Weíre not all frogs


Ben Dickenson is the biggest space man Iíve ever seen, an asteroid stuffed into a space suit meant for a more mortal man.

His bulk always threatened to burst out of the regulation space suits the navy could supply.

He resents the navy for always hiring small people half his size just to save on fuel costs coming and going from the heavier planets like this one.

He calls the navy ďa collection of midgetsĒ though even midgets get left out, since weakness in their bone structures makes them as big a risk on heavy planets as near giants like Ben.

Space circuses get both sizes into space by treating them as cargo, and rarely perform on heavier planets, forcing populations instead to come to one of the orbiting moons.

Ben, of course, isnít really navy. Heís just one of the private contractors the navy uses to do things the navy isnít permitted.

His kind, if not so large as he is, make the bulk of guards at the secret prisons where they pull the legs off enemy combatants in the guise of finding information.

Ben and his people are so angry at every other living thing, they get their kicks out of hurting things, and would be back home hurting people there if the navy didnít hire them.

Me, I stay out of their way.

I have no intention of being one of the frogs they yank the legs off of.

Dignitaries, of course, hire Ben and the others to protect them in the conflict area, a wall of fury that keeps off potential assassins. Most of these are media or elected officials from home who have come out to get an appraisal about how our war is going and why with all the money the taxpayers have given us, why we havenít won it yet.

Sometimes Ė such as now Ė Ben gets so riled he wants to take out his fury on something more human than the frogs.

Nobody can really explain it or know when heíll go off.

It always comes out over some detail no one in their right mind would think worthy of violence.

Now, heís peeved over the lock down that keeps any of us from taking R & R over at Bushville a half a hop away.

Bushville is a collection of huts set up to sell junk to the locals and to provide us human kind with basic pleasures: booze, sex, drugs and such.

The navy claims the frogs are killing humans in the place using poison, bombs, knives in the back and other nasties -- and with so many of us lost this cycle to our regular work, we are banned from the place until a special unit clears out the frogs.

While Ben and others fume, most of us regular navy people are grateful. All we want to do is get through our stint and go home.

We donít enjoy killing anybody even the frogs the way Ben and his buddies to.

We kill to keep alive, not to satisfy some inner need.

And none of us feels any needs to fight Ben.

When he gets into one of his moods, we scoot, finding some corner in these cramped corridors where he might not see us.

Unfortunately our young lieutenant hasnít learned that basic rule of survival and tells Ben to shut up and get back to his post.

A can opener couldnít have flipped open Benís lid any better.

It takes three full doses from the stun guns to knock bet out, and two whole shifts of our crew to mop up the bits of the lieutenant Ben scattered when tearing him limb from limb.

I donít know who the navy will replace Ben with. I just hope the next private contractor is a little more stable, though we all know how few of them are.

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