Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

I didn’t want to think about it. Just do it. Get it over with. It’s a mission like any other. You can do it man.

With a snap, I secured the gloves over my hands. They seemed such flimsy protection. I quickly pulled the mask over my face, but the horrid stench still came through. I dry heaved a few times and barely managed to control my queasiness. You’d think they’d have ‘bots that could do this.

“I’m going in,” I yelled to my partner. My voice was strong and steady, hardly reflecting my true feelings. I stopped momentarily while memories of past missions flashed through my mind.

I was back on Mars. We were flying across the red desert sands, the skiffs only inches above the blowing waste. The battalion had been reduced to almost company force. A freak sandstorm had destroyed most of our transports, grounding most of the batt, but we had to press on. The Asiatics were at division strength.

It was a blood bath. Bodies everywhere. Well, parts of bodies anyway. But they weren’t ours. The sandstorm had left the slopes in a worse situation than it had us. We laid into them with unmatched ferocity. The carnage was unimaginable.

On Venus we not only had the gooks to worry about, but the planet itself was against us. There were the aptly named dragons, which concealed two bladders full of harmless fluids within their bellies. Harmless that is, until they were expelled in unison and made contact with the air. I watched as my platoon was roasted alive and eaten.

There were carnivorous plants. True Venus flytraps that lured men to their deaths. I have seen so much death and destruction, but nothing had prepared me for this. I crossed myself and said a quick Hail Mary.

“I’m going in,” I repeated in a vain attempt to steel my nerves.

“Oh for the love of Pete, Charles, stop being such a baby. It’s just a diaper.”

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