The Man of 1000 Worlds:
By: Hugo Reed
Chapter I: The Knight
Sir Francis the Brave sat upon his white steed, looking upon the remains of his once great battalion, now just a field of dead bodies and broken armor. Victory, so they called it, yet he felt no victory in this. His company of nearly one hundred had been reduced to less than a dozen in just a single bloody day.
Still, at the end of it all, he'd accomplished his goal, and had cleared the path to the west. This was the very demands of war; sacrifice the few so that the many may have their needs met. His men died so that fewer men would die upon the front lines so that few men would die back home.
It was the first time Sir Francis could ever remember questioning orders and the way of kings and queens: they with over-privileged backsides that couldn't even fit inside their own armor anymore. It was odd, if anyone asked either Englishmen or Frenchmen what started this war, he truly doubted that either would be able to properly answer.
It was a fact of life to them. Birds would fly, fish would swim, and Britain and France would fight. Sir Francis hadn't reached his position in the military be being a fool and he knew the words of hate that spread throughout England were placed there so that they would all gain a hatred for the French. Likewise, he was sure that they French military spread word of their own devilish behavior.
They spread hate so that the men would want to fight. They would take those who wanted to fight, and make their armor and weapons. They would then train those men on how to use those armor and weapons, and then send them off to die. He had no idea what it was that was so important that the two sides simply couldn't reach a peaceful solution.
No doubt some side had found slight with something the other had done, or some secret had been uncovered, but based on history they seemed to be getting along fairly well before the war, so why not continue in that manor. He shrugged to himself.
No doubt in a few hundred years people would evolve enough to understand such ways of thinking, but for now people lived by the blade and the bow and the cannon. You were only worth as many men as you had killed, and Sir Francis had earned rather a lot of worth.
"Aye, and indeed we have become truly civilized," he said softly.
He couldn't say that civilization was something humanity had ever really achieved. Sure, they built bigger and grander castles, and larger and larger cities, but they still had the same behavior of their ancestors. If you have something I want, then it's mine and you must've stolen it, so I'm going to kill you unless you give it back.
His newly-minted lieutenant rode up to him, and he knew they were being called to rally up and move forward before the lad even opened his mouth.
"Time to move on, aye?"
"Tell the men we're moving camp."
The lad rode off, and he was forced to compare this move to the move they'd made a few days ago. It had taken a few hours for everyone to be ready to move. He doubted it would take half so long now. In a morbid sort of way, they'd be much faster on the ground with so few of them.
He turned his steed around and began to trot back to the camp. He arrived to hear the slur of drunken men bragging about their feats in the battle that had just transpired, as if it were something to be admired. It made Sir Francis sick to his stomach to consider such things. Were he given the choice, he would have no such man in his company.
Sadly, the war had given no one much choice over anything. At least they did their jobs. As he'd commanded, they were packing up camp and prepared to move to the campsite of the secondary forces on the western front. Honestly, he wasn't completely sure of the entire war plan, but then again, he probably wasn't supposed to be.
It was another factor of the military. If you didn't need to know what was happening, then you didn't get to know it. Just shut your mouth and follow orders.
Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir!
Take that hill! Yes sir!
Run headlong into the battle! Yes sir!
Send every man in your command to their certain death! Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir!
He wouldn't doubt that in his old age he would only have the words "yes sir" left in his mouth. Assuming he even reached old age through the damned war. Training, they'd called it.
You were trained to do whatever you were asked to do, regardless of the logic of it. Don't ask questions, don't hesitate, don't try to do what's asked. Just do it.
"Everyone! We're rejoining the side platoon on the western front. I hope you haven't had your fill of French blood, because we're spilling more tomorrow!"
It echoed back at him. Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir!