Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer

“Hey you! What the hell do you think you’re doing to my daughter?”

“Not hell, Daddy. Heaven. Heaven!”

Wendy’s daddy was a Detective Inspector and things got a little difficult for me after that. Couldn’t go anywhere without being pulled over. People stopped inviting me out because wherever we were would get raided. After the sixth cavity search in a fortnight, I enlisted as I had no future in Sussex.

That was twenty years ago. Earth is now just another backwater in an interstellar community that has been at war since before I was born. The Trangurians don’t like us; we’re carbon based life and that is heresy from their view.

“Incoming!”

The warning interrupts my trip down memory lane and I scramble out of the shower cursing as I dive into the nearest set of powered armour. No undersuit means bruises and sores, but chafed beats dead every time. I lurch to the viewport as the suit finishes booting. A Trang Yellowbird, nicknamed ‘Icy Banana’ as folk tend to get an odd sense of humour about things that kill so well. I see the crackles of green lightning around its main gun and am making for a weapons hatch before my thinking catches up with my survival instinct.

I’m not there when the death arrives; I’m hurtling toward the dark blue soil ten storeys below. I hit so hard the cloud of blue hides the curtains of light in the sky. The ground holds and I’m only waist-deep. I’m just congratulating myself when a couple of tons of the tower I vacated lands on me. Through the pain I feel the earth below me shift. Going down.

I’m past six feet under and still hellbound when I explosively emerge into open space and land spectacularly in a Trang patrol. I presume spectacular as the survivors have fled by the time I sit up to admire the splatter patterns that stretch three metres up the side of the bore-tank. Takes a couple of minutes to interface the controls and a few more to turn round, then I’m off to Trang central.

Two hours later I tear through the reinforced walls of their sub basement and arrive in the pit. Any prisoners taken by the Trang are made acceptable to their gods by the simple expedient of being carved until they look like Trang, then have their souls saved by being ground to paste. But they do like doing it Aztec style: en masse with an audience. This means that between grinding days they usually have a few of us locked up.

The place stinks but I don’t care. Never in a million years did I think rescuing her was possible. Wendy joined up a week after me and we stayed together through everything; until her squad got taken when their patrol ship went down a month back. I’d spent sleepless nights crying and cursing that evening so long ago, blaming myself for her decisions with that arrogant idiocy men seem so good at.

The crowd outside the tank thins as they stream down the tunnel. When they’re all away, I’ll reverse this thing all the way back so they have protection. Bore-tanks are assault class. Nothing can take them from the front. Then all my prayers are answered as a familiar figure leans in the access hatch.

“Come to take me back to heaven?”

I grin like an idiot as she crams herself in to sit beside me.

“Let’s get back to friendly turf first. Then we can work on that.”

 

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