In Retrospect: Contra

By: Lance Bean1

Scorpion reminisces about his days “in the shit” with Mad Dog and the alien-conducted Red Falcon Organization…

Contra1

My name is Private First Class Lance Bean, codename: Scorpion, and I was trying to kill myself with cheap whiskey when I was reactivated by the United States Military. I was needed for a special ops mission so imperative on a global scale that you couldn’t help but wonder why Uncle Sam was scraping the bottom of the barrel to the point where I was the planet’s only hope. But that’s the way everything went down, and I say it with no ego. My pride died along with the other pieces of myself in the jungle long ago.

They’re calling us a Contra, but we’re not affiliated with Nicaragua or Iran in any way. It’s all propaganda if you ask me, a story we tell the viewers at home who watch us as we deploy behind enemy lines. Don’t get me wrong; I believe now in what we were doing, but everything leading up to it was pure theater. Which leads me to what happened after I was debriefed: my reunion with fellow commando and dependable point man, Pfc. Bill “Mad Dog” Rizer.

You can tell that Bill had embraced the selling of it more wholeheartedly than I had, but he always had more flair that I did. They were grooming us both you see, to sell our offensive against Red Falcon to the people, and looking back it was shameful how much time was spent on propoganda when in the meantime the entire fate of Earth hung in the balance. Just take a look at us side-by-side in those early promotional posters and you’ll see what I mean. Whereas my photograph – to my chagrin – was doctored just enough to make me resemble Stallone from Rambo, Bill was made to look like Schwarzenegger from Predator, which had come out earlier that year and had been a box office success. Bill went along with it with much enthusiasm, and I was embarrassed for him, but I let him have his moment, and I kept my mouth shut. After all, Bill might soon be killed by the hands of an alien himself at that point, and I wasn’t about to piss all over his moment in the spotlight.

Please don’t ask me to defend or justify the decisions of my superiors, for they make about as much sense to you as they do to me. Don’t ask me why they sent us off to that godforsaken island half naked, wearing bright primary colors instead of decent camouflage. Don’t ask me why they armed us with only low caliber semi-automatic rifles and absolutely no demolitions. Don’t ask me why they only sent two of us – instead of the entire might of the US military – on a hit-and-run mission that obviously warranted heavy engagement. I don’t question orders; I just obey them.

What follows is how it actually went down….

Day 1

The chopper dropped us in an estuary that fed into a jungle island somewhere in the Amazons. We immediately encountered enemy resistance, and engaged them aggressively. Our mission was never about stealth or reconnaissance; we were to hit them hard and fast with whatever surprise was on our side. We encountered our first setback when we reached the first bridge. In an effort to halt our advance, Red Falcon blew up their own bridge with us on it, sending me plunging into the murky waters below. When I surfaced I realized that Mad Dog was still up top on the ridge. He’d actually made it across.

I waded down the river, taking out snipers and automated sentries as I went, before I was able to climb back up the ridge to the top to regroup with Mad Dog. “What the hell was that?” he said with disgust.

“I fell,” I said defensively. “There’s no way we could have anticipated they’d blow their own supply lines.”

He had fire in his eyes. “That never would have happened if you’d stuck to your training. You need to flip through the air, like this.” He jumped high up into the air and somersaulted, landing on his feet and turning back to me. “Got it?”

I was skeptical. “You mean every time? But that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Just do it, Scorpion!”

So I acquiesced, and although I wouldn’t admit it to him, his acrobatics did make traversing the thick jungle terrain much easier. We continued to take out Red Falcon soldiers with precision shots, and when we reached their command base it appeared impregnable, but only at first sight. We discovered a weak point just inside their snipers’ line of fire, and we focused all of our firepower on that glowing crimson sphere. After unloading several magazines’ worth of ammunition into this focal point, the façade of the base exploded, granting us access. We shot our way in and engaged the enemy at  close quarters with extreme prejudice.

Day  2

Some kind of force field shocked me to the very marrow of my bones as we attempted to penetrate our way deeper into the interior of their fortress. The walls were protected by some kind of crystalline alien element, but it wasn’t invulnerable. The narrow hallways made the firefight difficult though. There was no cover behind the force field, and Red Falcon gunmen were coming at us from both sides, raining heavy fire down on us as they jumped sideways across the hall in a wide stance, lobbing grenades our way all the while. Not to mention the anti-personnel mines that rolled towards us by the half dozen in some of the deeper chambers. After we blasted our way into the innermost fortress’ depths we found a command center, marked by the Red Falcon crest beneath us, and as we dodged an intense barrage of bullets we realized that six interlinked computers needed to be taken out in order to neutralize the base. All was going well when some kind of jellyfish-like alien materialized before us and started sending radioactive bubbles our way. I went on the defense taking out the bubbles and protecting Mad Dog as he concentrated his fire on the gelatinous alien head. It wasn’t hard to kill, and after we took it out we each rode a turbolift on either side of the chamber upwards into the unknown.

Day 3

The waterfall was a vertical nightmare, and we knew from our debriefing that if you ascended it too quickly and left your point man behind, he could die. Besides the seemingly limitless alien technology Red Falcon has in its arsenal, we quickly learned by dodging falling boulders that there is nothing this sinister organization has at its disposal that won’t be used. As we made our way up the cliff face I spotted two drones flying through the air and shot them down. The one that landed near Mad Dog had a heavy duty shoulder fired laser inside of it, and it had the ability to seriously charbroil alien meat. It was efficient, but you needed to be patient with it. For me though, all that my drone yielded was a near useless flame thrower that didn’t even fire straight, but rather in erratic rolling spirals. There wasn’t much I could do with a weapon like this, and I was frustrated. I let Mad Dog have the superior firepower without complaint however.

At the top of the waterfall, guarding yet another base was a huge, ugly alien. He was a real mean looking son of a bitch, black eyes and sharp teeth, with two long, deadly tentacles. He put up a good fight against us, wounding us both superficially, but in the end we blew both of his snakelike arms off. He spit some more radioactive bubbles at us in his death throes, but he must’ve known it was a lost cause as his head exploded into millions of pieces, leaving nothing but a stump of severed spinal cords in its place. We had infiltrated Red Falcon’s second base.

Day 4

This base was much like the first, but the focal crystals that protected the inner blast doors were covered in some kind of ruby quartz. It gave way under heavy fire, but slowed down our advance. As before, we shot our way into the interior, taking out Red Falcon soldiers and automated sentries, until we had to take out another network of computers while at the same time fighting off winged alien bipeds that descended upon us with fury. After killing them, we faced off against a duo of aliens similar to the one from the first base, but these two used illusory tactics to divert our fire elsewhere. Again, these two shot bubbles full of kinetic energy at us, but they were smaller bubbles that honed in on us with lethal efficiency. These ones were harder to take out, but in the end we outmaneuvered them. We always do. I suppose that’s why they hand picked us for this mission.

Day 5

Apparently the aliens had been terraforming our planet from the heart of the Amazon, for what awaited us when we left that second base made our jaws drop. It was like stepping through a door and finding yourself in the middle of Antarctica. The aliens were already changing our planet.

We had little time to gawk, however, as projectile bombs came propelling through the air toward us from the tree line, and Red Falcon machine gun emplacements were everywhere. We cut them down quickly though, and for a while the frigid temperatures on our bare chests didn’t seem to slow us down. We had blood fever.

Mad Dog and I usually work well together, but after I shot down two more drones he snubbed me. I went to collect a prize of a devastatingly powerful automatic rifle that sprayed high-caliber bullets in all directions, but Mad Dog flipped down in front of me and claimed it for himself. The other drone held a high velocity machine gun, but still, I wanted that other gun, and it should have been mine. I didn’t have the luxury of sulking, as we had a mission to complete.

Red Falcon threw two heavily armed tanks our way, spikes and all, and while they had the capability to run us down, they inexplicably came to a halt a few feet from us and lazily shot low caliber ammunition our way. They were no match for our new toys, particularly Mad Dog’s efficient spray gun, and the firepower we wielded made short work of them. After we’d ascertained certain tactical patterns of their defense, they were easy to overcome. They moved too slowly, and with our weapons we were often able to take them out before they were able to fire a single shot. When we reached the entrance to their energy zone, an alien ship materialized and began launching short range fighters at us, but we knocked them out of the sky as easily as I had the drones. The vulnerability of these aliens was actually quite surprising considering their designs of conquest. Their weak points, once identified, made them rather pathetic conquerors.

Day 6

This was the most hazardous environment we’d been in yet. Apparently these aliens do not fuck around when it comes to their power source. There were lasers lashing out at us from all directions like snakes striking. I didn’t escape it unscathed, but Mad Dog did as he helped himself to yet another weapon that I procured, this one some type of alien force field that made him impervious to bullets and fire. He walked through soldiers and they disintegrated, but he had that pained look on his face again, like the “fight” had been taxing on him. Goddamned showboat.

When we reached the entrance to the alien hangar, there was a giant alien robot waiting for us with a spike protruding from each shoulder. He was about eight feet tall and looked intimidating as hell, but when we engaged him all he liked to do was jump around and throw cylindrical projectiles at us like hockey pucks sliding across the ice. We shot this boss in the head and he went down quick.

Day 7

Their resources were thinning, and we knew victory was near. Defensive force fields had been replaced by flimsy spiked walls that were easily overcome. They had little carts ferrying around their munitions, the kind you might see in a coal mine. The hangar was made up of a sophisticated but seemingly pointless piping network, with lights blinking everywhere. It reminded me of something the Japanese might’ve designed. This was not the technology of an advanced alien race, and it made me wonder what exactly Red Falcon was getting out of this deal. As we ducked clawed robotic hands reaching down from the ceiling and progressed through the hangar, I wondered what we’d find once we reached the alien queen’s lair. However, I didn’t have too long to ponder this before we came up against defenses guarding the lair that were no more sophisticated than any we encountered thus far. It was disappointing, really.

Day 8

The alien queen was terrible to behold: an eyeless, razor toothed monstrosity with horns like the devil and skin tone to match. She belched vicious looking alien embryos at us through the chasm of her mouth, and once again I reluctantly admitted to myself how Mad Dog’s insistence on flying through the air in a ball had saved both of our lives. She hissed and roared at us, and she put up a fight, but she was no match for my machine gun and his spray gun. We pulverized her head into pulp.

But we were both in for a real surprise. The ground beneath our feet continued to quake, and we both realized it at the same time: She was still alive!

He looked at me, grim determination on his face. “Shall we see this through to the end?”

Of course he would have some clichéd one-liner in the face of certain death.

I sighed, and I let him have his moment. I snapped another round into my machine gun with an audible click and said, “Let’s do this.”

We entered the queen’s body through her chest cavity. We shot through parasites and flipped over acid shot from gastric glands. We blew apart insect like creatures in the cardiac chamber while severing veins and major arteries. The alien heart beat furiously, as if in a panic, and Mad Dog and I unloaded everything we had upon that evil glowing muscle. We’ll never understand why it blew apart like a bomb, just like all other alien matter we’d shot up, but who’s to say why when you’re talking about alien anatomy.

Day 9

We were extracted by helicopter and for good measure we dropped a hydrogen bomb on the island to make sure that nothing survived, which begs the question: Why didn’t we just do that in the first place?

We came home to much fanfare. After all the parades and interviews, all I wanted was to be left alone to enjoy some much needed down time.

I clasped Bill’s hand as we parted ways, and he gave me a knowing smile. He would always be the face of our team, and I would always be the aloof one who hung back in the shadows. There’s no denying that’s how each of us liked it. I guess that’s why we worked so well together.

During my hospital stay the doctor told me I was lucky to be alive, and I was inclined to agree with him. We had beaten million to one odds. That night I looked up at the sky and wondered if it was luck or some divine providence. It felt as though some higher power had been guiding our actions. And when all was said and done, both of us had been shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, and burned, yet we’d persevered. It was as if we’d each been granted thirty lives. I’ll go to my grave wondering about that.

When I got home there was certified mail waiting for me from the upper echelons of the United States Military’s command. It simply read: Congratulations! You’ve destroyed the vile Red Falcon and saved the universe. Consider yourself a hero.

They sure do know how to put it eloquently, don’t they? I went and poured myself a tall glass of whiskey. I believe I’ve earned it.

  1. Lewis H. Montaug []
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