The Banhi have taken a significant number of casualties, but still we are outnumbered. Now they are regrouping for another assault. I use my power excavator and quickly deepen my fighting hole then settle down to wait. The air is sultry and it's as clear as the day now that the third moon has risen above the horizon. The landscape is filled with beautifully vibrant colors that hide the horrific dangers that are rampant on this deadly planet. However, this world would make a premiere resort if the indigenous people could learn to live together peacefully.
Suddenly, the Banhi start making the rhythmic humming sound that they use to frighten their enemies. I check my reserve energy pacs to ensure they are at full capacity and reset my weapon so that it will emit a wide beam of death. I wish that we had the mind controlled plasma weapons but the Galactic Security Council won't allow them to be used on this planet.
My Personal Combat Advisor Ge'rasal or Grr as I call him, repositions himself across my shoulders, and I ask if he is hurt. The PCA's are highly classified, and we are under strict orders not to reveal their existence to anyone. His words sound inside my mind reassuring me that he is fine, and that I should try to rest. I tell Grr to morph into a facsimile of a tattoo in case we get captured. He asks for a suggestion as to what image he should display. The picture of a coiled rattlesnake pops into my mind, and I feel his body begin to pulse as the transformation begins. Then after a few seconds he adheres to himself to my skin.
Sergeant Naho slides silently into my hole and asks, "Do you need anything?"
I quip, "Yeah sarge, get me the hell off this planet!"
Naho laughs and says that he will work on that request. Then the powerfully built sergeant leans back, and takes a drink from his PuRC. During my eight years of service, I have met many highly skilled and dedicated soldiers. However, Naho is the only one that I would name as a professional. During a battle, his ferocity is sometimes frightening. However, after the fighting is done, he becomes the same old easy going squad leader that conscientiously looks after his people.
I ask him about our situation, and he replies glibly, "We are surrounded on three sides with a large body of water behind us that is infested with starving critters!"
Then he smiles and asks, "Do you want to hear more or is that enough for now?"
We look at each other until it becomes awkward and to break the moment I ask, "Sarge, what is your real name?"
He smiles and answers, "Nahkôhemeeotse."
The reality of the situation causes me to say, "It's been good serving with you, Sergeant Nahkôhemeeotse."
Naho reacts irritably, "Enough of that, we ain't dead yet Private Tehera!"
Grr says urgently, "There is a large concentration of enemy forces at 330 degrees, moving left to right at a distance of 135 meters."
Naho's PCA has obviously given him the same information, and he says, "See you later, Bob."
Then he is gone and I shift my weapon thinking that targets might present themselves, if the enemy is careless. Although, the Banhi haven't made any mistakes so far but doing anything is better than thinking.
There is a soft warning whistle and my friend Sam Tolis enters the hole then says, "Naho is putting two men into each hole, all across the battle formation."
Sam is the only person that I have ever felt completely comfortable with since the first time that we met.
I respond with heartfelt gratitude, "Remind me to thank the good sergeant."
Sam laughs and does an equipment check then takes out a "wave ration." He activates the tiny microwave unit that heats it. After the container beeps softly he opens it then sniffs even though the ration is labeled. Then with a grin he says that its potato soup which I know is his favorite food. I remark that he is lucky and my friend smiles ruefully then begins to eat. After Sam finishes eating, I watch him disintegrate the container with amusement.
He smiles and quotes the regimental axiom, "Leave nothing behind but enemy dead."
A strong gust of wind whooshes over our position and I check the sky hoping that a hail storm is forming. As the Banhi do not have energy sacs to protect them from hail. So they would be forced to take cover underground effectively stopping the battle for a time. I ask Grr if a storm is developing, but he doesn't sense anything that indicates one is forming.
The Banhi change their hums to a rapid "HUUH HUUH" suggesting that they are going to attack soon. Someone down the battle line defiantly begins to sing an old rock and roll ballad that causes us to laugh aloud. Laser's light begins to play over our position, but we don't react as they are trying to "count our guns" or pinpoint our fighting holes.
A disruptor beam causes a nearby tree to explode into a thunderous cacophony of noise then it begins to burn fiercely. I cannot get over the fact that war is so devastating to the flora and fauna of a planet. I sometimes wonder how rational beings can allow such things to happen. That is especially true for soldiers because we know firsthand about war and the d that it causes.
However, after that thought reality returns, and I know the reason that we are on this planet is Neaphinital ore. That's the stuff they refine into a thick lubricant used on Hystic Wave drives which power spacecraft all across the galaxy. However, money might be a better explanation for most people. Nonetheless, as a mercenary I really shouldn't judge too harshly. Since money is the reason that both my regiment and its employer Galactic Resolutions Inc., exist.
I inquire over my headset about the possibility of reinforcements and receive a brusque answer, "Stay off the comm and hold your position!"
Grr thinks the attack will come very soon as my mind drifts back to my Mom and the day I left to join a Free Regiment. She gave me a very old silver dollar that once belonged to one of my great, great grandfathers.
Mom said that, "He carried it during his war and came home safe, now you carry it during your wars and come back to me safe."
I had it put into a bezel and wear it as a necklace. However, my Dad didn't speak, actually I don't think that he could, I know that my throat was too tight to utter a sound. I drove away that day and didn't see them again until my training was completed three years later. And now I may not ever see them again.
There is a ripping sound as one of our heavy weapon gun crews fires a dehydrator tube. The armaments' designer that fabricated dehydrators is an inhuman monster, as the weapon removes all the water from your body in a microsecond! Leaving only a grey leathery husk of what was once a living being.
Grr barks out a warning, "Acid globes!"
I cringe in the bottom of my hole and stare upwards to see a dark globe drift over our hole. I begin to breathe again when the weapon doesn't explode and drifts away. However, a second globe appears and then to my horror, I see a flash and globs of dark liquid rains down on us! My body begins to burn as my armor is quickly eroded away. I hear screaming and realize that it's me making the horrible racket!
My personal medi-kit detaches itself from my armor, and activates its tiny anti-grav unit then finds the proper injection port in my armor. After which it begins to spray a med into what's left of my armor that should ease my pain.
Then Grr speaks calmly, "Don't move, it will tear the lesions and subject you to intense pain."
My mind screams that the pain that I feel now, cannot possibly get worse.
Then he adds, "Your PMK has summoned a Surgical Field Kit."
I think anxiously, "Are you and Sam ok?"
He replies, "Yes, I am impervious to the weapon and Sam still lives."
Then the pain does get worse, and I employ the pain suppressing techniques that we were taught by that Anthixian Superior Doctor. My PMK beeps to let me know that it is injecting a potent pain reliever as I concentrate on not moving. Then the PMK activates my energy sac that is normally used as a sleeping bag and covers me with it. The sac energizes and begins to create a sterile field that will hopefully prevent my wounds from becoming infected. I can hear the battle raging all around as the regiment employs all of its weapons at full capacity.
I think a question, "How are we doing, Grr?"
He responds with a hint of exasperation in his thoughts, "We are holding our own but your battles are over for a while now, so lie still mercenary!"
Another globe floats overhead and I plead silently for it to go away. However, it begins to pulse rapidly and then disintegrates! The globs rain down again, and penetrate my energy sac. Then thankfully the pain overloads my senses causing me to black out.
I awaken to discover that my eyes no longer work and panic threatens to overwhelm me. Grr reassures me by saying that I am blind because the SFK has covered me completely with pain relieving gel. And now it's transporting me to the regimental aid station. I ask if Sam is alive and Grr says that he isn't sure, but thinks that he still lives. The SFK stops moving and Grr says that we have arrived at the aid station.
Then I hear regimental anti-gravity assault pods, and it sound like a full company is reinforcing us. Suddenly, the realization hits me that it's no longer "us" and it may never be "us" again! For some reason, I find that distasteful and force myself to think about other things.
A soft voice says, "My name is Saa'Tiun, I am a 10th level burns specialist working under the supervision of a superior doctor."
.... There is more of this story ...