Page 1.
© 1998, 1999 Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
2nd Edition


     Jillian was sweating and her heart was racing.  She had her back to the moss covered stone wall in a steamy jungle.   Jillian held her rifle high and close to her heaving chest.  A land crab tried to scuttle away.  Jillian took a swipe at it with her foot. To her left and slightly in front of her,  Lauren crouched behind a crumbled piece of alien wall in this ruined temple complex.  Between breaths, Jillian turned her head to look at Lauren.  Lauren wore a tightly wound bandana around he head and knotted at the back.  It was soaked with perspiration and did little to stop the sweat from pouring into her eyes.  Her helmet had been blown off of her head earlier.  Jillian had thrown her own helmet away earlier in a gesture of defiant disgust.  Lauren was too busy to yell at Jillian to put the helmet back on.  It would have to wait until later.  It was hard to fight in this hot and humid jungle and avoid passing out from heat exhaustion.

     Lauren made a motion to Jillian to step out and make a run for the next piece of cover.  They had been leapfrogging towards the enemy from cover to cover all morning.  Jillian glared at the sergeant.  She hated Lauren.  This was not unusual.  She hated almost everyone.  After a second too long of angry hesitation, Jillian moved out and around the wall.  She took a three-step run and rapidly scanned the terrain.  She saw a meter tall piece of rectangular stone wall and dove for it, rolling the last couple of feet.  Jillian swore as her brand new corporal stripes became smeared with jungle moss and earthy smelling loam.  Those stripes were her pride and joy.

      Jillian almost took out an alien simian,  which scampered along a nearby wall,  but recognized it as a non-combatant at the last moment.  The Dominai's rules were quite specific; no animal life forms and non-combatants were to be harmed in combat.  When it came to animals,  Jillian couldn't care one way or the other.  She didn't kill animals for sport or hunt, but if they were in the way she couldn't understand why killing them was a problem.

      A withering barrage of red laser fire sizzled through the air.  Both women took cover.  Lauren returned fire first.  Jillian, still on her back, shoved the tip of her gun through a ground level hole and expertly took out a couple of the shadowy laser toting forms.  "Damn those Dominai,"  Jillian spat through gritted teeth.  She was referring to the Dominai's reluctance to allow Earth Forces to see the real shapes or identities of the enemy.