Bewildering Stories

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The Ranger Knew a Trick

by John Thiel

Lt. Croit was looking over the galactic war picture glumly. Things seemed to have reached the state where they would never clear up. It seemed the war would go on eternally.

He was about to turn away from his graphics in dismay when he realized he was not alone in the room. Corporal Ferrison was attending to some technical thing that needed done. Croit looked at the corporal for a while. He did need someone to talk to. Pushing into the recessive file the thought that sharing the room with a corporal looked out of order, he said, “I can’t find anything going right for us, corporal.”

“Yeh. Know what you mean.” He paused, noted that the lieutenant expected more of an answer, and went on, “Seems like everything’s in a jinx. No one knows what’s behind any of it.”

Croit thought this over. Ferrison’s remark and rank gave him his next thought. “I believe we’re in a hierarchy of enmity,” he said.

“Dog eat dog, you mean?”

“Something like that, except hierarchy.”

“Well, there must be some way outa here.”

Croit thought it over. Again Ferrison’s presence stimulated his thought. “I’m going to use my Eustace!” he shouted.

They both rushed into the Captain’s communications room. Both knew that Man could figure his way out of anything. Having quickly established contact with the alien aggressors, Croit told them, “We’re all in contact with our Eustaces around here!”

“You are not!” came the voice of an aggressor. “That wouldn’t be fair.”

Before the aggressor could break contact, Croit shouted, “Eustace says true wars are never won! That wars are maintained by similitude! Zero equals infinity!”

The aggressor cut contact. “We don’t want to listen to that too long,” he told his section chief.

“Too late, it’s computing!”

The aggression fell apart. It was a SciFi war, and they all knew what would beat them.

Copyright © 2004 by John Thiel

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