I am a traitor to my planet.
Thousands of hours of training, drills under fire, running laps in the rain to get ready for the expansion off-world. Unloading, cleaning, reloading my gun in under two and a half minutes. Learning which terrain I can move forward in, when I should tell my command to retreat. My muscles are taut and trained to their breaking point. I feel less like a soldier than a machine in my armor; the suit is like a second skin, albeit more unwieldy. I touch the numbered embroidered on my side: 07. I am always one of the first ones out. When we touch down there’s no time to think; I am suiting up and getting ready to deploy as soon as I can.
There’s not much time; we have a few hours after we’ve landed before we’re discovered, tops. A few hours to build up resources, scout the enemy. A few hours to scrape together what defense we can, maybe build a few bunkers to stop any early attacks. My entire being is processed and trained around the first few hours on the field, and from then on it’s out of my hands. I do what I am told; I point; I shoot. Maybe I die.
We land just on the edge of the terrain, on the black crust of earth next to the lava fields. It is hot where we touched down, and the workers in the jagged crystal mines strain outside to pry the minerals from the ground. There were two of them brought in for heatstroke treatment already before I was through checking my weapons. It worries me; this suit is not made to repel heat. Worries me too because I have friends who are workers, and I know they will be helpless if we cannot raise the defense quickly enough.
I get the go-ahead for deployment at 04:49 and run as fast as I can to my post. Things are stable, I am told. There had been some excitement earlier, but it was over now.
They point to where the body lies outside of the narrow entrance. A worker, a spy, sent from the other side of the enemy line. His body looks small, the blood seeping out from multiple bullet wounds, and his hair is red. He is crumpled right outside the post where I am stationed, and I will have to stand guard over him for the next stretch of time before the attacks begin. Red hair. The bile rises in my throat and I have to force myself not to retch. This is war, after all. This is what I signed up for. But god, oh god, I cannot help it.
For when I look at his red hair all I can see is Marcus.
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