by HailNova


Two months of hard fighting and we had finally freed Arizona from red occupation. It was a task that none of my soldiers enjoyed and morale was low in all the ranks. The Russians, using their insidious psi corps had taken over the minds of civilians, forcing them to fight for the communist army. It was an atrocity. Some of us had been forced to shoot a fellow countryman. It didn't mater that his mind wasn't his own, no one liked to take down a fellow American.

New orders had come in and my army was now marching south, toward New Mexico. We were now part of a larger operation intent on pushing the red army back down into Mexico. But first, we had to clear the way for the command vehicles and supply trucks that would be coming down to follow us.

Tanks and trucks full of infantry slowly made their way across the landscape. It was a dry dusty country and I knew our dust plume could be seen for miles. It made me nervous. If any Russians were looking for us, they wouldn't have to look hard.

I had spread our own forces out to protect the convoy just in case an attack did come. With an equal combination of tanks and IFV's covering our flanks, I kept a large infantry force ready just inside. In less than a minute, I could have over five hundred men out of the backs of those trucks and attacking. I smiled to myself, knowing that Captain Hansen and his troops were in the back of one of those trucks. I had made a special request to the General in charge of the theater and had the chrono legionnaires permanently transferred to my command. It was a bit reassuring to know that I had an almost unstoppable secret weapon hidden within my ranks. After all, how can you fight against something that erases you from existence?

I glanced over at the canopied truck carrying the chrono troopers at the moment something very unexpected happened. As I watched, one of the legionaries, a Private by the insignia on his shoulders, jumped from the back of the truck. He wasn't wearing his helmet, and he had a wild look in his eyes. No, I decided, it was different: he had a very blank look in his eyes.

I watched in horror as the Legionnaire swung his neutron rifle up and pointed it directly at my jeep. There was no time to think, I kicked off and leapt from my vehicle. I landed and rolled on the ground, knocking the air out of me. As I rolled I saw my jeep and driver disappear in a bright blue flash. I stood as quickly as I could and ran, dodging the next wild energy bolt that came by.

There was a sudden loud crack from the legionnaires's direction and all was quiet. The entire convoy had stopped moving by then, and there were some puzzled looked from the other drivers around me. I noticed that everyone had drawn weapons. I looked over at where the chrono trooper had stood and saw Captain Hansen standing there, a smoking pistol in his right hand, and a dead man at his feet.

I walked over. "What happened here, Captain?"

"I don't know sir. One moment Richards was chatting it up with the rest of the men. The next moment he had that awful look in his eyes and he jumped from the truck."
"I know how the rest went after that," I said.

"Sir, I've only seen that look one other place before," Captain Hansen said. "That's the exact expression of someone who's being mind controlled."

I shuddered. "We haven't seen any Russians for days, and intel doesn't report any of them nearby either."

"Yes sir. I hate to say this, sir, but it means that someone in our own convoy is a plant."

I nodded. "Agreed, but don't let this get around. For now, the story is that the Private here simply snapped. I don't want a panic and a witch hunt in my division. Be on the lookout however, report directly to me if you see anything suspicious."

"Yes, sir. Understood."

Two days later there had been no further occurrences. We were inside New Mexico and after a short battle, had cleared the ground for the new command post. The construction yard was already up and engineers were hard at work on new barracks and defenses.

I had not gotten much sleep in the last few nights. Too many thoughts were puzzling me. Why had there been an attempt on my life? Wouldn't it have been simpler to seize control of my mind directly? I thought on this often, and wondered who the psionic spy could be.

That morning I was sitting in my small office going over the latest reports when Lieutenant Davis, my tactical advisor, walked in. I hadn't seen her for several days, not since the convoy had begun moving south.

"Good morning, Commander," she said stiffly.

"Good morning," I mumbled. Not wanting to sound impolite, but I had a lot on my mind. I had bee trying to concentrate on the reports for an hour now, but I still could not quite clear the fog from my head. I heard an odd yet familiar click, and looked up just in time to see the Lieutenant raising a pistol toward my face.

With a curse I threw myself to one side, chair and all. The report from the pistol shot echoed through the office, nearly deafening me. I looked up from behind my desk quickly.

"What are you doing, Michelle?" I yelled, but only ducked quickly again as her eyes refocused on me and the pistol turned in my direction. Another shot fired, and the wood of my desk splintered, flying in several directions.

I tried to think, but still found my mind slow. It had to be a psi trooper nearby, I thought, to affect my mind like this. I grabbed the chair that had fallen nearby. It's light plastic frame wasn't much, but it was all the weapon I could find. I had a pistol, but I did not want to shoot Lieutenant Davis if I could help it.

Another shot rang through the office, and I acted. Jumping from behind the desk, I swung the chair straight toward her arm as hard as I could. It connected and she cried out, but still held on to the gun. I came around the desk and grabbed her arm, holding the gun away. Still she fought me, trying to bring the pistol around to shoot me.

"Forgive me, Michelle," I said, and swung my free arm around with a closed fist. She fell immediately, unconscious. I watched, suddenly horrified as she fell, the face of Michelle Davis faded away to that of a young Russian man.

"We found the lieutenant's body just as you said, sir," the man on the other end of the speaker phone said. I listened glumly with the other officers in my office. "It would seem that the psi trooper must have gotten to her, and then was able to infiltrate your army. We had no idea they could appear to be someone else like that. It must have been a simply physic projection."

"Agreed," I replied. "It's something we're going to have to watch out for in the future."

"What we don't understand, Commander, is why they didn't just take control of your mind. They obviously wanted you, but resorted to keeping you from us instead."

"I believe," I said. "That there is something about my mind that cannot be controlled. They certainly tried. While that psion was nearby I had a very difficult time concentrating. He couldn't gain complete control, but he could certainly affect me."

"Well, good luck in New Mexico commander. You'll be receiving operation orders soon."

I hung up the phone and looked at the men around me, the officers under my command. The nodded in turn as I met their gaze. They didn't need any words for me to know what they were thinking. We were ready to do our job.