'So much for the element of surprise,
Paid for by the ragged masses
The battle won and victory ours
But at what a cost... just to save our asses...'
'Sing that again soldier and you won't have to worry about your damn ass anymore,' belched the sergeant as he slammed the empty beer bottle down. His hand slid off its wet surface and the bottle skittered lazily on its base, tottered and fell to the floor so slowly that either of the two men could have caught it, but they didn't.
'Sarge, if you want to play spin the bottle with me all you gotta do is ask,' replied 'Doc' Brown, medic, twenty three years old and on his third tour of duty on Io, a Godforsaken rock orbiting Jupiter.
'Kid, if I get that desperate then just push me outta the airlock without my suit, because you are one ugly mother.'
'Hey, Sarge, I got feelings too... somewhere,' Brown replied introspectively and avoided the burly sergeant's eyes.
Sergeant Riller whispered, 'Stop thinking about it kid, it's gonna eat you up if you let it. Ain't nobody's fault. Shit happens.'
'Shit happens...' echoed the younger man and he stood up, 'I'm gonna take a turn around the base Sarge. Just to clear my head.'
'Sure, Doc,' nodded the old sergeant knowingly, 'just be careful, could still be some live ordinance out there.'
Doc Brown stepped into his suit and activated it. The silver material moulded to him like a second skin. He lifted the bubble helmet above his head, 'see you later Sarge,' he answered and then lowered it. The suit and helmet fused together with a sigh and the heads-up display illuminated the medic's face with an eerie yellow glow.
He looked around the barracks; nodded at a couple of the 'grunts' playing cards and stepped into the airlock. Within a few minutes he was outside and gazing up at the sky.
Jupiter stared back at him from just above the horizon, flashing with electrical storms and colouring everything around him with a greenish-red glow. He walked easily in the lower gravity of Jupiter's fifth satellite; after spending three earth-years on the pizza-coloured little world it was only to be expected.
'Hi, Doc,' a voice over his radio startled him, 'out on the pull eh?'
Doc looked around and noticed the guard standing in the shadows of a large crawler; its balloon tyres dwarfing the man in his armoured suit. He raised his plasma-rifle in a half salute to the medic.
'Yo... Porter, my man. Yeah, only thing I'm liable to pull out here is a muscle,' he retorted, 'what the hell are you doing out here anyway?'
'On guard, Doc.'
'On guard from what?' Snarled Doc, 'there's only us bastards left!' and the guard shifted uncomfortably as Doc Brown turned and walked away.
What a Godforsaken planet, Doc thought, Io, claimed by Earth in 2087, much to the distress of the original owners. A race that humans had named Epaphus, the Greek name for the descendants of Io, the maiden who was loved by Zeus, or Jupiter. A race of bovine-like creatures with seemingly limited intelligence that was more interested in searching for sulphur vents than anything else.