The bullets broke the air around me like thunder breaking the night sky, each one sending a jolt down my spine like hitting the ground in a falling dream. I caught my reflection in the tear-stained eyes of the fallen man next to me who had just finished professing his love for his family, begging me to relay the message of his profound emotion to the newly to be bereaved once heard of his passing. In those tiny mirrors I could see myself. Covered in dirt, grime, and blood, my own eyes wide and pink, pupils dilated. My nostrils flared and my heart beat a steady holocaust as the adrenaline ripped a state of heightened awareness from the recesses of blurred fatigue and exhaustion from a day spent in hell. My body shook and my mind was in a haze, but my hands were steady and my aim was true. I squeezed the trigger hard, my knuckles turning white under the plated gauntlets covering them. I could feel the butt of the rifle pressed hard against my shoulder knocking hard into my collar, threatening to break the brittle bones underneath more and more as I continued to fire. I lay a steady stream of death and misery out in front of me, my enemy continuing their stalwart advance on my position. My eyes were stinging from the muzzle flashes and the heavy report of the weapon was causing to ears to ring, and yet, I noticed I could hear a man screaming over the din of battle. It was a heart-wrenching sound, bellowed forth from the deepest parts of misery at the bottom of a man's being. The last round fired from the rifle with a heavy clank and I realized that the man screaming was me. I stopped and started to cough up blood, my throat raw from the strain.
Time slowed. I could see them now, through the smoke and haze. They were lost souls, begging to be sent to whatever hell waits for them after this life. I was once told that great men do great, terrible things. One such great man, after his greatest and most terrible thing, was known to say: "I am become death. The Destroyer of worlds."
They were lost souls, and I am the Shepard. I am the reaper, come to collect. I am become death. I have always like the sound of that.
I slammed a fresh magazine home and continued to fire.