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477-K-435-J glanced at his comrade. “You look nervous. You doing okay?”

“I’m not nervous! Just leave me alone. I’m fine.”

“Geez. OK. Have it your way. Look, it’s no big deal. I was nervous my first time too. You’ll get used to it. Kind of. I’m 477-K-435-J. You?” 

“Really? How did you know it was my first time? Oh, I’m 45-PP-45-PP, by the way. Pleased to meet you.” 

“Likewise. For one thing…look, you’ve got this all twisted the wrong way. May I? I just want to straighten this out for you.”

“I … okay.” 

“There we go. That’ll make it easier. Now, look. Truth is, 45-PP-45-PP, you should be nervous. Our enemy has some pretty potent weapons. You’d be an idiot not to be nervous. Poison gas is no fun.” 

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“Poison gas? They use poison gas?”

“Sometimes. Nitric oxide. Nasty stuff.”

“Thanks. Now, I have something else to be nervous about. It’s just … they so damned big. And, they have brains. Big brains.”

“Oh, believe me, that’s the last thing to be nervous about. Sure, they have big brains, but do they use them? That’s the question.”

“Why wouldn’t they use them? Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Yeah, I agree. Hell, we all agree. It’s one of the great mysteries of near-life. But, luckily for us, we don’t have to solve that. We just need to use the fact that they don’t use them very often to our own advantage.” 

(Long pause). 

“How do you know — how do you know where to put it in?”

“It’s kind of instinctual. You’ll know. Anyway, there are lots of places. It’s not just like there’s one perfect place. We all develop favorites. Personally, I like the lungs best. It feels — it just feels right. Warm and wet. And, they really suffer, just like an enemy should. Best of all, it makes ‘em cough. That’s a free ride to the next sucker.” 

234-HH-432-99 joined in. “That’s not what I like best. Sure, it’s warm and wet. But so are the mucous membranes in the mouth. The mouth is where it’s really at, if you ask me. To them, it’s quite an intimate place. That makes it all the more fun for me!” 

477-K-435-J shook slightly. “Nah. Lungs. More damage. More spread.” 

234-HH-432-99: “Ridiculous. Trust me, kid. There’s no greater feeling than penetrating one of those mouth cells and squirting your RNA into it. You are the boss then! That cell does what you tell it to. And what you make them do is make more of you! I love it. Whoever came up with that one…they deserve to be…to win something.”

477-K-435-J “Yeah, yeah. But no matter how much you screw over their mouth, they can still breathe. And if they can breathe, they have energy. And they can use that to send their destroyers out.  

234-HH-432-99 suddenly screamed, “Hit the deck!” 

Without the slightest idea what was going on, 45-PP-45-PP did as he was told. “What the hell was that?” 

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477-K-435-J replied, “That, kid, that is something you want to look out for. It’s a god-damned mask is what that was.” 

“Huh? What’s a mask? Does that kill us too?” 45-PP-45-PP reflected again on how much danger he was in. 

234-HH-432-99 answered, “No, it doesn’t kill us exactly, but most of the time, it prevents us from fulfilling our mission. Get caught up in one of those damned masks, and you won’t be screwing their mouth cells, their lung cells or any other cells. You’ll just … disintegrate … and die with no sons and no daughters to carry on your alphanumeric designation. It’s as though you were never really alive at all. Well, actually, you’re not. But you get my drift. You’ll be forgotten and nothing to show for it.”

45-PP-45-PP said, “Holy crap! How do we avoid them? A bunch of those things would ruin our whole plan.”

477-K-435-J added, “Yes, you’re right, but we’ll be fine as long as enough people don’t wear them or don’t wear them properly.”

45-PP-45-PP had the distinct feeling that his more experienced comrades were putting him on and making fun of his ignorance. “Yeah. Right. They have a way to prevent our spread and don’t use it. It may be my first time, but I’m not stupid enough to fall for that one! If you want to razz the new guy, you’ll have to think of something more clever than that.” 

234-HH-432-99 said, “No, kid. We’re not putting you on. Your buddy ain’t puttin’ you on.”

45-PP-45-PP still felt he was being punked. “So you’e saying they have a weapon to keep up from doing in their lungs and doing … any of their cells … and they don’t use it? Why? That makes no sense! I don’t believe you.”

477-K-435-J said, “Look, it doesn’t matter whether you believe me or not. But we’re all in this together so why would I lie to you? No-one knows why they don’t use something that could save their life of the lives of their families. Some of their own kind have started rumors that the masks don’t work or that they infringe on their freedom.” 

234-HH-432-99 piped up again. “Hell, not only that! Some of them don’t even think we exist! They think we’re just a hoax!” 

45-PP-45-PP knew they were putting him on now. “Yeah, right. 1.5 million dead world-wide and 63 million sick …. And we’re a hoax? Come on. Give me a break. Just because it’s my first time doesn’t mean I’m totally naive.”

477-K-435-J shrugged, in his viral sort of way. “Look, kid, believe what you want. But trust me. Lungs. That’s where it’s at. And when… hey! Hey! Look sharp. This guys about to scream at someone, he’s surrounded by others, and none of them are wearing those damned mask. We’re in luck! Come on, troops! We’ve prepared our whole lives for this. Drill ‘em and kill ‘em! Drill ‘em and kill ‘em!” 

Soon the chant filled the air. 45-PP-45-PP joined in and all his nervousness, his uncertainty, his fear melted away. “DRILL ‘EM and KILL ‘EM.” He felt inexpressible lust at the thought of raping a species whose only outstanding natural weapon was its brain — a weapon so many refused to use. He thought to himself, in his viral manner, They deserve to be drilled! They deserve to be killed! He turned to the comrade who had first befriended him and said, “477-K-435-J, I’m going for the lungs!” Then, to himself:  “Warm and moist! Yum! You are mine you little slut cell! You’re going to birth 10,000 of my little babies! Whether you like it or not! You’ll see who’s a hoax!”

“Drill ‘em and Kill ‘em! Drill ‘em and Kill ‘em!”

And so they did.

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