Corporal Welks

“Vital signs look good. You’ve got a lot of shrapnel in your body, but none of it looks serious. Scanners indicate all of your limbs have been replaced with organic replacements. Most of your organs are replacements as well. Corporal, you definitely fit the medical description of a veteran Trooper and everything seems to be fine. If you feel any pai-”

The doctor droned on about my examination. After every battle command made everyone go through a medical and psychological examination. I already took my psych eval. They asked me questions about the battle, wasn’t hard to pass…I guess it’s nice they made sure we’re okay, but Maells wanted to talk to me and I hated making him wait. They already closed the small cuts on my face and healed the bruises from being thrown around in battle. Couldn’t I have just left already…?

As I lied flat on the table, memories of the battle came to me. The smell of the battlefield hadn’t been washed off yet and when I blinked, for that second, I thought I was still in the trench. I remember Maells, he refused to retreat with everyone else. I stayed with him and made sure the platoon did as well. I loved being that close to death, the Sorecrians couldn’t manage to take my life from me. I always survived, like Maells, we were Troopers that made it to Fire Lieutenant. When we captured that Sorecrian artillery position I just knew we’d get recognized for it. I don’t know how many Troopers we saved, but the brass was thankful. They even sent a Firestorm to pick us up. Something I’ve never seen done for a platoon before.

“So that’s it you’re free to go Corporal. Remember to let me know if you are in pain anywhere.”

“Alright doc. I’ll be sure to let you know.”

In no time I had my uniform back on and checked myself in the mirror to be sure nothing was out of place. No sooner had I left the medical bay I received a message on my mobile tablet.

“Hey Sergeant.”

“Are you done with your examinations?”

“Yes sir. I’m on my way.” Maells didn’t sound impatient, he must have been in a good mood…

“Okay, you know what deck I’m on?”

“Deck Eighty-Four right?”

“Yep.”

“Alright I’ll be there soon.”

I shut down the screen and continued walking down the hallway. I was nearing the main medical bay. Agonized screams always cried out from there. Most of the platoon made it without a scratch, but the other companies took heavy losses. Hearing the screams used to get to me and I hated looking at dying Troopers. Now it doesn’t bother me at all. As Corporal it’s my job to keep the platoon going when things get tough. I’ve punched, kicked, and even shot Troopers before. Most Corporals think I’m too aggressive, but if it wasn’t for me I doubt many of the veterans in my platoon would even be alive today.

I step into the pure white elevator, another Corporal is on it. I type the deck number and stand back.

“Hey.” I said.

He ignored me. I could tell he was angry.

“Something wrong Soreth?”

“Why didn’t you fall back?”

“Sergeant ordered us to stay put.”

“You know most of those Troopers that are screaming, those are my men.”

“Okay.”

“We stopped retreating to cover your escape from the trench.”

“No one asked you to.”

“Sergeant Bolehr didn’t want to leave you to die. We were calling you on the radio to fall back.”

“Well I’m sorry for your losses and Maells will appreciate what your platoon did for us, but we didn’t need your help.”

“No, we needed help. That Firestorm picked you up, who came for us while the Sorecrians gunned everyone down?”

No one came for them. I would be furious too.

“If I had known you were down there. We would have come back for you.”

“I understand…”

“How many did you lose?”

“Bolehr and about seventy were killed. Myself and six others weren’t hurt.”

“Bolehr is dead…?”

“Yeah, he’s gone. Daverian I’ve known for eight years, gone.”

The elevator doors opened. Thank Daverius. I hated that guy. I knew he wasn’t mad about losses as much as he was mad that he wasn’t given recognition like my platoon. I felt bad that his platoon was slaughtered trying to save us, but he wasn’t ordered to. Then again we weren’t ordered to hold the line.

The halls are lined with Sergeant’s Quarters. Every platoon sergeant in the regiment was on this floor. I looked at Bolehr’s door. Two Troopers were already cleaning it out. I couldn’t believe how quickly they were getting rid of him. It didn’t seem right, but neither did seventy casualties and no rescue. I saw Maells’ door and knocked on it.

“Come.”

I entered and saluted.

“As you were.”

“You wanted to see me sir?”

“Yeah. I got good news and bad news. Which would you like first?”

“Good, sir.”

“Well due to our display of courage on the battlefield we have been offered six months of leave.”

“That’s great! I don’t even know what I’ll do with myself after the first few weeks, but I’ll think of something! When do we leave?”

“Well now for the bad news. The Sorecrians are hitting a star system real hard. Command wants us on the capitol planet, Vae’ Somm. We’ll be taking charge of a platoon fresh out of boot camp.”

“Are you serious?”

“I’m not joking Corporal. I already got the names of the Troopers in our new platoon.”

“Vae’ Somm is a meat grinder…”

“You too?”

“What do you mean?”

“My wife was going on about how terrible things are there.”

“From what I’ve heard from other Corporals, it’s a miracle if we make it to the surface in one piece.”

“I’m sure it’s an exaggeration.”

I couldn’t argue with him, Military Law forced me. It was a long time since I was afraid and hearing the name Vae’ Somm made me very uneasy. What’s worse is the platoon I’ve known for years wasn’t even going with us.

“Why don’t you start looking through the list and get to know the platoon?”

“Yes sir.”

I sit in a chair and grab the data tablet off Maells’ desk. Daverius save us, I hated green Troopers. They are so stupid and unreliable. I read the names and the platoon was average with a mix of good and bad Troopers. The one thing I took hope in, was the fact that all of these Troopers were coming from the same boot camp I went to.

“We got a navy kid in here.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, Private Kael Nesta. His parents are officers. He did pretty good in boot camp from what I  can tell.”

“Keep reading…”

“Private Morehs Dessem, he volunteered.”

“We got quite a few volunteers this time.”

“Maybe the recruitment campaigns are working after all.”

“These Troopers, Nesta, Dessem, Taef, Vahdi, and Vidor are noted for working well together as a team.”

“Probably friends.”

“I wouldn’t doubt it.”

“Any more?”

“No, that’s all of them…”

“Something wrong Corporal?”

“Did you know Sergeant Bolehr is dead?”

“What?”

“Yeah, his corporal, I forgot his name, told me on the way up here.”

“How’d he die? I thought we had them covered for the retreat.”

“He stopped to cover out retreat. Remember when the radio got hit? Well they were trying to tell us to fall back.”

“How many died?”

“Over seventy.”

“I had no idea…”

“Well no one came to pick them up either. They dragged their wounded over open ground back to the Command Post.”

“By Daverius…”

“Sergeant Maells, message for you.” A voice said on his desk console.

“Send it through.”

“Sergeant, your Firestorm is ready. Get Welks and head down here asap.”

“Yes sir. On the way.”

He ends the message and looks at me.

“You ready Corporal…?”

“Are you okay Sergeant?”

“Yeah. Bolehr is dead, but at least he’s in paradise now. I don’t want to think about it anymore. Go get your combat gear and meet me at the Firestorm.”

“Yes sir. Do I have time to shower?”

“Sure, just make sure you hurry.”

“Yes sir.”

I salute and leave his office. Already we were being sent to battle. I was convinced we wouldn’t survive the battle, but seeing Maells’ confidence gave me hope. Maybe we’d make it. Then I could spend six months in a drunken stupor forgetting how bad Vae’ Somm was. Daverius keep us safe, I really want some time to relax, it’s within our grasp. Daverius just has to grant us our wishes and let us survive. Of course if we play it safe and don’t do any heroics, we’ll make it easy…