Chapter 10: in loving care.
B-8007-399-032 woke up. He was alone in a dimly lit room. Slowly he became aware that he was not able to move. An i.v. line went into his left biceps. He also noted that his feet, arms and head were fixed to a bench like device. His nude body was covered with a rubber linen. Good 032 thought. I’m in a Guardstation. He also noticed that there were monitoring devices attached to him. He was alone in the room.
Without noise E-5430-803-121, C-7555-277-658 the interrogation specialists and a guard medic entered. The Guardmedic wore an all white rubber uniform. Same model then the normal Guardsman, just that his single piece uniform was white. He was well developed and muscular all over.
„How do you feel A-8007-399-032?“, the white clad guard medic asked in a very serene and calming voice.
032 spoke: „This one is awake, but cannot move his legs, arms and feet. This one has no pain, but feels dull.“
„Thank you for your reply.“ The white clad medic said, then turned to the interrogations specialists: „Do you want me to put him into the self diagonstic mode?“
E-5430-803-121 replied: „There is no need, we have seen the reports.“ He then went into the field of view of 032.
„This is E-5430-803-121, this one has some questions to you. Do you feel able to answer them?“, the interrogater asked in and even more calm and deep authoritative voice. Almost like the voice of GUMS when it whispered orders into your ear.
Meanwhile C-7555-277-658 had activated the ECG readouts and other monitoring devices that allowed him to observe if 032 said the truth, what emotional state he was in and some other features.
E-5430-803-121 looked at 032 and. “Report mode. Code: Delta, 399, yellow sun star, rises in the night twice reverse”. As soon as E-5430-803-121 had uttered it, the face of 032 took on a blank expression. Now he was not able to lie, cheat or deceive. He would answer all questions fully. Report mode was as if you tap into the brain of a Guardsman directly and read out the information. As long as the Guardsman was in this state, the interrogator had access to all the thoughts, memories and feelings. Even though the Guards would not remember what he said while being under, it could still bring things to the forefront and trigger memories that were better buried. And it took a specialist to ask the right questions.
„Let me start with asking you some simple questions and then we will go on… What is your tag number?“
„8007-399-032, B-Rank, currently assigned to Mountain Quarters guard station, used for patrol and security purposes.“
„How old are you?“
„25 standard years.“
„Do you know why you are here?“
„032 remembers being put into self diagnostic mode and being told by the Guardmedics that he has suffered from injuries that require he stay in the infirmary. No specifics were told to him. If 032 might speculate: This is due to security reasons.“
E-5430-803-121 nodded at the read outs from the brain monitors and saw that the programming was intact.
„You are right. There is no need to speculate and concern yourself… Do you know who this one is?“
„You are an interrogations specialist, we have worked together before.“
„Right. We have some questions of the events that lead to your injury… Can you try to remember for us what happened?“
“This one was on patrol with the other members of his family unit. Then we decided to check out a suspicious house. This one entered it as the second. Our leader was in front. Then this one remembers there was an explosion. This one fell. The the guardsman looked up there were two people. A women and a guy. The guy was tall, not as muscled as guardsman but still fitt, he had brown medium length hair, no beard and fairly clear cut. This one thinks he can draw a sketch with the witness identification program if you permit and release my hands.”
E-5430-803-121 turned to the Guardmedic and signaled with his eyebrows. They conferred very short. Then the Guardmedic unlocked the right arm and E-5430-803-121 handed him a tablet with the witness program. 032 started drawing. He felt weak and nodded how his arm was weak.
E-5430-803-121 took the tablet.
The Guardmedic looked at 032 again. “We will relock the arm. It is better like this, for your own protection and recovery.”
032’s arm was relocked at the table. Whenever he was fully locked and unable to move, he felt safe. Strange feeling. Not that there were superiors around him, questioning him and possibly later also deciding his fate.
“What happen then?”
“They took our leader D-8007-399-033 away. I saw how they smashed something to his head. Then there was a second explosion,, then this one does not remember…. This one remembers he became awake under rubble and lost awareness trying to connect to GUMS… the next this one remembers waking up here in the infirmary.”
E-5430-803-121 was silent for a moment. He looked to C-7555-277-658 who acknowledged that they had all they wanted to know and there seemed to be no corruption of the subjective time line and awareness. All was in accord with the neurological damage recorded in the scans.
“We will end the questioning now. Guardsman B-8007-399-032 exit report mode.”
032s facial expression became less blank and his eyes had life in them again.
E-5430-803-121 addressed him: “You have been questioned in report mode. Your answers will help us. It is important for you to rest. If some more memories comes back, then contact your superiors.”
E-5430-803-121 removed the monitoring devices and cables from 032 skull and gently touched with his rubber gloved hand over the bare shining dome of 032. A feeling of warmness and safety, of peace and embrace flowed through 032.
The Guardmedic spoke to 032: “We will put you back into recovery sleep, you need this. Mother Guard will take care, just trust her and your brothers. Recovering is your duty now.” He then put a blanket over his partially nude body.
A slight buzz from his headset put 032 to sleep.
The Guardmedic asked: “Should we start the procedure for memory removal. We can still do that.”
E-5430-803-121 replied: “How big are the chances for a complete removal at this stage?”
“80 – 90 %”
“Na, better not. He might remember later and you told us there was the chance of a concussion. Better not mess to much with his head. There is still a chance he will remember important details. Better go with counseling and recovery. He seems to be a solid chap.
033 woke up in a dark cool room. Definitely not the same room he had woken up the days before. He felt he was barely able to move. Something was restricting his arms and feet from moving. He was weak but still managed to some yelling.
The leader of the kidnappers entered and light was turned on.
“Where am I?”
“We brought you to a safe place.”
“Why do my hands hurt?”
“We removed your I.D chip.”
“Well we wanted to make it difficult for you to get detected. We had to flee our first hiding place.”
“Nobody escapes the Guard. They will find you and me.”
The leader of the resistance laughed. He came closer to the bed to which 033 was secured. Now 033 had a closer look at the guy: brown medium length hair, clear cut. Almost like a business men. Then the guy surprised 033 by opening his shirt and showing a branding on his chest. Right at the same space where the tattooed tag line of Guardsman would be. He also held his left hand close to 033s face. If you looked a scar was visible.
033 was shocked. “You were one of us?”
“Indeed. I was discharged. Then my eyes were opened, so to speak. As will be yours. Now try to find some rest. You feel sick. That is from the anesthetics of the operation but it is also from the medication they gave you. Your body has to cope without parts of the medication you receive in the guard. Or should I rather say with parts of the drugs they give you to make you obey, muscle you up and control you.”
He left the room.
033 remained shocked.
032 became aware again. He was in the same room. He still couldn’t move any of his limbs or his heads. But he felt how he was secured onto the bed. The white clad muscular guard medic came into his field of view.
“How do you feel today, 8007-399-032?”
“This one feels better.”
“We have put you into recovery sleep. But you have progressed well. Your right arm and your left foot were broken. That was fixed and you should be able to fully recover soon.”
“From the explosion you had also a concussion, that should be fully away.”
“Good. When will this one be allowed to move.”
“Soon… You should rejoice the relaxing freedom to not be concerned with movement. The guard commander wants to see you now.”
G-7555-277-760 entered the room. The Guard medic went to attention and saluted.
“At ease… B-8007-399-032 how do you feel?”
“This one feels better and hopes to be able to return to active service soon. This one is sorry that he can not show his proper respect.”
“That is full ok. The guard likes its members to be secured, locked down and safe. But this one has come to you to bring a good message. We are all glad that you have recovered and your statements have helped us in our work. You have also been recommended for the Wound Badge and it has been approved. The decoration will be given to you later in a full ceremony.”
“Thank you very much, sir”
The commander left the infirmary.
“Can 8007-399-032 call his family unit? He would like to know what they are doing?”
The medic replied: “You access to GUMS is still limited, but this one will arrange for them to come.”
The guard medics started to loosen his shackles.
“We secured you to your own safety.”
“Well, it wasn’t so bad. I felt safe and cared for.”
Off were his leg shackles, the torso strap, the binders that kept his hands immobile and the special contraption that denied any movement to his head.
“Ok, we will try to move you through.”
The medic started a very sensual and very thorough massage.
“This will help your circulation.”
Together they saitto the corner of the bed.
“You shouldn’t move further. You are still connected to the bed for you excavation. You were fed through the I.v. lines and the stomach line while you slept, so your body has to get used to sitting and stuff but now this one will bring you something to drink.
That moment the door opened and C-0500-878-605, A-8007-399-034 and A-8007-399-031 entered the infirmary. They were still wearing their tank suits, just coming back to the station from patrol duty. All smiled to see their brother.
605 spoke: “We were told you were awake. How are you doing brother?”
032 replied: “I’m doing fine. The till me I can come to serve with you bunch soon.” As this was an informal conversation he used the first person pronoun.
“So you are still connected to the machines…”
“… as you are!… Haha. Where is 033?
The face of the 605 darkened: “That is the unfortunate part we have to tell you.” he stepped closer to the bed. As close as you could with a rather bulky tank suit and grabbed the hand of 032 with this suited and gloved right hand. Better still then with the left mechanical claw. “He was kidnapped by terrorists, we still have not caught him, but we are looking for him and are sure he is going to return… but for now we are glad you made it and will soon again join us.”
032 looked at 034: “This must be hard. Your husband away. I really hope we get him back. I’m not fully motivated to fight to get him back. That is my, no our job! Come here”
034 stepped closer.
034 stepped even closer. 032 hugged him with his free arm and gave him a kiss.
“Thank you… hey they shaved you bald, 033 should have ordered you to be bald … looks great on you.”
Even 031 who never spoke, whispered to 032: “get better soon.”
At their alcove their two reservists brothers C-8560-897-221 and B-8560-897-223 had already finished suiting out of their tank suits and were busy cleaning, oiling and maintaining them.
C-8560-897-221 asked: “How is our missing member?”
605 replied: “Getting better, but will be some time before he can join us and help with the search.”
B-8560-897-223 asked: “He is B-Rank, right? So this one would be put back onto cold storage?”
“Are you afraid of becoming an ice man again?”
“This one wants to return to his family and time on ice is only counted 1/10 of service time, so this one would like to stay out.”
“Well, they will need extra personal for the time being, bit its not for us to decide anyway. Maybe you can apply for a transfer.”
C-8560-897-221 interjected: “Service is pleasure, whatever form it takes! Remember that!”
The other laughed.
The Family group continued to suit out of their tank suits. For once it was good to get out of them and not have to sleep in the alcoves but in a real bed.
605 thought to himself, and this new 223 was not bad in bed either. So he hoped to keep their new brothers for a while. Even though 221 lacked a little bit the initiative.
033 lay awake on his bed. He could move again but the new hideout was different from the old. He was alone and his nurse didn’t come that often anymore. He swept with his hand across his face. He could feel a serious stubble and there was hair on his head. He didn’t have facial hair since entering the guard. He could still remember the little goatee he had in school. Not still again remember. When he was in the Guard they were trained to suppress certain memories, like that to your name. Not only your name but to most things before they entered the academy. How was the mantra: “You were reborn as guardsman, that is important, not what you did before.” He felt dirty. In the Guard they emphasized hygiene and cleanliness but here, he felt dirty, like a dirty hairy civilian. What was his husband doing right now? He missed him and his embrace and kissing.
Slowly he managed to stand and up walked to the door. Of course it was locked but he could hear voices through the keyhole and see another room. There was his nurse and the guy who had been a guardsman. And there were two other people, one of them spoke.
“We should get rid of him. He is of no use. They will come here and catch us.”
“There is no chance they can scan for him. We removed the chip in his hand and this is it.”
“Who know if they are not having chips at any other place in their bodies?”
“Not the normal ones, trust me, I was one.”
“But it is not said that he will join us like you did.”
“Time will tell, time will tell.”
“But do we have the time?”
Then someone seemed to walk towards the door and 033 hurried back to his bed.
034 had been asked to come to the commanders office alone. Now he stood in the room waiting. He started to repeat at mantra to himself: “The guard is my mother, it will provide, I serve and obey, the guard will provide…”.
Suddenly the door opened and the commander and his adjutant entered. 034 saluted.
“Guardsman B-8007-399-034 reporting.”
“At ease Guardsman. So we have asked you to come to tell you about the fate of your husband. We have definite signs that he is alive and held by the terrorists. We do not know what they will do to him or are doing to him but we find it suspicious that we do not have received a demand for ransom so far. We will continue our search operations and the lock down of the mountain quarter until we can be sure what has happened. I have been told that until your husband has returned your chastity commitment to him is not applicable.”
“Thank you commander for your information. This one is really glad for all he efforts you and his brothers are putting into recovering my husband.”
“We don’t leave anyone behind, we are the Guard.”
“I have been told you are discussing your feelings with your big brother?”
“That is very good. Talking helps. You can now let your family unit in.”
034 made a 180° turn, walked to the door and let his brothers in.
“Attention” 605 yelled, the family unit went to attention.
“You have been made aware of the facts concerning your missing brother. We will find him, rest assured. But in the meantime we have to follow guard customs.”
605 spoke: “Commander, through our failure we have injured one brother and one has been lost. We deserve punishment.”
“Yes you deserve to be punished for your failures, regardless of the fact if these could have been averted or not.”
The entire family unit spoke as one: “We deserve punishment”
“What have you chosen for the punishment?”
605 answered: “1000”.
1000 meant each of the squad was to make 1000 repetitions of a particular gymnastics move. This was popular in the Guard as a mild disciplinary punishment. Now the commander could chose the type.
“push ups… C-8560-897-221 and B-8560-897-223 will oversee them as they have not been involved. The punishment will start in 20 minutes outside. You will wear nothing but your underwear and sensory deprivation cups on your ears and eyes.”
The family unit replied: “Thank you master” and hurried off to get going.
Then sensory deprivation cups were especially devastating. They could here the count and instructions from GUMS, at times they could see from a camera who was watching them. Especially when there were a lot of Guardsman enjoying the spectacle. but they were to do their punishment in deprivation and alone. Being alone was something every Guardsman was made to fear.
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