Heliocannon lights flashed across a starry sky. There were shouts and guttural cries of war as the soil would suddenly disappear into nothingness, leaving a crater behind and taking unlucky souls along- vaporized into dust.
Giant machines shook the ground as they stomped past, dropping ammunition for the Jukta soldiers below, hiding in the trenches from the terrible wrath of the enemy’s beams. Death was knocking on every door. Every door was being resolutely held shut. The Jukta would not give up Titan so easily.
Two Jukta ran and slid into a nearby trench, just narrowly evading enemy fire. They were displeased to find the trench filled with acrid smelling liquid, likely from the last precipitation. Puddles of the stuff covered the ground at random, adding to the treacherous conditions of the battlefield. It stung a little, but it was non-lethal.
The first Jukta, tall, with a hint of age to his grayish skin, shoved his back against the moist wall of the trench. His companion quickly joined him and they hurriedly took in breath after breath, trying to regain their bearings.
“They’re trying to flank us,” the tall one wheezed, shutting, then bugging out his amber-colored eyes.
The other Jukta nodded anxiously.
“We’ll have to cut them off,” he said. “Get to that helio…”
The tall one swore between breaths. His companion, obviously younger, with a complexion still a darker tint of gray, looked over at him. His amber eyes were alive with depth, with fire. They were vivid eyes, always watching.
“For the Jukta-tag-onis, brother. For Titan.” He said his words quietly, but with conviction. This was not a war they had the option of fighting, nor was it a battle they could afford to lose.
The taller Jukta nodded his head in agreement, suddenly revived. His eyes narrowed and he gripped his Saga-ray anew, clutching it in eager hands.
“For Titan,” he agreed, slamming the visor on his helmet down. His partner did the same. “We’ll charge to the next trench.”
Without a word, only a tacit count to three, the two Jukta warriors turned and scrambled out of the trench and its stinking liquid. They blasted their Saga-rays in front of them as they ran across exposed soil, sprinting for all they were worth. Heliocannon lights continued to flash across the sky and blasts resounded continuously.
The next trench was within sight when a heliocannon ray struck a nearby mech in the leg, forcing the appendage out of existence in the blink of an eye. The mech toppled over, falling nearly on top of the two Jukta as they ran across the field. The mech’s body slammed into the ground just inches behind their heels, propelling the warriors forward in a tumble from the shock. The shorter one was on his feet first. He bent down and pulled on his companion’s straps.
“Get up, get up, get up! We can’t linger here!”
The light gray warrior gritted his teeth and clamored to his feet as the other helped him up with one hand and fired his Saga-ray simultaneously. A Viron fell lifeless, a hundred yards away.
“Come on!” the dark gray warrior shouted again.
As they approached the trench and dove forward, head first, the tall one screamed and twisted in the air. He continued writhing inside the trench, which was free of the orange, stinking liquid. The shorter one huddled down in the trench and looked his friend over in earnest.
The tall Jukta had been shot. A Saga-ray had sliced through the side of his neck, and all of his air was escaping. He obviously did not have much time.
The tall one must have noticed the expression in the younger Jukta’s face, because he stopped screaming and felt at his wound the best he could. An indescribable look overtook his features. It was the expression of a warrior who knows he is about to die.
The two Jukta stared at eachother in silence for a moment, tuning out the blasts and the screams and the mechanical stomping, and simply having no words. The short one shook it off first.
“Here, lie down, hold your fingers against your neck!”
The other complied, but he was shaking his head.
“Slow your system down, focus!” the young one cried.
The tall Jukta shook his head again. He tried to speak, but decided against it. He rolled his smooth, amber eyes back in his head and he arched his back to the star-filled sky. He emitted a strained, moaning sound as he took one of his hands and worked it into his chest, the flesh absorbing and accepting the other flesh slowly. After several moments, he drew his hand back out again, this time bearing a perfectly round, glassy orb. It was emerald colored and it shone with its own light, dimly, as the tall Jukta lowered his chest to the ground and returned his eyes to their place. Air was still escaping from the hole in the side of his neck, ushering him quickly to death’s door- a door that was open wide.
He took the emerald orb in one hand, while holding his neck with the other and he shook it violently, with no response. He then shook it again, jerking it with force.
A sad look crossed the younger Jukta’s face.
“A sentimental note for home?”
The other Jukta shook his head and continued jerking the orb through the air. Finally, it released, snapping into a green sheet of paper with long lines of writing covering both sides. He extended it in a shaking hand to his companion, who accepted it from him.
“It’s for my former-mate, and for everyone who ever wronged me,” the tall one said, his face twisted horribly. Bubbles were appearing at his neck wound now. It wouldn’t be long. “I wanted to tell those slime bags what’s for, once and for all when I’m dead. Give it to her for me and I left instructions for the others- if you get out of here alive.”
The young warrior turned quizzical.
“Usal, you’re about to pass on. Shouldn’t you make peace?”
The tall Jukta shook his head violently and was racked by coughing.
“It’s my life! It’s my choice! I’ll choose how I want to go!”
The young warrior took his friend’s hand gently, looking at him intently with his deep, fiery eyes.
“Don’t you think you should forgive them? Make peace before you go?”
The light gray Jukta jerked his hand away quickly, coughing in a distorted sort of way, then gagging.
“No!” he wheezed. “I was wronged and it’s my right to hold on! Give them the paper. I hate them and I’ll go down with bitterness if I well please! It’s my choice!”
Then, with a final cough, then a vain gasping for breath, he grew still.
The young warrior put his hand up to his friend’s wound. Air seeped from it no more.
He looked at the incandescent, green paper covered in runes, then he sighed.
“Well, it’s a stupid choice,” he said, crumpling the sheet between his hands and tossing behind him. He took a deep breath and picked up his Saga-ray once more, putting his visor down. With a fierce shout and one last look at his companion, the warrior leapt from the trench and charged at the enemy.
The crumpled up note sank slowly into the puddle where it had landed, alone as the corpse it had come from.