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Why me?

I may never know. My suspicion is that those as can't do, teach... I guess I'm thirty-six, time to start being a manager. I thought it'd be for a prototyping lab, but... Heh. Let's start at the beginning.

My story isn't particularly interesting. I went to engineering school, worked on ships, invented a few things, made very little money from it, the usual really. Actually got 4F'd out of military service, we still had conscription back then, but because I wanted to be. About the one thing I seem to be decent as far as people skills go is teaching people who don't particularly want to learn; I offered my service to a high school once, but they couldn't hire me because all sort of bureaucracy stuff.

My suspicion is that my cousin has something to do with it -- he moved to Japan with his wife a few years back, ostensibly to teach ancient Roman law.

Anyway, three FBI people show up at my door -- turns out they're not FBI at all, they're from the United Nations -- and offer me a job, after asking me if I've seen the news today, and I respond in the negative because there was work to do. I ask for specifics, they tell me they can't give me many, I tell them that while they make up their minds about what they can and cannot tell me they might as well eat lunch, so I start making lunch. Vow of hospitality and all. When I get a knife to start chopping up garlic, one of them freaks out and tries to handcuff me, which nets him a pan to the face; to my surprise, the other two stood there and politely applauded. Sorry, but handcuffs are reserved for people I know, love, trust, and have the hots for, and G-men are not my type.

After lunch and a very awkward round of apologies, they tell me that I passed the test, and have just the sort of psychological profile required for the job. The job of... Apparently running a vocational school? For the United Nations. In Japan. Okay, sure. I am never going to hear the end of this... I don't even watch sentai shows!

Man, this may be full disclosure, but the burocratese is thick. I suspect that this was written in English, translated into Japanese, then translated into English again.

"I'll take it." I sign.

The trip to one of the little isles off the coast of Japan is uneventful, and the first time I fly on business class (the free upgrade I got that one time going from Texas to California doesn't count); we get to an airport, and quickly shuttle over to something I didn't expect -- a large floatplane. That last leg of the trip is a lot more interesting, low and slow and beautiful away from the city and through some countryside before we're over water. We land -- rather, alight after some water taxiing -- to an islet which looks completely deserted.

"Huh, so we're building everything from scratch? I thought this was urgent...." I'm an electrical engineer, not civil. What's going on? We're greeted by a thin, almost unnaturally limber Japanese man in a suit and sunglasses. With barely any accent, he asks us to follow him. Behind me, the floatplane is being unloaded. We reach what looks like the foundations of a lighthouse; an automated beacon stands on a latticework pylon nearby, blinking away. The lighthouse must have been huge, given what I see of the base and the concrete expanse around it -- it must've been knocked out in a storm, and demolished. A few of what I assume to be goats are at the margin of the concrete field, nibbling away at what vegetation is slowly reclaiming the area.

The thin man pulls out an old cell phone, hits a speed dial combination, and with a rumble from the ground and a frightened jump back from myself, the area enclosed by the circular footprint opens up! Looking down, I see a hangar, with a weird airplane smack in the middle, under us. It looks like a futuristic version of those water-bomber firefighting aircraft... the turbofans on the wings probably mean it can take off vertically from down there. From up here, I can see other machines in the back, and at least two more airplanes.

"Drooling on the Skyranger is not recommended. Now, the reason why you're actually here is..."

Er. Yes. Sorry. I try to tell my inner 12 year old that if there's a giant robot down there we're about to find out anyway, so avoid bursting out in a squee before these nice folks change their mind about putting me in charge of... something... enemy unknown... something... unconventional tactics required... something... reinvent tactical warfare... something... global officer training school... something... personnel requisition... something... there's a 3d printer the size of my bedroom past the hangar door!




Sixteen beeps of two different tones sound off. The chimes win out over the klaxons, eleven to five. Men nod gravely in the penumbra.

"We picked the wrong one."

"Just so; this Council has voted, and our consensus is, by axiom, correct."

"The way ahead is clear; we picked exactly the wrong one for the project."

"But the right one for the job. Besides, even we may find use for a scapegoat."

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