By Jonathan Snyder
Feet churned the scorched
ground kicking up dead leaves and burnt grass. His heart beat so hard
that it felt as if it would burst from his armored chest and panicked
breath fogged up his anti-fogging helmet. The rush of blood rang in his
ears drowning out the screams of the dying and the crunching of his
soles on the dirt path.
The ground rumbled, threatening to pitch him over as close support star
fighters roared overhead. Somewhere up ahead a bright green ball of
energy erupted into a massive fireball tossing trees like toothpicks.
“Harry! Get to cover!”
That was his name, Harry. Someone was screaming it over his earpiece.
Had more survived the botched drop? Mentally kicking his suit in to IFF
scan, two green silhouettes appeared overlaid on his helmet’s visor.
Though there were blasted tree trunks and smoke between them and his
visor, Harry’s computer in his suit made sure he could see them.
Changing his panicked course, Harry crashed through the brush and
bushes to fall and slide to a stop by them.
“Where have you been?” Chu demanded, his voice raspy from fear and
exhaustion. “, they’ve sounded retreat.”
Already? Harry glanced to his holographic status display in the corner
of his visor. The antenna symbol was flashing a blood red.
“My sat-com is shot.”
“Dude, the Skrell just kicked our asses.” Boomer echoed from the corner
of the overturned tree trunk where he was crouched down. The soldier
gripped his repeating laser rifle to his scorched, armored chest.
“We’ve got to move and we’ve got to move quick,” Chu continued. Though
only a private, he had more combat drops than Harry and Boomer
together. “I’m not getting any other signals from our squad. Closest
painted evac is three clicks from here. Echo squad was heading there
only fifteen minutes ago. “
“We should have followed them.” Boomer wailed clutching his weapon
“We don’t leave anyone behind, moron. Grow a pair and get ready to
move,” Chu growled, throwing a clump of dirt at him. “Unless you want
to stay on this damn rock.”
Harry continued to gulp down air his suit’s filtration system, the
nagging thought that there were twenty four in his squad kept bothering
him. Were these two the only survivors of his squad?
“Come on. Let’s go before the shuttles leave us behind. Skrell don’t
Oh, how Harry had heard that many times. Tales of the strange humanoid
like aliens with pale green skin and their advanced energy weapons
filtered through the ranks. Gideon, the planet they were on, was
supposed to be the first strike for Terra to take back and that had
failed miserably. Why would you call retreat after only two hours on
the ground unless you were completely routed?
“Harry! Wake up!” Chu said slamming his fist against the stunned man’s
face plate. The gel layer around Harry’s nose and eyebrows easily
absorbed the blow.
“We’re moving on the count of three.”
Boomer and Chu were both crouched down ready to run down the woody path
Harry had come running up panicking.
The trio charged forward in a desperate bid for safety. Harry’s
agonized gasps echoed through his lungs burned from the exertion. The
nano-filament muscles of his suit assisted his run, but his own muscles
were beginning to fade even with the adrenalin pumping through his
“I’ve got a ping!” Chu screamed in the helmet comm.
Harry’s heart beat harder. A lander’s artificial intelligence had just
located them and alerted its ground crew of their impending arrival.
That meant Terran forces were still on the ground. The trio broke into
a lush green clearing and his eyes focused on the sleek dark colored
shuttle sitting there with its hatch open. A heavy mech trooper stood
on guard, its massive 50 caliber machine gun arms swaying back and
forth, sending bursts of tungsten steel towards targets the shuttle
pinpointed. Three soldiers waved towards Harry and his friends.
‘Feet don’t fail me now!’
They were only half way across the field when a bright light filled his
visor. He felt himself being lifted into the air and hurled forward.
The jarring impact sent a shuddering pain through his skeleton. Water
ran from his eyes as Harry tried to get an idea where he was. His face
was planted into the ground and he painfully turned it towards a new
crater that had appeared near him. The remains of the charred armor and
burnt remains of his two comrades clearly visible. Hands grabbed him
and drug him towards the waiting shuttle bay door of the welcoming
shuttle. Harry could not take his eyes off of the crater as the hatch
began to lower shut and the vessel lifted off the ground and climbed
towards the star carrier waiting above.
“What the hell happened?” he blurted out as the medical technician
ripped the helmet from his head and began to activate the emergency
disconnect of his armor’s joints.
“Easy, soldier.” a major said from Harry’s as he studied a holographic
“The hell I will!” Harry said trying to wrench himself off the shuttle
floor, but the pain and broken spine kept him from moving. “We just got
our asses handed to us.”
The major did not even bother to look his way, but handed a small
computer to a nearby sergeant. “The diversionary tactic worked. We’ve
drawn off their forces from the capital.”
So, it was a feint. His friends had died for a fake attack to distract
Harry did not know if it was stress or a gut reflex action that made
him do it, but the thought that he just witnessed the death of his
friends and fellow comrades to simply cause the enemy to look away made
him snapped. Harry reached for his laser pistol strapped to his hip and
‘To hell with this war.’
© 2015 Jonathan Snyder
Snyder has been writing stories since his mother handed him a college
type writer at the age of twelve. With a love for stories and the
written word, he has continued to share his work with anyone willing to
hold still long enough to be caught
E-mail: Jonathan Snyder
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