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Narakan Rifles, About Face!   By:

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This etext was produced from Planet Stories January 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

Narakan Rifles, About Face!


Those crazy, sloppy, frog like Narakans ... all thumbs and six inch skulls ... relics of the Suzi swamps. Until four fisted Lt. Terrence O'Mara moved among them lethal, dangerous, with a steady purpose flaming in his volcanic eyes.

Terrence O'Mara lay flat on his back trying to keep his big body as still as possible. Despite the fact that he was stripped to his regulation shorts, a large pool of sweat had formed on the cot underneath him. The only movement he permitted himself was an occasional pursing of his lips as he dragged on a cigarette and sent a swirl of smoke upward through the heavy humid air. Then he would just lie there watching as the smoke crept up to mingle with the large drops of water that were forming on the concrete of the command post.

"Damn! Damn Naraka, anyway! Outpost of civilization! Who'd want the blasted place except the Rumi?"


At the words, Terrence moved his head just a fraction of an inch and his eyes only a little farther to look across the room to where Bill Fielding was twisting and turning on his cot. All he could see of the other man was the wet outline of his body under a once white sheet and a hand that every so often reached into a bucket of water on the floor and then replaced a soaking T shirt over a red head.

"You'll feel it less if you lie still," Terrence said, distressed at the necessity for talking.

"Feel it less! My God, listen to the man! What difference does it make if you lie still or move around or even run around in the suns like a bloody Greenback? Dust Bin will get you one way or another ... and if it doesn't, the Rumi will."

The visible hand lifted the T shirt and began to pop salt tablets into an open mouth like they were so many peppermints.

"I wonder where Norton is. Out reviewing the troops?"

"Reviewing, my eye. He's up at Government House sitting in that cool living room drinking one of Mrs. Wilson's icy drinks and admiring Mrs. Wilson's shapely legs. From a discreet distance, of course. Being temporary Commanding Officer of even Dust Bin has its privileges!"

There was a rattle of drums and the blare of one or two off key instruments from outside.

"Then why," asked Terrence, "are those poor beggars marching up and down in this blasted heat?"

"The Greenbacks? They love it! It would take more than a little heat to get under those inch thick skins of theirs. They like to play soldier when it's a hundred and thirty under water."

There were a few more straggling notes and then the semblance of a march began.

"Listen to that, will you?" Fielding moaned, "They can't even keep time with a drum! They can't march, they can't shoot, they can't break down a Banning; they're all thumbs and six inch thick skulls. 'Train local forces to take over'! Bah! Did those desk jockeys back in New Chicago ever see a Greenback? Did they ever try to teach a Narakan to fix a bayonet to the proper end of a rifle or to fire a blaster in the right direction?"

Terrence was lighting another cigarette with as little exertion as possible. "Yes, but they keep trying. Ten hours a day. You don't have to drive those boys. They want to learn. Listen to O'Shaughnessy barking out orders."

"Sergeant Major O'Shaughnessy of the First Narakan Rifles!" Fielding murmured sarcastically. "A year ago he was squatting in a mud cocoon at the bottom of Suzi swamp with the rest of the frogs. Now he's got a good Irish name and he's strutting around like a Martian Field Marshal... Continue reading book >>

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