THEY AIN’T HEAVY, THEY’RE MY BROTHERS
Previously: Get Thee Behind Me, Buffy
Themesong: We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel
While pondering what to do with the Slayerpop (and after checking that Glorificus, the Judge, and The First Evil were all safely in their Masterballs), I took a few days to relax with the crew before looking at the newest Jump. Metal Gear Solid, not something I’d ever actually played, but I was familiar with the reputation those games had for being weird… and having lots of boxes or something? Someone named Snake? SNAAAAKE! I didn’t know much about the games, but they couldn’t be that bad, right? There are like a dozen of them, I think. Aside from Resident Evil, bad games didn’t keep getting sequels. And on that note, it was time to start with the ceremonial rolling of the Dice of Ages. I make it sound impressive, but it was a pair of d10s made of steel and a token that said +12. I got a four… I guess that meant I was 16? Well, that’s young… again. I thought this was about secret agents and grizzled veterans? 16? Well, whatever. Sweet Sixteen again! Weee!
Hmmm… that’s new. Location includes a starting year… I guess the different games are spread across much of the 20th century? Where (and when) do I start, oh great spinny wheel? 1995 South African Coast? Huh. Okay… wonder what happened there. Then again, the other choices ran from 1970 to 2009 and the free pick was any time between 1940 and 2010… and the only places on the list I was certain I knew where they were were Costa Rica and Afghanistan. I had no idea where San Hieronymo, Zanzibar Land, Shadow Moses, or Big Shell were. That was assuming that Zanzibar Land was different than Zanzibar Island. That was near Madagascar.
There were four Backgrounds; Drop-In, Combat, R&D Unit, and Intel Unit? Which did I want to be… Combat? Naw. Too Aggressive. Drop-In? Kinda boring but got a free second language. “R&D sounds cool… what are the discounted perks? ‘I’ve Got Science’?” I considered. No, I already actually had science. ‘Omni-Keyed’ was a hacking perk… mmmm I usually use Victoria for that, which was ironic or whatever because she was an Omni-Tool.
I looked at the next entry and shook my head. “Seriously? ‘Box-Tech’?” I mean, it was gadget tech, but the name was silly and I was a Starfleet engineering expert. Didn’t really need that… nor did I really need ‘A New Age of Warfare’ which explained (at last) what Metal Gears actually were. They were the series resident giant mechs… and they were expensive… I mean, sure, they were cool and all, but how hard really would it be to retro-engineer them with Star Trek and Mass Effect Tech? So that was no to R&D.
“How about Intel?” I commented to Ziggy, who nodded in agreement. Then again, he nods in agreement with everything. Seriously. “Ziggy, would you like to be President of Russia?” See? He nodded. Not that he has a clue what President or Russia are. “Let’s see… ‘Lay of the Land’, a local’s understanding of the local terrain, culture, and goings on for wherever I start and the ability to pick that up for wherever I go could be useful, but ‘Trained Eye’ (Memorizing small details on sight) was not so much.” I scratched the Zigg’s tummy as I considered. ‘Fairy Disguise’ was all about, you guessed it, disguises and mimicry and ‘Phantom’ was impressive level stealth and mixed well with Fairy Disguise… but even after discount that would be five hundred CP for some pretty basic stealth stuff. No thanks. So Intel was right out, but the last perk on the list, ‘No Nation We Inhabit’ was 200 CP and was quite nice, since it would give me two more real world languages (native fluency) and allow me to pick up new ones twice as fast, as well as give me a talent for cryptology (something I’d never been very good at).
Like I said, Intel was out, especially since it would cost 200 CP just to buy the Background and then another hundred to get ‘No Nation’. It was 300 either way, but if I went Drop-In I’d be able to get the discounts for it. That would be three new languages… Already knew Estonian, Chinese, Turian, Klingonese, Vulcanese… plus I have faint memories of Japanese, French, Asari, and whatever I was speaking in Pokemon Land. Why, you ask, did I know Chinese and Vulcanese when I was a Chinese and Vulcan in those jumps? Because, as crazy as it seems, the languages I heard as English? Yeah… in Ranma it was Japanese and in Star Trek it was English! Why? Buggered if I know! Anyway, the second language I got as a Drop-In was something appropriate to my starting location… That’s South Africa. English, Afrikaans, Xhosa. I’ll take… Afrikaans. Shame to pass up Zulu or Xhosa, but Afrikaans essentially gets me Dutch too, since it’s a dialect. For ‘No Nation’ I pick up Russian and Japanese.
Drop-Ins got ‘Survival Viewer!’ (yes, with the exclamation point included) for free, which was a knowledge of foraging and preparing food in the wild, plus knowing, in general, how to avoid poisoning myself. It also said that, even if I did poison myself, my digestive system would prove especially hardy. It even provided a boost to my natural healing rate if I ate good quality food. I wondered if that would help with regen? Eh… whatever. The food poisoning I don’t have to worry about, thanks to TES but the wilderness survival stuff sounded good. I have good memories of camping and foraging sounded not terrible. Especially since I couldn’t accidentally poison myself and could, in theory, survive on almost anything organic thanks to my Body Mod… you know, some small part of me misses going to the bathroom… it’s vestigial, I know, but still.
The next to perks, ‘Jumping Spider’ and ‘BEES!!!’ were interesting, but not ultimately worth it. Jumping Spider would boost my climbing, leaping, flexibility, speed, and agility even higher than they already were, but those enhanced abilities would burn stamina pretty darn rapidly, so it was a no go there. With BEES!!! (a name I loved saying) I could get myself a pack of wolves or a couple tigers or something, but I’d kinda feel bad if they got hurt, even though I’d get more over time. They would be replacements, not respawns, and that ruled that out.
I know, I know. Soft heart… but that just meant more CP with which to buy ‘Psychic’ Yes, it’s true. Apparently Metal Gear had giant mecha and psi powers… and it wasn’t even Gundam! So, bonus! I’ve always wanted psi powers… I know, I already had biotics, thanks to being Asari, though I haven’t used them much, and as a Vulcan I was a little Telepathic, though I never really focused on it. But this would be a huge boost, since, for my three hundred CP, I’d unlock ‘the true power of the mind’, providing me with powers such as psychic communication and TK up to 40 kilos or so. I could specialize in Telepathy to read minds or commune with the dead, or Telekinesis to shield myself from incoming projectiles (though that would require constant focus) or levitate (which apparently wouldn’t). It was damned awesome, and it said that an otherwise normal person should be able to soft-cap everything within about 17 years. Well, I figured I’d start with Telepathy and work on TK later.
What else could I take? I glanced at the Combat Background’s perks, just to be certain I didn’t need anything there. I could take ‘Marksman’, but I’m already a damned good shot. Should be considering how much shooting I’ve done. ’10-Year Vet’… hah. I’ve fought two wars and countless skirmishes against gangs and death-eaters and all manner of baddies. Meh. I skipped over the other two perks. Not worth it.
Then I found out there was an entire section of undiscounted perks, perks that would make me good at maintaining and using unfamiliar weapons tech, or all me to ‘tag’ people or places as if I had a mini-map inside my mind. Most of them were… overpriced or pointless or just too weird to wrap my head around… but ‘Here’s to You’ sounded like fun. For one hundred CP, any stored music I collected would be automatically added to a mental music player that would faithfully replay the song as if I were hearing it played live. I know I’ve got a perfect memory, but trust me… remembering a song is not the same as hearing it. Of course, for a c-spot, I’d want more, and HtY offered it. In addition to the mental playback, if I touched a set of functioning speakers I could have them begin playing music from my mental collection, only returning to normal once the selected playlist ended, I moved out of earshot, or someone turned them off.
So, that was cool. In the item section, I didn’t really see anything else that screamed buy me. Weapons, Outfits… Metal Gears? Hmmm… I could probably build one of these things… Set that as a challenge maybe. Too expensive otherwise really. Like 400 to 1600 expensive… ack… how many drawbacks were there?!
I figured that was a clue to check out the Drawbacks and right off the bat found something promising. It was called ‘War Has Changed’, a clear ‘take-that’ to the Fallout Series, but it effectively put two jumps back to back, giving the Metal Gear Solid jump a built-in sequel. As soon as I finished up in MGS, I’d proceed with the same continuity to Metal Gear Rising. I had no idea what that was, but if the powers that be (i.e. the Boss-man… thing… whatever) wanted to give me points to have things be a little less random? I was going to take it! I’d spent seven hundred, and War Has Changed got me another hundred, bringing me back to four hundred.
I skipped ‘Superstitious’ which would make me too credulous, but decided to take ‘Metal GEAR?’ which would force me to repeat things as if I was an idiot or just not paying attention. I was surprisingly cool with that. Anything to get the other side to underestimate me, right? That was another hundred, so up to five hundred. ‘Weirdness Magnet’ promised ghosts, people with supernatural powers, and random weirdos going on about memes. I had no clue why that was worth two hundred, but I’d take it! That put me to seven hundred.
And then there was ‘The Phantom Pain’, clearly a reference to the last game in the series… I did pay at least that much attention. Gamer Cred? Metal Gear, Solid Snake, Sons of Liberty, uhhh… Snake Eater, Guns of the Patriots, Ground Zeroes, and Phantom Pain… huh… that’s seven… How are there seven games with only five numbers? No idea… I’m certain there were other games in the series… I seem to remember something called something called Ghost Babel… I honestly didn’t pay any attention… but I did flip past the adds in game magazines… that counts, right? Anyway, The Phantom Pain was a reference to missing limbs and that’s exactly what the Drawback did. It was 150 for each I gave up and I figured why not. Interesting challenge, though I’d have to deal with the memories of being dismembered. That might be an issue… but eh, why the hell not. Eyepatch and an arm… the left I think. That got me up to a thousand again. Back in the Black, big time! Let’s spend some points!
The first thing I did was go back and snag the incredibly expensive Combat capstone, ‘CQC’ (Close Quarters Combat). I know you’re thinking, ‘You did what? But you’re a Ranma-Level martial artist already!’ I know, I know, I’m already a martial artist, but I’ve never done it in life or death or with guns. CQC is a martial art for the modern age developed by The Boss and Naked Snake (Is that really someone’s name?), and by buying it, I’ll have managed to achieve true mastery, like to the point where I could floor a four-man fireteam before they can even react… and that’s before taking into account my other martial art training. It also came with a boost to spatial awareness which was nice.
Of course, buying that took my thousand point surplus and cut it back to four hundred… almost right back where I’d started, but that was okay. There wasn’t really much that I had to have from here. I certainly wasn’t going to buy cyborg gear. Prosthetics alone were damned new for me… I didn’t want to jump right into having machines installed in my body. Save that for another jump maybe. This is testing the waters.
I didn’t get much in the way of freebies in Perks, but Gadgets said I got ‘The Box’ times four free. Yay! A cardboard camo blox. Idiocy. ‘What Was That Noise?’ was also free. A hollow plastic box that’s always in my pocket when I need it, light enough for long throws, makes and loud clacking noise that always seems to fool guards, and disappears when it settles. Well… that’s weird. Totally pointless, but free so whatever.
Also free was the Civilian Clothes and Naked Camo (Olive Drab pants and tactical webbing) from Outfits and a Signature Weapon free from Weapons, though if I didn’t pay CP for the SigWeap, it would only for the duration of the jump. Paying for the SigWeap would provide experience as if I’d trained from childhood (yes, even a rocket-launcher… FOOOM!!!) as well as allowing me to easily produce and customize ammo for my chosen weapon (that would come in handy if I was ever in Falloutopia). The first purchase also came with a high tech precision squirt gun… no, I’m not kidding.
I couldn’t decide on what I wanted my weapon to be, so in the end I bought two. The first was the Bambetov SV, which was discounted for Drop-Ins and was a semi-automatic sniper rifle that claimed that, by using existing components, it reduced cost and made repair easier. Whatever dude, as long as it provides effective long-range fire without sacrificing speed. I imported my plasma sniper rifle from Mass Effect into it, because why have two sniper rifles when you can have one at twice the price that can shoot the bullets and the plasmas… None of my ME gear was fiat backed… if it broke, I’d have to go back and replace it. My SPECTRE Armor had been imported into Harry Potter as a Jacket, my Omni-Tool with VI as my wand… now I had one of my guns (the one I used most often, to be honest… I’m a big fan of shooting people from much further away than they can shoot back) protected.
A second (my combat rifle) got protected as I imported it into the squirt gun… I guess I can load that with Jusenkyo water… And I imported my Goblin Sword into my Stun Knife (its a knife and a stun gun in one! Even has an auto-recharging battery!). The Stun Knife was free for Drop-ins.
My other Signature Weapon purchase couldn’t, unfortunately, protect anything or merge with anything… it was called ‘An Explosion?!’ and for two hundred CP gave me fifteen items from the following list every day; Frag Grenades, Smoke Grenades, Stun Grenades, Sleep Gas Grenades, Chaff Grenades, C4, or Claymores. No having to buy them, no having to pick a load out… just wave my hands into hammerspace or wherever and boom, an explosion. the terminal unfairness of it was compounded by the fact that it didn’t list the tech-level of any of those and a quick harassing… I mean questioning of the boss confirmed that they could be of any tech level I could build… heh. excellent. It wasn’t even a power… it was just equipment. If I could build it, I just happened to have it on me whenever I needed it. Only problem was I couldn’t stockpile… ah well, can’t have everything.
That took me down to one hundred left and importing a companion was 25 CP each, so I figured I’d bring in four of them, with each getting their own Signature Weapon and ten years of experience in the military of their choice. That spent me out, but allowed me to bring in Zane (IDF, Arms Material MRS-4R Combat Rifle), AJ (Mossad, Burkov 9mm pistol with integrated non-deteriorating suppressor), Petra (SAS,Fakel 46 Grenade Launcher), and Ryoga (Navy Seal, Windurger No.2 Tranq Pistol).
I figured I was done at this point, but the VMoD had other plans, as instead of offering me the ‘Insert Now’ button it offered a screen titled ‘Scenarios’. Hmmm… the last time I’d seen those… first time I’d seen them for that matter… only other time… that was it… was in Harry Potter. I hadn’t gone with any of them then… Well, I had, but not for the reward, but rather just to prove I could. I shrugged and figured I’d at least give these a looksee.
There were three of them: FOB, Force of the Times, and Legacy of the Boss. I didn’t know what the other two were references to, but F.O.B. was military parlance for Forward Operations Base… i.e. the place your spearhead attack comes from and your primary ‘safe’ retreat point, but in practice not always that secure. I checked that one out first and pretty much immediately rejected it as both insane and not particularly interesting.
The challenge was to defend the contents of my Warehouse for the duration of the Jump… and if allowing anyone in this era a chance to get their hands on the crap I had in my Warehouse wasn’t profoundest insanity I don’t know what is… I had photon torpedos and gigaton nukes in there for Guu’s sake! The text even heavily implies the thieves would be able to study my tech and make more of it… yeah, that sounds safe. The prize for that lunacy? An ocean base! Why would I want an ocean base? No thanks.
Both of the other two were recruitment scenarios, one for someone named ‘Venom Snake ‘(is that really a name?) who looks like Big Boss but isn’t (what the hell?) and the other for ‘The Boss’ (who is apparently a lady, unlike ‘The Big Boss’). Force of the Times would change my starting point to Arlington (I assume they mean the cemetery and not the town) at the funeral of ‘The Boss’ (where ‘Big Boss’ was in attendance) and I’d have to survive until 2014… no idea how long that gap is, but survival seems pretty easy. This is the real world, or close to it and I’ve survived the Conduit Gangs of Infamous. Didn’t know if I cared that much about this Venom Snake, but hey, maybe he’s a cool dude? Also, how hard could it be? Famous last words? Maybe… but it didn’t sound that hard.
Legacy of the Boss sounded a bit harder though. To win that scenario, I’d have to stop a bunch of AI’s called ‘The Patriots’ from existing, or from creating something called ‘The War Economy’ or ‘World Marshal’. Apparently, I’d have to stop someone called ‘CIPHER’… I honestly had no fucking clue what any of this meant, and had no idea if ‘The Patriots’ were the same patriots as in ‘Sons of the Patriots’ or not… it was all very confusing.
I honestly didn’t even care who any of these people were… or what I was really signing up for, but I was pretty certain that most of the main characters of the Metal Gear series were fairly normal humans and I was anything but. I had resources, I had powers… I could handle this. And the entire thing sounded like a really interesting challenge, a chance to really explore the depths of this reality and get the whole Metal Gear experience. I didn’t know how many years I was signing up for, which was a little worrying, but presumably it was going to be no more than 75 years, given the earliest date was 1940? I’d be… what? 91 years old at the end if it was that long? I could hack that… probably. It was a failstate (which was like “AAAAAAH!”), but…
Fuck it, it sounded really interesting and I was looking forward to seeing how Vivian would do against these AIs. That and this ‘The Boss’ sounded kinda near. I didn’t know who she was, but she clearly kicked ass. Survive an unknown amount of time, until 2014, against unknown threats? There was something soo… attractive about the whole concept. And the scenarios gave me something to shoot for, something to keep me from just turtling up and saying ‘Not my Monkey, Not my Problem’. And that was worth more than any reward, to be honest.
I didn’t immediately sign on for either, but left the thought, the idea, the risk-vs-reward calculation, to stew in the back of my mind for a few days. I even considered playing the games… I was almost certain Vivian had them somewhere in her [Earthly Entertainment, – 21st century] folder… but I thought better of it. Or rather, I decided that flying blind would force me to go deeper, to look for out of the box solutions. And that’s when I realized I was already sold. What really got to me was that my initial roll puts my Jump between the years 1995 and 2004… but both these scenarios impled that all the cool stuff would happen in 2014. That’s like jumping into Harry Potter six years before the first book, and having to leave after the TriWizard Tournament. Screw it. I’d take the hard way. I locked in the choices and hit the switch.
The initial crash of insertion is normally abrupt, but things level out again fast. One minute you’re in the Warehouse, the next you’re in the Jump… but not this time. Oh… oh… Boss of Jumps… sneaky. Sneaky. I was expecting to be there, a sixteen year old me watching a funeral… but what I got was a warm feeling, floating, mostly darkness, barely in control of my limbs, a feeling of pressure. And a voice, muffled, saying something in Russian. I knew Russian now… I did… cool… but it still took me a minute to realize what the voice was saying. “We’ll bring you back, Joy. Oh yes. You’ll make them all pay.”
Being born sucks. You probably don’t remember it. I didn’t remember the first time… I remembered this time. I also remember being slapped… and breaking the doctor’s thumb. I couldn’t remember who I was… but I understood I was special. Oh yes. That I understood. I was Joy… Joyous Snake… I was told this every day. My mother (in the genetic sense) had been The Boss (aka The Joy, a legendary American operative in the early post WWII era). My other mother (in the traditional biological birth sense) was Eva (aka Big Momma, a Chinese PLA agent posing as a member of the KGB). I didn’t have a father. The year was 1965. I had 50 years to go.
What I had was training. All the time. Every day. Training. To be the best. To make Momma proud. Mother was dead. Killed by Snake, the other Snake, the Big Boss, but it wasn’t his fault. It was America’s fault. They’d betrayed Mother. They’d made her lay down her life to cover for them. I didn’t know the details, merely the anger. I’d make them pay. For Mother. For the Boss.
We lived in Israel, hiding from the Americans, from the Russians, from the Chinese. We’d started in China, but Momma and I had escaped, escaped through the landmines that had taken my eye. We went to Israel, where there were many Russians like us. I had many imaginary friends as a kid; Iron Hound, who spoke to me of wars against evil AIs and of tyrants bent on world domination; Acid Jaguar, who taught me the secrets of peering into the thoughts of others and told me of adventures of a young girl collecting magical guardians to protect her on her quest; Stone Scorpion, who taught me to move things with my mind and to work my will upon the world; and Crusher Piglet, who would hug me whenever I was sad or angry and taught me that all prisons can be escaped.
As I grew, my friends became more and more real and Momma would be absent for longer and longer, doing missions to keep us safe. When I was seven, Momma gave me two brothers, but it would be years before I ever got to meet either of them. Later that year, the assassins came for the first time. There were twelve of them. I was alone, watching the news that terrorists had kidnapped several of Israel’s athletes from the Munich games. I had just thought to my friends, “You should go save them.” when I heard a noise downstairs in our house in Netanya. I went to look. Momma often left me alone for days; she trusted me to take care of myself. I was very smart, smarter than all the other kids, smarter than all the adults too.
As I said, there were twelve of them. There was one of me. They never stood a chance. I played with them, reading their minds. They worked for the Zhéxué Jiā… the Chinese Philosophers and were looking for Momma. They didn’t know I existed. I made sure they never told anyone.
One by one I destroyed them, making the weakest willed amongst them turn their weapon against the others. He was quickly cut down, but in the destruction I made another burn and froze a second so hard he shattered. I punched a third many times until his chest shattered and a fourth… well… the were going to hurt Momma… what would you have done. Still, I played too rough, too sloppy. I had counted only eleven. The last was quiet, so very quiet. His sword made my arm hurt… it would have made my head hurt, but I saw his reflection in the eleventh man’s eyes as they went dark and moved at the last moment.
I screamed, a dark green angry scream, words in a language I didn’t know, the words “Avada Kedavra!” blasting out of my seven-year old chest and he stopped… I fell down then, weak from all the red stuff gushing from where my arm stopped just below my elbow. That was September 5th.
Momma found me there amid the bodies two days later, my arm having healed into a stump. The world had been stunned by the speed of Israel’s reaction to the Munich Hostage crisis. A group of agents had arrived on scene and obliterated the terrorists before the terrorists could even respond and that all nine of the surviving hostages had been liberated.
I adapted quickly to the loss of my arm, as I had to the loss of my eye, but the pain continued to bother me, intruding on my focus and making me irritable. More irritating were the number of times I tried to do something with my left hand by reflex, only to fail. The doctors fitted me with a prosthetic, but I didn’t like it and I was continually tinkering with it, working with it, making it better, cleaner, more realistic. As the years passed and I grew physically, I learned to control my fake hand with my mind, the same process that allowed me to snag things across the room allowing me to grasp things though not with the same skill as I could with my physical hand.
We moved a lot over the years, hiding from the Bad Cat and the Big Boss. It wasn’t time, not yet. When I was ten, Momma sent me to a place called Mother Base to support some people named XOF and make sure they succeeded in their mission. I didn’t understand much of it, but I did as I was told. I did that a lot. But I was young then. I even assassinated a Pope, for reasons I’ll never know beyond that I had orders.
As I got older, more and more of my personality emerged from the darkness, like islands being exposed by sinking sea levels. I was a creature of this world, this world of intrigue, this world of shadows and lies… but also not of it. I was a clone of The Joy, also known as The Boss, born to take revenge upon the world that had betrayed her… and, as I realized on my sixteenth birthday, memories of past lives crashing over me, remembering everything a dozen other EssJay’s had known… I’d been created by the nascent organization I was supposed to have stopped from coming into existence… when I’d been five, apparently. Clearly, some rules had been changed… but maybe they had to be. If CIPHER was to create the Patriots, they’d need to exist… and I still had no idea what World Marshal or the War Economy were… or who CIPHER was… It was 1981.
But now I had my team… and Momma. Momma knew more than she was letting on. It’s a very strange thing to interrogate the woman that raised you… but she’d raised me to be what I was. I’d committed genocide against two species (Reapers & Turok Han), tried to do so against at least two more (Dementors & Vampires). I’d assassinated people who believed they were above the law in their own beds. And I’d done so out of moral outrage… but Joy… this new me… we didn’t have those morals. Or at least not enough to stop us from asking some pointed questions… and then when those were avoided… some enhanced questions.
You have to give it to Eva; she had a mind like a vault. But vaults can be broken into. Electro-torture, waterboarding, pain… those are all primitive. I could have Crucio’d the information from her… but she was still my mother, the closest thing I’d had to one in decades really… So I mixed up Veritaserum and questioned her again… then I Obliviated her memory of the event. Thanks for that, Gilderoy.
I learned a lot from that. Of a Gentleman named Zero and of my Son-Brother… Ocelot. I learned of my brothers, David and Eli, and their father, John (aka. Big Boss)… and of what had been done to them. I decided it was time for me to take my place on the global stage.
The Joy Division name already being taken, I named my group Hijas de Invierno, the Daughters of Winter. HDI contracted with the American Government to stabilize regions and remove despots and guerilla forces acting against American interests. We did our first job pro bono, more of a demonstration than anything else.
In October of 1981, the Salvadoran Civil War was heating up, with China and Cuba supplying the rebels and the US, Israel, and Taiwan supporting the Government. By december there weren’t any rebels. One dead leader is a martyr. All the leaders either dead or publicly recanting is a failed rebellion. In exchange, someone may have convinced the military government to peacefully transition back to a democracy. It wasn’t optimal, but a 12 year civil war with nearly 90,000 dead and more than a million displaced was less so. The needs of the many and all. Didn’t even need to deploy Metal Gear Dragon.
I sunk most of the money I could get my hands on… which was considerable… into stocks of AT&T and IBM, planning for the future and curious to see if those companies would still thrive. In the next few years, HDI would guarantee a rapid and decisive Israeli victory in Lebanon that resulted in the creation of non-Syrian controlled independent nation instead of a bombed out ruin, the singlehanded resolution of the Cuban takeover of Grenada, the clandestine destruction of Severomorsk Naval Base in Russia, and many more highly black book operations.
We faced stiff competition at first, but soon the mere hint that HDI and our all but invincible Metal Gear were operating in country was enough to make the timid run for the hills. Of course, we eventually got too big, too hated, and that meant we had to disappear. I took a page from mom’s book and we faked the destruction of our compound on Svalbard, Winter Base. PMCs around the world leapt over each other to claim credit and began fighting each other in a series of ever escalating private wars. The year was 1988.
I had sixteen years. I became Simon Joval, head of a new start up company called Global-Universal Networking. GUN released a computer system a decade more advanced than anything available at the time, a time where the top of the line computers gave one 33 MegaHertz of processing power with 500 MegaBytes of Hard Drive Space… with a CRT… all for the rock bottom price of 7,000 USD. The GUN-ONE, by comparison, started at 250 MegaHertz, 4GB HD, 32MB of Ram, CD-Rom (a brand new technology)… with a 16’ LCD display… all for 500 dollars. And each and every one of them came with a proprietary operating system… and internet connectivity. Everything was produced in house.
To say the GUN-ONE took the world by storm is not an exaggeration. And we kept churning out innovations, faster than any of our competitors could compete… and compete they did… because I was selling them tech too, tech stolen from GUN by none other than Little Boss, not so dead as the world thought. Within a decade, I was the richest person on Earth and my chips were in everything. Everything. Which meant Vivian was in everything.
The Patriots knew Little Boss was coming for them. They thought they were ready. They thought they were smart. They thought a lot of things. But I’d had decades to prepare for them before any of the little bastards went on line. Hell, GUNCorp created the very processors they were running on. One by one, the five AIs came on line. And I did nothing. They were waiting for me to make my move. Let them wait. I’d waited… and I continued doing so. I waited… waited… watching my little brothers. Watching Big Boss maneuver. I was good at watching. I was the spider in the web.
Then my moment came. My Brothers were both heading to Shadow Moses Island… the year was 2005… and that meant so was I. I followed David… Solid Snake… as he made his way through FOXHOUND’s operatives, helping him though he didn’t know it along each step of the way. My systems were already analyzing the nanoviral pathogen in his system. It was… primitive… crude… but it had utility. I neutralized it. Biowarfare is a nasty habit.
Eventually David and Eli faced each other, Eli… Liquid Snake, acting like a right prat. I interrupted their little boxing match by decloaking between them and flooring them both in seconds. “Boys. We need to talk.”
Liquid…. What a stupid name… Eli, Eli looked stunned. He knew my face. “Boss?”
I smirked. “In the flesh.”
“But… you’re dead?”
I laughed at that. “So was your father. Yet you live. Solidus lives… he’s your baby brother… President of the US too, for that matter. Okay, so no… I’m not The Boss. I’m Little Boss. I am to The Boss as you two are to Big Boss. Though both of you have been genetically… damaged.”
David, clever David, asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Strictly speaking, from a way of looking at it… you’re my little brothers. Clones can’t be grown in test tubes. All three of us were born of the womb of Big Momma. Eva… and since I’m the eldest, that means I have to look out for you two idiots. You’re both being manipulated. Eli… oh, sorry, you prefer that idiotic code name Liquid… you’ve been told you were the defective one… well it’s not true. David… Solid… Jesus… what’s wrong with just calling people Snake 6 or something. Stupid animal themes… anyway… Solid, Big Boss hasn’t really turned his back on everything he believed in… you’re both being manipulated by a bunch of AIs called the Patriots. Is that right, Ocelot… did you miss momma?”
Adam… Revolver Ocelot… which is, I’ll admit, a pretty cool codename, stepped out of hiding. “You’re not my mother. She died before you were born. You’re just a copy.”
“I like to think of myself as an improvement actually. Not bad for 40, huh?” I flexed. I was in damned good shape… even my cybernetic arm and eye were in top shape. I’d built them myself, top of the line tech for the year 2400, direct neural interface and everything. Eli looked like he was about to spring, Adam was reaching for his gun, David was looking confused.
I flicked out a corner of my will and summoned Adam’s revolvers too me, catching one in each hand, “Colt, Single Action, Army Revolver. Good gun. Big Boss gave you the idea back when he was Naked Snake and you were still using a Makarov, right?”
He just growled, “Kindly return my guns.”
“Sure… but just so you know, there are bombers on the way now. Look, Eli, I know you’ve spent your whole life hating David, but it’s not like either of you are any match for me, and until you are, who cares if you’re better than him or not. I could take all three of you with you working together, but none of us have the time. And quite frankly, I’d rather the two of you don’t kill each other.” I tossed both of them a pressure injector “Here. These are full of nanites to scrub the FOXDIE… I think that’s what that little psycho called it… out of your systems… and they’ll fix that pesky accelerated aging. Then both of you should get out of here.”
I’m very good at convincing people. But Eli is very insane. It took every ounce of self control not to kill him. I’d never really tried that in a serious fight before. Finally I just Vulcan Nerve Pinched him and he went down like a sack of meal. “Adam, David… get out of here. Adam… tell Solidus I’m coming for him… oh… and Vivian?”
A disembodied voice came from every computer on Earth. “Yes Little Boss?”
“Yes Little Boss.”
And the Patriot AIs died as every computer on the planet went into emergency reboot. Well, not every. There might have been a few older systems owned by very silly people, but every computer made after 1992 or so. Every phone. Every game console. Everything had some iteration of GUNTech’s chipset or a knockoff… and every one of those billions of chips was part of Vivian. The Patriots had been running on my computers… rent free… now they weren’t doing any such thing.
At the same time, AJ stepped out of a doorway in a hospital half a world away, a blade growing out of his arm. Silent as smoke, he swung his arm and the head of a man who didn’t exist bounced free of his shoulders. Zero had been divided… and was now one with the Infinite.
At the same time, what had once been a UFP Assault Shuttle slipped out of the infinite night behind the moon and fired a pencil thin phaser blast at the Earth… or nearly. A single satellite, one among thousands… vaporized.
David looked at me, suspicion on his face. “What did you just do?”
“That, little brother, would be telling. I’ve no idea how this will play out… but FYI… I’m going to assassinate President Sears. You could try and stop me… you won’t be able to… but you could try. But he’s not worth it. He’s an enemy agent.”
“You have proof of that?”
“I do. I’ll give them to you in nine years. But right now, I’d recommend grabbing Meryl and running… oh… and tell Naomi if I ever hear she’s been messing with nanoviruses again, I will personally provide her a one way ticket to Low Earth Orbit.”
He left. I stole the heavily damaged Metal Gear Rex, its railgun, and the entire nuclear arsenal of Shadow Moses Base. I still had to make sure that the Patriots plans didn’t come true. I’d already stopped 9-11… that had been child’s play. One of my squad had been on each of the four planes and had… well, you can imagine… But I still had to stop the War Economy. I’d finally learned what that was. Still didn’t have a clue what World Marshal was. But the War Economy… a global shift to continuing local warfare as a business to promote peace? I’ve heard of insanity before… but only an AI could come up with something that bonkers.
And to that end, I was going to give the people of this Earth an absolutely stunning demonstration of why private militaries were a terrible idea.
Two days after the death by heart attack of US President Sears, HDI emerged as a nuclear power. We freed Tibet in 21 days, smashing everything the Chinese sent against us, promising swift retaliation if they attacked Tibet ever again. We hired ourselves to every oppressed minority, every region. We came with cameras, we came with Metal Gears, we came with peace in mind, but the threat of force. And we were death on death squads.
The UN called for our heads as nation after nation broke into the opening stages of civil war… but we were ghosts. For six years we moved freely across the world, keeping constantly aware of every trap because every machine used my chipset. It was a unique opportunity. I’d shaped the information so completely that I effectively controlled the Infosphere. Nothing was hidden from my eyes.
Finally, the UN passed a general condemnation of private militaries, with member nation after member nation agreeing to seriously limit their use. Private or corporate ownership of modern military technology was essentially outlawed. The year was 2011. I spent the last few years of the jump mostly as Simon, enjoying my wealth and using my massive political clout to push green technologies, socialized medicine, and all that.
I did have to keep Liquid from being an ass, but bringing him inside my head for some extensive therapy sessions helped. I was there when the four Snakes met up in Arlington in 2014. I perched on the top of my genesister’s grave and chuckled as the four idiots acted all macho and restrained. They jerked as one, reaching for sidearms like four copies of the same man. As I decloaked I said, “You four look so stiff. You’re family… essentially. As good as it gets for any of you. And none of you are getting any younger. Smile. Relax… things are looking up. Trust me… That’s an order from the Boss. Well, Boss 2.0. Smaller, more compact… streamlined.” And then I dumped Jusenkyo water on all four of them.
I walked away, whistling… smug for once… There were seconds to go. Sure, this wasn’t the beach… but this was a special occasion. All I had to do was get out of sight, make a cool exit, and I’d apparate back to Svalbard… And in that moment I let my guard down.
I felt the explosion lift me off my feet and smash me through a dozen gravemarkers. My final thought was “Fuck… that’s what being hit by a railgun feels like.”
Oh, in case anyone’s wondering why I didn’t repeat everything like an idiot… I did… a lot… but fuck it… this is my story… I’m totally not telling you about all the times I had to repeat what I just heard because I didn’t get it the first time. Honestly… After the first twenty years I pretty much stopped asking questions and just nodded a lot. As for all the weirdness… yeah… there was… lots of that. Lots and lots… but it would have distracted from the overly long narrative. If you’re good little boys and girls, someday I might tell you about the Ghostjackers or the Badgers in trenchcoats… or the time I had to fight an entire ship of Greys armed only with a spork… fuckers are from a three-grav world. Was all I could to do walk most of the time. And the ship had like a zillion sporks. Always knew they were invented by Aliens.
Next: Six Guns, Two Swords
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