Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

A low, thin fog rolled down the hillside. There was something almost menacing in its approach. When it encountered an object, a tree or a rock, it appeared to stop in surprise as if trying to make up its mind before dividing and going around.

“I must be getting tired. I’m starting to see things.”


“Never mind,” replied PFC Nestel, rolling on her back and stretching her body as best she could in the confinement of her reactive armour. “It’s just… cliché.”

“What are you talking about,” LCpl Jeffries asked. He took his eye from the scope of his plazer and regarded his cute but often annoying battle buddy.

“I dunno. I know they’re out there watching us.”

“We’re out in the middle of nowhere, lying in wet grass, the trees dropping those leech things on us, enduring the constant rain of this hell hole planet watching an abandoned fuelling station. Who would be watching us? They’d have to be crazier than we are.”

“I know,” she said testily, “I said it was cliché.” Still, Nici couldn’t shake the feeling. She rolled back over and tapped her helmet, bringing her bioptic implants online and scanned the surrounding hillside for signs of activity. There was none.

“Look, try to get some sleep. It’s not like your missing anything. You’ll feel better.”

“I wish I could.” Something wasn’t right. She could feel it. Despite all evidence to the contrary, there was something going on. At least the fog, barely a foot above the ground, gave her a comforting hug. Still the hair on her arms did it’s best to rise beneath the sheath of her thin flexible armour. She popped her bioptics and closed her eyes.

No sooner had Nici dozed off than Jeffries was shaking her. “Nic… Nic,” he whispered, “I’ve got movement.”

“What is it,” she asked in a bleary voice.

“I can’t tell. The scope’s rez isn’t high enough. Scope it with your beautiful bug eyes.”

She slugged him on the shoulder and tapped her helmet again. Her multifaceted eyes linked to his scope so he could share her vision.

“I’ll be damned.” With her artefact eyes she observed five oriental soldiers beside the defunct fuelling depot waving to them.

“How long do you think they knew we were here?”

Before Pfc Nici Nestel could reply to Lcpl Ron Jeffries question, her head had been severed cleanly from her neck and lay staring to the sky, a scant three feet from her inert body. Her eyes were still recording a scene her dead brain failed to see.

Standing over her helmeted head, an Asiatic Alliance equivalent of a sergeant sheathed a plasteele vibrasword and removed a protective mask moulded in a gruesome rictus designed to instil fear in the hearts of his enemy. He held the head of the young Jeffries in plain view of her bioptics.

Tapping his breastplate, the “fog” of nano surveillance ‘bots, suspended above the ground in a negative charge withdrew into his armour. Casually he tossed the head aside and spat into her pretty dead face.

“Stupid Americans.”


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