Short: We don't believe in reincarnation

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This short is a sequel to the story Short: Day 1, Reboot Humanity. It is set approximately 240 days after the day 1 story. At this point, the ICA colony is unaware of the presence of other humans on the planet.

This story is not a cannon start to the Gearstorm game but is, instead, a dramatization of such. Enjoy!

BEGIN

"Rainer," Julia's voice came in over his cybernetic comm, "I need you at the core. We've got a legit reincarnation."

Rainer sighed, turning his armored flatbed truck around. "It's called a code-R Julia and I don't believe in it. Remember we decided not to call this event a reincarnation if it happens? It'll make things worse for them and confusing for us."

"Say that when you get here," she snapped, hanging up on him.

Bumping back down the dirt road from the tree farm, Rainer's truck--stacked half-full of logs--made it to the outer perimeter of "home" about an hour later. Mass-fabricated stone walls stood about fifteen feet high, surrounding a cleared dirt area and a handful of small wooden buildings. In the center of it all was the domed metal crash site of the core. An AI-powered clone fabrication unit which could make people. Including Rainer.

"Howdy Sato-san," Rainer said as he drove past the one watch tower. Two stories up, the Japanese looking man in powered armor shouldered his assault rifle and waved back.

"Welcome back Lieutenant," Sato said. "I've heard some screaming from the core. Julia needs your help."

"Roger that," Rainer said. "Watch out tonight Sato. I saw some giant lizard thing out there today. It was eating the guy we've been calling the 'big f-ing lizard'. Might want to keep the rocket launcher in the tower for a bit."

"Yes sir," Sato said, saluting before he returned to sternly gazing at the forest around them.

Rainer moved on to the next problem. Sato was the third person he'd had the core make. Sato was a military-spec human like Rainer himself. Unlike Rainer, who was more of a survivalist ranger type though, Sato was pure combat. All augmented strength, reflexes, and insanely good aim. If Sato couldn't handle it, well it probably couldn't be handled then.

Rainer drove his flat-bed into the dirt parking area in the middle of the compound. He was just stepping down when a naked man covered in gel ran out of the core waving a pistol.

"Thank god!" the man said. "Rainer! It's you! Tell me where I am!"

Rainer flinched at the recognition. He saw Julia picking herself up inside the core. She limped out after the naked guy, Rainer was relieved that she didn't appear to be bleeding anywhere.

"You're on Apollyon," Rainer said curtly. Then he looked over the guy's shoulder Julia. "Hey Julia. What's this guy's name?"

"Harvey," she said, as she reached the door. "Doctor Harvey Mills. He's an agricultural specialist."

"Alright Harvey," Rainer started to say but was cut off as a the pistol was shoved into his face.

"You're not Rainer!" screamed Harvey, brandishing the pistol. Rainer decided that he'd had enough of the firearm. He slapped it out of Harvey's hand. His armored glove made it easy, the piece landed twenty feet away in the dirt.

"That's my name," Rainer stated simply. "I'm Lieutenant Rainer of the ICA."

"NO," Harvey said, looking around. "No, you're not. I served two years with Rainer out of high school. He went into the Rangers after our mandatory enlistment was up and I went into agri-sci. He was at my wedding! You aren't him! You just look like him."

Julia had limped to his side at this point. She raked a hand through her black hair and took a swing off her flask. Rainer still wasn't sure where the hell she'd managed to get the alcohol.

"I told you this was a code-R," she said. "He's got full memories of the before time. It's reincarnation. It has to be."

Harvey's legs finally gave out, he sank to the ground before Rainer. "What is going on here?"

Rainer sighed, feeling sorry for the guy. "I'm a clone of Lieutenant Rainer. The original is probably fourteen hundred years dead."

"Fourteen hundred years?!"

"Yeah," Rainer said. "Doesn't Juliette teach you anything?" He'd renamed the core's AI to avoid confusion once Doctor Julia had been created by it. Now the AI who stamped out new people was named Juliette.

"She didn't say we were fourteen hundred years in the future! What happened to Earth and Mars?"

Rainer looked at Julia, neither had a good answer. "We don't know."

"It's EARTH! How can you not know?!"

Rainer shook his head. "I'm only 240 days old, what do you want from me? Be glad we are standing here at all."

Harvey's brown eyes stared at him in disbelief. Then at Julia.

"Don't look at me," she said, patting Rainer on his shoulder. "I'm only 100 days old."

"This can't be happening," Harvey said, mostly to his hands as his face dropped into them.

Rainer shrugged. "Julia, go get your ankle fixed up. I'll get Harvey rinsed off and in clothing."

"Tah tah, don't break his brain. Ok, Rainer? We all busted our butts hunting lizards to make him," she said, limping off to the 'medical' log cabin to doctor herself. Rainer liked that about Julia, few things ruffled her for long - unlike other members of their growing colony.

"I won't," Rainer shot back. "He knows stuff about the old place. I have so many questions Juliette can't answer."

"Lizards?" Harvey asked as Rainer pulled him to stand.

Guiding the still naked argi-scientist back into the core, Rainer found the jumpsuit Julia had brought over for his awakening. He shoved it at Harvey and turned away.

"They aren't actually lizards," Rainer said. "Their alien what-the-hecks who look like lizards. We need a lot of protein, amino-acids, and other assorted biological materials to make a new human. Anyway, the lizards are big, and now we've got a truck to haul them in, it's a lot faster for us to make clones now than before. So yeah man, you're like 99% bad-ass space lizard."

Harvey put on the jumpsuit quietly, thinking about it. "I really am just a clone... How do I have all these memories then? I remember Earth."

Rainer shrugged. "We theorized this might happen. Skill and knowledge recording is done by these black-box neural AI programs. Nobody knows how they work or what they record. It's likely that the original Harvey was neuroatypical and bound up his language and know-how with his memories in a way the rest of us didn't."

Then Rainer gestured with his thumb in the direction of the medical hut and Julia. "Or you can think of it as reincarnation. Whatever floats your boat and gets you to make a farm for us, I don't really care which. But we'll find out for sure when we make another Harvey one day."

Harvey looked at him in horror. "Another me?!"

Rainer grinned. "Yup. We've only got eighteen people to chose from. Eventually, we're gonna have to make a duplicate of someone." He opened his armor's face plate to scratch his stubbly chin. "Not sure how we're gonna handle that haha. Julia suggested numbering ourselves like Harvey 2 and such. Sato and I aren't fond of that idea. No one's gonna say 'Hi Rainer 2' in conversation. I'm thinking we'll just make people use middles names for round 2."

Harvey put his head in his hands. "Alien proteins, clones, false memories, numbered versions of myself?! Can we call ourselves humans anymore?"

Rainer pointed out the door at a nearby tree just outside the walls. A fat brown animal, kinda like a porcupine, was eating nuts hidden in its branches. "If it makes you feel any better, I made Julia out of those guys. You have no idea how long it took me to hunt enough of em."

"About 140 days going by your ages," Harvey said more than asked. "Not bad for a fully grown medical professional. You know they normally take 30 years to reach the double-doc level right?"

As they both watched the pudgy ball of spikes eat, something scared it, causing the animal to scramble. It then gracelessly lost it's grip and fall several branches with a squawk and a plop.

"Yeah, she was mad when she found out..." Rainer said. "But screw you, it was 140 days of living on the razor's edge. I constantly worried that I'd break a leg or succumb to an infection Julia couldn't fix. Starvation and plain old getting eaten by some violent monster were also on the table. If anything bad had happened to me, mankind's second chance was over. And believe me there were some close calls. You have it easy by comparison, there's like six of us now. I don't have to walk around like I'm a precious egg anymore."

Harvey sighed. "So what do I do here then? You mentioned a farm?"

Rainer grinned. "We're tired of being hunter-gatherers. We have a base, s e can't follow the herds or crap like that. I need you to reinvent agriculture."

"You have to be kidding," Harvey said. "This is a collection of wooden buildings on an alien world. Do you know how long it took humanity to domesticate even the Neolithic crops?"

"Nope," Rainer replied, hooking his thumbs in his weapon belt. "My day 1 was 'reboot humanity' and I'm just a grunt who likes camping. It can't be harder than that for a top farm sciences guy like yourself." He held out a hand to Harvey. "Come on, I'll show you how many surprises these wooden buildings hold. We're not exactly the stone age around here."

Harvey took it and stood up, still a little shaky. "I guess I don't have a choice. Ok. Father of modern agriculture it is then."

"That's the spirit."

The End

Written by Travis Bach. If you'd like more of his fiction, please check out travisbach.net