Fall 2009. Some observations from inside the big machine, and thoughts on the little slices of reality I can see out the portholes.

I am a ruggedized animal. The binocular vision and bowels of a predator, and institutional knowledge of violence passed down like elephant memories; fur augmented by ultrasonically welded artificial hide and joints sealed at the depot, needing no maintenance for a hundred thousand miles; claws kept meticulously trimmed to fit neatly into the loop of a trigger guard; bayonet sharpened as a last resort gut hook. I will lope over plain and mountain in pursuit and fortify my den against all threats. Instincts learned and honed to a razor edge of efficacy, always adapting to defeat carnivorous rivals.

Ritual combat is a waste of killing spirit.

Statistically speaking, my primacy in human existence is unmatched. The resources at my disposal are beyond using. I am fed, clothed, and supplied on demand. My signature carries the authority to move material worth more than the yearly earnings of one hundred average citizens of the richest country in the history of the world.

Civilians are an afterthought.

I have been put here to murder as efficiently and as discerningly as possible. I am both more and less than a tribal machete hackjob. I am not to genocide. I am to kill only that which chooses to stand up and be killed. The world is divided into three categories: Those who are not to be killed, those who are to be sought and killed, and those who are to be killed when it is convenient to do so. Each person chooses the category into which they will be sorted. Free will is never to be infringed.

Compassion is extended only to liars and the meek.

I am to unflinchingly face fire and ice, horror and blood, the mutiny of allies and the scorn of the occupied. I am to preserve my life as a service to those who paid to put me here, except in the case that my death would leverage itself against the deaths of those who are not to be killed. I care more for the other bipedal animals sleeping around me than a mother cat cares for her kittens, for while we both would rush into gunfire as would-be saviors, the mother cat doesn't know what a PKM is or what it will do to a would-be savior.

Courage is trading the sorrow of another family for the tears shed by your own at a closed casket funeral.

Build an exoskeleton up out of mission and duty and soon it stands on its own. The humanity inside atrophies, brain wasted from a lack of variety, eyes too weak to see without a $30,000 pair of electronic wonder goggles, heartbeat torn to whispers from years spent compressed under the armor plates. And then what do you do when the exoskeleton gets taken off for the last time?

Real life is a consequence of abandoning ideals.

I need to figure out why I thought I could do this. I need to figure out what I think I can do instead. I need to know if this is who I really am.

Do I dare to break the cycle? Can I be re-civilized and will I be allowed to?

What the fuck happened to being an astronaut?