Comrades in Arms
by Bud Sparhawk
Across the cold, grassy plateau lay scattered detritus washed up on the shores of a war
that had ravaged the planet since the invasion. The bright mid-day light of the red sun blazing
overhead threw the scene into harsh contrast. Jason knew the deep shadows hid as many bodies
as were exposed and the remaining tall grass hid even more.
The patterns of the fallen human and alien forces appeared somewhat random. Here and
there were overlapping arcs mowed in the plateau's tall grasses where the aliens' ticklers had
ripped into the human force. Craters from the human heavy weapons punctuated areas where
alien weapons had been destroyed.
After studying the patterns of death and destruction Jason concluded that ISOBEL, the
unit's commander, along with the rest of her troops, must have been overrun. It looked like there
had been enormous costs to both sides, and from where he stood, he could not determine which,
if either, had emerged victorious.
But ISOBEL would know; that is, if he could rescue her. They'd given him this search
because of his condition: busted head, torn actuators, and deteriorating life support system that
made him useless for combat. He wasn't as strong or fast as he had been, but troops like him
were still useful. Right now, searching this recent battleground seemed the best use.
He examined the areas where the majority of the alien and human remains were clustered
in grisly detail. It was a scene from hell and one which left him, Cybermarine Sergeant Jason
Ponderson, wondering where he could best search for ISOBEL's position.
He'd leave the rest of the battlefield to the Reaper squad to salvage whatever remains
could be reused or repurposed.