Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

Three men huddled in a snow bank. Their chameleoarmour not only blended perfectly with snow that is actually deceptive and not a pure white, but circulated water heated to eighty five degrees Fahrenheit. The insulation of the armour was a testament to the technology of the men’s culture. The men were kept warm yet the snow was not heated to melting nor did it betray their heat signature.

The only exposed skin was around the eyes and nose. This small area of the body, so vulnerable to the biting cold, was covered with white paste designed to keep exposed skin warm. It didn’t.

The men were buried in a snow bank that had been ploughed into a pile beside a mountain road overlooking a small town in a valley below. A small enemy town.

Though strict radio silence was called for, the personal radios the men contained had been set to transmit a weak signal that barely reached past their five metre perimeter. The weak signal emanating past the soldiers would fade into the background radiation. Corporal Walker thought it safe to express his feelings on the situation.

“This sucks, Sarge.”

“You could be on Venus.”

“At least I’d be warm.”

“At nine hundred degrees in the shade. That’s a bit more than warm,” chimed in PFC Brickel. “My brother’s there. He says the rocks glow red at night it’s so hot.”

“Still beats the hell out of this frozen shit hole.”

“I’d rather be back in Galveston,” Sergeant Kovacks remarked wistfully, “but, you know, shit in one hand and wish in the other and what do you get?”

“A warm, steaming version of this place.” All three men chuckled.

“How can they stand living in this frozen wasteland. It’s disgusting.” Walker mused.

“They don’t know any better. This is their home. Shut up. Bitching about it isn’t going to make it any better. We’re here to observe, not write a travelogue.” Brickel became silent, lost in thought.

“Dumbshits. Why’d they have to go and attack us? Again?” Walker continued unabated. “I mean, they attacked us once and cheated us out of a victory.”

“There is no cheating in war, Son,” said Sgt. Walker. He used the diminutive, though barely sixteen months separated them in age. “We had the better leadership, but they had the men, materiel and most importantly damn good supply lines. The war was unfair, that’s for damn sure, but war is. That’s the nature of war. And you can’t cheat at war. War is war. They won we lost.”

“But we’ll show ’em this time. Won’t we, Sarge?” Brickel’s voice suddenly seemed full of life. “It’s been almost two hundred years now. We’ll show these bastards. Right?”

A smile was evident in SGT Kovacks response. “Damn right. No matter where they go, the self righteous bastards think everyone should do as they do. Well, they screwed the pooch. We’re ready for them this time. This is one dog they should have let lie…. Here they come.”

Automatically the men’s optics ratcheted up a few clicks. Four dark craft, fighter/bombers, dove into the atmosphere and began their approach. The men watched with grim satisfaction as the town erupted in a dull orange glow. The men cheered as the small town of Ford City, Pennsylvania, snugged up against the muddy banks of the Allegheny river ceased to exist.

The aircraft pulled out of the valley and thundered directly over the heads of the ensconced men. The Stars and Bars was proudly emblazoned on the belly of the aircraft.

“Damn, I hate Yankees,” Kovacks said.

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