It's clear, as soon as the muscular pair of biceps with a screaming head between them faces me-
"Put that wrench down, you're gonna cause a WAARR!!" -That I am in the wrong place. "What's your name, scumbag!?
"Betty Baxter. Er... Mr... I think I'm in the wrong-"
"From this moment on any words from your disgusting, warlike mouths will begin and end with Sir!" The knot of muscles in the muscle-shirt and muscle-hat turns to the line of cowering, doe-eye people. "Do you hear me!?"
"Sir, yes sir!" The response is loud and militaristic, the voices of the tight bodied women and men echoing off the low white ceiling and rattling the metal bunk beds. Definitely the wrong place. My thoughts are interrupted as a muscular 'knife-hand' jabs into my temple.
"Oooww-" And a muscular face closes within a centimeter from mine
"Did you hear me, war-monger!"
"Sir, Ow, sir!" I yell.
"Miss Backer, why did you join my beloved Para-Negotiator Corps?!" Finally, a chance to voice my concerns.
"Sir, I think I might have stood in the wrong line for taco tuesda-"
"Wrong!" His knife-hand pokes me harder. "You joined to save lives!" He jerks the hand away, and walks away down the line of people. "Human lives!" His back is towards me. "Alien lives!" He is walking away. "Interdenominational lives." I leave the line of victims. "All creatures deserve peace!" And begin to tiptoe towards the hatch. "And peace is what we will give them!" I am a meter from the door, freedom so close. "In the Para-Negotiator Corps!" His voice is right behind me.
I spin around just in time for muscle man to press his nose into my nose. "Hey." His breath is hot against my mouth, although minty fresh. "Where you going?" His tone has totally changed. He is not yelling. His voice is calm. Deadly calm.
"I-I, sir, I..." There is nothing in my brain right now. I did not know that a simple glare could destroy one's ability to form coherent thoughts. "I'm not sure-... there's... there were tacos."
"Do you hate aliens?
"Do you hate peace?"
"Your persuasion skills are sloppy, Miss Buttster."
"I am sooo sorry, Mr. Sir-" My collar is in my throat, as the muscular monster pulls me up from the floor.
"CONVINCE ME PEACE IS THE ANSWER, MAGGOT!!!!"
"AAAHHH!!!" I feel my argument is valid. I hope he thinks so.
"AAAHHH!!!" His response is hard to read, but I think he is pleased. "You've just gotten your entire race killed!" Darn it. "But that's just FIIINE!" The volume he manages to put into the word 'fine' might have chipped one of my teeth. "We'll fix you." My heart freezes at the word we'll.
"Oh space Jesus." The hatch opens behind me. "There's more of youOUGH." Another fist, a massive knot of bone muscle, bashes into my back and shatters my spine.
"What the PEACE, recruit!?" The new, muscular-er voice is already heaping on the failure. "You call that a spine!?" The new muscle-wad grabs my face and pulls my head back to look at his knot-face. "Convince me to accept the need for all five prime genders to have equal opportunities in the workforce, while simultaneously communicating the need for children to stop working and stay at home with parental figures serving as strong custodians of oral and kinetic tradition NOOWW!!"
I slam my shoulder into the door, hop into the zero gravity, and pull my med kit up to my face. The plasma wad smacks into the kit as I float into the room. My two team mates take the corners of the room, med kits up, knees tight to the body. I discard the kit before it melts through my gloves, again, and float towards the back of the room. A naked peace-instructor, wearing a giant fish helmet with ten eyes, is aiming a rifle at my exposed form, his muscular muscularity tight and threatening.
"Hello, friend!" I declare quickly. He fires the rifle, and I roll backwards in flight, careful to maintain my forward momentum. The plasma passes between my legs. "Congratulations on making contact with humans!" I spin back up to face him and stomp down, planting myself a meter away. "Please accept this gift as a token of peace!" I reach into my breast pocket and whip out the 'Aquatic card', a postcard with a lovely ocean and swimming aquatic creatures depicted in gentle, peaceful-
"I am enticed!" The 'Fishman' rips the card from my hand and throws it at my face, the corner bouncing off of my helmet visor. "However! I find your clothes offensive to my culture and people!" Using my emergency shoulder loops, I rip off the neutral colored jumpsuit and toss it aside. Boots, helmet, and air tank are all that remain, my pale form exposed to the radiation pouring into the room.
"Sir, I regret to inform you that your atmosphere is hostile to my organic type-"
"I wish to discuss trade possibilities."
"Aw, Jesus Chris-" My Faux Pas is instantly punished by a muscular muscle flying across the room, her knife-hand chopping against my neck in punishment.
"Introducing foreign, dogmatic religions to alien cultures. WRONG!"
Later, in another-
I burst into the room and smack the muscle in the giant bird-face. "Wron- DUR!" I engage in a powerful, non-aggressive, slouch shouldered, double handed 'stop' signal
"Stay calm, friend!" I whip out the avian card and slap it across the avian's eye holes. "TWEET tweet, and welcome to the best day of your life!" I dodge the claw and grab the wing, facing the second avian as it attempts to interrupt negotiations. "Support up!" My team mate flies in and 'negotiates' the first avian right in the face.
"Stay calm!" I scream into the beak of the second avian, the two of us floating towards the ceiling. "I understand that your people-" I kick off of the ceiling, making sure to push us away from the other negotiation rolling and punching in the corner. "-Are having trouble achieving deep space flight sustainability-" I tether myself to a wall, pinning the avian's arms with my legs. "-Due to governmental differences wherein the two prime planetary nations-" The avian tries to peck me, but I slap the mask head hard. The helmet turns completely around, the beak and eyes facing away from me. "-continue to oppose each other's overall political climates."
"Sexual appeasement commencing." Damn it, my partner's dropped the ball, ew, and can only delay at this point.
"I wish for sexual-" I slap the international, multi-party, political card across 'front-back' of my avian's backwards face.
"Sex is only a short term solution to a long term problem! I extend an invitation to afternoon, pleasurably thermally-altered, caffeinated beverages, for your two parties to discuss grievances, so a lasting peace can be achieved on your planet, and your race can spread your wings in the glory of holy flight-" I grab the bird head and scream at the scalp, my very soul pressed into my words. "-not just in your atmosphere, but in the beautiful, limitless winds of SPACE!"
A slow, careful, muscular clap extends from above us. Looking up, my heart races, as a muscular peace-instructor smiles down at me. "Well done, Miss Baxter."
Graduation is a sea of dark military uniforms surrounded by colorful civilian attire. I have seen so many of these graduations, but this time, I am in the center. Tears stain my face, as my favorite muscle stops in front of me. He turns to face me. I close my eyes, bearing shattered, palm open and quivering. A small, metallic weight falls into my hand. From this moment onward...
"Say it now, PN."
"Show no fear in the face of the warlike. Remain brave and upright that my message remains above reproach. Spread peace, always, even if it leads to my death. Safeguard the helpless, and do no wrong."
...Everything will be different
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