Reflection at Grausam Four
by Adrian Monroy
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There was snow on the banks of the Has'faanath, a thin river of curling verdigris flowing from the rust covered peaks of the Goffos Range. Even in the winter season, the roar of mercenary shuttles and pirate freighters streaking out of the atmosphere screamed into the sallow plains and valleys, and the three moons of Ryt'tev glittered like a lonely pearl chain in the wasting jade sunrise. But the shivering beauty of the frosted plateaus and glacial towers tearing miles into the sky was marred by the coastal cities, spoliated by two hundred and fifty years of trans-universal warfare. In the far distance a haze knelt by the immolated Grausam Four installation, a long abandoned covert facility that produced high-grade military weapons during the thirty-seven year siege of the Sadalbari colonies.
But there was a lone visitor today, in it's dark halls that echoed the orders of dead generals, growing still in memory above the empty howling behind its walls. He was broad, a figure of stone and metal, withdrawn from his own heartbeat. He looked into the fire, into a passing glimpse of each life he had lived, each glimmer of hope doused by the darkest suffering. His brow twitched, his eyes devoid of color leapt back and forth, as if trying to catch the beautiful memories that ran even swifter into the flames.
'Come back alright? And don't think I won't be waiting when you get back. I'll keep you forever.'
“'I'll keep you forever' you said.”
Her words shook his strength as a man. Her eyes were warm and held his very soul.
“I loved you so much...I killed so many, so very many to come back to you. If you only knew who I had become... would I find love still looking back?”
The time of his reflection as he stood among old memories was long and beautiful. Every body torn in warfare, every dead child thrown likes rags into shallow graves, every scream and holler of the dying, every glimmer of the orbital lasers that caused the clouds to sparkle sapphire before striking a city filled with sleeping citizens; friend, neighbor, family, daughter, son... wife. Faces of smoke and ash, wailing, calling out his name. Thirty years as a soldier, trained since day one to believe killing was the only way to remain peaceable, strong, human. Now like spent casings his life was falling away in every direction, lost like dust in a desert storm. Images of his wife, ablaze in gold and ruby flashed before his eyes as if being showered by solar radiation. Yet as hard as he could try, there was one suffocating thought he could not hide. The last broken transmission he had heard after awaking from cryo.
Command-... New Tostostid... been vaporized... Twenty-eight mil-... No Survivors...
He felt himself drifting in the silence of space. Three hundred and forty billion miles from a planet he used to call home; a wife, the hope of his future gone in a second.
Her eyes gazed back at the broken man, a visage of pain glowing in blood-washed fire hovering over a pool of oil. The venom of torment burned in his veins and boiled behind his black eyes. The thoughts of the dead and the multitudes slaughtered by his own hand dragged him to his knees, and he thundered a deep cry of agony; his last line in the theater of war. The whispers of his dead wife scraped deep against his mind, clawing away at his sapience. The hidden animal, the ravenous killer was approaching with a vengeance, its maw diseased with a hate dripping with mourning and a wonderful silence. It's sole design was for the last drop of his humanity, to crush the last vial of the sea of unrestrained passion for his lover; completeness in a ruinous rapture.
All that was left of his wife was a bent wedding band, a ribbon of razors wrapped in silk, her kisses numb on his cheek. And with a gentle breeze her illusion was shattered, warm for but a moment now lost forever.
“I love you...” he whispered, “Forgive me.”
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