From A Soldier's Diary

by Daniel C. Smith © 2002

Today is only our fourth day on the planet surface.

The fighting has been relentless, and the loss of life on both sides long ago passed the point of staggering.

In a last ditch effort, through the sheer power of numbers, we managed to penetrate the enemy's perimeter around Ryjax Five, and through costly frontal assaults, we have landed a massive number of troops on Ryjax Prime.

Of course, in a military operation nothing ever goes as smoothly as planned, and most of our troops were off course and scattered during the landing, and we have lost all opportunity to execute a well-organized assault on the enemy's capital cities.

In addition, much of our heavy armament and supply ships didn't even make it through the perimeter, leaving the troops that did without the heavy artillery support necessary to carry out a ground invasion.

Instead, we are pinned down in various positions throughout this mountain range on the enemy's homeworld, with our food and medical supplies running low.

Without backup, we are a condemned lot; but there is no backup.

In the beginning, men and women readily volunteered for the defense of our solar system, but the enemy with their technological advantages decimated millions of our finest young men and women.

Then they claimed the next few generations as well, leaving us reduced to harvesting the tenderest fruits of our civilization, conscripting children, to defend ourselves from our enemy's barbaric and unprovoked encroachment.

Now, we are almost out of children.

These young soldiers die so easily.

Yesterday, I held a girl of eleven, maybe twelve, in my arms as her life slipped away. She met death bravely and with her last breath she confided to me that she had never had a boyfriend.

The truth be told, she never really had a life.

Today, the enemy released two troops that had been missing since the initial landing into our camp.

Before I could stop them, several soldiers rushed out to greet them.

When they got close, the two former prisoners exploded from the inside out, taking everyone within twenty feet with them.

Those kids were inexperienced; they'd never heard of nano-mines.

The enemy will put them in your food or even inject you with these deadly explosives, microscopic, but fatal nevertheless.

My second in command was beyond rage; it took hours for him to calm down.

I felt nothing.

I haven't felt anything for years.

After losing my husband and two daughters in the enemy's very first invasion, I enlisted in the service and have been fighting this war since we launched our first defensive campaigns.

Since then, all I have known is war.

I became a warrior so quickly, easily forgetting what it was to be civilized.

At first all the bodies bothered me, but then after a short while, I lost track of how many dead bodies I had seen.

Eventually I grew numb to all the violence and death that surrounded me, and I even lost track of how many dead bodies I had created.

Now I can't seem to remember anything anymore.

I barely remember my family.

My husband and my two children.

The only thing I can seem to remember ever feeling or having is this burning hatred for the enemy.

That's all I have to show for forty-four years in this universe, hatred for the enemy.

The enemy.

When they first started to appear on the borders of our space, we sent peace envoys, only to be met with deafening rebuttals. Then they became even bolder, colonizing our space, and with each new colony they established a military base.

Then they launched their first attack, using their horrific weapons to destroy large population centers with as much thought as swatting an insect.

Now, our once proud people are on the brink of being conquered.

No, more than conquered, extinguished.

The enemy means to snuff out the very flame of our civilization.

Perhaps it is all for the best.

Once, we were a proud and noble people.

We built a civilization that encompassed three star systems; with a culture that epitomized what we thought were the most peaceful and enlightened aspects of sentient existence.

When the nations of our own world finally put down their weapons our civilization underwent a renaissance of art, literature, and music. We cured almost all of the diseases that had for so long plagued our people, and collectively, we found that if we were not driven by profit, we found we could feed and educate every member of our society.

But during this five-century long renaissance, we did not study the arts of war, and our industrial base was engaged in far more benevolent pursuits than the manufacture of armaments and munitions.

We carved out a destiny with our own hands, and many of the lessons we learned we learned the hard way, but once our civilization was truly something special, but we were naive and let ourselves grow complacent.

We were a noble people totally unprepared for war.

And now, if my first officer and I are any example, we are nothing but a bloodthirsty gang of killers.

All we are living for is the chance to kill one more of the enemy.

We have become our enemy.

When I was a child, so very long ago before we had made contact with the enemy, I remember looking at Ryjax through my telescope.

A small yellow sun, which our early space probes revealed to have nine satellites.

The majority of the population lived on the third satellite, Ryjax Prime, a planet in their language called Earth...

x x x

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