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Dissonant state


Purple eyes within the night time. They’ve discovered me.

The squad strikes with unnatural silence and I see the second they spot me, 4 pairs of eyes geared toward a single goal earlier than three fan out to keep up a fringe.

Three truths:

1. Their silence is as a lot augmentation as coaching.

2. Commander Salim offers orders by way of the community hyperlink between members, unheard by anybody outdoors.

3. I’ve been disconnected from the community.

Jenkins will get to me first. He drops to his knees and I see the sunshine behind his eyes shift from pink to yellow as he switches from infrared to nighttime imaginative and prescient. “Simple, Cam. We’ve received you.”

I chew again a scream as he eases me out of the mud. Every little thing hurts and I believe my arm’s damaged. There’s a mild nudge behind my thoughts, the handshake for rejoining the community as Jenkins tries to reconnect me. It’s like an itch I can’t scratch however after three failed makes an attempt to attach he offers up.

Three truths:

1. I’ve been mendacity within the mud for nearly 12 hours, ready to be recovered.

2. The rebels smashed the transponder embedded in my proper shoulder and I believe they cracked a bone doing it.

3. With out my transponder there’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have been discovered in any respect.

My night time imaginative and prescient nonetheless works and paints Jenkins a pale splotch towards the sickly inexperienced night time. His expression is distracted as he divides his consideration, most likely between the diagnostic and speaking with the squad. We spent countless hours in coaching studying preserve a dissonant state so as to multitask: singing in a overseas language whereas writing up mission notes, holding a dialog whereas plotting a route, reciting poetry whereas resisting interrogation. Jenkins may by no means maintain greater than two strands of thought without delay. It left him an open guide to the remainder of us however he didn’t appear to thoughts.

“The damned Luddites beat Cam fairly badly,” he tells Salim shortly, talking as a substitute of sending the information for my profit. “His arm’s damaged, and there’s in depth bruising and harm to a number of augmentations. Should be why his router’s throwing up an error. He’s affected by publicity and dehydration however he’ll be OK with remedy.”

“Let’s get him again to the transport,” Salim replies. The others draw again to our place and there’s an empty pause the place Salim’s orders must be that makes me ache.

Jenkins splints my damaged arm and so they load me onto a stretcher with swift and nearly painless effectivity. Two carry me and two scout, forward and behind, to ensure nobody’s ready in ambush or attempting to comply with. I watch the celebrities.

Within the transport, Jenkins sits with me and units up a drip. He cleans and bandages wounds, though the possibility to keep away from an infection’s lengthy since handed. As soon as he’s taken care of flesh he turns his consideration to my augmentations.

“That’s a hell of a bruise in your again,” he tells me. “Appears to be like like a fairly exact strike — they will need to have recognized precisely the place to hit to take out your transponder.”

“They did.”

Some augmentations are so embedded they’d have needed to rip me aside to get to them. Jenkins declares these undamaged. Others, just like the transponder, have been damaged by way of even handed software of pressure.

Three truths:

1. The rebels have recognized for a very long time they will’t defeat us in a straight-up struggle. That’s why they use guerrilla techniques.

2. A number of the rebels know harm us as a result of they was once us, earlier than they began questioning how a lot of their humanity they’d traded away for tech.

3. It’s exhausting to struggle towards individuals while you was once on the identical facet.

“What the heck is that this in your knowledge port?” Jenkins asks, inspecting the port on the base of my cranium.

“Chewing gum.” Jamming up knowledge ports is a favorite trick among the many rebels, as a result of you may’t take them out with out killing us. Not with out main surgical procedure, anyway. Their propaganda’s all the time been very clear that their problem’s with the tech, not with us.

Jenkins makes a noise of disgust and I really feel a mild tugging as he tries to tease it out. “Not less than it isn’t superglue. We’d have needed to exchange the entire port.”

“Superglue’s exhausting to come back by out right here. Everybody’s received gum.”

The gum comes free and there’s the chemical stink of solvent as he cracks open a bottle and will get to work cleansing residue out of the port.

“I’m going to hook as much as you manually, run a full diagnostic. May take some time so attempt to get some sleep.” There’s a well-recognized feeling of completion as he inserts one finish of a cable, and I welcome the connection previous my firewall.

Three truths:

1. A wired connection is quicker and extra dependable than wi-fi.

2. Jenkins is concentrating on treating me and updating the log, and has by no means been good at working a number of processes.

3. I override his safety settings earlier than he realizes I’ve performed it. The virus takes maintain.

One down. I rejoin the community.

The story behind the story

C. L. Holland reveals the inspiration behind Dissonant state.

Dissonant state was partly impressed by the Ukrainian entry to Eurovision 2021.

For those who watched the competition, likely you’ll keep in mind Go_A performing Shum. If not: they made a hanging impression, with singer Kateryna Pavlenko singing Ukrainian folks lyrics over an accelerating techno beat.

Like many, I spent the subsequent few weeks studying the lyrics, phonetically as I don’t converse Ukrainian. After some time, I seen that if I used to be finishing up a routine job I may sing alongside with out excited about it — and this even utilized to typing easy sentences. This received me excited about the mind’s capacity to deal with and prioritize duties and knowledge, and the way we will use specializing in one job to keep away from excited about one other.

The ultimate piece of the inspiration got here from a writing immediate of a automobile dealing with down a crowd of individuals with pink eyes. That received me the picture of Cam ready within the mud for a squad that may by no means come. I spotted that to jot down his story successfully I’d have to layer his actuality with the lists of three truths all through, recreating that dissonant state of doing one factor whereas excited about one other.

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