There wasn't always magic. It's hard to believe this burned out shell of a planet was actually a pretty happening place just a few years ago. About 10, or so. About 10 years ago is when the first one was born and things changed. The first child with abilities we hadn't seen before. She heralded the beginning of something great.
Nobody really believed that magic had come to the world unless they had seen her with their own eyes. And where there was one, there were more. A few new magic babies at first in the western world, a handful more on other continents that we knew about. Who knows how many exist in places nobody every goes. And within a few years they were almost a normal occurrence. An entire generation of babies that could bring down houses with their screams and cause beautiful flowers to sprout and grow in just a few minutes with their innocent giggles. It was a chaotic time, to say the least.
Note: This is a teaser for the next segment of the story The Winners. You should read that first to get some context.
It's not pain, exactly. But it's painful. It's like having a long infected tooth finally pulled. It hurts like a mother fucker for a few seconds; the blood rushes to my face and and I can't stop myself from getting all hot and freaking out and then – suddenly – I'm fine. I hate myself for not handling that better. It doesn't matter that it's the hundredth time that fucking fin has been uninstalled from my spine. It still hurts. Every time.
And I know it's going back in.
The post-mission room is more like some demented hospital than anything military. It's where I land at the end of a run. After the high pressure car wash to get the biological goop off my armour I drop my remaining ammo – yea, right...there's never any remaining ammo – and then onto the operating table I go to get my armour uninstalled from my bones.
The post-mission room is octagonal, for reasons which nobody has been able to discern, and the anti-infection lights that cast the whole place in a sickeningly yellow glow are just a bonus “welcome home”. Yeah, I know those gross yellow lights are somehow preventing my open armour shunts from becoming infected and killing me in the most inglorious of ways. But it's still a gross ass colour of yellow. After a six-week stint of hunting runners and hiders, the last thing I need to be exposed to is artificial yellow. Guts are yellow enough.
How many people miss these letters, anyhow? It's 2095 for fuck's sake. I can't believe we haven't solved the spam problem yet. Our inability to deal with Viagra emails is probably the sole reason the reapers exist at all. You miss the notification for your murder appointment and you only find out when the sky darkens overhead as your skin begins to boil. Anyone next to you is suddenly covered with what used to be inside of you, and all because we lost the spam war. Even worse, your beneficiary doesn't get paid if the reapers have to dispatch you. It's fucked up.
I didn't miss my notification. There was a time when missing a message wasn't the end of the world. Maybe a deal didn't get signed, or you missed a party. That was before the Rejuvenation Office came into being. Now you explode into a pile of goo if you miss a message.