Space Orcs- Momma Knows Best
The Cartosan Abyss had been the site of the fiercest battles in the
thousand giga-cycle history of the Federation-Athalan War, now that
theater of the war was nearly closed. Athalan fleets fell back, their
troops demoralized and disordered as none had ever seen them. Some
claimed that it was irresponsible to oversimplify things, that the
superior numbers and diverse tactics of the Federation had all but
guaranteed success since the beginning, that no one member race could
ever take full credit.
Others simply pointed out that seventy five percent of the territory gained in the Abyss had been taken in the handful of Terra-cycles since Humanity joined the war, and Lt. Dyati wasn’t going to argue with them.
He had been assigned to one of the few mixed units, with soldiers from a variety of races. They were said to be a laugh, cush assignments that were more about diplomacy and good press back home than any real tactical significance, but apparently no one had told that to Captain Daniels.
They’d warned Dyati and the others than humans showed remarkable genetic diversity within their own genome, and that anything but the simplest expectations of physical form were likely to be misleading, but that had only been the barest of warnings to this gargantuan beast of a human, nearly as tall as a Granx and twice as wide, rippling with muscles barely contained by charcoal black skin, with massive paws that he had seen grab two Athalan soldiers by the heads and crack them together like ripe fruit.
Daniels had taken command when their nominal leader, a Granx Captain, had been killed by an errant shard of fragmented masonry early in the first battle, and had driven the team forward like the point of a spear, cracking through Athalan lines and disrupting their communications net. Dyati had watched Daniels take on War Behemoth single-handedly, climbing it like a tree and dropping hand held ordinance (The humans called them grenades, most other races called them suicide balls) down an exhaust port before leaping free.
From that moment on, the platoon had known that they would follow Daniels anywhere, and even started adopting his mannerisms, their multilingual shouts of “WAR DAMN EAGLE!” leading the unflappable Athalan Death Squads to fragment in panicked retreat.
They shouldn’t have lasted an hour. Instead, they had won, the lot of them awarded medals, and now granted an unprecedented week of shore leave. It had taken some doing, but Daniels had convinced Dyati, too far from home to make the trip, to instead accompany him to Earth.
And so Dyati had ended up at a table in a small abode crawling with humans of all sizes, shapes, and ages. They had just finished remotely spectating some kind of violent sporting event (Though he hadn’t understood the rules of the encounter, Dyati had been thrilled that he knew the chant, as had been the humans) and now food was being served. Dyati didn’t know whether he dared to be surprised that they would be eating scorched animal flesh, and tried, as carefully as he could, to inquire if there were any other options.
“Aww, come off it squiddie, we’re on leave, just try a wing,” Daniels had said, in a tone Dyati had recognized as boisterous friendliness, but before he could respond, an elderly human had stood, walked over to the the most dangerous living creature Dyati had ever seen in nearly three dozen cycles of military service, and SMACKED HIM ACROSS THE FACE.
“Jackson Daniels, you apologize to Mr. Dyati RIGHT NOW!”
Daniels gaped up at the other human, elderly and, if Dyati made his guess, female. “But Momma…”
“Don’t you ‘But Momma’ ME, young man. You bring this fine gentleman into my house and then call him some racist word those soldiers use in the barracks, in your Mommas house, like you some kind of ghetto ass punk instead of a war hero on leave, and I’ll smack your mouth like the ghetto ass punk till you remember you Captain Daniels, not Big J on the block. Now you apologize to Mr. Dyati and go get him some rice and beans from the back, and not the spicy stuff, you KNOW they don’t like that off world.”
Daniels scampered off, and Dyati stared at the elderly matron like she was a fission reactor about to purge. For all he knew, she was.
“I’m sorry ‘bout that. He’s a good boy, deep down, football always makes him act the fool, though, but what can you do? He graduated in ‘43 and coulda gone pro if he hadn’t enlisted. Now, sweet tea?”
Dyati nodded, dumbfounded, and then munched on the rice and beans (which was maybe the most delicious thing he’d ever eaten) and sipped the tea (which was sweet enough for him to charge his thorax adrenal boosters without supplements) and wondered at what he’d seen.
Did humans get more powerful as they aged? Were soldiers like Daniels just weak cannon fodder? Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, Dyati was SO glad that Humanity had joined the Federation…