Second Wave by TS Hottle“How did you guys hide from the air patrols?” asked Davra as she watched Connor Duffy and Ellie Nardino put together explosive charges for the tunnel wall.

“How did you three manage it?” asked Nardino as she tamped an explosive cartridge into its housing, seemingly oblivious to any apparent danger. Either she was a thrill-seeker, or she used non-percussive explosives.

“There were only three of us,” said Davra. “We just crouched down and stayed very still.”

“In other words,” said Duffy, “you looked like frightened wildlife. At least they don’t shoot game from those craft.”

“I think they’re drones. They might be controlled from somewhere, but I think they’re searching for upright primates with weapons.”

“Carry any Gelt stunners?”

Davra shook her head. Eric Yuwono had insisted they leave the Gelt weapons they’d confiscated behind. The KR-27s were almost wholly mechanical. Their ammunition had better effect on Gelt armor than the stunners. And the Gelt troops that came aboard the colony transports had better armor. Smarter armor. “Just the KR-27s.”

“Which means they’d have to investigate every hunk of metal scattered on the plains,” said Duffy. “They didn’t kill us off, so they’re content to keep us hiding underground and in the mountains. But that’s not going to last.” He stood and stretched his bulky frame. “Come here. Let me show you something.”

He led her to a cart that Suicide’s team had been rolling with a group of four the first night Davra, Eric, and JT marched with them. Duffy pulled back a tarp to reveal a mass of fibrous mesh covering the supplies underneath. “Ellie and I found a barn full of this stuff on our second night out. Apparently, farmers used it to make it harder for lycanths to spot livestock at night. Stretch a bunch of this stuff along a fenceline where they come through, and it messes up their night vision. Messes up infrared and ultraviolet scans as well. We made a giant tent of the stuff and threw brush on top of it. Anyone flying over by day would just see a bunch of plants.”

“What if we draped it over ourselves at night?” asked Davra. “We can see out through it, can’t we?”

Nardino had walked up behind them and said, “We’d have to leave slits for our night vision if we’re going to get anywhere.”

“Might keep the lycanths away, too,” said Davra. “Although the ones we kept seeing acted almost human.”

“I’d be more worried about ursoids,” said Duffy. “Big, stupid eating machines. Chandrapurti says he watched one try to take a lycanth. If lycanths are intelligent, that was all that saved it.”

“I hope they’re not intelligent,” said Davra. “One grabbed me by the wrist when Wat showed up.”

Nardino paled at the mention of Tyler Wat.

“What?” asked Davra.

Duffy’s mouth twisted. “One of them decided Ellie would make him a good wife.”

“Did you tell Suicide?” asked Davra.

“I had to,” said Nardino. “You have to explain to your commander why you planted a vacuum-rated boot in a platoon-mate’s groin. He’s on latrine duty now.”

“That man is a menace,” said Davra. “Why’s he here again?”

“He knows Kray better than anyone on the planet,” said Duffy. “The enemy of my enemy, et cetera, et cetera.”

Davra frowned. “We need better friends.”

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