Monday 11 August 2008

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Love Me Tender

© John Sawyer – August 2008

It had happened before. Back on Earth in the 20th century when it was still inhabitable. Back before the floods, famine and fumes turned the home planet into a toxic waste dump.

It happened twice actually. In the second decade, some soldiers engaged in a particularly silly and brutal war, put down their weapons one Christmas Day and started singing carols and playing football together. The generals put a stop to that by moving the troops involved away from the battlefield and ordering heavy artillery bombardments along the whole front line during each Christmas Eve for the rest of the war.

They called the second time MAD and it was mad, mutually assured destruction mad. For nearly 50 years the industrialists and generals managed to convince the politicians to give them enough money to build weapons stockpiles and delivery systems that could destroy the other side 50 times over. Fear of terrible retribution was supposed to prevent each side from firing the first bullet. Despite the terrible flaws in the logic of this strategy, nobody pressed the button and humanity survived.

Monica MacIver didn’t set out to save humanity, she hadn’t heard of MAD, she didn’t really think. Monica just followed her space farers instinct and saved the crew of the enemy transport ship from horrible destruction.

“I’m Monica MacIver, the captain of Estabo’s Space Fleet Tender, Space Swift 73. You’re my captive and I’m about to tow your ship to our nearest port. Please stay calm and follow my instructions”

Joe Jakubowski certainly didn’t want to save humanity or end the war against those thriftless imperialists from Estabo. He was pleased to be saved from the deadly tumble when the starboard hyper-drive jammed open, but capture was not an option. To be captured by a woman was unthinkable.

“My complements Captain MacIver, but it’s you who’ve been captured by me and I’ll thank you to tow my ship to the nearest Dragoon port immediately. And before you think otherwise, I’ve blown the hydraulics on the docking arm. I can’t let go of your ship and I’ll have no hesitation in blowing your ship to smithereens if you don’t conform to my instructions.”

The radio crackled static briefly before Monica replied. “I don’t think you really want to blow us up Captain Jak… Captain Jakubowski. We’ve now armed all the thermo nuclear weapons we’re transporting and if you harm us in any way, they’ll explode and destroy your ship.”

The generals and admirals should have stopped it there and then. They should have blown up both ships and got on with the war. Two ships, 54 crew and some supplies were nothing in the whole scheme of things. They were very expendable. The generals weren’t to know that the fate of the two ships and the negotiations between the two captains would become such popular viewing; relayed around the opposing fleets and discussed in the mess halls like one of those 20th century reality TV shows.

In the first week, Joe’s testosterone driven threats escalated while Monica stood hands on hips, chin pointed provocatively. Monica’s whole body bristled with anger; her red hair and black black eyes flashing on millions of screens around the galaxy.

“You’re a pompous, conceited, arrogant fool Captain bloody Jakubowski. You must surely concede that I captured you so just follow my instructions.”

“If you captured me my dear Captain MacIver, then you could release me. But you can’t release me, so I’ve clearly captured you. If you take me anywhere near that profane cesspool you call home, I’ll destroy you and your ungodly planet with you.”

After a week the discussions changed slightly. Monica and Joe were on a first name basis. Monica’s hair showed signs of extra brushing and she’d taken to wearing a lower cut uniform blouse with the top button open. Half a galaxy were in love with Monica and longed for those moments when her mouth would pout ever so slightly sideways while she forcibly put Joe in his place.

More than half a galaxy were in love with Joe. The wavy black hair, the angular high cheeked face and the intelligent smiling eyes were enough. When photos of him from last years interplanetary gymnastic championship started to appear in the chatrooms, those glistening muscles and tight backside became THE topic of conversation.

“There aren’t any rules against fraternisation in our corps, but it’s hard for a woman on a small ship. I’m pretty much forced to stay celibate and single until I can get a posting to a bigger ship. I really long for this war to be over so that I can go back home, find a lover and start a family.”

When Monica and Joe talked about their hopes for the future, a future without war, the generals decided that the two reluctant space dancers should be destroyed.  They were too late. Word had got around about the general’s plans. A Cruiser from Monica’s fleet locked itself against Joe’s hull and called on him to surrender. A few minutes later an opposing frigate locked onto Monica’s hull and called on her to surrender. Within 2 days there were 187 ships entwined with Monica and Joe’s. Within a week the remainder of both fleets were locked ominously in a deadly embrace above the capitals of the warring planets. The crews hadn’t mutinied they’d each just captured an enemy ship and couldn’t escape. They had all had enough of the killing, the boredom and the loneliness. The space crews just wanted to go back to a normal life.

The chatrooms still talked about the war-crossed lovers, but they were now also talking about how to stop the war. The politicians and scientists were making plans to marry the economies of the planets in a mutually assured affluence. Monica and Joe planned their own mutually assured happiness.


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