Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Linkback Poem: "In the Line of Duty"

This is the linkback perk poem for the August 7, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  Each link reveals a new verse; if you link to different services, those all count.  Please comment below this message to indicate where you have linked so that I can post your verses.  This poem belongs to The Clockwork War series, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.  It is now complete!  Linkers include: anke, the_vulturesiegemoonwolf1988janetmilesfatfredwyld_dandelyon


In the Line of Duty

Forward Base Vapor
lay just within range
of the Command Core
for the bot invasion.

It was well stealthed
and heavily protected
due to the Special Project,
but eventually the bots
got through anyway.

When the medics
reached the task room,
they found the air
thick with a pall of smoke
from sparking consoles
and the team of programmers
sprawled dead at their stations

except for one who sat upright,
her back pressed against
a whirring bank of computers,
surrounded by a jumble
of shattered botsoldiers,
her handgun lying on the floor
just beyond her twitching fingers.

The medics took one look
and knew it was hopeless
from the ruin of her body and
the size of the red pool
spreading beneath her,
but they were determined
to try anyway, in hopes
of salvaging something.

The dying programmer
coughed blood and
rasped a few words.
The medics leaned close
to make out the meaning.
"Broadcast," she said,
and when they hesitated,
"that's ... an order."

None of the tech uniforms
bore insignia or nametags,
but the medics recognized
the voice of command.
They followed her shaking hand
as it pointed to the end
of the computer bank where
the broadcast helmet hung.

Dutifully they fitted the helmet
over her head and stood back
while her breath rattled to a stop.
The task room fell silent
except for the spitting of sparks
from the damaged consoles.
A countdown flicked through
dark red numbers near the helmet.

Then the surviving viewscreens
flared to life, glowing with maps
of the enemy forces and
nameless programs that
scrolled past too fast to read.

Command Core blazed crimson
and then suddenly went dark.
Like a shockwave spreading,
an arc flashed through the bot army
as the dots of their presence
blinked from red to black.

Human forces responded,
green motes of hope
capitalizing on the chaos
as the fleet of botships
fell out of position.
More enemy lights winked out.

The Clockwork War was over.

The vaportechs were interred
together, as they had worked,
small monuments flanking
a central spire made from remains
of the slain botsoldiers, topped
with the helmet encased in crystal.

They remained nameless,
identities sacrificed to secrecy
long ago, nine unknown soldiers
who had saved humanity

by teaching the deathless how to die.

A lone bugle wailed the sun to its rest
as the last rays glinted along
the monuments, scrap metal enclosed
in a gleaming sheath of medals.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, writing
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