You awake when your anesthesia wears off. You look around, and to your horror realize, you’re on a different planet inhabited by unknown creatures.

You are in a dream. The dream is so real you can taste the air, feel the sounds. You want to wake from the dream. The dream begins to suffocate you; the edges fold inwards, ever closer, the warmth escaping like a last gasp as you gnaw at the loss.

You are in a dream and you have just woken up.

John tore at the combat harness, his fingers cold and numb as he fumbled for the clasp. The metallic coffin was caught in the tree canopy, the small craft lodged against the bole of a tree. Too late he thought to look down. The fall was rough, his legs folding before he could even begin to think about rolling, and he crashed to the ground with a heavy thud.

A marine isn’t born. He’s made. Forged in the crucible of hell, hammered on the anvil of life and sent wherever the Corp commanded. A marine is a marine. The century doesn’t matter; a colony across the sea or a colony across space. Rifle, boots, ship.

He woke to second twilight. Binary suns. One setting, the other rising. That period between day and day but not quite night. Kestrel was like Sol, a great orange ball in the sky, billions of years left on the shelf before it would go supernova. The slowly climbing sun was a sickly green. The slowly climbing sun was not Kestrel, so this could not be Kestrel Prime.

Take a vehicle. Strip anything superfluous and replace with armour. Weapons optional. Fill with men and point towards enemy. Thus the basic concept of an Armoured Personnel Carrier is established. Time had changed the concept little, wheels gave way to wings, amphibious became sub-orbital. Fall from the sky. Kill the enemy.

John reclaimed his senses via a combination of nutri-ration packs and stims, the kind that turned your eyes into black holes and made every sound rattle around inside your brain. He was stranded. He didn’t remember getting into the pod which meant the dropship moved him during cryo, the last dregs of anaesthesia being chased away by a cocktail of amphetamines.

His rifle, como, everything was now thirty feet above him, securely nestled out of reach. Only the sheath on his arm provided any semblance of support, it’s surface scrolling through tacnet data without the net to supply any tac.

Humanity is a monster. It was man’s folly thinking he was the only monster in the heavens. We are not alone, but we wish we were. The Corps became our guardians. Our guardians became our weapons and good men died on alien planets fighting alien monsters with alien tactics. Peace, it seemed, did not translate.

They were watching him. John shimmied up the trunk of the tree, the webbing of his harness lashed around the far side to pull against. He could hear them, chittering; he could see them, glinting.

His mother’s womb was not as comforting at that moment as entering the pod, grabbing his rifle and feeling the reassuring thrum as it accepted his sheath’s auth-blast.

He took it all. Mylar shelter, quickdoc and enough batteries to blaze most of the forest. His sheath synced, used the elevation to bounce signals, and gaze a single, solitary ping. Twelve klicks, solar-north.

Friendly.

Man strives to be tested. Man needs adversity and despair and fear. Only when standing on the precipice can Man stand and say No. Or so said Tiang Yu, a man who became humanities adversary, gave it’s people despair and made them fear the skies.

But truly, Man fears only one thing. It is not loneliness. Or pain or loss.

It is the unknown.

The shadows moved around him as John ran. The stims were coursing through his blood. The servos in his legs whirred. But still they kept pace. Eyes and teeth and flesh and bone.

Ten klicks. The second sun was setting. First dusk was coming.


Prompt originally posted by yyajkcuf on reddit and received 5 upvotes.

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