RICK JOHNSON

THE CONVENTION OF RAS MURAS


by: Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
Tucson, Az.
85717
RikJohnson@juno.com

Return to the Home Page.


I love these sf-cons. I know that sounds really strange, sort of on the par of how Stephen Hayes hates Sho Kosogi Ninja movies or how Wiccans hate Disney Witchcraft movies or how Lesbians and Feminists hate the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar. But really, if you look at them like a slapstick movie, a satire on the human condition, like Abbot & Costello meets the Three Stooges (and who doesn’t like the Stooges? The original Stooges with Shep I mean though I’m not insulting Curly), then they cease to be insulting and it changes into an Audience Participation Theater group, a satire on the human condition. And really, I love observing humans.

Besides, it is the only place where I can be myself without worrying about the police arresting me and performing medical experiments on me. Been there, done that, didn’t even get the t-shirt as the Americans say.

I also wonder about them, the guests, how many of these people are like me?

So, here I am, wearing sandals and little more than a short loin cloth that barely hangs below my crotch in front and back, a few belts, a long-sword and dagger on one hip, a short-sword and Radium-revolver with laser on the other, my kit in a hip-pack and drinking a vanilla milkshake (extra thick), admiring the girls in their barbarian bikinis and thanking people when they compliment me on my costume. “Yes, thank you, the batteries are in my hip-pack” or “I’m testing the costume for a new movie, no I cannot tell you more.” That sort of thing.

My lover, physical that is for we had no real emotional ties, was here too. People of my kind must travel with companionship or we die. It’s a mistake in biology that no one was ever able to fix. She was wearing something far more interesting than me, a fantasy samurai outfit which was little more than thigh armor, shoulder guards and body armor that revealed belly and cleavage (had she any cleavage to reveal). Unlike me, she was pure Japanese, a Koga Ninja who joined me when the Yamabushi Monks destroyed her village because they refused to convert to Orthodox Buddhism. Buddhism is not as peaceful as most people believe.

I was talking to a very attractive redhead dressed as that barbarian heroine, Red Sonja. She was one of the dozen or so who admired and emulated that comic book character though this one was the most attractive. Unfortunately, she was only 16 and here, the Age of Consent was 18 and I prefer my women to have some life experience. Well, that’s why I have a Companion, to relax with physically and emotionally so I can be with someone like this and enjoy the company without all the pressure of sex.

‘Sonja’ was telling me about her website dedicated to her character and the plays she was doing at the Convention and I listened politely because my kind are naturally polite (discourtesy could get you challenged to a duel) and also because I was actually interested. But I did glance occasionally to Ayaka to be certain that she wasn’t getting into trouble.

‘Sonja’ finally wound down and asked me about my costume. “I’m an alien mercenary,” I said. It was easier to tell the truth than make up a story as this girl seemed to be able to do easily. She would never recognize them as true and if pressured, I would pretend that I was summarizing a script for a movie in which I played an extra.

“Those prosthetics are amazing. Do the boots and gloves hurt much?” She was referring to my tarsial feet and lateral and medial thumbs which she took to be cosmetic. Enough people here wore vampire-contacts and elf or Vulcan ears so she ignored those attributes, though my cat-eyes and pointed ears and antennae were real and not cosmetic.

“Not at all, I can wear them all day, see, the toe even flexes,” I moved it a fraction to show her.

“That’s amazing, I can’t even see the wires or is it radio controlled?”

“I’m not at liberty to say.”

“What about the tail?” I had it curled around then wrapped around the handle of my revolver, partially to keep it out of the way in this crowded room and partially to protect the revolver from some over-eager fan who would grab it and accidentally blow a radioactive hole in the wall. Plus in the comics, aliens with tails hold them up with no effort. Try that with your arm, holding it outstretched all day and see how long before you tire. My tail only had muscles the nearer one third of its three-foot length so we tend to hold the end in our hand or wrap the end around something convenient like a belt loop or in my case, my revolver.

I uncurled it and reached for her hand. “It feels so real! Look, there is even a finger-print on the end!” She was very excited over the limb so I pulled back and reset it on the holster, using my hand in pretense but mostly to cover my excitement from her touch.

I was saved by Ayaka who came back and spoke to me in Japanese, “Everyone here stinks of meat! And these rice balls are nothing like I remember. Can we go get some real food?”

“Ayaka,” I explained, “works for a Tokyo anime firm. She is here looking over some art that the cartoonist wants to ship to Japan for work. I’m afraid she doesn’t speak English.” Almost everything there was a lie. Well, save the parts about her being an artist and her inability to speak English and the American cartoon art being done in Japan. Most cartoons on American Television are actually drawn in Japan or Korea or Indonesia. The writer does the basic scenes like a comic book, then this book is shipped overseas where artists fill in the spaces with action and convert the book to film. Ayaka did draw and she drew well, illustrating our battles and life in her spare time but she wasn’t from Tokyo. She was from the Shiga Prefecture near Lake Biwa at the end of the 15th century, 500 years ago. People here complimented her on her imagination and how well she copied the medieval art styles but to her, that was what her time considered to be modern and her illustrations were not imagination but history.

“Hai,” I said in response to her request, then I took her sketch book and looked within. She was very good and the final drawing was of me talking to ‘Sonja’, she touching my tail and me embarrassed for the pad she caressed was very sensitive and my kind sees that as a sexual advance. “Excuse us Sonja, I have to feed my companion.”

Once away I could drop the fake American accent I used here which gave me a headache and then asked someone, “Is there a Japanese Restaurant nearby?” Being half-Japanese and half-American both languages came naturally to me though neither was native and only my grandparents were born on Terra, or Dirt or Earth as the locals call it.

The vendor, selling Anime Videos thought a moment, then said, “I think there is one about a block down Third Street. Turn right as you leave the hotel.”

I thanked him then we left, chatting about the Convention, she complaining, “Can you believe the art they sell. All those women ravished by .. tentacles! It’s disgusting. If they ever saw a real demon they would die.” I had fought with Ayaka during the Oni Wars of Feudal Japan and over that year I had learned to fight with a katana, write haiku poetry and finally seduce her to be my lover. People are so.. strange at times. Sex here on Terra is so complicated. Back home, if we find someone desirable, we ask and they say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Here you have to play games, pretend to love each other and finally convince yourself that you can do what you want to do. Perhaps that is why rape is so common, be it by penis, broomstick or tentacle.

We found the restaurant and endured the jokes until I ordered in Japanese and they realized that Ayaka was from that nation and we both understood their words. Then they apologized and gave us very good service for which I tipped well. The nice thing about these Conventions was that the locals were used to seeing aliens and monsters and all sorts of strange costumes so we attracted attention. But mostly the ‘can I take your picture’ kind and not the ‘look, call the police’ kind which would result in the extermination of their police department who had been trained to fight a single hand-gun wielding crook accustomed to unarmed victims and not a pair of inter-stellar/temporal mercenaries who had been trained to kill soldiers better armed than any police department in the Galaxy. This city wasn’t large enough to hold separate conventions for Sci-Fi, Comics and so on so they combined them all into one Fantasy-Con and contented themselves with guests who were not famous save in their own little world. Still it was fun and got us away from the Wars for awhile.

For me that meant the Wars were ten-thousand light years away and fought with everything from ground-troops to planet-busters. For Ayaka it meant the endless wars between rival Daimyos and rival Shoguns seeking to rule Japan and the Oni-demons that infested the islands half a thousand years ago.

So what was I and why was I here?

*****

I’m Weir, from Sothis, maybe twenty-five years old. Time gets lost when you merc on a dozen planets, each having a different rotation and revolution. Both my parents are Native-Born Gaeans but their parents came from Terra. My Mother’s parents were Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima Horror, my fathers parents from America, but knew nothing about the Bomb. I was born in a small town near the coast of Marlin Sector on Sothis which is on the Frontier, then the Shitai invaded and we were evacuated while the Lanai fought them back. His Grace neutron’d the planet, sterilizing it to prevent the Shitai from using it a s a breeder-base then time-warped it to allow the seeding to take hold so we’d have something to return to. It wasn’t much. Although we had been gone for more than a month, living with relatives a dozen light-years away and returned a few months later, But for Sothis, centuries had passed and our home had fallen apart with age. We were essentially, starting over again and were only able to do so with the help of our Clans. Some Clanless immigrants weren’t so fortunate for the Frontier is where those who had disgraced Clan and Family were sent or where those with nothing in the Core went to build a life.

Then the Vartanians arrived.

The Con and Terran Vids are full of aliens, most of whom are humans in make-up and rubber but there isn’t enough of either to make a human look like a Vartanian, they are that alien. Vartanians are aliens who had given up war but not the drive to fight and so hired themselves out as mercenaries and they came to Sothis looking for recruits. We let them remain only because we are a polite race and they caused us no trouble. Eventually they realized that Weir are a peaceful race opposed to war and prepared to leave. When the Demons created us, they filtered out the war-like genes because they didn’t want their tech-slaves to revolt. So we created the Lanai to fight for us and Lanai never merc.

Me? I’m a throwback. I used to sit and listen to my grandfathers tell me stories about the wars they had fought (each trying to outdo the other though neither had actually fought the other’s country) and I read history books about war and battle and watched vids and when the Vartanians arrived, I convinced my parents to let me go.

“He’ll just run away if we try to keep him here,” my father commented to my mother who was crying at the thought. My siblings were happy for that meant that my younger sister would inherit the farm, not me. Plus she would get my private bedroom and move out of the communal bedroom. My mother felt that if I wanted to fight, I should join the Baronial StarFleet and let the Lanai train me. But I had watched the vids of the invasion, how the Human George Wagner and the Lanai Marlyssya had fought on for hours, wounded horribly, to buy time for me, my family and the other civilians to evacuate. I watched how His Grace and The Twenty had gone underground to destroy the Shitai Hive. These were our greatest Warriors and I wanted that glory myself.

So for eight years I fought on distant worlds, avoiding the Higher level wars where ships and planets were vaporized from millions of kilometers away, without knowing they were in danger. No, I wanted glory and excitement and that meant hand-to-hand combat. Fighting with sword and revolver on worlds that hadn’t discovered the advantages of saturation bombing from orbit or nuking the enemy out of existence. Wars where there still was some honor left.

*****

Dinner was excellent, though not as fresh as the foods we had on the farm on Sothis or in Japan but infinitely preferable to what I had eaten aboard ship or field rations. But then, after eight years off-world, anything I could eat without stomach cramps is good. We requested an order-to-go so we’d have something to eat later and while returning to the Con, we were mugged!

Can you believe it! Some fool with a handgun thought two people carrying weapons would be easy to rob! But it was late and the streets were deserted so I suppose he was desperate for that last crime before quitting for the night. We entered the alley as ordered laughing at the event. Really! Finally, he demanded our money and weapons and Ayaka asked, “Is it safe?”

I looked around with ears, eyes and telepathy then replied, “Hai!” so she killed him. He actually looked surprised as he fell. Another glance showed we were still alone so we robbed him of his weapon, wealth and anything else that looked valuable, then we tied him into as small a bundle as we could and hid him in a dumpster. By the time he was found, if ever, Ayaka and I would be long gone. Then we returned to our walk laughing at the stupidity of the criminal element of this city. Ayaka never understood why I never used these weapons in the Japan of her time but understood how they could destroy anything they struck, though my Radium Revolver was from Barsoom and not Vartanian nor Drakonan. You simply cannot bring an object to a time before it could exist. If we tried, the weapons would almost instantly cease to operate then quickly break down to component parts. So on Japan fighting the Oni Wars during the 15th Century, we left our technology aboard ship, under shield, and fought with local weapons which were swords and spears.

Once back inside, Red Sonja ran up to us and cried, “Ras, you are not going to win the costume contest after all. There is a werewolf soldier here whose costume is absolutely incredible! He’s not very friendly and very scary but you HAVE to see him!”

She dragged us to a very tall monster. Now Ayaka, being medieval Japanese is barely five foot tall, and the Demons wanted their tech-slaves to be small enough to crawl into confined spaces so I am five foot eight, but this man towered over the six-foot Americans by a good foot. From a distance I could see his American military fatigues, combat vest, holster and bayonet but the parts that were exposed were his head and hands, both furry. Closer, I realized, “Ayaka,” I commented in Japanese, “That isn’t a costume, he’s really a wolfman!”

When you deal with aliens and Japanese monsters, something like a 7’ wolfman in fatigues doesn’t bother you at all so we approached into the clear area created by people who avoided his growling and I introduced ourselves in Spanglic, the language of the humans in Demon Space, “Greetings. I am Ras Muras here on vacation. Who are you and what world are you from?”

The thing growled back in English, “What the hell language are you speaking and what are you? You don’t smell like a human.”

Humans never call themselves ‘human’. “Aren’t you a Vartanian Mercenary?” I asked in English, forgetting to fake my accent. I spoke Vartanian but not well, our vocal cords were not designed for their sounds.

It stared, and I could estann the confusion building within its mind and body. Ayaka moved back a step then aside, reading her weapons. Then the thing moved, fast! Before we could react, a table hit me and it turned and ran off, leaning forward as it did so, weaving so Ayaka couldn’t get it with her katana or throwing spikes.

I got the table off me and yelled, “After him!” then took off running.

It wasn’t hard to track, the furniture and people in its path had simply been tossed aside and one window shattered as it passed through. Outside we saw the destruction end at an alleyway and pursued. “What the hell are we doing,” Ayaka panted.

“He’s not Varantian or Oni!” I snapped back.

Humans are not noted for their intelligence. Within any human population, less than five percent can actually think, the rest following without question, obeying the will of their leaders but Ayaka was a Ninja and her entire profession had been trained from birth to observe and think so she got it quickly. “Oh! Shit! We need to call for help!”

Earth, even in the 21st century, is a pre-contact world, overly aggressive with each nation invading each other, using flimsy excuses like ‘National Security’ or ‘Manifest Destiny’ or ‘To prevent Communist Expansion’ or ‘To combat terrorism” or whatever they think the 95% of the stupid will accept. On Earth, that is acceptable but once they realized that they were not alone, they’d try for the stars and the first time they attempted their usual actions outside their planet, the Demons would simply prevent another Kris Wars by turning Earth into an asteroid belt from a hundred million miles away. The fact that there was another alien here put the entire planet in danger so we had to catch him fast!

I put the call to my ship and now we had only to wait until the Vartanians were able to send an Agent who was trained for this. We worked under contract to the Barony of Drakonis. Earth is a Protectorate. Drakonis keeps the other aliens away and harvests her people as the Demons harvest ours. But we don’t have the resources or desire to plant soldiers on Earth so His Grace hired the Vartanians to do that job. Grunts like myself and Ayaka fought in the occasional war, Ops sent highly trained Combat Teams in to ‘fix’ specific problems like Zombie outbreaks or WMD-incidents while Agents, alone or in a couple, would handle non-military things like this before they attracted government notice. I was a grunt, not an agent so would probably mess the incident up but allowing the Wolfman to escape wouldn’t be safe.

We entered, carefully, into the darkness, my eye-slits opening to see better. I couldn’t see in total darkness nor did I have any night-time colour vision and my depth perception wasn’t good in the dark but I could see. It was like a black-and-white movie through a dirty screen but better than Ayaka who was almost totally blind. I moved to a safe place, then waited and watched as she, glowing in infra-red, moved forward to another and so we passed each other slowly and carefully in the darkness, her ninja training giving her an advantage few others would possess save someone who had fought eight years of wars on a dozen planets… and lived. Then I whistled and she froze. Ahead I could see the wolfman glowing in infra-red body heat. His clothes and fur dampened most of it but there was enough to note that he was there and from the position, it looked like he was pointing his handgun in our direction. As I whistled softly, the heat patterns shifted as he located the sound and aimed in my direction. Ayaka settled into hiding and hissed and the patterns shifted to her. It now knew our rough locations from sound alone which was better than mine and from his previous comment, he could smell much better too.

So, he was bigger, possibly as strong as me, definitly as fast. His weapon was unknown though looked like a contemporary American slug-thrower, but mine was a revolver that fired thermo-nuclear rounds with a laser attachment that could cut through anything in its path. He had a bayonet and I a dagger, short-sword and long-sword. I could see into the IR but he could hear and smell better. That made us about even. Once support arrived, the advantage would be mine again… unless he had help too. If he had a ship in orbit, it could be a warship and our troop transport wouldn’t be a match so hopefully our leaders were still alive.

Still, he hadn’t made any move to attack and had only run so there was a chance. I could climb and he couldn’t so why didn’t he continue to run? Was this a trap or… I stared then relaxed. Then I picked up a small rock and threw it past the wolfman into the darkness and a moment later it struck brick. The glow turned to the sound then instantly back to us. “It’s a blind alley,” I called. “You cannot climb and there are no doors or you’d have used them so the only way out is past us and my revolver is better than yours (I hoped). Plus my ship is arriving with reinforcements.”

“I won’t go back!” it growled. A strange comment to supply and in English too.

“Back where? Who do you think we are?”

“Back to the labs. I won’t go back.”

“Labs? I’m not from any lab. I’m from Drakonis.”

It barked then added, “They made you half monkey like they made me half-wolf. Why serve them when you can be free like the rest of us.”

“My service is to the Vartanians who pay me well. Aren’t you a merc soldier too?”

“What are vartanians? I mean the scientists in the labs who created us.”

“Vartanians aren’t scientists and they don’t have labs. What the damn are you talking about?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I think we should talk. No one is hurt yet so we can still have peace. I’m holstering my weapon and will approach with empty hands if you will do the same. Agreed?”

It thought about this for a very long time then moved, “Agreed. You first.”

I approached with empty hands save my light and said, “I have a flashlight I can lay down so we can see each other better. I’m turning it on now.”

“Shine it away from me!” it growled.

I turned it to lamp-setting and set it on the ground, glowing like a red table-lamp but not as bright as I didn’t want anyone outside the alley to see us or burn my night-vision away. Then I stood and waited.

It approached, again as if someone had taken a man and turned him into a wolf or something in the middle like Lon Chaney Jr. only more wolf-like. Its clothes were American military as was its kit save the weapon was a firearm modified for its larger hand.

“Are, were, you human?” I asked.

“No, I was made this way in the lab. What about you?”

“I was born this way on another world ten-thousand light years away from Earth.”

It howled but I estanned it was laughing and asked, “What’s so funny?”

“Aliens. They created me to fight the Soviets then the Arabs when they should have been worrying about aliens from outer space.”

“I’m not an invader, just a tourist on vacation. Can we go someplace private to talk?”

“Where?” it offered, suddenly suspicious.

“You choose.”

It looked around then pointed, “Up there. We find an empty apartment and break in.”

The thing reached up and grabbed a ladder that it pulled down to form a path to the steel frame that followed the building to the roof. Each level had a steel balcony and we three climbed until it paused and sniffed at the crack of a partially open window. “Empty.” It looked around then asked, “Can you open that latch? Otherwise I’ll have to break the glass.”

I slid my tail in the crack and used the tip to release the latch so we could pull the window up and soon we were inside, the window closed and curtain drawn. It sniffed around more, seeking occupants so I did the same only using my IR-vision and telepathy to detect the heat patterns of any occupants, but the place was empty and the wolfman found, then turned the lights on. We stood, looking each other over, then it entered the kitchen and raided the refrigerator, wolfing down all the meat it could find. “You talk first,” it growled between bites.

I lay my tail around Ayaka’s neck so she could understand our conversation, a trick I use to learn foreign languages quickly for my race is partially telepathic, and began. “I was born on Sothis, a planet some ten-thousand light years away. I got bored with the peaceful life we led as farmers and joined the Vartanian Mercenary Army eight years ago. I eventually was assigned to fight in the Demon Wars of 15th century Japan where I met Ayaka and we’ve been traveling together since. Coming here was a vacation, or supposed to be one. Now you?”

“My name is Frank Lupus and I’m a Trollock! The US Army created us with recombinate genetics to create super-soldiers. They took animal genes, combined them with human genes and we are the result. I’m a Wolf-form but there are all sorts of us depending on the animal they used. Some of us are more successful than others. Then they trained us to fight and kill intending to drop us in the Soviet Union to cause as much destruction as we could.

“But the Cold War ended,” it laughed again, “and we were to be destroyed until they decided we could be used to kill Arabs as easily. But one of us found a paper, it was the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. We argued that we should be free and equal but they refused. We weren’t ‘human’ so had no rights.

“So we did what we were created to do, we fought back, killed everyone in the lab and base, took what we could, burned the rest and ran for freedom. They’ve been chasing us since.” It had finished an impressive amount of raw meat and was looking for more.

It was laughing again. “Private Adams was the only human who was kind to us. He was a black man from Alabama and told us stories about how the white men would lynch black men, rape black women and burn black towns simply because they said black people were animals like us. His father was lynched by white boys who were bored on a Saturday night. The white sheriff called it suicide for a nigger to walk into a white neighborhood and bought the murderers a drink.

“Private Adams called it ‘being free, white and twenty-one’ which means that you are free only if you are white. The only reason black people have any freedom is because they fought and died for generations to force the government to give them those rights so their grandchildren could be free and equal. It doesn’t matter if you are Indian, black, chicano, Jew or whatever, unless you are a rich white man, you have freedom only if your ancestors fought a war with the US to force them to give you those ‘inalineable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ We Trollocks are Mules. We can’t spend generations fighting for rights because we’ll never have children. And the Army will kill us rather than admit we exist. So we ran.”

I wanted to argue, to bring the media for my grandfather was an American but then saw Ayaka. Her people were almost exterminated by the ‘peaceful’ Buddhist Monks who killed anyone who refused to submit to their will. No, the Trollocks would never be given freedom in Modern America or even Medieval Japan… but…. “What if there was a place you could go?”

It laughed again. “Where?”

“Well, two possibilities come to mind. If you want to fight, the Vartanians are always hiring mercenaries. You travel through time and space and fight in wars all over the Galaxy and to them, you are just another Sentient Race with equal rights and equal pay.

“The other possibility is to move into the future. Soon the Earth will destroy itself in what the survivors call ‘The Rapture’ where the Christians got tired of waiting for Christ to return and destroy the world in fire so they destroyed the world in a nuclear holocaust to force Christ to return. Backwards logic but they did it anyway. In that time, there are entire nations that were exterminated and more than 99% of the population was killed. You can live your lives there, free.”

“Become mercenaries on other planets or farmers in the future. I don’t like either. Don’t these alien worlds accept creatures like us? What about your world?”

“The Galaxy is big. Very big. The Demons say that there are 300 billion stars in the Galaxy. Half those are G-Type Stars and about 10% of those have Stony-Iron planets in a Terran ecosphere. Half of those are Class-M and 10% are Earth-like. So they tell me that there are 750 million Earth-like planets in the Galaxy and actually more as the Demons and the Mon terra-form worlds for future colonization. I’ve only been to a few of the ones in Demon-Space so don’t know about the rest. You’d need a ship to explore the Galaxy. If you settle in Drakonis, you must convert to our Culture and Ways and yes, you’ll be accepted as equals. You can also go to Demon-Space and you can settle there on an empty world easily. They’d accept you without problems, though Demons take my people as Tech-Slaves so they may take yours as soldiers. Decide and I’ll do what I can to help you out.”

“Why?” it asked, suspicious.

“Because I read the writings John Adams, Thomas Payne and the other American Patriots when I was growing up on Sothis. Drakonis was settled by refugees from Terra, all seeking that freedom that was promised but never given. Ayaka’s family was killed for the same reason, they believed in freedom too. My father used to say, ‘Freedom is for everyone or it is for no one’ and he encouraged me to help the downtrodden.”

It thought a moment then said, “I’ll talk to the others. I only went to the Con because I was starving. Help us there and we will listen to you.”

Ayaka tensed, asking, “What are you doing? We are mercs, not social workers!”

I finally reminded her, “Remember your people? I fought for them because I believed in their rights. Now you must fight for these for exactly the same reason.”

“But we lost! And anyway, the Commander won’t take them off-world unless they enlist.”

“But he will send a message to the Barony and His Grace, who fought for Irish Freedom, will give them a chance. Give us a shopping list. We’ll try to fill it and deliver it to wherever you wish. His Grace will reimburse the Vartanians. Food and medical supplies mainly and a communicator. How many are there of you?”

“About two dozen in my Unit. A couple Companies all told.”

“200 Trollocks. If any of you choose to enlist, the Commander will be very happy after our losses on Barsoom and Japan. And a happy Commander is a generous commander.” Plus I’d get a bonus myself if I could get them to enlist. Mercs didn’t make much money so we supplemented our income with looting and whatever bonuses we could get and 200 trained soldiers would warrant a very large finder’s fee for me. But then if I wanted to be rich, I’d have remained home and become a Merchant.

Handing him my communicator, I explained, “Don’t try to open it up or it will explode to protect our technology, killing everyone around. I’ll contact my commander and am certain he will be willing to supply food and medical supplies in return for negotiations.”

Instantly the wolfman went on guard, pulling his weapon and crouching by the door, “Listen!”

Both Ayaka and I followed, me with my Radium Revolver and her with her sword and turned the lights out. “What?” I asked, then a moment later I heard the sirens, growing louder then as Lupus was on the edge, they faded.

“It sounds like they are going to the convention center. We need to leave.”

“Agreed! There is a park nearby where we have our cloaked Flyer. If we can make it there, we’ll be safe.” Then climbing outside again, we returned to the ground for although the Demons created my race to climb around a ship in Zero-Gravity, even I couldn’t jump between the buildings, and the power wires between would be too weak to support my weight. Fortunately, Ayaka had been trained a Ninja from birth and moving unseen was normal for her while the wolfman and I had learned stealth, he through training, me through necessity. And soon we reached an alley away from the convention center but near the park when Lupus stopped and sniffed.

“What?”

“I smell meat! Lots of it.” His stomach growled in response. He did say they were starving. “Here!” It was a grocery store, locked for the night.

“Ayaka, fetch the Flyer and land in this alley. Lupus, follow me.”

She snuck off as I found the back door and easily bypassed the security alarm. Here, with their low crime rate, there was no need for high-technical security and spy-cams so we were in quickly as he growled, “Why?”

“You said your people were starving, let’s go shopping.” And fortunately, the main windows were mostly covered with advertising posters with the meat and vegetables in the back and the lights low but still on. Within minutes we were filling shopping baskets with meat, vegetables and anything else Lupus felt was useful. I had a brief twinge of guilt for my kind are naturally honest but being a mercenary had taught me the value of situational ethics and a soldier eats what he can when he can or he dies on the battlefield from weakness. Besides, I promised myself that I’d repay the store later.

It didn’t take long to have a dozen carts filled and waiting by the back door by the time she landed. Frank hissed in amazement as the empty alley revealed a hatch into the shuttle. “If you can do all this, why don’t you just conquer us?”

I started to load the supplies and added, “Non Interference Policy.” Then when I estanned his confusion, added, “We don’t have the right to tell you how to live your life any more than you have the right to tell me how to live my life. Earth still thinks that they can order other people around. We are a nation of refugees so we know what it’s like to be oppressed. Besides, our taxes are 5%. Do you know how high they would go if we had to support an invasion and conquest not to mention rebuilding and civilizing you all? We’d revolt and pike against any government official that tried to raise our taxes above 7%.”

“It’s all about money,” the wolfman sneered.

“No, it’s about freedom to live your life without interference from anyone. But you humans, excuse me, Terrans, always place money at the top of your desires.”

We loaded everything we could fit into the shuttle and left the alley, me the only one feeling guilty about the thiefts we had just performed. But under Lupus’ direction we reached the camp of the trollocks, landed and Frank exited the, now uncloaked, shuttle to talk to his people. We heard arguments but because of their throat and mouth structures, plus the distance, were unable to understand much though eventually Frank retuned with a man-ape he called General Farlak. Fortunatly, the comm. bleeped and instead of trying to negotiate, I was able to show the General the shuttle and turn him over to my own commander who promised to send a First-Contact team to talk to them.

***

And that was it! Totally unclimatic. At the very least I expected to meet with arguments, mistrust and then have the American Military attack, slaughter half the Trollocks until my company appeared to save the day. Instead, I was ordered back (there went the rest of my Leave Time) had to write a very detailed report, was questioned to decide if “I” had broken security by appearing in public without a cloak or disguise then released without even a warning.

Eventually, about half the Trollocks enlisted, half those remaining on Earth to hunt vampires, werewolves, zombies and other monsters that haunted the darker parts of humanity. The rest left to see the stars and I imagine settle on some foreign world. I hope that the Vartanian medics were able to make them fertile as what good is life if you have no children to pass on your wisdom and wealth or to take care of you in your old age. Ayaka and I still fight together, and I am currently writing this in the 22nd Century while helping Mountmeet (formerly a part of California) fight off the Chicago Imperium long after the Rapture.

Oh, one more thing, I never did find out if the Company ever paid for all that food we stole from that store or apartment. At least they never deducted it from my pay.



To contact me or to request topics to be covered, send to RikJohnson@juno.com
by: Rick Johnson
PO Box 40451
Tucson, Az.
85717


Return to the Home Page.

1