Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

As the battle collapsed into bloody massacre, I paused and looked at the sword in my hand as violet blood hissed and evaporated in acrid clouds of blue smoke. The brutal simplicity underlying the centuries of field testing sang through my mind until my breathing slowed and the sterodrenalin pumps shut down, leaving me with only one heartbeat again. I turned and walked through the blood-seared streets of what had been Brighton, up the hill to our raid camp at the old racecourse. A few moments privacy; so precious.

They came from the far away, looking for a new world to conquer. They watched for centuries then worked on us for decades, sowing doubt, fear and resignation via media manipulation and a series of global wars, recessions and ecological disasters. By the time they actually showed up, Earth was in a sorry state and the population in some parts nearly feral. We were disorganised, factionalised and ready for something. The saviours from beyond descended, ending our mass murder capabilities with technology that seemed like magic. They were hailed as the precursors of humanities’ golden age by those they had bought, unwittingly or not.

After ten years, they struck. Mankind became a commodity and the bleak ephemera of occupation blossomed across the continents. We had no guns, no bombs, and no tanks. We had melted them down to build beautiful cities to mark the era of peace at last.

My father was a sword maker, an anachronism in that new enlightened world. He contested that with words I can still hear now: “A sword is more than a weapon. It is the ultimate expression of individuality, an art form so practiced that all that remains is finding new materials to express it in.”

While the world was scrapping the architectures of war, Dad was making swords from the new materials provided by our visitors. When the day came and their technology shut down or turned toxic everything that had been created using those materials, he found that forging had destroyed the essence that allowed them that control. From that moment, his forge in the wilds became the only light of freedom for a long, dark time.

I’ve been fighting since I was six. My enhancements went in at puberty. That was twelve years ago. They want our planet so badly that they have to try and claw us from it piece by piece. They just cannot understand our intransigence as they are so developed that personal combat is alien to the majority of them. Funnily enough, those of them that become adept at melee invariably join us.

My thoughts are disrupted by Captain Thomas’ call from outside my bivouac;

“Forgemaster Illaren! We are ready.”

I sigh and close the etcher. My memoirs are a piecemeal hobby. But I open it again to close the chapter as it should be, with another quote from my father: “They may have studied us for decades, but they didn’t learn a damn thing about mankind.”


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