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Eric Vall

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Chapter 1

I woke late in the morning the next day. It had to be nearly ten o’clock by the time I got up, and the sun was high in the sky as I stepped out of the tent and took in the fresh air around me.

I took a deep breath and savored the feeling of victory. We hadn’t won the war yet, but we’d won a battle last night, and I still felt that bit of adrenaline rushing through me.

We’d managed to take out the entirety of the NK soldiers in the area, steal one of their ships, and scored a huge amount of plasma. It was a victory if I ever saw one. Not to mention, I’d been promoted. The Naval Captain in charge of the camp we were at gave me his position after he saw what the girls and I had been able to accomplish in the few days we’d been here.

I hadn’t exactly been surprised to see him step down, but I figured he would give his position to one of his Lieutenants, not a Ranger he just met. Then again, his reasoning for doing so was solid. Everyone under him had been complacent here, but the girls and I had shown up and taken charge. We’d managed to take out the forces these guys had been dealing with for months in just a few days.

I walked over to the fire and found my girls all sitting around it.

Paige, the beautiful brunette, had her Korean translation book set on her lap, and she slumped forward on her seat so the text was just inches from her face. Her thick rimmed glasses were at the edge of her nose, and as she read she absentmindedly pushed them back up with her right index finger. She had on an oversized gray sweater and dark-blue skinny jeans along with her hiking boots. Even in lounge clothes, she was absolutely adorable. Her thick chestnut-brown hair was pulled up into its usual messy bun, and a few flyaway strands hung down around her face.

The brunette was our expert navigator and resident encyclopedia. She knew a little about everything, but her speciality was getting us from one place to another. I wasn’t a bad navigator by any means, but Paige had proven herself to be quite good, so I let her take the lead.

Anna sat next to Paige on the makeshift wooden bench, and my second in command’s long red hair hung loosely around her face and shoulders, which was a nice change of pace compared to the thick braid it was usually in. She had on black athletic pants, sneakers, and a dark-green jogging sweater that complimented her green eyes beautifully.

When the redhead saw me, she looked up and flashed me a lopsided grin. Anna was the most determined of all the girls. I think it came from her time playing sports where she was often the captain of the team. She didn’t like to lose at all, and she refused to accept defeat. The beautiful woman had proven herself to be a natural born leader, which was one of the main reasons she was second in charge.

Bailey sat on the other side of Anna. The blonde hippie girl had a sketchbook in her lap, and she was working on drawing something. I didn’t think I’d ever really seen her draw, but it didn’t surprise me, since she was the artistic type. Of all the girls, she was the absolute sweetest. She’d even been a vegan before the EMP hit, and she’d had practically no choice but to eat meat in order to sustain herself. I knew she hadn’t liked the idea at first, but she seemed to have grown accustomed to it. I think killing the animals herself helped her to realize there was no spite or anger, and we tried to cause as little suffering to the animals as possible, even though we needed their meat to survive. The hunt also gave her the opportunity to thank the animal properly for feeding her.

She’d grown so much in the short time I’d known her, and I was so proud of her and all she’d accomplished. Not only was she still the same kind and loving person she’d been before the EMP hit, even with all the bullshit she’d gone through, but her battle skills were off the charts. The petite blonde was our resident sniper, and she was damn good at her job. She could take out whoever she wanted, and all she needed was one bullet. I’d known good snipers before, but Bailey was great, and though I wish I could say I helped, I didn’t do much. The beautiful blonde came by it naturally.

Bailey noticed me then and looked up to smile at me with her plump, pink lips. Her shoulder-length blonde hair was partially hidden under a gray beanie, and she had on a black T-shirt, light-blue ripped up skinny jeans, and her green Chuck Taylors. Her gray-blue eyes were more blue than gray with the reflection of the sky in them, and her pale cheeks were stained a slight pink, but whether it was from the fire in front of her or some sort of embarrassment, I couldn’t be sure.

I looked around for a second then, and

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