Chester Burton Brown

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The war, in a word, sucked.

Lieutenant Michael Zhang Cuthbertson craned his head to track a flock of Australian ornithopters as they rose in a chattering pack from the camp’s crude airstrip and buzzed out over the Indian Ocean, their wings locking in to glide on the highways of wind beneath the cloud deck. The sun winked off their gun turrets. Like vultures, they circled.

Mike sighed. His ears pounded in unwilling sympathy with the wash of hard, thrashing electric music that routinely blanketed the Allied base: Nine Inch Nails, Towers of London, Cherry Nuk-Nuk, The Apocalyptoid Rebellion. Only in the brief dip between songs did the native tapestry of Madagascar’s birds, frogs and monkeys shine through the wall of rock. Mike winced, then adjusted his ear-plugs.

He took another bite of something crumbly and sour whose label claimed it was a field ration. Mike had his doubts.

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