The current story is incomplete. The version here is a pilot. Please let me know what you think.
A fatigued army veteran fights on, while he recounts his life and how it led to this point. He questions the morality of leaders past and present, whose words always veneer their actions and intentions.
A young captain, eager to lead his cruiser into glory, navigates not only the stars but the trials and tribulations of command. He faces difficult decisions and is unprepared to choose who lives and who dies.
An intrepid fighter launches herself on a crusade for freedom, willingly blinding herself to the crimes she executes. Like many of her comrades, she mistakes the Road to Hell for the Stairway to Heaven.
Whether fighting on foreign worlds, home soil, or in the stars above, these three face the challenges that lead them towards the bloodiest onslaught of the war.
"The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes."
- Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism, 1891
"Humanity never has been united. Nor will it ever be united."
- Eduard Dallier, An Analysis of Colonization and its Future, 2563
08:00 – 20.4.2785 AD Galactic Standard Time. Planet Rietova
The vast stretch of the steppe would be endless, if only it wasn't interrupted by the majestic mountains barely visible in the distance. The magnificence was augmented by the glow of the sun. A mixed pallet of yellows, oranges and some pinks bounced of the ominous peaks as the sun rose out from the land on its daily journey around the sky. The wind howled through the grass, the orchestra of blades moving to the score and guided by an invisible conductor.
Jonathan Ponce saw the beauty in the sight. But even amongst this view, he saw a superior quality; the desolation and peace of the landscape, a welcome vision from the recent days of fighting. Ignoring the highway that he stood on, he took pleasure in seeing no artificial structures, not even the occasional farmland and accompanying house.
But even better were no burning cabs in view, no fallen gunships, no shot-down starfighters and no dead bodies. The puddles of blood, pieces of intestine, bits of ear and independent fingers weren't spotted this day. His nostrils were free from the odour of unclean men and the miserable stench of death, the breeze rushing at him with the bittersweet perfume of nature.
Jonnie leaned back on the side of his armoured carrier, enjoying the sights of the countryside, like most of his comrades around him. The soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, Antaran Mounted Infantry took the opportunity to get some hours of rest while they were halted on the highway.
A much-deserved break after the weeks of advancing and fighting, then more advancing and more fighting. They had captured two cities and fended off legions of insurgents, taking point at the front. Jonnie was lucky to get a maximum of 5 hours of sleep during the past days. He knew he wasn't the only one who felt this way, the entire column was getting tired. Some washed regularly. Fewer still kept clean fatigue greys in their packs. They made sure to savour this moment.
While others cleaned rifles and vehicles, slept or played cards, Jonnie kept wondering about the battles. Plenty of new honours to add to the regimental colour. But there seemed to be no end to it. One last push, they said. Over by Christmas, they said. They were saying this about Mont-Saint-Pierre, the next insurgent stronghold, as well.
A buzz on the radio interrupted his thoughts. It was the Platoon Commander. They were going to move. Sergeant Ponce silently cursed himself and told the boys to get back in the cab. Similar orders were echoed down the armoured column.
Among the incessant whirring of armoured engines, he let himself get distracted by the small talk of his section. They took every opportunity to joke around and still had that optimistic zeal that Jonnie once had. They were what everyone else needed to keep sane.
Jonnie caught a final glimpse of that view. He made sure to remember it so he could remind himself that there is a place beyond the combat zone. Remind him that he wasn't just dreaming of one.
Maybe this is what they were fighting for.