Author: AzureKate PM
When you're only human, you can only do so much and you can only hold on for so long.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy/Fantasy - Words: 2,113 - Published: 06-19-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3033990
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The squad of soldiers walked along through the burning city, panting heavily as they struggled for air. Some limped, dragging their wounded legs behind them, while others clutched their wounded arms and sides and chests. Leading at the front was the captain, a big brute of a man with arm muscles larger than his head. Rumor had it the man had never smiled, not even on his wedding day. The younger soldiers sometimes wondered what woman would want to marry a man like him, but they never questioned it aloud. The captain, Captain Hartman, was a very strict man, and would call someone out on something faster than they could realize they were even doing something wrong. The soldiers struggling along behind him were not so strong, men of all ages. But they managed. Their squad had only lost two since the start of the battle four days before. A battle between two warring countries. It was hard to say who had the upper hand in the war; the opposing country had vicious genetically-enhanced animals and huge machines, but they had magic. That was about it; only some people knew magic, and they had to be 'licensed' to use it. They had won more battles than their enemies, but they had more casualties. Who was really suffering more?
Lagging at the back of the squad was the youngest, Roger Woodard, straight out of high school. Blood was running down his face from a gash on his forehead. He had another gash on the side of his head; he had taken a hard hit from one of the enemy machines as it swung its huge steel arm. He couldn't walk straight and his eyes kept blurring. His vision was fuzzy and his head was throbbing. He was having a harder time breathing with all of the smoke, and kept coughing.
And finally, his knees trembled and he dropped, landing on his knees hard. Everything around him was spinning and he couldn't think straight. He planted both hands on his head and tried to hold the world still as it span all around him. Before he knew it, Captain Hartman was standing in front of him.
"On your feet, soldier!" he ordered. Roger couldn't focus on him and couldn't talk because of the hard time breathing he was having. He blinking and Captain Hartman was suddenly crouching, looking closely at him. The other soldiers had all turned around and were watching. "You're loosing too much blood. Son? Can you look at me?"
Roger tried to look up at him but it made his head hurt. On impulse, he looked down at the ground.
"No, up here," Captain Hartman snapped. "Hello? What's my name?"
Roger tried to speak, but just coughed. Once he was finished he said, "Hartman," as quickly as he could before coughing more. The captain reached down and started unwrapping a bandage that had been around his leg from the battle before the current one. There wasn't very much blood on it, but it still had some nonetheless. He handed the bandage to Roger, who took it with shaky hands. He said, "Bandage your head, soldier, you're loosing too much blood."
The captain was back up and walking to the front of the squad again. Roger just held the bandages, his arms trembling. Tears started falling when he couldn't even wrap his own bleeding head.
Suddenly, someone took the bandages from his hands and started wrapping them around his head for him. He winced when a sharp pain hit both gashes at the same time, but bit his lip and tried not too cry, not wanting to look like a baby in front of the other squad members. After a few moments, whoever was helping him finished wrapping his head and looked at him. He recognized it at Brandon, the very first guy he met upon joining the Corinthe Weapon Army. He was his first and only friend in the army. He was only two years older than him. He only had a cut on his left cheek, but otherwise didn't look too bad.
"Is that too tight?" he asked. Roger wasn't sure if it was too tight; he was dizzy and couldn't focus or think straight, but he had been that way before the bandages. So, he shook his head in response. He let Brandon help him up. Brandon held the dizzy Roger up as they walked toward the squad, which continued on, once again led by Hartman. Roger kept one hand on his head and was trying not to lean too much on Brandon. The squad turned around a corner, walking around the burning debris.
And immediately they were fired upon.
All of squad members who had been out in the open ducked for cover, while Brandon jerked Roger back. The sudden, quick movement made Roger feel like he was being stabbed in the head, and he winced. The soldiers who were able to pulled out their guns and readied for a fight. Soon enough, the line of enemy soldiers, accompanied by two mutant tigers, rounded the corner, ready to fight. Their guns were ready and loaded, and they wasted no time aiming.
Brandon pushed Roger down behind another pile of debris, one that wasn't burning. He pulled out his own gun and disappeared from Roger's sight, who had a moment of panic. He had dropped his gun and only had a knife, which he didn't even bother trying to reach. He knew he wouldn't be able to do anything with it. He listened to the gunfire and the sounds of men falling to the ground dead. After a few moments more he saw Brandon again, falling backward. He hit the ground and groaned, but didn't move. Roger could barely see the blood start to pool around him as he stopped moving. Then he heard the captain let out a long, loud wail as more gunfire sounded. Then Roger heard a loud thump, and the gunfire died down. He heard footsteps, and prayed that it was Hartman, walking away triumphant once again.
But it wasn't.
Roger watched as the three remaining enemy soldiers walked down the street around his dead comrades. One of them noticed him and gasped, quickly aiming. He seemed to relax when he saw the state Roger was in. Roger watched helplessly as they walked toward him, aiming their guns at him. One of them smirked and pulled the trigger, and the sound of his machine gun rang in Roger's ears. He felt four bullets hit his chest, and he cried out in pain.
The three soldiers were suddenly hit with a massive wave of lightning. They all jerked and convulsed before collapsing, electricity jumping around their dead bodies. Blood leaked from their ears.
Roger heard running but couldn't look. All of his muscles contracted; his head was throbbing and his chest felt like it was on fire. His back was arched and he could barely breathe, and the fire beside him didn't help.
Suddenly there was a face, looking at him. It was a face very similar to his own. He was wearing a Corinthe Magic Army uniform, and he didn't look hurt at all. He looked like he was about to cry.
"Roger!" he cried. Roger's lip trembled.
"H-hey, l-little…bro," he managed to say. He was trying not to close his eyes. His brothers hand lit up with a soft blue light and he pressed it hard against Roger's chest without warning, forcing a piece of his own life into Roger to keep him alive longer. Roger winced and groaned, his body jolting. "D-d-don't do t-that."
"I don't want you to die!" his brother cried. "You…can't die! Mom is waiting for us to come home!"
Roger wanted to say something to calm his brother down but he couldn't. Just as his eyes were closing, his brother suddenly gave him another piece of his own life. Roger's body jolted and his eyes opened again.
"I know dad's waiting for you, too," his brother said, his head down. "He doesn't hate you."
"Don't be…stupid… Dad will probably…be happy."
"No!" his brother exclaimed. "Mom's waiting for you, dad's waiting for you, and I want you to come home, too! You wanted me to teach you how to burn stuff, remember? I never got to…"
"I'm not so…sure I want to learn fire…a-anymore."
His brother forced more life into him.
"Don't tell me what to do," his brother snapped as a tear ran down his cheek.
"You're only hurting…y-yourself."
"Roger, what am I supposed to tell Rose? 'Oh, sorry, Rose, I let Roger die. Oh, hey, mom, what's up? Roger's dead. I let him die.'"
"'Oh hey, dad! Remember that other guy that used to live with us? You know, your other son? Yeah, he's dead. It's my fault.'"
Roger found the strength to hit his brother. It was the first hit he took during the war, it seemed to Roger. The metal on his glove left a scratch on his little brother's cheek.
"Asshole," Roger snapped. "Making me f-feel like shit…" Roger winced at the pain, and without warning his brother once again forced more life into him. "Don't you h-have…some enemies t-to kill or s-something? Go k-kill s-s-something."
"And you're calling me an asshole. I think I'll stay right here."
Two more people in magic uniforms ran over, panting. The girl gasped and froze, looking at Roger, while the short, red-haired boy just stared, before turning away.
"Rio," the girl said sadly. When Roger started coughing, his brother forced more life into him once again. "Rio, it's too late to save him. Just look at him. You could give him all of your life and he still wouldn't make it. Why are you making him suffer like this?"
Another tear ran down his brother's, Rio's, face.
"H-hey," Roger struggled to say. Rio looked up at him. "Tell…mom that I…l-love her, 'kay? And you can h-have…anything you want in my room…okay?" His bottom lip trembled again, and suddenly he started crying, too. "Tell Rose I love her, too… Could y-you…give this to…her?" He took off the ring he had around his neck beneath his thick uniform. It was covered in blood, but he handed it to Rio anyway. "C-c-clean it f-first, please."
"Anything," Rio said sadly, taking the ring and holding it.
"And, of course…I l-love you, too."
His brother tried to smile, but Roger could tell he was forcing it. He managed to smile a bit before he was just too tired.
Rio cried more when his brother stopped breathing. The girl knelt beside him, wrapping her arms around him to comfort him.
He looked to the burning sky and screamed.
All of the fire rose to the heavens, lightning light up the sky, the ocean exploded. All of the elements reacted to the mage's sadness. The girl squeezed him tighter while the other mage boy jumped out of the path of the raging fire with a gasp.
"Rio!" the girl cried. "Rio, it's okay! Please, calm down!"
He screamed again, and the sky caught on fire. All of the enemies burned, and even comrades fell with them. The machines melted and the mutant animals exploded. Buildings collapsed and everything burned with Rio's sadness and rage.
Finally, he stopped.
He hunched over, and cried. The girl hugged him tightly.
"I can't even save my brother," Rio sobbed. "What good am I?"
"Rio…" the other boy started. "Did you see what you just did? You lit the fricken sky on fire!"
"Come on, Rio," the girl said, pulling Rio to his feet. The three of them bowed their head in respect to Roger and turned away, starting down the street.
Turning back, Rio blew across his hand, sending a small stream of fire toward his brother. It touched his brother's chest, right over his heard, spreading like water. Rio turned away, wiping away another tear.
"Rest in peace," he sobbed, walking away with his comrades, holding his brother's ring tightly in his hand.