The Dangers Of Smoking
by Victor Giannini
forum: The Dangers Of Smoking
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Dangers Of Smoking


           Díngar Janik shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  The hum of the photon accelerated projector modules filled his ears as he tried to relax about his next mission.  Sitting next to him was a slender man in his late twenties, an unshaven face staring intensely into a laptop.  Díngar opened the top flask on his Pneumatic Assault Rifle and checked the calibration of the clip.  Everything is fine, he told himself.  Donít be so nervous.  Youíve completed dozens of missions simpler than this before.
          ďWhat am I supposed to do once we get inside?Ē the man next to him asked, not letting his strained eyes veer from his laptop.

           ďThey havenít briefed you yet?Ē Díngar asked, slightly surprised.

           ďI didnít pay attention.  I was too busy rewriting the hexadecimal code for this security system so I could bypass ÖĒ

           ďShut up,Ē Díngar said rudely.

           The man with the laptop, the ďhackerĒ, as Díngar called him in his mind, pulled out a pack of cigarettes and placed one in his mouth.  Díngar knew that it wasnít PC to use outdated 20th century terms like ďhackerĒ anymore, but he really didnít care.

           ďSmoking isnít allowed on this shuttle,Ē Díngar informed the hacker.

           ďLike I care,Ē the hacker said smiling, as he lit his cigarette, still not looking away from the screen.  The glow gave his haggled face an eerie quality.

           Díngar snatched the cigarette out of the hackerís mouth, simultaneously stomping it out as he crushed the rest of the pack.

           ďAnyway, once Iíve secured the outer perimeter of the facility, itís your job to access the main terminal.  They want you to copy all the information on the development of their new missile, transfer it to our network, and the delete all their files,Ē Díngar informed him coldly.

           ďChildís play,Ē the hacker sneered.  ďWhy do they even waste my time?Ē

* * *

           The transport carrier glided down to a grassy field like a bird returning to its nest.  The shuttle doors opened and Díngar and the hacker stepped out into the pale, red, sunset.  Díngar barely had time to strap his NAR to his arm before the shuttle took off, as stealthily as it had arrived.

           ďYouíre my only escort?Ē the hacker shouted in disbelief.

           ďAny more than the necessary two would make us more obvious,Ē Díngar informed him.  ďBesides, Iím all the protection you need.

           Díngar led the hacker through a ventilation duct through the side of the facility.  They stopped to hold their breath as they heard guards talking below them, and then moved on with careful precision.  Díngar stopped above a grate, checking his holo-map.  It showed that the hallway below them would lead to the terminal they needed.  Noticing the solitary guard below, he unsheathed his xylo blade, and removed the grating.  With the silence of a cat stalking itís prey, Díngar dropped down behind, the guard, quickly feeding his wrist around his neck.  A quick twist of his wrist deprived the guard of the one-inch of space he needed to breath.  The guard twitched once as the xylo blade entered his abdomen, tearing apart soft tissue.  The poison entered his cerebral cortex almost immediately, leaving him dead on the tiled floor within seconds.

           Using an inhuman strength aided by the steroids injected through his veins periodically, Díngar lifted the body into the duct to hide it, much to the hackerís disgust.  They both dropped down into the hallway this time, and continued on.  Díngar signaled to the hacker to switch on his Sound Wave Frequency Re-distributor.  

          It was discovered during the late 20th Century that sound waves could not be destroyed, but could be nullified by creating a wave exactly opposite to the one being made, creating silence.  It was a practical stealth tool for about twenty years until deviceís that would reverse that process, rendering attempts to nullify sound waves useless for soldiers.  Using the SWFR, they could be redirected from the outside environment into the userís eardrums.  The result was a horrifyingly loud thumping of feet falling on tiled floor and heavy breathing for Díngar and the hackerís eardrums.  This created complete silence for all others.  The effects of the SWFR could drive any normal civilian insane, possibly kill them, but Díngar and the hacker were trained for the effects of this highly useful but dangerous device.

          Díngar checked his holo-map once more, seeing that the terminal was but a few short rooms away from their current position.  Grabbing the hackerís dirty uniform and yanking him close to the wall, Díngar crept down the hall towards the destination point.

* * *

          The cool, metallic, sound of the doors sliding opened made the five scientists in the terminal room glance toward the door for a seconded.  Most expected to see the guards making their routine checks coming in, but unfortunately for them, it was the Para Military Trooper Díngar.  With pure silence, his PAR unloaded a spray of shrapnel and hollow point bullets on the west corner of the room.  Two scientistís bodies spun violently as the searing hot metal tore away at their tender flesh, underused muscle falling to the floor in bloody clumps.  Their bodies lay on the floor, still twitching, but Díngarís precise and trained aim left all the delicate equipment untouched.

          Two of the remaining scientists made a dash for the rear door.  A thin blade connected to a razor sharp wire sprang forward from the gauntlet on Díngarís right arm like a cobra striking at its prey.  The scientist didnít even feel the bones in his face shatter against the wall.  Detaching the wire from his gauntlet and leaving the poor scientist splattered against the wall, the deadly whine of the PAR charging up led the second scientist to wet his pants before his upper half flew three feet in front of his path to the exit.  

          ďTheir going to need an industrial sized spatula to clean up this mess!Ē the hacker said.  He realized that Díngar did not laugh because he could not hear the hacker due to the SWFR, but he wondered if that mattered anyway.

          The sole surviving scientists leaped for the alarm button on the console to his left.  He stared in horror as his hand levitated, inches from the button that would bring his rescue.  Díngar slowly twisted the scientistís wrist, shredding the forearm tendon, until it snapped like a twig.  His neck broke even easier.

          Díngar and the hacker turned off their SWFRís so that they could communicate.  Díngar showed the hacker the terminal that corresponded to the one on his holo-map.  Within seconds, the hackerís fingers flew across the keyboard, the prosthetics in his fingers giving him unfathomable speed.  As Díngar peered down the hallways carefully, he noticed the hacker stop momentarily, stick his fingers down his throat, and then proceed to cough up a pack of cigarettes, free of stomach acid and bile.

          ďWhat the hell are you doing?Ē Díngar demanded

          ďThe Anti-Amino-Acid Peptide they gave us to ward of nausea allowed me to smuggle in a pack of smokes in my stomach,Ē the hacker smiled.  He lit the cigarette off of a small Zippo he pulled from his pocket.  ďI get to tense if I donít have my nicotine, you understand.  Canít concentrate well without my cancer stick.Ē

          Díngar dismissed him as he continued his observance of the two halls leading to the room that they were in.  There was no alert yet.  Thank god for SWFRís, he thought to himself.  Díngar glanced around the room, noticing all of the advanced machinery surrounding him, used for analysis of minerals and compounds used in the production of weapons.  Then he noticed something on the wall next to the door.  Something small, white, and square.  A sign.  On it was a red circle, with a line through it.  His heart began to pound and he saw the small, flaming, stick, pictured inside of the circle.  His heart sped up like a cheetah sprinting after its prey.  A "NO SMOKING" sign.

          ďPut that cigarette out you moron!Ē Díngar shouted at the hacker as he felt his adrenaline rise.  

          It was too late.  The smoke alarm went off, and the lights dimmed red as the sirens wailed throughout the base.  The intercom near the door crackled to life.

          ďTeam 12?Ē the intercom buzzed.  ďTeam 12, respond!  Put out that cigarette immediately, youíre endangering the specimens!Ē

          The hacker looked wildly at Díngar, then at the intercom, and back again.  He threw the cigarette out on the ground and started to panic.

          ďTeam 12, weíre going to send a guard to find out why youíve violated the no smoking rule, if you will not respond,Ē the intercom buzzed.

          ďWhat should we do?Ē the hacker cried out.

          ďRespond to them!Ē Díngar ordered.

          ďThis is Team 12,Ē the hacker squeaked into the intercom.  ďEverythingís fine hereĒ

           ďWho is this?Ē the intercom demanded.  ďThe scanner does not recognize your voice!  State your ID number, immediately!Ē

          Díngar knew they were in deep trouble now.  The hacker mumbled something in response, but Díngar was busy reloading his PAR.  A new alarm went off this time, obviously an emergency alarm.  The door flung open and the enemy poured in, firing at the hacker the second they saw the dead bodies scattered about.  The horrified look on the hackerís face was only temporary before three quarterís of his head burst violently onto the monitor behind him.  His brain left a gray streak as it slid down the screen.  

          Díngar took cover behind some terminals, popping up to return fire every few seconds.  He could feel the computerís that were shielding him start to give way under fire.  Suddenly, the gunfire halted and he thought he heard someone mention not damaging the equipment.  The next thing he heard was the clink of a small, steel, orb bouncing next to him.  The muscles in his legs sprang into action as he tried to roll out of the way.  He didnít even hear the explosion.  

* * *

          Darkness.  Slowly, his eyes opened.  Darkness still.  Díngar tried to move, but soon realized that he was in a very cramped space.  A concussion grenade, he thought to himself.  Didnít do anything to the computers, but it knocked me into next week.  Then he noticed the smell.  The horrible, overpowering, stench surrounding him.  He felt something ooze past his face.  Something hot, and wet.  And sticky.  Blood.  He would have vomited if not for the Anti Amino Acid Peptides.  He realized with horror that he was in a cadaver pit.  A wide, deep, pit, filled to the top with rotting bodies.  Desperation and panic over took Díngar.  Then he heard the whirring of the incinerator motors.  The bodies around him began to heat up.

          As the smell of dead, burning, flesh invaded his nose; Díngar closed his eyes, and tried to whisper to himself.  Someoneís half rotted hand pressed against his mouth, however, so he decided against trying to speak to himself.  If only, he thought to himself, if only that stupid hacker hadnít lit that stupid cigarette!  Iíd be home by now, with my wife.  The flames began to lick at his back like whips.  The heat was oppressive and overwhelming.  He felt his own, still living, flesh start to sear with red-hot pain.  Dammit, he said to himself.  I really hope he enjoyed his nicot


copyright 2005 Victor Giannini.

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