He wiped some sweat out of his eyes and tugged at the top of his body armor where it was pushing just a little too much into his throat. We were kneeling on the rocky ground between some low-growing vegetation. General Cardiff sat in on our discussion.
“Am I missing anything, sarge?” Lieutenant Kettering asked.
“No, sir. You’re doing fine,” I said.
Lieutenant Kettering and the two other troops would reconnoiter the Taliban from that hill. It would allow us to see the entire objective, verify the size of the forces there, how ready to defend they were, and it would allow us to verify that our preferred avenue of approach was clear. After that it would become an observation post during the assault.
“Just make sure you and your soldiers are careful,” the general said.
“Yes, sir,” Lieutenant Kettering said. “We are very safety-conscious.”
The general squinted at him. “I mean, you need to make sure your soldiers know not to endanger any of the local populace.”
“Y-yes, sir,” Lieutenant Kettering said again. “But we’re just doing reconnaissance right now, and our intelligence said there likely aren’t any civilians here.”
“Lieutenant Kettering, you can’t trust that intelligence is one hundred percent accurate,” the general told him, tapping his gloved left index finger on the bipod of his M4 carbine. “So you better make sure your troops are aware of civilian considerations. We’re here to serve the Afghan people.”
(Taken from Our Diversity Is Our Strength! by Paul Hair)
Adam was about to send another blast in his fight against Oscar when something slammed into his back, shredding his shirt and ripping his flesh. The impact sent him tumbling through the sky. He quickly righted himself and zeroed in on what had hit him.
Adam raised his hands in time to shield his face from another swarm of Martin’s razor-like energy discs, but the blast knocked him backward again, slashing what remained of his shirt and cutting him further. Blood flowed from his front and back.
Adam fired back as Martin kept flying at him. He missed. Martin flew full speed into him, driving him farther backwards. Then the two men began grappling in the air.
Martin got a hand free and tried to blast Adam in the face. Adam dodged that. Oscar had maneuvered behind them and fired more light daggers. Some of them pounded into Adam’s spine and kidneys; others hit him in the head, snapping it forward.
(Taken from Mortal Gods: “Presidential Pardon” by Paul Hair.)
These stories, along with eleven other hard-hitting tales of science fiction, satire, horror, and more are available in Appalling Stories: 13 Tales of Social Injustice!