“Look at me, marine! Eyes front!”
I grab Ellis by her shoulder guards and haul her to me so our plexiglass visors contact. Her eyes are huge, almost all pupil, the leftover whites streaked red from stims. Sweat streams down her dark skin. I can feel her shaking through the armor.
She tries to push past me to the ship. “No chance, Sargent!” I lock the powergrip on my glove. “You move, we’re both dead.” Empathy’s a risky play, but she stops.
I glance up. It’s still coming—fast.
Bile in my throat, I lock eyes with Ellis. “Listen up, marine! You don’t do anything before I say. You do only what I say. Copy?”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
I mark time. Every readout on my headsup is red. But I don’t need it. I can already see the teeth. The scales. Whatever the hell it’s using for eyes.
We slam flat to the ground. Endocrine sensors flood me with stims, giving me the boost I need to barrel roll our half-ton weight into the nearest crater.
The noise of the thing plowing into the surface is nothing compared to the explosion when it hits our ship’s plasma core. A firework of shrapnel and meat bursts overhead.
And then it’s over.
Ellis and I lay there a long time, coated in guts and not saying a word. Just sucking pure oxygen and trying not to puke.
Then I radio Command. We’re going to need a ride home.
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