Monotony Punctuated with Terror – Story Battle Report

The scene would be hard to examine. The victim was twisted and broken, half buried in mud. Thousands of feet must have moved through this part of the defensive line prior to discovery. Army Detective Hook crouched low and took in every detail. Seven exit wounds on the victims back. His boots were mostly clean, he must have come from the northern section of the line, it was dry there. His uniform markings indicated he was a private.

“Could’ve been blackheads don’t you think?” AD Slake butted in.

Hook had already dismissed that idea. One victim was not their style. There were so many sleeping nearby it would have been easy to turn the trench into a bloodbath. “No” Hook muttered. He stepped over the body and pulled the uniform carefully, lifting it slightly out of the mud and turning it. The face was pale and contorted in disbelief. Its mouth swang open like an old barn door in a storm and flakes of coagulated blood and earth slid away from its features.

“Young” Slake lamented.

“Eight entry wounds” Hook stated, “There’s a round still in there.” He took out his pen knife and started digging around in the victims upper torso. “They were close” he continued, “Judging by the number of rounds this was done with a repeater, more than twenty feet away and more than half would still be in him.”

“I’ll get the scanner” Slake winced, looking for any reason to leave.

Private Josef Steiner. Legion of Kharthion. No. 332143246.

Monotony punctuated with terror, that was war. I’d thought I was familiar with it. Most Legion men are veterans after all, but our wars are televised, have scripted heroes, with Synths taking the real hits. Our wars are punctuated by ad breaks. Our wars are sport. This war was different, this war would slice every piece of your humanity away slowly. It would grind you to dust. Everyday was like slamming you head against a wall, and each time the wall got harder and your skull only got softer.

Due to losses we’d been combined with 4th Platoon, I didn’t really like my new SL Silas. He was all gung ho about revenge. I just wanted to sleep. I hadn’t slept in days. My eyes had started doing strange things. I’d see shapes, black and dark, quickly flash past my peripheral vision. I’d see faces everywhere looking back at me through broken glass, puddles, mirrors.

SL Dax handed me a letter. I took it, puzzled, and shoved it into my jacket. “Not going to open it?” he asked.

I grunted in response, half awake and half dreaming. Dax moved on handing out mail to the rest of the squad. “Radsen?” he called to no response. We hadn’t seen Radsen at all that day. He’d taken to wandering off occasionally, turns out a lot of men had and most went off one day and never came back. Silas wandered over with a huge grin on his face. “C’mon freak” he taunted while kicking my boots, “We’re moving. Trying the Snail out on some Reddinists today. I hope it doesn’t get all the kills.”

I’d hated his face from the moment it’d barged its way into my life. The perfectly sculpted moustache, the mouth full of yellow stained teeth, the eyes black and empty like a sharks. I checked my mag.

The Reddinists had taken up position in a makeshift compound, the plan was box them in while the Snail cleared them out. I felt a little bad for them.

But Silas had other plans. he pulled us on a flanking manouvre. We took cover on a doorway but a Reddinist squad spotted us and opened up. We lost three to the first hail of gunfire. I’d barely met them, but they were still Legion. Their blood was my blood. Silas didn’t even notice them fall.

The Snail slowly trudged onwards, the squeaking of its tracks drew attention away from us. We heard the whistle of destroyer rockets as the Reddinists attempted to take it out but its front armour proved too tough. The snail kept pushing inwards. Men hopelessly opened up on it with everything they had. Repeater and rifle fire weren’t even strong enough to make it through the shields. I watched in horror as an entire squad of desperate Reddinists evaporated into a crimson mist.

Silas laughed.

That’s when they rushed us. Suddenly heavy fire came our way. The Reddinists wanted out of their compound fast, and we were the weak point. Silas fired his repeater and screamed but we couldn’t hear him, we could barely see him through the smoke.

I fell back on Anders’ position and rested a little to the comforting sound of the heavy repeater. It tore the front of the building to shreds. We saw them scrambling at the door. Their eyes full of begging. Their faces pressed up against the window and screaming. They were trapped. We all knew what was coming next.

The building filled with light. A sudden flash and they were all reduced to quivering puddles of red. Silas chuckled as he carelessly entered the building to indulge in the human carnage. “I love Snails!” he squealed.

Calm descended. The Snail had put the final nail in the coffin of the Reddinist position. We saw some running into the surrounding area, panicked, half not carrying their weapons.

It was then I noticed the strange face and the trigger of the Heavy Repeater. “Anders?” I asked.

“What?”

“Where’s Anders?” I begged.

“I don’t know who that is.”

I looked to Dax whose squad was just behind us. “Anders?” I pled.

“Didn’t fall in this morning” Dax replied “You got Ayres from fourth.”

It was then a truck pulled up. Two Army Detecives climbed out. One was tall and gaunt, the other was round with a thick beard. It was the round one that introduced himself “I’m AD Hook and this is my partner AD Slake, good work here.”

“What?” I responded dumbfounded.

“We didn’t have to wait long for the clear. You guys are quick.”

“It was all the snail” said Silas now next to me. His grin was wide and sepia, but his eyes still held disappointment. “Just wish I’d plugged more first.”

“Can I see your repeater Private Steiner?” Hook asked.

I instinctively checked the mag and then handed it over; my fists tightened anticipating its return.

“Has anyone else but you fired this weapon in the last few hours?” He added.

“No.”

“Do you know much about Warsport Private Steiner?”

“Yes” I replied, “What is this all about?”

“Kill ratings in Warsport are tracked with a simple system. As a finger depresses a trigger the weapon takes a tiny sample of DNA from the user, this material is matched to your ID number. Then the weapon itself adds its own unique ID number, and both are uploaded to a tiny chip inside the round. Meaning if we have a round we know what weapon it came from and who was using that weapon.”

“Meaning?” I asked, hoping for a real explanation.

Hook stepped forwards. I reached out for my weapon, but Slake stepped in and quickly handcuffed me. I felt the cold steel tighten around my wrists.

“Private Joseph Steiner, you are under arrest for the murder of Private Karl Anders” Hook announced.

Silas broke out into a hellish laughter.

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