that? He stopped in his tracks and stared at the oval
creatures, a little bigger than his fingertips were, running
around on a sandy spot between the rocks. Bright colors shone in
the light when the insects crossed sunny areas. Wow.
threw a look around to be sure he was safe. Seeing nothing, he
knelt down, laid aside the heavy rifle that he had to carry now
to get used to the weight and watched the little creatures...
very big beetle with blue-green gleaming wings and red antennae
tips chased some of the smaller ones around.
the boss beetle. He grinned and prodded it slightly. It ran
in a different direction, right into a group of five smaller
beetles, which spread out when the big one reached them. Looks
like this boss isn't very popular either.
of the smallest got in the boss's way and the two beetles toppled
over, lying on their backs, struggling with their copper legs to
get to their feet again. He laughed delighted when the smallest
beetle came to its feet first and ran on, crawling across the big
On your feet! Take your position! This is a combat ground, not a
Shane started at
the commander's angry voice, jumped to his feet, grabbed his
rifle and hurried on. He heard the faint whirring of Walsh and
Negata's open glider following him and increased his speed. He
had to fight to keep control of the rifle, almost as long as he
was and so heavy his arms trembled at the weight.
stopped Triton without any warning, so she and Mel were about a
hundred meters ahead before Niko noticed he wasn't beside
They had started doing
their required training together a few weeks ago. Both of them
were sick of the distrustful glances that followed them during
their exercises outside the base: the SuperTrooper who'd been
allowed to live for some reason and that mind-reading woman.
Somehow it was easier to ignore the dark looks when she and Goose
he...?" she murmured, turned Mel and trotted back to Shane.
He had dismounted and bent to study something beside the
"What are you looking
at?" she asked. Reining in Mel, she glanced over his
shoulder. "Ugh," she said in distaste. "Dung
what they're called?" he asked, still watching the big
beetles creep about on a sandy spot in the bright
never seen them before?" She dismounted, too.
know the name," he said, prodding one of the beetles. The
whole group scurried wildly about, though they didn't leave their
sunny place. "I saw them back at" He interrupted
himself. "Their colors among the rocks and sand caught my
attention in battle training. I got in trouble because I wasted
time watching them."
beetles?!" Niko frowned. "They're just black beetles.
He was still watching the beetles as they returned to the slow,
creeping motion he'd first seen. "You can't see the
"They have no
they do. Guess that's because of my enhanced senses."
I have a look through your eyes?" she asked, smiling. "I
have to practice sense control later today anyway."
He glanced around. "Nothing dangerous nearby."
cascade of millions of colors, no longer just elements of other,
simpler colors but precisely distinct shades themselves, burned
in her mind. The leaves, simple dark green to her, shone yellow,
orange, and red alongside more than twenty shades of green. She
wouldn't see these colors with her own eyes before autumn. A blue
glow lay like an aureola over all of the leaves: ultraviolet
light reflected from the natural wax layer that protected the
plants from being burned by the sun. In contrast, the shadows
appeared violet red, without the blue of the sunlight's UV
She forced herself to
look for the beetles despite all the wonders around her. He
helped her by looking directly at them.
chitin exoskeleton shone in all colors of the rainbow, dominated
by blue-green on the wings. Legs, head, and antennae were mostly
copper, while the antennae tips glowed red. The beetle moved,
turned towards the sun and suddenly its wings glowed
yellow and golden with blue spots near the edges and orange
stripes on the backs.
Goose, realizing that she was caught up in his vision, who
finally broke the contact...
held her eyes closed, concentrated to memorize the impressions
she'd gotten. "Do you always see like this?" she
whispered, finally understanding why he was sometimes so sensuous
in spite of his past. No wonder, she thought, if all his senses
were like this.
should I see?" he asked.
you know how different your vision is from mine?"
He grinned. "It used to get me into a lot of trouble till I
figured out the differences. Until then I just thought people
were bad at describing colors. But they're just blind. They can't
even see if a plant is dead or alive until it's nearly dried
distinguish that by color?"
Dead plants reflect much less UV." He shrugged. "There's
no blue any more."
envy your enhanced sight, Goose."
it in the cafeteria when they hand out salad or sausages. Then
say that again."
looked at the beetles crawling through the sand with her own eyes
and noticed, disappointed, that they were simple black again. She
watched them running past and around each other, sometimes
risking collisions, and remembered the brilliant colors her
Next to her
Gooseman stood up, took Triton's reins and prepared to
She looked up at him.
"What happened to the beetles back then?" she
"A grenade hit the