© 1998, 1999 Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
| His unit is composed of an Egyptian
General, a Hungarian Captain, a British Captain, a Thai Captain, a Korean
1st Lieutenant, two American 1st Lieutenants, an Ethiopian 1st Lieutenant,
four 2nd Lieutenants from the Republic of Congo, five American Sergeants,
3 Canadian Sergeants, a Canadian Corporal, and a smattering of Privates
from all over the world. It was tough without a universal language.
The Dominai were attempting to solve this problem with a bastardized version
of the Universal Galactic Language, called, as close as humans could pronounce
it, Grimolf. Rick arrived just in time to fall in with his unit.
His place in the ranks was unfortunately next to the Company’s murderer.
The Dominai had modified every convicted murderer that they had removed
from Earth prisons. Each convict had a small but efficient computer
embedded in his or her brain. Antennae protruded from the top right
section of their skull. The Dominai did a horrible job of sealing
the area surrounding the antennae implant. The Company surgeon was
always fighting an infection around the antennae’s festering wound.
The prisoner served as the Dominai’s battlefield communications link to
the humans. He or she also served the human soldiers as a sensor
array. Right now the murderer was badly listing to one side and slobbering
heavily. Rick was grossed out.
The Dominai stood on a catwalk that circumscribed the entire octagonal practice room. The catwalk easily stood 3 to 4 times the height of an average human. The Dominai signaled the ship’s computer to issue the “Assemble for Training” signal. It was a mournful howl that filled the huge empty void of the training room.
The humans fell into standard European infantry ranks, while the Qwan formed their battle circle. Tradition died hard with the Qwan. They were used to lining up their old, sick, and dying in the front ranks. In Qwan military culture it was considered an honor, if you fit one of the three above categories, to charge into battle first. The theory was that the enemy would waste valuable energy and ammunition on you and if you could take out or injure even one healthy warrior then you served an invaluable service to your people. In Qwan mentality, the worse that could happen is that you would act as part of the battlefield feast afterwards. Here, in the simulated battlefields, the Qwan almost seemed lost. Since all the practices were held against simulated holographic enemies, the older and sick Qwan could never really die and so could not achieve battlefield glory. At the same time, the survivors always seemed to be cheated out of a meal.
The air began to thicken.
It was cool and misty. The simulation had begun. The General
barked out a butchered Universal Galactic command to break formation, pick
up your weapons, and start advancing slowly. Not to be outdone, the
Qwan issued similar Galactic commands. Their voices were very guttural
and Rick always had difficulty understanding them. The General argued
in vain with the Dominai that there should only be one supreme battlefield
commander and that should in typical human arrogance be him. The
Qwan were deeply insulted and would have nothing to do with taking orders
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