“They’re coming,” I said.
“Who?” Bethany asked, stretching herself. I suppose it was kind of hard for her, sleeping like this, in tents and all, on the hard ground,when she had to carry all that excess weight, and couldn’t lay right, and all. I was glad it was girls that got pregnant and not boys.
“Oh,”she said, flatly. None of us had been all that thrilled when it had been announced that Newtonia, on learning about our situation here, long before our most recent discoveries, had decided to form a study-colony. They were big on science, the Newtonians, and could organize themselves quickly where anything scientific was concerned. And the colony would be a permanent colony, too, living, growing, breeding, and studying the Bn. I had heard that there was a huge colony force coming from Grenwhich IV. This planet, with its light sprinkling of Bn, was ripe fruit for colonization.
But Bethany was less thrilled than most. I dunno what had happened on her way here, but she had gotten some bad vibes from Newtonians or something. I had never dealt with them much, except on board ship from time to time. Their kids were OK. All hothouse education brats, but fun to play with. My mom never let me go over to their quarters tho. She never would tell me why.
“When do they get here?”
“The advance team will be arriving this afternoon. Our group is going to go over and provide protection for their landing site. It’s pretty far back in the hills, so there really shouldn’t be much issue, but, still, the Colonel has asked us to go. In fact, he’s asked me to go. I think he is trying to give some of the other lieutenants an opportunity to make ‘discoveries’.”
“So a punishment assignment?”
“No, more of a ‘we have to do boring things, too, you know’ assignment.”
Bethany laughed, stretched again, dressed, and we went to breakfast.
“OK, squad, let’s get going,” I said, a half an hour later. We had supplied to bring too, and the site was a couple of hours march away, so I was eager to get going. Luckily they had chosen a site near a decent stream, so we didn’t have to bring more than emergency water.
I loved this, I thought to myself an hour later, as we started up again after our second rest break. I loved Bethany, of course, and Adelphe and all, but, still, I liked time by myself. Not that I was ‘by myself’ right now, but running like this I could feel alone. And I loved running, I loved using my body as the Creator intended, not sitting around at some computer or something.
I liked this scenery, too, although not as much as I had enjoyed ‘Hell’. Green grass, blue-green sky, rolling hills, purple moons… what wasn’t there to like?
All too soon we arrived at the location and I sent my squad out. I would have been sweating but the soldier suit I had to wear on an assignment like this was too temperature controlled for that. I didn’t even have to stop to pee, but, once the others were over the hill, I opened my suit and watered the ground. Somehow peeing in the suit always made me feel so, I dunno, mechanical or something. And then, of course, I would be drinking that same water a few minutes later. Antiseptic and all, I knew that, but it was still kind of gross. And unnecessary, I knew, as I waded out into the stream and my suit ‘drank’ water and ‘excreted’ waste… like all sorts of chemicals it would have filtered out of my sweat and all.
I popped down my heads up display and watched my squad filter out into their positions. And then, setting my suit to wake me if any one of a dozen different things happened, I lay down for a quick nap, letting the water mostly cover me up. Good camouflage, actually, since it helped take care of IR as well as visual. A lot of newbies found it odd and hard to do, though… laying down to go to sleep in a stream. But I’d been simming this since I could walk, practically.
The tone that woke me was a routine one, so I opened my eyes slowly and popped my heads up into position. The squad was still out there, most of them chatting away with each other, chat I could hear whenever I wanted, OR JUST watch a transcript of. Mostly talk about girls, of course. Jeremy was getting almost that age and the other liked to tease him about it.
The shuttles were definitely incoming though, and that was more interesting to watch. I moved my view from screen to screen in the shuttles, saying hi to the drivers and getting the view. Five hundred Newtonians, just in this initial wave, and then ten thousand to come in the next couple of days. A pretty big colony, if you asked me. Nobody did, of course.
The shuttles started their final flare up and I pulled myself up, standing in the stream, the water cascading off of me. I moved my suit off camouflage and popped my helmet open. I already knew which shuttle held the leader or the expedition and so, when it landed a few seconds after the lead shuttle, I loped over there.
When the door opened two younger men came out first, weapons in hand. We had exchanged recognition with each other, though, so they just nodded and climbed on top of the shuttle. I wasn’t upset they had their own security, it was foolish to assume too much.
Finally the leader came out. I could tell it was him both my the
marks on his jumpsuit, a dark blue, and by his bearing. His eyes scanned the horizon and them came to rest on me. “Lt Tome, sir,” I said, saluting. “In charge of ground security.”
“As you were,” he said, saluting me back. “Is the area secure?”
“Yes, sir,” I said. “No enemy for at least ten clicks, and scouts out.”
“Good,” he said, and then turned to a man that had just come out. “That’s the hill we discussed,” he said to him, “Get the tent set up so the women can begin work.”
“Yes sir,” that other man said, with only the barest glance at me, and went to the back of the shuttle. I waited for the leader to turn back to me, but he didn’t, instead walking off toward another shuttle. In seconds this shuttle, the one I was standing in front of, started disgorging people, men and women, all seemingly far too busy to talk to me, or even acknowledge me.