An Honorable Mention in the 2017 Spring Shock Trigger Warning Writing Contest

The battle between the coldbloods and the warmbloods is all I have ever known.

Across the quadrillions of known worlds making up the Zooniverse, mobs of anthro-morphs butcher one another, utilizing all the natural killer instinct at their disposal in an eternal ultrapolarized Armageddon omnicidal war where boundaries and rules have long since ceased to exist.

In this space jungle, Snake Commandos face off against knife-wielding Octopunks, the Felininjas battle the Dynoborgz, and the shark gangster Megalo-Dons protect their turf against incursions by the Rip Roarin’ Rat Road-Hogs on their flame-spewing motorbikes.

I, Gonorrheus, with my two brothers Chlamydion and Herpetian, make up the amphibian triad of wart-hardened killers known as the Combat Frogs. Across the starways we rage forever, slaughtering the hateful warmbloods on contract from the highest bidder from within the hellscape that is the Bufonidae Empire, endless worlds full of factories seven layers deep churning out shoddily made consumer products and war weapons.

I know no pleasant memories, nor why I alone out of the three of us was granted intelligence. Herpetian, a massive tower of salamandrine muscle and insatiable lust for murder, can communicate only in screams and croaking roars. Within him the dimmest of intellects drives the most basic of life-function. Among us three his kill count is the highest, forgoing all else so he can spill more rivers of warm blood.

Chlamydion is marginally more aware, but all he is capable of is gibbering speech and cunning violence, especially against those who cannot defend themselves. He is the smallest of us, often relying on us for protection when he comes up against a mammalian foe whose might exceeds his. He is possessed of lightning quickness and an endless capacity for insult, bottomless laziness and easily triggered hatred for anyone or anything who is not an amphibian.

Then there is the psychotic avian genius and warmblood turncoat Dr. Flaps DeFeathers, who is said to be the one who created us. Dark memories of creation and foul breeding procedures haunt my dreams, and none will tell whether we spawned naturally from tadpoles or were mammals captured and experimented upon within the unsanctioned research facilities on the most secret locations within the Bufonidae Empire, for why else would the three of us walk upright on two legs instead on all fours?

But there is no time to ponder our origins, or much of anything, as we fly our space speedsters towards the flagship of the fleet belonging to the warmblood warlord, the Demonatrix, with intent to rescue the Empire’s heir, the frog Duchess Uselessia, blasting mighty mouse fighters out of the sky and watching their furry hides fry in the blooming explosions. Dr. DeFeathers’ beaked visage stretches through the monitor of our wrist communicators to scream instructions in his aerodynamic shriek.

“Better hop to it, Frogs!” he squawks, pointing his winged fingers uncomfortably close to my face as always. “It’s time to broil that chunk of meat the Demonatrix once and for all!”

“Heh heh heh!” sniggers Chlamydion, “We’re gonna flay her pink flesh off!! Wrap that sickening mane of fur she calls hair around her throat and choke the oxygen out of her lungs!” Herpetian gives a loud roar of assent.

They will not question my silence. Even if I could go rogue and fight them off there is still the force that pushes me inexorably along from left to right, the one I cannot name or describe despite my scientific knowledge, an ever present reminder that Death is the only way out, both for me and for my victims.

Before I have the chance to fully process the thought we are flying over the battleship’s deck, rather than land we plow our ships at cruising speed right into the masses of leather-clad, spiky-haired, gun-toting mouse troops and their pig-troll commanders known as Sgt. Porkles that make up the bulk of the Demonatrix’s army. Our space speeders are battered to useless hulks as the legions of tiny warm bloods are reduced to spatters of fur and teeth.

“Woo-hoo!” exults Chlamydion. “Turn every last one of ’em to roadkill!” Slowly our speeders grind to a halt.

Herpetion, who was already large enough to barely be contained by his space speeder, flexes his enormous arms and tears the cockpit apart.

“GRRR-RRIBBIT!!” he screams, emerging from the wreckage and advancing across the deck through the hail of gunfire. The bullets bounce of his hide, which itself is as thick as a brick wall. The terrified mouse soldiers vomit and soil themselves at his approach, with some of them chittering for their mothers and fleeing only to trample one another.

As Herpetian nears the front lines of the rodent army he undergoes one of the inexplicable, sense-rending transformations that manifest for all three of us when killing and increase our power and efficiency, with the flesh of his entire front half transforming seamlessly and instantaneously into the smooth rolling mechanism of a steamroller. Countless shrieking mice are pancaked on the deck, their entrails spurting out like condiments. Then comes the momentary recovery period where Herpetian regains his usual form as quickly as he changed. He opens his mouth and his long tongue wraps around a fleeing mouse soldier’s arm, and the squeaking rodent is pulled through the air and down his throat in a single gulp, gun and all. I can hear the crunching of bones and the wrenching screams of the mouse being digested as Herpetion thrusts his tongue out again to make a meal of more hapless infantrymice.

Chlamydion blasts out of the windshield of his speeder, leaps high into the air and aims a kick at a mouse patroller’s face. His leg transforms into a sword sharp enough to cut solid metal in two and the long-tailed soldier’s head is separated neatly from his shoulders, with the blood geysering out all over his squad mates, blinding them and causing their rifles to jam. The mice are scattered from the rear as a General GinorMouse sweeps them away with a swing of a pillar-size limb covered with matted and torn grey fur. The tattooed monstrosity of a rat towers over Chlamydion, snickering down at him through a mouth of snaggled and broken teeth and causing his many piercings to jingle. Undaunted, Chlamydion kicks him with full force right underneath his studded belt buckle. The GinorMouse gasps and his eyes bulge out so far that his helmet’s visor pops right off. Doubling over, hands between his legs, gasping, his cheeks bulge before he spews out two round bloody objects which roll on the deck. Chlamydion ruthlessly stomps them, grinding his heel and leaving a bloody dent in the shape of his size 12 army boot’s sole on the deck.

“Choke on this, you mangy mammalian!” screams Chlamydion, swinging a fist which morphs into a battle axe. He buries the sharp edge deep in the GinorMouse’s chest, right up to the hilt. With obvious glee he twists the blade, making mincemeat of his foe’s vital organs. Slowly, the life fades out of the giant mouse’s eyes and his face freezes in a gap-jawed expression of horror before Chlamydion tries to rip his hand out of the creature’s guts.

As he does, I climb out of my ruined craft, attempting to use the chaos created by Chlamydion and Herpetian as a cover for my own presence so I can minimize my own casualty count, but a whoosh of air alerts my finely tuned frog senses to the presence of a giant club being swung at my head. I roll on the deck and avoid the attack, coming up to find myself face-to-face with a particularly ugly Sgt. Porkle.

The stench of bacon fills the air, mixing with the odour of mouse droppings as the sweating pig heaves his huge mallet for another try. Before he can I rush him and slam my head into his paunch, which is spilling out of his filthy blue uniform. Before I connect a four-foot long railroad spike sprouts from my skull- causing me an enormous amount of pain- and when I make contact his stomach bursts open, with his porcine viscera tumbling out amidst a wave of other entrails. Squealing horribly, he crawls on the deck trying to stuff his guts back in, but I pick up his dropped club and cave his skull in before he can. As I do I tell myself that he is better off with his sickening existence ended.

A rabid mouse leaps onto my back, clawing and chittering maniacally. Shocked, I instinctively grab him and slam him to the ground. A sharp snap breaks through the din, and as the mouse writhes with a look of terror on his face I realize I have crippled him beyond repair. Tears trickle down the terrified soldier’s face as the realization dawns on him too. My insides twist with guilt and shame. Breathing hard, I lean down over him and whisper, “Shhhhh. Shhhhh.” Then I bring my fist down across his throat, grimacing as it transforms into a saw blade and kicks up a shower of blood and gristle. It takes him too long to die, and as he does he drowns on his own blood, his last sounds a bubbling gurgle.

A warning shot from an expertly aimed laserpistol singes the leathery flesh of my shoulder. That shot could have killed me, I know, but it was intended to get my attention, and so I look up and see the purple uniform of the Lapinate Protectorate worn by a blue-furred shooter.

“Spring-Heel McRabbitson!” gasps Dr. DeFeathers from my wrist, awed.

“Gonorrheus the War Frog,” returns the Mammalian war hero and mercenary, Scourge of the Bufonidae Empire and exiled Prince of Cottontail, a world long since conquered and enslaved by the coldbloods.

“Stew that rascally rabbit, Gonorrheus,” snaps Dr. DeFeathers from my wrist. “Prove to me you haven’t gone soft and squishy.”

In McRabbitson’s pink and bloodshot eyes I can see the same weariness and disgust with the constant murder and atrocity that I share. He does not wish to kill me any more than I do him, but that does not stop him from hopping up and kicking me in the face with his huge freckled feet. Then he is close, grabbing me with one foreleg and battering me in the back of the head with the other, and his buck teeth bury themselves in the puckered warts of my neck.

I grunt and push him away. Blood drips from the bite wound. The kick has my head ringing but I shake it off and pound my black gloved fist into his whiskered face repeatedly, culminating with a roundhouse in which my flipper grows to ten times its normal size.

His twitching nose splinters under the blow and he staggers back, gasping for air. Pink foam drips from his lips as rage takes over. Moving swiftly he drops into a run, his back legs covering the distance in a flash and he tackles me hard, driving me to the deck. We smash through an energy-spewing turbolaser, which explodes, embedding shrapnel in our hides and the fire peeling off skin and fur.

Despite his pain he is on top of me first. His clawed paws wrap tightly around my throat. Any trace of compassion is gone, leaving only the beast inside. I feel the life start to leave my body, and I try to embrace the end and let him have his victory for the honour of his defiled rabbit race.

“Whatsamatta, Gonorrheus?!” crows Dr. DeFeathers. “You gonna let that bunny rabbit make you croak?! Get up and fight, you warty wuss!”

Stung into action by the insult I roll backwards, putting my own frog legs into McRabbitson’s chest and throwing him over the side of the battleship directly into one of its tail rockets.

The rabbit hero’s eyes boil and his tongue flops about as the flames fricasee him. Fire shoots out of his mouth as his vocal cords melt, silencing his agonized death howl. Even as the meat slides off his bones he tries to extract himself from the fire, only to collapse back in and become charcoal and space debris, floating away in the cold vaccuum.

Grief and regret fills me as I pull myself up only to be replaced by loathing as a holoprojection of the Demonatrix projects itself from a hidden camera on the battleship’s deck. Chlamydion and Herpetion stop their slaughter long enough to look up. The decimated remnants of the warmblood leader’s army stagger about, many of them missing limbs and eyes.

The lovely and cruel face of the Demonatrix dominates the image. She stands tall and proud, bedecked in obscene jewelry and wearing deadly-looking spiked boots. A cape seemingly made of shadow itself billows out behind her. On an ornately set table in before her lies a massive heap of gnawed-to-the-bone frog legs on a golden tray, the last of which she sucks on juicily. The Duchess Uselessia is visible in the background, gagged and tied to a plush bed. Her expression is a blend of fear, shock, deep violation and ecstasy while indecent implements of all sorts lie scattered around.

My brothers, Dr DeFeathers and I stand shocked at this display. The Demonatrix, clearly enjoying our discomfort, swallows the last bite of her frog leg and lets out an impressive belch before settling back in an alluring pose.

Chlamydion is the first to recover himself. Adjusting his sunglasses, he smiles up at the seductress. “Heyyy, nasty girl,” he leers, flashing his sparkling white teeth. “You still hungry? How’d you like some toad-in-the-hole?”

“Pathetic!” snorts the Demonatrix. “You pond scum are clearly threatened by my expression of femaleness, as evidenced by your comments tying evil explicitly to gender!”

Herpetian is so confused by this that he actually forgets to be angry. “WHUHHH???” he roars.

Chlamydion is deeply wounded. He crumpled his sunglasses up in his fist. “Frog you, you hair-covered humie hellspawn!” he screams. “I was tryin’ ta be nice and stuff! Yer lucky any guy looks at ya!”

“Cool it, Chlamydion,” Dr. DeFeathers shushes him. “Don’t let ‘er rile ya up.” Chlamydion wipes a tear away as DeFeathers turns his stern gaze on the Demonatrix. “You deviant demoness!” the Doctor caws. “What unspeakable torment do you think you’re perpetuating upon the Duchess?”

“We are re-educating the fair Lady so that she personally understands the harm done by objectification ,” sneers the Demonatrix. “Subjecting her to the lived experience of those who are constrained will help her develop compassion and empathy. And anyway, it’s none of your warty business who I consensually choose to share myself with, you verrucous vermin!”

The Doctor lets out a screech and kicks up a spray of stray feathers at this. “That kind of cherry-picking data to fit a preconceived bias is why I defected from the warmbloods,” he keens. “But no matter how much you spin and obfuscate, cold, unbiased reptilian logic will eventually prevail over your foolhardy emotion. Mark my winged words!”

“Small chance, you fly-sucking slimelords,” growls the villainess. “The Mammalliance will never allow you to reassert your male dominance and control! Die in torment, you futilely fragile fascist frogs!”

The image disappears and ominous red lights begin to flash all over the battleship. A clock showing 15 seconds begins to count down and the blare of a horn startles what remains of the Demonatrix’s troops. Those that can still walk begin to hobble to the edge of the deck and throw themselves off into the void of space like lemmings.

“Look alive, fellow Frogs,” shouts Chlamydion. “The Demonatrix has triggered the ship’s self-destruct mechanism! We’ll be blown to bits if we don’t croak out of here pronto!”

At that moment, Doctor DeFeather’s survey ship, the Vulgar Vulture, heaves into view. “Don’t count your chickens, my boys!” he squawks, as pickup cables extend down for us to grab.

“Think I’d leave ya to face the music?”

“Not likely, Doc!” Chlamydion hollers. “We’re gonna teach that dastardly Demonatrix a lesson in respect, but we ain’t gonna learn NOTHIN’! Yeahhh!”

We grab onto the ropes and are pulled up, clearing the deck just as the countdown expires and the battleship is consumed in a nova blast. I consider letting go, but since the blinding light and the radioactive energy from the explosion somehow do not affect me or my brothers, I allow myself to reach the Vulture’s hangar.

“War makes beasts of us all, boys,” says the mad bird doctor, patting me on the shoulder as I climb up and Chlamydion and Herpetian high-five one another. It is the most painful thing I have heard, or felt.


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