The quants' update on our helmets says there's a 97% chance the valley we're flying into is the right one, based on matching satellite data with the ground images that our "missing" BigMule is supposed to be beaming a that Brazilian informação livre group. Fuck that. The valley is too good a kill-box not to be the place. The BigMule is somewhere around there, going around pretending it's not a piece of hardware built to bring supplies where roads are impossible and everything smaller than an F-35 gets kamikazed by a micro-drone, but a fucking dog that lost its GPS tracker yet oh-so-conveniently is beaming real-time video that civilians can pick up and re-stream all over the net. It shouldn't be able to do any of those things, and of course it's not.
It's the Chinese making it do it. I know it, the Sergeant knows it, the chopper pilot knows it, the Commander in Chief knows it, even probably the embedded bloggers know it. Only public opinion doesn't know it; for them it's just this big metallic dog that some son of a bitch who should get a bomb-on-sight file flag gave a cute name to, a "hero" that is "lost behind enemy lines" (god damn it, show me a single fucking line in this whole place), so we have to of course go there like idiots and "rescue" it, so the war will not lose five or six points on some god-forsaken public sentiment analysis index.
So we all pretend, but we saturate the damn valley with drones before we go in, and then we saturate it some more, and *then* we go in with the bloggers, and of course there are smart IEDs we missed anyway and so on, and we disable some and blow up some, and we lose a couple of guys but within the fucking parameters, and then some fucking Chinese hacker girl is *really* good at what she does, because the BigMule is not supposed to attack people, it's not supposed to even have the smarts to know how to do that, and suddenly it's a ton of fast as shit composites and sensors going after me and, I admit it, I could've been more fucking surgical, but I knew the guys we had just lost for this fucking robot dog rescue mission shit, so I empty everything I have on that motherfucker's main computers, and I used to help with maintenance, so by the time I run out of bullets there isn't enough in that pile of crap to send a fucking tweet, and everybody's looking at me like I just lost America every single heart and mind on the planet, live on streaming HD video, and maybe I just did, because even some of the other soldiers are looking at me cross-like.
At that very second I know, with that sudden tactical clarity that only comes after the fact, that I'm well and truly career-fucked, so I do the only thing I can think of. I kneel next to the BigMule, put my hand where people think their heads are, and pretend very hard that I'm praying; and who knows, maybe I'm scared enough that I really am. I don't know at that moment what will happen &mash; I'm half-certain I might just get shot by one of our guys. But what do you know, the Sergeant has mercy on me, or maybe the praying works, but she joins me, and then most of us soldiers are kneeling and praying, the bloggers are streaming everything and I swear at least one of them is praying silently as well, we bring back the body, there's the weirdest fake burial I've ever been to, and you know the rest.
So out of my freakout I got a medal, a book deal, and the money for a ranch where I'm ordered to keep around half a dozen fucking robot "vets". Brass' orders, because I hate the things. But I've come to hate them just in the same way I hate all dogs, you know, no more or less. And to tell you the truth, even with the book and the money and all that, sometimes I feel sorry about how things went down at the valley, sort of.
(Inspired by an observation of Deb Chachra on her newsletter.)