(Just a reminder that this is the rough draft of one of my current works -in-progress. What appears here has not yet been edited in any form and I guarantee there will be changes before it is published. Also, as always, this work is © Amanda S. Green, 2014. All rights reserved. Do not copy, distribute or otherwise disseminate without the author’s name, and a link to this page. You do not have the right to alter it. You do not have the right to claim it as yours. For permission to do anything other than quote it for review or recommendation purposes, email me. You can find the previous snippets here: one, two, three, four, five)
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Tremayne bit back a curse as the building was rocked again. Before she could stop and look, Shaw’s hand closed over her arm and dragged her forward. The young woman had to be acting on instinct now. She’d not worn the Marine uniform in more than two years. It had been even longer than that since she’d been on duty. Blood from her broken nose and a fresh cut over her right eye covered most of her face. Tremayne winced as she imagined the pain Shaw must be in. But you’d never guess it from the way she moved, carefully checking each corner before allowing Tremayne forward and not letting the senator stop and see what was going on.
Veteran that she was, Tremayne knew this wasn’t her kind of fight. She was a space jockey and always would be. Put her on the bridge of a ship and she was in her element. But this up close and personal sort of fight was why she’d chosen to go Navy instead of joining the Marines like her parents. At least she knew to put her trust in those who knew how to fight this sort of battle. Not that she liked it.
But if she’d had any concerns, any doubts about how Shaw would respond to a combat situation after all she’d been through, she no longer did. The young woman might not look like an active duty Marine in the black jumpsuit she’d been issued but she certainly acted like one. The rifle the gunny secured for her was slung across her back. The pistol she’d taken from the guard was held at the ready. Her eyes constantly scanned their surroundings, looking for danger from any source.
If that wasn’t enough to prove she was ready not only to return to duty but to trust her fellow marines, the fact Shaw hadn’t demanded to be linked into the com-net did. She listened carefully to the reports Talbot gave from time to time, occasionally asking questions. But she didn’t demand he turn over his earbud, something Tremayne knew a number of other officers would have. Maybe there really was reason to hope the last two years hadn’t turned Shaw against them.
God, let it be so.
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“Almost there, Senator,” the gunny said as they raced through the doors and burst into the sunlight.
They slid to a halt behind a makeshift barrier. One of the three Marines stationed there gave them a quick glance before turning her attention back to the area ahead of them. This might be the center of the security complex, but there was still a lot of open expanse to cross, too much when you considered all the buildings surrounding the complex. Buildings that could be hiding snipers, waiting to take their shot.
Shaw peeked around the edge of the barrier and blew out a breath. A shuttle rested on the landing pad not fifty meters from them. But it was a long fifty meters without cover. A lot could happen before they reached the relative safety of the shuttle.
So close and yet so far away.
She leaned against the barrier and closed her eyes, catching her breath. The sounds of fighting at the front of the building reached her. Screams of agony mixed with the unmistakable sounds of gunfire. This wasn’t supposed to happen in the capital. Hell, it wasn’t supposed to happen planetside. It had been more than a century since there’d been a real battle on Fuercon. Even during the last war, the Navy had been able to keep the enemy out of the home system. How the hell had they managed to get through now?
That was a very good question, but one she didn’t have time to worry about. The fighting hadn’t reached this part of the complex yet, but it would before long, especially if the enemy managed to regroup and bring air support back in. That meant they had to move, snipers or not.
Shaw glanced skyward and frowned. Smoke billowed from the side of the building in the general area of where she thought her cell might have been. A few minutes more and both she and Tremayne would have died. Wouldn’t that have sucked? Brought back to the capital to be offered a full pardon only to be killed in a sneak attack on the planet.
“Gunny, we need to get the senator out of here. We can’t risk her shuttle being caught groundside if the air attack is renewed.”
“I’m just waiting for the word, ma’am,” he said and cocked his head as he listened to something coming in over his earbud.
“Any word on enemy air support?”
Damn, it felt like she was fighting blind. She didn’t know who the enemy was, what they wanted or what their current position happened to be. She’d been in this position too often during the war but she’d thought those days were behind her. Of course, she’d also thought she’d be spending the next three years at the penal colony which, just now, sounded pretty damned good. But she was a Marine and she’d be damned if she let anything happen to the woman next to her.
“Looks like we got their birds, Captain. But there’s no guarantee more aren’t on their way.”
“How in the hell did they get troops on-planet, much less air support?” Tremayne demanded.
“A damned good question, ma’am, and one I’d love to know the answer to,” Shaw replied, once more peeking around the barricade.
As she did, she felt Tremayne shift restlessly at her side. Her hand flashed out, grabbing the senator before she could move forward. That was always the problem with Navy types. They thought about battle in terms of thousands of kilometers of space, not in terms of someone being close enough to put a projectile between your eyes or a knife in your back.
“Gunny, recommendations?” Shaw looked at the man, nodding as she did. She’d learned early in her career to trust her gunnys, especially on the battlefield. Talbot had proven himself one of the best, at least in her opinion. She’d trusted him during the war and she’d trust him now.
“We don’t dare wait any longer, Cap. When I say go, you get the senator to the shuttle. I’ll cover you,” he said, his eyes raking the open area before them.
“You’d better be right on our heels, Gunny. We don’t leave anyone behind.” Even as she said it, she thought about her people back on Tarsus and prayed she’d not imagined the notice of their pardons.
“Understood, ma’am. Believe me, I’ll be on your heels.” An explosion followed by a fresh burst of gunfire sounded behind them. “But we’ll all be left behind if you don’t get moving.”
Shaw glance around, her mouth tight. How in the world had she gone from military prisoner to active duty Marine and in the middle of a firefight in less than half an hour?
“Senator, you’re going to do exactly as I say.” She turned to Tremayne. “You will stick to me like we’re Siamese twins. When I tell you to run, you’re going to run like the dogs of Hell are on our heels. You don’t stop until you’re on that shuttle, no matter what happens. Do you understand?”
“As long as you understand you’d better be on that shuttle with me,” Tremayne replied.
“Gunny, stand ready.” She checked her weapons one last time.
“Now, Captain. Go!”
Shaw nodded and, grabbing Tremayne’s arm with her left hand, raced out from behind the barricade. They hadn’t gone three steps when the shots she’d been expecting rang out. The staccato of projectiles hitting the pavement at their feet filled the air. Pain like the sting of hundreds of insects registered. One part of her mind identified it as shrapnel and slivers of pavement, possibly even ricochets. Not that it made the pain go away. However, one thing her time at the penal colony had done was given her the ability to ignore such things. She’d have time to worry about it later.
Two armed Marines appeared from the shuttle and their covering fire joined that of the gunny and the others at the barricade. Shaw all but threw Tremayne at the nearest Marine before turning to lay down cover fire for the gunny.
“Get the senator inside and tell the pilot to get ready to take off!” she yelled as she fired in the direction of the last shot to hit the ground near her.
“Captain, get your ass inside!” the gunny ordered as he ran across the open area. “Get her on the shuttle!” he added to the Marines at her back.
Snarling, Shaw jerked against the hands that reached for her. She was damned if she’d run before she knew the gunny was safe. She’d had to leave the others behind. She wouldn’t do that here. She couldn’t.
“Go, go, go!” she yelled as she dove through the shuttle hatch a moment later, the gunny on her heels.
One of the Marines pounded on the bulkhead to let the pilot know it was safe to take off while his partner secured the hatch. Shaw motioned Tremayne to one of the flight couches and told her to strap in. Even as she did, the gunny was telling her to do the same. She complied as she felt the decksole vibrate beneath her feet.
Damn, what was going to happen next?
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I really do hope you guys are having as much fun with this wip as I am. Now for the standard book plug.