Ashes of a Dead Ideal
The Everland Cascade Corporation
The Winter and Fall of The Soldat
He remembers the shelling, the blasting, the bombing-
Every day and every frozen night, relentless and deafening-
And he rides the shockwaves back to the cold memories
Where the screams of his burning and dying comrades still echo in the dark
And fine details are illuminated with haunting clarity in the magnesium strobes.
On Crixus 4, the endless winter nights were alive with thunder and fire from Orbit.
Like marble-chiseled Spartan warriors, their faith lay in the strength of War Gods-
Fragile women with calm voices who piloted fat ships, heavily laden with ordnance,
They prayed into their radios and called down steel rain to destroy their enemies.
And stood victorious over their wind-swept ashes and smoldering ruins.
Their leader was a madman, hyped up on speed, consumed in battle-
Screaming and dancing in the flames of decimated citadels and strongholds.
Without hesitation the teams loyally followed him on suicidal missions countless times.
Under his command they crushed their enemies, sniped them, poisoned them,
Burned their lungs with gas, and became immortal as Banshees in their nightmares.
They were barbarian kings, wild men who drank human blood-
Held their sniper rifles high like imperial scepters and conquered everything in their path.
The veteran Captain wielded the grizzled Soldat teams like the sickle of Death,
And their enemies dropped like flies before the fury of his terrible wrath.
Three months after set-down they had terrorized half of the icy planet, in the name of ECC.
On several colonies, protests spurred by rumors of atrocities erupted into rioting.
Unbeknownst to the men of the Soldat, their glorious and bloody way of life was near its end.
Action was taken by the Corporation to end the conquest, to appease the mobs, and retain its power.
Without any notice, contact was broken and the teams were abandoned, light-years from home.
The Captain was too focused on his mission to realize the betrayal.
When the first resupply ships didn't come in as expected,
It was believed that they had been destroyed in Orbit, or entry.
When the bombers stopped delivering the heavy fire support the teams relied on,
They held steady to their faith, believing the drop ships had also been compromised.
After a month without contact, they could no longer deny the truth.
Without the desperately needed resupply of ammunition, vaccines, armor, and food-
The funeral pyres of the inexperienced and wounded scattered them to the wind.
Pulling survivors together, the Captain waged the war that to him was still a reality.
And in their struggle for survival, the Soldat teams were deemed war criminals.
Hunted like animals and executed as inexpensively as possible.
No happy ending for this story.