Death of a Soldier.
Death of a Soldier.
"Look, if you’re that worried about the kid, then drag your tired ass back outside and go look for him."
Looking at the soldier seated across from him, the bearded craggy-faced man with badly-cropped salt and pepper hair laid a serious-looking handgun on the table, complete with well worn hand-grips and scratched laser scope.
He sighed heavily "Here, take Phyllis with you." "I don't give a rat’s ass if you want to go. Just don't assume everyone here’s going to drop everything and go with you. It’s been…” He closed his eyes as he rubbed his forehead. “Damned, if I can’t remember how long it’s been since the kid first went missing."
He leaned back, lacing his fingers behind his neck, and eyed the weapon he’d laid on the table affectionately. The wooden chair complained ready to give way under him. "Phyllis has always looked after me. Be sure to bring her home safely."
The soldier didn't answer.
"Hey! Don't look at me like I'm the enemy here. Keep that up and I'll take her back. I didn't ask for this lousy command."
"When the shuttle took that hit, all the officers inside having their freaking strategy meeting were blown to hell and back. You know as ranking noncom, Sergeant, I got the duty."
He got up, walked over to the door, and opened it just wide enough to look out. The devastation was total.
"Stupid freaking colonists. I don't know why they came to this goddamn rock in the first place."
Closing the door, he leaned his back against it and then slid slowly to the floor. "I ask you, how arrogant are we to just drop our asses down on this planet, claim it as our own, and then get all damned defensive and pick a fight, when the rightful landlord comes round wanting it back?"
He wrapped his arms around his legs resting his forehead on his knees. "Shit it’s been forever since we heard from Earth Central Command. We need to assume a worst case scenario… - that we're on our own and for god knows how long.. Never really understood that time travel shit and...- He paused and looked towards the man seated at the table. "I'm tired, bone weary, ‘hurt all over freaking tired’ if you want the truth. I'm tired of field rations. I want a steak and a shower, and clothes that aren't falling apart as we speak. But we need to get back to work. We have to fortify this place before those alien bastards find us… agreed?"
The soldier seated at the table remained silent.
"Damn it man." The sergeant got to his feet "If you’re not going to answer then at least have the damned courtesy to look at me when I speak to you."
As he placed his hand on the man’s shoulder, the skeleton toppled out of the chair landing face-first on the floor. There was a soft, crackling explosion as brittle bones shattered, skittering across the floor like dry twigs caught in a stiff breeze.
A moment of lucidity swept over the Sergeant who leaned over to the table and picked up Phyllis. "Guess he won't be needing you after all, baby." “As for me, old friend… I have one final job for you.” He kissed the gun and worked the dials until an incessant whining began.
The Federation (formally Earth Central Command) shuttle had just landed in what remained of the Theta colonies compound. The ship’s sensors picked up the explosion. The Captain turned towards his weapons officer.
"Do we have a problem Lt Commander?"
"No sir. Sensors indicate no life signs, hostile or otherwise. That explosion was caused by an old style military S9 Phase pistol on overload."
"Send in a team to look things over Commander. An S9 on overload, huh? Incredible, such resiliency in an unused weapon. Somewhat ironic it should explode right now, just as we were landing, and especially considering it’s been forty years to the day since anyone has been here.