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Title: When Worlds Go 'Thunk!' Author: Scifiteki

Dana’r, Attentive 5th Class, Division 2, was a very happy trooper. Exceptionally happy, in fact. If you had have asked him, which you probably couldn’t have, he would have replied that he’d never felt happier in his tiny little violence filled alien life. Or he would have shot you, one of the two. And there was one, only one, reason why Dana’r, Attentive 5th class, was so terribly, overwhelmingly happy.

He was doing his job. And rather well, in fact.

Of course, ‘well’ is a relative concept, for us. We could have said he was doing an exceptionally horrible, pathetic job, but that would have just made him happier. Because, of course, the job that he was doing so wonderfully, mind-gushingly well was wholesale slaughter. Of humans. But that was all right, because it was exactly what he was supposed to be doing, and the thought that he was efficiently doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing was enough to send him into paroxysms of ecstatic, paralytic joy.

Although Dana’r, Attentive 5th Class, Division 2, thought that this happiness was simply something everyone experienced when doing their job right, he was wrong. We can excuse his horribly ignorant viewpoint, however, because Dana’r, Attentive 5th class was not a terribly experienced Pfhor. Very few were. The real reason for his surging rapture was millions of years of very selective evolution, by other minds so terrible and manipulative that our minds couldn’t comprehend the depth of it. But Dana’r didn’t know this. He just knew that he was very happy. And that was all that mattered to him.

Not many things mattered to Dana’r, Attentive 5th Class.

Another vague, blurry shape jumped into his limited vision, and his ecstasy jumped to new, previously-unrecalled heights. He assumed it was one of the human-things. He couldn’t actually be sure, because all he could see was an indistinct, foggy humanoid figure. It probably was. Some distant vaporous memory slithered through Dana’r’s brainstem from the very small portion of it that held such things; a memory of shooting other blurry humanoid things that were, in fact, not the right blurry humanoid things to shoot at. He dismissed it.

The reason for this confusion, and Dana’r’s inexcusably obscured vision could be traced back to a committee decision by the Pfhor High Council, several hundred years ago. It had been the decision of the committee that, in order to maximise the terror potential of their troopers, the helmet coverings of said troopers should be as opaque as physically possible. One member of the council had the nerve to suggest that exploratory tests should be conducted, and for his sins his sensory glands were removed and exposed to the terrible, mind-numbing horror of Vylae entertainment broadcasts. The severity of this punishment ensured that no others had the effrontery to ask such questions ever again.

And it worked, from a certain point of view, ie. One that ignored the fact that 70% trooper casualties became those from friendly, or in some cases, self-inflicted, fire.

Thus, Dana’r, Attentive 5th class had the equivalent of 5/20 vision. If the human who was currently cowering before him had known his enemy was so short sighted, he probably would have been not nearly so afraid. But he didn’t, and so Dana’r took great pleasure in depressing his well-worn trigger and turning the indistinct, blurry figure before him into an expanding cloud of indistinct, blurry little kibble bits. He probably held onto the trigger longer than was strictly necessary, but such was the nature of things.

A few bloody chunks splattered on his helmet, but he didn’t really notice it, apart from his view becoming a little more vague. That happened sometimes, he paid little attention to it.

As he walked down the corridor in a waddling, happy, Pfhor-ish sort of way he bubbled a little happy tune to himself, and reflected on how life could not possibly be any better. Any Pfhor who might have at this time, looked upon him would have remarked that this was a very happy Pfhor indeed, judging by the way he walked. A human who looked upon him, however, might have wondered what exactly it was that Dana’r, Attentive 5th Class had stuck in his pants.

After a while of rapturous walking through corridors, killing and blowing things up, he began to think about the circumstances that had led him to be here, doing these mind-blowingly wonderful things.

They had been sent on their mission some time ago, although he couldn’t exactly remember when. He did remember, however, the rousing, scent-laden speech that their commander had given them, promising worlds to subdue, pillage and raze to the ground, and rewards beyond their wildest imaginings, appropriately taxed. It was the sort of speech to send any Pfhor trooper into spirals of patriotic bliss, especially the bits about the razing to the ground.

Sadly, a few months into their journey, it didn’t seem like they had found anything to raze to the ground. Not even anything to pillage or subdue. It was a remarkably boring voyage. If Dana’r had have been on any other voyages, he would have observed that it was one of the most boring voyages he’d ever been on. But since he hadn’t, he was merely confused by the depressing total lack of violence. In order to assuage his worries, he spent hours on end drowning his woes in Happy Green Fluid.

And then they’d come here. He was still a little confused as to exactly what had happened, but somehow he’d ended up in this place, with plenty of things to subdue, pillage and raze to the ground. And all these wonderful targets running around, just asking to be reduced to indescribably wonderful little kibble bits.

It was unfortunate for Dana’r, Attentive 5th class that he was so wrapped up in his joy and excitement that he failed to notice the fact that the area he was wondering was curiously lacking in his comrades, or targets, for that matter. It’s doubtful, however, that he would have actually realised what that signified, even if he had have noticed this worrying fact.

It was also, and more so, unfortunate that by this time for Dana’r, Attentive 5th class, had a helmet, which was already hard to see out of, which also was covered copious amounts of thick, obscuring blood, mostly of the human type. If these sad things had not been true, then perhaps for Dana’r, Attentive 5th class, 4th division, might have at least seen the blow that ended his short life.

As it was, his chest suddenly hurt, and then he was suddenly uncomfortably close to the wall, which was somewhere he was almost certain he had not chosen to be. Consternation, an emotion which had never before been experienced in Dana’r’s tiny little brain stem, infiltrated into what passed for his nerve-cell clusters, subtly wrecking havoc as it did so. What was going on? His limited experience in subjects like ‘life’ provided no answers.

He tried to prod the hurt, but that just made it hurt more. And then, to add to his growing dismay, his vision began to darken for no real reason at all. To be fair, his confusion could be excused. Yes, he had seen death before, but as far as he knew that was something that happened to other blurry things. Pfhor troopers, as a sub-race, were not renowned for their philosophical musings, especially the lower-ranked ones.

Nevertheless, certain vast, terrible thoughts began to materialise in his mind, thoughts about exactly what had happened to him just now, the unfairness of what exactly had happened just now, and why having a blurry helmet was probably not, on the whole, a good thing. They were not exceptionally eloquent thoughts. If someone had have been transcribing them, the resulting philosophical treatise would not have won any prizes. But, nonetheless, they were pretty deep thoughts for a trooper.

Unfortunately, Dana’r’s pitifully undeveloped brainstem was really not cut out for thoughts of this sort of calibre. It was already having enough trouble with the fact that it was dying, along with the rest of him, because of a huge, fatal wound to the chest. The roaring, fizzing, crackling things that were happening in his brain began to reach a peak, and they also began to affect the interactions of certain chemicals in his brainstem fluid. Chemicals that began to react in an unluckily violent sort of way.

And so, without any further ado, his head exploded.

The marine looked down at his fallen, now cranially deficient enemy with a bemused smile. What had happened there? Pfhor were too strange, sometimes. Then he fired one more shot into its prone body, just to make sure, and then strode off to find others to kill.


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