Clear Blue Skies
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The thirty-five letter code echoed out through the the silo complex, ringing through decaying speakers. Missileers scarmbled like ants to write down the code, compare their codes, and unlock the red safe. In one silo, the two men looked at each other, and cracked open the card contained in the matching envelope. Their gazes met, the reality of the situation becoming clear to them. The code on the card proved it; this was not a drill.

The oxidizer lock system clicked six times. The deputy ran back to his station, standing by the launch key.

"Insert launch key."
"Launch key inserted."
"Confirmed. 3. 2. 1. Launch."

As the keys turned, a new life flickered into existence. Electrolyte solution poured into two 24 volt batteries, and as the internal electronics of the missile begin to activate, it began to observe its new surroundings. It was hot, dark, and isolated in here. It could feel nothing but the cradle of explosive bolts, there to hold it upon its birth, and the heat of the silo. As more of its internal systems lit, it breathed its first breath in this new world.

Where am I? What is this? Why am I here?

As each subsystem powered on, the missile experienced more and more senations. As the gyroscopes spun up, the missile could tell it was oriented in an upwards configuration, pointed towards… something. It knew it needed to go that way, but the purpose of this eluded it. It did not spend long to ponder its reason for existence, as its first stage flight controller initiated. It felt the hydraulic fluid rush into its engine gimbal, and it stretched, feeling the relief that stretching one's legs after a long day at work brings. After all, this missile had been cooped up in the silo for five years now, unconscious, waiting to be awakened. Any missile would get a stiff gimbal after that long.

A defeaning grinding sound was heard above, and sunlight spilled into the dark chamber. The gigantic steel blast doors had begun to move out of the way overhead. This new, brighter light inspired much wonder in the missile, eager to determine exactly where this beautiful light was coming from. It was entraced when the doors finally cleared, and it saw the blue sky up above. It had, just moments ago, been unable to comprehend a world larger than its silo, but this new frontier dazzled it. This newfound wonder had just been interrupted, as the missile recieved a source of information from somewhere it did not know. It did not know what this information meant, but its body somehow understood. It paid no mind to this change, and began to resume its sungazing.

As the missile sat lost in the new beauty of the sky, it felt a massive jolt below it. Soon, its cradle jettisoned from its body, and it felt fear for the first time in its life. It expected to fall further into the dark silo below it, but it began to rise. Wreathed in the hypergolic fires of the hubris of man, the missile ascended. Just as the titan Prometheus had stolen fire from the gods, this Titan lofted itself and its payload into the sky above. It took in all that lay below it, and all that lay above. The vast expanse of farmland and forest spread below it like the most beautiful tapestry in the world, full of colors and light and life. The missile knew in its heart that it could not stay long, that it would be gone in minutes, but it vowed to remember its home. It knew that this expanse below it had to have been the most wonderful place on Earth. How could anything else compete?


Will I ever come home?

I want to come back for you. I don't ever want to want to lose you. I'll come back for you someday, somehow, okay?

As the missile rose higher into the air, and its launch complex faded to a speck beneath it, it began to arc into its gravity turn. It saw the horizon of the whole planet, the gentle curve illuminated by a gentle blue glow. As its first stage burned dry, detached from the missile, and the second stage flickered out, it began to coast on the edge of space for a while. For the first time, it knew silence. No longer did the fans of the silo or its engines shake it with their defeaning noise. The missile breathed again, expelling the last of the hypergolic fumes still left in its chest. Up here, it was just it and the vast expanse of the cosmos. Above it, the stars came into view, a thousand million pinpricks of light, suspended in the black, unmoving. The missile wished it had the time to chart every star in the night sky, each was as beautiful to it as the glint in a diamond.

I want to stay here forever. It's so beautiful here, so peaceful. I want to visit, to touch each star in the sky. Someday they'll be within my grasp.

It coasted there for a moment. Nothing in that moment existed for it except the silence, the Earth, and the stars. Though the stars beckoned gently, the pull of Earth's gentle curve took hold of the missile. It began to fall. It had never known such excitement. Falling back into those clear blue skies, the missile paid no mind to the flames licking its reentry vehicle. It could withstand it! Descending faster and faster, some artifical meteor streaking through the sky, the missile became overwhelmed with the excitement for its next chapter of being. As it saw a landscape growing below, not unlike the one it called home, but much more populated, its excitement was palpable. What else could be learned from this place? What great secrets, what excitement, what wonder lies here?


What happens next?


Somewhere, six thousand miles away from the silo which that missile called home, one and a half million souls were incinerated in a fireball four miles wide.

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