Narcom Locke: Generic Sci-Fi character. Narcom has been and done so many things over the years. Now he's a MACRA pilot. What's a MACRA, you ask. Read and find out.
The joysticks feel good in my hands, even after all these years. I run my hands over the controls, checking each dial. There have been some changes made to a cockpit during my hiatus. The one big improvement I see is a clear plastic sleeve, just about the right size for a picture. And that's what it's for, a picture. That way, the pilot can stick a picture of his girl or his family or his dog or whatever he's got to come home to there instead of covering up one of the more important meters, indicators, or dials. That's a damned good idea. I once had a friend die because his overheat indicator was obscured by the picture of his grandma he kept clipped to his control panel.
As for me, I leave the sleeve empty.
My name is Narcom Locke. I'm a MACRA pilot. That's Mechanized Anthropoid Combat Resolution Apparatus. It's mecha, for you Japanophiles out there. And no one's bothered to capitalize the letters in macra in about ten years. That's who I am, or was, at least. I got out two years ago. Honorable discharge from the Army of Independent Peoples. Valor and Bravery in the Face of Almost Certain Death. I got three medals, and accepted five more on behalf of fallen comrades. I was, and still am, one of the best. But I wanted out.
The problem was, I no longer cared about what I was fighting for. The Independents' Army had been a dream come true for me at first. I helped develop most of the technology current macras use. My father had even been on the committee that had come up with that ridiculous name. Conflict Resolution Apparatus. That sounds so much more peaceable, so much more comforting than Death Machine, Massacre Engine, Child Slayer. My personal macra, Avalon, had been, to me, as beautiful as her namesake. By the end of my tour, between repairs and upgrades, none of her original parts were still with her. But she was still the same machine. Still my Avalon.
My call sign was--is--"Brightghost." I never was quite clear on where it came from, but I wore it proudly nonetheless.
I lost a lot of good friends over the course of the war. Especially after the Hegemony started producing their own macras. Suddenly, everyone had the same maneuverability that we had. Our edge was lost, and their numbers began to have a more pronounced effect on us. Oh we still had far superior macras, but when they had the material and the manpower to field four macras to our every one, the balance tipped their way quite a bit.
I saw things on the frontline. Things I will never forget no matter how much I want to. Somewhere along the line, I lost my purpose. I lost the burning passion that said "Never! You cannot ever take my freedom! Not while I still draw breath!" That fire was doused by the blood of many friends and more enemies. So two years ago, after I realized I was becoming a soulless shell of a man, I told Command I couldn't handle it anymore. They tried to talk me out of it, but in the end they gave me my pat on the back and sent me on my way. The war was still raging, but I moved away from the battlegrounds. Moved inward, where the fighting hadn't come yet. I swore never to fight again.
Yet here I am, in the cockpit of Avalon II, one of the finest pieces of equipment I've ever touched. Here I am, about to go out and kill again. Where the Hell did this all go wrong?
There's more to Narcom's tale. I'm just really tired, so it's not getting told tonight!