAKE.
I reply: “The universe is not a finite-pie to be divided! It is an ever-expanding pie, to-be: enjoyed, conquered, and shared by free men.
Copeland: “Says you and the rest of your iron-ilk.”
He says, “iron,” with loathing and derision. I reply: “A tree that does not bend, will break.”
Copeland: “Not if it’s hard enough and strong enough. Fuck the wind!”
I reply: “I once thought as you, until I saw the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.”
Copeland: “It’ll take more than a-little wind to resonate me into collapse.”
I reply: “Funny, one so full of wind has no fear of it–”
Copeland: “Perhaps fear is something you need!”
Copeland’s huge, physically menacing. Copeland advances towards me, with intent to strike; I assume a defensive posture; prepare mentally for use of lethal force–The commander yells: “Stop!”
The commander: “It’s good you communicate with one another, honestly. It’s good you feel each-other out. It may-be a good thing for you to fight physically with one another, but not now! You will respect one another! Iron and Carbon; Light and Dark; All are respected by me, by The Emperor; you both will do the same!”
Copeland to the commander: “Forgive me. It’s just his insolence; his brashness; his insubordination; his–”
Commander: “I’ve stated the two of you are equals before me, and in private. You ordered him to tell you his thoughts; he did. It is you Copeland; you who shows contempt for me and my authority, by losing your cool and attempting to escalate a confrontation, by giving an order that can’t be followed.
If he lied to you, he’d be disobeying your orders; I’d know it. I’d be furious. Since he told the truth, a truth you find inconvenient, you get angry at him; knowing full well this shows a lack of respect for me.
You will respect one another and respect Furai fealty! If you ever fail me again Copeland; I’ll order your public disgrace. You’ll be executed and erased; no memory of you will exist on Earth! Do I make myself clear!”
Copeland: “Yes commander!”
Commander: “Go! Prepare the feast!”