Going Green

Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

“Son of a bitch. I’m getting too old for this,” Sergeant First Class Ron Walker groaned as he hit the ground after a fast rope out of the hovering SSL. Fortunately he was the last to drop from the lifter. As he looked up to wave the craft off, he saw a thin trail of white smoke zeroing in on the boat.

“Aw, just fucking great.” He scrambled for cover as a SAM impacted and the remains of the Ship to Shore Lifter rained down where he had stood only moments before.

He beat feet to the edge of the forest where his men, mostly FNG’s (fucking new guys), waited in urine soaked battle armour. “Allright ladies, as you may have noticed, we have lost our ride and as usual the intel is shit. The area is HOT. Lock and load. There are no friendlies around. If it moves, shoot it. If it keeps moving, frag it. Most of the critters are naturally armoured, and the natives, well, they have developed a taste for long pig. MOVE OUT!”

The 24 men of 2nd Plt. Charlie Co, unslung their plasma rifles and pushed through the all pervasive Venusian jungle. There were no large bodies of water anywhere on the planet, just the monotony of the dense jungle broken only by the occasional marsh or sluggish stream.

They advanced in a ranger file. Ten meters between, five side to side. They moved at a slow but steady clip with Walker bringing up the rear. A scream broke out from the front, quickly followed by the crackle of plasma fire from the linear acceleration rifles.

Everything went silent.

A flurry of chatter exploded on the platoon comm freq.

“Who was it?”

“Zalar, a giant fucking snake pulled him under.”

“A HUGE fuckin’ snake,” someone added.

The comm went silent again. Then just as quickly burst back to life.

“Holy fucking shit, they’re every where.”

From his position in the rear, SFC Walker couldn’t see what was happening through the foliage. His only link to his men was the comm, transmitting the bursts of their plasma rifles and their screams as they died.

He pushed forward as hard as he could to emerge into a small marshy clearing. From his position, he could see a group of huge writhing green snakes. He levelled his rifle and burned them down, but they reappeared just as fast.

All at once he noticed that they originated from the same central point that his men were being drawn to. As his rifle spat green tongues of death, he saw Danvers disappear into what looked like…, “A mouth. It’s eating them alive. Concentrate fire on the bush in the centre of… of the snakes.”

Where there were previously 25 plasma flames, only five were left as the men were pulled into the leafy maw. The plasma had minimal effect on the water gorged carnivorous plant.

One by one, the remaining men were entangled by sentient vines, and pulled toward their death.

Sergeant First Class Walker, late of Ore City Texas, held down the trigger of his rifle and continued to shear off the squirming tendrils. He watched as the charge meter reached 0.

As the creepers wrapped around his ankles, he pulled out his bowie and hacked in vain at the muscular green ropes.

As he was pulled into the ravenous plants mouth, he remarked to himself, “Smells like Momma’s okra.”

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Here There be Monsters

Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

The leaves of the overhanging canopy cast a restless pattern of light and dark on the forest floor. The soft trill of flying animals and the occasional flutter of branches as some unseen creature passed on it’s arboreal thoroughfare were the only sounds to intrude upon the tomblike solemnity of the forest.

Moving silently below, a group of black clad men made their way, careful not to disturb a single twig. Inaudible within their armoured helmets, the men still spoke quietly into their com-links.

“It came from this direction,” Sergeant Sakharov’s hushed voice rasped over the net.

“What the hell was it,” PFC Josten asked, the flow of adrenalin evident in his voice. Growing up during the early years of the Martian Rebellion, Mark Joston was a born soldier.

“Judging by the size of these tracks, whatever it is, it’s big.” Corporal Schmidt remarked with a casual air. He was Earth born, and lived in a world a little more rarefied than the other six men of the strike group. Such things were barely within his sphere of concern. He had joined the Corps on a whim “for the adventure“. Something to tell the boys back home of his days among “the little people”.

The ravages of the rebellion had escaped the confines of the Martian atmosphere and spread to the rest of the colonies in the system. Mother Earth had been spared the carnage. Partially due to her position as the cradle of humanity, but more notably for her impenetrable string of Planetary Defense Satellites, the PleiaDeS, and her massive swarms of HK ships, bristling with plasma cannons and nova clusters. So, with no where else to turn, the next phase of the ongoing war had spread to the Morning Star. Venus.

“What do you think it is? Some sort of Allied secret weapon?” Pvt. Zalar was green, fresh from boot. The seasoned marines laughed derisively, concealing their own fears.

“Nah,” replied Sgt. Sakharov testily, “if there were any slopes around I’d smell ‘em. Even through the scrubbers. Whatever it is, it ain’t Allied.” Fatigued by the heat, and the weight of the cumbersome armour, Sakharov called a halt.

The men were exhausted, sweltering in the early morning sun despite the cooling mechanisms of their armour. The men walked in a staggered “V” pattern, invisible to each other through the dense foliage, though separated by mere meters. Their locations, as well as a 360* view of their environs was projected directly into their eyes by the opaque faceless helms.

Lcpl Pohl on point, squealed sharply. “Hey, there’s something directly on our twelve… something big.”

Sgt. Sakharov spoke up. “Where? There’s nothing on my scan… Oh shit…” His voice trailed into silence.

A thunderous bellow blasted through the trees. The heavy dampening effect of the lush undergrowth did nothing to squelch the deafening explosion of sound. The birdlike creatures and the scurrying denizens of the upper branches scattered like leaves before a hurricane.

Rising above them on legs thicker than any surrounding tree stood a beast resembling a nightmare predating mans very existence. Without an order given, or necessary, all seven men simultaneously opened fire with their blasters. Seven individual tongues of green plasma bathed the beast with little noticeable affect.

Stunned into immobility, the men stood and stared as the monster reared back to take a massive lungful of air, and swiftly stooped down showering the men with a sticky gel like substance that ignited instantly upon contact with air.

The anguished cries of the par broiled men were silenced as the dragon bowed to devour his prey.

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News at Nine

Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

“Okay, this is some of the best footage of the conflict we have seen. We spent a lot of money to have Johnson’s eyes and optic nerves replaced with the latest equipment including superconducting neural jacks, which can operate at higher temperatures. The liqO2 containment and the rest of the apparatus housing, except for the interface of course, is totally contained within Johnson’s body.

“Brilliant, that should bring our costs down. What did Johnson think about this?”

“Well Sir, it wasn’t a hard choice. He had signed a fifty year contract of indenture with the company as a labourer in the helium mines on Pluto. He soon saw that a minor cosmetic change and a ten year assignment as a war correspondent in the Belt was far better than languishing for fifty years in a mine to retire to a pleasure colony to live out his remaining, what, maybe ten years, twenty if he’s lucky?”



“So we’re in the clear?”

“Asses covered, Sir.”

“Do any of the other news services have this technology?”

“No, it is only available within the Imperium, even then, only to certain levels, Sir.”

“Fine,” Avery Winston, Vice Minister of News and Information, breathed a sigh of relief, “Let’s see this wonderful footage of yours.”

“Patrick Johnson was trained for three months with the Royal Marines before being dispatched as a correspondent to Europa. We thought this would be a routine assignment to test equipment, but, well, see for yourself Sir.”

Charles Lufkin dimmed the lights in the expansive office and a kaleidoscope of colour appeared on the TriD screen before them. Slowly the prismatic maelstrom coalesced into an image of Marines in various stages of undress. It was a scene from an infantry barracks. Suddenly the world spun and came to focus on a door. Green plasma blasts burst through it followed by thick belches of white smoke.

“Hold it there, we’ll have to cut that, it will disorient the viewers. We’ll have people puking from motion sickness. The sponsors will ream us.”

“Yes Sir, this is the raw unedited footage.” Lufkin resumed the shot.

No sooner had the green bursts punched holes in the hatch, when something obscured the bottom half of the scene.

“What’s that?”

“The targeting sights of Johnson’s weapon. We wanted him to be totally one with the Marine unit he was embedded in. Now look there Sir, let me back it up for you,” Lufkin waved a hand at the screen and the image reversed. “See there? You can actually see, if I slow the feed, a bolt of plasma bore a nifty little hole through the gooks head as he peeks in past the broken hatch. If you look closer, you can actually see the plasma discharge of the rifle itself as Johnson fires the fatal shot.”


“Now watch this, your gonna love this.” Lufkin waved his hand at the screen again and the scenes of intense close combat blurred into a single image. “There.” He slowed the image until a green dot appeared on the screen. It grew slowly until it engulfed the entire screen. With a jerk the scene tilted crazily coming to a rest with the floor at a 45 degree angle. Slowly the scene irised to a narrow tunnel. Just before the screen went black an elderly woman appeared, arms outstretched.”

“Who’s that?”

“As near as we can tell, that’s Johnson’s grandmother.”

“What’s she doing there? How did she get onto a Marine base?”

“That’s the thing Sir; she’s been dead fifteen years.”

“You don’t mean…?”

“Yes Sir.” Lufkin smiled.

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Deep in the Heart of Texas

Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

Somewhere south of Toadsuck, Texas, along a washboard gravel road, a middle aged man was walking his dog, enjoying the cool night air and the effects of cheap grain alcohol. Looking up, he witnessed a glowing object streak across the sky.

“Mmurph,” was his only comment.

The object suddenly veered towards him, taking up a position directly over head. He managed a surprised, if somewhat drawn out, “I’ll tell you what,” prior to being skewered by an intense beam of light and drawn into the strange craft.

Aboard the craft, 1st Lentil Glorp mused as much to himself as to his companion Skizziks, Lentil 2nd class, “Why do we do it?”

Skizzicks rotated his eyestalks in an ‘here we go again’ manner and muttered, “For the chicks I s’pose. Sure as hell isn’t for the money.”

“No, that’s not what I mean.” Glorp paused to pull his hand out of the confused and somewhat surprised Texan’s ass, “I mean here we are, in a ship that can span galactic distances and we are still conducting anal scans of emergent sentients. Is this all there is to life? I mean what’s the point?”

“For the greater good of the Tranyan Empire?” The traumatized man stared wide eyed as Skizzicks placed a small triangular object on his forearm. The alien waved a purplish glowing wand above the object and it painlessly sank beneath his skin.

“Seriously, do you think the Emperor really gives a shit about these primitives? We write a report, it gets filed, nobody reads it, end of story.” Casually Glorp turned the hapless and mildly terrified Toadsuckian onto his back, grabbed his testicles, squeezed tightly and screamed.

“There has to be something more to life than this,” he said, releasing the testicles in question.

“Well,” Skizzicks began slowly as his brain ponderously engaged, “My gram always said, ‘Good things come to those who wait.’”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know. Gram drank a lot.”

“Well let’s finish this up.”

They moved the stunned and quite naked human to a small raised circular pad, sprayed him with a slick greenish blue gel, gave him their equivalent of a thumbs up, which involved several appendages and the release of bodily gasses and returned him in the same manner as they had plucked him away. He arrived at the same time, on the same gravel road, next to the same Blue Tick hound who merely shook his head knowingly.

The now lightly glowing and very naked man watched as the object retreated back into the firmament from whence it came.

“Well, I’ll be dipped in shit”

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The Mission

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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