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- “From what we were able to scrape off the ice in Vancouver after the hockey teams were done with them, they’re… kind of unimpressive, actually.” he opined. “The endoskeleton seems to be based around comparatively large crystals of silica, with not a trace of collagen in sight. Remarkably fragile. Musculature is… we think their muscles can pull, push and twist, where ours can only pull, so they need fewer muscles overall to get the same range of motion, but each muscle’s far weaker than our own - the samples we have, bruised and crushed as they were, had a tensile strength about that of smoked salmon. Even accounting for tissue damage, they’re decidedly weaker than we are, and they couldn’t possibly move as fast as we can. Just not enough force or leverage.”
- “That explains why they broke so easily.” Tremblay said.
- Dr. Taylor nodded. “It’s weird, it’s like their whole physiology never evolved to deal with even a fraction of the daily challenges ours did. I mean, there’s a lot we can’t test given how badly damaged all the specimens were but what we DO have says that an average guy could probably rip the arms off these things if he tried.”
- “So what the hell did they think they were going to accomplish?” Tremblay said. “Interesting as this is, my job is to figure out what kind of a threat they pose, and to do that I need more than an analysis about how squishy they are. I could see that just from watching the game.”
- Taylor’s colleague, Dr. Betty-Anne Cote, cleared her throat at that one. She tended to let Taylor do the talking - he was the kind of large personality who filled a room, while she was more the ‘quietly get things done while nobody’s watching’ type. They complemented each other well, not least because when she did venture an opinion, Taylor tended to shut up and let her share it.
- “We’re, like, the only people on the planet who could claim to be experts in xenopsychology” she said, though unbeknownst to everyone in the room she was completely wrong. “So we’re starting from scratch. And I guess the first assumption we have to make is that, to them, their physical frailty would be normal, and we’d seem freakishly strong and durable.”
- “It would explain the weaponry.” Taylor commented. “You’ve seen the interview tapes?”
- Tremblay indicated that he had. All of the athletes had given a roughly similar description of what it felt like to be shot with an alien gun - pathetic. While the shots had knocked them off their feet, to a seasoned hockey player in full gear the impacts had been little worse than irritating. The goaltenders had felt hardly anything at all.
- Careful testing had suggested that the guns delivered, by some as-yet unidentified mechanism, a discharge of kinetic energy that propagated along the direction of fire at the speed of light. The weapons had plenty of advantages - they were portable, agile, had no recoil at all, and seemed to convert their stored energy very efficiently, but they stood no hope at all of seriously threatening a well-conditioned soldier in full battle gear.
- “If we assume that the average target for those weapons is about as tough as the idiots who landed in Vancouver, then those weapons start to make sense.” Dr. Cote told him.
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