The Only Wars

Staying Buried

Lieutenant Steele sat in the command tent, listening to the drone of both power generators and status reports from the camp. He was cleaning “Mercy”, a bolt pistol bequeathed to him from his dead friend. Perhaps ‘friend’ was too strong a word, he thought. The potential was there, certainly a mutual respect… Aloysius was jerked from his musings by sharp barking outside and more troopers being sent to do untidy tasks. “Boredom will kill this company before the xenos do” he mumbled. The Commander gave him a sharp look, but said nothing. After beginning anew his oft repeated task of cleaning the bolt pistol, he returned to his reverie.

The names, the voices, the faces. Aloysius is haunted by those lost under his command. It seems as though the Emperor himself is bound and determined to not let him forget the failures perpetrated while fighting in his name. A list growing ever larger, playing again and again in the good Lieutenant’s head. Day in, day out, not even sleep provides respite from wailing dead. They point their spectral fingers, stone cold judgement plain on their faces.

Commissar Stubbs, face twisted into a rictus of pain and rage.

Cornelia, his mangled form floating, head lolled to the side, staring accusingly.

The PDF troops, for whom he was responsible, scowling in unison.

When the members of the list gather, they cry out in concert, a wail so wrought with pain and anguish that it seems the stars themselves begin to weep. The only respite from this legion of the lost is taken from cleaning “Mercy”. When he is engaged in this particular activity, the moans of the lost dull, their forms become blurred, and the only thing that can be clearly made out of their existence is a light, sibilant laughter, almost a purr. So alien, yet so familiar. Perhaps one day, it can deliv…“I SAID, ISN’T THAT RIGHT, LIEUTENANT?!”

Rocked from his introspection, Aloysius looked up at his CO, bewilderment plain on his face.

“As I was saying, morale is dropping. We need to fix it fast. Steele?”

“Sir, unless we get our boots in the muck soon, we’re going to start tearing each other apart.” Suddenly, as if on cue, klaxons began blaring, people running from place to place, there was a palpable sense of fear and confusion in equal measure.

“Be careful what you wish for, Lieutenant.”


I love it, encore encore! :)

Staying Buried

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