The listening sap was about fifty meters from the Vledscan line. Evans looked at Captain Ricci. He could just see her under the flickering light of a star shell. Her face had been darkened with mud. She was gripping her pistol tightly in her right hand. Her left hand was in the haversack that held her camera. She was wearing a bit of a motley uniform. A regular helmet, with her Captain’s insignia. She had an Enlisted jacket with her Officer’s insignia hastily sewed on. A scarf and goggles around her neck She had a bandolier over her jacket, mostly with extra magazines, but in the bottom it had a loop that held a smaller folding camera that she had taught Evans to use. She wore high cavalry boots with leggings tucked in. And, oddly enough, she still wore the officer’s skirt. Evans whispered to her, “Ma’am, I’ve been wondering all the way down here, Why the skirt? You’re out of uniform everywhere else.”

“It started off as a way to mock the uniform, but at this point, it’s become expected of me. Plus, it’s like a good luck charm,” She shrugged, “And it probably confuses the hell out of the enemy.”

Evans shrugged. The two sat for a few minutes listening to distant gunfire. Captain Ricci glanced at her watch and took out her camera.

The thunder rolled.

He could hear the shriek of shells overhead followed by sudden bursts. Looking up, he saw… well… What he imagined Hellfire was. A burst of burning white acicular flames. Other shells burst on the ground spreading burning white smoke. He looked at Captain Ricci. She was poking her head over the crater with her larger camera. She slid the camera back into the haversack and whispered “Protection on.”

Reaching to his neck, he slid his goggles over his eyes. He wrapped the scarf around his face, covering any exposed skin. Then he pulled his gloves on and clipped them onto his jacket sleeves.


“Weapons ready.”

Auto Gun was ready with one in the chamber. He tapped the Pistol in the holster. Yep. He checked the quick release latch on his haversack filled with… grenades. Good. Shovel was well in place too. Fuck this was really happening.


The barrier barrage started up. It was forming a corridor of constant artillery fire around the section of trench ahead of the pair. About 100 meters to their right, about 100 meters to their left, and a 150 meters ahead. Not much margin of error.

If only he were allowed to smoke.

“NOW!” Captain Ricci shouted over the roar of shellfire.

Evans took in a deep breath and dashed forward. It had been a while since he paid a visit to Hell.


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