Memento Mori

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Remember you will die.

There was no if, only when. It was something every good soldier knew. You might not know when it would come, you simply knew it would. And everyday of your life was spent waiting, preparing for that moment.

There was no such thing as preparation, though.

"Soldier! Come in, I've cleared the ridge, what's your position?"

Blood rushing to your mouth, choking off your air supply. The horrifying realization that the droid finally hit you. The voices shouting in your comm, screaming orders and questions and all you can do is listen.

"I'm almost to your last known position, come in, trooper!"

You remember when all of this started. You were barely a kid, probably hardly even old enough to be walking but you knew you were a soldier of the republic. You had no mother, and your "father" was a strange man you only heard legends about. Every kid to your right and your left shared your face. Maybe a few had different eyes or hair, but you looked at them, they looked back at you, and it was like staring in a mirror.

That would never change. The faces stayed the same. The men inside changed, the men that started as kids curious to know what a blaster was and how it worked became teens and adults that screamed in their sleep and cried at the mere sound of metal on metal.

You learned a lot. Not what other people learned. No, you weren't like other people, you were a soldier of the Republic. You were part of the big picture. You didn't need to know anything beyond how to take down a droid and follow orders. Those things would get you along in life. Those things would help you survive.

Until the day you didn't.

Until the day you were on your knees, screaming silently to the inside of your helmet, blood spilling over your lips. The moment when every fiber of your body hurt and the hole burned through your chest was the only thing you could feel. The moment you knew it was over.

"Come in! Anyone, I'm almost to the rendezvous point."

You know you're supposed to respond. You know how things should have gone. You make the drop, you make it to the drop point and you wait for a rendezvous. Keep an eye out for droids, canvas what area you can. The Sergeant was supposed to join you in a half hour then you'd both move to take point with the main team and the Jedi.

Plan's never go the way their supposed to, though.

"I'm here...oh kriff...Clay!"

If plans went the way they should you wouldn't be lying there, bleeding out as the Sergeant screams your name in your ears, with your whole life flashing before your eyes. Any breath could be your last. Any second and the pain could fade.

There's no such thing as preparing for death. Not when you're a soldier. You anticipate death, wait on death. But when it comes, it's like nothing you'd ever imagine. It's an indescribable event, horrifying, terrifying, and comforting. It surrounds you, takes you over, and finally, last of all, welcomes you. The only way you can respond is to close your eyes, succumb to the pain, let the sounds fade, ignore the war, and welcome it back.

Memento Mori.

Remember. You will die.

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