"Lock and load!" Sergeant Burundo cried into his helmet microphone. Bobby heard it echoed in his battle helmet along with all the others on his squad. He slotted a bolt cartridge into his HPW and it clicked into position. All the soldiers held their rifles pointed at the ground more as a symbol than as a safety precaution, as any accidental discharge would blow a gigantic stomach wound in the belly of their transport and suck them all out into deep space.
Heh, Bobby thought. Accidental discharge.
"Hey, Will," Bobby said, flicking his radio comm to his friend's channel and elbowing him in the armored ribs.
"Fuck off, Bobby, we're about to drop into a hot zone, I don't need any of your juvenile shit right now. I gotta get my head into this."
Bobby made a mental note to fill Will's drawers full of shaving cream that night.
The transport shuddered as it sealed against the docking bay of the abandoned space base.
"Team Charlie, go!" Sergeant Burundo's voice screamed into their ears. The wide doors that made up the ass of the transport flopped open.
Hehe, Bobby thought. It's like Team Charlie is poo and they're getting pooed out by the transport. Wait, that means I'm poo, too. Bobby got sad, but only for a moment because soon the troops had deployed into the abandoned docking bay.
"The air pressure is fine," one of the soldiers reported.
"Off with your helmets," Sergeant Burundo said. His hatred for the heavy, padded helmets was well-known. They were able to stop three gauss bolts before total failure, and weighed enough to do it.
"That's better," he said aloud, his voice echoing in the abandoned chamber. The hollow thuds of the squads bootfalls made the space seem even bigger and more foreboding.
"What's that, sarge?" asked Will, pointing his gun and flashlight at the base of a supply crate.
"It looked like a scorpion," Sergeant Burundo said. "That's why this isolated base was built in an isolated place, to do research on the flora and fauna of the Scorpulonia Nebula."
"My dad used to peer-review the Quarterly Journal of Isolated Space Bases in the Scorpulonia Nebula," Will said. "He'd only read the submissions by his office window in broad daylight, and even then he only could read one a day. I used to make fun of him for it until I snuck in there and read one myself. I couldn't sleep for days." Wlll shivered and glanced around the bay.
Bobby was bored and nobody was saying anything that he could giggle over.
"Team Charlie, keep the insertion point secure. Alpha, you secure noon," Sergeant Burundo said, pointing to the doors opposite the ship. "Beta, we're going to three o'clock."
The teams dispersed, and soon Bobby found himself in the middle of a squad of a half-dozen soldiers, equipped with the finest arms and armor available encasing feeble human hearts. Each creak made the soldiers jump, each delayed slightly by their reaction speed so that the soldiers became the medium to show waves of fear the same way that water displayed kinetic waves.
They were in the laboratory wing. Shattered vials and broken glass crunched under their feet, no matter how many orders Sergeant Burundo gave for silence. Something had scattered machinery everywhere. Broken refrigerators, laying on their sides like beached whales, leaked rotten fluids onto the tiles. There were piles of what looked like tiny boxing gloves.
"Uh, sarge," Will asked, glancing at all the broken supplies, "shouldn't we have our helmets on? Who knows what's in the air."
"Negative, soldier. Keep your ears open."
All they heard was the skittering of scorpions over the broken glass.
Bobby glanced at a table top and saw an open magazine. He hoped to see some T&A, but was disappointed to instead see lots of graphs. One of the graphs kinda looked like a butt, though, if he turned his head and squinted, so he giggled. Will came over.
"That's a copy of the Quarterly Journal of Isolated Space Bases in the Scorpulonia Nebula. Looks like a proof issue. And that graph is...what does that say?"
"What're you yammering about over here?" Sergeant Burundo asked, coming over and picking up the journal. A piece of hand-written paper fluttered out. Sergreant Burundo picked it up, then handed it to Will while muttering "can't read the curly stuff."
"It says 'Methods to Reduce Boredom and Suicide Among Scientists Stationed in Isolated Space Bases in the Scorpulonia Nebula,'" Will said. His eyes skipped over dense text and came to rest on a bulleted list, where he continued to read aloud.
"Step 1: scorpion eggs. Step 2: introduce Novogenuata growth hormone. Step 3: Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger' on continuous loop during incubation period. Step 4: boxing gloves."
"Crazy," Bobby said, staring at a pair that he'd been wondering about since they entered the room.
The room shuddered as something loud banged into the room next door.
"Hold fast!" Sergeant Burundo yelled at the backs of his retreating soldiers.
The wall buckled and crashed open to reveal a massive scorpion, at least ten feet long. It had enormous boxing gloves strapped over its claws.
"Hold your fire!" Sergeant Burundo shouted at Will, who raised his weapon. "Hand me that pair of gloves. This is an honest fight!"
The scorpion paused, seeming to recognize the process of its opponent gearing up. Sergeant Burundo stripped off his battle armor, revealing a pair of shorts with tiny laser cannons printed on them, and had Will put the boxing gloves on his fists.
"Let's do this!" Sergeant Burundo announced, leaping at the scorpion.
The two traded blows. The scorpion was powerful and fast, but Sergeant Burundo was a small target and delivered some devastating blows to the creature's eyes, seeming to disorient it. The scorpion began to slow down, but Sergeant Burundo showed no quarter. Finally, when the scorpion could barely push out a glove while Sergeant Burundo sat on its carapace and punched it in the eyes, the enormous stinger raised up and stabbed him directly in the brain with a nerve-melting payload of scorpion venom.
"Drooo," were Sergeant Burundo's last words.
"Droo, sounds like drool," Bobby said, watching Will flee down the corridor.
The scorpion sat there, too tired to move, with Bobby, too stupid to do the same.
Bobby heard the distant roar of the dropship taking off.
"Hello?" somebody called.
"Hi-o," Bobby called back, playing with a piece of labratory equipment that reminded him of a penis.
A man in a battered lab coat emerged from a door near the scorpion, petted the creature, and regarded Bobby.
"Why are you still here? Didn't your ship take off?"
"So you've been abandoned?"
The man regarded the corpse of Sergeant Burundo, shaking his head sadly.
"It just confirms my findings that the scientific community is too dense to acknowledge."
The Moral: sinner or saint, in the end we all die because of tissue-based necrosis induced by a scorpion sting