Candy wasn't in the best frame of mind when klaxons announced that an alien space ship was pulling alongside the ESN BOGANVILLE and making obvious plans to board. She hadn't had time to set her hair properly and her eye makeup was... (straight fingered wavey hands) EW. What if an alien ambassador was to meet them? How rude, she thought. They did not give her enough time to get ready. This was an important day! So she was a little bit pissed at these aliens, but she wasn’t going to let that get in the way of her mental preparations.
She'd worn her prettiest pink space boots. You can't beLIEVE how much grief Captain Armstrong gave her for painting those $27,000 airtight, fully articulated combat boots! So she'd finally gotten them just the right shade of pink, and then she'd found out that her free electron laser space rifle was a slightly different shade of pink. So... fashion mistake, big time. Ugh. She could feel her emotions building.
She'd grabbed the gun out of its rack (AUSTIN, DZOCHEK, GRIFFINS, KUEHLENBECKER, SANCHEZ, NEMEKASHVILLI, ANDREWS, DOUGLAS, CANDY, ...) and stood formation. SSGT Niven told them they were being boarded in twenty minutes by an alien spacecraft of unknown origin, and that all Marines were ordered to battle stations. She was detailed to the two main airlocks in the center of the ship. The battle was going to be hottest there, and the Marines were the first line of defense.
Oh great, there go my nails, she thought. Why couldn't Greta have pulled this duty? Greta didn't care one whit about her personal appearance. She seemed to like the green undergarments and the metallic silver of the space suits. And her hair... Oh my god. Spiky, with black roots, tipped in firey red. Who does that any more? That was so 2314.
The fire teams were dismissed and sent to the airlocks. As soon as she got there, Candy Steensland opened her helmet, slid a stick of pink chewing gum into her mouth and got out her makeup and mirror. Andrews bumped her arm, furious.
"Dude! You're supposed to be getting ready," he said.
"They're not getting here for twelve minutes," she said.
"Weapons check, comm check, datalink check, sighting for lines of fire, lines of withdrawal, assessment of situational awareness... you've forgotten your training?" he asked.
“Stop talking. You're interrupting my eyeliner," she said. "You know, you really need to check those nose hairs. I mean, really."
She chewed and blew a bubble. She was unimpressed by Andrews and she made no attempt to hide her feelings. The man was a disease.
"You do not need to put on eyeliner for a firefight. That's like, tschuh, OBVO," he said.
She stopped chewing and fixed him with a direct glare. "Andrews, don't be stupid," she said slowly, as if talking to a child. (He hated that, and she knew it.) "They may not send shock troops through. They may be sending an ambassador or a news crew or something. Did you ever think of that?"
He set his jaw, challenged. "We're here to kill. No one gets through those doors."
"You're such a tool. Honestly. How did you ever pass the intelligence tests? Because from where I'm sitting, there's no way you could have qualled. Now finish your weapons check and leave me alone."
She finally got some peace and quiet. Eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, lip liner, hair fluff (she was not happy about the split ends), face DONE! Hair DONE! Helmet DOWN! Comms ON! Datalink ON! Weps ON! LOS DONE. Jesus, this isn't rocket science, she thought. Any girl could do this in half the time it took men. And now I have nothing to do and I'm BORED!
She heard the bang of the hull of the other ship against the ESN BOGANVILLE. Twenty seconds later, the lasers were eating through the airlocks. Well pooh. This was going to be hot, and the aliens were not friendly. She hated when Andrews was right. Her rifle was authorized for firing by the CO - she'd felt the subtle vibration through her gloves. Her ugly rifle. Wrong shade of pink. Totally. The klystrons whined, and the light clicked on. Full power. The rifle was hot.
The first ones through the door were robots, of course. Tiny little fastmover robot ants with only kilojoule lasers, sent in to jam comms and blind the visual sensors. They were dispatched by the Marines' counter ants, which looked like steamrollers that moved autonomously. The mirrors reflected the lasers back down the dark airlocks, where the next wave awaited. The steamrollers moved quietly and efficiently and made nice crunching noises. First wave: ineffective.
The next wave was bouncy sensor things that bounced into the hot zone to draw fire. They were looking to backtrack lines of rifle fire, and also, for their limited lifetimes, assessed where the locations of commanders were. They had no offensive weapons, and lasted about two seconds. Candy had already guessed they were fire sensors, and that they were randomly moving in free space, so she'd set her rifle to autofire. The rifle had predicted their trajectories with a very sophisticated extended Kalman filter, pointed ahead, and engaged. She fired six times. Six shots, six kills. Andrews, the PFC next to her, was, let's face it, braindead, and he was firing wildly.
That guy is going to get me killed, she thought. Candy moved to a new location as soon as the second wave died. Most of the Marines didn’t move after betraying their positions. Second wave: effective.
The third wave took sixty seconds to move in. It gave her time to chew gum a few more times and to check her hair. Then she set the rifle to CONCUSS. She was guessing that the next wave of robots would be beam reflectors, and that they'd take the incoming laser fire and direct it back to the active guns. They were heavy robots because their mirror surfaces had to be cooled, and the cooling machinery was still heavy.
Sure enough, the reflector robots clanked in, and most of the fire teams shot their 240 GW peak FELs. The beams hit the robots, who played arcade bounce with the lasers, and finally sent them back to the rifles. Poof! Vaporized Marines.
Candy, meanwhile, had pointed her rifle at the ceiling and blasted it with an enormously powerful acoustical wave. The rifle had precalculated the dimensions of the room, had performed complex three dimensional deconvolutions to figure out how the expanding acoustical waves would have minima at all the Marine locations and maxima at the robot locations. When the robots moved to their actual locations, the solution was perturbed a bit (this took three milliseconds), and the acoustical wave hit all the surfaces, bounced back and forth a few times, and focused on the beam reflector robots. They were shielded from photons, but not for acoustical modes of directed energy. Some exploded. Some just ground to a halt. Third wave: effective.
Whatever. As long as they were in the airlock. Now they were impediments for the next wave - the alien shock troops.
Candy switched to laser mode, to HI, and to NETFIRE, so that her gun's actions could be automatically coordinated with PFC Douglas's rifle. He was the only one left. She might have guessed. He was the only one in the unit who had a clue about tactics.
She held up a mirror to see what the aliens looked like. Candy believed that a well dressed fighting man was an efficient fighting man, and she wanted to take the measure of her opponent. God knows they weren't terribly innovative in their thinking to this point. She guessed an unimaginative militaristic look. Beige, or perhaps grey. (Perhaps Captain Armstrong would approve. Hahaha. What a nimrod.)
One minute went by. Nothing.
Ten minutes went by. Nothing.
She blew a bubble, then popped it.
Bored. I am so freaking bored. Come on, people, I've got things to do. She began texting Douglas.
STEENSLAND: Du u belv this shit? Theyr stupid AND slow
DOUGLAS: Stow it, Tits. They'll be through any second now. Stay sharp. You know they're vidding us
She had completely forgotten about that. She was getting vidded! The films of their response to this alien boarding was going to get reviewed up the chain of command. Win or lose, she was in the show! This called for more eye makeup.
Her face shield swiveled up, and her makeup kit appeared. She prepped her eye lashes. Big, black, and lustrous, as the commercials would say. Would the cameras focus on her? Why, of course they would. A girl had to be prepared! The cameras would zoom in on her face and catch her every expression.
Douglas texted quickly:
DOUGLAS: JFC BARBIE
STEENSLAND: Fuck off, nosering Were R th bad guyz lts get ths show going i want 2 showr.
Texts were not reviewed after operations. She could text anything she wanted.
Faceshield down, makeup stowed, rifle hot, charge good. Candy was ready! Where were the fucking dimwits?
I swear to Christ if I have to wait another minute I'm going to go in there myself.
Douglas was reading her mind.
DOUGLAS: Don't even think, Barbie
STEENSLAND: theyr lamerz & they dont deserve 2 liv
DOUGLAS: OMG you're really going to do it
STEENSLAND: With or without ur sorry ass
Suck it up time, Candy, she thought to herself. If there’s one thing Candy believed in, it was that men may have been good hunters, but women were born killers. These monkeys clearly did not deserve to live. It was time to help evolution along in favor of downselecting the less intelligent species.
She slammed her helmet a few times to get mentally ready. Ooh rah. It’s go time, motherfuckers.
She ran toward the airlock, turned on her armshield and began blasting. The aliens were so surprised at this apparition in pink that they were sitting ducks. The two behind the robot shield were instantly vaporized. The six in the shock front looked up just in time to see their helmets exploding. The last one to die sent a final brain-vision to his unit computer.
The alien officers monitoring the ready room didn't know what to make of the photo on the battle screen. A surprisingly attractive female alien in a pink space suit, with a pink round balloon coming out of her mouth. She didn't look especially worried. In fact, she looked bored.
Their intel about human space Marines was totally wrong.
There was one female officer among all the males. When she saw the photo of Candy she blurted out, “We’re fucked. Abort the mission and let’s get the hell out of here.”
Of course, since she was alien, it was said with a lot of spitting and whistling. Still, the males recognized the truth of the situation and started giving orders to do just that.
A small floating camera slipped inside the enemy's ship to take vids of Candy engaging the enemy. Her hair was perfect.
She assessed the situation and saw a few robot reporters scurrying through the back doors, trying to get out. They were war correspondents, and had seen a lot of action, but they were expecting this to be a cakewalk. The humans weren’t expected to give much resistance, and they were certainly not expected to board the alien mothership. They weren't coping very well emotionally. She shot them all.
One of the more intrepid ones was the photographer of the news unit. It had what was obviously a camera in its claws and was shooting Candy as fast as it could. She struck a few poses, then shot that one too. I hope it got my good side, she thought.
The ready room, a staging area for the alien assault troops, had been reduced to a smoldering mess of molten metal. Charred alien flesh littered the floor . Nothing was moving. The floating camera was recording Candy’s every facial expression.
Must not frown, Candy thought. Frowns cause wrinkle lines. Wrinkles are no-nos.
She walked to the first alien and kicked it. Dead. Just as she'd suspected: the uniform was an ugly beige. Her trigger finger was still on her own ugly pink assault rifle, but she knew the aliens didn't know what to do next. They were not prepared for a scenario where their own ship was going to be boarded. Especially by one pissed off Marine Corps, Government Issue, Female.
The room was smoky and lifeless, littered with bodies and assault machinery. Who'd want to do a photo shoot here? The lighting was all wrong.
She dropped two grenades, turned on her heels, and walked into the airlock, back toward her ship. Douglas was cowering behind a bulkhead.
She talked through her throat mike. "We're done here, Douglas. Let's get back to the ship before they decouple and leave."
The floating vidcam was loving this. It zipped past her to get a shot of Candy walking back toward the ship with the alien disarray in the background. This would make for a great recruiting clip!
The alien ship's magnetic clamps were disengaged and the ship was moving away fast from the ESN BOGANVILLE. Not fast enough.
She imagined the two grenades going off. She laughed. What losers.
Candy blew another bubble. She thought about her nails and decided she needed them done in a different color.
She was so over pink. She was thinking beige.