Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

The morning breeze is so refreshing here in the heights overlooking the Gordet Pass. We had to stop the Persimma getting through to the Femberul plainsland and this is the choke point. It was going to take old-fashioned grit to hold the line, so we were given the task along with divisions heavy on tradition. Made us smile, mercenaries and old guard having to work together.

I started in the battling business in my teens. Where I grew up, it was take ship with mercs, turn to crime or become a cyberpeon. So I took the coin and went to war.

My first battle was Smarkandie. I shat myself as the nine-metre natives in their spiked armour charged. As someone once said: “Sometimes the only reasonable response to abject terror is a bowel movement.” After that, I carried spare underwear with my ammunition.

I got my first command at Upshallon. Made a complete hash of it and a lot of good men died. Hesitation is fatal. Unfortunately it was only fatal for everyone else.

After that I got myself a Blenkinsop Multi-Load Autogun and a shit-hot loader by the name of Tay. In between fucking each other senseless for sixteen good years, we killed everything the galaxy threw at us and made several fortunes. We pissed them all away in style.

On Aloysius II, Tay made sure the bastard who disembowelled her with a vibroblade died headless. I survived that bloodbath despite trying very hard not to after she went.

I became the rarest of warriors: a veteran mercenary. Got to the point where the kids I was fighting alongside hadn’t even heard of the places I’d fought my early battles on.

Iskaflune is a beautiful planet. The thought that I could happily settle here surprised me. Just get a place out by one of the tundra lakes and live quietly off the monies I’d stacked up since Tay went. Lost my appetite for partying when she went, as well as my reason to be.

I’d even started negotiating with the locals over settling down, with a consultancy to their military lined up. Then came the news that the Persimma were making a last ditch assault and we were off to Gordet.

They came hard and fast, pretty banners flapping over hardcore soldiers with no choice but to win. Their atrocity record guaranteed them no survival if they failed. So they came like their future depended on it because it did.

Three days of screaming hell running on drugs with names I couldn’t pronounce that made me feel like I was nineteen again. The fact that the chemical interactions gave us all erections was hilarious for the first few hours. Then they just became another bit of us that was bruised and sore.

At the end we were down to knives and clubs. We struggled in the twilight that this place calls night, slipping on the blood and entrails of the fallen. Those last few hours were the worst battle I have ever fought. Gutter biochemicals and acid competed with improvised warhammers and serrated blades. But we held.

The early dawn light is purple, making gentle pools of shadow from the gaping wounds in the ground and the bodies about me. My credit share for this will be huge. I smile and cough blood, making my autogun mount tilt as I’m slumped against it. All the fortunes in the universe are nothing to the love of one good woman.

And even she could not give me one more moment of life.


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