The Shieldmen. (Romantic science fiction.) Epilogue and Chapter 1: Shieldman Netter's Assignment


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The Shieldmen

By John C. Paschalis (all rights reserved)

Epilogue

It is the seventh decade of the Twenty-First Century. Devastating terrorist attacks on American citizens and infrastructure have led to a dramatic increase in the power of law enforcement. Congress has granted to police officials the power to use state-of-the-art weapons and surveillance technology in order to bring terrorists to the bench. Every street policeman is legally permitted to use highly sophisticated weaponry of a type once wielded only by specialists on the military field. A single unified class charged with protecting a public desperate to avert the next terrorist attack, law enforcement administrators and the police force are now two arms of The Society of Vigilant Protectors. The administrative arm of the Society is known as the Order of Surveyors, which is vested with the responsibilities to determine the anti-terrorism missions of police, and to produce and employ the surveillance technology that provide information for these missions. The Society’s policing arm is known as the Order of Shieldmen, with each officer wielding an oval metal shield that incorporates a variety of computer-operated weapons systems.

The Order of Shieldmen is molded after the guild system of the Middle Ages. Each officer is adept in the operation of his shield, yet he is an expert at controlling one of its particular weapons. A Shieldman is encouraged to train an apprentice to master the Shield. The apprentice is usually the Shieldman’s biological child, but he can be of any relation to the Shieldman. By law, training must begin at age ten. An apprentice may choose the official status of Shieldman upon reaching a state of mastery of his shield.

When he officially becomes a Shieldman, the former apprentice selects a code name for himself which is derived from the single weapon he has come to master.

Every apprentice is trained in the Gymnasium of Shielders; one Gymnasium is established in every major U.S. city.

For Jason Cyrill, a sixteen year-old apprentice learning at the New York City Gymnasium of Shielders, March 2072 is the last year of his training in the defensive arts of the Shield.

Chapter 1: Shieldman Netter’s Assignment

The automated rubber dummy, molded in the image of a human being, marched toward Jason.

“Enter projectile functions,” ordered his father, Shieldman Netter.

“Yes master,” responded Jason, his braided blond hair trembling as he fixed his eyes on the approaching robot.

“Select the horizontal trip net.”

A sliding hatch in the front of his shield opened rapidly, and two tubes extended six inches, each carrying a red neon sphere. The spheres were connected with a cable that dangled two feet beneath them.

“Type in the coordinates of your projectile zone, and fire.”

Jason switched the object of his attention to the video monitor on the inside of his shield. He found the grid that surrounded the robot’s shins. At the precise moment that its legs were parallel, he typed the coordinates of the grid on the keyboard, and hit the enter button. The trip net blasted out of the shield.

The net failed to catch both legs of the robot; instead it only wrapped around its left leg. The training robot continued on its path toward Jason.

“Select body web, reenter projectile functions, and fire,” ordered Netter.

Jason moved his fingers on the keyboard. The outward face of the shield disappeared. Two clutches extended six inches out of the empty space, each cradling a neon blue sphere. The spheres were connected by coiled web of rope that hid inside the open compartment. The web shot outward toward the robot, tangling itself around its head and torso. The machine did not fall.

“Select pistol, reenter projectile functions, and fire,” Netter said, wincing impatiently.

Jason’s nervous fingers worked the keys. A rod extended from his shield.

He shot the robot in the place where a human heart would be.

“ENEMY DOWN,” droned the robot, halting. It replayed that reminder until Netter typed a code on a small keyboard on the curve of its latex neck.

“You did just fine, Jason. You disabled the target because you knew how to make your shield defend yourself. But the target came too close in defeating you. Please practice some more with the horizontal trip net as well as the body web.”

Jason’s face tightened in respectful acknowledgment, slowly turning to his father.

“And I do not say that because the horizontal trip net is your father’s realm of expertise.”

Jason felt his father’s hand encompassing the back of his head for a few moments. The hand lifted and Jason smiled, turning his face to the immobilized robot.

A man in a suit approached Netter.

“Pardon, Shieldman. Dr. Stephen Kristoph has an assignment for you. He is in his office at the Tower of Surveyors.”

“Thank you,” said Netter, bowing his head. The man departed.

“Jason, I’ll be home in the morning. In your own words, now—-what is the purpose of our Order?”

“To defend and secure the life and property of an individual in a Shieldman’s jurisdiction--when they become threatened.”

“Very good, son.” Netter turned his head.

“Bladethrower!” he yelled across the gym. “Can you please come over here?”

Jason looked in the direction of his father’s stare, noticing a young man of twenty-two who wielded a shield with his left arm, while typing its keyboard with the fingers of the right one. Short, thin blades shot from his shield as his steady head tilted toward the video screen on the back of his shield. The young man’s shield ceased spitting its barrage of spears. He jogged over to his fellow officer.

“Jason, this is Shieldman Bladethrower. You do remember him from the Order gathering a few months ago, don’t you?”

Jason looked at the tall, severe man carefully. “Sure!”

“Bladethrower, will you train Jason for the rest of the day? I must go to the Tower.”

“No problem,” said the other officer.

“Thank you Shieldman.”

Bladethrower approached the robot, and commanded, “Offensive Training Program. Vocal command mode. . .Commencement to initiate at officer’s command.”

“Alright. . .you’re advanced enough to know what you need to practice. Ready?” Bladethrower gently spoke.

“Yes master,” answered Jason with an undertone of anticipatory aggression.

Bladethrower laughed. “Remember that my apprenticeship finished only three years ago, chief,” he said respectfully. “So be a bit loose, will you?”

Jason saw that Bladethrower was grinning benevolently.

“Sure,” answered Jason, lifting his cheeks into a delighted smile.

“Unit NY3, commence!”

“Commencement initiated,” droned the robot.

The robot marched toward Jason from its twenty yard distance. The apprentice shot trip net after trip net at it, failing to thwart the machine’s onslaught. Then he shot a body web toward it, and the net entangled its left arm. He shot another body web toward it; it passed through a thin cavity between the robot’s right arm and body.

“DEFENDER DOWN. DEFENDER DOWN. DEFENDER. . .”

Bladethrower typed in a code on the robot’s neck, ceasing the alarm.

“Now, watch me, he said authoritatively.

“Unit NY3, return to commencement location. . .Unit NY3, commence!”

The robot began its forward march. Two adjacent apertures opened in Bladethrower’s shield. Out of each extended a horizontal metal tube. Then another tube rose vertically from each one, and in its tip spun a windmill of flat pads. The windmill ejected spear after spear toward the robot. The blades pierced its rubber body, sticking into its eyes, forehead, and chest.

“ENEMY DOWN. ENEMY DOWN. ENEMY DOWN. . .”

Bladethrower smiled at Jason conclusively; the apprentice responded with an admiring glance.

**

Shieldman Netter was reclining in a mahogany leather chair at one end of an oval chrome table. For a moment, the conference room seemed too cramped for a meeting area of the New York City Order of Surveyors.

A middle-aged man with a charcoal beard and moustache walked into the room, his stride a delicately controlled expression of symmetrical geometry, and took a seat at the table. The man was Dr. Stephen Kristoff, a specialist in surveillance technology who had risen to the head of the executive office of the Order. He had earned a P.h.D in Technology Arts from the New Institute of Integrative Science. Dr. Kristoff had begun his employment at the Order of Surveyors as a field operative, a low-level position of incognito placement of surveillance machinery. Displaying a unique combination of respect for employees of every level of his Order, and a detailed knowledge of about the array of surveillance machinery that he erected, Kristoff quickly rose to the executive office. The executive office of the Order of Surveyors held two responsibilities: to organize the covert missions of its own field operatives, and to organize the police offensives undertaken by the Shieldmen.

“Good evening, Officer Cyrill,” began Dr. Kristoff.

“Hello, Doctor,” responded the Shieldman.

“How is your son’s apprenticeship unfolding?”

“Jason has mastered the use of the Shield keyboard in manifesting the weapons. Yet he is—well, just a little rusty—in using the weapons to thwart offensive force.”

“His accomplishment in producing the internal weapons is no easy task. The computer that engages them operates according to an input of language, the learning of which is a great challenge.”

“His knowledge of the Shield’s language is something he can be proud of. Thank you, Doctor.” answered Shieldman Netter, his cheek muscles rising for a moment in a tense, protective grin before they relaxed again. Then his eyes were sad as his plane of vision rested on Dr. Kristoff’s badge, before regaining their confident air when he looked Kristoff in the eye.

“Here is your next mission, Officer. Intelligence personnel have informed my office that two members of the Militia for Worldwide Submission to the Holy Word will set up explosives in the Empire State Building tonight. We estimate them to arrive there between ten o’clock and midnight. Show up no earlier than nine-thirty.”

“Do you know what weapons they will bear?”

“We know they will be wearing levitation rocket backpacks and automatic machine guns.”

“Very Well, Dr. Kristoff. Goodbye.”

[next chapter: Militia for Worldwide Submission to the Holy Word]

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Remniscent of Buck Rogers in the 25th century.

By the way, if we unleash the Nuke-Men in the second decade of the 21-st century we won't need the Shield Men in the seventh decade. The language of the Nuke-Men consists of the co-ordinates of the intended target and the setting of the gyros for that impact point.

Bob Kolker

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:) .

I enjoyed the way you parodied the incognito names of comic book heroes very much, Bob, and applied the heroic symbolism of such names to the military!

Judging by their radical agenda to destroy the U.S., coupled with their unhesitating preparedness to kill people en masse, I project that the Islamic terrorists will strike again. If the U.S. continues not to wage effective traditional ground wars against the Irans of the world--which I think should be the step to be taken (like now), how many thousands of innocent Americans must be murdered before our government realizes that they won't stop us unless we REALLY (read: nuclearly) stop them?

I could elaborate my views on why I think now is not the time for nuclear warfare, but I'd rather find the appropriate post in the "Middle East" forum to do so.

It's always encouraging to hear your practical-oriented responses to my fiction.

And if you want to read the crazy liberal view that America is obligated to help the underprivileged people of other countries, used by my fictional terrorist Francois Gaulois to justify his terrorist objectives, please read Chapter Two of the Shieldman. I would love to hear your comment about him and the conversation he has with the Shieldman who shoots him down.

Sincerely,

John

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And if you want to read the crazy liberal view that America is obligated to help the underprivileged people of other countries, used by my fictional terrorist Francois Gaulois to justify his terrorist objectives, please read Chapter Two of the Shieldman. I would love to hear your comment about him and the conversation he has with the Shieldman who shoots him down.

To the "underprivileged" peoples of the world I have only one thing to say:

Fuck you and the camel you rode into town on.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Which underprivileged people are we talking about?

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