War Machine’s Lament

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The people returned, eventually, as people always do. They planted their crops where the ground wasn’t glass, and at night they shivered in their huts and listened to the howls on the wind. They called it the Ghost, but it wasn’t a ghost; it was a machine. The mountain housing it had done its job, taking forty kilotons to the northeast face and protecting the charge in its womb without a blink. But now the machine was alone, isolated from its identical siblings across the U.S. defense grid, driven half-mad by radiation and regret. Four of its two dozen silos were still operational, and sometimes the machine would toy with the idea of just launching and seeing what happens. But not today. Maybe sometime later, when it was feeling better.

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