The Alien C.W. was très upset. I could hear him from the next room.
“Shtoo++pitdazoles+,” he said, loud enough to be heard outside. I walked in and found him shaped much like a middle-aged Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
“Foul increment,” he practically screamed it at me.
“Listen to my GUT,” he said. I heard his Galactic Universal Translator begin to hum.
“Never mind,” I said. “I think I get the picture.”
“What is it with your species?” he said, aiming the question at me like he thought I might answer.
“¿Qué?” I like to screw with him when he gets like this.
“What does it mean,” he said, “when one of your leaders talks about waging a war with ‘no boots on the ground’ in some foreign country peopled by your own species.”
“It refers to using war to settle international differences with another country without actually having our military personnel involved in that country, so to speak.”
His GUT hummed and he listened. “And how is this accomplished?”
“Remotely,” I said. “We can send planes from ships and unmanned drones from Iowa, wiping them out like cleaning a windshield.”
“To settle differences?”
“And if that doesn’t work?”
“Then we send troops.”
“And who comprises these troops? Do they hunt down individuals to conduct these ‘boots on the ground’ operations?”
“Uh, no. They rely on volunteers now.”
“Such as the children of the leaders?”
“Uh, no. Others.”
“Like you?” he said. “No, I remember now. You actually volunteered for war, didn’t you?”
His Gut hummed. “Elucidate.”
“I reluctantly volunteered for what I thought would be an assignment that wouldn’t involve my boots being on the ground, i.e. naval forces.”
“So what happened?”
“They sent my boots and my ass to be on the ground.”
He thought for a moment. “Can you see why Falloonian Elders think your species might need recalling?”
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