Adapted from William White’s Personal Log and Command Records
She was as beautiful as she was deadly. She was also on the poster taped to the door of my locker on the destroyer where I was based. It had been part of a poor attempt by Starfighter Command to keep us from fraternizing with the enemy. They tried to impress upon us the dangers that bug women posed to human males. I had to admit that there probably was something to what all those sexy videos alluded to. After all the one Starfighter that turned traitor did so because of one of their women. Still, I was in love with the girl on the poster.
It had been pointed out to me more than once that my poster girl was probably a human with makeup on. I'm sure they were right, but that did not diminish how I felt. I was not alone in my desires. It was a great poster. A naked bug female with jet black hair down to the middle of her back sitting on the edge of a bed. The see-
Every war had its pinup girl, and the girl on this poster had become ours -
At the end of the war the bugs only had three battle groups left with which to defend themselves. We had eleven full battle groups and a handful of destroyers. With their people on the edge of rebellion, and the economy ready to collapse, the bugs had no choice but to surrender. However, we don't call what they did surrendering. Basically, their leaders admitted they made a mistake in attacking us in the first place, and resigned their government positions. New elections were held and a new government that was far friendlier toward us came into power.
With our aid and a flood of tourists the bugs' economy stabilized and began to recover. The remains of the bugs' battle groups were absorbed into our battle fleet, and we took over the job of protecting them from the unknown. The battle group that I was part of was a mixed group of bugs and humans assigned to clean up the fringe worlds and bring law and order to planets that had none. Not an easy task.
Three of us set down on the landing pads of a small town spaceport -
We spent most of the day walking in and out of all the businesses in town. You could tell the ones that were probably on the shady side just by the way the managers and some of the employees looked at us. We took note of the names of those businesses to give to the bugs later so they could check the businesses out on the net. It was late in the day and I was coming out of the twentieth bar/casino/pleasure house I had been in when I saw her. It was like staring at my poster. The narrow streets were crowded, and by the time I pushed my way through them she was gone. The image of her standing there in the crowd haunted me the rest of the day.
I told my buddy what I saw. He just laughed and told me I was crazy. We met up with the bugs at the end of the day to compare notes. As expected, most of the houses of pleasure were engaged in some form of slave labor. Several casinos and bars were engaged in a money laundering operation for the local crime syndicate. The bugs had also stumbled across a pornography ring involving minors and adults, but lacked any information on the size and extent of the operation. They would let the computer chew on that overnight, and see what it came up with in the morning. We radioed our report to the battle group, and a small task force was placed on standby.
We were totally unprepared with what the computer spit out the next morning. The pornography ring was far more extensive than anyone could believe. When the list of customers came up, Starfighter Command was high on the list, having ordered several thousand custom-
As it turned out, a subcontractor looking to cut corners had ordered the videos, and they had used the name of Starfighter Command to expedite shipment of the videos. Starfighter Command takes a very dim view of those that misuse its name or misrepresent them. Starfighter Command likes everything above board and squeaky clean, and they were going to sanitize this whole situation. When we finally got the video files I knew what I would see. I was glad to see that the bugs had a sense of humor. They thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. I was just embarrassed. By looking at the videos you would have thought that if the bugs had sent their women out to fight the war we would have lost without firing a shot.
I pulled up all the addresses nearest the place where I had seen my poster girl, and went to find her. I had very little time. Starfighter Command was going to drop the entire invasion force of the battle group on this town to ensure they got everyone and everything that had anything to do with the making and distribution of those videos. Twenty Starfighters were already on the ground and had secured the spaceport. Nothing was going to be able to get in or out of this town very shortly.
I found her at the fourth address on my list. It was an orphanage for girls, human or bug. She was sitting on the floor in the corner of the room holding a young human girl, rocking her, and stroking her hair. There was a look of terrible sadness in both their eyes. I stooped down in front of them. I must have had a million questions in my eyes. "I grew up here. It is the only life I have ever known," she replied to one of those unasked questions. After a long period of silence when I could find nothing to say to ease her pain or my own, she asked hopelessly, "Where were all the heroes when we needed them?" There were no tears, only a terrible sadness in the eyes of an angel.
"You can have the bug for an hour for fifty," someone behind me said. "The girl will cost a little more if you want her instead."
My eyes never left hers as she waited for my reply. The man behind me drew closer. "All day is two hundred and fifty, and if you want video on top of that it's an extra two hundred," he said. I figured he took me for a regular customer.
I smiled a weak smile as I reached out and brushed a strand of black hair from her face. "The trouble with being a hero is that sometimes we just don't know where to look," I said. "But, we never give up looking." I doubted that my eyes concealed the rage and pain in my heart. I felt like I had let her down, and was too late coming to her rescue.
"Friend, for another two hundred you can have them both for the day if you can't make up your mind," the man said tapping me on the shoulder. Fire burned in my soul. I pulled my gun, stood up, turned around, and put half a dozen bullets into his fat stomach. A few moments later five other men were dead on the floor and eighteen others were lying face down with their fingers laced behind their head. I was in no mood to play. The image in my head had been shattered, and I was left to face the terrible reality that created the image.
Starfighter Command shut it all down. They tracked down every video, every name, and every lead that we found associated with this case. The subcontractor and everybody that had ever been associated with them disappeared. Several high ranking officers and a few psychologists found themselves stationed on frozen planets so far away that they don't have names yet, only numbers. Their pinup girl was a major embarrassment when it was discovered that she had been sold over and over again as a slave to men's pleasure, and was only seventeen when she posed for the poster and did the videos. She was too well known by every member of the Starfighter Legion to send her someplace where she would not be recognized. The price for her silence was high, but in the end it was agreed that it was well worth it.
The wallpaper in my locker has long since been replaced by a picture of my wife. She works with lost children found on the fringe worlds we are slowly bringing civilization to. She doesn't talk about her past much and you can still find the sadness in her eyes if you look close enough. The memory of her past drives her forward in an effort to bring hope to those who have lost all hope.