The Medic's Sidearm

Summary: The medics of the 23rd are issued pistols for a very specific purpose.

The combat medics supporting the 23rd Battalion are issued pistols as precise as our surgical tools. Each is a handmade work of art, a slim-barreled firearm reminiscent of a polished steel scalpel. It is unique in its elegant contrast with the handheld howitzers of the cavalry, the specialist sidearms of the engineers, the rugged hardware of the scouts, and the grim service pieces of the naval infantry. I've frequently used it, although I've never defended myself with it.

After the recent operation, the casualties streaming into our field hospital overwhelmed us. With too few supplies and too many wounded, we prepared for triage care. We ranked the patients by degree of injury and survival chance, with the worst separated from the others. As I was on duty, I knew my grim task well enough. Pistol in hand, I administered the only mercy we were capable of providing.

I still remember the first one, a maimed boy younger my little brother. An enemy shell removed his legs, and I wondered how the poor teenager even survived. Part of me felt guilty, for more reasons than the obvious. Whatever fates spared the kid from the shell delivered him to something crueler. I readied my weapon. He couldn't speak, but I still remember that look on his face. I couldn't even meet his accusatory stare. I pulled the trigger, forever ending his suffering.

The rest were easier.