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Even kissing.
Julian smiled as he remembered the kiss. Yeah, he liked bossy kisses.
 Hey!
Julian looked up to find Prescott walking toward him.  Yeah?
 Grab some food then it s your turn guarding the traps.
 Yippee. His sarcastic tone was in direct contrast with the burst of adrenaline that
swept through his body. It couldn t be helped. Soldiers didn t jump up and down and
clap their hands with glee like little schoolgirls no matter how much they were looking
forward to an assignment.
Prescott smiled and nodded as if he d sensed Julian s excitement.  And make sure
you put on fresh bug-be-gone.
 Thanks. Julian exaggerated the dry tone of his voice.
 I ve got the shift after yours so don t be looking this way for any sympathy.
Julian smiled and shook his head as he went to get his rations. None of the men
were looking for pity. Not tonight. No one needed to say it out loud though. Julian
could feel the anger radiating through the encampment. They all wanted to be the one
who got a little retribution for Jones and the commander.
The food tasted like cardboard as he ate it. But that wasn t new. Rations weren t
designed to taste good. Still, they kept his body going and they filled that aching void
in the pit of his stomach, so he ate every last bite. And then he set off with a group of
four other men to the traps.
They had flashlights but that might give away whatever element of surprise they
had left. So instead they wore night-vision visors that d been amplified to pick up even
cold-blooded life forms. No one knew for certain if the reptile men were cold-blooded
but if they were, the soldiers wanted to be prepared. When they made it to the traps the
new watch signaled the group they were relieving and then they took their posts. The
whole changing of the guard was done in almost complete silence. All that was left to
do was settle in and wait.
The night passed slowly and every noise seemed amplified. Even once-benign
noises like the croak of a distant frog seemed slightly terrifying on this planet. He d bet
his next three rotations that those little, innocent-sounding amphibians had been
modified in some shape or manner. It seemed as though everything on this planet had
been.
But even the croaks of the frogs weren t as bad as the occasional snapping of a twig
or shuffling of a dry leaf. Those noises served to remind Julian of the mission and kept
his senses heightened. It was almost time for them to be relieved by the next watch,
though, when he finally picked out a large life form moving through the trees.
Homer had given them tranquilizer darts to use on the hostiles but for one brief
moment Julian contemplated using lethal force. It would feel good to watch the creature
go down and writhe in pain. But it wouldn t get their questions answered. And right
now they needed answers more than they needed vengeance. At least that was what he
told himself when he reached for his tranquilizer gun instead of his laser firearm.
A low whistle streaked through the night as his dart flew at the hostile. The target
grunted when it hit and then began searching the jungle. It wouldn t matter. He would
be out for the count in a matter of seconds. The two hostiles that jumped out of the
jungle at the noise, however, were a concern. They were fast and now that he had given
up his position the remaining hostiles lunged toward Julian.
Several more whistles streamed through the air before Julian felt the sting of a dart.
Shit.  I m hit. The two hostiles crashed into him. The weight of their bodies pinned him
to the ground and he expected to feel their hands wrap around his throat. He might still
be conscious but the sedative prevented him from defending himself. He was paralyzed
but he was cognizant of his own impending death. His heart raced, which only helped
the tranquilizer spread through his body at a record pace. And his breathing came in
shallow gasps. He couldn t fill his lungs adequately. He couldn t compensate for the
combination of the assailants weight and the drugs. Black spots danced in front of his
eyes. Maybe he would suffocate before the hostiles could tear him apart. That would be
a blessing.
He closed his eyes as he breathed out his last breath. Sharp knives raked down the
inside of his arm and tore the material of his uniform as the oppressive hand of death
closed in around him. But then the weight lifted and he could breathe again.
 You okay down there? [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]