Sunday, September 27, 2015

Crusher of Modern War

Douglas Christian Larsen

Crusher of Modern War
by Douglas Christian Larsen

The soldier came loping down like a rangy wolf from the surrounding foothills where rumor had it the ultra secret facility of the combined nations was buried. The gathered spectators watched the lithe gait of the trotting soldier, observing him on giant screens videoed and constantly available at a plethora of angles. The screens encircled the entire room and each spectator was able to spin his plush leather chair to select the most pleasurable and interesting individualistic view.
Hovering drones sat at elevations just outside the range of the naked eye, parked in the sky, training down digital telephoto cameras, arresting the action in the below theater with nary a tremor, and hover globes invisible to the naked eye constantly circled the ever-moving theater of war, measuring relative temperatures, production of sweat, elevations of adrenaline, respiration, as well as recording audio and digital photography.
Also, a bulletproof window was available on an observation deck—offering views of only twenty-five to seventy-five feet away from the action, depending on the fluctuating trample of the battle—for anyone wishing to watch the oncoming confrontation directly, but none of the military personnel seemed even remotely interested in looking away from their television screens. After all was said and done, everyone knew that HD was better than real life.
Technicians working computers nearby and just out of sight would speedily produce the best slow-motion reviews, replays, commentaries, and zoom-ins.
“So this is their best, I mean their absolute best, bar none, is that what we’re to believe, that this is their best?” a nervous dignitary babbled, a lily white hand pawing at a comically Hitlerian moustache. He was a politico, not a military dignitary, and no one felt the need to reply to his inanely repetitive question.
An attractive young woman in crisp black fatigues kept moving among the spectators, refilling drinks, replenishing individual snack receptacles from a hovering cornucopia vendor. But the developing scenario out in the theater of battle arrested all of the attention of the mostly portly spectators, eliminating most of the pawing or attempts at flirtation with the attractive young woman in the crisp black fatigues.
“Where’s our synth?” a military figure carpeted in glittering medals and metallic ribbons whispered, to no one in particular, and intended the question to be of a rhetorical nature, but nearly everyone in the room leaned forward, scanning screens, in a concerted competitive race to be the first to provide the military figure an answer.
“Right there! It’s right there!” the nervous dignitary spat, still stinging from the reaction to his earlier nervous babble, and was utterly delighted to trump all the eagle-eyed military bigwigs. That would show the buggers, fascists, and imperialists, the lot of them. Buggers all.
A figure from the opposite side of the battle theater emerged, at first tiny in size, but growing swiftly as it approached their location at what seemed exaggerated speed.
“That doesn’t even look like a soldier, let alone a warrior,” another military personage spoke, watching closely the approaching figure.
“We let our player customize their icon, and our synth or avatar is generated to match the user icon, as closely as possible,” a helpful narrator spoke, voice projecting in deep resonance from recessed speakers encircling the chamber.
The spectators snorted, or at least mostly suppressed their derisive barks, but the prominent military figure actually voiced the collective thought: “You call them…players?”
“It is a term best used for purposes of suppressing moral imperatives, or containment of alleged conscience,” the unseen narrator spoke. The voice was intimate, comforting, very soothing. And what the voice said made sense.
“War games,” the prominent military figure muttered, nodding, for a moment contemplating the end of his long, dark cigar. The smoke from his cigar vanished almost immediately, sucked in by the generous wind of the cooling system.
The first soldier, the one approaching from the foothills, was now detailed on the screens. A handsome specimen, robust and powerful, tanned, blondly crewcutted, chiseled sinews jutting from a muscular v-shaped frame, the confident icy blue eyes of a warrior prepared to do what he did best and relished doing well. On a larger screen the warrior’s specifications superimposed over the warrior, including a severe rotating mugshot of the man that displayed a full 360 degrees of his fierce being, every lump, jut, undulation, and mound of a chiseled frame:

Carlo Hermanni
29 years
6’ 2” (188 centimeters)
210 pounds (15.5 stones)
Border Guard Special Combat Agent
Combat Specialization:
Kas-Pin Empty-Hand Instructor
Jiu-Jitsu 3rd degree black belt
Kenpo Karate 2nd degree black belt
Silver Medalist 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Light Heavyweight Boxer

“Looks like you found a giant in Finland,” someone said and a few people chuckled.
The specification screen for the Finnish warrior shifted to the left side of the room where the warrior’s statistics were available for constant reference. Heart rate, respiration and other vital statistics also flashed in constant monitor. This was a cool, well-conditioned warrior.
The other soldier appeared in detailed center screen and elicited an organic burst of unsuppressed laughter, and more than a few hoots. Because what looked out of the screen at the dignitaries and high-ranking military leaders was not another severe warrior, but some phantasmagoric amalgamation of a cartoon British Bulldog and a common street thug, only at bizarre proportions, the ugly dream warrior of a boy, conjured up to deal with bullies. A short pug, fireplug stout, stubby legs knotty with bulging muscles, and shoulders almost as wide as a piano.
The “soldier” lugged a massive chest of muscled knots as well as a rug of black he-man hairs, a gleaming bald head that appeared too large even for the absurdly large neck, and hands the size of catcher’s mitts, all fisted up into bony protrusions. The specifications superimposed over the glowering bulldog face with the garish black eyebrows and absurdly jutting brush of Kaiser Wilhelm moustache:

Crusher of Modern War
9 years
5’6” (66 centimeters)
235 pounds (16.78 stones)
Combat Specialization:
You Are There Kung Fu, 33rd Level
You are There Professional Wrestling, 33rd Level
You Are There Punch Box, 33rd Level

If a fire hydrant mated with a walrus, this might be the resultant mess.
No one voiced what everyone thought. There was complete silence in the room as the images on the center screen slid over to the right, where Crusher of Modern War statistics remained constant for monitoring.
Every face was monitored by almost as many cameras hidden in the observation theater as there were outside in the battle theater. At a level three stories below the theater, another crew of technicians monitored multiple screens, noting the expressions of the high-ranking dignitaries in the room, recording every muttered exclamation and profanity. Supervisors, one each assigned to a corresponding spectator in the observation theater above, standing just behind the seated technicians, made quiet notes into hand-held voice recorders.
“Gentlemen, and now we shall begin. Please witness Modern War,” the narrator spoke in its deep, beautiful, echoingly deep rumble.
The two soldiers came crashing together in the theater of battle. The Finnish soldier seemed to pause for a defensive feeling-out period, to gather knowledge of the opponent, but the cartoonish slab of muscled meat rumbled forward with fists swinging in great hay-maker punches. The Finn dodged and eluded the Crusher’s initial rush, and as the bulldog creature turned back the Finn cracked the thing across the face with a roundhouse kick, an unbelievably powerful blow, the right shin of the Finn crashing down like a sledgehammer across the left side of the Crusher’s head.
“That was fast,” one of the watching dignitaries sneered, in obvious disappointment. “Novel. Funny, but hardly revolutionary. Not for war.”
“What were we supposed to take away from this?” another dignitary spat, outraged.
In the battle theater the Crusher hardly staggered, but came back at the Finn, big fists hooking in from both sides in an unorthodox display of aggression. The Finn blocked the blows with his elbows, but the leer of pain in the twist of his face revealed that the blows were powerful, and even though blocked, some damage was done. The Finn leapt in close, seized the Crusher by its thick neck, and instantly yanked down on the head while simultaneously rocking up a right knee full into the creature’s face.
“Ooh!” a general groaned, “this just gets worse and worse. That thing ain’t real, is it? I mean come on, it looks like a cartoon, like something outta a Bugs Bunny cartoon!”
The Finn repeated his knee barrage with the left knee, and then without pause rocketed back with a right knee, each of the monstrous blows landing full-force in the Crusher’s face.
“I think that’s about enough,” someone said, and many voices agreed, many with curses.
Then the Crusher landed a deep blow with its right fist and the Finn grunted and nearly crumpled. The Finn’s entire body twisted around the punch high on his waist. But he did not fall, but scrambled out of reach of the short fireplug of a warrior.
The Crusher laughed, a ratcheting, guttural woof, sounding more like the bulldog that he looked like, than any human sound of mirth.
“Come on!” the freakish soldier said, beckoning with his fingertips, “I really want to play now!”
The Finn, recovering, moved cautiously in a circle away from the Crusher’s right fist. His hands were open and low, defensively ready to grapple with the synth. The Finn was bleeding, profusely from his nose, and a gash up near his right eyebrow, and a garish dark bruises was already appearing where the monster blow landed upon his waist. The big soldier was obviously in a lot of pain.
The Crusher, on the other hand, did not seem to be tired, or damaged, or to be suffering from any discomfort. The ugly creature grinned and it had its big toaster-sized hands up as if ready to clutch its opponent. Oddly, the Finn did not seem so comparatively large as he had at the beginning of the encounter, as he did on the superimposed text-graphics that spat out the cold hard statistical facts.
The Crusher jumped at the Finn and shouted: “Boo!”
The Finn, hardened warrior that he was, stumbled backward and fell in a heap, his hands up over his face. “Please, stop! It’s too strong. Please. I am hurt. No more.”
The Crusher leapt up and down, its absurd hands lifted over its head, dancing and laughing in its woofing bark. “I win! I am the best! I am sick! I am bad! I killed him! Ooh, I killed him!”
No one spoke in the observation theater. Most of the leaders looked sick. On the projected monitors, the specifications and statistics on the Finnish soldier displayed probable broken ribs, as well as a fractured right arm.
Outside, a team of medics appeared about the stricken Finn and hastily moved him onto a stretcher.
“Please,” the unseen narrator spoke in its comfortingly deep voice. “Please meet our victorious warrior. Please meet the Crusher of Modern War.”
A panel in the theater wall slowly revolved, and a small boy sat there, his eyes closed, reclining, hands folded peacefully in his lap, looking for all the world a sweet, nine-year-old child, possibly asleep. The woman in the black fatigues approached the boy and touched him gently upon the shoulder.
The boy’s eyes opened, he smiled, and easily removed a small beanie cap from the top of his head, and leaned forward from the plush sensory chair.
“Gerry,” the deep voice of the narrator said. “How did you enjoy your game?”
The boy smiled and said, “That was great, although the other player wasn’t very good. I’ve beat five or six of them better than that, I mean together, you know. That felt like fighting a real guy. It hardly wasn’t fun at all. Man, dude sucked.”
“How do you feel, Gerry?” the narrator asked.
“Are you sore? Tired?”
“Nope. I want to play some more.”
The commanding military figure stepped forward, burly arms across medallioned chest.
“I want a further demonstration. I’m not convinced this boy had anything to do with what we witnessed outside there,” he barked, glaring down at Gerry.
“Gerry, would you like to further demonstrate the Crusher of Modern War?” the narrator queried.
“Sure, I’d love it,” Gerry said and sat down on the chair in the wall and replaced the tiny cap upon his head. He closed his eyes, smiling peacefully, leaning back into the plush embrace of the sensory chair.
Suddenly a very large presence was in the room. The Crusher of Modern War came striding up to the commanding military figure, smiling around its ludicrous moustache, its great bushy eyebrows standing up Mark Twain fashion. In real life, the Crusher of Modern War seemed much, much more domineering, and decidedly dangerous. It still seemed utterly ridiculous, but now, in the false plastic flesh, the men in the room were cowed, and they shrank back.
“What do you want me to do?” the Crusher said in his ratchety voice.
The commanding military figure scuttled back, like a crab, into the safety of the numbers of his fellows, elbowing others forward as shields.
The narrator said: “Gerry, open your eyes.”
The boy sitting in the chair opened his eyes and smiled. As his eyes came open, so the Crusher’s eyes closed.
The narrator said: “Gerry, close your eyes.”
The boy nodded, and closed his eyes, and as his eyes closed so did the Crusher’s eyes open. The panel in the wall spun slowly around and just before it closed the woman in the black fatigues stepped onto the rotating disk and within a moment the wall was whole, and the boy in the little cap and the woman in the black fatigues were both gone.
The Crusher slammed a huge fist into a huge hand.
“I want to play,” it said.
“Crusher of War,” the unseen narrator said. “These men are your opponents. Play with them, but only for a while. Show them what pain is. Show them what war is. Crusher of War, show them terror.”
“Okay,” the Crusher said, grinning, its huge teeth just glimmering through its huge brush of moustache.
The tiny figures in the room scrambled. They threw their clipboards. Some lifted chairs like lion tamers. It was almost comical. And then they began to fight, at least a few did, and some of them knew some moves, but  unfortunately, much faster than did the Finnish fighter, these rounded, roly poly men began to fall down, and twitch, and whimper as the Crusher came forward, its monstrous hands swinging in vast haymakers. And then the military leaders and dignitaries began screaming.

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