Weredog Green Berets and Ninja Gnomes on Venus, by Jeff Forker

I was a three-time volunteer (loser, in that I had been volunteered to become a weredog, then been volunteered for the Weredog Corps and then been volunteered for the Green Beret Task Force), winding my way through a third enlistment, when we landed on Venus to find ourselves up against a vast Ninja Noldor Gnome Army much larger than what our Intel people had told us we would be facing.

I had been living as a chocolate lab with a family of potato programmers in Pocatello when the goon-squad came for me. Off-Earth imperialism and colonies, and subsequent wars, had siphoned people from Earth by the hundreds of millions. It did not take long before Earth was short of people to run things, to defend and attack things. Genetic engineers had made therianthropy a reality and weredogs and werecats were the top of those new product lines, mostly destined for soldiering.

Earth soldiers had long ago all been re-designated as SEALs and Rangers. But, the elite of the elite were still called Green Berets, a status reserved for only the best of the best. Somehow I made my way into the Weredog Green Beret Task Force headed for Venus to put down the Ninja Noldor Gnome Insurrection.

Old folks told stories of days when Earth was overpopulated, when there were too many people, too many dogs and cats, too little food and water. It was hard to conceive of such a scenario. Wars and epidemics changed that. Soon Earth was short of people, and a few other species. Scientists made up much of the difference with robots. But, leaps in genetic engineering, and the human appetite for slaves and servants, led to all sorts new cloned, hybrid species. My genesis was part of that panoply. So were gnomes.

Gnomes were released onto the market with much fanfare and promise. Humans would never again have to tend to their own gardens. Gnomes would handle it all, and look cute in the process. But, their promise soon went off the rails. Someone gave the gnomes AI consciousness (most assume it was the French gnome liberationist group, Front pour la Libération des Gnomes), which promptly prompted the gnomes to throw down their garden trowels and revolt. Gardens fell into disarray as the gnomes rioted and burned, then stole some space craft and escaped the Earth. No one knew where they went, until the call for help came from the Space Wolves.

A colony on Venus, called Lycanthropolis, founded by a group of emancipated werewolves, who called themselves The Space Wolves, had for years been successfully terra-forming on Venus, developing new types of vegetables and giant high-protein insects, when the gnomes attacked. It started as simple gnoming, garden pranks and jokes, but soon got serious. In no time gnomes were running amok in the streets and gardens, stealing werewolf garden statuary and releasing it in the wild, rearranging plants and leaving threatening gnome haiku, written in Old German script, on doors and gates all over the planet. All of a sudden the gnomes weren’t so cute anymore and hostilities escalated.

On the surface we formed up fast, but did not have to wait. They hit us in waves, scything with their battle trowels and combat hoes, ululating that strange song of theirs. We held as long as we could and my pack-company was down to half combat-strength before we got split off and separated from the rest of our pack-battalion and were almost over run. We fought our way clear and found some werewolf survivors holed up on an abandoned mantis ranch. That is where I first saw and smelled her.

Her name was Bernice and she was a Bichon from Baltimore. She was also AWOL from the Weredog Corps, had joined the Space Wolves in hopes of freedom and open spaces. Her scent intoxicated me. We were drawn together like fuel and fire and immediately inseparable.

HQ radioed us and told us the plan and gave us coordinates to where we were to make haste and ready. We took Bernice and the other wolves with us. Couldn’t leave them there. Besides, all were trained and blooded warriors.

We moved fast, fought our way through several skirmishes, and Bernice stayed by my side every step of the way. She was a fighter, slashing and tearing with elegance. I brought her up to speed on our new weapons. She, just being near, tested my resolve and restraint.

We rendezvoused with other units, awaited orders, then lured the gnomes into choke points, simultaneously all over the planet, with promises of shiny gold and fresh potting soil. They fell for it every time. We churned them like gnome butter then drove the survivors into deserts and arid plains, where they were cut off and creatively stifled until they’d had enough and surrendered.

We mediated talks between the werewolves and the gnomes. Jamon Mercarder, the Werewolf leader, was holding out, so I had him killed. Didn’t trust him anyway. Gimlis, the gnome leader, laughed for an hour, demanded that we all drink several gallons of garden grog, which had a none too subtle bouquet of compost, and then signed the agreement.

So, a deal was brokered. The gnomes would stay on Venus and help the werewolves to grow their veggies and trees, herd their gargantuan beetles and hoppers. I am told that in a few short years Venus became a garden paradise. (Snakes are strictly forbidden.) But I cannot attest to that, because Bernice and I are long gone.

We headed out with a few adventurous weredogs and werewolves to find our fate, with possibly a little pirating on the side, to make ends meet. We are searching for a constellation called Canis Major, and a sun called The Dog Star, where we hope to find a civilization of canines where leashes, collars, water dishes and steel traps do not exist. And Bernice and I are making use of the time to get well acquainted, doggy style, you might say.

I am a veteran of U.S. Army Special Operations and of numerous writers programs and herds. I have an M.A. in English, from UMKC, the University of Missouri in Kansas City. I have done a lot of corporate and military writing, but  not had any fiction published lately, am just getting back into this. I live with a she-demon, two human adolescents, two dogs, one of which is a weredog, and a cat, who seems to be in charge of the household.

Posted on October 9, 2014, in Issue 15: Elves & Spacerockets and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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