<== ==>

Platoon Miriam sustained four deaths and eleven injuries, making them the most heavily battered unit in the entire legion.

The rest of the battle was almost routine. Without their anti-air, the Neighbors were helpless as 119th sky cavalry ripped their forces apart. The entire settlement was under BEACON control within the hour- save for the tower.

Herod sat in her undershirt as the doc checked her arm. The medical tent was professional and well-run, the medics briskly applying aid as needed. All of the girls who had taken serious wounds had already been tended to, now the triage had turned its eyes to those banged-up in battle.

The medic, Sosana, was doe-eyed and chatty. She was nominally making pleasant small talk with Herod, although the conversation was one-sided.

“I see a lot of birds fuck up their arm from the pneumy, but rarely from kicking too much ass with it!” she tittered. “Oh, but you must have been very brave. I hate getting close to the Romeos, don’t you? Awful slithery things. Flex for me, won’t you?”

Herod complied. Her arms were stringy and tough, but several bruises began to form along the forearm “I was worried you might have a fracture, but I don’t feel anything,” said Sosana. “I’ll apply some reliever to the bruises, unless you want to do it yourself.”

“I do.” Herod looked at the doctor and smiled. “Thank you.”

“Ha! What a gentlelady. You must be a big hit in the barracks- they do love the strong and silent type.” Sosana grinned, then glanced over Herod’s shoulder. “Oh, colonel, centurion! Come meet the hatchling!”

Herod looked over at the newcomers. Instinctively her eyes settled on the more senior of the two, and she was mildly surprised to see that the colonel was male. There were men among the rank and file- one of the privates in Squad 3 was of that persuasion- but it was a rarity to see one in an officerial position.

He was very short, more than a head smaller than she was, and thin and bony to boot. His eyes were a deep blue with a glint that might have been cruelty and might have been playfulness. They were deeply inset in his face, like he didn’t get nearly enough sleep. The rest of him was angles: a pointed chin, an aquiline nose, elfen ears, spiky sky-blue hair. He was smiling just a little. Herod instantly disliked him.

The centurion had a much warmer vibe… actually, she looked familiar. She was voluptuous and busty, carrying her surplus flesh with elegance. She had hair the color of lilacs and a round, heart-shaped face. Her eyes were wide and sincere and her mouth was ripe. On her shoulder was the symbol of the medical corps, suggesting that she was the leader of this field hospital.

Both wore the Mark XII Vishnu suit, the popular choice for support personnel. It was slimmer than the Gawain, and with less armor and firepower- but it made up for it in sheer modularity. The colonel’s Vishnu was equipped with a strategic suite, including an eye-in-the-sky microdrone and a more powerful battlefield analysis computer. The centurion’s was equipped for battlefield medicine, including surgical lasers and a drug dispenser.

“Hey!” the centurion chirped- and she did chirp, her voice was like birdsong. “How’s the 119th treating you so far?”

“Fine, ma’am.” Herod bowed her head in deference. “Private Herod Makkaba, reporting for duty.”

“Ah, to be Proving Grounds fresh,” the centurion sighed happily. “Isn’t she something, Amalek?”

The colonel, Amalek, examined her with cool eyes. He didn’t seem impressed. “Miranda tells me that you’re the reason why the enemy’s anti-aero ist kaput. They teach you that at the Proving Grounds?”

“No, ma’am.”

Amalek’s eye twitched a little. BEACON custom was to call officers “ma’am” regardless of gender. “I didn’t think so either. So I pull up your file and I find that you’ve been on assignment for the last four years. But it won’t tell me where- it’s ultra-top secret classified, nobody below the rank of princepa first class can even sniff it.”

Herod said nothing.

“What I’m wondering is why BEACON saw fit to take someone doing what I can only assume to be classified wetwork, bump her down to private, and then assign her to my cohort.” Amalek raised his chin. “Care to explain, legionnaire?”

<== ==>

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