I’ve told folks how I write stories — I break each story up into acts; and for each act I write a description of something going on, and a sentence that should probably be in the story. Usually the sentence is dialogue, but not always.
We’re going to be launching two Space Marine anthologies in 2023, and I really need to have at least one story for them, but they’re far enough off that other things are needing done before I get around to Space Marines.
Or so I thought.
During the livestream I mentioned “Fluffy yeetcows” — an Ian-ism for bison — and someone in the comments snarked, “Marine Yeetcows!”
And off my squirrels went.
“Homo crinitibison yeetus.”
Interior shot of a spaceship passageway. An uplifted American bison passes a human, “Oo-rah, Colonel,” he salutes, “Semper moo.”
Background: A decaying emo empire occupying a backwater arm of the galaxy — the kind of place where civilised sophonts roll up their windows and lock their doors when they warp by — has ventured forth from their little hell-hole, and run into the Fluffy Yeetcow Space Marines:
“Those were their best? Wow.”
“Sarge! Sarge! I got a slow one caught in my hoof! Get it out!”
“Even in the 33rd and a Third Millennium physics was still physics, and there is simply no way to forge a blade — or anything else, come to think — strong enough to withstand the force of 1200 pounds of enthusiastic homo crinitibison yeetus at 35 miles per hour.”
In orbit, Admiral Schenk pivoted his command chair slowly, “A bayonet charge, General? Seriously?”
General Watie stood in a picture-perfect ‘at-ease’ with only the manic flicking of his shaggy tail showing any emotion. He cocked an eyebrow, “Are you denying my boys the free exercise of their religion?”
Schenk rubbed his forehead, “No, but the budget didn’t plan for 460 bayonets and rifles broken and used for clubs.”
“Ah, well,” the General sniffed meditatively, “The grass needs it.”
“To show you the true regard we feel for you, we are serving our favorite dish, saved only for the most ceremonial of occasions!”
At a gesture from the Pharoah’s ambassador, servers placed trays in front of the Terrans, then whipped the covers off. Muted gasps came from several Marine throats.
General Watie sighed, “Ambassador, since your tech-priests are one step above bone rattles and entrail-reading, allow me to quote Hambright’s Law: ‘In order to achieve breakthrough intelligence, a species must first evolve into a carnivorous or omnivorous diet.’ This holds true for all sophonts, even the uplifted ones.”
Down the table Private Reynolds whispered out of the side of his mouth, “It’s burnt, Sarge.”
“It’s well-done,” hissed Sergeant Bukowski, “Not burnt. It’s diplomacy, nobody is supposed to be happy. Drown it in ketchup like you always do and drive on.”
“But there’s no ketchup, Sarge!”
Bukowski closed his eyes, “[deleted]”
The Terran ambassador, a human male well into his eighth decade of service, folded his hands, “Well, this has to be the most clumsy attempt at a diplomatic insult I’ve ever seen — bravo, for that by the way — but you ought to fire your cooks for what they’ve done to the steaks.”
General Watie regarded the chunk speared on the too-small fork clutched delicately in his three-fingered hand, popped it in his mouth and chewed experimentally, “Yes, fired. Out of a cannon. Do you steak-hating bastards have some chicken somewhere?”
“Ah, we come to the threatening part. About [deleted] time.” The deck sounded deep drumbeats from his hooves as he took three slow steps to tower over the Legate of the Pharoah’s Own Legion, staring down at the genetically-engineered supersoldier.
“Listen up, bumble-[deleted],” USMC General Robert Watie’s black eyes glittered, chairs crashing around the dining hall as his Marines slammed into predatory crouches, the Star Legionnaires suddenly, uncharacteristically, frozen. “You [deleted]nuggets have been bigger, stronger, better fed, and better armed than the people you’ve been fighting. Not anymore.” His lips peeled back in a smile, mess-hall lights glinting off the campaign rings fused to his horns.
“You’ve been bullying your way around this arm of the galaxy for a thousand years, with only half-starved xenospecies armed with sticks to slow you down. Well, son, that has just changed.”
“You can take your pretty little supersoldiers off of this planet, and back to Uncle Daddy Pharoah, and tell him that he can’t have any more of the galaxy …”
Sergeant Bukowski grabbed the mess table, and one-handed it out of the way, sending the hand-carved slab of meta-oak pinwheeling down the officer’s mess.
“… Or I take a company of Marines, and thirty-three thousand years of Marine Corps history, and send every single one of you ethnicist Legion idiots back to the Eternal Pharoah in sandwich bags. Your [deleted]ing choice.”
Terran Ambassador Jones dusted his hands, smiled at his counterpart and patted his arm, gently, “Well, that went about as well as one could expect.”
In the middle part of the 21st Century Humanity ventured forth from their homeworld into the galaxy only to learn that they lived in the Orion Bridge, a desolate stretch of hellworlds in which Terra is the only planet that bore life.
Not realizing that other arms of the Milky Way were far more fertile, Humanity became melancholy and turned inwards to find intelligent species to share the galaxy with.
First were the Canids. Eldest of Humanity’s Children, these uplifted Good Boys were the wisest and most loyal. Next were the Felids. No less loved than their elder siblings, the Felids were fierce and daring.
Not to be outdone by the tribes of the West, the East uplifted the Vulpids, restless and cunning wanderers.
There the Uplifting paused, with terrible and awful failures, until Dr Matthew Hambright engineered the American Bison to be omnivorous, uplifted the result, and Humanity gazed in wonder at the youngest of Her Children, strong and steadfast.
With her children at her side, Humanity looked back out into an unsuspecting Galaxy, and then exploded forth.
And there’s a look into how my mind works. All of that will coalesce into a 5,000 to 8,000 word short story … due sometime late 2023.