© 1996, Foxy.

The alarm went off somewhere nearby, waking me from my uneasy slumber.
"Private Ewaka report to your commanding officer's room immediately !"
I groaned and rolled over, trying to shut out the voice, pulling the pillow over my head. The computer voice carried on.
"Gah." I said, stretching, yawning and sliding out of bed. I blearily rubbed my eyes and checked the time. 4am. great. Sergeant Rogen has wonderful sense of timing.
Pulling a pair of trousers on, and a shirt over my head, I blinked at myself in the mirror.

"Girl, " a voice in the back of my head said, "You look like shit."
I lazily ran a hand through my hair, in the absence of a comb of any sort, slipping my cold feet into a pair of boots.
Staring back from the mirror was a rather tired-looking rabbit girl, with a sleepy expression, shoulder length chestnut brown hair and brown eyes. Even my ears were dropping slightly.
I was twenty-five years old, and had been a part of this 'glorious' army for the last 7 years, coming from a planet where on the age of eighteen, everyone was sent to military training. Of course, the majority didn't make it this far, but in a way they were the lucky ones.

The war against the Laflan soldiers had raged for the past fifteen years, across numerous galaxies and thousands of planets, although it was clear to everyone that were we definitely on the losing side. It was really only a matter of time before Laflan's began invading our main orbiting defence stations and the war was effectively over. Sometimes, I mused, as I strolled down the corridor, squinting my eyes against the bright strip-lighting from the ceiling, a get-out clause would be nice.

"So why have you summoned me here at this unearthly hour, Sir ?" I asked, putting a sarcastic edge on the final word.
Sergeant Rogen didn't fail to notice, a slight sneer coming to his muzzle. The Sergeant should by all rights have made anyone around him nervous; the wolf had a large imposing frame and a harsh deep voice. I'd been in this game too long to let anyone get to me though.
"We have been slightly disturbed by your recent psych evaluations, Private."
I nodded. So this is what is was all about.
The Commander picked up a data unit and looked at the screen "Suicidal and reckless tendencies reported in each of your last three missions. Not to mention deliberately disobeying a commanding officer's orders and deserting your post on Delthan III. What do you have to say for yourself ?"
I merely shrugged in my seat and brushed at a loose strand of hair. Oh, I had plenty I could say about it, such as my opinions of the entire Delthan III fiasco, the fact that I'd rather stay alive than get killed in a hopeless situation. Not to mention the fact we were going to lose the damn war anyway.
Rogen put his paws down on the table and leaned forwards looking me hard in the eye.
"Despite this, and against my better judgement, we're not going to take action.."
I blinked in surprise. I had honestly been anticipating at the very least a court martial.
"Instead.. and this goes against all my wishes.. we have decided to send you an other mission, of high importance to our war efforts."

For a moment the room was silent. "What ?" I stammered. "Why ?"
He turned his back on me and paced across the room, to stare out of the window at the stars beyond. "Why ? Possibly because you used to be our best spy.. reliable at getting the job done.."
I allowed myself a brief smile. "And what if I refuse ?"
He whirled to face me, his paw pointing straight at my head, fingers mimicking the shape of a gun.
"Bang!" Was all he said.

The planet of Aquus was a short hop via the interplanetary transport. The hard part would be getting past the security - the planet had been the base for military operations for countless years.
"Please fasten your safety belts for landing," the electronic voice woke me from my musings as the small transport vessel began to descend into the port of Aquus. I complied with the order, fitting the snug seat belt around me and locking it in place as I felt the first jolting movements of the transport dropping into the atmosphere of the planet below.
After about ten minutes, the small transport vessel finally settled onto the landing pad, amidst cheers from the other passengers, the captain apologising for the poor landing, due to the bad weather conditions over the planet, and we filed out into the disembarking lounge. I paused for a moment to gather up my small flight bag, took a deep breath, and follow the others out to the security area.
This was it, the moment of truth. I strolled casually over to the security team and handed them my I.D. card.
The feline security lady looked at it briefly, then glanced up at me, then back down at the card. For the briefest of seconds I thought something must be wrong and that my cover was blown, but then, with a smile, she handed it back. "Everything seems in order, Miss Debrova. Enjoy your stay on Aquus."
As I walked away from her, leaving the building, I let out a sigh of relief, everything was going just fine.

Rogen had told me I needed to meet up with a rodent by the name of Gargesh, but not knowing the area at all, my primary concern right now was in finding somewhere to sleep tonight. There was a 10 o'clock curfew on the entire city presently, due to military rule, and early evening was already setting in. Pulling my coat tightly around me, I strode off down what appeared to be the main road, the rain lashing down all around me. Stepping around a particularly large puddle drew me close to a dark, seedy looking alleyway, music coming from somewhere down the end.
I jumped in surprise, and suddenly an arm grabbed me from behind, drawing me off the deserted street, and into the darkened alley, a furry paw clamping around my mouth. "Are you Private Jemora Ewaka ?" a voice hissed from the darkness.
For a second, my heart stopped. I'd be found out! My cover had been blown.. somehow!
Struggling against my attacker, I growled, "No! My name is Elana Debrova! Now let me go!"
A laugh, then the hands dropped from me, letting me free. "Greetings Private."
A small flashlight flickered into life and shone into my face for a moment, then into the face of my mysterious attacker. "My name is Gargesh, military intelligence, at your service."
The rat facing me smiled evilly and bowed. "Now follow me somewhere safer."
I quickly followed Gargesh down the dark alley. my eyes taking some time to get accustomed to the dismal light coming from flickering strip-lights down the side of the buildings. He walked quickly, darting from shadow to shadow, making it hard for me to keep up, struggling to avoid all the litter and rubble which seemed to cover the narrow alley. Eventually we came to a dead end and he signalled for me to follow him into a blackened doorway.

Once inside, he shut and bolted the door and small window overlooking the street. A dim light flickered into life above me, bulb swaying from it's cord, barely lighting the room.
Gargesh grinned, stained teeth showing. "Welcome to Aquus. Sorry for the meeting, but I'd been trailing you from the spaceport. There were two men following you. I needed to get you off the street."
I blinked. "I didn't see anyone."
The rat moved forward, putting his paws on my shoulders. "Military spies, like us. They're good. Damn good. I've had to watch my tail a good few times recently." With that, he rolled up his sleeve, showing a hideous scar cut through the fur and flesh, running almost the length of his arm. "laser burn," he said, "could have lost the entire arm."
I nodded. I'd seen much worse before, but a laser wound was never a pleasant sight.
"Anyway, " he continued, "you're probably eager to know exactly what you're doing here ?"
I nodded again. "Somewhat. I wasn't told anything other than I needed to meet you."
Gargesh smiled. "Perfectly intentionally, let me assure you."
He beckoned me to follow him into the other room, which was a dingy bedroom, a single bed against the wall the only feature. He squatted down, reaching under the bed, and pulled out a small case.
He picked the case up and laid it on the bedcovers, flicking it open and handing me a few photographs.
"Aquus Military Headquarters", he explained, "No-one is even supposed to know it's there. Head of operations for the entire sector."
"For the entire sector ?" I blinked in surprise.
He nodded. "Which is why we're here. It's our job to find out exactly what's going on in there."
The rat stood behind me, pointing over my shoulder. "See that large building to the left ?"
I nodded. "Looks like some sort of aircraft hanger ? that one ?"
"Exactly. As far as we knew the Aquus troops didn't have any aerial support here at all. It could be they're developing something new."
Suddenly I stiffened.
"What is it ?" he said, looking concerned.
"Sounds look footsteps outside, " I whispered, lowering my voice.
He nodded. "Stay here, let me check it out."
With that, he left the room, heading over to the window. I backed up against the far wall in the shadows.
Suddenly there came a knocking on the door. "Open up in the name of Captain Rrowrl!"
I drew in a sharp breath. Rrowrl was the head of military intelligence here! I had been followed after all!
Gargesh slowly opened up the door, keeping the chain across the door as he peered round the corner. "Hello ?" He said, quickly putting on a different accent.
There came a crash as one of the soldiers kicked the door aside, and they entered, throwing Gargesh across the room.
"Don't play with us," Rrowrl growled. "We know full well who you are, spy."
Gargesh backed into the corner and shot me a quick desperate glance from the corner of his eye. I shrugged helplessly. What was I supposed to do ?
Rrowrl drew his gun, a mean looking hand-piece. "Where is she ?"
"I.. I don't know who you mean." Gargesh replied, trying to keep his cool.
The soldiers backed off a little, letting the tall, powerful looking feline form of Rrowrl step forwards.
"Don't play games with us rat. The lady who came in from the spaceport today. Where did you hide her ?"
Rrowrl squatted down in front of the cowering Gargesh, holding the laser against the side of his head. "Or do you want a few more scars to go with the other one ?"
I silently gathered up the photographs as well as a few scribbled notes from the bed and slowly slid them into my bag, being as silent as possible.
"Search this place!" Rrowrl growled, pointing straight towards me. For a moment I thought he'd spotted me, but then he turned his attention back to Gargesh, flicking the power-up on the side of his weapon. It hummed ominously.

The other two soldiers made their way towards the bedroom.. I was about to be spotted. Quickly I got down on the floor and slid under the bed. It would give me a few more seconds to think what to do.
Gargesh growled and spat in the face of the Captain. "Go to hell."
Rrowrl snarled and backhanded my partner with a claw, sending him flying across the room, blood spraying from three wicked scathing cuts in Gargesh's chest.
My heart pounding in my chest, I saw my chance. Rrowrl advanced on Gargesh again, now situated in the corner of the room, the two guards feet visible to my sides, as they shook out the contents of Gargesh's case onto the bed.
Clutching my bag tightly against me, I shot out from under the bed, dashing across the floor.
The soldiers whirled around, one of them drawing his gun and firing a shot over my shoulder.
Rrowrl blinked in surprise, which I noted to my credit. "get her you fools!" He shouted, looking back at Gargesh. "Sorry. But it's over here. Nothing personal."
With that, he fired the fully powered laser at Gargesh's face. The last thing I heard as I flung myself awkwardly straight through the dirty glass of the window, hitting the street outside amidst a shower of glass fragments was the rat's dying screams as the laser melted into his face.
I rolled into the street, gashing my leg open on one shard of glass. Wincing, I scrambled hastily to my feet, the two soldiers standing by the window, laser blasts skimming past me as I dashed up the alleyway, splashing through puddles and bouncing off boxes and crates strewn all over the place.
I could hear the footsteps of the soldiers running after me as I skidded round a corner, tripping over something concealed in the darkness. Looking up, I cursed my luck.
Directly in front of me was a six foot metal fence. Getting to my feet, I looked over my shoulder, to see in horror that the soldiers had seen me come this way. I took a running leap at the fence, grabbing on and quickly scaling it, oblivious of the barbed wire on top tearing into my clothes and threw myself over it, landing with a solid thud on the street the other side. I struggled to my feet and dashed off, vanishing into the night.

I winced slightly in pain, as I tied the makeshift bandage around my wrist. It felt like I might have broken it from the fall.
Cursing my luck, I vowed to avenge Gargesh's death. Rogen was going to have some answering to do as well.
The rain lashed down all around me from the small bus-stop I was huddled in, freezing, my clothes torn and drenched through.
"Not a difficult, dangerous mission," Rogen has said.
"Oh Sure", I laughed out loud.. so far I'd had to get through tight security, been shot at numerous times and almost killed. Sure, just a normal day in my life. I opened up my bag and took out some clean clothes from it. By now I was certain there'd be reports of the incident all over the security network for the city. I was going to have to gather as much information as I possibly could in the following day, then hope for an emergency planetary lift to get off this god-forsaken place. I changed into a black jumpsuit with matching gloves and boots, perfect for hiding in shadows.
Keeping away from the main street lights, I found an old public toilet, the dull strip lights flickering from time to time, plunging the room into darkness. I washed as best as I could and using the broken mirror above the wash-basin, managed to dye my hair black, as well as parts of my facial fur, making it easier to blend into darkness, as well as disguising me slightly should I be stuck here for longer than hoped. I quickly dispelled that thought from my mind. It wasn't a pleasant one.

Night was just beginning to fall as I silently made my way up to the electric fence surrounding the installation, the final rays of the sun glowing red in the distance. I squatted down in the shadows, slipping the small carry-all from my shoulder and pulling out a pair of wire cutters.
Suddenly I heard the distant rumble of a jeep approaching down the dusty, unmade road, and hastily crouched down behind one of the thorned desert shrubs, barely breathing for fear of being discovered, as the jeep neared, thundered past and then sped off in the distance, kicking up a cloud of dust behind it.
Hastily, I resumed my work back at the fence, glancing at my watch as I adjusted my gloves, took a deep breath and cut through the first of the electric wires. The jeep had cost me nearly five minutes of my carefully arranged time, to be in and out of the base within thirty minutes and thereby avoiding the perimeter patrolling security. Expertly cutting through the fence, I wriggled underneath it in a matter of moments, crouching against the ground and getting my bearings.
The various lights around the base were beginning to flicker on, in the fast-fading sunlight, creating dark shadows against every building.
"Just perfect for me", I thought, silently getting to my feet and sprinting to the welcome cover of a nearby hut.
The base seemed all but deserted but only a fool would believe that. I only had to make one false step and the area would be full of soldiers quicker than I could blink. I smiled to myself, feeling my pulse racing. This was what it was all about, this was why even Sergeant Rogen couldn't deny it.. I was the best!
Suddenly I head voices and footsteps. I pressed myself up against the wooden side of the hut, almost disappearing into the shadows as two soldiers walking right past me, chatting, one of them taking a swig from a bottle of some sort of alcohol.
As soon as they went around the corner, I looked around the edge of the hut, seeing the large imposing looking hanger building rising up against the night sky directly before me. Pausing to catch my breath I quickly darted over to the building, ducking and crouching all the way, thankful for the desert plants that were providing cover from the strip-lights along the sides of the army buildings. The door was directly beside me as I pressed up against the cold corrugated iron wall of the hanger, cautiously reaching out a paw to try the handle. I quickly tugged, the door refusing to open. Great, it must be locked with some sort of card mechanism, I thought, wondering how often people even went into the building.
Before I could ponder the situation, I heard the sound of the door opening from inside. I couldn't believe my luck as the door slowly creaked open, my heart in my mouth for the briefest of seconds as a guard walked out, standing next to the door, merely inches away from me.
Slowly he took one step forward, then another, and that was enough for me, seizing my opportunity and sneaking into the building behind him before he could shut the door, darting to one side behind a crate as he turned to close the heavy door behind me.

The door shut behind me with an ominous clang as I pressed myself up behind a large stack of crates.
Peering around the edge of one wooden box, I could see a broad corridor leading about a hundred metres in front of me, before reaching another door, a line of strip lights hanging from the roof lighting up the ceiling and casting dark shadows all around. So perfect for someone such as me, I thought, silently sneaking up to the door under cover of the darkness.
I slipped my paw onto the door handle and quietly pushed it open into the room beyond, crouching down to a squatting position and flitting into the room beyond.

For a moment my heart stood still as I gazed around where I was. The hanger stretched away from me, directly in front of where I was, a large, black aircraft stood proudly, the roof lights glinting from its new paint. A whole squadron of such vehicles filled the hanger, standing silent and deadly in the still of the room. I took a quick step towards the nearest vehicle, wincing slightly as I heard my footfall echoing around the hanger. Gargesh had been right after all! For a brief moment I simply stood there, considering what to do. I was sure I could cause a little havoc here before I left, but I had been ordered to simply find out what was here. As much as I disliked Sergeant Rogen, he had trusted me for this mission, despite my previous record.
I quickly walked around the fighter plane, mentally noting anything of importance.. capacity for mounting up to eight missiles, four under each wing, double mounted laser cannons below the small single-seater cockpit, four large jets at the rear. These things definitely looked dangerous enough to tip the delicate balance of the war.
"Who's there ?!"
I was broken out of my spell by the loud shout behind me, and whirled around to find myself staring at the barrel of a laser pistol. I gulped, glancing up at the wielder of the weapon, before lashing my foot upwards in an arc, sending the gun flying. Before the guard could ever give a warning, I leapt around, sending my other foot crashing into his face in a perfect round-house kick. I was sprinting away before the guard even hit the floor, running towards the large hanger doors which were handily open.
Suddenly an alarm sounded somewhere in the building, and shouts echoed around me, followed seconds later by gunfire.
The hanger couldn't have been more than a few hundred metres, but it seemed like an eternity as I dashed wildly across the metal floor, the panelling clanging under me, bullets and laser fire searing past me. I thanked the fact that security here was reasonably light, and the soldiers didn't seem to be trained for this sort of unexpected occurrence. I seriously wondered if any of them could hit me if I stood still. That wasn't really an eventuality I wanted to test though.
As I was nearing the open end of the hanger, and a little freedom, especially in the night, I saw to my horror that the large metal fence was slowly lowering. If it closed before I made it out, I'd be trapped in here. I turned my head a moment, to see one of the soldiers frantically gesturing to someone ahead of me.
Then I saw him, up on a higher platform, a soldier working the door mechanism. Not even breaking my stride, I reached inside a pocket of the jumpsuit, pulling out a small, deathly sharp throwing star.
I skidded to a halt for a moment and shouted up to him. As he looked down at me, stopping his work, I threw the shuriken. His eyes went wide, and with a startled cry, fell from the metal walkway to the floor below. Turning to the slowly lowering doorway, I realised my mistake. He was winding the doorway downwards, and with no-one to control the descent, it had speeded up!
With a despairing dive forwards, I curled into a ball and rolled to one side, feeling the sudden gust of air as the doors crashed down behind me, narrowing missing my tail. And in that moment I rolled back to my feet and shot off into the darkness.

I was woken up by bright sunlight streaming down on me. I yawned, rubbing my eyes, blinking in the light. For the briefest of moments I forgot where I was, but then I recalled the events of the evening before, and the flight which had brought me to this old, condemned house. There had been some rotten boards covering the windows, but they had proved no trouble to remove, and it was through the remains of those that the sun now interrupted my sleep. I rolled over, reaching for my bag and carefully removed the small laptop computer from the hidden pocket. I'd sent my message about what I'd discovered the night before, encoded, to our home base. Seemingly the message had arrived, and been ignored by the Laflans, considering the fact that I was still alive. As I flipped the lid open, the screen display burst into life, and a bleeping sound informed me I had new mail awaiting me. The seemingly random string of characters blinked up before me. Encoded of course, but after seven years, I read this particular code almost as well as I read our language.
"Thank you for your information. Please be in the region of Aquus main transport station at 11 hundred hours."
I puzzled at the message for a moment, then glanced at my watch. The time was already 10 o'clock in the morning. I could already hear the hustle and bustle of the street life outside as I got changed. Handily the water supply hadn't yet been cut off to the old building, so I washed as best I could and carefully rinsed all the dye from my hair, leaving it my natural brown colour, and brushed it the way I looked in the fake I.D.
I left my old clothes tucked away in a dark corner of the house. By the time they were discovered I'd be long gone on my way back home. I took a deep breath and carefully sneaked out of the building, emerging moments later onto the main street running through the city center.

It was a pleasant day as I strode down the street, humming a tune to myself, all the while keeping an eye on the time. The spaceport was only about twenty minutes walk from where I was, but there was still a nagging thought in the back of my mind.
What was I supposed to be waiting for ? Surely they didn't expect me just to take a transport off the planet ?
I was broken from my musings as an armed soldier suddenly approached me.
I hadn't planned on anyone looking for me so quickly !
"Hello ? Can I help you ?" I asked the guard, trying to cover any hint of fear in my voice.
"I.D. please, Ma'am," he said gruffly.
I made to be rummaging around in my bag, as I calmly asked, "What's this about ?"
"Just routine checks, Ma'am, " he replied, "We have reason to believe that a dangerous spy is in our midst."
One paw rested on a small hand-gun in my bag, while I removed my I.D card and handed it to him.
"Really ?" I blinked, looking shocked. "I hope you catch her soon!"
The guard nodded, glancing at the card. "Oh, you have nothing to be afraid of, Miss Debrova. Sorry for any inconvenience."
I smiled, my heart skipping a beat as I realised I'd escaped from the very noses of the military.
"Oh, just doing your job, Sir. Good luck!"
As I walked away, I waved to the soldier, barely suppressing a grin.
I reached the spaceport a few minutes before 11 am, leaning up against a wall, grateful of the shade the side of the building offered from the hot sun Suddenly a screeching sound bellowed up all around me, causing me to put my paws over my ears for a moment. Passers-by stopped in their tracks, looking to the sky, nervous expressions on their faces. I grabbed the arm of a panicked looking feline lady rushing past.
"What's the matter ? What is it ?" I asked.
"Air-raid warning," she stammered, trying to free her arm, "We all need to seek shelter !"
I let her go, a nervous smile on my face. Well, they were right on time after all, it seemed, but this was a strange way to get me off planet.

I looked up into the bright sky, trying to see if I could make out the familiar shape of a transport vessel, or even some form of short-range fighter approaching, but there was nothing. Nothing except the fearful cries of people running to hide, then just deathly silence, as the alarm klaxon died away.
In mere minutes the street was deserted, and I had to feel a little sorry for the civilians here. They weren't really any part of this war, but it was always the innocents who suffered. I half expected to see a ball of tumbleweed bowling down the street beside me, like in those bad old movies I'd been so fond of when I was young.
Suddenly something passed by, high above, a dark spot against the sun for the briefest of moments. My heart stood still as I recognised the familiar V shape of one of our most feared aircraft.
It was known as the Tiger, and it only ever carried one type of ammunition. My mind raced back to the message I'd received earlier in the day, and in that briefest of seconds I realised exactly why it hadn't told me how to expect to get off planet.
"Rogen! You bastard!" I shouted up to the skies, paws clenched into fists.
He knew all along that this was a suicide mission. How could I have been so blind to trust the evil fool ?
I'd provided the army intelligence with what they wanted to know. Aquus was a military base, and now they knew for certain they had decided to take it out as soon as possible.
Along with their spy.

They say that just before death, your life flashes before your eyes. All I could feel was a certain sadness, but from somewhere, a relief. Sadness that I'd never made anything of my life. Sadness that I'd been tricked all along. But a relief that I was finally leaving this futile war behind.
The nuke landed a few miles away, but that didn't matter. I'd seen a squadron of Tigers destroy a planet before, such was the power of their cargo.
For the shortest second there was a bright light, a searing white hot pain, then silence. Darkness and silence. Then nothing.

Sergeant Rogen leaned back in the comfortable chair in his office, feet up on his desk, when the intercomm blared into life.
"Sergeant! I think you might want to see this !"
Rogen snarled at the machine. Never a moments peace!
"Go ahead."
"Channel 15 Sir, the news."
The large wolf heaved his muscular frame into a proper sitting position and flicked the remote. The vid-screen flickered into life, revealing the figure of a young vixen reporter.
"And it has just come to our attention, " she said, a slightly bewildered look on her face, "that the peaceful world of Aquus, in the Nelvan system, has been attacked by a nuclear strike. At this time, the party responsible for this attack in unknown, but casualties are very high."
Rogen allowed himself a smile as he watched the screen show the devastated city. "The main city of Aquus, population of 10 million, seems to have been chosen for this seemingly random act of horrific violence."
The wolf chuckled out loud. "The peaceful world. Oh, if only they knew."
The reported continued, "Among those known dead at this time are the Aquuan governmental official, Davus Faran.."
On went the voice, listing numerous officials and important dignitaries, but Rogen wasn't particularly bothered about them, until one last name caught his attention. His ears pricked up.
".. and finally Miss Elana Debrova, a well known and respected artist, from the planet of Lapus IV..."
Rogen smiled for the first time in years, and allowed himself a brief congratulation as he flicked off the screen and the room fell into silence once more.
He turned in his chair, to stare out into the darkness of space, distant stars twinkling in the heavens.
And then he laughed.

The End.