Lt. Thompson jumped from the door of the helicopter, landing with a splash in the rice paddie. He shouted in broken Vietnamese, and ten short frightened-looking soldiers emerged from the craft. As the 'copter rose, soaking the men in spray, Thompson lead his group on. He looked eager for action - for their sake he had to. In English he swore at the men behind him for their fear and semi-alertness.

   The group followed its leader. Small, moon-faced farm boys in uniforms, struggling to carry the heavy American rifles, loaded down with grenades, radio and ammunition. They used the equipment without knowing why or how it worked. For this lack of technical sophistication, Thompson hated them.

   The unit pushed on towards a deep stream. They had to move along it to reach the position in which the Viet Cong had been sighted. Viet Cong. The words had to be spot [sic] out continually to the Vietnamese. They had to be said with scorn to allay the common terror.

   Thompson knew that it was his first time facing the V.C. But he was equally certain that he would defeat them. He had trained for months, and his instructors had told him everything that was known about them. He was sure that their cunning and courage were over-rated. Besides, he had all the modern war technology of the United States behind him. "All the war technology of the United States ... " His mind rested more securely in this knowledge, and he listened to the comforting click of the grenades, bumping against one another as he trotted.

   The group reached the stream, separated from the flooded paddies by two long rows of earth. Thompson moved his arm confidently, and his group slid down the mud banks.

   The water was chest deep, cold, stinking, and full of leeches. The bottom was soft and muddy, turning the water an opaque mid-brown, and making it easier to mine. But at least the channel was wide enough to allow two men to walk on either side of the Lt. A necessary precaution, Thompson thought, as the group headed for the patch of tall water-grass that marked the beginning of the denser undergrowth.

   Suddenly, quietly, the man on the extreme left gasped. Through the reeds in front, and on the left side, a fast machine gun began cutting the water in front of the men. Two on Thompson's right disappeared almost immediately, leaving a dark growing red stain to mark this death-place.

   The rest of the men, in stark terror, crowded to the left behind Thompson. He swore and gesticulated, but they would not move. Two V.C. exposed themselves momentarily on his left, firing through the reed. Another man fell.

   The group was in panic. Two or three had dropped their rifles, rendering them useless. One man broke and ran laboriously through the water towards the machine gun, slipping fatally on the bottom. Nothing came clearly to Thompson. Too many things were happening too fast. He was in tears. Ambushed ... his men relied on him. Their only hope of living lay in his courage. Lt. Thompson was short on courage.

   Instinctively he clutched a grenade. Reverently, stupidly, he looked at it, remembering the words of his instructor " ... scientifically engineered ... two hundred fragments ... twenty yard radius ... "

   He pulled the pin, let the handle go, and counted the seconds as the bomb hissed. He cocked his arm, watching the machine gun ...

   Suddenly, noiselessly, he felt something heavy, like a sledge hammer, hit him in the chest. He looked down to see the water in front of him turn brownish-red. He rocked forward gently, then slid beneath the water, still clutching the grenade. Half a second later it exploded, crushing the bodies of the men in its shock wave.

   One, dying but conscious, floated stomach up in the water . A half naked boy emerged over the crest of the bank, and cut loose with the machine gun ...

   Laughing, three men waded in and fished out the bodies of the soldiers. Having stripped them of their arms, they began to slide into the undergrowth. One of them, in a Vietnamese dialect, said something derisively about "... superior United States technology ... "

James Buckerfield

[Jim Buckerfield]

   The place is a planet in the universe. The planet is yet very young. Although there are flora and fauna of low forms, no beings walk its surface.

   It is night and the sky scintillates with the light of a million stars. Suddenly across the night sky there is a blinding flash of light and a deafening roar that shatters the silence of the planet.

   A weird silvery object touches the virgin planet. The object is disk-shaped and glows with a bright reddish hue. From it emanates a low humming noise. Then the sound ceases. Again there is stone-like silence, followed by the sound of hissing air as a portal under the curved side of the object slowly opened ...

   What was this silvery disk that so mysteriously dropped from the heavens? From whence had it come? To find an answer we must go back, back, ... back through the depths of space and time to the planet Kara, a planet in the galaxy Beleuguse. There had been a Great War on the planet. All but few of the Karanians survived the destruction. Conditions for continued survival were destroyed, but the foresight of certain scientists on Kara had prompted them to adopt measures to ensure the continuance of the Karanian life form. Just before the War their project was completed - to develop a craft powerful enough to effect a migration to the planet Goi, the closest planet to Kara that was capable of sustaining the Karanian life form. Since Goi was many light years away in a far off galaxy, their ship had to travel at speeds many times that of light. Even so, there voyage would require several millenia to complete. The occupants of such a craft had to be able to survive over a long period of time. They were to be placed into a state of suspended animation over the tremendous time period. Time and resources permitted the building of only one such craft .

   The Great War came and Kara became a vanquished planet. But somewhere in the cosmos there was silvery disk, carrying with it the hopes of Kara ...

   The beings who now stepped from the disk were descendants of the planet Kara. Time and unusual conditions of space travel had resulted in strange changes in their mental and physical character; their evolution had been set back into the distant past.

   Thus, like primitive beings did they marvel the huge silvery disk from which they had just stepped. Where were they? From whence had they come? Why were they here? They asked, and they knew not.

   In a billion years their descendants were to build great civilizations. They would call themselves 'Man', and their place of abode 'Earth'.

   As man looks toward the heavens on a clear summer night, he cannot but feel a strange sort of nostalgia, Could it be that man in his subconscious, remembers?

Harry Lowe