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2. The revolution of warfare

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									The Revolution of Warfare
By Brandon Allen The dawn of time was a period of political and social upheaval. Tribes and self-proclaimed kingdoms waged war in an effort to secure total control of the surrounding territories. The world might have been in its nursery stages, but the toddlers were armed to the teeth! It was around this time that the fruits of mankind‟s brilliance began to blossom, this story is not one of those times. This story takes place in a certain city, located in a certain mountainous region, surrounded by an uncertain amount of enemies. It begins with a man; one of those ancient humans which arise in every culture bearing the wounds and scars of previous experience, usually with an attitude honed by countless years contact with the ragged edge of life. His friends would testify on his behalf, proclaiming that he was not one to be feared, although they would also confess that it would be unwise to allow him behind the reins of a chariot. The genius of all men can be stretched to breaking point by the senility accompanying age. He walked the dusty streets, which reminded him of the stark and barren roadways of his life, and a silent pledge was made to rectify this fact, but not today. The merchants screamed their wares, each trying to outdo their neighbor, resulting in a cacophony of sounds, reminiscent of a beehive who‟s occupants have been armed with loud-hailers. The bearded man walked on, for fifty years of his life he had walked this street. This day was no different, the local delicacies were not going to interest a man who, for the last five years had been living on a mashed pomegranate a day, no matter how drunk they promised to make him. The air, well the air was native to this great city, thick enough to choke a cow and add meaning to „cutting the smog with a knife‟, but basically still moved as air should, with just enough force to ruffle his thinning, unkempt hair and drape his white robe tighter around his bandy legs. The curtain followed his thin frame as he pushed, with considerable effort, into the State University. These hallowed halls, revered by some, feared by more, were mostly populated by a new class of human, one which, in the future would come to be associated with wisdom and knowledge, but that is in the future. These white haired old men were scientists and had convinced people (mostly through their experiments) to leave them in peace. These are civilized times, where fear can keep a man in his place. And fear was prevalent in these poorly lit hallways: a fear of the unknown, a fear of a violent death, but to the public at large, mostly a fear of being blown sky-high by an experiment gone wrong. Sensibly then, a respectful distance was kept at all times, and a tourist could ear-mark the building by a distinct lack of crowds, (well, they would if there were such a thing as tourism in this country.) Carbon copies of the man strode, or shuffled, depending on the varying age groups, from one hall to the next – usually trailing an army of bewildered students. The old and the young here are different from the rest of mankind in that they hold fast to a common purpose: the improvement of mankind by eliminating respectful portions of it. This was Aurora! Weapon-smiths with unparalleled skills, the like of which man has, thankfully, never seen before or after. By a miracle beyond human comprehension, named after the undiscovered bands of light found in a frozen, unknown land and observed by a group of humans which, to a logical and educated man, could not possibly exist. This name suits this syndicate of the scientific community like a glove and is probably the best embodiment of the Auroras being. To flitter like a butterfly on the brink of the impossible, then land like an elephant in the most unstable portion. As the discerning reader would by now have guessed, these halls and passageways held the wonders of a new age; so-called because people are smart enough not to argue. A brave man was once heard to remark: “I say Georgie, hasn‟t the wheel already been invented?” he was heard no longer, as the deafening booms from the explosives lab tend to drown out the screams of all but the most persistent victim. (sorry, voluntary research subject.) The man sauntered into a cavernous hall and his footsteps echoed loudly in the uneasy silence. The sun shone through the open roof where charred wooden beams protruded from the previously domed ceiling,

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remnants of a test the week before. The younger and more energetic tenants were becoming experts at rebuilding ceilings, and sometimes, when they were really lucky, a wall or two. This enthusiasm was not shared by the more senior community as they invented the proverb: „if it‟s broken, leave it that way!‟ As many thoughts and emotions as these remnants brought to the man, they were pushed to the back, for this was not his destination, that lay in the room beyond. Pythagoras entered the next hall and looked with pride upon the very pinnacle of technology, the ‘antisiege-sling, sling’. The name brought a frown to his forehead as it had many times before. A name was a sacred thing, it identifies an object, adds substance to the bare bones of its existence. The fact that the pauses needed between „slings‟ left openings through which some hypocrites could find fault left this marvelous machine incomplete in some way. The frown vanished like smoke as he filed his thoughts for future reference and turned his attention on a younger man, who was asking for trouble by carrying an official looking clipboard “Have the pilots arrived yet?” his voice was dry and rasping, one of those which made his subordinates sit up and take notice. Pythagoras caressed a crossbeam gently before hurriedly standing aside as gravity took its toll and it crashed to the ground, splintering the heavy flag-stones beneath its weight. Recovering from the shock, the younger man said, “No sir, the boats should be docking any day now!” Pythagoras‟s good mood dissipated as fast as his frown had. The pilots were late and somebody was going to pay for that grievance. “Well, what friggen time of day do you think it is? Get someone to fix that, this isn‟t a pig sty you know, can‟t have pieces of wood cluttering up the entire place!” It took seven strong men to lift the bar back into place as he left the room to attend to natures demands. *** “The best crash pilots money can buy!” The owner of the slave ship, wearing a smile which would have given honey a sugar headache, finally finished his pitch, as some of the now sleeping party were deftly shouted and kicked awake. The sailor stepped aside for the chained men trekking down the gangplank. Finding himself standing in front of a stern-faced man the leader of the troop made a quick bow, with his hands held out in a prayerful gesture, generating some rather colourful expressions from his trailing comrades as they were pulled forward by the interlocking manacles. “We are very happy to be here, we hope that you shall be pleased with our performance.” “I don‟t think there is too much wrong you can do with this job – Pythagoras made a smart about-face and marched off with the train in tow. – I hope you have been fully briefed on the dangers of this assignment?” Certain spirited individuals behind him made comments which they considered very witty, but were not shared by their slavemasters. The crack of whips meant that the offended men needed to shout to be heard, resulting in an incredibly loud procession towards the University. *** Two weeks later, after vigorous training, Pythagoras reviewed the recruits. Some saluted smartly as he patrolled the ragged line, but still some of the more arrogant ones lacked the proper incentive (the University had abolished the use of whips following the recent rise in leather prices) “Do you have any questions?” He glared with his one good eye – the other had been lost recently in an unfortunate incident involving one of the recruits, a test pig and a faulty spring and cog. As unpleasant as he considered this portion to be, his duties as project head required him to ask this question. “Well, sir…” “Very good, final trials will begin tomorrow!” The duty codes said nothing about having to wait for an answer. He turned and marched off to perform an activity which gave him endless enjoyment. In short it involved the recruit responsible for his recent lack of vision and some rather nasty looking tools.

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Aristotle – Pythagoras‟s younger brother – hurried to the slave who had been cut off. “I must apologize for my brother, he‟s been going through a rough time at the moment, with the eye and all…” he grimaced at the memory of the cog: they never had been able to remove it... His mind slammed back to the present with all the force of an asteroid… “and what are your concerns?” He stared into eyes showing all the understanding of a rock. In that split second a thought crossed his mind: „if this mans IQ were two points higher he‟d qualify to be a carrot‟ quickly then, so as not to miss the attention span, he rephrased the question. “Do you still have a question or was it still in your brain when they removed it?” The insult flew over the slaves head like a boomerang, probably coming back to haunt him on a stormy night when he contemplated his life. “Huh? Oh my question!” “That‟s what I said.” “I am having some concerns about safety.” “Aaa, yes, all taken care of; extensive testing came through without a hitch – he began mumbling to himself – “except for the girl, poor Las, wonder if she‟s down yet” – he suddenly remembered where he was and to whom he was speaking – “yes yes, we designed this flight suit with safety foremost. Well anyway.” He clapped his hands and three burly men sauntered in with several bulky white suits draped over their shoulders. One of these men was limping badly, Aristotle ventured a guess that the little terrier attached to his leg had something to do with this. As he came closer the man began hopping on one foot, whether he was trying to step on the infuriated little dog or not could have kept an animal rights group busy for weeks. One of the taller recruits squatted on his haunches and held out his hand invitingly. Upon seeing juicier prospects, the dog released its vice grip and charged full speed. To the surprise of everyone, especially the dog, he swung it up by the scruff of its neck and into his arms, very careful to avoid the toothed end. *** “Load the projectiles one through twelve!” Pythagoras motioned towards one of the many anti-slings positioned on the castle wall. A recruit with a small yapping dog in his hands stepped forward and offered the canine to one of the guards, who accepted it reluctantly. All the recruits lined up behind him were wearing the „safety wear‟: so-called cushioning flight jackets, although they looked very much like pillows strapped to the body if viewed by an untrained observer. The recruit nervously took his position in the seat centered on the drawn string. These weapons of war were anti-siege slings, huge crossbows with a movable seat where the bolt would ordinarily rest. The string was drawn back and the countdown commenced…three…two…one…lift-off…and the man flew into the air. The two armies far below waged war and a few of the more suicidal men took their eyes off the battle in favour of watching the twelve objects as they gracefully arced through the air, each focused on his target. From the recruit‟s perspective the siege sling was coming rapidly closer, a nightmarish image of wood and canvas, all decked out in the latest fashions of human skulls. He pulled out his weapons as the ground came rapidly closer: two razor sharp daggers. The ropes tying the whole contraption together called out invitingly to his blades. The fruits of many years of design came together now in this, the pivotal moment. The world would now cower before the force of the anti-sling, be forced to recognize the genius behind it. The recruit tightened his face against the howling wind and focused. The weapon rushed out to meet him sooner than he expected, leaving no room to maneuver and his cushioned body slammed into the catapult, ripping the banner displayed between the crossbars to shreds. All around the battlefield were crash pilots, repeating the scene. The „Battle of The Human Birds‟ was the only time in history where the enemy went into defeat laughing like madmen!

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Two days later a fire blazed in the central plaza of the city, Auroras of all ages formed a long line as they carted the last remnants of the „sling‟ project and hurled them with a vengefulness onto the inferno. Surviving recruits were sold and the matter was not discussed, period! A new philosophy was formed which would last for countless eons, ‘man was not meant to fly’. And as for Pythagoras‟s idea, well, what did you expect from a mathematician?


								
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