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War

by on May 7, 2014

“Tell me if you’re game.”

Hadley was confused. “Er, game for what?”

Rain rolled her eyes. “Look, your planet was blown up by the Seventeenth Fleet from Earth. But now you say there isn’t a Seventeenth Fleet, so whoever blew up your planet was hiding their real identity. That means politics. It means a political conspiracy. Which means we’ve got to find out who’s behind it all.”

Hadley caught on, and her mauve shading flushed bright with excitement. “And then we’ll confront them!” she exclaimed. “We’ll root out the evildoers and tell them that what they’ve done is bad and they should stop!”

“Exactly,” Rain said. “We’ll confront them.”

Hadley probably should have paid more attention to the way Rain said that. Unfortunately, she was too caught up in the excitement of unraveling a political conspiracy. “So where do we start? Do we get to storm someone’s headquarters? Have covert conversations in a parking garage? Ooh, ooh, can we hack into a computer and decrypt some secret files? Please?”

Rain didn’t bother answering. She waved her hand, and everything around them blurred like a milkshake in a blender. When things straightened out again, they weren’t on the ship anymore. They were standing in a dirt field next to an old rusted excavator. A sun glimmered dull red above them, behind a sheet of grey clouds. A cold wind blew against their faces. Hadley shivered. “This doesn’t seem a good place for a conspiracy.”

“It’s not.”

“Then why-”

“You’ll see.”

They waited. Nothing happened. The red sun moved an inch to the left. Still nothing happened.

“So…” Hadley said, scuffing at the dirt with her boot.

“Wait for it.”

They kept waiting. Nothing kept on happening.

“Oh, honestly,” Rain said at last. “For once in his existence would it kill the man to be on time?”

“Who?” Hadley demanded.

At that moment something silvery bright flashed on the horizon. Hadley instinctively looked around for cover. The field presented no obvious shelter. She thought about hiding under the old excavator, but then it was too late. It was a good thing she hadn’t after all. The missile hit the excavator dead-on, and it disappeared in a blast of fire and smoke. Rain sighed. “Just quit with the theatrics, will you?”

The smoke billowed away. In its place was a tired-looking man in rumpled khaki.

Hadley, ever friendly, advanced with her mauve hand out. “Hi! I’m Hadley Baxendale, what’s your name?”

The man didn’t move to take her hand, leaving Hadley in an awkward spot. “Yeah, hi. Milroy Birnbaum, god of war, 32nd precinct. Now what’s your trouble?”

“I’m sorry,” said Hadley, “Milroy? God of War? Seriously?”

“You thought I’d show up in a toga and metal helmet and call myself Mars? Yeah, listen, we aren’t on Earth anymore. You human types spread out all over the galaxy, and there’s lots of other alien worlds, all of them fightin’ each other and smashin’ stuff. Way too much for one guy to handle. So we deputized. Now you called me here, what’s the deal?”

“The deal,” Rain cut in acidly, “is that someone calling themselves the Seventeenth Earth Fleet just vaporized a whole planet, right after they murdered Hannah Moon, Earth’s president. Only they can’t be what they say, because Earth doesn’t have seventeen fleets, and they wouldn’t kill off their own leader anyway. Also they opened the Bunniless Pit. So, we need to know who the fleet’s really working for, and what their game is.”

“Well, it’s not me,” Milroy said. “I’m not one of those fired-up war gods that go chasin’ off after every world-ending apocalypse. I keep my precinct tidy-like. A few skirmishes here and there, some proton torpedoes, people shoot the tailfins off some cruiser now and again, nothing major. If someone’s playing big leagues on me, I damn well want to know about it.”

He waved his hand, and the smoke billowed back further, revealing a rattling old star fighter, barely bigger than a standard escape pod. “Where’s this planet you say got blown up?”

Rain and Hadley climbed into the fighter. Hadley, squeezing awkwardly into the back seat, was still trying to grasp the concept of a god of war named Milroy Birnbaum. “So… do you have a giant red sword? Maybe a red horse or something?”

“I got a cat. Name’s Fiona.”

“Well…” Hadley said, trying to sound heroic, “Cry havoc, and let loose the cats of war!”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

For prior adventures with Hadley, go here. Thanks for reading!

16 Comments
  1. The “cats of war”. I’m gonna be shakin’ my head about that one for some time. Loved it!

  2. The names you choose make me smile. A god of war named Milroy… 🙂

  3. Oh I wish I could write comedy like this! You do it so well.

  4. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    So fun…I’ll be reading more of Hadley’s adventures!

  5. I love Hadley’s innocent excitement to roust the rabble-rousers in such a decent and straight forward manner. She also got the ‘best line’ award for this story with “Cry havoc, and let loose the cats of war!” because seriously, that was just fantastic.

    • Hadley’s a very straightforward person. Rain, of course, isn’t. They should work wonderfully together. 😛

  6. Love it! That line about the cats of war made me laugh out loud. Love the idea of deputized gods of war. Maybe for my next career… 😉

    • I’d love to see what a resume for the god of war position would look like…. 😀

  7. Haha! Love the way this ends. It’s cool that there’s a god of war (39th district). Will all the war happening in the universe, that’s a lot for one god to cover. I enjoyed Milroy. He’s cool. This story is great fun.

  8. Haha! That was hilarious! The cats of war was inspired, though I also enjoyed “I keep my precinct tidy-like.” Too funny!

  9. Caesar reference, yes please.

    • I figured I couldn’t have a god of war without some reference to the Romans… 😛

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