Here is an excerpt from my book, Swapship Troopers. Here, Quantrill and Hardaway are on the run from an army of giant Bug-like Formids. Quantrill discovers that Hardaway is willing to sacrifice himself to save her. Hardaway discovers that girls can shoot, too.
“We have to get to the top of that rock!” Hardaway yelled. He pointed to a tall, stone formation up ahead with a flat top and steep sides. Quantrill didn’t know how they would ever make it. If Formids have the advantage at running, they have double the advantage at climbing. A Bug could climb straight up a sheer cliff without breaking a sweat. She didn’t know about Lieutenant Hardaway, but Quantrill knew for sure she couldn’t compete with that. Even so, it was not the time to start questioning orders.
“Yes, sir!” she yelled. Just because she didn’t know Lieutenant Hardaway’s plan, didn’t mean he didn’t have one. She ran up the incline at full speed, leaping from one jagged, pointy rock to another. Quantrill knew she could trip and fall running that fast over such unpredictable terrain, but if she went any slower she would definitely be overtaken by the Bugs. It was an all or nothing situation.
She barely made it as it was. As she scrambled up the last three meters – an almost vertical wall of rock – a huge bug charged her from the left side. She was hanging onto the rock by her fingertips. She would have to let go to unsling her rifle. That would have meant falling – and probably tumbling down the steep sides of the rock and into the mass of attacking Formids.
Instead, just as the Bug stepped toward her, a snarling blast from Hardaway’s SAW blew its abdomen to pieces. The Bug dropped and Quantrill pulled herself up onto the top of the rock. Her old upper-body strength would have been really handy right then. She didn’t have time to worry about that, however, because the Bugs were still coming.
She shouldered her rifle and leapt to her feet. From her point on the high ground, she could fire down onto the Formids trying to climb up the cliff and send them reeling. Hardaway had picked an excellent spot to put up a strong defense. But where was he?
She whirled around and saw the Lieutenant still at the foot of the rock formation. Bugs were coming at him from all directions, but he fended them off with ferocious salvos from the machine gun. When a Bug would break away and climb the rock face toward Quantrill, Hardaway would turn away from his own attackers to blast the Bug off the cliff.
“Run for it!” Hardway yelled, but made no move to run himself.
He was protecting her, Quantrill realized. He was sacrificing himself to save her. “The fuck you are,” she growled in her sweet, little voice.
Quantrill ran to the edge of the rocky outcropping. It was possible to bring down a Bug with one 5-round burst, but you had to be exactly on target. It was the kind of shot Quantrill could make about one time out of four. To save Hardaway she would have to make that shot every time, without fail. It was a long shot, but it was the only way. She slammed a fresh magazine into her AR316 and fired into the crowd of Bugs between her and Lieutenant Hardaway.
She didn’t wait to see if her shots connected – she barely even took time to aim. She just fired burst after burst into the heads of the attackers as fast as she could pull the trigger. They were trying to destroy the thing she loved most in the world, and they had to die.
She emptied the entire magazine and grabbed another. When she looked down at the battle she had killed dozens of Bugs. The pathway was clear for Hardaway to make a run for the rock. “You get up here, you son of a bitch!” she screamed.
Hardaway was stunned – but only for a moment. When he saw the dead, motionless carcasses of the Formids that had been blocking his retreat he wasted no time. The Lieutenant sprinted up the side of the cliff and vaulted onto the flat top. “That was some damn nice shooting,” he panted.
“Nothing to it,” Quantrill said with a wink. Then she brought the barrel of her AR316 up to her mouth and blew away the thin trail of smoke rising up from the overheated rifle.
The two Marines sprinted across the top of the tall rock formation. The top side was flat and smooth and made for easy running. They were able to outpace the Formids trying to climb up after them. Unfortunately, some Bugs ran through the valley to the side and cut them off. Quantrill and Hardaway continued forward, firing as they ran. They were able to knock many Bugs over the cliff, but more always took their place.
“Shit!” Hardaway swore. “I’m out of ammo.”
“I’ve got plenty,” Quantrill replied. Her AR316 ammunition wouldn’t work in the SAW, but she could give the rifle to Hardaway and he could defend them with it. She handed the weapon over to him. “Here. Take it.”
Hardaway reached for the rifle, but then stopped and drew his hand away. “No,” he said. “You’re a better shot than I am. You keep it.”
“Yes, sir,” she agreed. There wasn’t time for argument. She shouldered the rifle once more and blew away a Formid coming at them up the side of the cliff. She moved in a circle, firing at the Bugs coming at them from all sides. She was able to keep them away – but for how long? Her own ammo wouldn’t last forever. “We’re not going to get out of here, are we,” she said in between bursts of automatic rifle fire.
Find out of they get out of there on Amazon Kindle!