On the way to the command post, we sat quietly inside the Centaur. Ulysses relaxed in his seat, polishing his Boltok. He had owned that revolver since before the war, and we started calling it the “Sidearm from Hell” after he used it to blow off a Boomer’s head.
Ulysses had been my closest friend since our adolescent years. The two of us constantly bonded while our fathers served in the Pendulum Wars, a 79-year conflict which preceded Emergence Day, which happened six weeks after the armistice was signed. Ulysses inherited his father’s Boltok after he was killed in action. Being the unofficial mechanic of our group, Ulysses was the one to talk to if our rifles were jamming or the Centaur needed maintenance. He’d been that way since our adolescent years, learning the ins and outs of just about every weapon and vehicle in the COG arsenal. We met Sev a few years before Emergence Day, during our final year of high school. He was just as grim then as he is now.
Jimmy, on the other hand, was our character opposite. He was eleven years younger than us, had only used his rifle on a shooting range, and had never actually seen a locust before. Whereas we were your standard grizzled veterans, he was the typical eager recruit. As the saying goes, war is delightful to those who have never experienced it.
“Alright rookie, let’s review,” I said. “What are the standard types of locust infantry?”
“Drones, grenadiers, miners, spotters, snipers, and Therons,” he said.
“Good,” I said. “What are the types of locust heavy infantry, and what do they carry?”
“Well, there’s Boomers, they carry Boomshot grenade launchers. Grinders carry Mulcher machine guns. Maulers carry a ball-and-chain and a Boomshield. Um, Butchers carry four-foot long cleavers.”
“And what did we say about those ones in relation to the standard grubs?”
“Rule of Threes: they’re three feet taller, three times tougher, and three hundred pounds heavier.”
“They’re also much slower than the drones, due to their size,” said Ulysses.
“Good enough,” I said. “Any others?” The rookie kept going.
“Tickers are the small ones that scuttle around and carry explosives on their back. Wretches are those monkey-things that run at you in a lopsided hop. Real pain in the ass.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” said Ulysses. “Just wait ‘till you have to kill a swarm of them.”
“And do you remember what the real monsters are in the horde?” I asked.
“Just that they’re gigantic and really tough to kill,” said Jimmy.
“Those would be Reavers, Corpsers, Berserkers, and Brumaks,” said Ulysses.
“Reavers are the mounted ones with six tentacle-like legs that can fly,” said Jimmy. “How do they do that anyway?”
“Nobody knows…” said Ulysses in an ominous tone, his hands raised and his fingers wiggling.
“Seriously, we have no fucking clue,” I said.
“Corpsers are the ones with four eyes, eight legs in the front, and a smaller eight-legged abdomen in the back,” Jimmy continued. “Brumaks are the ones a couple stories tall with machine guns on their arms and rocket launchers on their shoulders. They walk on two legs and have a short tail. And then there’s Berserkers, the twelve-foot-tall ones who are ridiculously hard to kill and can rip you apart with their bare hands.”
“And they’re the only locust females,” I added.
“What?!” said Jimmy, astonished. “Those twelve-foot-tall over muscled freaks are the only females?!”
“Well, Corpsers, Brumaks, Reavers, Wretches, Tickers are all technically different species, so they have their own females,” said Ulysses. “But as far as the standard locust drones go, Berserkers, the constantly homicidal and furious twelve-foot-tall over muscled freaks, are the only females.”
“Holy shit!” said Jimmy. “How do they even reproduce?”
“Ask Sev,” I said. “He’s seen it.”
“Oh, fuck!” said Jimmy. “I’m not sure I want to know, actually...”
“They chain her down and gang rape her,” said Sev from the driver’s seat. “Quite ugly just to watch, I can’t imagine being the drones, considering she’s in a fit of rage the entire time and trying to kill every one of them.”
“Holy shit… Did you just… happen to stumble across that happening one day?”
“Actually yes, while I was on a scouting mission in the underground.”
“And they just… do that? Just sneak up on her and chain her down and… get to it?” asked Jimmy.
“Well they sure as hell aren’t going to take her to dinner and a movie first!” said Sev. “These are grubs we’re talking about! I’d say it’s disgusting, but I used that word to describe human childbirth, so I’d have to use a less harsh term towards locust gang rape.” Ulysses and I burst out laughing, while Jimmy giggled slightly, probably somewhat offended.
“What about the whole ‘miracle of life’ thing?”
“You think that’s a goddamn miracle?” asked Sev. “Look kid, a miracle is something that has astronomical odds of occurring, with a positive, often divine, connotation to it. Childbirth is supposed to happen, because if a woman has engages in intercourse it is likely she will become pregnant, upon which our survival as a species is dependent. Childbirth is not a miracle; it’s a process, no different from an assembly line.” Ulysses and I continued to laugh.
“Look rookie,” I said, choking through laughter. “Rule number two when you’re in the field with us is this: Nothing is offensive. Nothing.”
“What’s rule number one?” he asked.
“The Golden Rule of the Gears. You know what that is, right?”
“Take cover or die.”