No Fate But What We Make

Tech Infantry - Season 10


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Forum Home > Now This Ain't No Frak > The Bug-House of Horrors

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Here's a little something to tide you guys over until the next TI episode: a scene from Viktor's ep 3 story that had to be cut for page length where Viktor and Bezrukov meet yet another of the Bughouse's mad eccentric scientists.  Enjoy!

* * *

Viktor and Bezrukov left Dr. Coppinger-Bong's office in high spirits—or at least high.  Thankfully, the contact buzz had worn off by the time Jiao took them the meet the third and final principle scientist, Associate Director Fukushima.  His enormous lab wasn't so much a laboratory as a workshop.  It was also a house of horrors.

Arachnid body parts adorned every available centimeter of the walls, neatly-organized heads and pincers and empty carapaces.  Dismembered legs and arms dangled from the ceiling.  Row after row of shelving held jar after jar of internal organs, pickling way in formaldehyde.  Workbenches were strewn with tools and body parts from half a dozen castes of arachnids, from Workers and Drones to Warriors and even Guardians.  The room reeked like a slaughterhouse for skunks.

At the far end, a few lab techs wheeled in a pallet bearing a Warrior Bug lying on its back, legs curled up, dead.  Directing the activity was a man wearing not a white lab coat, but a thick rubber apron, gloves, and goggles.  "Time since termination of biological functions?  Fifteen minutes?  Good, a fresh harvest!  Hsiu, get me a chainsaw… no, the one with the diamond-tipped blades—this is a Warrior, after all."  He lowered his goggles, started the power tool, and began sawing into the chitin in a spray of ichor.  Jiao waited until he was done severing a leg before interrupting him for introductions to their visitors.

"Huh?  What?"  The scientist lifted gore-spattered goggles from his eyes and squinted at them.  "Oh!  Sure!  You're the new navy guy in the sky, right?"  He held out a hand.  "I'm Associate Director Dr. Noboru Fukushima from New Tokyo, pleased to meet you."

Viktor glanced at the mucus-streaked glove and decided to bow instead.

Dr. Fukushima paused to hand off the bile-covered chainsaw to an assistant.  "Remove the legs, slice them off at the coxa… yes, all of them, Hsiu, we need to expose the abdomen for dissection.   Oh, and be careful not to sever the subesophageal ganglion—we need that intact."  He turned back to his guests.  "Anyway, I guess you could say I'm the new guy around here—meaning I've only been here ten years!" Noboru joked.  He yanked off his slime-coated rubber gloves as he crossed to his desk.  "The Terran Republic only agreed to continue supporting this place if they let the Republic station one of their own scientists here—and that's me!"  He produced a bottle and several glasses from a bottom drawer.  "Actually, I'm technically a corporate Scientist-in-Residence from Olin Industries.  My team is researching commercial applications for arachnid livestock.  Want a drink?"

It was such a foreign idea, it took a Viktor a moment to fully understand just what Dr. Fukushima was saying.  "You mean you want to find a way to… make money off the Bugs?" he asked in disbelief.

"Exactly!" the scientist said.  "I mean, come on, do you really think a place like this could operate without financial investment from the private sector?  We've already found a dozen industrial and commercial uses for arachnid extracts and chemical compounds, too."  He sighed, and his shoulders sagged.  "Unfortunately, the cost of either hunting or breeding and containing arachnids is so high—not to mention risky—that none of our new product lines are economically viable.  But!"  The fervent light suddenly reappeared in his eyes.  "If and when Dr. Xiaomin succeeds in domesticating Bugs, the cost and risk of breeding and containment will plummet!  And when that happens, we'll have dozens of patents all ready to go for cost-effective, mass-produced consumer goods manufactured from arachnid byproducts!  We'll be years ahead of the competition!  Can you even imagine how much revenue a near-monopoly like that could generate?"

Viktor traded a silent glace with Bezrukov, both of them thinking the same thing.  The Colonel was right, Viktor thought, they're all mad.  The Admiral instantly disliked Dr. Fukushima; there was something about his extreme friendliness, fake smile, and fast-talking sales pitch that reminded Viktor of the less scrupulous type of used hovercar salesmen.  Still, the huckster might prove to be useful...  "Do you have any products for fighting the Bugs?" Viktor asked.

The scientist did, and they spent the next hour getting an impromptu presentation on Dr. Fukushima's attempts to retro-engineer Bug plasma and projectile weaponry for human use.  Although the thought of organic rifles that generated their own power and ammunition made Colonel Bezrukov salivate, all of the projects were still in development—they weren't even close to building prototypes yet.  Furthermore, Viktor noticed the projects were all for small arms, not spacecraft weaponry.  Even if Dr. Fukushima could retrofit Bug weapon systems to Fifth Fleet ships… well, Bug weaponry was inferior to humanity's anyway. 

In fact, the only invention with a military application that was actually functional was the Bug camouflage system that Bezrukov's troopers used to become near-invisible to arachnids, allowing them to travel far from the New Siberian colony in relative safety.  When Viktor asked if the camouflage system could be adapted for a warship, Dr. Fukushima thought about it for a moment in silence.

"A warship?  No.  Nothing that big.  A starfighter or a shuttle?  Perhaps… but it would require a separate line of research and development.  You see, in a vacuum—"  Everything Dr. Fukushima said after that was a bewildering word salad of jargon and science lingo.  "So not anytime soon, no," he concluded, "although that product line could be quite profitable, now that you mention it..."  Viktor could practically see the cost-benefit calculations whirling through Dr. Fukushima's mind.  "Upgrading a private yacht to be invisible to Bugs?  Definitely.  The nobility would love that—fear sells, my friends!"  He glanced over at the arachnid cadaver.  "Look, I'd love to stay and chat, but my assistants have finished removing the podomeres from the exoskeleton.  Now, if you'll excuse me," he said, picking up a laser scalpel, "I have an abdominal ganglia nerve chord to extract."

Viktor left feeling slightly sickened.  He had never felt sorry for the Bugs in his life, and never would.  But, for a brief instant, he came close to understanding why the Bugs hated humanity.



October 27, 2013 at 4:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Martin The Mess
Posts: 247

In honor of this story, my family and I had crab legs for dinner on Halloween evening.  Well, that and Dad had a colonoscopy scheduled the next day, so couldn't eat solid food, so his usual blanket veto of any and all seafood didn't apply for once. 

November 2, 2013 at 3:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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