Recording I: Session I

Date: 2220 A. D. 22 March

They say that when someone dies that it's a tragedy. That when they leave this earth that it's a great loss. But who's loss is it? It's been one day since Kai died. One day since the monsters at our door ripped his lifespark from this world. And one day since I lost my best friend.

They said it was a good death, he fought bravely and with honor as he protected Home Base. They said he was strong, loyal, and good. And they said he'd be missed.

What they didn't say was that he hadn't wanted to fight. That his dreams had died with him. That was the one thing no one ever said. But the truth is that he's gone. And even when all the monsters are destroyed, when homes are rebuilt, and the threat is gone, he'll be forgotten. Just another death in the long line of many. No one will want to remember this time in our lives, this black mark on our history. I understand why but that doesn't make it better.

I didn't want to live.

My world is so different now, than it had been a year ago. The trees that protected my city from the harsh sun had to be destroyed so that we could better defend our city from the monsters at our door. Now the great spreading oaks are gone, with only the grass and gardens to bring color to the gray walls that line our city. The only other bright spots were the clothes and scarves people wore. But the sky was dark, when he died, the clouds rolled in and the colors were gone.

I'd gotten back from the fight, walked beside his still form as the hover trolley was brought to Base. The other grim-faced warriors hadn't said empty words of condolence; which was endearing. Larm had hugged me in silence when she saw me, Rovi's look of recognition at the pain I wore, and Jik's quiet presence at my left side were better than words.

Kai had died saving me. He'd been shot by one of the ancient guns, one of the few things our body armor wasn't protected against, and he'd died. But he'd saved me, taking down the monster that killed him even as his body failed him. As I stood at his gravestone, watching the workers place the phosphorous lamp into place on his stone, I couldn't help but be angry that I hadn't gone with him.

He'd left me alone.

"Zora," Jik brought me out of my reverie as I stood there, "the Captain wants to see you." Jik looked like Kai, they were cousins on his mum's side. Jik shared Kai's light blue eyes, stance, build, and jaw. But where Kai's hair was blonde, Jik's was black. Jik also sported a scar from a fight with a Herobane. The Herobane were the mean beasts that had forgone the technology and fought with tooth and claw, all of them with matted fur and an unmistakable stench of old death. They were called trolls once, but unlike the folklore they were smart, brutal, and organized . Two could easily kill ten men. Jik had been the sole survivor when his family- parents and siblings only- had been killed in a zipcar accident involving a rampaging Herobane. That was before Mankind realized we were at war, when Jik was about five. That had been nearly fifteen years back. The scar was a visible reminder that while all battles had a cost, negligence had an ever greater one.

Now Jik was the only male of his family line left.

"I need to see Katiq," I said firmly, turning away from the grave, "first."

Jik nodded, "She wanted you to come and the captain said that you could report to him after you were done."

That was all I needed to know. Katiq had probably heard through word of mouth about Kai's death. I should have been the one to tell her that her grandson had been killed.

Katiq, still a beautiful woman with the lifelines time had made on her skin and the wisdom in her dark eyes that were enhanced by her white hair, had wailed in misery when she set eyes on me. She cried for the loss, for the boy she'd raised, and for herself that she had lived to see the day.

"His death was no fault of yours," she had taken my face in both hand the way she had when I was young and had been caught at some scheme or other, "do not let this burden you, Child." Her sad brown eyes still held tears even as she held me close.

I couldn't cry, even as she mourned. I hadn't cried at the funeral, at his burial, or even when he died in my arms. I still can't.

I don't know when, if ever, I'll be able to cry for him. Because the day I cry is the day I'll be able to say goodbye.

End of Recording 1: Session 1

Recording 2: Session 1

Date: 2220 A. D. 23 March

I have a new partner.


Magok, our Commander, said that it would be easier than breaking in a new full team, when he talked to me in his office. Also known as Commander Maggot, he'd been in the Captain's office when I reported to him but had asked me to his own office when he was done.

"It'll be simpler," he insisted, running a hand through his gray hair, blue eyes sharp and somewhat melancholy, "and temporary. About a month's duty with him, till the latest trainees are ready."

I could have argued but then I didn't want to be stuck with a stranger. So now we are to guard our borders, till a replacement team is ready. We use our power boards to patrol the city wall. We got the Graveyard Shift, the one where only monsters were awake. It was an honor, really. Only the best got the GS (Graveyard Shift) because they could hold their own in a fight under most circumstances even when one was injured. But it was dangerous work- everyone was asleep- and response units got delayed. Hence the 50-50 fatality rate and the redundantly apt nickname.

Herobane weren't the only monsters out there in the dark. Treeghoul, Bloodsuckers, Anthros, and other minor scatterings of nuisance were an add to the mix. Where they come from, how they got here, no one knew. We know how to kill them and that is what matters now.

My personal nemesis are the Wailers. They take on the voices of friends or kin and start crying. I almost lost my left arm to one, back before I knew how they worked. The Wailers lure prey to a closed off area and attack from behind, but the one tell they have is that they never form full words. Just wail. Long swords and serrated daggers are their weapons, those small beasts have no pupils and resemble tiny people who have died and come back to life. Pale, sickly in appearance, but not to be misjudged. Vicious fighters.

"You still awake?" Jik asked as he zipped over on his board when we were out on patrol last night.
"Yeah," I nodded, unconsciously letting my right hand linger on the scars that were on my forearm. I'd received from the scars from Wailers underneath my protective armor, "just thinking."

"Of what?" Jik was direct. No fluff, no gruff, just blatant curiosity.

"Ghosts," I seated myself on the board, my legs hurt from standing for a few hours, "memories."

"Don't sit too long, you'll get relaxed. Patrol the North Gate in five minutes," he suggested as he glanced around. There was no movement across the mile wide pavement border that separated our city from the wilds.
"Alright," I agreed.

"Scars hurt?" he pointed to my lingering hand.

I dropped it, quickly, "No, just habit."

"Wailers are rare," he noted, "as is surviving an encounter." With that, he nodded a farewell and let the power board sweep him from sight. The faint green glow of his board disappeared quickly, the slight breeze of air he'd mixed up the only indication he'd been there.

I don't know if this partnership will work. He'd not harm me, I know, but he's different. I keep expecting to see Kai. Not his cousin. In the protective suit, Jik looked just like Kai. But there was a hardness to Jik that Kai hadn't had. His eyes were firm and his mouth was held in a tight line at all times. Worry made him seem much older than his years. Kai had been like an innocent child, even in the middle of battle.

I don't know if I should stay on the border. I don't if I should even be a border guard, Jik or not. Am I endangering lives by my actions? Am I endangering the city?

Tomorrow I have off.. Maybe than I'll be able to think and reevaluate my life.

End of Recording 2: Session 1

Author's Note:

So here's a new twist, trying to see if I can't enhance my writing and make it more believable...

Let me know what you think! More to come soon!