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Karla stretched her legs. Every step she took sent small spasms of pain through her joints. She felt every cramp through out her body as tense muscles sought release from hours spent withing the confines of power armor.  The constant threat of attack just made it worse. Endless days on the perimeter watching a tidal wave of hopeless humanity stream into the remains of the last functional star port in the continent. Abandoned trucks, cars, and bikes littered the tarmac alongside the remains of crashed shuttles downed by enemy fire.

The sounds of Christmas bells drew Karla’s attention. It came from the last opened shop in the terminal, a little coffee shop that served all manner of high calorie foods to the soldiers. Tech Sergeant Michael Hoff crammed a hot dog down his gullet while he ran to the hangar to repair another broken ship. Beside him Alicia Mateo, a civilian contractor, downed a sippy cup full of black tar coffee. God knows where she got either of those things. Snowflakes drifted down from the gray sky above.

At the opposite end of the tarmac refugees waited in long lines to board the ships that would take them away from everything they had ever owned or known. A little boy clutched a stuff rabbit with one arm while he clung to his father’s leg with the other.

Pvt. First Class Omato rushed to her side, “Captain, we have movement on the perimeter. Lots of movement.”

She look at her watch. It read 12/24/2234.

“Well, I guess this is the enemy’s way of saying Merry Xmas. Tell the rest of the squadron to saddle up.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Karla turned heel and headed back to the hangar and her battle armor to the beat exploding shells and Xmas bells.



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