Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

I love making a drop. The rush as you plummet through the atmosphere, the scream of re-entry. The abrupt jolt when you hit 100m H over G and descend. The rush of cool air as you jump through the open doors and hit the deck.

Just like grandpa, ‘cept this ain’t a Blackhawk and I ain’t on Earth.

Aries, Mars; Greek, Roman. It all meant one thing. War.

They didn’t give us details, but they did give us atomics. Whatever it was, it sure as hell wasn’t riot control.

“Awright Marines,” it always amazed me how Lt. Kolchek made himself heard over the roar of departing drop ships, “since we are out of commo range of any civilian ears, here’s the skinny. Talks with the Chinese Federation have broken down. There’s lots of sabre rattlin’ on both sides. The shit has hit the fan gentlemen.

We are here to help fortify Vostok base. You knew this was serious when you drew your combat loads. I expect nothing less than better than your best and remember the Chinks don’t take prisoners. Do I make myself clear?”

“SIR, crystal SIR,” we responded in unison. DAMN I love the Corps.

We sat in the squad bay cleaning our weapons and waiting. Basically life in the Corps is pretty boring, drilling, PT, rifle range, combat range… routine. But that 99% boredom is completely overshadowed by that 1% of sheer terror. Of course that doesn’t hit until after the fighting is over. In a fire fight you’re on automatic. Training takes over. It’s weird that way.

“Hey Yuri, think we’ll see some action?”

“I hope so man, it seems like years since we had that trouble on Europa.” Greggori and I had been friends since boot in San Diego . “Hey, remember that waitress at Venus colony?”

“How could I forget? Who would have thought that such a sweet little devotchka would know Krav Maga? My arm was sore for weeks.”

“That’ll teach you. You’ll think twice before grabbing somebody’s ass next time,” I laughed.

“What about you? That groundhog back at Armstrong City ? I don’t recall you getting anywhere that night.”

“Hey, she’d just jumped from dirt side, it was one sixth G. She caught me off guard,” I said trying to muster some lost pride.

“It’s your story Comrade.”

I had to admit, it was pretty funny looking back on it now. I had merely paid the young lady a compliment by comparing her to a chick in adult holos. Besides, she did have nice tits.

Just then the general alarm sounded, snapping us from our reverie. “Already? Hell, we just got here.” We slapped on our boots, grabbed our rucks and weapons and beat feet for the assembly area.

When we got there, our three companies had pretty much formed up. There was a great deal of talking, lots of raised voices, lots of confused Marines. The commotion quickly died away as Major Warshawski walked onto the field.

“Gentlemen, I know you’re all wondering what’s going on. I am sorry to have to tell you this. At 1337 hours GMT, Washington, Toronto and Moscow were destroyed by Chink missiles. Several more are reported in bound at this time”

There was stunned silence.

“What are we going to do about it Sir?” somebody shouted. It wasn’t allowed in ranks, but nobody seemed to notice.

“See for yourself,” the Major said, pointing behind the formation.

As one, we turned to see dozens of columns of white plumes rising behind the mountains, arcing into the morning sky.

Missiles, heading back home.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows