Author : Roi R. Czechvala

My father fought in the Gulf War, the Iraqi War, and the Colonial Lunar Wars. His father fought in the blood bath of South East Asia, and his father fought in North Africa during the Great Patriotic War.

So, it was desert, jungle, desert… I hate the jungle. I wish things would have heated up on Mars so I could have stayed in my beautiful dry desert, but I had to follow the family line, I was sent to the jungle planet. Venus.

I hate Venus.

My dad told me, no matter what, “always take extra socks, change them whenever you can”, and the punchline; “always keep your feet dry”. What a joke. I’ve been here 18 months, and it hasn’t stopped raining once. Hell, dad had an airtight battlesuit on Luna.

My squad was out on patrol when we got a message that an enemy unit was in our area; company strength. Four to one. We had the firepower, but they had numbers.

We were walking in a staggered column, five meters apart, ten meters wide. Danvers, on point, suddenly stopped, raised his fist and lowered his hand slowly, palm down. Automatically we stopped and crouched. He stared into the brush. He motioned for us to “get flat”, and chucked a flash bang directly to our twelve o’clock. That little pop triggered a series of explosions that nearly shook my teeth loose. Danvers had spotted a cluster of claymores.

No sooner had the mud settled when we saw the points of light that was laser fire. The dense foliage and constant rain absorbed most of the power, and unless you took a hit in the eyes the most you might suffer is a nasty burn. That was just suppressive fire. All hell broke loose when they laid into us with .30 cal heavy guns and RPG’s.

I was in the rear when we got hit, so I scrambled into a group of rocks that formed a shallow bowl, allowing me to lay down covering fire for the rest of the guys. I was just rising up to fire, when something fell behind me with a moist plop. I spun and found myself face to face with an allied, his rifle on me. It was a classic Mexican standoff, the first to flinch dies.

We faced each other for what seemed like hours, our weapons trained on each others bellies, when a wave of heat and light bowled us over. It was an NG, a neutron grenade, one of theirs. We didn’t carry them in the jungle, because it was too close to escape the blast. They don’t value life like we do.

With our differences, momentarily forgotten, we peeked over the rocks. Nothing. We sat down facing each other, and laughed at the absurdity of it all, not understanding the others language, but understanding futility.

He sighed, put his weapon down, and pointed at my canteen. I handed it to him and he drank deeply. He handed it back to me, and as I took it he grabbed his rifle and leveled it at me. Then he laughed even harder, removed the magazine and showed it to me. It had been empty all along. We both laughed.

He opened his wallet and handed it to me. A picture of his family; cute kids, pretty wife. We laughed. He laughed even harder when I leveled my weapon at him.

The report of my rifle nearly deafened me in the closeness of those rocks.

I hate Venus, and these bastards are why I’m here.

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