As Sergeant Willox’s squad completed their sweep, he heard the familiar sound of mandibles clicking. As the squad hefted their pulse rifles, he wiped ash from his faceplate, remnants of the Xyloatl village their battalion had shelled that morning.
“Indigo-Six, Indigo-Actual,” squawked Willox’s radio. “Sitrep.”
Three chittering Xyloatl males appeared, then froze. The sight of them brought to Willox’s mind images of crumbling buildings awash in yellow blood, littered with severed limbs and shattered carapaces. His stomach lurched.
“Stand down,” he ordered the squad, then waved the Xyloatl on.
“Actual, Six,” Willox replied, ignoring his squad mates’ stares. “Sector’s clear.”
Matt Krizan is a former certified public accountant who writes from his home in Royal Oak, Michigan. His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including Daily Science Fiction, Dark Moments, and previously in Martian Magazine. Find him online at mattkrizan.com and on Twitter as @MattKrizan.