Author : Grady Hendrix

Fear gripped his guts! Fear turned his spine to water! Fear packed his bowels with ice and made his fingers tremble! That’s what Jim thought he should be feeling, but instead his mind was a blank white eternity with a billboard in the middle and written on the billboard in mile high letters:

I’m scared.

I’m scared.

I’m scared.

“You scared?” the grizzled grunt next to him asked.

Jim nodded weakly.

“Good man. First thing, don’t hold yer assault cannon like that. S’not a crotch warmer. Second, just think about the mission. Clears yer head.”

“Is it true that when the landing ramp drops the first 20 soldiers get their heads blown off?”

A mechanical voice sang out.

“Attention: negotiated settlement talks have closed inconclusively. Prepare for full military deployment.”

“That’ll be us, then,” the grizzled grunt grinned.

Jim threw up in his mouth and let it run down his chin. Didn’t matter. He’d be dead soon, anyways.

“There, there, son,” the grunt said. “Focus on the mission. We’re here because we have to be. Earth needs resources she don’t have, so we go to our friends and ask them to share, and when they don’t share we don’t got a choice. We have to take.”

“But why?”

“Take or die, son. It’s the way of the universe. Survival of the fittest.”

“Pardon me,” a grunt on the other side of Jim said. “I think applying social Darwinism to our situation is entirely uncalled for.”

“What? Yew advocating some kind of Ricardian system of comparative advantage?”

“I’m merely suggesting that rather than fulfilling a pre-existing survival instinct, our species is demonstrating choice.”

“Naw, naw, naw. You’re saying that we’ve become predators. S’what I’m saying too.”

“No, I’m suggesting we’re practicing a style of economic expansionism rather than pure species survival.”

“Yeah, but ultimately it doesn’t matter does it? As the great Mr. D said, “˜It’s the most adaptable to change that survives.’ They got it, we need it, they won’t give it, so we take it. Economics is personal.”

“Touche’. A bit reductionist but I yield to your aggressive reasoning.”

“Aw, think nothing of it. Incidentally, yer point of view is interestin’ but simply not appropriate to the field of battle.”

Jim’s head was spinning. The drop ship hit the dirt.

“Why thank you.”

“My pleasure.”

The warning klaxon went off and the grunt grabbed Jim by the combat armor.

“Come on, kid. Up and at “˜em.”

The landing ramp warning light started flashing. Outside, the sound of multiple missile impacts.

“Think of the mission,” the grunt shouted.

The landing ramp crashed down, the sound of a planet at war rushed in, and they came out shooting in the middle of the Ablixian town square, burning office towers falling before their eyes.

Jim heard them give the Marine warcry and he screamed it too as he blasted away in all directions and prayed that his head wouldn’t get blown off. It was a warcry, a mission statement, it was everything the Earth needed now that it had exhausted its own supply.

“Give us your celebrities!” he screamed.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows