Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Preservation: A DRMR Short Story by Michael Patrick Hicks

Release date: April 28, 2017
Subgenre: Military science fiction, Cyberpunk

About Preservation:


Memories are the most dangerous beast.Kari Akagi is ex-British Special Forces, augmented by her government to be the prime soldier. In the wake of a devastating attack that cost her her legs, she has a new mission - protecting South Africa's endangered species as a ranger for the Kruger National Park game reserve.

The number of animals within the reserve is rapidly dwindling as poachers mercilessly slaughter them for black market trade. Somebody is paying and equipping the poachers, and after her unit comes under assault, Akagi is determined to end this impossible war.

All she needs to do is capture one of the poachers alive, hack into his brain, and find out who hired him. A lifetime of fighting, though, has taught Akagi that things are rarely ever that simple...

Preservation is a stand-alone short story set in the world of the DRMR series.



Kari Akagi sat in the crook of a massive baobab tree, a rifle in her lap, roughly twenty meters above the low-lying plains of the Kruger National Park.
From her perch she could see the Olifants River, which divided the southern and northern regions of Kruger. The north was elephant country, and she watched as a herd bathed in the shallow depths and grazed along its banks.
There was a simple joy in watching the massive creatures live their lives, in seeing the young ones play.
Their life expectancy was too short for her liking, but the luckiest among them could live for fifty years or more. If the poachers didn’t get to them first.
Her morning had started with news of another rhino killing. The reserve had less than one hundred left, and there was a countdown hanging over the heads of the survivors. Each one dead drove the black market prices of their ever-scarcer horns higher and higher into the millions.
The news had woken her like a kick to the gut, and she’d wanted to rage at the rangers and volunteers who had fucked up and let this happen. Unfair, certainly, but her anger was palpable. Instead, she retreated and cut off her commNet, fuming.
She zoomed in on the Olifants, increasing the resolution of her blink-powered retinal upgrades and recorded the lackadaisical scene playing out below. This was a memory she wanted to keep.
Standing to stretch her torso, she set the rifle aside and raised her arms above her head, holding the pose for several deep breaths. Then she bent at the waist, stretching her spine, shoulders, and the muscles of her one remaining thigh, the flex deep enough that she was able to touch the two long blades that had replaced both feet.
Her legs had been lost to an IED years ago. Her left leg, from the hip down, was a mechanized limb replacement system. Both high-grade prosthetics were equipped with hundreds of ultra-fast quantum-load microprocessors, hydraulics, rotors, flexions, actuators, and sensors. A neuronal interface allowed her to control each limb as if it were the real thing, and the built-in multi-directional response coordinators allowed her to move with ease and grace in virtually any environment.
With her chin practically touching the tough Kevlar shell of the artificial knee joint, she could feel the absorbed heat boiling off the deep blue fabric.
Although she was warm and hadn’t eaten real food in several days, she had little concern for dehydration or starvation. The military had seen to her well-being both before and after her mandatory four tours in Afghanistan and Syria. Keeping her in-country in such harsh climates that ranged from desert tundra to colder mountain terrain had required significant modifications to her meat suit.
Akagi’s innards had been replaced with artificial organs to regulate her body’s water loss, and nasal cavity inserts and heat exchangers implanted atop her jugular veins and neck arteries inhibited water loss that occurred through exhalation and perspiration. There were even filter systems installed in her bladder and large intestine to capture, concentrate, and store any water lost through digestive waste. In her rucksack was a three-month supply of hard-shelled, egg-shaped candies. Each one contained a liquid center and provided her with her daily requirement of nutrients and calories.
While the military had designed her to be an optimized soldier, she had found a more satisfying niche working as a wildlife ranger. The truth of it was, she had merely traded one war for another, exchanging a cause for a cause. Her cause, nowadays, just happened to have four legs and tusks or horns.
Rising from the stretch, she again lifted both arms over her head and pulled her torso first to the left, then the right, stretching her oblique abdominals.
Her body felt looser, her mind more composed. Until the ping hit her commNet with an urgent alert and a geotag.
Another kill.
She felt her cheeks warm in anger, then quickly cool as her implants triggered a temperature regulation control and systolic dampener. The physical stressors were muted, but they didn’t do shit for her emotional state and only made her feel that much more pissed off.
“Has anyone heard from Gerhardt?” Command asked.
“Negative,” she said. “What was his last status?”
“He checked in for morning debriefing, but no updates since.”
“Roger that, Command.”
Another kill, and now a missing ranger. She swore softly to herself, unsettled.

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About Michael Patrick Hicks:

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novel Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist. He is also the author of the short horror story, Consumption, and his work appears in the science fiction anthology, No Way Home. He lives in Michigan and is hard at work on his next story.

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