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The War Effort
The War Effort
Federation rules were very clear on this point. Species equality meant equal representation in the fleet. And even though the human race had been artificially augmented to bring it up to speed, AEA (artificial evolutionary augmentation) couldn’t be expected to work miracles. Humans lagged pretty far behind the curve as far as Federation members were concerned.
On a starship like the Invincible, the shock and dismay among the officers was far more subdued than it was below decks. Among the enlisted men there were no such constraints. Jokes and ribald comments were rife. The humor was generally low brow, racist and, on the whole, pretty damn funny. The truth was that humans simply weren’t as bright as their shipmates.
Take the Skaarg for example. So advanced they didn’t need to speak. They "smeemed" at each other, a form of telepathic text messaging. Then there were the Anaxylamps, a species so advanced in their understanding of biology they could adjust their body parts as needed. Then there were the Flebb, the race that invented the current version of FTL (faster than light) Drive and were the only minds capable understanding the physics behind it. There were in all six life forms in the Federation. Human beings were the seventh, the newest and probably the last.
The truth was, Humanity would never have even been considered for membership in the Federation if it weren’t for the exigencies of war. Earth was needed for its resources the Federation didn’t need our backward race. But since our humble planet harbored intelligent life, the Federation had to make us an offer: enhanced evolution and full membership in exchange for our help in the war effort.
Given another two or three centuries of natural development, if we hadn’t killed ourselves off, humans might have been ready for admission into the Federation. But the galactic overlords didn’t have that kind of time to wait. The war with the OMG’s wasn’t going well and our planet’s abundance of sand contained a high percentage of Si12, a rare isotope of silica both sides desperately needed. It was the building block for the cyber-warriors who actually did the fighting.
The stark truth was that the Federation needed us or more accurately our sand. Even now it’s hard to believe. It seemed so odd that it would be sand of all things that brought humanity into the forefront of intergalactic politics. Sand. Stupid, commonplace, everyday sand. The same sand we played with, buried each other in and spread on icy roads turned out to be valuable. If only we knew, we could have prepared ourselves, maybe goosed the price a bit. But that wasn’t to be. One day we were busy killing each other over petty disputes about religion and the next we were part of an advanced galactic community killing each other over sand. It was an amazing advance in our evolution.
We were told that the OMG also wanted our sand but, lucky for us, the Federation got to us first. The Federation made it clear that the OMG would have just enslaved us and taken what they wanted. We learned that the OMG were bad and the Federation was good. Of course we believed it. What choice did we have?
At least the Federation had rules which governed their behavior. If the Earth was going to be a battleground anyway we might as well have a fighting chance and get something out of the deal. The entire process of global augmentation took only a few days. Federation ships beamed an augmentation ray on the entire planet. Some of us were against it from the start. “What about the animals?” they asked. “Are they going to leap ahead in their development too?” The Federation assured us that only human beings would be affected. We were clearly out of our depth from the get go.
After several days all of humanity was augmented. We didn’t feel much different but the Federation assured us we were irrevocably changed. We were welcomed into the Federation with a small ceremony. After that we were expected to work for victory. We were bombarded with stories of OMG atrocities. In our minds they were the enemy and we were on the side of freedom and goodness. We threw ourselves into the work. Most of us were expected to load the fleet of ore carriers with immense quantities of sand. We eagerly embraced the task. Normal life came to a halt as tens of millions of humans grabbed shovels and began loading the ore ship’s cargo bays with sand. We did this for several years and felt proud of our contribution to the war effort.
Just as we were beginning to question the value of our augmentation, the first humans began graduating from the academy and joining the fleet. Humans were being assigned to various starships. This was a remarkable thing both for humankind and the individuals involved. Interstellar travel was one of humanity’s great dreams. Obtaining that dream gave us a heady glimpse into a future we might never have obtained on our own. A future humanity had only imagined in comic books. A future we hadn’t earned but had achieved. Sad to say, none of us was up to the task. The new technology was overwhelming and, even with our augmented brains, we were like monkeys with a computer—useless.
As a result, the human members of the crew were assigned the least intellectually demanding jobs aboard. They were assigned jobs in food prep and shipboard custodial duties like mopping floors and scrubbing the various species specific latrines. Even in these limited roles, we humans were challenged by baffling technologies and unfamiliar designs. Even in the most menial jobs, we made many mistakes. Each mistake reinforced the idea that humans were a backward, primitive race of un-evolved savages. And every mistake provided fresh fodder for the amusement of the ship’s crew.
“I watched a human try and open a garbage can.” went a typical conversation in the enlisted lounge. “Funniest thing I’d ever seen. He must have wrestled with the thing for ten full nerps before he was forced to ask for help. Unfortunately for him he asked another human and the two of them began tugging and pulling on the can until it popped open. Garbage went flying all over the first officer’s quarters. What clowns.”
“I saw one fall down the laundry chute. He would have gone into the sonic washer for sure if the washbot hadn’t kicked him out of the stream. You should have seen him, it was hilarious.”
The war dragged on for another few years until the OMG’s were overwhelmed by the Federation’s cyber warriors who routed the OMG forces at the battle of Sector 5.
When the history of the war was written, the contribution of the inhabitants of Earth was little more than a footnote. It was as if our devotion to the cause and our silica played no part. Maybe it wasn’t our sand that tipped the balance in favor of the Federation. Maybe we were hoodwinked by people much smarter than us. We don’t know. No one has heard a thing from the Federation since the war ended. Those humans who served on Federation ships have retired and cannot add much to our understanding of the world beyond our sun. To say we feel used and humiliated would be an understatement. But we know how the war was won. We know that it was us, human beings, who boosted the flagging morale on Federation ships to its highest levels. It was our sand and our god given stupidity that won the war.
USO Bob Hope on a planetary scale? very good.
micheledutcher - R.S. Leergaard said: The war with the OMG's, eh? Lots of little bits of humor in here, and lots of subtle, and not so subtle, picking on humanity's faults. High moral and ethical standards are not profitable, doncha know, so I very much like that aspect of it. Well done there.
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