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“Are you sure about this, sir?”

Ezra Cole, Supreme Commander of the Global Defence Forces, opened his eyes and looked at Corporal Rani Kane. “Very sure, Kane; thank you for your concern.”

“But there's so much work to do, sir. We need you.” Kane was one of the ones who had been raised in time of war, subjected to all the propaganda, but denied the chance to fight; keen as mustard and regarding him – the great hero of the war – with an admiration which bordered on reverence. Still; she had at least stopped telling him what an honour it was for her to act as his driver and aide.

“Old warhorse like me?” Cole asked. “Last thing you need now. Peace is for your generation; rebuilding for the future. I lost everything during the war, to those bloody aliens; my wife, my son... You'd have liked Zeke,” he noted.

“I'm sure I would.”

Cole smiled patiently. “The aliens are gone for now, but they may come back. The grid will guard against their return, but it must be monitored, and only a human mind can provide the template for a computer of sufficient complexity.”

“But does it have to be you?”

“I have given over my life to protecting this world,” he explained. “Who else should it be? Besides; I know the aliens and how to fight them, and I honestly don't think I know anything else any more.”

“But...”

Cole shook his head. “Tell the technicians I am ready.”

“Sir.” Kane fastened the final strap holding her Commander into the Chair. “Good luck, sir.”
“And you, Kane. Enjoy the peace.”

With a weak smile, Kane left the upload chamber. A few moments later, the machines whirred into life. Cole could feel the powerful energy fields building around his head, ready to map the layers of his consciousness into the personality matrix of the Global Defence Grid's AI. The process would be terminal; there was no going back.

Darkness descended.

*

“Did it work?” Kane demanded as the Commander's body was wheeled out of the chamber. “Why doesn't he say something?”

“The AI is assimilating the data from the Commander's mind,” the chief technician explained. “It'll be months before the matrix stabilises enough to communicate. Until then, we'll have just a skeleton crew monitoring the systems.”

Kane looked up at the looming coils of the personality matrix. “I'll stay with them.”

“There's no need...”

“There should be someone he knows here when he wakes up.”

“I'm not sure you quite understand how this...”

Kane fixed the technician with a gimlet glower. “There should be someone he knows here when he wakes up,” she repeated firmly.