Trooper Joynes thirsted. He had marched, he had fought, he had worried, he had hungered, he had feared, he had prayed, he had run. Now, his thirst was all encompassing. The hard rock he sprawled across no longer dug into his side, and he had long ago shed the heavy pack which had dug into his back and slowed him down. His lasgun had helped him hobble through the orange soil, but it had rattled down the slope and out of site when he had slipped. His empty canteen he had cursed and hurled after it.
The cool air was no comfort as it rasped down Joynes parched throat. Water was what he needed. Water! The coughing fit seized him again and he clinched his body in agony, sending orange foam spattering across the rock. Once over, once the memory of the agonizing pain had left him, his dull eyes lighted on the orange spittle, and he tried to will his unresponsive muscles into clawing him over to it, to lick at the poisonous moisture, however slight.
His mind was foggy, but Joynes knew the end was near. There was no time, no time, no time. He could hear the other soldiers in his company hacking and crying out for water and dying, as though they were there with him now and not dead back at the camp then. Joynes had not gotten away in time. There was no time left. His drooping lids did not shield his eyes from the cowled figured of the Reaper of Death who rose blackly before him. Maybe a hallucination. Maybe not. He knew his time had come.