The Hush of Battle

A trio of men cowered in a trench under the full moon and starry sky. Crickets and night-flying birds were the loudest sounds, drowning out the battle raging in the fields above them. They hoped not to let tell-tale clouds of vapor loose in the chilly midnight air.

Rounds of short, soft electric hums brought twitches out of each of the soldiers. The fighting couldn’t have been more than yards away, if they could hear the weapon fire.

They wanted to scream, roar, or sob—anything but this silence. There were no rumbling war machines, no explosions. A misplaced footfall or cough meant death: Networked targeting computers in their helms could triangulate such a sound in milliseconds—and the enemy helms were just as good.

Once given a target, their beam rifles could eliminate that source of sound with surreal quiet. Near total disintegration accompanied by a gentle hum and a puff of displaced air as molecules went their separate ways.

One of the men did scream, finally, when a pair of boots landed in his lap.

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