Ash

Sunday’s prompt and DeviantArt link.

It seems that no matter how long someone serves in military operations of any sort, the sight of ashes is always one that causes pause. Even when it’s the aftermath of battle and you know the images you’re seeing are the results of your fellow troops fighting for their own survival, there’s just something about seeing any structure reduced to ash that’s unsettling.

Maybe it’s because dying in a fire just seems like a terribly painful way to go. Even if the guys who were burned to death were guys who were trying to kill friends of yours, something about the sight of ash and the knowledge of how it comes to be takes any feeling of celebrating or winning right out of the mental equation.

Even those of us far removed from the battlefield, or flying over the battlefield after the battle is over, in the safety of what one 20th century musician called the “bravery of being out of range”, the sight of ash makes one think. A failed part, a lucky shot, a simple mistake, that’s all that keeps you from sharing what has to be the more feared way to die.

Banana and I are silent as our Gemini passes over the burned out field below. Our space marines and spec ops forces combined with the paladins to assault a troll stronghold that appeared in an area much too close to a civilian village. Apparently space marines, Templar knights, and Vikings aren’t the only things that get sucked through anomalies and find themselves somewhere they weren’t before.

The civilians are all okay, although we still have medic teams on ground to be sure. Our forces marched towards the troll stronghold, which prompted a response from the trolls who met them midway between the two points. The battle that took place was gruesome. A part of me almost feels guilty for being able to kill so many trolls without ever really being at risk from harm by the trolls.

However, what guilt I do feel is offset by the knowledge that we saved people who’d done nothing more than make a trip from home, fall through a hole without knowing it,  and somehow ended up on the other side of the universe. Somewhere along the way trolls have developed a taste for human flesh. This has caused some to wonder if the anomalies do allow travel both ways.

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