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Christmas in Foxhole-Heaven

          Christmas in Foxhole-Heaven
          by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

Tuesday 25 December 2863 (Earth Relative Time)
Battle Zone Three, Sector 17, Foxhole-H
North Continent, Balencia IV

     The heat of the day hadn’t really cut in yet.  But 
Corporal Trev Taylor was already too hot.  PFC Andrea Yu’s 
fatigues wore dark stains around the neck and under the 
arms.  Only Private Tony McConnell looked cool and relaxed 
hiding here in Foxhole-Heaven.  He claimed it was Zen 
training, the others just assumed he was cold-blooded.
     Something resembling a large stinging insect landed on 
Taylor’s bare arm, which he swatted away.  It fell on the 
damp ground by his feet -- a quick grind by the heel of his 
boot and it was gone.  Or at least encased in several 
centimeters of mud for a while.
     This wasn’t what they’d signed up for.
     Fleet Marines dropped planetside in their armored suits 
and stopped the bad guys from doing bad things by dint of 
their overwhelming technology.  But the SIG Cooperative on 
Balencia IV hadn’t read that part of the manual, apparently.  
It hadn’t been so much a matter of offering resistance to 
the Unified Star Fleet as a rout on the ground.
     So the four remaining Marines of Eagle Squad, 2011th 
Planetary Reconnaissance, lay hidden from view in a hastily 
dug out bunker -- Foxhole-H.  Their armored fighting suits 
sat off to the side, empty and dormant.
     The SIG had fooled everyone, amassing thousands of 
mines and armor penetrating missiles all of which honed in 
on the E-M emissions of the armor.  The Marines couldn’t 
move without attracting a hail of deadly fire.  Nor could 
they abandon their powerful suits and weapons.  It was a 
stalemate until Fleet could bring in enough tools to 
neutralize the mines and missiles.
     Their hidey hole brightened momentarily.  Taylor 
snatched up his auto rifle, but then relaxed.  It was Acting 
Sergeant Stu Hohn, back from creeping through the underbrush 
to Battalion.
     "What’s the news, Sarge?" Andrea asked.
     "Battalion’s got a new shipment of EETs.  Should be 
clearing out the SIG’s homing weapons in our sector pretty 
soon."
     "Good.  I’m tired of sleeping in an unpowered suit," 
Taylor said, getting up to check the seal of their trapdoor.
     "Gives you some protection if the SIGs come through 
that door," Stu pointed out.
     "Yeah, well I prefer the mission op where we have 
overwhelming force and restore peace and order in a matter 
of hours or days -- not weeks and months."
     "Cheer up.  Brought a new round of ration packs."
     "Thanks," Taylor said, without much enthusiasm.  The 
low-residue bars were designed not to give away their 
position.  That pretty much ruled out any hint of taste.
     "Come on, it’s your Christmas dinner."
     "Christmas?"
     "It’s Christmas back on Earth -- as of 0517 hours 
local," Stu said.
     "You powered up to check?" Taylor got concerned.  "Or 
did you get a datafeed at Battalion?"
     "Naw."  He held up a wrist.  "Great-great-great-
grandfather’s Rolex Galaxy -- all mechanical.  Dual 
calendars.  Earth Relative Time as well as setting it for 
the local twenty-eight hour forty-seven point three minute 
day."
     "You’ve been holding out on us."
     "Just about Christmas.  I’ve been tracking when that 
would come."
     "Well, then," Taylor said, sitting back down.  "Merry 
Christmas, Sarge."
     "Yes, Merry Christmas," Andrea and Tony added.
     Halfway through their dry, tasteless ration bars, their 
quiet holiday celebration was interrupted by a vibration, 
which quickly evolved into a rhythmic shaking.
     "What the hell was that?" Taylor whispered as he geared 
up for battle.
     "Oh yeah, there was one more thing," Stu said, standing 
up unconcerned.  "The 533rd is here with stealth non-
electronic armor.  They’ll give us cover and we can get out 
of here."
     "What?  You bastard!" Taylor yelled.
     Stu mounted into his armor and powered it up, just as 
their cover was lifted up by a friendly armored Marine.
     "Merry Christmas, guys," Stu said.  "Saddle up and move 
on out."
     Then the acting sergeant snapped his visor shut and 
left.  The other three scrambled into their armor, cleared 
out their gear and followed him.
     Freedom.  Daylight.  It was the best Christmas present 
Trev Taylor had ever gotten.

Dr. Phil
Tags: christmas, dr phil stories, holidays, science fiction
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