Status: Alive.

Suit status: Sealed. Functionality 96%.
Solar mirrors: 22% of max.
Battery reserve: 54%.
Respiratory function: Good.
External Air Quality: PM10: 702 - Hazardous. Nitrogen:12 - Hazardous. Carbon dioxide - 6 - Hazardous.
Air Pressure: 1002 rising.
Temperature: 42 degrees celsius.
Visibility: zero.
Environmental Warning Rating: 10
Alarm sounded! 

Proximity to wildfires: 98% probability.

Another fire.

She considers deployment of the fire shelter and decides to wait. Even in the heart of a fire her armour would keep her safe, at its current functionality, for at least 20 hours. The shelter would give her another 24 hours but would be at the limit of it’s functionality and she cannot return it to the corp-gov for repairs anymore.


She experiences an emotion, (fondness?) when she thinks about functioning as part of the strike team. Usually there would be between five and eight of them; Cleenrs, like her, old people, like her, cyborgs, like her. Deployed on the line to fight wildfires on 48 hour shifts, returning to base to replenish power units and make repairs before heading out for another 48 hours. Over and over, for weeks sometimes. It was like fighting a war. Cleenrs would be called in to the command centre from their usual patrols, or airlifted in from the City. They’d be assigned to a strike team, allocated a comms channel and sent out. Most of them already had the spec, but new Cleenrs would be downloading the wildfire tutorial even as they were running toward the burning land.


Cyborgs make excellent teams. There’s no emotion, no politics, no ego. Everyone knows everything and teams work together to maximise efficiency. Their tech and armour makes them nearly invincible, able to work in conditions of heat and pollution that would kill a human. The team’s goal is to deliver the mission objective, which is usually to defend human settlements; power farms, food production units. Protecting humans was all they were asked to do, the landscape and wildlife was considered lost anyway, it was all about structural triage.


She remembers running at 100% capacity toward the fires, the others spread out on either side of her, before them a wall of flames 20 meters high. Sunlight, filtered through the thick, dirty brown smoke made the landscape look surreal, eerie. This was no Earth that she recognised, they could have been on some unknown, distant planet. The intense heat whipped up the air into sudden whirlwinds or pushed billows of smoke and flame towards her like grasping claws. They were at the mercy of the wind. The fires could be so huge they created their own weather which meant that the Cleenrs’ situational awareness had to be acute. Which is why they were cyborgs and not machines. Robot firefighters had their place, they were even more indestructible than the cyborgs, but their capacity to think creatively was non existent. Her frail, human brain was a miracle of neuro processing. 


Nothing had ever come close to the brilliance of the human mind to think laterally and find new ways to solve problems. That brilliant brain had its flaws though. It had evolved in a kind of feedback loop with a body that was uniquely ill equipped to defend itself. The body needed the brain to never forget its vulnerability, so it gave the brain emotions. Emotions are always about the body, rumbling up from the gut, telling the brain that it is safe, or not safe, that this thing feels good, or not good, so that the brain will learn and remember and protect the flesh.


She doesn’t really need emotions anymore, her body is no longer frail. Nestled inside its armour it is almost invincible, maybe even immortal. But she does need her brain. While her armoured body wades into the fire, her brain is split into two sectors. Sector One is implementing the wildfire spec. Along with the others in the strike team they move as one unit, checking location, wind speed, following the mission plan, fighting this enemy. In the background of her brain, Sector Two is only dreamily awake. Sector Two is her human mind, the Creative One, the Noticer, the part of her that doesn’t have to follow the mission plan. Sector Two allows Sector One to have command until the unexpected happens, until the mission plan is challenged by events on the ground and then it gets to work, assessing the data at lightning speed, rewriting the plan in an instant, using it’s uniquely human creative thinking to solve problems the mission writers could never have foreseen.