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


     Lauren scampered forward to cover on her right.  She was immediately lost from view.  "Left on my own again.....Well, who needs you,"  Jillian thought.  She jumped up left in an acrobatic roll a fraction of a second before a sonic grenade turned her low wall into complete rubble.  The sonic shock wave knocked her unconscious in mid-air.  She fell hard and slid beneath an overhanging piece of temple rock.

     Lauren was on the run.  The piece of wall she had chosen for her next cover was longer than she had anticipated.  By the time she reached the end of the wall a sonic boom had knocked her flat on her ass.  Picking herself up, Lauren tried to find a way to circle back to Jillian.  Lauren began to worry.  Last she saw of her, Jillian looked pinned down by the laser fire.  Jillian could be such a pain but she was the Sargent’s responsibility.  Lauren began to run faster and soon found herself out of the ruined temple complex and in an alien woods.  The trees were tall and thin of trunk; almost bamboo-like. She was running and breathing hard.  A motion and sound to her left caught her eye and ears.  Shadowy figures were running in the opposite direction as Lauren, not more than fifteen meters separating them.  She heard them crunching through the purple alien grass that carpeted the forest floor.  Although she was aware of them, they were not aware of her.  The shadowy figures were too intent on reinforcing their companions to notice an enemy who was not supposed to be this far behind their lines.  Without breaking stride, Lauren pointed her rifle sideways, flicked it from single shot to rapid fire, and hosed the shadows.  The forest echoed with the high pitched sound of her laser fire.  The shadowy figures threw back their heads, with their feet flying forward, as if their legs had been knocked from under them.  Still sailing forward through the air, the shadow’s prone bodies hit the ground hard; sliding beneath the forest’s grass carpet.

     Lauren doubled back to where she thought she’d seen them fall.  Some of the trees she had accidentally shot were bleeding profuse quantities of green smelling sap.  the dripping noise of the sap filled the area she searched.  Searching through the thigh high grass she spotted one of the prone figures.  Kneeling down to observe the dead or dying enemy effectively hid Lauren from view.  Trying to get a better look at the enemy through the tree filtered sun, her close-up inspection of the prone form revealed nothing.  The figures were as shadowy and nebulous as ever.

      “Damn those Dominai,” Lauren swore.  The Dominai had no intentions of letting Earth Forces see the face of the enemy.  Realizing that she had no time to spare in finding Jillian,  Lauren listened carefully, heard no stirring, and took off in a dead run along the path that the shadows were following.  She realized that she was originally disoriented and heading in the wrong direction.  Approaching the temple ruins, Lauren instinctively knew that something was wrong.  It was quiet; too quiet.  Moving more cautiously she reached the temple walls. Scaling the wall she took a quick look around and saw nothing from the top of the wall.  Lauren saw some higher walls in the inner courtyard that were heavily obscured by trees and vines.  Working her way along the broken tops of the temple walls, Lauren was finding it difficult to reach the higher inner walls.  The fragmented walls she walked upon seemed maze-like.