Chronicles of a Fire Warrior: Shas'la Fire Storm
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Without warning there was a sudden violent trembling, not turbulence anymore, it was time. Just as quickly as it had started the trembling gave way to a violent rocking side to side. A loud crash together with a bright shower of sparks and pieces of shrapnel, and then everything went black.
I never felt any explosion, nor any pain at that moment, but I knew in that moment between time and consciousness I wasn't in the devilfish any longer. Strange images, blurred sounds, my head felt like it was inside out. Then blackness enveloped me again. Slowly light began to appear by a single small dot and grew wider, like a door, slowly at first but then suddenly the deafening silence broke, giving way to the sound of the low toned thud of artillery blasts. The white light surrounded me, and then faded as well. "Time to die!" A vulgar voice echoed in the distance.
Hell, there's no other name for where I was now, it was an unforgettable image of corpses followed by screaming, bloodied and dismembered bodies strewn about. The screams the heart wrenching screams tore at my consciousness. I gave into the panic with a freezing fear impossible to explain, all I could do was stare into the visor of a body lying next to mine. His vid-camera lights still bright, and yet, somehow I knew no one was behind that mask.
I sat up only to realize it was worse than just dead bodies and shrieks. I watched as hulking metal demon-men with unblinking glass eyes tore apart my comrades. Slashing and sawing into and through their high-tech yet useless armor, might as well had been naked tied to a pole for this wasn't a war it was a slaughter, an execution! What could I do? What would anyone do I watched more as the showers of blood dyed the planet dark crimson interrupted only by terrifying explosions in the distance rocking the very earth we contested. There was nothing I could do but helplessly watch the horror that unfolded in front of me. No end to the madness in site, so I cried out, "To hell with you all!"
What happened next was out of my control, another of my nameless faceless comrades jumped to my side bearing two pulse rifles firing wildly. A Dark body towering above me, he looked down, almost as though he was staring through me. His vid-cam lights glowing like fire. His computerized voice chimed "Do your worst." I couldn't understand it; reality seemed to be in slow motion as he tossed me one of the pulse rifles. I caught it as he whipped his head back toward the chaos that ensued and continued to fire. Quick flashes like lightning illuminating parts of his armor it was an awesome sight to behold.
Looking down at the weapon it seemed somehow alien to me, as strange as those metal beasts ripping and tearing into my friends from training. Oh Training, all I was taught was to point and shoot "the rest was fate" they said, real helpful now.
Now standing back to back with my new comrade we fired through the clouds of grey dust swirling around us. Seemingly unending were the rapid fire pulse bolts while they flickered and bounced off rocks and men. Now and again a spurt of blood would splatter into the dust storm, squirting from shadow of one of those metal-men. Just a target now, thankfully, a neutralized target at that.
Satisfaction, it was almost as if I could taste the blood; it was sweet revenge for all those wasted lives sacrificed to the greater good's ambitions. This was no longer about the greater good now it was about pure survival which was suddenly not an easy thing.
It felt as though hours had passed, but in just a few minutes the shadows in the dust fell silent around me. All I could think was it can't be over so soon, even though the dead told me otherwise I couldn't believe it. I wouldn't acknowledge the wasteland around me, I wanted more! I yearned for more. Damn it, I wanted to feed that hatred in me and the blood lust, I wanted to kill everything, but everything was already dead.
A metal-man creature squirmed just to the left; it was hard to make out exactly what he was doing with all the other body parts strewn about, none the less; I fired into it; until the clip ran dry. "Yeesss!" I howled. The new found love of mine: the taste of power, but the hunger slowly died down as the gun clinked with every empty pulse shot aimed at the chunks of metal and man flesh lying in the bloody dirt and mangled bodies. So, this is what all that training was preparing me for, I laughed, What a joke" I exclaimed. "A lot of good that did", I thought. But was it really over already, I couldn't believe it, it felt like a dream, no, a dream within a dream.
A sharp pain in my stomach and back accompanied by a low tone vibration and some crunching sounds, and then sudden darkness again. I was floating, at least it felt like I was drifting through the cosmos, no more pain, no more terror, no more anything. Nothing made sense anymore, had death met me just as quick as I had awoken into combat. No way of telling.
I was dreaming. And then "I awoke here in this hospital, glad to be alive, but not without a price to pay, I tried to make a fist but when I looked down I noticed both my hands were stolen, as you can clearly see."
"Yes, that's quite a story young man, a miracle you're with us today. Thank you for your contribution to the Greater Good, the Empire can't thank you enough, son. And, in return for your self sacrifice, valor, and heroism in the face of death I hereby award you the Purple Heart." The Aun placed it gently on my bandaged chest. Stepped back, saluted, and walked away.
Just a piece of metal, not unlike that welded to my ribs, and some words in the wind. A lot of thanks that is, "a Purple Heart. Pff." I sighed. Shaking my head as I leered at the stained bandage where my wrists ended and my hands should have been. "If only it were him on that field where death bloomed instead of I." I said to myself, but I'm sure his stories are even better than my own, they had to be; we looked to the Aun.
Never again will I be eager to rush into the heroic fantasy of honorable battle for the plots sewn by the Greater Good are no more than lies spoon fed; for now I knew; it was simply a voluntary insertion into the reality of Hell. Nothing was gained from that fight except another young batch of willing and ready Fire Warriors being sent to do the dirty work of the Aun. It was a silly nightmare wherein there is nothing to fear except fear itself and believe me there's plenty to fear. But what does it matter, for someday I would awaken from all of this.
With that in mind I closed my eyes.