The Goddess of War enters the battlescape on silent wings.
The battllescape looked like every other battlescape across the destroyed European continent—grey-blasted ruin devoid of life. Color. Each city received a four-hundred and seventy-five kiloton fusion blast courtesy of the SSBN Colorado. Sometimes more than one. Military targets, those surviving the initial Armageddon, met the wrong end of orbital torpedo strikes. Then hastily assembled neutron bombs bathed swaths of the countryside where survivors gathered.
Now there was a pause in the wholesale carnage. Not because there were no survivors, but because the Federation of Free Peoples ran out of WMDs.
Their hate, however, was in endless supply. Battalions launched and landed. Most of the enemy left was military personnel, alive simply because when embarking on genocide, one starts with the higher concentrations of civilians as they are the better target.
The Goddess of War appreciated the survivors’ refusal to welcome extinction, so she took to the field.
Neither side knew she had landed precisely in the middle of the pitched battle, a conflict whittled down via attrition to a brutal esthetic. Now combatants were using handheld weapons, sharp knives, and even rocks. Each was locked in a mortal struggle as personal as their first kiss. Their first time making love. The first kill. This battlescape held no innocence; veterans gave it their everything as if nothing else existed.
The Goddess of War lets her rifle drop on its one-point sling. To start shooting, she feels, would almost be a dishonor to her comrades, an interruption of the blood music before her. She flexes her armored fingers as her wings fold to become one with her armored back. She pivots on an armored boot and grabs a bloodied lance with the enemy’s standard on end, still wielded by an enemy soldier, interrupting a strike on a wounded man. This man wore little more than a bloodied rag with only the 101st Airborne Division patch its only denouement, his left arm hanging at his side, obviously broken. But in his right, he held a tactical tomahawk, bone and hair stuck to the bloody wedge.
The lance comes out of the enemy’s hand quickly, and she continues her pivot into a full circle, the lance flowing down her hand until she grips it tightly. Micro-servos and memory muscle contract in her armor and then expand with unholy force. The Goddess of War runs the standard through the enemy’s chest.
Blood and nano goo—great gouts of it spew from the enemy’s mouth, and, feeling a sense of irony in killing him with his own standard, she puts her other foot on the corpse’s chest. She pulls it free while pushing the body away with her boot.
The wounded man whoops, pivots on his own heel, and buries his tomahawk into the back of the head of an enemy struggling to get to his feet. The Goddess of War then plants both feet, flexes her knees, gives a wink, and jumps.
In the air, she twists backward and does a flip over two other combatants locked in a dance of fury. As she lands, she swings the standard in an arc, and it hits an enemy solder’s head with a mighty crack. His head bends sideways with a snap almost as loud as the impact.
The Goddess of War sinks to one knee as the standard still swings, and now it is in downward thrust and impacts another enemy on the back of his leg. The blow is so powerful that not only does the leg bend with another “crack!”—the enemy soldier flips completely over and lands on his head.
The Goddess of War’s carbon-tube nano-walled armored fist lashes out. It connects with the enemy’s face and continues through his skull until it punches through the other side. Blood and viscera, brains, and smashed cyber gear splash across her armor.
She stands up as a pistol round bounces off her armor, too weak for even her kinetic overlay to absorb it. The enemy holding the pistol is a female. Seeing her feminine form angers the Goddess.
The Goddess of War hates the enemy, and she hates the enemy’s females most of all. Her vision goes red. Her armor responds by squirting a stimulant into her bloodstream.
The Goddess of Was is now on her feet and strides to the female soldier that is calmly trying to find a weak spot in the armor with the pistol rounds. She only gets three off as the standard pierces her low in the gut. The enemy screams, and the Goddess lifts her off her feet by raising the pennant up, the flag now a blood ruin, the untearable cloth torn.
The Goddess of War swings the lance, and the female flies off it and impacts another enemy only a few feet away. They both go down, and another man of the 101st is there, a combat knife in each hand. He doesn’t even glance at his benefactor as he falls on the two. The man isn’t even an orbital drop trooper—he has a mechanic’s patch on his light armor. He wields the two blades as extensions of his own hate. The blows continue even though both enemies are dead.
This pleases the Goddess, and she observes that she is still holding the lance and the female’s pistol. She flexes her knees and jumps again. She jumps over twenty feet into the air, and at the apex of her leap, she aims the crude pistol. As she falls, she pulls the trigger. Once, twice, three times. Four. Five. Click. As she drops the gun, five enemy soldiers fall, shot in the eye. On top of the head. The neck.
Nearing the ground, she grasps the lance with both hands and leans forward. The lance enters an enemy soldier’s head. It continues down the center of his body, coming out somewhere near his belly and slicing into the ground.
Buzz, buzz, buzz. The unmistakable sound of combat drones. They slide into the battlescape, the forward thrust of reinforcements. The Goddess of War is quick, but the drones are just as fast. In moments all the enemy are dead. Dismembered. Sliced in twain. Surgically nullified with a combat laser.
The Goddess of War pants as the men’s gazes dart, as if not quite believing the battle has ended or perhaps disappointed, there is no enemy left to kill. The Goddess peers to the left. She peers to the right. She sees the man with the two knives, gore up to each elbow. She smiles as she strides up to him.
The faceplate of her helmet detracts. She grasps the man and gently pulls him close. She kisses him passionately, tongues entwined and dancing. She closes her eyes when she kisses.
How long she kissed the man, she does not know. She opens her eyes and smiles at him again as her faceplate locks back into place and her wings snap out, her flight harness activating.
The Goddess of War leaves the battlescape on silent wings.