Klingseis Chapter One
Yesterday Morning, 45 Hours and 33 Minutes Earlier
“Lieutenant Klingseis, open your eyes.”
That voice sounds familiar for some reason.
“Lieutenant, I said you could wake up now.”
Guess I better open my eyes.
As I regain awareness and wait for reality to make sense again, I remember why I’m strapped into a chair in the middle of an observation room with a small doctor staring at me. The Counsel has demanded a full debriefing of what happened aboard the Ironsides. It seems written testimonies are no longer sufficient, our superiors would rather rip the memories out of our heads using experimental Hycain tech. There will be no omissions, no way for me to soothe out my reckless behavior. Every phrase will come with the full emotional intent behind it, all my secrets and demons laid bare before strangers. It’s a violation. Part of me feels betrayed that the Counsel would even consider using this technology. Unfortunately, I agreed to the procedure willingly.
What choice did I have? This is too important. Our testimonies might decide if we go to war.
The doctor removes the electrodes from the eight different placements around my head, each offering a friendly jolt. Thankfully, shaving my head wasn’t necessary for this procedure. That might have given me the reason to refuse the procedure and today’s test. This was a dry-run to ensure the equipment has been calibrated to put my brain into the proper state. I don’t know much about this procedure, but from what the doctor told me, alpha-wave activity must be heightened to access the memories while keeping stress hormones low. If everything goes as planned, it’ll work like mild anesthesia. Apparently, things don’t always go that smoothly. Early on, there was an incident where a Marine’s adrenaline and cortisol spiked during the process, overriding the protections built into the hardware. The Hycain device continued to force the memories to keep flooding out, but instead of sleeping through the interrogation, she felt every punch, heard every gunshot and cry for help. They immediately required all of us to be screened with the technology before going before them.
You would think watching one of us scream in agony would be enough for them to second guess all this.
The thought of my upcoming testimony causes my heart rate to escalate and my breathing to turn shallow. I’m the wing commander of the most powerful ship in the fleet. I didn’t get to this position by being easily shaken during stressful situations. So, why am I so damned frightened right now? The thought of the alien device probing my mind is unsettling, but that’s not what’s worrying me. I don’t want to risk reliving the battle like that Marine. No matter how many times the station’s shrink tells me it wasn’t my fault, I know the truth.
My pilots, even my own wingman, were forced to pay part of the price for my failure.
I decide to shift my focus to the present and save my past mistakes for tomorrow’s testimony.
“So, Doc, how exactly does this Hycain technology work?”
Doctor Parma looks thrilled at the opportunity to explain his little toy again. I’m sure he doesn’t meet too many people enthusiastic about his work.
“It’s quite fascinating, Lieutenant, the Hycains are really a remarkable species. Their technological achievements may not match ours when it comes to weaponry, but their understanding of neurophysiology is unmatched. They were able to fully model the workings of a human brain only a decade after first contact.”
The doctor picks up the bundle of electrodes that were recently attached to my head and stares at them in awe as he dangles them in front of me. “These monitor brain wave patterns, neurotransmitter and hormone fluctuations, and synaptic activity. That information is input into their model and translated into a replaying of your memories. Not only will there be a visual image, everyone in the Counsel chambers will have a single electrode connected to their left temple providing a low-level stimulation. If you were excited in that moment, they will feel it with you. Frightened? Then they become frightened as well.”
“So they are going to live as me for a day? Won’t the power of my thoughts and emotions cloud their perception of what happened?”
“A very good observation, but their cognitive processes will not be overridden, just augmented. The participants will be aware of your thoughts, but they will be as whispers in the dark. Your emotions will be felt on a smaller level, not quite enough to taint their own perception. Otherwise it would be mind control.” The doctor allows a nervous laugh. “This technology will allow them to not only understand what happened, but to live the moment themselves. The full spectrum of experience will be open to them.”
“So what about my main senses?”
“Everything you saw and heard will be sent to a projection in the room. We can’t hijack their eyes and ears entirely. They will feel and taste via the changes in their brain electrical activity. After all, our senses are just inputs that are decoded by the brain.”
“Fascinating, Doc.” I try to make my voice sound engaged and enthusiastic to humor the doctor as he finishes up my evaluation paperwork. I would normally be interested in discussing the ethics and implications of such a technology, but all I can do is worry about it being used on me.
In 26 hours, I’ll be exposed. I accepted this position before I was ready. A different wing commander could have saved thousands of lives. The crew of the Ironsides, the flagship of the Terran Armada, deserved better than Alicia Klingseis. The people of Portway Station deserved better.