A Battleground Muse
by Robert Stephenson
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Looking up from the pad, she watched a Clakker blade pass through Corporal Kass’s armour. Hendrix struck forward, beheading the owner of the sword before he, himself, dropped to his knees. She watched, fingers poised. Two more black fighters swept in, slashing, and in a moment the corporal was cut to pieces. A mound of flesh, and a pool of red in the middle of a pool of yellow.
As the fighters moved back into the fight, her fingers typed, capturing the moment, the mighty fall of the soldier. She felt a pang, but she’d felt this pain many times in the last three years.
She moved from her spot to another rock where she could see the captain. His knife was swinging and spattered with yellow blood. He and ten others were effectively driving the Clakkers back into the trees, crunching over bodies like insect shells.
“Observer,” the sergeant said squatting beside her. Her face bore a small cut beneath her right eye and lose hair hung from beneath her helmet. “Come. We must move. Now. The Clakkers are fleeing.”
“How many lost?” she asked but was more taken by the sergeant’s beauty.
“No time. The fighting is still at hand, and we may lose more. Come on, Observer, there is no time. I have my orders.” The sergeant grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet and into the thick of the fighting. Dragging her in one hand and slashing wildly with her long knife in the other, the sergeant pushed on. The other guardians brought up the rear.
In a blur of guts and stink, screams and clacking, slashing and crunching, they broke through the ranks of Clakkers and ran for the top of the hill. Others followed, creating a defensive rear guard. She could hear the shouts behind them. The big voice of the captain the loudest.
The sergeant released her at the top of the hill. She fell to her knees, breathing hard. Tears of exertion filled her eyes as she gazed back down the slope to the fighting. A wide patch of yellow and black dotted with circles of red. The human casualties marked out their escape.
“We will rest here for a few minutes,” the captain said, moving towards her.
“Rest for now,” the sergeant said, then stood and took stock of her injuries.
“Observer?” the captain asked, pointing to a cut across her arm. She hadn’t felt it.
“How many?” she asked instead. The captain surveyed his unit briefly while she fingered the jagged slice in her armour. The skin had been broken, but only just.
“The survivor list is shorter. I will compile it shortly for you.” He squatted before her. “I heard what you said to the corporal.” His voice was deliberately low.
“It was a mistake.” She pulled out her notebook and started to type.
“We did well here, make sure those back at the Five Colony Council and on Earth know what is happening here.” It was not a simple request, this was an order.
“I observe for the Council—”
“You also observe for the military,” he said, barely controlling his voice.
She nodded. She knew what she was; she didn’t need to be told. She could have ordered his silence, but the casualty list was too high for pride.
“I will note this incident with all its positive outcomes as I always do.”
“Thank you,” he said, patting her once on the shoulder. “I’ll get someone to look at your arm.” He stood and moved into the throng of what remained of his unit.
The sergeant came back to her, carrying a battered metal cup of warm water. She put it on the grass before Charlette and watched as she typed the few notes of the incident.
“He chew you out?” the sergeant asked, squatting.
“Kind of, yeah.”
“Don’t take any notice of him. He fought in the battle for Forest Grid Forty-Six.”
She looked up with surprise.
“Over twenty-five thousand dead, two hundred and eight survivors.” The sergeant sipped her own drink. “The news feeds called it a resounding victory and used tech tricks to make the survivors look like the entire fighting force.”
“You know about the battle?” Her fingers poised over the keys.
“I was one of the survivors.” The sergeant blinked.
The sergeant looked at her arm and pressed an emergency wrap into the hole before leaving to reorganize the unit.
Her breasts heaved with the passion of love as my hand flowed over the lines of her body. I kissed her lips, so used to screaming battle cries, and her hurt slipped into me with a breath. The horrors flooded my mind. I blink back the tears while the sound of clacking bears down on our sex. — Charlette Thorn, Field Observer, Private Diary
She closed the notebook and studied her muse as she attended a ragtag and tired group of soldiers still three kilometres from an airlift. She closed her eyes and counted five, the number of lives that had floated past her on the trip back. She opened her eyes and looked at the retreating back of the sergeant. Better get her name before the next skirmish, she thought.
“Move out!” the captain yelled.
She got to her feet and watched as her muse flowed into the pack of soldiers now heading down the other side of the hill.
“Observer,” a man said, taking her arm and forcing her forward. “You must keep up with us.”
She looked at him briefly, the young face, the spattered armour and the dented helmet.
I see the child he once was in the blood of cheek-high cuts and tired eyes. I see the smile long lost to grief and brow creased with anger. I love you, child, I love your ways, your voice; your laughter. I will love you until you die, be it tomorrow or the day after. I will love you no matter what we encounter. — Charlette Thorn, Field Observer, Private Diary
Copyright © 2017 by Robert Stephenson