Mendoza Chapter 4

 

“As you can see, the Ralgoths are well-adapted to an environment much different than humans. Their tribal nature and harsh planetary conditions has major implications on Ralgoth societal dynamics and the role of physical warfare in their government.”

Dr. Jutras, the Ralgoth sociologist, stands in front of the lecture hall filled with twenty-four SPO team members. She is giving a slightly different variation of a lecture that we have all heard multiple times before.

“Since their home planet’s gravity is approximately 1.7 times our standard, they have a clear advantage fighting in our environment. If they managed to board Portway Station, for example, it would be the equivalent of removing almost one hundred kilograms from their bodies. Their already impressive speed and strength would be enhanced dramatically, if they could stay on the ground. The hope is that by decreasing the gravity in combat situations, we further hamper their mobility. They are essentially too strong to run and jump without overcompensating and leaping into the walls and ceilings.”

The doctor’s blonde hair is tied neatly back in a ponytail, but I can’t help but wonder what it would look like if left to fall over her shoulders. She is about Tina’s height, but prettier in many ways, if lacking a bit in the chest.

I wonder if the doctor has ever been interested in slightly ugly blondes who date Marines. 

“An impressive muscular structure and a substantially thick epidermis makes lacerations and contusions almost nonexistent…”

Smittie raises his hand to interrupt.

“Yes…” She looks down at her roll sheet. “Mr. Smith?”

“Please, call me Rendez.” He begins with a fake flirtatious tone, “Are you saying Ralgoths are bulletproof?”

The whole room glares shamefully at Smittie. Jacobs’ annoyed suspicion causes him to interrupt. “Please continue with your lecture Dr. Jutras,” Jacobs doesn’t even let Smittie’s question get answered. He knows such an idiotic question and lying about his name was merely a means to setup a terrible joke. Smittie is such a buddy fucker, we’re definitely running extra tomorrow.

“The most effective way to terminate a Ralgoth is the same as any other known creature: damage to a vital organ system. The first option is significant penetration of their skull to damage the brain, followed by the heart, which is buried deep in the center of the abdomen, or the solo lung located in the upper right quadrant of the torso.”

The real Rendez raises his hand this time, which causes another fit of anxiety with the LT.

Jacobs may have a heart attack by the end of the day.

“I know all the warriors are female, but what happens when one gets pregnant?”

“Do not, under any circumstance, underestimate them because you think pregnancy makes them weaker. In many ways, the pregnant warriors are more effective killers.” the doctor warns in a serious tone.

These Ralgoths and I might be kindred spirits after all. Ever since childhood I’ve been fascinated by how easy it is to slip from life to lifelessness.

The point was solidified one summer when I was ten years old and staying with my father at Fort Sidney. Some local boys invited me to hang out with them one day. One of them had found an old bolt-action rifle from Earth and my father was known as a good shot, so I guess they thought the skill had automatically been passed on to me. We were hunting a local grey rodent the locals called ‘Sidney Hoppers’. They resembled rabbits from Earth, except their blue fur was short and their ears bald, exposing grey skin. Some of the boys managed to pick the hoppers off from a distance, but I missed every time. Infuriated by the boys’ ridicule, I chased after a group of the hoppers and managed to grab one by the hind leg as it scurried away. The knife I always carried on me managed to find its way to the hopper’s throat and I felt warm blood running down my arm before I realized what I was doing. I watched as the light left the hopper’s eyes, the inevitability of death slowly realized. The other boys ran in fear, while I learned how simple it is to end an existence.

“One more question, Dr. Jutras.” Rendez interrupted again. Jacobs didn’t even turn around this time, he simply put his face in his palm.

“Does the baby come out fighting, too?

“Actually, that’s quite fascinating. A Ralgoth can be battle-ready within…”

“Sorry Doctor,” Jacobs interrupts, clearly finished with the aimless direction of the lecture. He stands to address the room.

“We are not here to discuss Ralgoth sexual reproduction. Rendez, if you are that curious, I’m sure the ship’s database has plenty of pictures and videos for you to enjoy alone in your bunk.”

The main door to the lecture hall suddenly burst open to show a young officer who is obviously on a mission to find the person in charge.

“Lieutenant Jacobs!”

The woman sounds like she sprinted three klicks to get here.

Jacobs walks over to the young girl and calmly listens to her message. She has nothing to augment her voice, so none of us can hear but it is obvious that she is frantic and Jacobs is taking the matter seriously.

Once she finishes, Jacobs pats her on the shoulder encouragingly and turns back toward the rest of us.

“Men, get your gear. There is a hostile Ralgoth force on its way.” Jacob says this as if it were just another day.

“Sorry, Doctor Jutras, it looks like we are going to have to cut this lecture short. It’s time to put this knowledge to the test.”

Finally.

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