“I don’t think they’re coming back.”

General Charles Avocet frowned as he looked toward the corporal who peered over the scorch-marked yellow boulder. “They’re coming back,” he countered.

The corporal shook his head. “No, sir.” He pointed toward the rolling plains of brownish-gray grass stretching southeast below the ridge where they’d sought shelter. “No sign of them.”

“Well, considering how much more experience you have in this field, I suppose I might as well…oh, wait.” Avocet lowered his voice to a dangerous growl. “Get your head down. Keep it down. If anyone’s going to brain you, Lomax, it’s gonna be me.”

Lomax looked stricken and sad, but he immediately sank to his haunches behind the boulder.

The general pondered, then glanced toward the sky. His brow furrowed. He looked up to his right, noting a rocky path leading higher on the ridge. “We need to move.”

“Sir, you just told me…”

“We need to move,” Avocet replied, “and you need to do it while keeping your head down. Is it really that hard to put these simple concepts together, Lomax?” He grunted, then snatched up his rifle and gunny sack. He motioned for Lomax to lead the way, then followed the crouching corporal up the incline.

They’d gone about a hundred yards before the world turned crackling white and blue behind them from the impact of an orbital cannon blast.

“Won’t be going back that way,” the general noted as the light faded to reveal a twisting column of gray-black smoke where that slope of the ridge had been shaved away.

Lomax boggled at the sight. “Wow, sir. They really hate you.”

“Yeah,” Avocet said, allowing a smirk. “They really do.”

By Brody

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