Serialized Science Fiction.

Silent, Deadly, and Unobtrusively
Tom Haynes

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wasn't one, 'cause the Marines take care of its own. We had what we needed.

Taxes were deducted, before we got our gold. We didn't care. They wouldn't cheat us. Not after what we did for them. Anyway, we also got the gold from all of the dead, tax free. We were not hurting for gold. The Marines care for its own.

So we rolled with our gear and our gold. And the troop transport left. We did too. All ten of us. We were home. We were back from the war. No one cared, for no one knew. They really wouldn't care anyway. Oh, they'd say they did, but they wouldn't. Just 'cause we are Marines doesn't mean that we are stupid. We were world wise, we didn't owe for the flesh. We had paid for it with the flesh of our fallen comrades.

After World War II, they had it easy, after Korea it became harder, but Vietnam blew them all away. Them? They're the Vets. Like us, Veterans of Foreign Wars. Except they never had the horrors of war we faced. Oh, in World War I they had the gas and the subs, in World War II they had the A-bomb, in Korea they faced jungle fighting for the first time, in Vietnam it was Agent Orange, and more jungle fighting plus they just didn't believe in it, and in our war we believed in it, that hurt us, but they, they never suffered ninety-nine percent casualties, they always had replacements, and they had home to go to, when wounded. Except we were never wounded, just killed. Nine hundred and ninety times.

Anyway, they never had to go on looking for the ENEMY. Not like us. For, the ENEMY could be anyone, race didn't matter. But we prevailed, and we went home, rolling.

The transport pulled away, leaving the ten of us there, hiding from the ENEMY. So what if the war was over, the ENEMY could be anywhere. We always checked the area for them. Life.

After we had decided that there was none of the ENEMY around, we picked up our flight bags, and marched in Battle Formation. That didn't mean we stopped looking' for the ENEMY. As we are Combat Marines, we are justifiably paranoid. Battle Formation is awesome, just awesome.

In Battle Formation, we range apart from each other, randomly, from one to ten meters, and in a random direction, from one to three hundred and sixty degrees, and then we go in whatever direction we wish to. If we don't want to stop, we don't. That's how awesome we, and it, are.

But, then, we are the best that money, or anything else for that matter, can buy. Not that we could be sold. That's because we believe in what we fight for. Stopping the ENEMY. It's that simple. And anyway, we were Marines.

So, in Battle Formation, the proud and the few that were left in our company went forward. All ten of us. Four years ago, all one thousand of us went backwards from this same spot. We were the tithe, but the cream of the crop.

Jason could not have had a better crew with him for his Argonauts, nor could Deneus have had better warriors to partake in his Calydonian Boar hunt. We were the best our mothers and fathers could offer, so we became Marines.

No one noticed when we left. No fanfares, ticker-tape parades, speeches or relatives to see us go. We left like we entered (silent, deadly, and unobtrusively). A thousand of society's Ubermensches, the

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