She was sitting on a transport. Eyes wide, breath shallow, she stared at the empty patch of floor between her feet. Her knees were spread, her elbows resting
loosely on them, her back bowed, her head dipped forward.
The sound of the ship punching through the atmosphere was a constant drone, the seats and bulkheads rattling with a grating shudder that made her hands
No one spoke. Or at least no one spoke to her.
There were 12 other people aboard the ship, all of them marines in the enormous, hulking black and yellow armor of the 11th Infantry Division
of the United Coalition. Though their helmets were off, they still had visual displays stretched over their eyes. Flickering panels of light, they
showed their wearers live telemetry and enabled them to achieve the pinpoint accuracy the 11th Division was famed for.
If you had a soldier from the 11th on your tail, they could land a shot with a simple gun at a distance of hundreds of kilometers. The on-board
processor of their armor could adjust to the curvature of the earth, wind speed, and the declining velocity of their bullets.
They would hunt you mercilessly, despite the terrain, under water, over land, in the air, and in space.
You wouldn’t get away.
She hadn’t gotten away.
Letting out a barely-controlled, tight breath through her teeth, she dropped forward and let her hands brush over her head. Her tattooed fingers passed
over the bumps and curves of her smooth, bald skull. Running along it in ordered, neat lines were blue and white symbols: marks ingrained into the
skin since childhood, and constant reminders of who she was.
Straightening up, she turned to see one of the marines staring her way. No matter what movement she made, that man would always incline his head in her
direction to watch, with eagle eyes and stiff-lipped severity.
She caught his gaze for just a moment, then she looked away sharply, returning her wide-eyed, dead stare to the patch of floor beneath her.
She tried to count the scuffmarks; she tried to imagine the feet that had traipsed through this ship over the 30 or so years of its service.
She distracted herself in any way she could so that man’s cold stare didn’t reach into her bones and sap whatever distant courage remained.
None of the other marines moved. They simply sat there, staring forward, their neck muscles stiff, their heads held high as their eyeballs darted around,
chasing ghostly images over their visual displays.
Constantly plugged in, an 11th was never far from orders, and never removed from the strength and sheer power and of their armor.
She’d been quick and easy prey for them.
Letting hopelessness settle in, growing nerves mixed with a wavering queasiness that slicked her skin with sweat and fixed her lifeless gaze even harder
on that patch of featureless floor.
It was over.
She would be taken back.
Hell would begin on earth.
This is a preview of a new sci-fi I’ll be writing in 2019.