On the other side of The Wall was a vast expanse of dusty plains, known as the Badlands; this is where the final battles of the First Contact War were fought. Littered about the dunes were large boulders, rusted metal, and the occasional chunk of a long dead Coalition soldier’s armor. It was a graveyard, and it was meant to stay that way.
“Tell me about the war,” Soren said, his gentle voice breaking the violent silence that his father was hiding within.
“I’ve told you many times,” Garik started.
“I know, I know…” his son replied, looking down at his feet, which were dangling off the edge of the pearlescent defensive wall. The elevation on the other side was significantly lower than that of the I-Sector’s side, and a fall from the top of the Wall would be fatal for a smaller individual, and catastrophic for an adult.
Garik was lost in the dune sea; his thoughts skipped from his first kill, to the loss of his best friends, with nothing but blurs between and after.
“Dad?” Soren asked, making his father snap back into reality.
“You mother was pregnant with you before we came here,” Garik explained. “You were born in the capital-”
“I’ve never been to the capital,” Soren interjected defensively.
“Of course you have. You came from the capital, son. Anyways, I was already in the Coalition’s armed forces. When we colonized Makelo, we thought it was ours - we thought we were the biggest, meanest bunch on the surface. It wasn’t until we tried expanding that we discovered we were not,” his father went on, never breaking his gaze out into the fields.
Soren, on the contrary, ceased his viewing of the Badlands, and had kept a solid stare at his father’s face. It was strong, littered with tiny scars from miscellaneous injuries. His father was not a bearded man, but he rarely shaved either. His stubble tickled Soren’s cheek when his dad kisses him goodnight.
“When the Coalition had us explore the regions to the west of the capital, we discovered the Bastions,” Garik went on.
Soren had heard tales of the Bastions from other men at the barracks, but no one dared to reveal the secrets within them.
“They destroyed the men who went in, and even kept them in most cases. Those who came out were… different.” His father’s eyes welled up with tears, and Soren placed his tiny hand in Garik’s. The man smiled awkwardly, and looked at his son.
“I love you, Soren. Promise me you won’t venture beyond the Wall?” he asked.