By Michael N Lovdal
"They look ridiculous," said Colonel Brack. The crew of the U.E.F. Bismark scowled at their personal display screens with loathing.
"What is it, sir?" asked a lieutenant.
The Colonel pointed an accusing finger at the sky-blue figure on the screen before them. "That is the disgusting race that inhabits this system." The lieutenant scrunched up his face in response.
"And that," said the Colonel for his entire bridge crew to hear, "is what's sitting in-between us and the solution to Earth's overcrowding problem. They come from a planet called Tos, a world completely consumed with natural resources and space to spare. Federation colonists reported over seventy native minerals that could easily revolutionize the way we build technology. And that was just in the time that they had before the slimies sent them packing."
"Slimies?" asked the lieutenant stupidly.
"That's what we call 'em, genius." The colonel pressed on the lieutenant's touch-screen and caused the image to magnify. They could both clearly see the texture of the creature's skin now; it was wet and slippery like a dolphin. The "slimies" had a spade-shaped head like a squid, with a single eye that shook like jello. It had a neck and shoulders for sure, but the image cut off there.
"We've only been able to get head-shots from intel," said the Colonel. "You're looking at a composite sketch that the computer drew up of colonists descriptions. Strange thing is, no one seemed to agree on anything below the chest. They couldn't even agree on whether or not these slimies have legs. Our natural guess of course was tentacles, but only a few of the colonists seemed to agree."
The battle tone sounded with a rumbling buzz, like a swarm of bees mixed with thunder.
"Condition Red, Colonel!" said the weapons officer.
"What have we got, Stephens?"
"Five bogies coming at our ten by six. Two warships and three escorts."
The colonel licked his dry lips, wishing that he hadn't left his cigar back in his quarters.
"This is what we trained for, boys. Don't wait for a comm - open up the rail guns and let 'er rip!"
Echoes ran through the upper deck and down through the ventilation ducts, heard just a moment's delay after each burst of fire.
"Sensar detects heavy damage to two escorts, and minor damage to a warship."
Colonel Brack's thick fingers curled around the back of the lieutenant's chair.
"Are they in range yet?"
"Yes sir - the momento is ready to fire on your mark!"
"Mark!" barked the Colonel.
A fiery blue beam of energy ripped out of the Bismark's momento blaster and arced towards the first alien vessel. It bounced off of the escort's shields and sped off towards the next ship with greater speed. The beam pounded into an enemy warship with double the force of the escort's impact, causing some damage to the ship. The beam continued to bounce between vessels, hopping back and forth, but always avoiding the Bismark.
By the time the beam had come back to the first ship that it had impacted, the force of the impact had grown exponentially. The beam hit the escort with a thousand times the force of the first impact, obliterating it instantly and continuing on to the wounded warship. It impacted on the warship as well, blasting a hole into its hull and carrying on until only a single vessel remained. The lone, wounded warship hung before the Bismark. A lone survivor. The sole defender of an entire world.
The Colonel wondered for a moment if the alien commander had kids as he did. Did slimies have offspring, or did they just spawn from a central hub like Cheliats? He considered their family structures, their society. Mostly, he wondered if anyone on that planet would care if he blew their defender's brains into the cold depths of space.
Bismark shook from weapons fire. The aliens had apparently decided that their visitor was indeed hostile. More accurately, scientists would say later, the warship reached out with a part of itself to strike the human vessel in quick succession, which had the appearance of linear weapons fire.
The warship was blasted easily and the trek to their world was brief. Bismark now loomed over the alien world, daring it to beg for mercy. Not that any mercy would be found, but the Colonel did enjoy watching his enemies beg.
"The blaster is all charged up, Colonel. If any enemy ships approach, we'll pick them off real fast."
"Aim momento at the planet, soldier." The weapons officer stared back in horror.
"But sir!" he protested. "We would be committing crimes against hum--" The Colonel cut him off.
"Humanity? They're not people, blast it! They're slimies! No humans, no crimes against humanity." His subordinate did not seem willing to comply, so the Colonel drew his pistol and pointed it point-blank at the man's skull.
"Question my orders again and i'll shoot you for treason." He gave the entire crew a daring look, moving his gaze from face to face.
"One question, sir," asked the lieutenant. "Won't the momento crush the planet? I thought we needed it to colonize."
The weapon's officer had been distracted, and hadn't complied with the Colonel's order. Now he lay with his face on his console. The colonel tossed him aside and fired the weapon.
"The planet is safe," explained the Colonel as the momento beam shot through the atmosphere. "The beam only targets organic matter. The foliage will be devastated, and all large animals will likely be killed along with the slimies. But the planet, it'll be ripe for the picking."
Colonel Brack had a dark grin on his face as he watched energy dance over the surface of the planet, wiping out its inhabitants.
Light flooded Brack's vision, causing him to wince for a moment. He opened his eyes and saw that he was in some sort of gel-like bubble. It wobbled as he looked around, distorting his view of his surroundings. Looking side to side, he could only see blobs of blue and white walls around him. Terrible voices invaded his mind, translated somehow, he supposed, through the gel-bubble.
"You would murder us."
"You would kill us."
"Murderer!" The voices were not angry, so much as confused and betrayed.
"Who are you?" demanded the Colonel.
"We are the Weedonlaushi, the people that you massacred in the simulation."
"Simulation?" said Brack. He was beginning to fear for his life. The slimies weren't dead. He hadn't just killed them? "But how?" He was angry now. It wasn't fair.
"He must be executed."
"That is our law."
"Execute the murderer."
© 2008 Michael N Lovdal.
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