With fists clenched and white knuckles he sat in the corner of the bar and watched the Battle of Antar on the holoscreen. A half finished beer rested between his shaking hands on the table; forgotten now and warming quickly in the heat of the morning sun.
"It wasn't like that," he whispered.
The propaganda film reached its dizzying climax as the pulse weapons dropped to the surface of the Earthlike planet below, fire spreading across the surface of the soon to be uninhabitable world. The enemy ship that had fired the weapon disengaged from the battle and sped away, a disguised moon shedding its camouflage as the powerful ion drive moved it away from the dying world that it had once covertly orbited. A message flashed across the screen.
"The enemy use outlawed pulse weapons and covert methods, they must be destroyed. Join up now: BattleCorp, we fight the Lizards so you can live in peace."
Too late, the barmaid flicked the screen to a sports feed and then watched as the man seemed to slump in his seat, his eyes closing as tears leaked from the horror held behind the lids, hands resting on the table shaking in palsied anger and memory.
Confusion, death, pain.
The Lizards had caught them in a dry valley, weapons fire raining down on them from the surrounding mountains as Corp Command sought to locate and destroy the hidden positions.
"Sarge! What do we do?"
Jak turned to Corporal Sutter and relayed a command he'd just received from his Captain. "Get the men to the withdrawal point, now. The enemy have managed to surround us, the only thing we can do is withdraw as fast as we can. Move!"
Sergeant Jak watched as the Corporal rallied the remnants of the small platoon to a nearby hillock, and waited for further orders as they formed a defensive perimeter of anything they could find. As he moved toward them, his rifle held ready against any Lizards that followed, another message whispered through the speakers in his helmet.
"Platoon, down!" Jak turned and ran toward the men frantically gesturing with a free hand. He watched as Sutter automatically hit the ground, those nearby following his example in a spreading wave of diving bodies. Still running, he watched helplessly as the troop were pinwheeled away from the exposed beam point by the BattleCorp pulse weapon that had been mis-deployed by the spaceship in orbit, a ship that was meant to be protecting them. Smashed to the ground along with the rest, he shook his head and then lifted himself back to his feet, staggering toward the groaning remnants of his troop as his radio crackled into life.
"Five minutes Sergeant," his Captain's voice crackled through the ether. "I'm almost there, hang on."
"There's nothing left to hang on to sir, we've been almost wiped out."
"So have the Lizards in the mountains. You're still there Sergeant, so I'm coming back for you. Sit tight."
Jak sank to his knees next to his Corporal and flinched as a massive Lizard battlecruiser ploughed into the ground twenty kilometres away. A wash of heat swept toward him and he instinctively bent over the body of the injured Sutter.
"What's going on Sarge?"
"We're waiting Corporal: waiting for the Captain to dig our sorry backsides out of this fiery shithole."
"I think most of them have had it; they caught the bulk of the pulse weapon. I can barely walk straight, so I think we must've caught some of it too."
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Shattered WorldsShort Story
Military SciFi: The shattered remnants of the Battle of Antar are drafted back into service and retrained with new weapons, new hope and the chance at a new life. Each given the capability to control a sub-unit of drones, they are thrown into the fi...