Troops were resting in the field, hidden in the tall grass, they were searching for the shade beneath the trees. A boy was bringing them water, walking from one soldier to the other with a confused expression on his face. He kept his hand extended to the soldier, waiting for him to return the bottle while looking around, memorizing the landscape of blue hills that were descending into the golden desert.
The whole chalk of men didn’t appear in shape with those dirty uniforms, muddy faces and two fingers long beard, they looked more of a band of bandits than a regular army. We were all tired, exhausted from five months spent marching, fighting, destroying villages and burning cities. However, we had enough ammo saved from the last fight and the food we stole was plenty to keep us fed for another week.
My deputy and me, crawled to the highest point of the terrain where we kept scouting the distortion of the heated sand while in prone position. Sniper detachment was few feet away, sleeping in their shallow trench. Silence of the wind lured us to sleep, but I shaked the man beside me and gave him the look. It was enough to keep him awake for a couple more hours.
– Rise the colors. – I said it to the deputy when he knocked down the scope on his visor and zoomed at the dancing air.
– Those are our men there, sir. We shouldn’t reveal our position to them. They are on patrol. – deputy said wiping sweat under the helmet.
– You would trust a Zarian to be honest? Those could be the enemy patrol, posing as one of ours. We are too far from the frontline, the battle is miles behind us. Rise our colors, damn you! – I pounded on his headgear and he slided back of the hill to rally the men.
The chalk was ready in a minute. Many stood heavy on their feet, with a long machine guns pointed down. Snipers kept mapping the movement of the enemy patrol, until we circled around the hill we were on, went down and exited from the other side, maneuvering to the flank of the collone.
Patrol stopped, fell back and dotted out the terrain, making themselves as twice as hard to hit. “Smart” – I thought and pushed walking to them in relaxed way. Their leader yelled at us, then he whispered to his men to take aim at us. I couldn’t blame the man for wanting to live, so I smiled in an approach and waved my hand. He checked me out with disgust, staring at my old and ripped uniform, rippled hat and rusty exoskeleton. One look at my eyes would’ve told him more about us than the words, but he was more interested by hardened motor oil on my cheeks and brown smeared bondages on my arm.
– Hold! Stop right there! – he screamed, notifying me he was already too young to lead men, – Identify yourselfs! Who are you and what are you doing here?
– Put down your weapons Lieutenant! You are talking with a General! – I showed him the rank under the chest pocket where I hid my ribbons to avoid the unexpected death from an enemy sniper, – You wanna know who I am?! I’ll tell ya. – I came so close to him that I almost could smell him pissing, – General FUCKING Dir Krones from the motherfucking Deathbringer battalion! Special Units son! – I held him by the collar, bulged my eyes and breathed the sharp stench of onion in his face, – Who the fuck are you?! What the hell are you doing here?!
He paused in horror, randomly throwing his eyes around while my man surrounded his. A hard swallow of spit gave him some strength in voice, but still shaking in fear. I have let him down on the ground and gave him some time to come back to his senses, then I took a stroll around him when he finally spoke.
– Sir! I’m sorry Sir! Second Lieutenant Ilt Mirth, Sir! We are a unit from the First Ildocian Army, Sir! We are sent into the desert to scout for supplies in the vicinity, Sir! – he proudly screamed as a true Idocian soldier, which made me smirk to his inexperience.
– Good. Relax soldier, I’m only playing with you. You have completed you mission, boy. We have mapped all of the villages around this hills and we have a lot of food in our camp. You rest now, we will send you back in the morning with all you need. – I tapped the boy on his shoulder and drew a smile on his young pale face.
What he didn’t knew back then was, that this was to be his last night on Kepler. We slit their throats for posing as an Ildocian patrol. He was marked as a spy and left to burn in the desert. I knew better than him what is like to roam the desert for five years, have spies in my ranks, chase the deserters and rogue enemy units. I knew what is like to love your country and I was notorious for it.
The names Zarians called me, didn’t made me angry nor I felt ashamed for what have I done to them. “General Wrath the Deathbringer”, “Dir Krones, a crusher of Bones” and “Annihilator of Tamir” were some of them. I loved them all as they spoke more than the ribbons under my pocket. Why be ashamed for something you did in joy?