© 1998, 1999 Andrew V. Smith All Rights Reserved.
| 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.
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