The Collar Wars
I had gone from being merely disliked among many of my fellow officers to being openly despised. Thankfully General Lynn only cared that I was going to make him a tidy sum of money at the interunit games next month. It was custom to lay bets on your own unit when you were a Lieutenant, and I had put a ton of money down on my boys. Other than Lynn though no one above me was betting on my unit. By this time the rumor that I was a no good, anti-collar sympathizing, soldier fucker had made its way around the base. I have very good ears and had picked up on what people were saying, not that they were really trying to quiet about it. By this point apparently, I could take a couple privates up the ass while deep throating my sergeant. I’d have been pissed and probably busting skulls, if I hadn’t found it so damn funny.
The other Hybrids on the base, or at least those in the infantry, were jealous of my unit. Many of them had tried doing better in order to get their CO to back off on the collar. For the most part it hadn’t worked. Any attempt to do better in order to have the collar used less seemed to cause the opposite of the desired effect. The idea that seemed to have worked its way into my fellow officers’ thick, inbred skulls, was that finally frying ‘brids had started paying off. That meant frying them more would get them to work even harder. When that hadn’t worked things simply got worse for the Hybrids.
I was walking past the obstacle course and one point and heard a bunch of Hybrids being fried. “You worthless ‘brids better start doing better on this course or I’ll blow someone’s collar. I don’t even give a shit about which one of you I kill. Maybe then it’ll get through to your empty skulls that you have to do better and stop whining your weak asses off.”
I saw that it was a captain speaking. I could barely take it. This was ridiculous, frying and threatening to blow collars is a waste of time. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they teach at the academy. Fear’s the only thing a worthless ‘brid understands. A ‘brid that fears you stays in line, so fry ‘em all and blow a couple collars along the way. I was getting sick of this, but I could only keep my head down and keep my guys safe. I couldn’t save every Hybrid, but I’d make damn sure nothing happened to mine.
I stalked off in a borderline rage. I was fairly certain that at least one of them was going to have his collar blown, even if they did improve. No one understood how this worked except for me, fear no longer worked for most of them. Many were becoming tired of life. This Colony was probably the worst I’d been on for treatment of Hybrids. These guys were in no shape to protect the colony, at least not the infantry. I couldn’t speak for mechanized, but I couldn’t imagine they had it much better. If there was an attack of any kind, it was probable that my unit would be the only ones to put up any real fight. The rest barely had anything resembling a fighting spirit left in them. Though I knew if they could, they’d probably rip apart just about every Human they could. At least any of the ones that have used the collars on them.
When I returned to the barracks I was met by Drake. “Something wrong Lieutenant?” he asked. I must have looked angrier than I thought I did.
“I just want to wring a fellow officer’s neck.” The fact that I had gotten the words out so distinctly with my teeth as tightly clenched as they were must have gotten to my sergeant.
“What’s wrong now? Those sex rumors?”
“Those bad jokes are pathetic, and easy enough to laugh off. No, it’s worse than that. I have the distinct feeling that at least a few collars are going to be blown tonight in a unit under Captain Jackson’s command.” It was frustrating but what could I do?
“And, of course, there is nothing you can do to help them.” He sounded like the life was being drained out of him. Drake seemed to know that I was serious when I had said that I wanted to wring the fat bastard’s neck. “So, what now?”
“I honestly don’t know. Military’s policy on dealing with Hybrid’s is fry ‘em or blow ‘em. To the vast majority of officers, you guys are nothing but animals only useful for fighting and dying. The fact that they let you guys have a brothel is the only thing that keeps some of you going. The one kindness you guys get is found in the soft arms of some like you.”
“Or the hope of getting lucky and finding a CO like you.”
“Thanks Sergeant. I’m just trying to be a decent person. I don’t dare risk getting promoted otherwise you guys are in danger of getting another typical officer. I honestly don’t want that to happen to you.”
“I think I can speak for the entire unit when I say we very much appreciate everything you do for us. But surely you don’t want to be stuck here forever. We can take care of ourselves.”
“I’m not sure if you’ve noticed what’s happened to the other units then.” Drake shook his head obviously meaning for me to continue. “The rest of the infantry have tried to adopt the mentality of the best don’t have their collars used on them. It’s only made it worse. They do better and the scum sucking officers think that finally the collar is really working so they start using it more.”
“None of us had any real fighting spirit left in us until you showed up. You changed that in us. I don’t want to think of how bad it’s getting for the others. They’ll try just hard enough to keep from getting killed. Other than that many of them are probably getting to the point where they see death as being a better alternative than the constantly getting fried.”
“I wouldn’t doubt it.” I took out a pack cigarettes out of my pocket and shook one free. I lit it with my Zippo that marked kills forty-one through to fifty-seven. I wondered, not for the first time, if I should complete the twenty hashmarks and get a new lighter, and put another dozen or so on that one as well. Each one for every officer. I would get away with it. Knock out the surveillance systems for a while, sending them into orchestrated loops and the like for a while and go back to my old life. Problem was that eventually I’d be nailed as being the only one left alive. No direct evidence but easy enough to figure out. Still I could rack up a sizeable kill count during that time. It’d be fun at least. A nice way to relieve some tension.
“Sir… Sir…” I finally snapped out of my blood soaked reverie with Drake trying his hardest not to shake me.
“You feelin’ okay Lewy?”
“Yeah just a few happy thoughts.”
“They must have been. You were just staring off into space, smiling, and playing with your lighter.”
“That’s where the happy thoughts were coming from kiddo. You see there is a history with this lighter. It keeps a record for me.”
“What a data stick type thing?”
“Much more personal than that. Take a look at it.” I handed the Hybrid my lighter and waited for him to ask any question he wanted.
Drake turned it around a couple of times. “What’s with all these little hashmarks on it sir. They’re way to regular to be accidents.”
“They’re a record of people I’ve killed. Each mark is a person who is dead at my hands. I have two other lighters which both have a full twenty on them.”
“You’re a killer?” Drake looked shocked and I guess he had good reason to be. “Why?”
“I was born in to a crime family and was trained to be an enforcer. If someone crossed the family I was the one who revoked their breathing licenses, and over the years I got very good at it. The family had a lot of enemies, but they kept our business or they died simple as that.”
“So why did you leave?”
“I got sick of it after one assignment. I was asked to kill a little kid as a way to send a message. I simply couldn’t do it. Kid was all of ten years old, I just couldn’t do it. So I left. I just packed up and went to the academy never looking back. I’d let the government tell me who to protect and who to kill. When they told me as a cadet that I was going to have to blow collars to keep ‘brids in line I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Hell after I graduated the academy and was first stationed I ended up shocking three Hybrids, each time I felt nauseous, third time I had to throw up after I got out of sight. After that I refused to use a collar ever again. I gave my soldiers there the same speech I gave you. I didn’t want to use the collar at all.”
“Why is that? You were a dyed in the wool killer, why did it make you sick to use a collar?”
“Oh that’s easy. You guys are really no different than that little kid. You’re innocent of any crime. You guys get shit on by the system, you have no rights, you don’t even have a childhood. You are born in a tube and created to go out to kill and die. There is no rhyme or reason to it. You did nothing to deserve this life, if you want to call it that. I can’t I know. I’d love to see the day that you guys didn’t have to wear collars and you could decide things on your own.”
“So why were you playing with the lighter?”
“Just wondering if maybe I should go back to do some of my old work as a hobby. Maybe even get a new lighter.” I laughed a bit, but it was tempting. The thoughts of me killing some of those bastards were pleasant to say the least. “It’s never too late to pick up a hobby. Who knows maybe I can get enough officers replaced with new blood that isn’t so set in its ways.”
“I can’t tell whether or not you’re serious.” Drake seemed fascinated with me in a way that could only be described as being slightly worried that I’d go completely off the deep end.
“Scary thing is that I’m not sure I am either. Dismissed Sergeant.”
Once Drake was out of the room I checked my email and saw that a message had arrived from my sister.
I don’t know how things have been for you but I’ve missed you. Mom and dad are happy to know you’ve sobered up. They just wish you had returned to the fold instead of going back to the marines. Still after what they wanted you to do all those years ago I can’t say I’m surprised at your choice. Still it was nice to see you looking healthy after that hard time. Still I just wanted to check in and see how you are doing. I’m glad to hear that you haven’t been promoted, I know you’d hate to have that happen, and I understand why. I may not totally understand your reasoning, but obviously you seem to know more about the matter than I care to. Still there will always be part of me that just wants to spend some time hosting dinner parties followed by a little gardening. I know it’s inappropriate for me to say this but I’ve always had a bit of crush on you. I’d always bugged Carol for the steamy details of the two of you. You wouldn’t believe how much I know about you.
So how have you been doing? Please send me a message. I’d love to see some pictures of those hunky soldiers you have under you. Yes, I have a ‘brid kink. Fur and muscles sound so delicious. I know you’ve never done it, and mom and dad would be furious if I did and they found out, but I can only think that it would feel absolutely amazing.
You’re Loving Sister,
I had never known that Tammy had a thing for Hybrids though I couldn’t say I was surprised either, a lot of people do. What had caught me off guard was that she had a crush on me, but I guess it must be relatively normal. If Carol had told me the truth I was apparently easy on the eyes. I was tall, muscular, and I had a good way with people. It had helped me in my old line of work. It was easy to get close to someone for a kill if you can get close by being friendly. I think someone had once described hitman as serial killers that took requests. Most serial killers had to be friendly to get close to people, well seem to be that is. Good serial killers never got caught because they knew how to blend in and seem innocent to the point where no one would look their way.
I looked back at my lighter. Who knew? Maybe it really was time to finish this one up and get started on another one. I’d have to think about it.
. I’d have to think about it.