Taraken Mes is my name. I am Captain of the 9th company of the Nights. We are a tough company, used in the hardest missions and the inhospitable climates. I have survived a thousand skirmishes, more than I can care to remember and lost an eye and an arm in the process.
I've been posted to the furthest outpost in the Karnsad desert. We are fighting the Sard Y'rach, a foe that can appear out of nowhere and is armed with bullets that can punch a hole in the side of an armoured space-transporter. We've been here five months.
I jerked awake and lay in the darkness for a while. My timepiece glowed faintly by my bunk as I glanced at it and stretched. The machinery in my cybernetic arm hissed as I rotated the joints.
I rolled to my feet and pulled on my standard issue armoured body-glove. I knotted my boots and fastened my heavy, weapons belt around my hips. My shadow reflected on the wall and I gazed at it while I tied up my hair and attached the sand hood to the clips on my shoulders and collar.
As I made my way to the comms building, I received respectful nods and greetings from my soldiers. Soy looked up as I went in.
“Run a sweep. I've got a funny feeling about today.”
I waited, leaning against the wall, while Soy fiddled with some switches. He shook his head.
“All clear out there, Mes.”
I sighed and rubbed my elbow where 'netic metal melded into living flesh.
“Thanks anyway, Soy.”
My netic eye rotated in its socket, endlessly collecting and storing data to the chip in the back of my head. I climbed one of the towers, knowing my lieutenants would be there. They looked up and wordlessly cut me into their card game. We played a few rounds, my first lieutenant, Zan, claiming the winnings.
They parted and left to their duties, leaving me with Zan and Heto, my eldest and my youngest lieutenants.
“Who am I?”
“Taraken Mes, Captain of the 9th squadron of the Nights, sole survivor of the Legion massacre, victor of the Qasa sea. Medals for duty, bravery and honour. Lost an eye, an arm and your heart in battle.”
“And a frickin maniac to boot.” Heto added with a mad grin. I laughed.
“When did I lose my heart?”
“Remember the skirmish when we were trapped under the rock fall?”
“Well, you've got that scar. Just here.” Heto traced the line on his own chest, “I said that it looked like someone had tried to cut your heart out. The next thing I know, its been added to your accomplishments.”
I snorted with amusement, not bothering to ask how he had seen it. There's no room for modesty in the Nights. Zan sighed, his shrapnel pitted face as serious as ever. I grinned at him.
I sat against a wall in the yard and polished my pistol and sabre. I rested my head back on the rough stones, my weapons on my lap and carefully sorted through my data chip until I came up with my orders from five weeks ago.
“Captain! Vehicles approaching from the south!”
I sheathed my sabre and sprang up the wall stairs. I took the offered binoculars and examined the rapidly moving transports. I spoke quietly to Zan.
“Get everyone in the yard. It's time, my friend.”
“Captain.” he saluted and strode down the steps, roaring out orders.
In little under five minutes, eight squads of Nights were assembled in the yard. Another squad was on the walls and in the watch towers. I descended and beckoned the lieutenants to my side.
“We're with you, Captain.”
“On my signal, lads.”
I clasped hands with each of my officers. They saluted my and went back to their squadrons. Zan stayed by my side, back ramrod straight as he stood to attention. I waved my hand calmly.
“At ease, Zan.”
The gates opened and the transports drove in with a swirl of dust. I pulled my sand hood up, nodding to Zan. He nodded back, knowing what I wanted him to do. A lean figure alighted to the ground and made his way towards us.
“Is it safe?”
Zan nodded silently.
He spoke into his cuff and the doors opened, spilling forth the crowd of people who had been sent here. The man turned back to Zan, taking him for the commanding officer.
“I take it you are Taraken Mes.”
“No, I am not.”
“Where is he, then?”
Zan gestured over his shoulder at me and I nodded in greeting. I drew my sabre from its scabbard and examined the blade as it glinted in the hot sun.
“See that these people are housed in the best rooms you have, Captain.”
“I'm sorry but I wont be doing that.
“By the orders given to me by the Crown of the Dominant, I charge you with the murders of the 10th battalion of his Majesty's noble troops. The punishment is death.”
I easily beheaded the person closest to me and hopped back a few steps. As one, the entire courtyard strafed the terrified knot of people, ruthlessly slaying them. I lifted my sabre again and approached the fallen bodies. Working calmly, I checked for pulses.
I stood and wiped the blood on my leg. Zan didn't look at me as he started to bark out orders.
The bodies were gathered and put in the incinerator. The transports were driven out and dumped in the desert. I climbed the wall and watched the sun set.
War was murder. But that didn't help.