Tag Archives: axton

3. Semper fi.

That was the time he stopped believing that any promise he had made actually mattered.

With nothing but his backpack, filled with guns and grenades, and her wedding ring he sat in the back of the train. He stared out the window, watching the snowy scenery fly by so fast that it was merely a blur, and he recalled the events that brought him here, but his mind didn’t want to know. There was a faint echo of her voice, but his mind refused to make sense of the words, even though he still knew exactly what they were. In just a few sentences, a few seconds in which she had made up her mind, his whole life had fallen apart.

He had always been a military man, like his father and his grandfather. They all fought in the army on Hieronymous, and he was only 16 when he joined as well. He was proud to pledge his life to the army. Semper fi. Forever. Fastforward ten years, and he made it to sergeant. And not just by looks. He made sure he got every skill possible, every achievement, every challenge. In the mean time, he married his commanding officer. He pledged her his life too.

At first, it was great. Lots of shooting, lots of responsibility, and lots of praise because he was really good at what he did. He had some skills nobody else possessed; give him some explosions and watch the blood-splattered fireworks. And he had his Sabre Turret, the automated gun with built in friend-or-foe system. The love of his life, as he jokingly called her. Of course, being married to his officer helped too, because he got the best assignments. At least at first.

Resting his head against the window, he closed his eyes tightly for a moment. It wasn’t enough, of course. All the glory was great when he was a teenager, but after that, it became part of the routine. Engaging in heavy fire one his own against twenty bad guys wasn’t such a thrill anymore, neither was blowing up the council building with the council still inside, and after that, blowing someone’s intestines out up close lost its charm too. And there was only so much you could do with a turret gun after you had maxed out all her upgrades, as fun as it was to throw her into the unsuspecting faces of whoever was trying to kill him this time.

He wondered if he should have seen it coming, somehow. Between all the killing and the murder and the violence, she might have dropped some hints. Maybe when she decided that maybe she didn’t want to have children after all. Or when she started making snide comments about his turret gun. Or when she thought it was a good idea that they each have their own bed room. Or when she was never home anymore when he was. When was the last time they even talked at all? Except their last conversation, anyway.

So maybe in hindsight, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he was now on Pandora, on a train, alone with his guns and his military training. In a way it was a miracle that he was there at all, because he had only barely escaped the firing squad. It was thanks to her though, despite of everything she had given him the chance to run. Off planet, and even here they were hunting him for war crimes, but it was better than being shot in front of everyone who once respected him. Or was it?

He slowly reached up to touch the ring that was hanging from the dog tag chain around his neck. Fingered the hard metal, the sharp edges of the stone set into it. The small plates engraved with his name and rank. The Dahl logo. Semper fi. Forever. Forever got cut short. He closed his eyes tightly, tugged on the chain. And she hated diamonds. But he must have done something right, somewhere along the line, if she saved his life.

The train slowed down and he focused on the scenery again. The cold blue of the sky reminded him of her eyes. The first time he’d seen her. The moment he knew that she was going to be the next chapter in his life, a new adventure, new excitement. He had never had a girlfriend before, he didn’t have the time, or he just couldn’t be bothered when he had explosives and a mounted gun.

He had heard that Pandora was a violent, cruel place, full of creatures that wanted to kill you. He couldn’t wait to meet them. He felt some familiar kind of excitement mixed with his sadness. It was a hint, but it was something. Maybe he could do this.

The train stopped. In the middle of mountains and valleys of blinding white snow was a tiny station, just a small platform of wilted wood. In the distance he saw some movement, but it was too far away to make out what it was exactly, just that it wasn’t human, and it was big. A girl with striped tights was waiting on the platform.  When she got on the train he noticed she had a shotgun strapped to her back. She couldn’t be older than eighteen, but she was alone and she was alive. He had heard that Pandora was a violent, cruel place, and that everything and everyone was hungry for blood. He felt some familiar kind of excitement mixed with his sadness. It was a hint, but it was something. Maybe he could do this.