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A Moment in Time


There was a sudden terrible calm, a quite moment when the shells had been spent, the flesh eating nanostorms annihilated by counter-nanites, each falling to the ground as a fine grey ash.

He lay, shivvering slightly despite the balmy morning air, half buried under the wrecked and smoking shell of a microtank. The gleaming armor was tarnished, fractured and grey, the once solid skin flaking away like powder. The stench of fetid meat wafting from the shell meant there had been a pilot inside. Did the shell that killed the tank kill the pilot? Or had the nanostorm got him as he lay trapped and broken?

He wondered about the pilot.  The enemy, nameless, faceless; they were the ones that hid behind the smooth steel skins, who killed with invisible swarms.  Had he been arrogant, confident in his metal skin, confident in the anonymity, the squad of AI drones that had flanked him? Had he been young and brash, full of patriotic vigor, certain in victory, in the rightness of his cause?  Did he have a mother that worried about him, who would weep for him on some distant world circling a tiny star in some forsaken corner of the galaxy?

The soldier pushed those thoughts from his mind. His leg was numb, crushed under the armored bulk that had saved his life; the pain dulled by chemicals woven into his uniform. He'd seen his comrades reduced to rotted meat before his eyes, helpless before the storm, seen others literally disappear in sprays of gore when hit by weapons meant for punching holes in tanks.  

Lying there, motionless but for the shivvering, in the mass shadow of that wreckage. He wondered if he was bleeding to death under the very thing that had kept him alive. It seemed possible, the built in chemdispenser could only do so much.  It didn't matter much. They were losing this week, they'd been winnin the week before.  Death, even his own, seemed so very trivial. The sky-gods had come, first the one with empty promises and weapons of fire, then the second ones with gifts and knowledge, neither one caring at all for the people who fought their eternal war. Try as he might, he could not recall the time before, could not remember peace or why it was important.

A sound shattered the silence. The sound of booted feet crushing dry and lifeless soil underfoot.  He looked around desperately, hoping to see if it was salvation or damnation.

It was neither. Just one of the Skygods with his bodyguard, observing the aftermath. He looked so human, so very human, and for a moment the soldier could not tell which side he was on.

It didn't matter. The skygods were on only their own side, uncaring of the little people who toiled and suffered in their endless battle.  He would make them care. He realized with a start that the enemy had always been the gods themselves, his people, and the people like them from countless alien worlds were merely pawns. No more, he swore. He would shake the pillars of heaven, the Sky Gods would remember THIS world, THIS war, as all others were forgotten.

Sensors woven into his uniform responded to his anger, flooding his wrecked body with endorphins and adrenalin analogs, pain flushed away, damage forgotten as he raised the black rifle, twisting his body away from the concealing shell.  

He was dying, faster now, his body consumbing itself desperately for this one final act. His vision refused to clear, growing dimmer as he desperately aimed at the darkening shape.

He would kill the god.

He would fire...

He would...



"What was that?" The voice was liquid, almost primordeal, maternal.  The man spared a glance at the collar of his coat before turning to his rival.

"Luck. One of my pawns lived long enough, took a shot. Good thing for you he was aiming at me, eh?" he smiled.  His opponent smiled back.

"Indeed.  Now... let's see, since the last man on the field was mine it would be... your turn to cook dinner, right?"

She laughed and the world cried with her.  


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