Summary: Now the tale turns darker as we see the effects of war on those who fight and win. Ultra-Violence is a military science fiction novel about a day when technology mutates war into a dark new form. Although set in the future, biomedicine might make it real in our lifetimes. File these weekly chapters as “terrifying dreams.”
See the previous chapters of Ultra-Violence, tales from Venus.
- The sins of our fathers.
- A Boy Meets a Girl.
- The Lost Generation.
- Let’s Do Something Fun.
- The Meek Shall Inherit the World.
- A Sign from God.
- The Siren’s Offer.
- The Riddle.
- Wolves Among Sheep.
- The Man Who Would Be King.
- The Angel and the Badman.
- Goliath’s Revenge.
- The Head of Every Man.
- In the Land of the Blind.
This contains violence and strong language (unfortunately, words even children commonly hear today).
Chapter Five: Let’s Do Something Fun.
Hanson looks at the run-down motel across the street from him. He’s in the worst part of the city, a waste bin for immigrants from Earth who didn’t quite make it on their new home world. But nobody bothered him on his walk here. They know better.
Three months ago the Polar Uprising ended. Even though he’s off duty, Hanson is still in his black uniform of the Venusian Defense Corps. He doesn’t own civilian clothing, and it hasn’t occurred to him to buy any. Even if it did occur to him, he wouldn’t know where to start. Coming back to the real world was interesting, but it’s not for him. Hanson is a simple man. He’s not dumb, he’s just not particularly smart either. He accepts it, there’s nothing he can do about it. He understands life in the real world would not be kind to him. Most of the trades for men like him are hard, dangerous and offer little in return.
Tomorrow morning Hanson will return to base and sign his reenlistment papers. He’s one of the lucky few able to do so. He was worried he wouldn’t pass the medical board. During his deployment to he removed his anti-malaria implant because the side effects annoyed him. Predictably, he came down with malaria a couple weeks later. The doctors let it slide. What really mattered to them was that Hanson passed the psychiatric evaluation. That is the hurdle most of Hanson’s peers fail to pass.
After he reenlists, Hanson will return to the South Pole. This time it’ll be different. It won’t be a war zone anymore. He won’t have to fight anymore. All he’ll have to do is keep an eye on the new settlers pouring in from Earth. They won’t cause any trouble. One of their first jobs will be to clear away the mountains of rubble and bones from their predecessors. None of these people will be foolish enough to repeat that mistake.
Hanson already has his life figured out from there. He’ll make a career out of soldiering. It’s one of the few trades simple enough for him to understand. Along the way he’ll meet a pretty immigrant girl fresh off the boat from Earth. She’ll be grateful to catch the eye of a soldier. He’s not the brightest soul on Venus, but he is a reliable provider. Hanson could probably almost any girl he wants from those colony ships. But all he really wants is one who’s nice to him. Hanson isn’t a difficult man to please. He’ll marry that girl and have a normal life with her. Hanson has finally escaped the Polar Uprising.
None of that is on his mind right now. He walks into the motel lobby. This is not a place anyone with honest intentions goes. It’s a den of junkies, whores and their johns. Hanson goes to the counter to speak with the manager. “I’m looking for a friend of mine.” Hanson says. ‘He came here with a girl. He’s short and skinnier than me, blonde, but has the same haircut.”
The manager is alarmed at first by Hanson’s uniform, but sees no weapon or blue armband. Hanson isn’t military police. He has no authority here. He’s just another nobody. “We don’t kiss and tell here, soldier boy. Are you going to make it worth my while?”
Hanson does. He grabs the sneering man by the hair and slams his face into the counter.
“Room 237.” The manager gasps, spluttering blood and teeth.
The soldier goes outside and walks around the second floor until he finds 237. He tries the handle. It’s locked. Hanson kicks it. The cheap latch breaks. Hanson kicks the door a second time and it flies open, showering the room with splintered wood.
Hanson sees the whore. She’s backed against the far corner of the room, terrified, but seemingly unharmed. There’s blood on the bed, and it didn’t come from nowhere. He looks back at the whore. There it is. A pencil jammed through her hand. The whore is not having a good night, but lucky it wasn’t a lot worse. Ultimately, it’s her problem, and not of any concern to him.
He hears a noise to his right, and steps past the ruined door to look. Alex is crouching hands around his knees, naked and crying. He looks up. Alex is shattered wreck completely out of his mind but recognizes his friend. “Hanson?” He sniffs through tears and snot.
“I’m here, we’re going now.” Hanson says, pulling him to his feet.
When the whore met Alex on the street, she saw an easy mark. A gullible boy she could overcharge for services rendered, and he wouldn’t know any better. The whore was right, but also wrong. She’s not in a profession that tolerates mistakes like that. At the very least she had the sense to get away, keep still and not make a sound. That’s why she’ll be able to walk out of this room tonight, and not wheeled out in a body bag.
Hanson has to help Alex dress, like a child. His money is still on the nightstand. Hanson takes the wad of bills and shoves it in his pocket. Then he remembers that Alex has nowhere to go. He can’t go back to Hanson’s barracks; he’s been discharged already. He has no family. Conscription is supposedly random, but orphans like Alex and Hanson always get drafted. Hanson rifles through the whore’s purse and takes her money too. He isn’t stealing from her. Hanson doesn’t steal. He’s collecting payment for saving her life.
He gets Alex a room in a slightly better part of town. Alex is doing a little better. A cigarette calms his nerves, but he still can’t talk.
Hanson participated in the atrocities of the Polar Uprising, but he never had trouble shutting his mind off when he did them. He has a dull mind. He always has. The dullness has made life a struggle for him at times. But in the end, that dullness saved his life. The Defense Ministry recognized Hanson’s dullness, and knew that’s what made him reliable. Hanson could perform peacetime duties without incident.
Like Hanson, Alex tried to reenlist. Unlike Hanson, he didn’t make it.
Hanson thinks of Briggs. He’s one of the men who was supposed to make it. And he did at first. Briggs didn’t go back to his pre-military life as a petty criminal and a drunkard. He got a normal job. Not a great job, but a job. He even started to go to night school. Then a month later he bashed in someone’s head with a hammer, earning him a one-way ticket to the penal colonies. The transition was too much for Briggs. After his bloody reign of terror in the jungle, he could do nothing else. He never should have been allowed to return to civilization at all.
The first generation of Ultra-violence was a mistake. Future generations of Ultra-violence received less extreme doses. Enough to make them excellent soldiers. Not perfect killing machines, but easier to control and less likely to go insane.
The Defense Ministry created the most devastating weapon in human history. But this one was different than all others. An atomic bomb can be dismantled. A warship can be scuttled. What can be done with an army of a million men?
An intense battery of psychological evaluations determined who could be trusted to continue military service. A select few, like Hanson, could stay under arms. The rest are scattered to the far corners of the world. The general public must never find out about the monster. They must never learn that the men of the first generation of Ultra-violence are all ticking time bombs that could go off at any moment and with no provocation.
Alex is in a thousand times worse condition than Briggs was. When those doctors disqualified Alex, they made a mistake. Hanson knows they made a mistake. They interviewed him in uniform, while he was still under the harsh tyranny of the Venusian Defense Corps. He seemed pretty lucid then. But the second he received discharge papers and left that tyranny behind, Alex started to fall apart immediately.
Hanson understands Alex better than anybody. He knows the truth about him. Those doctors shouldn’t have discharged him. They shouldn’t have let him leave at all. He never should have been allowed back into society. Alex is dangerously, violently insane. He will be for the rest of his life. But maybe those doctors knew all along. It is their job after all. Maybe they just didn’t give a shit.
There’s just enough money from the whore’s purse to get a room for a week. But the way things are going, Alex isn’t going to last that long. Hanson realizes that the little life he planned out for himself isn’t going to happen.
“When do you ship out?” Alex asks, finally calm enough to speak somewhat coherently.
Hanson sits down next to Alex on the bed and hands him the water cup. “I’m not.” Hanson says.
‘What do you mean?’ Alex is confused.
“I finally came to my senses.” Hanson tells him. “Army life is dumb. It’s just a bunch of assholes telling you what to do all day. When to eat. When to shit. It’s a bunch of garbage.”
“Really?” Alex asks tearfully.
“Yup. I told Sergeant Lockes he could take those reenlistment papers and shove them up his ass.”
“I would’ve liked to see the look on his face.” Alex grins. Alex knows Hanson is lying. He likes soldiering too much to give it up like that. He’s doing it for his friend. Alex knows he’s completely helpless without him. Hanson is giving away his whole life to stay with him. Alex starts crying again. “I fucking hate myself.” Alex sobs.
Hanson wraps his arm around Alex and squeezes him tight. He feels Alex’s tears and snot pooling on his shoulder. Hanson keeps squeezing until Alex relaxes again. “What are we going to do now?” Alex whispers.
“What would you like to do?”
Alex thinks for a minute before answering. His life was destroyed before it even really started. He doesn’t even know what he would like to do with it. “I want to have fun.” He answers.
“Then that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Let’s do something fun.”
Come back next Sunday for Chapter 6:
“The Meek Shall Inherit the World.“
A chapter will be posted every Sunday. Critiques are welcomed, but will be moderated.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are either works of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any matter without permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This copyright overides this website’s Creative Commons license.
About the author
Ian Michael served 5 years in the US Marine Corps. He did two tours patrolling in Helmand Province (Afghanistan) and one in Kuwait. He is now a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Reserve. He lives in Iowa.
Some of his other articles.
- Generals read “Ender’s Game” and see their vision of the future Marine Corps.
- Pain and misery build discipline! Or so we’re told.
- The Atheist Conservative shows why secular conservatism continues to be an irrelevant and impotent force in American politics.
- Alita, the Battle Angel, fights her feminist critics.
- Plato and Diogenes warn us about hubris – Here is a fun short story, historical fiction about one of the clashes between two of the larger-than-life people of the ancient world.
For More Information
Ideas! For some holiday shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
Fiction echos reality. See Chet Richards’ (Colonel, USAF, retired) post about this novel, about how it illustrates many of John Boyd’s ideas in action.
Biotech that might make this story real: Potentially horrific effects of drugs and machines making people smarter & stronger.
- The Iraq War as a warning for America – About Issac Asimov’s The Foundation series.
- The hidden key to understanding Europe’s crisis – and ours – More from The Foundation series.
- Too many “takers”? Look to science fiction for the hard-Right answer! – From the future history of Jerry Pournell and S. M. Sterling.
- Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror created by the conflict with Iran – From David Drake’s “With the sword he must be slain.” First published in Armageddon, one of the “There Will Be War” series.
A classic of military science fiction
David Drake’s series about Daniel Leary, RCN, will become on of the classics of military science fiction. It is C. S. Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower (an officer in the British navy during the Napoleonic era) series set in space, updated to our times. This is the first in the series. I highly recommend reading these. Drake has a deep knowledge of history, especially of the Greek and Roman world. This adds unusual depth to this stories.
During a war between a Republic of Cinnabar and the Alliance of Free Stars, a coup d’état takes place on a neutral planet of Kostroma. A navy lieutenant and émigré librarian, from rival families (his family almost exterminated hers) find themselves in a whirlpool of violence. Only together can they find the skills to lead their team to safety – and victory.