Author: JC Hammer

Everyone hears new and they think different or better. That’s not always true. Humans on Mars? Sure that’s new. There’s nothing different about us, though. Nothing better.

They didn’t exactly take the best of us with them. Sure, we’ve got a couple of scientists, a few doctors, but they’re all here to serve the greater purpose, the Cause. We think we’re so feckin’ righteous, with our plan to bring peace to the universe with buckets of bombs and a brigade of adolescent Marines. I don’t know if you’ve seen Marines at the bar or on shore leave, but there’s nothing peaceful about that circus. And I know you haven’t seen them at their business end, because you wouldn’t be alive to read this if you had.

It’s kind of ironic, though. The same organization that wasted Earth is the same organization that helped me escape from it. I commissioned in the Marine Corps fresh out of college—one of only two women in my class—thinking it would help get me out of the neighborhood I grew up in. Turns out joining the Marine Corps is the wrong thing to do if you want to avoid violent neighborhoods. Who would have guessed? But, it was the military that gave me my ticket off Earth, though all I’ve done is bring the fight with me. We took the same nukes that made quick work of everything living on Earth and used them to power the ships that are shuttling the rest of humanity to Mars. Now, it’s my job—our job—to make sure that the resources on our new home are secured for the “friends of freedom”, using the Marine Corps’ trademark democratic persuasion to encourage the rest of Earth’s survivors to agree.

So, now I’m here, staring through my inch-wide slit of a window at a cloud of red dust swirling feebly in a tenuously thin atmosphere. There’s a persistent buzz pecking at my attention, slowly eroding my sanity—of course, they put the LT next to the compound’s generator. If the Eastern Alliance doesn’t kill me, I’m sure this noise will, or maybe cancer. But it’s all the same to me. Everyone dies one way or another.

At first, I felt lucky to be one of the few to survive the flaming outhouse called Earth, but it’s been a week now since arriving, and I’m starting to realize that the ones left behind were the lucky ones. Food and water are rationed, the air is recycled and barely breathable, and my travel options—for the rest of my life—are limited to the ping-pong room and the mess hall. My bulletproof options, that is. But I’m itching to get out of this bunker inside of a bunker inside of a barracks. It’s too safe. Marines weren’t meant to be caged like a pet.

The klaxon alarm suddenly screams out across the barracks, accompanied by the frantic, flashing red lights lining the walls of my platoon’s hallway. It could be a drill, like the countless others this week, but something about the timing of it all suggests otherwise. I leap enthusiastically off of my rack and zip myself into my form-fitting EVA suit, then grab my rifle and head out the door. My platoon is already gathering by the airlocks that lead to the pressurized troop crawlers, organized into fire teams and squads. It’s a sight that never fails to send shivers running up my back.

Time to bring liberty to the Red Planet.

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