Love, Murder & Mayhem: Read it Now: Speedeth All

“Speedeth All” by Meriah Crawford has a small, outnumbered squad of soldiers desperately fighting for their lives on a distant moon, unsure what they’re really fighting for, and why, left in the dark by their military leaders, questioning if their lives even matter. Will they make it out of battle, or will their rescue ship come too late?

To find out, here’s an early look:

Speedeth All

by Meriah Crawford

27 March 2318, UTC 14:27

It was shortly after dawn on their thirteenth day on the Bee, as they’d all started calling it. Not just as an abbreviation of the planet’s designation, but because it was annoying—and painful, if you didn’t watch what you were doing. Long days, vicious heat, nasty bugs, and hidden tunnel systems where the lizards hid. Add to that the lack of water or food, and almost complete absence of cover, and, for a “simple recon mission,” it was about as bad as it could get. About the only positive aspect of the place was that the atmosphere was breathable, though no one quite knew why.

Squad Leader Vetter leaned against a red boulder in a small impact crater watching Trine cleaning and repairing their comms unit. The box had taken a hit from a pulsed laser weapon, and

it was dead.

Trine had assured Vetter there was nothing that could be done to fix it, short of replacing “almost every single bishtup part,” including a lot of parts he didn’t have spares for. He’d been removing, cleaning, and repairing parts for the last two hours of his watch, anyway. Vetter didn’t need to ask why. She’d have killed for a task, however pointless—but there was little she could do but wait.

Macksin was snoring. Bastard could sleep through anything— was probably the best-rested biped on the dirt—but he seemed to have the mental capacity of a rutabaga. He’d follow orders if you explained them slow enough, but in a firefight, he was next to useless. And most of the time when he was awake, he just sat and read through technical specs and manuals, like he’d never set sight on the insides of the machines he’d been trained to maintain.

Damn shame, too, because he was an exceptionally wellconstructed soldier, and command didn’t much mind fraternizing if they didn’t see it happening—not during off-world missions.

They’d gotten along well, too, at first—until things started to go wrong, and Macksin proved himself to be the least competent mechanic she’d ever seen.

Vetter shook her head. How she’d found herself left with these two—alone in their sector, as far as she could tell—was a mystery. Macksin, at least, should have been the first to go. Some of the squad started calling him a good luck charm after the third time he narrowly missed being killed or maimed. They were dead now. Every last one.

When the war with the lizards started just nine months ago, Vetter’s squad and almost two thousand other soldiers—a rough mix of lifers and draftees—were sent to the Bee. The planet supposedly had some very useful minerals but minimal tactical value, though the orders to constantly scan the surface and relay the data to orbit each watch suggested it was far more important than they’d been told. Beyond that, she had little idea what was going on. None of them even knew what had started the war—they only knew it was happening. The better their tech got, the less information command shared. Smart, she supposed, but annoying. Frustrating. And this time, maybe lethal.

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