THE SOLDIER'S TALE
Bombardment in 414 , is what the battle chatter spits in Bardot’s head, and his whole squad moves like a school of glistening fish, turning and darting as a single being. We are good boys. Strong boys. Plucked from the same creche, raised in the same arenas. Brothers of the tribe.
We silver fish run headlong into the rear trench as artillery tears through the Remnant front lines, scattering bodies and bursting against the shields. One of our brothers didn’t move fast enough and is caught in the burst. Bardot feels him wink out, his chatter going quiet in his mind. Remorse ripples through the rest for a moment, before the guns in the ships go quiet and we are on our feet, firing in ranks.
A peripheral fish chatters: spotters sent a grandaddy, and Bardot turns to watch the drop pod tear into the ground. He feels the mech link into his neural net, adding the big brother to his family, it’s heavy feet pounding the earth as it brings guns to bear. This is glory. His brothers are good boys.
But the Remnant have no honor, no glory, and they sent a war witch. He never sees her, but the witch’s song slams into him like shrapnel. Boys start winking out, chatter goes insane, he catches a glimpse of the big mech stumbling and firing at ghosts only it can see.
Her song cuts his net, sends him into a nightmare where he is alone. He hears the battle hymn from the spotter ships in the distance, but it no longer gives him courage with fury, now it is gibberish; the battle is smoke and horror.
Through the adrenaline that blurs his vision, Bardot sees the empath sphere in the distance, the Chimera bitch inside singing and tearing at his mind. He raises his rifle, his hands shake and he fires blind, shots pinging off the crackling shield. His brothers are running away. And when his gun is dry, and the song is silent and his brothers are gone (dead or in the ships) he is alone in the wreckage of a beautiful city. And he is afraid for the first time in his life – afraid that the witch will take his gun. Hold his face. And whisper in his ear that he is damned.