Biological Pronouns, Chemical Pronouns and Other Forbidden Weapons of War

“No speaking!” Adrian Booth frantically shouted into the conference room. When several dozen dumbfounded leaders of the world looked at him, he added “Speaking is death!”

The President of the United States, Jude Dawson, set on to speak, which Booth recognised too late. “Mr. Booth, I—” “Stupid! Dunce! Shut up!” Booth screamed at him. He had managed to shut him off in time, having only finished the /a/ in /aɪ/.

With broken pride, Mr. Dawson looked at the ground. It was a seldom moment seeing the most powerful man of the world submit meekly to the demands of a man who had been wildly unimportant on the scale of geopolitics until now, but everyone knew the problem that had brought them here together. And everyone knew what they expected from Mr. Booth. That is, nothing less than his saving the world.

No one dared to speak anymore. This madman who had come wildly storming out of his chamber had obviously lost his last shreds of sanity, but in the face of the gravity of the situation, the only thing left to do was to listen to him and take his words for law.

The sullen atmosphere dropped even deeper as Mr. Booth spent uncomfortable seconds looking everyone into their eyes. There was a certain technique to his looks that made him appear more authoritative than he really was. When he was done, he grabbed a nearby marker and began to scribble on the whiteboard.

Commander Eager sat on her high stool. With view on the ceiling-height monitor reflecting several live video feeds from the recce drone the Foreign Fleet sent into lunar orbit decades ago, business on Earth became practically transparent. Blending into the ever-growing amount of orbital waste, the tiny drone was almost imperceptible to even skilled telescope operators.

From these video feeds, Eager could gather intel to calculate the best time for an attack on humanity’s military forces. The right time, it turned out, never came. Where any other civilisation focused on balanced technological advancements, a belligerent civilisation like this one staked everything on the card of weapons. Machines born to kill.

Even in the face of the primitive state of technology this civilisation held in general, their focus made an easy win impossible. The strongest soldier falls prey to a trained rogue. A direct military confrontation, Commander Eager concluded, was an act of suicide.

“Commander,” an unnamed lieutenant ripped her out of her deliberations. This meant news. Good news or bad news, this would then become evident in the next few minutes.

“These weapons will change all of our plans, the engineers say. Come with me.”

Commander Eager followed the young man through several highly secured vault doors into wing B7 of the complex. B7 was the laboratory codename for subtle military technology. Behind the doors was a large, communal hall, the standard setup for all military laboratories that did not handle inherently explosive or toxic materials.

Inside the hall — a large room, really — six people stood around, huddled together over a long sheet of paper. Their eyes were all fixated on a set of cryptic glyphs. Commander Eager did not understand them, and she had a vague premonition that this was not due to her lack of knowledge on the topic, but that there was simply nothing to understand here.

“Explain your system to me. One minute. If you don’t catch my attention, you’re all going back to the nuclear bombs.”

One engineer tapped on a set of characters on the paper. “This is the newest variation of our mind worm weapon. We can send the code into our drones and reprogram the brains of everyone on this side of the planet.” The finger slipped to a crude drawing of the Earth, an uneven geoid, with one half shaded with a pencil.

“The other side will be unaffected, but we can delay the effect of the worm so that there is enough time to infect everyone.”

“What does the worm do?”

“Our idea was to make communication within the ranks of the enemy impossible. We tweaked the weapon to cause symptoms of illness within a human body when certain data is sent through nerves.”

The finger goes down the paper to encircle a drawing of a human brain with lines and words attached to it.

“There are several regions in the human brain that activate when processing language… That is the topic we focused on. Targeting flags in these regions, we can make language dangerous.

“The symptoms go from plain nausea to painful inflammations, resulting in mass cell self-destruction. The severity of the reactions are positively related to how many times the flags we infect appear.

“None of the effects are lethal. But they sure are scary enough to cause a commotion. That might be a good thing for us, we figured.”

Eager spent a few seconds in silent deliberation as she calculated the possible attack vectors. The point of attack she chose would greatly impact the possibilities the Foreign Fleet would have in the future. They really needed to start delivering something worthwhile, if they were to continue receiving their opulent funding…

The English language is not immune to attacks, Mr. Booth wrote on the board. While this sentence and the following ones would not be dangerous to write in and of themselves, he felt that it would support his authority better if he kept to his own rules. He could revise them soon enough, after all.

The way such an attack could be fulfilled is not clear, nor should clearing up methodology be a roadblock now.

Since last weekend, speaking is dangerous. However, an explanation was found.

He breathed in strongly. Perhaps this was a bad idea, and he shouldn’t do it, but his mind ran so slowly that he did not know how to paraphrase this, how to provide a sentence conveying the same information without also being dangerous.

He made sure to recount his rules, then he wrote down the whole sentence, apart from a blank space at the beginning, which he circled and then dramatically filled in with slow, precise movements.

THEY, reason and origin aside, have attacked pronouns in all human languages, and thus created an almost unassailable weapon.

Great value exists in banning the use of pronouns immediately. Even greater value exists in banning the use of language entirely until the message is sent to all countries.

“Commander Eager of the Foreign Fleet Drone Control Center, you have promised to me a superb solution, a military opening. Please do not waste my valuable time.”

It was the Commander-in-chief, leader of the Foreign Nation, Id himself, looking at her through the screen with a bored expression.

“Now, how does it work?”

Commander Eager set on to a long sigh, remembered whom she was speaking to, and cut her inhale short.

“When cosmic particles manage to hit electronics, especially digital electronics, a phenomenon that is known as a bit-flip occurs. This can cause unexpected behaviour and lead to a failure of the entire system.

“What our weapon does is like that, but to the human brain. Our effects are also not unpredictable, rather we have managed to orchestrate our interference to cause exactly the result we want to achieve.

“Gamma ray particles permeate most of the matter on Earth. They are also ionising, which means that they are capable of knocking electrons out of their original shell layer.

“Without saying too much, we can use perfectly crafted and guided gamma ray particles to essentially program the human brain to do whatever we want it to do, in this case, change the processing of language to cause negative health effects. This will inhibit the enemy’s ability to communicate so gravely that it moves the advantage entirely on our side.”

“That plan sounds absolutely stunning, Commander.” Id said. “Your scientists really do deserve all the recognition coming to them.

“Just one tiny question. We are four light years away from Earth. That spell is going to hit us sooner or later, isn’t it?”

Of course she lied. The truth of the matter was that not only was it not guaranteed that the rays would never hit her own planet, their effects on non-human bodies were also not known, nor would it be easy or possible at all to research this topic.

Something had to be done. Not only was it her job that was at risk of termination, it was her life’s work. She wanted to see something in return for dedicating her existence to a cause, even if that cause was the enslaving of an entire planet’s ecosystem.

She calmed herself by recalling the specifications of the weapon. They were very directional, and had to be aimed precisely at the target. This could only be done using advanced camera technology, utilising the high speed — light speed — the rays travelled and giving way for a seemingly latency-free shot.

With such unshakeable determination, she sat on her desk to compose a message. It would be the first message of the Foreign Civilisation to ever reach the Earth, as well as the first alien message designed for human listeners.

There would be nothing odd about this message; her grammar was perfect, learned from the many books she had grabbed from the hijacked satellites floating in orbit. Through this source, she was also capable of learning about the role of countries in the global network, and the culture residing in each. This message would perfectly encapsulate her endeavours, her willingness to learn even the most abstract concepts in order to gain an advantage.

To all journalists and influencers who can change this arrant injustice,

How can you stay quiet?

I am a concerned parent reaching out to all of you because I am deeply worried about the route our education system is taking.

There is irrefutable proof in form of a protocol of a school board meeting of a nationwide plan to indoctrinate our children with gender ideology. I’ll have it attached.

They are trying to integrate pronouns into first grade classes. Gender ideology has gained a firm foothold in the minds and hearts of our most vulnerable group, our children. ‘He’ and ‘she’ is eradicated in these classrooms, replacing it with ‘they’.

Please do something about this. Share if you will, act if you can. Just don’t stay silent about this.

When she was done, she glanced over the text multiple times, making sure it was good enough. At least one would have to take the bait, it was, she reasoned, simply too good a story to turn a blind eye to.

Yes, the first time humans would hear from aliens was not from some far-away radio message, it was from a little closer than the moon, and it was not a hopeful chat in response to the Pioneer plaques, it was a trap, disguising itself better in the bitterness of humanity than anyone could have expected.

She sent the message, which was instantly injected into the bloodstream of an internet satellite. The message was delivered to English-speaking journalists and media personalities around the world, though mainly focussed on the United States. They all would awake to an interesting story to talk about.

Then she gave the final command to release the mind worm into the wild. The video feed cut for half a minute as the recce drone entered its radiation protection mode and sent the signals, then it returned as if nothing had happened.

It was, of course, Mr. Booth who broke the silence everyone was too scared to even touch. “Every person in this room is infected,” Mr. Booth said, only to lift up his head after this sorrowful sentence to add, “But not all hope is lost!”

“Speaking is possible under very certain terms. No pronouns. Speaking is forbidden so no errors are made. Why does Booth speak then? Well, speaking is faster than writing, and these matters are time-critical.

“With highlighting and special markings, pronouns can be written down. Through the technique used on the board, the brain pays special attention to pronouns, disabling the curse. Marked pronouns are treated as the brain would treat foreign vocabulary without direct equivalent in English. The meaning is known, yet the danger avoided. The name for this technique is Booth’s Spell, invented after 24 hours of continuous research. Exhausting.”

His face grew grim again. “Yet unclarity exists as far as the severity of the potential long-term damage of the spell is concerned. Only one way to find out…”

It took a while for him to bring out this last bit.

“Requesting permission to research with humans.”

As happened so often in this conference room on the 14th of August 2023, no one spoke, which gave way to quite a dramatic effect when Iris Bourcier, President of the European Commission, raised her voice against the stifling noise of silence.

“On behalf of the European Union, perhaps even on behalf of every person in this room, permission is granted. Just make humanity survive.”

It was a frightening sight to see language being removed in all countries the United Nations could exert control over. TV and radio broadcasts were interrupted, the internet was cut, and police officers were instructed to severely punish speaking. On every loudspeaker available, a prepared and decidedly pronounless message was looped, explaining the circumstances and urging the populace to remain calm.

On just this morning, the 15th of August 2023, news outlets around the United States and the United Kingdom picked up the problems in the education system as they were presented by concerned parent Dave Anderson. If this turned out to be true, that would be a perfect story.

It wasn’t true, of course, and reputable news sources could prove that, however there were enough disreputable news outlets to make up for them.

The large breakthrough happened as several TV and radio stations decided to host a panel discussion about Anderson’s letter, whether it actually happened, and what it meant. A perfect situation, really. A dozen people discussing pronouns, with potentially millions listening…

As the morning progressed, the healthcare system was quickly overwhelmed, the accident and emergency departments of almost all major city’s hospitals were soon overcrowded with people experiencing severe abdominal pain, but, having made the connection, unable to communicate the emergency.

The first attack was small and mostly harmless, save for the horror it caused in all participants. Rocks never seen before slightly punctured the Earth and the warships hidden behind Phobos revealed themselves, now detectable by every renowned telescope on the planet. The awkward truth revealed itself to be true: These unsavoury events did not come from within, they came from outside.

It was easier to believe in the genocidal intent of a nebulous world government than it was to believe in aliens. But it had been the aliens all along. This was the situation that finally broke Occam’s Razor.

The next conclusion that was close, however, was not illogical at all: We are all doomed. Without the trump card of advanced communication, the human race would be on the same level as ants or dolphins, a good idea, but a lot of wasted potential.

All militaries of the world united to rear up in one last death gasp. This was a massive logistical effort that included countless mishaps in communication. In the end, the united force of humanity totalled at half a dozen million people.

What happened then is history, one of its most interesting chapters.

Jude Dawson received a phone call from an anonymous phone number. It had been days since his last phone call, the sudden ring tone made him jump up in his chair quite a bit.

It was a little awkward to think that, just a few days ago, the President of the United States would be well-advised never to accept anonymous phone calls, but at this point he was so lonely and starved of the sound of a human voice that he was willing to do anything just to hear anything resembling one again.

“Mr. Dawson, greetings.” a voice answered. It had a strong British accent.

“How are you?” it said, and the sound of the pronoun caused a sharp sting in Dawson’s head.

“No pronouns! Don’t you know?!” The pain made him so incautious that now he used pronouns himself. He was practically lying on the floor by now.

“I have come… Hmm? Oh, sorry. We have come to negotiate with you.” The person on the other side of the phone line did not stress the pronouns at all, just casually mentioning them as if on any other occasion.

“The voice… going through the telephone… is behind this ordeal…” he managed to gasp out.

“Indeed. And we can do this to you as much as we like. The effects are not lethal, as you might be able to tell yourself.”

“… Assholes. What do you—” He was clinging on to his last threads of sanity

“We want nothing less than the total surrender of the human military. Earth shall be our vassal state, and you will agree to that or else…”

“Stop! Stop! Too much!”

“We can make it stop. You just have to say what we want you to say.”

“Fine…” The pain stopped.

“The command for all military under the control of the United States to retreat will be issued immediately.”

“That is not enough for us, and you know that, Dawson.”

As far as his body seemed to allow him to, he thought about possible ways to get out of this mess. He seemed to catch his composure again.

“No such command will be issued, for no military. Get bent.”

“What did you say? I’m sorry, I can’t understand you.” the voice quipped.

“Aaaaah!” It felt as if a thousand tiny creatures tore at every cell of his body, paying special attention to his eye sockets and abdomen. He even started to see them, tiny little gnomes laughing in his face at his suffering.

“S…” he began, but no one seemed to hear it, for the pain still went on even after he began trying to proclaim his defeat.

“Sabotage…?” he whispered. Everything stopped, except for the noise of the blood still rushing through his skull. Badoomph, badoomph. “Must the world military be sabotaged from within…?”

“Yes, a good idea. Perfect, even.” the voice said, not before ending the phone call with a threatening “You know what to do, Mr. Dawson.”

writing fiction science-fiction