Author : Cody Lorenz

One explosion behind her, one to the left. Sylvia ducked into the nearest available hole, just as the third boom sent dust into that very same nook.

She crouched, grabbing up the carbine, flipping open its cover, and staring at the little screen, pausing first to wipe the grime away. Her fingers hammered at buttons, trying to restart the damned thing.

They were coming.

She had to split off the maintenance plate to get to the glowing center. Power core, tubes one through seven, focusing arrays, batteries, circuit boards.

Their steps were heavy – what choice did a half-ton creature have but to be lumbering?

The bridge of her nose began to pound. This could mean only one thing.

Ah, one of the ‘sistors knocked out. It only took five seconds to fix, and she went running back out of her hiding place.

Sylvia was indeed the best shot in her battle group (well, only shot, now), and when she took aim, one of the beasts fell, crackling with the leftover energy discharges, leaving a car-sized grave for itself in the ground. She didn’t smile, or cry, simply did it. Again, and again, she fired, until the world seemed to be coated in a veil of superheated plasma. The world only got its color back when there was no more ammo, and she felt her head beginning to truly ache.

A finger was placed on the tip of her nose, and then the pain exploded.

She blinked out the temp implants, sitting up, a man immediately handed her a tissue. Her clothes (not fatigues – just your standard “I’m twenty and hot so notice me!” clothes) were getting stained red.

“Well, Miss Smith, we’ve come to believe your play testing duties are over,” the man said, one of those lab coated and goggled men who never got any sun or exercise, “Take heart, though, young lady, in that you’ve helped perfect the ultimate system for home enjoyment. We only need to work on that problem you’re experiencing.”

“What, the bloody nose?” She wiped at it, sniffling some, coughing once, and finally balling a piece of tissue up to use as a rudimentary plug, “It’s worth it!”

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