The Khazakh Almighty droned on ad nauseam with a lengthy list of offences that would be punished by death, and a much longer litany for which "plebes" would be subjected to "gaveling", but deliberately no mention his standards' enforcers.
In the factories, the dominant object was not so much the massive vat that contained over five million gallons of a synthetic primordial soup, but the grotesque, twisted network of roots lacing it's bottom and the braided trunk of trunks that grew out of it. There were a half dozen of these production facilities across the country, and by year's end nearly forty would be in operation around the world, though it was expected the majority of their product would be needed right here. The complex had existed since shortly after World War II, and had been used to keep some of the government's greatest secrets. It wouldn't be long before the whole world knew the secrets that grew there now. Above the tank, as the trunks suffused into a single knot from which countless limbs reached in every direction, branches reached higher, fitted evenly at intervals into the actual replication chamber. On that level, lab-coated attendants rushed to and fro, monitoring the uniform development of thousands of specimens, gradually and noticeably taking form in as many plexiglas chambers. It was nearly "harvest time".
An early model of the line monitors from station at one corner of the room. It attentively heeds it's master's instruction from the tablet-podium behind which it stands, walks through the hanger-like expanse containing over 2,000 of its comrades and finds the one labcoat it is supposed to interrogate. The creature is massive, nearly eight feet tall and intimidating beyond words; it's bulk hinders it's agility not in the slightest. On it's black uniform at the left shoulder below markings that designate rank is a white, badge-shaped patch on which is centered a black number "1".
This was the first of the soldier plants to become operational.
This unit was The First to detach from the Source and emerge from it's replication chamber.
The "Source" has produced a crop a day since day one of the black-out.
"When do the new units emerge!?" It demands loudly.
Startled, the scientist looks up from the tablet-computer in his hand and shudders in the same motion. "They should have already started," he mealy-mouths. "This delay is unpreci..."
The top of one of the maturation tubes is pressed aside from within and the clear liquid inside begins to drain away. The First runs to it's hatching counterpart with the lead scientist in tow. It raises it's left appendage, spreads all six of it's digits, places the hand atop the triangular head of the hatchling and - closing it's green, triangular eyes, begins to emit a screeching, roaring hum, and when the noise stops, the hatchling's eyes open simultaneously with those of all the new crop. The hatchling frees itself from the Source's appendage and the rest of the crop begin to rise from their incubators also.
Finally, in groups of six, they move to the same wall of the great, hanger-like room, as their ridged,, green exteriors turn a dark, brown-black bark color; rough, scaly. Impenetrable. They form and march through an opening overhead door from the light to the darkness. As the dark room fills up, an entire wall on one of it's longest sides lights up: A large digital TV screen with a test pattern on it. Once they are all inside, The First closes the overhead door and the crop turns toward the light of the screen. In the darkness, their eyes have all turned a dark red, almost ultraviolet. Text and images begin to undulate across the screen, slowly at first, but then faster and faster as a low pitched, erratically warbling hum flows from speakers, matching the video acceleration into a high-pitched, deafening wail. Composite in the minds of the soldiers, along with combatives and other information, is the nature and disposition of their assignment. The First sees nothing new. It learned before this crop was harvested about the missile silos in Colorado and the strange things believed to have departed there.
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