Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

It’s amazing how fast the human brain can process information. Particularly when it’s being fed a cocktail of endorphins, steroids, adrenaline and other chemicals too exotic to name.

Even with his souped up reaction time all he could manage to do was blurt, “This is gonna hurt.” He watched as thousands of magnetically accelerated iron pellets barely a millimetre in diameter each, neatly separated his torso from his legs.

Due to the heavy fighting, it took the medtechs nearly an hour to retrieve him. Given the prolonged exposure to hard vacuum, not to mention the radiation, the doctors hadn’t given him much chance of survival. “I’ve been through worse,” he’d say later when he was decanted from the Jesus tank. “I feel like a battered bowl or warmed up dog shit,” and collapsed to the floor before the bored technicians.

His battle and sometimes fuck buddy Karen Jefferies met him in recovery. “I feel like hell.”

“You look like it. Why do you keep at it?”

“For the booze, broads, and good times,” He grinned. She slugged me in the arm. It hurt.

“You could retire. You’ve got fifty years in. You could take up prospecting.”

“Nah, more dangerous out in the belt than in combat. Here, let me sit down for a bit.” He leaned back against the wall and stretched. Reconstructed muscle is electronically stimulated to promote growth and reduce atrophy, but it can’t replace good old gravity, or what passes for it on a spinning battle station.. “Why are you so all fired up about it anyway?”

“I’ve been thinking…”

“Last time you did that we joined the Marines.”

“… we’re not getting any younger…”

“Oh shit. We agreed on the boundaries of this relationship. We’ve been over this a hundred times. Just fun and no attachments. That was the deal.”

“Fuck the deal Jeff. I love you. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? Don’t you love me?”

“Yeah, I guess so, I mean… are you getting broody on me?” She slugged him again. Hard.

“You’re an asshole, you know that? Look I’m getting tired of watching them stick pieces of you in that tank and praying that you come out in one piece.” She looked him in the eye. Her lips quivered. Tears welled up. She turned away. “I almost prayed that you didn’t make it this time. End my torment.”

Her words stung. “Okay, that hurts. Look, I’m a little tired. Can we talk about this later.”

“You bastard. You always put it off. You won’t be happy until you’re dead.”

No sooner had those words escaped her lips than klaxons sounded through out the station. As she looked in rapt horror, the medical section vanished into blackness. The plasma field that had reacted so quickly that barely a breath of atmosphere escaped before the breach was closed would not stand against the armada of enemy ships that were materializing around the station.

He turned to her with a rueful smile. “I guess we’ll find out won’t we.”


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