The music pulsed and throbbed with a insistent beat that [content removed. Unsuitable, obvious, and clichéd.]
Pip's squad had been waiting for a very long time. It had been so long and they had grown so used to their position that they nearly missed the signal when it came. At least one of them would have given a bitter wheeze of laughter at that: all that time holding still and they miss the transport. Again.
But no. They had by God discipline, and when the Sarge gave an order...they scrambled. Oscar mike it was: shocking slow and messy as hell, they emerged from their bolt-hole and formed ranks. They knew they must look bad, could see it in the sideways glances of the exfiltration team, but the CO just returned their salute and asked if they were ready to come home.
She knew Groot, a vegetable hero. She knew "I'll Follow the Sun," though she didn't usually entertain a kindness for beetles. She knew the scope of her reach and the resonant feel of cooked clay. She knew the soft warning of impending rain and the shock of hosed water, and the passing interest of passers-by.
She knew her up from down, but until the last moment, she had not understood the brutal truth about gravity.
A shrug, a ripple, a wayward heartbeat from the ground below, and she was airborne. The fleeting unpleasantness followed by a longer-lasting one: she landed on concrete, terra-cotta opening like a set of shark's teeth all around her tender underparts.
Everything felt wrong: the sun shone sideways, burning where it had never done before, and carefully hoarded molecules of water drifted off in the little breeze. This is what is is to die, she thought, this is my end. And then: no, I will live some more.