Angel of Mars – Chapter 1 – A Soldier’s Life
His head ached, he had only just awoken. Patting his chest, a habit of checking for broken Gear, John got to his feet. He was outside, the area around him was a muddled mess. Broken Hills and Valleys littered the Battlefield.
Blasted to bits in most cases, there were no safe places of respite.
It was a War zone.
There were some things in his emergency kit, including an emergency ration but only the one, and it would have been better suited as a brick, given it’s texture. Saving the Wrapper, refusing to leave a trail, John looked down at his blinking wrist. The power light was still at full charge but there was no signal.
The words, “Hey Elon,” scrolled across it’s outer layer.
Licking his lips after downing the ration, John asked, “Where are we?”
His optics readout came across his vision, fine blue letters hovered in his peripheral.
“Tsk” Clicking his tongue a bit, “Alright, Be that way.” John looked around, there were few trees left standing.
“Can you scan the Area?” As a Pilot, John had always preferred to know the details beforehand.
[Seek Additional Altitude, Suggest Drone]
“I have no drones, do the damned scan or shut the hell up..” John threw his wrist to the side and dragged his way to a nearby Cliff side.
[Performing Self-Scan, Efforting]
[Suggestion: Seek higher Ground]
“Elon..” John was losing his temper at a machine. He felt like rolling his eyes but in his mind, he figured what was the point. Shaking his head, he turned away from the distraction and back toward his goal. Higher Ground.
After some varied success due to his injuries, he managed to find a secure footing and start his climb to search for signal. Without his sensors to be found, he was considered a casualty.
[Failure to Connect]
“Dammit!” Struggling up the rock face was enough to let him feel the bottoms of his feet growing cold. Knowing that it was impossible to reach out for help at the time, there was only one thing for him to do after being separated from his Squadron. Like all Soldiers on the Battlefield, he would have to seek shelter. It was a War zone in the distance, sirens could be heard occasionally to move Troops. Broadcast over the networks, the orders were relayed directly to the Soldiers Wristbands, streamlining the War Effort.
A Warning Siren went off nearby triggering John’s Wristband with a Proximity Sensor Alert.
Looking up in the distance, a Crystalline Cave, crusted with calcified limestone and other soot sat hidden in the range of openings along the southern edge of the Cliff. It wasn’t very deep but it was sturdy enough to be a shelter from prying eyes and address the pain in his side.
The wound on his abdomen took precedent, a wounded soldier was a liability to himself and others. He sat down and opened his med-kit. Ripping his shirt apart, John grabbed the pliers and pulled out the shrapnel. His Cockpit had exploded, he had been forced to eject but debris was flying everywhere.
His co-pilot wasn’t so lucky.
“Tch” There was nothing even remotely clean in his kit. As he was moving through the Battlefield quickly, his wound had seeped into the pack, everything was soggy but none of that mattered. He rang the blood from the adhesive patches, peeled the backing from it and applied pressure.
There were some advancements he was grateful for and some he wish had never happened. The War he was in, the War he was fighting, was started because of out of control Technology. People were used as Guinea Pigs and the value of Human life fell to an all time low.
Having stopped the bleeding, he closed his eyes, the pliers fell to his side and he lost Consciousness.
Some time passed, though John had no idea of how much time that truly was. When he opened his eyes, everything was bright, too bright. It was difficult to focus, a figure shrouded in all white spoke loudly. The words were not hitting his ears, but his Soul.
“You’ve awakened.. Good.” God looked them over, he and his co pilot.
Waving his hand, John’s co-pilot disappeared slowly like he had faded from existence.
Shocked, he tried to call out and catch his fading body… then, as if he was never there, Lt. Leon was gone. Biting his lip, John stripped off his gloves and unzipped his uniform.
“Exactly what just happened?” Throwing them to the floor, his reaction was fully expected. Johns eyes worked overtime to make eye contact with the glowing figure who had yet to name himself.
“He was a non-believer, I’ve sent him to where he belongs” The Thunderous voice sounded again, only this time, the force was amplified.
“You sent him to Hell?” Struggling to maintain balance, John belted out the question.
Like claps of Lightning meters from his face, the voice sounded again within his head. “I didn’t say that but it’s interesting that you did.” God smiled, though John had no idea. The visage of God was always shrouded in Mystery.
Humbled deeply, Johns eyes tremble. “I understand, perhaps..” Before he could go any further, he choked on his words, unable to complete even an utterance.
“There is no need to explain, I know all.” God’s voice calmed and a wave of energy swept out.
“So what’s next?” Confused, John did as all Soldiers before him, he looked for his next assignment.
God’s smile twisted slightly, his tone changed to a familiar one, “What did you expect? A bunch of marching cherubs and harps??”
“Well, if I’m not gonna go to hell, shouldn’t I become an Angel or something?” It was a compulsory answer but it was an honest one. John threw his hands up and behind his head, trying to hide his true feelings on the matter.
“Ha…” Laughing, God waved his hand.
John started to vanish, a cool feeling swept across his body. It was as if he had been ripped apart and rearranged. None of what he experienced was painful but he felt tired in the ordeal, his every fiber was being altered and refined. It was too much, once again he became woozy and blacked out.
“I feel Cold.” John could feel again, it surprised him.
“I can feel, am I dead?” He was awake, it was hard to see. Muttering to himself, he reached for anything nearby to wipe his eyes.
As he twisted and grasped he gained a sort of momentum. It sent him spinning.
“Was it a dream?” His eyes had yet to open, John wasn’t sure what was going on but he felt like he was spinning out of control in a downward spiral, like a failing Aircraft.
His toes were free, there was nothing underneath. His boots were not on. The Spinning made him unsteady and suddenly he felt himself turn over and spin in place. His orientation had changed again, this time it was a bit slower and it had come at no greater time. John’s vision was starting to come into focus, if just barely.
Opening his eyes, everything was blurry.. except a Strange glow which slowly became more clear. If he didn’t see it with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have believed it so suddenly. The News came at a shock, despite his earlier encounter in the Skies above.
Like he had never used his eyes before, it took a while to adjust. There were Words flowing and floating within his vision but they were not coming from a HUD.
The message read quite clearly, [Until the Times of Judgement, thou shall have no right to interact with life. The Messengers of God do not dictate the World’s development.] The words, now burned into his retinas were a message and at the same time, a warning. He was to adhere to it, whether he chose to, or not.
The warning blinked suddenly, then the words changed. [You have been reborn as an Angel. Congratulations, Enjoy the View.]
“The View?” John gave up on looking for something to wipe his eyes and face with, using his own hands instead to clear away and help himself adjust. “What view?!” The Window closed and below, the World spun directly in front of him, like a ripe Melon in the distance.
“This.. This is..” Frustrated, John moved his feet and lost his posture. His orientation was thrown out of whack just moments before when he was spinning out of control. This time was no different.
He spun.. he spun some more.. Eventually, John stopped moving altogether by counteracting the movements, small bits at a time. He had no idea just how much time had passed since his Death but he was dizzy.
When he saw a feather float by, driftnig away at a snails pace, just out of reach, John snapped to his situation.. Like an epiphany, he remembered what the window said.
“You’ve been reborn as an Angel?” But like a skipping record, he moved the wings on his back and nothing happened.. He was stuck in place, reaching did no good.
The Cosmic dust moved but he did not. None of the Angels did, they were forced to stand watch, awaiting the next orders from God. Faithful and Tireless.
“AHHHHHHHH!” Frustrated, John grabbed at his clothing, which seemed immaterial, rummaging for anything present.
‘An Opening?’ While thinking to himself that it was quite surprising to find a pocket worked into the robes, he felt around Inside. There was a small Harp that had a Looking Glass attached to the long end. The whole device couldn’t have been bigger than a book and it weighed nothing. His mind racing, John’s metaphorical headache only grew. ‘He really meant the view..’
“!AAAAAAAHHHHHH!” John Screamed. ‘In Space.. No one can hear you scream,’ he thought. He was frustrated further, to the point of exclamation. There was nothing to do, no where to go, no one to talk to.
Plucking the Harp haphazardly brought some distraction but the noise that came out was wonderfully boring. It took no talent to play, therefore it was no fun for John. Everything he played came out masterfully, no challenge existed in it’s use. What did interest him was the looking glass, Optics had come a long way during the War and even as a child, he had always enjoyed looking out at the Stars.
Placing it to his eye and pointing the other end toward the planet, John found himself watching his friends and family with as much ease as he had plucking the strings from the Harp. This led to another issue, watching… and being unable to do a thing.
John clenched his fists and closed his other eye, focusing on their lives, living vicariously through their activities. This continued for many years, until, everyone he knew, everyone he cared about, had passed. He was left watching a World he had no attachment to.