Much of the lush trees and natural plant life was destroyed during the original landing; the ground was burned black in a fifty foot circle, charred plants and rocks crunching under the boots of many men. The encampment had a built in perimeter of thick red trees thanks to the first expedition. The trees, they would later find, were one of many natural resources this planet had to offer. Little was known about earth’s newest conquest, most of the men didn’t even know the native name, so they just called it Paradise.
Alan Marks noticed this on the ship over, the other recruits did nothing to boost his sprits. There was a short briefing before they were loaded like rounds into the rocket. The man in charge was General Gold, a massive hulk of a man. He detailed the enemy and the landscape.
“This is thick jungle territory, don’t get cornered and for your own sake don’t get separated from the team. That’s the most important thing; don’t lose your team mates. If you get cornered alone your laser is useless and they’ll tear you apart. These aren’t just gooks you’re fighting men.”
The new recruits all thought this was a joke, the way he said it, with special emphasis on the word tear seemed like a joke. But then he showed them the only picture they had of the enemy. It’s was blurred but you could plainly see what it was. A bright blue blur with massive claws and a huge tail was devouring another red smear. The blue monster was obviously female; she was stunning if you could get around the blood, her face seeming to contort to fit her Jurassic mouth. The worst part, the very worst part was the look on the red smears face. You couldn’t see any other part of him, just the look of terror as America’s newest enemy tore him apart.
Alan was still modified. None of the other men even seemed to care that they were heading towards a war zone. They showed the American classic porno Deep throat on the rocket and everyone was completely absorbed. Apparently the lead actress was born with out a clitoris and the only way she could reach sexual arousal was when she did the Deep throat. It seemed ludicrous to Alan but everyone else enjoy it.
The porno lasted the entire trip, and soon the rocket was landing in a burned out section of land. You could see the main encampment far off in the distant as well as other landing sites. The lush forest was littered with charred black circles from rocket ships.
There was seventeen new recruits total. General Gold took the ship over with his men, he was the only senior officer and he ordered them to stand single file and face him. He was slowly unbuttoning his shirt and smile bitterly. No one spoke and soon the man was standing topless in front of them.
“You see this?” there was a scar rippling his otherwise toned flesh from shoulder to stomach. Everyone one nodded dumbly in fear. “Good, I’m glad all you faggots can see my purple heart. I won’t bore you with an old man’s war story, but I want you too look very closely and decide if you want something like this one your pretty boy skin. It’s a choice to fail god damn it and I will not accept failure from my men. What’s your name Faggot?”
“Alan Marks, sir.”
“What they fuck are you doing here boy?”
“I don’t know, everyone said it was paradise.”
“It is son, I hope you live long enough to enjoy it. I hope all of you get to enjoy it and your goddamn babies too. This is your first mission. Ten miles south from here is our base, your new home, you boys are gonna go for a little jog through the jungle. Your performance here will determine your Rank and place in the army.”
No one had motioned this to Alan however and he looked visible shocked. General Gold turned on him.
“Is that a problem for you Marks?”
“No, sir, I love to run.”
“That’s what I love to hear. Does everyone here love to run?”
“I never liked runner much, it’s my purple heart I think, but you boys run and I’ll see you in a few hours. If you want to survive then I suggest you stay together, the enemy is out there.”
With a self assured smile General Gold throw down a few tins of food and some bottled water and disappeared into the bush riding a beat up all terrain vehicle. All of a sudden the silence was deafening. The wind moved softy through the trees, animals moved noiselessly in the heavy woods.
“Fuck that guy.” This from a man at the end of the line, he was the first to break formation and start heading south. “Isn’t that what book camp is for?” Alan pulled his weapon from its holster and started after him, grabbing a few tins of food and water on the way.
“Atta boy.” The man said and slapped him on the back. He must have been the same age as Alan but he looked like a soldier. Boots laced up and shinning, sweat running down his back. Alan figured if he wanted to live in paradise this guy was his best bet.
“What’s your name?” he glanced behind him and noticed more men coming in ones in twos.
“I’m Henry, your Marks right?” As he spoke he looked straight ahead, scanning the leaves as they moved in the wind.
“Yeah that’s me.”
“I need someone at my back Marks, these guys have no idea what their in for, you either.”
“Gold made it pretty simple.”
“This is my second tour here, I’ve fought these things. They’re not just animals, they think and plan and work together.”
He stopped suddenly, slapping his hand against Alan chest. With lightening quickness he had his weapon ready. They emerged from the plant life like marines rising up from water. There were three of them, all female. Only one walked on her two legs, the others scooted around on all fours. Henry shot the first one through the hip, she darted back into the brush and the other two surged forward. Alan waited, waited until her claws were almost around his neck and then fired. He got her just below her breast, exposing her rib cage to the world.
The other one was on Henry, its tail wrapped around his neck claws digging into his chest. Almost inaudible Alan heard her hiss hear… heart. He showed no mercy and blow her eyes out the back of her head. He was trying to untangle the things tail from Henry’s neck when the last monster stepped from the brush. She had her hands up in a peaceful stance.
Her voice was like water to a staving man. It lulled Alan into a warm safe place, he dropped his weapon. She was saying come to me…come to me…come to me. In his mind he knew this was wrong, he knew she was no friend, no lover, but he could not stop himself from moving forward.
Henry came running from behind him, a piece of dead wood in his hand. With out missing a step he swung on her sending her reeling to the ground. He raised the stick high above his head and shattered her skull with one fatal blow. He collapsed to the ground and started laughing.
“I told you, didn’t I Marks? Now help me find my gun.”
“Its right here Henry, Alan’s too.” The other fifteen men were gathered around wide eyed watching the two men struggle but survive.
“Maybe we should all stay together from now on.” After that no one said anything, the silence was deafening.