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Winter War (fiction)

Discussion in 'Santa Cruz, CA' started by DarkLordSid, Jan 17, 2006.

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  1. DarkLordSid

    DarkLordSid Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 3, 2004
    Smoke drifts above the body strewn battlefield. Soldiers, whether they were passionate believers, dutiful patriots, the desperate unemployed, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters all lay dead or dying, their multi colored corpses decorated the blood saturated battlefield as the flowers once did long ago on a beautiful spring day.

    But this is not that spring day.

    This is the winter of the war.

    The time when coldness rules, when hard decisions are made, and lives lost in fruitless efforts to move a line on a galactic or terrestrial map.

    This is the time after the beginning but long before an end, glorious or otherwise, is anywhere remotely in sight.

    On both sides, generals and admirals plan from warm and secure places, they direct movement of troops, vehicles and vessels into position. Dispassionately they listen to the reports, look upon the numbers, and muse upon the results. Deliberately the try to divine the unknown, to know the minds of their opponents and thus to predict their actions. The reports are formal; they contain language which is very disconnected from the real world. None of them contain words like death, dismemberments, blood, or brains.

    In fact, most reports described the carnage in unemotional words and abbreviations like KIA, WIA, MIA, they refer to living beings as assets, units, squads, patrols and battalions. The killing machines and devices are termed hardware or equipment. At this level they are not described in the terms of what they do to the enemy. Things like shredding flesh, bone, and steel, burning or carving by the touch of an energy beam or bolt, the piercing and exploding actions of projectile weapons are not thought of.

    Everything is described carefully in terms that disassociate the reality from war, play down the horror except when it can be used as propaganda against the enemy by the politicians, and to make it as clean and efficient as a military organization should be, but really isn?t. To make the loss of life seem distant. They disconnect themselves from their species and become robotic, dispassionate, reserved, losing a bit of their "humanity" a day at a time.

    This is the reality of the war, but not the only cost of the war. That cost extends far beyond the battlefields, into homes far away, into every single life in one way or another. Intergalactic trade and commerce is impacted, the loss of credits into manufacturing killing machines instead of businesses or homes, things which are destined to become rubble or junk, the inevitable shortages of luxury items, embargoes and the restrictions on travel and on freedoms once enjoyed. The shattering of the lives of families who lost those they cherish.

    Of friends who never return.

    Yet the battlefield, the killing zones, the actual soil does not care about economies, travel to exotic places, or luxuries. Nor do the soldiers in combat on the fields or in the skies or between the stars. The soldiers have one objective firmly embedded into their brains: Defeat the enemy and survive. Sometimes defeat does not mean to kill, sometimes capture is the objective, but if it comes down to ?them or me?, there will be no question, to live is the strongest urge in the breast of every being, to see another day, the strongest desire. The only thing as important in saving one?s self is to save your partner, your companion, the friend fighting with you.

    Soldiers returning from the field are always asked by some rude and uncomprehending civilian, ?Did you think for a moment of who you were killing? Of their lives or their families? What makes you better than them?? The question always gets asked, and the response is almost always the same, ?All I thought of while pulling the firing stud is how to get myself and my buddies from getting killed. If that means killing strangers so we can survive and go home?? they shrug the universal shrug of veterans which says, ?That's how it goes.?

    On this battlefield, as the smoke twists away on the breeze from the still sizzling bulk of a hover tank, a
  2. GreyJediPathfinder

    GreyJediPathfinder Jedi Youngling star 1

    Dec 10, 2005
    Whoa! Holy Sith Sid!

    That was ... powerful! And very well written!
  3. DarkLordSid

    DarkLordSid Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 3, 2004
    Thanks, any feedback is appreciated, positive or negative.

  4. Kai_Vandekar

    Kai_Vandekar Jedi Padawan star 4

    Feb 9, 2005
    Very very well-written. And sadly, so real. Kudos to you.

    She sometimes wonders if the ground has a dim collective intelligence, if it could be itself a living thing, she wonders if it has any thought of what is being done to it. Perhaps with the mud it is trying to consume the evidence of the battle, to absorb it, to turn it into something productive and life giving, to erase the scars.

    Many good sentences, but this sequence struck me the most, the first read-through. Overall, very good writing--a "war is hell" piece that tells the story with enough finesse that it only seems sad and awful and genuine, rather than preachy. That's a fine line to walk.

    - Kai
  5. DarkLordSid

    DarkLordSid Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 3, 2004
    Thank you, but what about the surrealism of the underlying metaphor?


    Thank you Arthur Dent, no Earth for you, two decades.
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