Synopsis: Beyond War

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Nothing prepares you. The beauty and the fear. It's like a drug. Addictive. A flash and a sound, and then - nothing.

The sky, just as night crept in you could see them. Flying high over rifle range, circling, the first sign they were near.

Not a shot or a sound.. just silence... any effort to bring them down a waste of ammunition and giving away position. The newbies under close watch to hold their arms. Hope that they didn't see you - the only protection we had as darkness fell.

I could see Timothy spot checking his displays. The HUD lighting up his visor as he flashed through modes. Too dark to see soon. Unnaturally dark. Scramblers blocked thermal and infrared just like visible light. Real darkness, the likes of which no army had seen in ten thousand years. About fourty four of us - minus the six we lost yesterday - huddled down and felt the ground beneath them. A memory - a way to tell if you were holding on to the earth or something else, in the dark.

Last night it crossed our line. No one heard a sound. The plasma fire didn't even leave the trench or wake the men. Sounds that would shake windows, and bones snapping, absolutely silent not a meter from the next sentry. Like the night itself took them. But the night doesn't twist grown men over their own backs like that.

One of the helmets, torn in half, the worst of all. A two ton tank could drive over that and not leave a mark. Whatever it was, it could have thrown a man out of the line if it wanted to. But it kept them. This was its version of quiet. If it had wanted to drag them away they could not have stopped it. It did what it did to send a message.

If that message were received, we wouldn't be here now. XO ordered no one see the bodies. No one go into that line. Just a few of us hand-picked to bring back the gear and mine the place - in case it came back.

Dark now... the sound of the forest quiet... no insects. There are always insects. So, it's back.

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