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This story grew out of my concerns for the longevity and effectiveness of the environmental movement in Australia. Having lived through the triumph of the Franklin Dam campaign and the rise of political eco-warriors I was dismayed that time had whittled away many of those gains.

I still am (dismayed).

The us-and-them mentality remains a significant divide both between the warring parties and within the green lobby itself.

The extremes of my story, I hope, will make people of differing opinions wonder how bad things have to get before reason can prevail over profit and ego.


Six hours later they were still waiting. The moon was high and the sky clear. An eerie light made everything look pearl grey. Mel had nodded off around midnight and was gently snoring. The others had rotated every hour and a half. There was a sense of endless waiting, and John remembered countless nights in the SASR and then the Elite Air Service, or Shadow Corps, or half a dozen other names for the organisation to which Atkins assumed he had belonged. He didn’t miss it. What he did now with the group he had formed, the Green Army, was what he most wanted to keep doing.

It had all started with Cambodia. And the blind eye his own government had turned to the whole thing. The Vietnamese were very appreciative, but when it was pointed out to his government that Australian companies were benefiting by proxy from massive environmental exploitation and had done nothing, then he got very, very angry.

Planning for the Green Army had started shortly after and, despite what might be termed an interesting life, he had never felt more alive and motivated than when he was in the field, not with fellow soldiers but with the dedicated housewives, tradesmen, and many others who made up his army. They had to get through his training first, though, so the numbers weren’t large. But quality counted, and they were all talented and tough.

Mel coughed and woke up. “What did I miss?” she mumbled.

“Not much …”

The first boulder landed short. Impact though, was like a detonation, rock on rock and a crack like a hundred whips.

Mel flinched and knelt up.

“Didn’t see that one coming,” murmured Brown.

“No,” snapped Atkins. “Anyone got line of sight?

“Incoming. Eleven o’clock long,” said one of the other commandos.

“Getting his distance. Target range?” demanded Atkins.

“Moving right, a hundred and fifty metres. Stopped at one o’clock. Incoming, short.”

John stood and drew his bow, aiming high. He fired, knelt back down, and waited five seconds before pressing a detonator on his belt. The explosion was muted but Borun let out an ear-piercing shriek.

“Gotcha,” said someone.

“Trident; track target and ready,” ordered John. The commandos moved as one, shuffling forward and then kneeling in a triangular formation – two forward, one behind. Their visored heads moved in unison.

“Twelve o’clock, one hundred twenty-five metres.”

“On line, rapid advance, seventy-five.”

The triangular formation moved forward in a quick short-paced trot. Atkins and John followed, flanking. At seventy-five metres they all stopped.

Mel watched, fascinated. She’d never seen John in real action and this was surreal as she listened in on the command frequency.


“Twelve o’clock, sixty.”

Another rock soared out of the brush.

“Shit,” said Brown from beside Mel, “… this one’s gonna hit. Move left, quick.”

Mel shuffled left as the small boulder smashed into the ground inside one of their makeshift walls. Shards went everywhere and Brown shielded her with his body.

“Advance and rapid fire,” she heard in her ear bud.

The trident surged forward, opening up with their silenced M18’s, the front two soldiers firing several seconds ahead of the rear one, to facilitate magazine changes. The bush was shredded and Borun howled and shrieked as he was hit multiple times. One of John’s arrows struck him in the shoulder and exploded, sending him spinning. The commandos were getting close and still firing.

“Halt. Maintain fire.”

Borun leapt up and back, just as another arrow sailed through where his head had been. He disappeared into the bush and could be heard rapidly retreating.

“Ceasefire. Withdraw to base. Leapfrog formation.”

John and Atkins started walking back to the camp in a sideways crab style, which kept their weapons pointed uphill and to the sides. The two leading commandos turned and quick-stepped behind the third, who maintained his bead in Borun’s presumed direction. Then they switched until they were back with Brown and Mel.

Sitrep?’ said Atkins.

“Smart prick,” answered Brown. The commandos who were back in sentry mode, sniggered.

John grinned.

Mel looked from one face to another. “Men! Jesus …”

John laughed. “Yes, well, not much we can do about that.” Looking at Atkins, he said, “Out thought us, didn’t he?”

Published by iandavidmartin

Australian; Architect; Writer

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