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Journal Journal: Titan? 1


"Now, this is strange," Johnson mused.

"What's up, Johnson?" Zales asked.

"The Venusian rockets. They're going away from Mars!"

"Let me look... damn. I wonder what's going on. It looked originally like they were coming here!"

"Slingshot around the sun, they're going pretty damned fast, straight to Saturn it looks like."

"Saturn? Why in the galazy would they send warships to Saturn?"

"Maybe they're tired of fighting us and want to tangle with the Titanians?"

"Why? Venusians can't live on Titan. There's nothing in the Saturn system they could possibly need. I'd better see the Lieutenant. Where's O'Brien?"

"Dunno," said Johnson. "Hasn't showed up. Is he supposed to be on duty today?"

"Yeah, damn him, he's five minutes late!" As Zales was saying this, O'Brien walked in, beaming. "Where have you been?" Zales demanded. "You're late."

"Sorry, Sarge, just dropped by the Lieutenant's office on the way, he kept me longer than he maybe should have. Have a cigar! You too, Johnson."

"Cigar? Dennis is pregnant?"

"Sure as Venusians are nasty!"

"Congratulations," said Johnson. "That's damned rare on Mars. You sure you two didn't honeymoon on Venus?"

O'Brien laughed. "Fuck you, Johnson!"

Zales stuck out his hand. "Congratulations, Larry. I'll watch your screens if you want to pass some out to the other guys."

"That's OK, Sarge, but thanks. I already passed out half a box. What's going on this morning?"

"Johnson says the Venusian rockets are heading away from Mars."

"Away? They were headed around the sun a couple of days ago. Johnson?"

"Yeah, Larry. They were doing a slingshot for speed, and are heading to Saturn."

"Huh?" said a puzzled O'Brien. "Why Saturn?"

"Dunno, but... hey, Sarge, weren't you on your way to see Maris?"

"Yeah," said Zales. "I was. Guess I'd better catch him before he leaves." Zales walked out, and Johnson snickered. "Maris is going to be pissed. That gung-ho Zales just doesn't get that he's the only one who doesn't want to leave this place. I'll bet the Lieutenant has better things to do than to spend his off-duty hours listening to Zales drone on about Venusians!"

O'Brien laughed. "Yeah, poor Maris! At least he outranks that gunghole and can tell him to shut up. We have to listen to Zales, Maris doesn't."

Johnson laughed. "I need a promotion!"

"Yeah, me too," said O'Brien. "I should be up for Corporal pretty soon... hope so, anyway. The baby is going to make things a little more expensive."

"Well, Zales will still outrank you. At least unless he pisses Maris off enough to demote him."

O'Brien laughed. "That gunghole lose rank? Dream on! Oh, hell, I have to watch these screens. Screen, rerun last two minutes and continue." Two minutes was nothing, depending on where they were in their respective orbits, signals took anywhere from fifteen to forty five minutes to reach Mars from Venus.

"Hark!" the Venusian on the screen said.

"Damn it, Ford, that isn't necessary when it's just us."

"Sorry, General," Ford said. "What are my orders?"

"No orders," said Washington. "The orders have already been given and my plan has been set in place. We'll be rid of the Martians for good!"

"How, sir?"

"Too early. I'll let you know when it's time. Dismissed."

"Yes sir."

"And Ford..."


"Watch your back. We have spies, we may have assassins as well."

"There are always would-be assassins, General."

"Well, there's one outside!"

"He's still alive?"

Washington laughed an evil laugh. "No, but he's still hanging there, next to Zak. I wonder what the two of them talked about while they were still hanging there alive?"

Ford laughed an equally evil laugh. "Yes sir. Any instructions out of the ordinary?"

"No, just know I have a plan set in motion and don't do anything that may hinder it. Stay away from the rocket ports."

"Yes, sir. I think I'll have a drink, if I've been dismissed!"

Washington said "Why not? I'll join you. Come on!"

"Oh, bloody hell," said O'Brien. I hate watching either one of them in bars, especially with the two of them together."

"Sucks to be you," said Johnson. "My shift's over. See ya!"

"See ya, Johnson. Oh galaxy, look what those two... YECH!"



Journal Journal: Rocket Man 1


"Mornin', Sarge."

"Mornin' Wilson. How are you feeling today?"

"I'm fine. Got pretty hungry by last night."

"I hope you didn't eat much this morning."

Wilson laughed. "I skipped breakfast. I'm starving, but I'll bet I won't be the least bit hungry in a while. Those people are sickening. Literally sickening. I can't understand how they can keep their society together."

Zales chuckled. "You call that a âsociety'?"

"No, what I mean is, how does Washington get away with it?"

"He pretty much owns the planet."

"Yeah, I know, but I would think that somebody in that bar would have stood up for himself rather than having his head explode, or cut off with that gaudy sword. I can't understand why he's never been assassinated."

"What would you prefer, a quick, relatively painless death, or death by torture? Have you seen the skeletons hanging on crosses around the palace?"

"Yeah, those Venusians have a funny sense of deco-ration."

"They're not just decoration, they're warnings. Those are Venusians who attempted either assassination, or revolt. Crucifixion is the most painful way to kill someone. Nails driven into the hands and feet go through areas with little blood flow, but lots of nerves. And they can hang there, in pain from the nails through all those nerves, pain in their chests from the attempt to breathe normally, without food and without water for days until they actually die. With the Venusians it takes longer because of the drugs. And not only do the drugs make them take longer to die, they're engineered in such a way that the drugs themselves introduce even more pain, and deplete the brain of serotonin.

"And they're pre-tortured before the crucifixion. Then there's the civil aspect," he continued. "They're hated. People throw rotten vegetables and feces and urine and other things, the nastier the better. If they actually kill the poor bastard hanging up their by, say, throwing a rock, penalties are pretty severe. They want them to suffer, suffering like you or I could never imagine, for as long as possible.

"The populace doesn't have weapons as good as them. You saw how Washington cut heads off with his sword? Normal Venusians don't have swords like that; Washington's sword would slice right through a civilian sword. Civilians' swords probably wouldn't even behead you. The non-military people don't have microwave pistols, all they have is pellets propelled by a chemical explosion. They can be deadly if the victim doesn't get medical help fast, but any soldier shot by one would be fine later, even though the poor moron that shot him wouldn't."

"Wow," said Wilson.

"Yeah, wow," agreed Zales. "Anyway, it's about time for the shift to start. When you get to your workstation, you'll have it a little easier than yesterday. You don't have to watch Ford or Washington. I'm assigning you a couple of rocket facilities, nobody should have to watch the horror you saw yesterday every single day, it would drive a man insane."

"Thanks, Sarge."

"Don't mention it. Uh, have a bag handy just in case, the rest of those bastards can be pretty nasty, too."

Wilson sauntered over to his workstation, ready to relieve O'Brien. "Hey, John, bad night?"

"Not really," O'Brien said. "Actually it was a light shift, Washington only killed one guy. How are you feeling today? You looked pretty damned pale yesterday."

Wilson blushed. "Yeah, well, I didn't expect necrophilia. I can't figure out why he shot her, aren't those bozos always trying to procreate?"

"Well, yeah, but the same thing had happened a week earlier with the same woman, that's where she got the blaster. Washington gave it to her as a gift. He killed her because she wasn't faithful, Washington doesn't want to be cuckolded."

"Ain't like Washington's faithful."

"Of course not. He doesn't have to be, he's dictator. He wants to spread his semen to as many women as possible. And he can, because he runs the world."

"I still don't get how their society doesn't fall apart. Where does the food come from? The machinery? The power generation?"

"Most of it is automated. I mean, how many farmers do we have on Mars? We have one guy who directs everything, and the machines do the rest. Same on Venus. Hell, we gave them most of that automation. Then there's their prisoners, as violent as they are and as overpopulated as Venus is, if they didn't need workers, every unlawful act would be a capital offense."

"Isn't the Sarge going home?"

"Are you kidding me? He's the most gung-ho guy in the Martian army!" O'Brien said. "Suits me, he actually likes watching the screens and I hate it. If he went home I'd have to. Can't for the life of me figure out why his wife doesn't leave him, he's here more than home."

"Maybe him not being there much is what keeps it together. I hear Zales wants to jus nuke Venus and be done with it.

"Yeah, but it isn't up to the military, it's up to the government psychologists. One of them explained why we couldn't once, but it didn't make much sense to me."

"Me, either. Oh crap, look at that! I'd better keep a closer look at this screen."

"I thought you just had a rocket facility? Not much going on."

"No, but I have to watch it, anyway. Five screens worth. And it looks like Washington showed up."

On Williams' screen, Washington was speaking to his underling in the facility. "This is top secret. You are to discuss this with no one, not even General Ford. Got it?"

"Yes, sir. What are my orders sir?"

"Get another warship ready."

"Yes sir," said the underling. Where are we sending it?"

"Not yet, Colonel, this is strictly on a need to know basis. We think there are spies. Now, dismissed!"

"Yes sir," said the Colonel, saluting.

"Damn," said Obrien, still standing by Wilson's screen. "I thought we might learn something!"

Wilson sighed. "That ain't my kind o' luck. I never catch a break!



Journal Journal: The Assassin 1


"Good thing Williams isn't here tonight," O'Brien said.

"Why is that?" Johnson asked.

"I have ten clams in the pool. If he lasts two more days then hacks, I'll win the pot!"

"What pot? How come I never got in on it?"

"See McDaniels, you may still be able to get in, I don't know. Just don't let that gunghole Zales hear about it, we'll all go on report for gambling on duty!"

Johnson grinned. "On duty? I don't see you holding any money!"

O'Brien laughed. "Yeah, well, we'd get out of it but then Maris would have to have a say, and I don't know how the Lieutenant would react. So keep it under your shoe, ok?

"Anyway," he continued, "Just see McDaniels. Yep, he'd hack tonight, all right - Ford's bar hopping. Ten clams says it won't be ten minutes before we see Venus brains."

Johnson gave him a quizzical look. "Brainy how?"

"Brainy as in brains all over the walls."

Johnson laughed. "Nope, not gonna take that bet!"

"Wise," said O'Brien. "He just killed some guy that was just standing there.

On screen, Washington holstered his pistol as the Venusian's headless corpse hit the floor. The bartender yelled "Hark!" The patrons echoed "Hark!"

"That's better," Washington grumbled.

"Galaxy," O'Brien said in disgust. "Uh, oh..."

A Venusian in the back of the bar had a gun in his hand. "BOOM!" The gun roared as Washington's coat sparked and the man next to him fell, clutching his side."

"OW!" Yelled Washington, whirling around, gun in hand. The man who had shot him, the bullet having ricocheted off Washington's carbon fiber suit, hitting the man who was now on the floor lay bleeding, aimed again. Washington pulled his trigger, and the would-be assassin fell to the ground, screaming in agony from the microwave burns.

"Security!" Washington ordered. "Chain him in the dungeon. He's to be crucified in the morning. Keep him alive! Now," he said, turning back to the bar. "Another! Make it a double! And one for this poor fellow laying here bleeding... oh, never mind, he's dead."

"Oh, for Mars' sake!" O'Brien said in disgust."I'd rather clean toilets than watch this."

Johnson laughed. "That's what Zales said about reading your reports!"

"Funny," replied O'Brien sarcastically. "Ha ha. I'll bet he hangs on every word of yours," he said, grinning.

Washington left the bar and got into his limousine. "Boeing, Building F-74."

"Yes, sir," said the driver."

"Craps, ninth rocket facility in two weeks. I wonder what that crazy ghoul has up his sleeve?"

"Sarge!" said Johnson. "You're early."

"I had a funny feeling something was up."

"Something is," said O'Brien. "Don't know what, though. Washington's in another spaceport."

"No idea yet what's up, though?" asked Zales.

"Negative, Sarge. It's almost like he thinks Shambler Claws is watching him!"

"Shambler Claws? What's that?"

"It's from a Venusian folk tale they scare their kids with at bedtime, about a big, scary monster that rips children apart with its razor sharp claws and eats them. It's meant to keep them from killing their siblings. 'Do you want the Shambler to visit you tonight?' they'll say when the kid acts up. There's even a nursery rhyme about him. Listen to this:

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
Better not pout,
I'm telling you why -
Shambler Claws is coming around.

He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Shambler Claws is coming around

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

"No kiddin'?" said Zales. "Nasty bastards! They do this to their kids? Galaxy!"

"They're certainly not the winners of the parents of the week contest."

"No kiddin'," Zales repeated. Where did you hear it?"

"Watching the screens. That's not the worst thing they do to their kids. Hey, Sarge, you stayin'?"

"Might as well, why?"

"Mind if I go home? I mean if you can relieve me..."

"Yeah, O'Brien, I guess. Had enough of Washington, have you? Sure, go on."

"Thanks, Sarge. See ya!"

Johnson said "Can I..."

"Nope," answered Zales.

"Why not, Sarge? You let..."

"There's only one of me. If there were a dozen I wouldn't need you guys."

"Mind if I ask a personal question, Sarge?"

Zales snickered. "You can ask."

"Well... well, Sarge, sorry, but why are you so gung ho?"

Zales smiled. "Long story."

"I got time."

"And personal."

"Oh. Sorry, Sarge."

"Don't mention it."



Journal Journal: Farmers


They had been farmers for longer than anyone knew. They had long ago outlawed all but the most primitive of technologies. They had a holy text that was thought to have never changed, although it must have, since language itself changes. The books were produced by an ancient method called "woodcutting" that was an allowed form of tech.

They used horses and mules to pull their plows, used candles and oil lamps for light, and lived simple lives. On the whole, they were happy. Their holy book spoke of a battle fought long ago between good and evil, and evil had been vanquished.

A light rain was falling as the Muldoon's buggy pulled up to the barn. Joyful music was wafting out, its more than ancient instruments, or rather, their contemporary re-creations lightening one's heart, despite the rather inconvenient wetness. "God's blessing us and our crops with his rain, Jonah," said Rebekka. "Not that we're short of it, but it's welcome anyway.

"Yes, it is," he answered smiling.

The Reverend Smith was walking up as they entered the barn. "Good evening, Reverend!" Beautiful night, isn't it?"

"Yes it is, Jonah. Well, except this rain. Come over here and have a glass of wine, you two."

They clinked glasses. "To Yeshua!" said all three in unison. "Look at all that food!" exclaimed Rebekkah.

"We really did need this rain, though," said Jonah. "It was dry while we planted, praise the Lord!"

"Did you hear about the McDaniels boy? Asked the preacher. "Fell down an empty well, must have been thirty or forty yards down."

"Oh, my," said Rebekkah. "Was he badly hurt? When did this happen?"

"This afternoon. He wasn't hurt at all! It was truly a miracle; Johnnie said it was dark and he couldn't see, but he could feel someone gently catching him as he fell. His dad went down on a rope to get him. With four other men pulling them back up.

"Truly a miracle," Jonah agreed.

The tune that was playing was, oddly, a tune you might recognize, although the words that had none with it were not only long forgotten but completely obsolete. The words went

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saves a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found. Was blind, but now I see.

There were no longer wretches, no one was lost, no one was blind â" everyone could see God's work clearly.

It might have applied to poor Johnny when he was in the well.

After the barn dance, after the Muldoons were back at home and in post-coital bliss, again Rebekkah said "How I love God!"



Journal Journal: Sick! 9


"BLARRRGH!! Broof Blarggggggggg Glug... Oh, galaxy! AAAARGHblugblug""

"Williams, take your bag and get some fresh air. Johnson, watch his screens," O'Brien said.

"Sure thing, Sarge. Williams must have had a little too much breakfast."

O'Brien shook his head. "He shouldn't have volunteered for Venuswatch duty if he has a weak stomach."

"Aw, he'll get used to it, Sarge. I had to hit the bag a few times myself when I first started. I lost a little weight my first month."

"I'll go see how he's doing. Johnson, you're in charge 'til I get back."

"Affirmative, Sarge," Johnson answered. O'Brien went outside. Johnson said "Man, these Venusians are sick. I can see why Williams threw up, watching this sure isn't giving me an appetite."

Outside, O'Brien put his hand on Williams' shoulder. "Feelin' a little better, son?"

"Yeah, Sarge. Galaxy but those creatures are nasty!"

"I can't argue with that, Williams. What made you throw up?

"I was watching Washington. He went in a bar called..." Williams frowned, "The Dead Martian."

"Surely that didn't set your stomach off."

"No, the first thing he did was cut off three Venusians' heads, they must have looked at him funny or something."

"You'll see worse than that," O'Brien admonished.

"It did get worse. He laughed, downed some kind of drink, and propositioned a woman. When the Venusian she was with objected, Washington blew the guy's head of with his microwave gun."

"And that's when you got sick?"

"Hell, no, Sarge, that didn't even make me queasy. After Washington blew the guy's head of, the woman yelled 'Who wants a blow job?' Three guys stood up and she microwaved them. She and Washington thought it was hilarious.

"Then they both got naked and had sex right there on the bar table in front of everybody. And then..."


"I guess she was having an orgasm. She screamed out 'oh, yeah! Oh yeah! I feel like my head is going to explode!' So he shot her in the head with his microwave, and it exploded, and..."

Williams heaved again. "Sorry, Sarge. Anyway, he kept humping her headless, twitching body!"

O'Brien looked a little ill himself. "Look, Williams, we have plenty of staff today, go ahead and take the afternoon off."

"Thanks, Sarge," Williams said. "If somebody shoots that sick bastard I want to see the video."

"Sure thing, Williams. Get some rest, watch a ball game or something. You're probably going to need to eat, I think your breakfast is in that bag."

"Hell, Sarge, I may never eat again!"

O'Brien laughed. "Yeah, I know what you mean. You'll be ok in a while. Go home and get some rest before everybody starts puking."

"Thanks, Sarge. See you in the morning."

"See you. And Williams..."


"Don't eat so much for breakfast tomorrow!"

"I think I'll skip breakfast tomorrow. See you."

"See you, Williams."



Journal Journal: Dennis is a Two Headed Martian 1


"Honey! I'm home! Dennis, where are you?"

"I'm in the garage trying to get this darned floater to work. The motor's running but it won't go".

"Here, let me have a look," Zales said as he kissed his wife. âoeHmmm.... Something wrong with the levitator. We'll have to let a mechanic look at it. What's for dinner?"

"We're going out to eat -- we're celebrating. We're going to have a baby!"

Zales' jaw dropped. "Really? Dennis, that's wonderful!" he exclaimed, and hugged her. "Let me change into some normal clothes."

"How was work, dear?"

"Awful, just terrible. Those Venusians are some really vile creatures, just thoroughly disgusting. They're really violent, horribly violent, and they launched some rockets."

"Oh no! Do you think we'll be at..." she hesitated at the world, and stammered a little. "at w-war?"

"I don't think we have anything to worry about yet, sugar. They sent the rockets away from Mars and towards Saturn. Lieutenant Maris gives me the impression he thinks they might be attacking Titan."

"Why Titan? They can't live there."

"Yeah, it doesn't make any sense. Hey, where are my cobblobbers?"

"I threw 'em out, they were all raggedy. Just print out a new pair!"

"But honey," he whined, "Those were broken in! I just hate breaking in a new pair!"

"Sorry, sweetie, but I'm not going out in public with you waring a pair of raggedy cobblobbers. Now print a new pair and come on, I'm hungry!"

"Yes, dear," he grumbled.

Back on base, Zales' other boss was speaking with his own superior, Colonel Gorn. "This is disturbing, Maris. Very disturbing," said Gorn.

"Yes sir, it is, and puzzling as well," the Lieutenant replied. "They made a show of attacking our spy satellites and only get two of them, while their warships go away from Mars and towards Saturn."

"What's your assessment, Lieutenant?"

"Maybe they mean to invade Titan. We radioed the Titanians, but of course we don't expect an answer. For all we know, the Titanians could be extinct by now."

"Yes," Gorn said, "You'd think the researchers would be looking at our own back yard rather than other galaxies. I wonder why nobody studies interplanetary anthropology?"

"They probably think it's boring, I guess, sir. At any rate, I've sent you a detailed report."

"Thank you, Maris. That will be all."

"Yes, sir," said the Lieutenant, saluting.

The Zales were on their way home.

"Oh, Larry, that was some great food! We need to eat there more often!"

"Yeah," Zales agreed. âoeAlmost as good as your cooking! I can't believe we're going to have a baby. It's scary."

It was actually scarier than childbirth is to we proto-humans. One in ten Martians had a recessive gene that. When expressed, disallowed the newborn from breathing properly. Scientists said it was a throwback to Martians' Earthly beginnings, and it was a hardship on the child, who would have to spend its first decade in a pressure chamber, with a very gradual decompression to normal Martian air pressure.

These children never became sports players, something their parents saw as a benefit to these poor youngsters.

"I don't carry the recessive," Dennis said.

"Well, that's good," Larry answered. "I just hope he or she doesn't grow up to be a zooterball player!"



Journal Journal: The Venusian Way


"You dare to awaken me, stooge?" Washington said, pulling out his fryer and aiming it at the hapless youngster who had been ordered to his death by his more sensible superiors.

"I'm sorry, General sir, but I was ordered to wake you and inform you that the Martians have struck the first volley in the war. Everyone in the Southern hemisphere is dead!" he exclaimed, trembling.

"It's ok, cadet, I'm not going to kill you. He adjusted a control on his microwave pistol and fired at the cadet, who fell to the floor screaming in agony from third degree burns.

"I'll bet you're wishing I'd killed you about now," he said, chuckling. He ordered that the cadet be moved to the infirmary and that Ford be awakened and summoned.

"Hark!" said Ford, saluting as he entered.

"Shut up, Ford, it's just us. You can set the formalities aside. I have some great news! Those foolish Martians have done us a wonderful favor! They've irradiated the entire southern half of Venus and killed everyone for us. Plus, we no longer need to cook up an excuse to exterminate them."

"But how, sir?" Ford asked incredulously. "If they have some kind of super microwave blaster that can kill half a planet..."

"It's already in motion, Ford. I came up with a plan months ago. Since we knew spies had infiltrated us and planted bugs, I've been careful to not let any man know any more than a tiny piece, only as much as he needed. Only I know the plan. Even the captains of the warships are in the dark. Each has a set of orders that he is to open, read, and carry out at the appropriate time."

"What's the plan?" asked Ford.

"It's too soon and I don't want it thwarted. Set up a press conference. I'm making a formal declaration of war against the Martians and telling Venus how they attacked us."

"Yes sir," he said, saluting.

"Knock it off, Ford. Get that conference going.

"Yes sir," Ford replied, and left.



Journal Journal: Ghouls


"Hey, Larry, can you help me with this?"

"Sure, George," O'Brien answered. "What's the problem?"

"I can't hear Washington," said Private Williams. Williams was new, just out of basic training.

"Let's see," said O'Brien. "Hmmm... looks like none of the 'scopes can see his lips, so of course you can't hear him. Just listen to what the guy he's talking to is saying and sometimes you can deduce what Washington's saying. How's your Venusian?"

"Not that good yet, Larry. I haven't had much practice at this."

"well, just watch the translation crawl at the bottom of the screen. In a couple of weeks you'll be talking ghoulish like you were born on Venus."

"Ghoulish? I don't get it."

"Watch the screens long enough and you will. I hope you don't have a weak stomach, George, because those Venusians are some damned nasty bastards."

"Well hey, Larry, I wouldn't have joined the military if I couldn't stand a little blood."

O'Brien laughed. "You're going to see a lot worse than a little blood. Ever seen a man strangled by his own intestines? Ever see anybody skinned alive and sodomized with his own dick?"

Williams looked a little queasy. "That bad?"

"Worse," said O'Brien. "It won't be long before you find out what those plastic bags are for."

"What are they for?"

"They're barf bags. I don't care how strong your stomach is, you're going to be puking. Just be glad the telescopes don't deliver smells as well as sight and voice."

"Damn, I had no idea. Why didn't they tell us?"

"They tried. Hey, any time you want to resign, well, that's your right. I gotta tell you, though, that even though the Sarge is a gunghole, he's right. The Venusians have attacked us before and they'll attack us again. The bastards just can't keep their pants on, don't believe in birth control, are dumber than boxes of rocks and meaner than a rabid werewharg."

Meanwhile the screen wasn't telling them much. Washington was in a rocket facility talking to an underling, and all that could be heard was the underling.

"Yes sir. No sir. Uh, where, sir? I see, sir, may I ask why? Of course, sir, need to know. I understand. Yes sir, we'll get right on it." Washington walked out of the facility.

"Well, George, what do you think?" asked O'Brien.

"I think those are some damned ugly, evil looking sons of bitches," Williams replied.

O'Brien laughed. "Yeah, they are, but what do you think of the conversation, even if you could only hear one side?"

"Not much, sorry."

"You'll get the hang of it. Washington's up to something, and the only something he's ever up to is no good. It looks like he's going to launch a few rockets and maybe try to take out the satellites we have around Venus. He must suspect that some of his men are traitors or he'd be less secretive; he didn't say anything about this in his council of ministers. That's only a guess, based on what we've seen before. But who knows, he might be planning an attack on Earth or Mars."

"Why Earth?" asked Williams. "They're no threat to Venus."

"Neither are we, and we never have been, but they attack us every time they get enough technology to reach us. They're just evil, bad evil, the worst. They're overpopulated and want to run the entire solar system, and they don't want anybody but Venusians to live, and they don't even care much about their fellow Venusians, just themselves.

"Earth is empty, only a few hundred thousand farmers and no technology at all," O'Brien continued. Hell, the protohumans we were both descended from had more technology. They don't even use electricity, they'd be a pushover if it weren't for us. If they ever took Earth, Mars would be a hell of a lot easier to conquer too, so yes, we're doing it out of charity but we're protecting our own interests at the same time."

Williams said "hey, we can hear Washington now, but he's only giving directions to his driver. They're going to another rocket facility."

"Well, hell," said O'Brien. "Maris should hear about this. Watch those screens close, now, and if you need help just yell, I'll be right around the corner working on a report."

"Wait a minute, Larry, what's this 'hark' shit?"

"Nothing, George, just some Venusian stupidity. When one of their superiors show up they say 'hark'. Sounds like they have a cough or something, don't it?"

Williams laughed. "Yeah, it does. Man, I feel like I'll never understand these guys."

"Don't feel bad, you'd have to be crazy to understand what motivates those fuckheads."

Williams laughed again. "Fuckheads? I never heard that one!"

"Yeah," said O'Brien, "Fuckheads. All they think about is fucking, and when there's nothing to fuck they fight. Watch those screens!"



Journal Journal: A Night on the Town


General Ford's lips trembled slightly as he stood at attention. "I've failed, sir. I await execution."

"Nonsense," answered Washington. "The rebellion in the south cost half a million lives, easing the population problem at least a little, while doing nothing to us except make us look good. And I've come up with the perfect plan for taking care of the Martians, the Earthians, and..." he chuckled a little, "those sourthern assholes. Notice how it's always the southerners who cause trouble? We're going to lose a lot of southerners, and it will look like the Martians' faults."

"But sir, "said Ford, "may I ask how that is in any way possible, considering how much more technologically advanced they are?"

"No, Ford, you may not. There are Martian spies about, I'm sure of it, although I haven't been able to figure out how they're planting bugs... they've obviously actually been inside the palace itself. This is strictly a need to know basis, and I don't want to put you in jeopardy, you're far too valuable.

"Dismissed, Ford."

"Yes Sir" said Ford, saluting.

Zales and Obrien were watching from millions of kilometers away. "What do you make of that, Sarge?" asked O'Brien.

"Dunno, but it's especially worrisome considering all the rockets they launched last week. It's also worrying that they've started to suspect that we can see and hear them. It's good, though, that they think there are spies there actually on their planet and don't suspect that we can even see them from here, as well as from all the satellites. If course they can shoot few satellites down, our tech just moves too fast for them. They're still using chemical rockets, for Galaxy sake!

"It's a good thing they have such small imaginations, or they'd realize that the way we hear them is by having computers read their lips, and we can see right through their walls!"

"How far have the rockets gone? Are we going to shoot them down?"

"Lieutenant Maris says no. They're not heading for Mars; in fact, they're heading away from Mars and towards Saturn, which is on the same side of the sun as them right now. He's sent a message to the Titanians, who will probably ignore it like they always ignore us. Maris says he can't figure out why they're sending rockets to Saturn unless they're planning on attacking the Titanians, but that would be senseless. Venusians can't live on Titan!"

"Hey, check this out, Ford seems to be just aimlessly waking down the street."

"Ok, O'Brien, you watch Ford, I'll keep track of Washington. The rest of the team needs to be watching, too. I don't like the looks of things."

"Shit, Sarge, those guys are just plain evil! Look at this!"

"I can't, 'm busy watching Washington."

O'Brien watched Ford saunter down the street whistling, the ever present ugly, evil look on his face. To a protohuman, a human Amish would look weird, Martians and Earth experimentals would look goofy, and one look at a Venusian would make your blood run cold. They looked evil. And they were. Ford's evil grin became even more evil looking as he steeped into the Dick and Pussy Saloon. A group was fistfighting in the corner, and Ford microwaved them.

"Hark!" Yelled the bartender, snapping to attention. "Hark!" all the other patrons echoed, also snapping to attention. "At ease, boys, I just came for a little pleasure. Barkeep, give me a bloody Martian." he laughed. "In fact, kill all those greedy fucking bastards and I'll have a REAL drink!"

The bartender laughed nervously. "Yes sir," he replied.

"What the bullet are you laughing at, twit? Are you laughing at ME?!"

"N-no, sir, of course not sir!"

Ford drew a weapon, pointed it, and the bartender's head exploded. "Well, you should have, dumbass, that was a joke! You," he said, pointing at a patron. "You're the new bartender."

"But sir, I don't know how to tend bar!"

His head exploded as well. "Anybody else here that's not a bartender?" he said, sipping the drink the now-late bartender had concocted. He looked around at the crowd. A group of wet-eared kids stupidly laughing, a couple in what was obviously a romantic interlude at a table, and... hey, he thought, she's damned good looking. Not to us, of course, but to a Venusian... Ford sat down at their table. "Hey, beautiful, how about we get nekkid and fuck?"

The man became pale, the woman's face blushed. "This is my husband!" she objected.

"Not any more," Ford said as the man's head exploded. "You know, up close you don't look so good either. Keep your clothes on, bitch." As he walked out the door, he said loudly "Drinks are on the dead bartender. I'm getting out of this boring fucking place, losers."

A very attractive (to a Venusian) woman followed him. "General? That bitch was stupid, I'd love to get naked and fuck!"

"Slut!" Ford exclaimed, as her bloody corpse hit the sidewalk. He didn't just want sex, he wanted foreplay - which included, of course, killing her already established man. If she had no man, why would the second most powerful man in the world want her?

Sadly, all this was perfectly normal behavior to a Venusian.



Journal Journal: Martian Panic


"Zales here, What's up, sir?"

"Get down to the base ASAP, Sargent. Mars is under attack!"

"Holy shit, Lieutenant, I mean, uh, yes sir. I'll be right there. " Zales disconnected and called his men before waking his wife. "Honey? Wake up! I have to go to the base! Lieutenant Maris just called and said Mars is under attack!"

"Hmmmphft... whah... WHAT? Mars is under attack? Who's attacking us, Venusians?"

"I don't know any more than you, all he said was that we're under attack and get there ASAP. Holy shit! Mars hasn't been at war for a hundred years! Where's my pants, honey? Holy shit!"

Back on the base Lieutenant Maris was debriefing Private O'Brien. "No sir," O'Brien said, "none of the Venusian rockets went south. They were slightly north of the planetary plane, less than a percent, and looked like they were going towards Saturn. If I may ask, sir, what's going on?"

Maris was grave. "Brace yourself, Private. Everybody in the southern hemisphere appears to be dead. We've found no survivors."

O'Brien went pale; most of his family lived in the southern hemisphere. And a lot of friends, too. "Sir? ...everybody??" A tear left his eye, and he blushed.

"Private, you can mourn later. Right now we need you, and badly. Those screens could mean Mars' survival. The entire south was flooded with gamma rays and we need to make sure the north doesn't get hit."

"Y-yes sir" he stammered. "Galaxy!" he thought. Everybody dead? It was beyond his comprehension. He put his focus on the screens.

"And Private," Maris continued, "it may have been a natural phenomena.

A while later, Zales showed up. "O'Brien!" he said, "Did the lieutenant tell you..."

"Yeah, Sarge, he was here a little while ago."

"Have you called Dennis?"

"No, I've been too busy manning these screens."

"Call her, I'll take over. Shit, I can't believe this is happening!"



Journal Journal: Spies


"Thank you, Sargent," said Lieutenant Maris. "These observations are indeed troubling. Keep a close eye on them. That'll be all. Dismissed." Zales saluted, turned on his heel after Maris returned his salute, and walked out, closing the door behind him.

"What a gunghole," Maris said to nobody in particular, since he was in the room by himself. Still, he thought, the military needed gung-ho men like Zales. He picked up his tablet and started to work on the office's budget for the next fiscal year.

Private O'Brien came in the building as Zales left Maris' office. "Mornin', Sarge," he said. "Did you see the game last night? It was really a good one. Parksley made the best play I've ever seen!"

"Good morning, O'Brien. No, I got busy. You're going to be kind of busy today yourself. Here, watch this." He turned on the holoscreen, and the Venusian dictator was giving a speech to his planetmen. "Fellow Venusians," Washington said in Venusian as the Martian translation crawled across the bottom of the holoscreen. It was a necessary redundancy, as part of Zales' and O'Brien's job was to be fluent in Venusian.

The Venusian continued. "You have all seen the news reports of the uprising in southern Venus. The situation is under control. The traitor Zak and a hundred of his fellow conspirators have been executed for their sabotage. Repairs of the affected facilities are underway, and the affected provinces are under martial law..."

Zales switched off the screen. "Martial law! The stupid Venusians don't seem to realise that martial law is the norm there. The 'unrest' is worrying enough as it is, but watch this." He switched the screen back on, and a primitive rocket filled the screen as it lifted off from the surface of Venus, exploding several seconds later.

"We lasered that one, and several more, but two got through and actually destroyed two of our spy satellites. Two satellites doesn't change our capabilities, but..."

"Yeah, I see," said O'Brien. "Galaxy! Deja Vu. This is how the last system-wide war started. Do you think that the idiots are planning to attack again?"

"Yes, it's a distinct possibility."

"What did the Lieutenant say?"

"He didn't say anything to me, but I'm sure he'll pass it up the chain. Keep your eyes open!" he said, putting on his coat.

"You bet, Sarge. That is a bit worrying, even though I don't see how they could possibly be a threat. They don't even have fission bombs, let alone fusion bombs. Sure, they vastly outnumber us but it will never get as far as hand to hand. Their primitive rockets are way too slow to be a threat. They won't get anywhere near Mars before they're destroyed."

"Well, O'Brien, you saw the feed from yesterday; they're overpopulated. Sending a few thousand ships to Mars would ease their overpopulation problem a lot more than an orchestrated civil war on Venus. The problem is, we lost a lot of good people and equipment the last time."

"You know I'll keep my eyes open. See you tomorrow, Sarge."

"See you," said Zales as he walked out.



Journal Journal: Venusians 2


General Washington sat resplendently on his ornate throne, holding his scepter in his right hand, with his ornamental bejeweled sword and his fully functional microwave pistol on his left, with five shiny stars on each shoulder.

The General ruled an entire world. More, really -- he owned an entire world. It was his to do with whatever he wished, titles be damned. Right now he wished a lot of Venusians would commit suicide and spare him the pleasure of killing them himself.

A semicircle of thirteen chairs with twelve of them occupied by his highest officials sat in front of him, the thirteenth chair empty to remind the officials of how easily they could be removed, and just what "removal" meant. As if the crucified skeletons surrounding the palace weren't enough of a hint.

He spoke gravely. "Gentlemen, this planet is vastly overpopulated. Five billion is too many of us to sustain. People are going hungry, which isn't the problem. The problem is the unrest it's causing. We, the rulers of this planet, have it good and if it gets screwed up you'll wish you'd been castrated, burned, flogged, and crucified. What do you suggest?"

General Ford, Secretary of War, spoke first. "Your eminence, I suggest we emigrate half the population. Earth is empty, nobody but a few hundred thousand farmers with no weapons or technology. They're ripe for the picking!"

"Yes, but the Martians would never allow it. You remember what happened the last time we tangled with them."

"Well, sir, perhaps we could have a little warfare of our own? Say, an insurrection in a couple of provinces that we could put down with great loss of life?"

Washington smiled. "I like it, Ford. Actually I'd like to kill all the Martians, too, but the bastards are too damned sneaky and get us every time. The insurrection will only help a little bit, but it's better than nothing and will keep the populace's mind off their hunger. Mister Greenwalls, what does the Department of Justice suggest?"

"Well, sir, there aren't enough capital crimes. We're way too lenient. Make donating blood to family a capital offense. Give standing orders that any citizen who gets out of line and talks back to authority gets rayed instead of just having his tongue removed."

"Mister Zak, what does the Department of Commerce say?"

"Nothing, sir, we've already acted. An, ahem, 'accident' took down all the power generation in fifteen southern provinces. No power means no water, most will be dead in a week."

Washington stood. "I see," he said, circling behind his officials, who knew better than to look back at him. "Fool! You could topple us all!"

"But, s-sir..." he started to say before his head rolled across the floor.

"How about that?" said Washington, eyeing his bloody sword. "It's not just for ceremony after all!"



Journal Journal: Blood on the Plow 1


Reverend Smith walked down the dusty lane towards the Muldoons' place, worrying about tomorrow's sermon. He didn't have one. He'd been praying for inspiration all week, and had come up dry. He had been visiting his flock that day, thinking maybe inspiration would come that way. So far, no luck.

Rebekkah heard the pained screams and ran toward them, worried sick about her beloved husband. She ran through the grove, and there Jonah lay, grasping his leg. Blood was squirting out of it with every heartbeat. By the time she reached him he had lost consciousness and was as pale as a newly bleached bedsheet. Jonah's mule and plow were nearby, the plow in a pool of blood that stretched to where Jonah lay.

She tore off a piece of her skirt to make a tourniquet out of, applied it, but she feared it was too late. He got more and more pale, and his breathing became more and more shallow.

Her husband was dying. She was sure of it. She knelt down and prayed that the Lord God would save him. "He's so young, Lord! We don't even have a child yet! Please, please, don't take him from me!

"But Lord," she added, "Thy will be done, not mine. In Yeshua's name I pray, Amen."

She opened her tear-bleared eyes and saw... well, she wasn't sure what she saw. She wiped her tears, and the Reverend Smith was bending over Jonah. "Rebekkah, what happened here?! All this blood!"

I don't know, John. I was churning butter when I heard him scream. By the time I got here he was unconscious. I put a tourniquet on, but..." she sobbed "I'm afraid I was (sob) too (sob) late!"

"My poor child," said the Reverend, his hand on her shoulder. "Dear Lord, if it be your will, please spare Jonah, and please comfort this poor child in her time of grief. In Yeshua's name, amen."

Jonah groaned, and Rebekka startled. "Jonah?"

Jonah looked less pale. His eyes fluttered open. "Oh, Christ, my leg! Oh God, it hurts!"

Smith's eyes opened wide. "Jonah? Are you all right?"

"Reverend? When did you get here? My leg... the plow almost cut it off! It really, really hurts!"

"You just lie still, Jonah," the preacher replied. "Rebekkah, stay here with him while I go get some help." He then took off running.

When he returned with three other men and a stretcher, Jonah was upright, with his wife helping him walk back to their house. "Jonah?" Reverend Smith said, "I brought strong drink, as it says to in the book of Proverbs."

"Thank you, Reverend, but it doesn't hurt as much. I think the bleeding stopped."

"But how... thirty minutes ago your leg was half off!"

Jonah smiled, took a step, and grimaced. "It's a miracle, John. Praise be to God! Shall we all go to my house and have a glass of wine?"

"well," said the reverend, "Forgive me, Lord, but I could use a stiff drink!"

He knew what his sermon was going to be tomorrow.



Journal Journal: Martians


PFC O'Brien lounged back in his recliner, sipping flavored water and munching on something salty and crunchy. The game was going well, the New Salem Rorigars was beating the snot out of the Norwegian Nebulans.

Mars had been terraformed millions of years earlier. A hole had been dug all the way to its core, a giant molten magnet inserted, the entire asteroid belt moved to the surface of Mars and an atmosphere similar to Earth's generated chemically, with higher levels of CO2 and lower levels of nitrogen. Oceans were provided by comets and much of Saturn's rings. It was no longer the "red planet;" with its mostly nitrogen atmosphere, it was almost as blue as Earth.

Early Martian settlers had trouble growing crops in the lowered nitrogen atmosphere, but chemical fertilizers made up the slack. Mars needed the carbon dioxide to keep it warm, especially since the removal of the asteroid belt had gravitationally shifted its orbit a tiny bit towards Jupiter. The early settlers had it very rough, many of them dying at early ages; even "terraformed" it wasn't exactly like Earth and was very inhospitable to the early immigrants. The environment was different enough that the Martians had evolved to better fit it. Nobody knew if the Martians could still breed with the Amish left behind on Earth. They assumed there had been evolution there, considering the Milankovitch cycles and the warming and cooling caused by them. But nobody on Mars knew.

It also wasn't known how the Amish wound up in charge of the Earth, outlawing most technology, or how the technoratti had decided to leave and take their technology with them. History had been lost in the mists of time, especially since the early Martians had faced such hardships.

It was ironic that Martians would have such a thing as sports, while the Venusians didn't. "Venusians," O'Brian spat, in his mind. "Vulgar bastards, always after nothing but pleasure for themselves and pain and misery for others." You would expect them to like the violently peaceful sports and the peaceful wars between sports teams. The problem, he thought to himself, was the "peaceful" part. Venusians hated peace; they called it "boredom", he thought. Stupid Venusians, always wanting to fuck or fight and do nothing else.

There was a bit of irony here, too, since O'Brien was in the Martian military. Of course, Mars' military never did any fighting; their only purpose for existence was to be there in case the Venusians decided to stupidly attack them again, or even more unlikely, someone from another galaxy would attack, or a stray meteor from the Ort cloud might hit; the Martian military was prepared for any emergency, no matter how unlikely. Out of the billion Martians on Mars, only a few thousand were in the military. There were more sports players and entertainers than soldiers.

He decided to change his view of the game and adjusted a control. The holographic wall's scene swung around, with the strange (or would be to you) sensation that the room itself was spinning.

Fifty to thirty. "Go, Rorigars!"

"Honey, dinner's on the table. Hey, what are you doing eating those cow chips? I told you dinner was almost done!"

"Sorry, Precious, I was hungry. I still am. You mind if I watch the rest of the game in the dining room?"

Dennis smiled. She loved her husband, and was proud of his work, even though a life in the military wasn't held in high esteem on Mars. Martians loved learning; the only one more respected than a teacher was a researcher, and the only vocation held in less esteem than a soldier was a sports player. Even entertainers were more highly respected than a soldier, which was little at all.

She was on sabbatical from her job as a chef, as she was expecting their first child. "Ok," she answered, "but I want to watch the news. How much longer is the game going to be on?"

"It's almost ov...YEAH! Pointdown!" A buzzer sounded. "That was a good game, and honey, your timing was perfect! Lets eat! What are we having?"

"Cowburgers and shrimp fries, with mashed oglos and poopers."

Back on the base, his boss was uneasy looking through his telescope and checking the electromagnetic radiation from Venus. "Shit," muttered Zales under his breath."Damned Venusians. This doesn't look good at all. I'd better call Lieutenant Maris."



Journal Journal: A heads-up for Nobot followers

I'm going to move a few chapters around; chapter 2 is going to be chapter 1, a new chapter 2 is forthcoming. Its title will be "Martians". After that, a new chapter 3 titled "Venus Envy" will come next. I'm not sure where I'll stick chapter one, which I whipped out in about ten minutes. I'm certainly no Asimov, he wrote a short story during a commercial break when he was a guest on the Tonight Show on a typewriter borrowed from Johnny Carson's secretary.

As it is, there can't be more than a couple of chapters after the last one I've posted, and there's not enough material to be a novel. As it stands it's only a novella.

Plus, it's the three characters almost all the way to the end of the book before the space aliens even show up. I'll have to add a couple of chapters about the Earthian Controls as well, but I only have the two above-named chapters in my head, and still nebulous.

When I write, I write for me; I write what I'd want to read, written how I'd like to read it. And I'm not happy with the thing so far (especially the discontinuities).

I'm also unhappy with all the typos; they'll be (hopefully) gone in the finished work, which I plan on publishing in dead tree before E just to see what happens.

Five or ten years ago, my daughter Patty bought The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide for me for Christmas, an omnibus edition of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that contains all five novels, a short story about a young Zaphod, and an introduction by Adams, The Guide to the Guide. It's a really nice hardbound tome with the cover printed in gold leaf... she must have paid a fortune for it. Or bought it from one of the redneck Kentucky dopers that buy games at the GameStop she works at south of Cincinnati.

Anyway, I got it off the shelf the other day and started re-reading it, and in the introduction I discovered that Adams had some of the same problems writing it that I'm having writing Nobots.


The story grew in the most convoluted way, as many people will be surprised to learn. Writing episodically meant that when I finished one episode I had no idea what the next one would contain. When, in some twists and turns of the plot, some event seemed to illuminate things that had gone before, I was as surprised as anyone else.

He goes on to mention continuity problems. Again, I'm no Douglas Adams, either. Hell, I didn't take a single journalism or literature or writing class class in college; I had no interest in writing back then... but maybe Asimov didn't have any training in writing, either.

Many of the chapters are going to need a lot of revision, as I found out after I assembled it in Open Office and read it again. What a mess!

Even though I'm in good health (except for my advanced peritonitis, which is damned painful... I've GOT to see an oral surgeon), I'm no spring chicken, as Patty's redneck crackhead customers would say. Adams would be my age if he hadn't died eleven years ago. So if you're lucky I might even finish this thing.

Don't worry too much, my parents are still alive. My mom's oldest sister just passed away late last year at the age of 99. So I should be OK unless I get shot walking home from Felbers or one of the idiots in this town runs over me.

About this time next year I'll be starting retirement, so I'll have a lot more time to devote to smoking pot and drinking... and writing.

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