Author : Suzanne Borchers

It’s peaceful here with Aiden. His fingers trace my face as if he hasn’t seen me in years. And he hasn’t.

In the old days, our world’s countries feuded with each other so our most affluent citizens could amass more giant stores of wealth, and buy government leaders. We have been battling aliens for their territories since long before my grandmother’s time. This went on until the day we spewed our war machine into space. Then our governments merged for maximum power. Our planet’s economy and politics depend on the wars we wage in other solar systems.

Of course, we average citizens didn’t see much difference in our lives. We still toiled to feed the battle legions, both mechanical and human. We were born into a station and trained into a profession: civil engineer, civil medico, civil farmer, civil soldier. We were given an assignment of place when we emerged from the birth-mother. No appeals, all decisions final. Our names reflected our future.

I am Civil Sergeant 203, Planet Xorax, Pilot. Unofficially, I am a Julie, 124 battles old, with shorn hair to facilitate optimum air flow and communication interface with my helmet. My muscles have been kept from atrophying during long missions by chemical implants. My eyes can see farther than the now extinct eagle of legends. The coordination between my fingers and mind is astronomically swift.

After Aiden and I had mated and produced two more civil servants, we were deployed to maim and kill. Our tasks were the same, but while I was assigned to the planet Xorax, a mealy-mouthed alien garbage dump of insect parts, Aiden was sent to the planet Shamar, a planet of perfumed aliens.

This peaceful reunion in our Homeland is my reward for not only destroying Xoraxians, but also for having my lungs, heart, spleen, liver, bones, blood, and in fact, all my internal organs polluted with cell mutations that are killing me. It seems that the Xoraxians have created the ultimate weapon against us–ourselves.

Because I cannot fight again, tomorrow I will receive a soldier’s final reward. My body will be sterilized and recycled into fodder for the war effort by feeding the next generation of civil servants.

I know that Aiden is a drug-induced, full-bodied, emoting, touchable representation, but my cell-mutated brain doesn’t care. His fingers feel so warm on my face that my nose tingles and twitches. I smile.

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