The young duty officer’s face was white as he watched the screens in the command center. Each screen was at his head height or above, and his neck was tipped back, mouth open in horror. The scenes playing before him were ugly, as horrific as anything he had seen or imagined in his relatively short career.
Twisted monstrous RAWR tripedal life forms were loping through the city scenes on the screens. Two of their 3 arms were gripping a mini-disruptor cannon each, and the resulting destruction wreaked on the bipedal human planetary occupants was horrific. Dismembered bodies were strewn around casually, most in small pieces. As if that were not enough, the monsters’ third arms were wielding a cruelly spiked steel weapon with which they ripped bodies apart, irrespective of whether the bodies were living or dead. The young man couldn’t understand why they needed those weapons on top of the disruptor guns, especially as he watched one RAWR monster turn and fixate on a severed leg. It tore the limb into 4 pieces before lifting its attention again. It seemed that the RAWR monsters were unable to discern what life was, so they used a standard relating to size of remaining body piece to determine whether their job was done.
The young officer turned and vomited onto the command room floor, again and again. His vision swam with tears, and his body refused to accept that there was nothing more in his stomach as he heaved little drips of bile into the stinking puddle of vomit.
The Commander stepped forward, called two grizzled sergeants to escort the young officer to the sick bay and get the mess cleaned up. The Commander’s eyes drifted back towards the screens. He was a tall man, and his shoulders were broad. Even though his hair was completely white, his back was straight, and his arms were corded with muscle. But right now it was the muscles in his jaw that were bunched the tightest. This was his home planet that RAWR were tearing apart.
Unnoticed by all, a beautiful woman, dressed in the uniform of the intelligence corps, stood at the back of the group of officers and noncommissioned officers in the command center. All eyes were on the screen, but her eyes were on the Commander’s face. A single tear crept down her soft cheek. The Commander’s eyes were dry and hard, his face expressionless. Yet she knew that a deep tearing agony was ripping his soul into pieces right then. She grieved for him. She knew he would not grieve, that later that night in her bed, he would still not shed a tear, but he might take her more tenderly than usual, with no laughter or play. She knew she would have to avoid making eye contact with him later. The pain would be too visible. She determined to pleasure him fiercely, wildly, ensuring he never saw her eyes. Her eyes could never hide her emotions.
Suddenly, a short communications operator stepped quickly forward toward one screen. Everyone seemed to wake as if from a daze. Someone coughed. The Commander quietly stepped closer to look at the scene that the operator was watching. The beautiful intelligence officer did the same. Puzzled, she couldn’t see anything different. Messy dismemberment turned her stomach, especially as the fresh vomit smell pervaded the large room. She turned her eyes away, back to the man she loved. He seemed puzzled. He was now scanning all the screens on the large display, his eyes flitting across them all, pausing and watching things here and there intently. She forced her gaze back to the horror on the screens to try and see what had caught his attention.
She could barely make herself look. Turning her eyes away, she noticed a few people in the group had turned a pale shade of green since the young officer had vomited, and most people were either woodenly staring in the direction of the screens while not really absorbing what they were seeing, or they had stopped looking at the screens and were focused on something under their fingernails, or a piece of dust on their uniform sleeves.
The Commander was now looking intently at the young communications operator. “Son, what do you see?” he asked. The operator just raised his hand abruptly, motioning for silence. The Commander’s expression changed to one of slight annoyance. He was not used to his staff brushing him off! But he waited patiently. Suddenly, the operator laughed. A short bark of disbelieving humor. Everyone was now staring at him. He turned around to look for the Commander. As soon as he saw the Commander’s face, his mirth disappeared.
“Sir! Sorry! I lost track of where I was. I didn’t realize that you were –”
The Commander cut him off abruptly, this time his tone was harder, “I said, what do you see?”
Flustered the operator turned back to the screens. “Look at screen 7 sir, the RAWR idiots are attacking clothing mannequins in that storefront. And look there, screen 12.” Again the operator barked a laugh of disbelief.
Everyone stepped closer, and suddenly a murmur of surprise came as everyone witnessed something very strange. Shattered bodies of RAWR monsters lay in a circle around an advertising hologram on a sidewalk. The strange incongruity of the scene jarred her senses. Mangled RAWR monster bodies were piled on top of human remains, blood was pooling in the street, both red human blood and the black blood of the monsters. And in the middle, the visual projection of a young woman shone brightly. She was an advertising hologram that repeated an advert for toothpaste. Every two minutes the hologram flickered as the advert restarted. The cheerful bright smile of the young woman in the advert clashed with the gore around. The beautiful intelligence officer couldn’t see what had killed the monsters though. Her eyes searched the scene again and again.
In a startlingly sudden movement, the Commander spun around, and leapt across the room to the communications console. Pressing the speak button, he spoke quickly and loudly, his deep voice was rough with fury, “Colonel Ferh! Come in!” Everyone stared at the Commander. Again he bellowed urgently, “Colonel! Bloody! Ferh! Where the HELL are you! Answer me dammit!”
The speakers crackled as the colonel answered in a flustered squeak, “Ferh here, Commander.”
“Ferh,” said the Commander, still urgently, but less roughly, “I want you to get down onto that planet NOW! But listen! Go light, no heavy weapons, and first grab all the advertising hologram generators that we have in storage, the spacepilot recruitment ones.”
There was a split second pause, then the comms came to life with Ferh’s voice again, “Uh, Commander? You want me to go down onto that deathtrap below armed with …. holograms?”
“Yes, and get moving! When you are on the way, establish comms with me and I’ll explain. MOVE! NOW! ” The brittle urgency in the Commander’s voice was unmistakable. The respect his forces had for him was immediately apparent from the fact that Colonel Ferh didn’t argue with the seemingly suicidal mission.
The Commander turned to the communications officer, “Son, man these comms. Do you know what I have in mind?”
“Yes Sir!” the communications officer blurted out excitedly. “He raced over to the communications desk. “Holograms in all the areas that RAWR are operating I presume sir?”
“Indeed son. What’s your name, officer?” the Commander was looking at the young officer with interest.
“Uh, Pearh Sir, Jzune Pearh. From the Cremonire tribe of old world.” The young officer turned to the radio as Colonel Ferh came on line, and started very efficiently giving directions for the deployment of the holograms throughout any built up area where the RAWR monsters might be operating.
The Commander turned his attention back to the screens. “Captain Rhuze,” he said quietly, “Assist Pearh with the logistics of hologram dispersal.”
As the captain leapt to obey, a general bemusedly cleared his throat and stepped up to the Commander’s side. “Uh, Sir. I, uh, well, why? I mean, Colonel Ferh is a good man, and he is just going to be slaughtered down there. And just for some stupid hologram adverts?” His brow was creased with confusion. “I don’t understand Sir.”
The Commander turned back to screen 7. “Look,” he said quietly.
Everyone turned to look again. A few groups of RAWR monsters were racing toward the toothpaste hologram from a few directions. As they drew near, they started to open fire. Their disruptor cannon blasts passed harmlessly through the hologram, but the devastating destruction on their own kind on the opposite side of the hologram was immediate. The beams tore the monsters to shreds. But the few monsters that survived the volley of fire from the opposite side of the hologram, in turn let loose with their own barrage of fire at the hologram. Equally severe destruction happened in the ranks of the monsters opposite them. In a matter of seconds, piles of RAWR were surrounding the hologram, but more were approaching all the time, seemingly determined to destroy the fantasy of toothpaste whitened teeth. The beautiful young toothpaste actress in the video just continued to smile, gently and enthusiastically offering the best and most advanced dental plan to the RAWR monsters, who replied with blast after blast of disruptor cannon.
The general began to chuckle, then his chuckle turned to laughter, soon almost everyone was roaring in relieved mirth as the RAWR idiots destroyed themselves.
But the beautiful intelligence office wasn’t laughing. Neither was the Commander. His face was blank, but she could see his hands clenched into hard whitened fists. She knew fury when she saw it...