Kozar rested his head against the tree, if you could refer to the gargantuan monstrosity he was using for cover as a tree. It had stood here undisturbed by the passage of time for millennia. That was until the war came to it’s world. Kozar liked to imagine he could hear the howls of anguish emanating from the countless worlds he had fought across. He knew it was folly, but to believe the dead rocks and planetoids were living entities somehow made the sacrifice all the more worthwhile. His sanctuary was a full 12 meters around it’s base and stretched into the dense canopy of the forest. It’s highest boughs as lost to unaided sight as it’s deepest root. Kozar could, with a mere thought, alter the perception of the suit and trace the branches and sub-branches and divisions and leaves and seed pods and… His mind was wondering. He snapped back to reality and chuckled inwardly at the irony of him, a poet and artist, being thrust headlong into an existence such as this. In his past life he created. In this life he destroyed. Kozar would often marvel at the fine line between creation and destruction. At how easy it was to move between them. At just how fluid he had found the transition from artist to warrior.

The suit chimed in his ear and Kozar gave his head a slight shake, trying to focus on the here and the now. It was difficult with such little rest. The running battle with the Treyz had gone on too long. Days? Weeks? It mattered no more to him. His was a total immersion in war. The suit he wore, which was no thicker than his own skin, sustained him, warmed him and warned him of danger. But even the confines of a suit such as his could not keep a man fighting indefinitely. Fatigue pulled at his senses. Tempting him with thoughts of love and dance and song and drink. He could not allow nature to win this particular battle or he would no doubt lose the impending battle with the Treyz scouting party which approached. The chime in his ear had been a warning. Kozar recognized from it’s tone that bio-signs had been detected in the vicinity. The suit was a fully autonomous entity capable of conversing with Kozar if he felt compelled to allow it. Kozar had always preferred to be left to his own thoughts and had instead studied and learned the chimes the suit would make if it needed to communicate something to him.

The Treyz were an uncouth species even by the standards of Kozar’s kin. Kozar considered himself, with just a touch of arrogance, to be one of the finest minds to hail from his home planet. He had found the brash nature of the Treyz to be contemptible in peace and his feelings towards the reptilian race had not changed in three decades of fighting. Less than a half dozen seconds had passed since the suit had chimed when Kozar heard the unmistakable sound of the Treyz scout team pushing through the dense under-growth of the forest in his direction. He heard the snapping of branches and the clicking noises as the Treyz conversed with each other. He heard their boots stamp through the foliage and the unmistakable metallic clank of weaponry. It seemed to Kozar that the Treyz had a natural aversion to stealth and subtlety. He reminded himself that in a species where the typical adult male grew to three meters in height and developed a natural chitinous hide subtlety was redundant. Why sneak up on your prey when one could simply charge headlong towards it and crush it with bare claws? He closed his eyes and listened with the aid of the suits enhanced auditory sensors to determine the number he would soon face.

Kozar had on just one occasion gone head to head with an adult Treyz. He had barely escaped with his life and had spent the following six months in a womb like incubation pod at the medical center. One Treyz was a match for even the most highly trained hand to hand specialist. To fight more was certain suicide. Kozar knew that on this occasion there would be no hand to hand combat. The Treyz would be equipped with the standard assault rifle of the Treyz Imperial Army. He was equipped with a pair of Wesierska-22 GAMDUP pistols. Or ‘handcannon’ as he and his fellows tended to refer to them. This would be a fire-fight and no mistaking.

Kozar counted seven differing rhythmic footfalls. The suit counted seven unique heartbeats. Kozar smiled as the suit confirmed the numbers to him through a series of chimes.

They were heading right for him and would soon be circling his hiding place. He could run, but that would bring him to the attention of the Treyz who were capable of running on four limbs and would catch him easily. He would have to fight and his best chance for survival was to hit them hard and fast with the element of surprise on his side.



I squeezed my hands tighter around her neck and I could feel the heat radiating from her face as it turned a brighter shade of crimson. She stared up at me, her eyes wide and bulging. She must be so stunned to realise it is me killing her. I can feel the slight bulge of the jugular under my index finger. I imagine the build up of blood on one side of the blockage I am forcing upon it. What would happen if that dam burst? It won’t burst. She will die. She has her hands on my wrists attempting to remove my grip. She always had such delicate hands; Beautiful hands. I take a moment to admire them as they claw at my arms attempting to gain purchase. I smile briefly at the irony of admiring beauty when there is nothing but carnage on my mind. She always complained that I sweat a lot. Now the dampness of my skin is preventing her from getting a good grip and removing my hands. She looks up at me, her eyes desperately pleading. I close mine. I can’t maintain eye contact with the woman I love as I kill her. Even I am not that monstrous. I hear her last breath escape in a strangled whisper, ‘Please.’ The word is lost on the wind as soon as it leaves her lips. The brain is panicking now. All oxygen has been cut off. I wonder what her brain looks like. I wonder what she looks like from the inside. I decide there and then that I will find out as soon as this is over. Her panic causes her arms to thrash around madly. She catches my face drawing four large trenches down my left cheek. I make a mental note to clean beneath her finger nails when I am done with her and before I disappear forever. The DNA from the flesh she will carry with her into death would lead back to me, to my guilt, to my capture and imprisonment. No. She is to vanish and I am to vanish. We’re both going to die today, just in different ways. My mind quickly turns to the life inside her, to the baby, to our child. As I choke the last life out of her I wonder how long the child will survive without the mother. I wonder if it is aware of anything yet. I wonder if the desperation of the mother is being passed into the unborn child. I wonder if the baby can cry.

Her hands are on my arms. I can feel them against my skin but the movement has stopped. I open my eyes. She is looking at me, her face a mask of terror. Her eyes wide but empty. Her life has gone. Our baby has gone. I am gone. I release my grip and she falls. I catch her and hold her to my chest. I kneel down taking her motionless body with me. I lay her down on the ground and run my fingers across her face closing her eyes. I cannot look at those eyes. I gently brush a strand of auburn hair from her face. She looks so peaceful, so beautiful, and so fragile. I place my hand against her lower stomach in the place where our child would be. Will he – yes, I am certain it is a boy – be dead now? I do not know how long a fetus can survive when the Mother has passed on. It can’t be long. I just hope my son did not suffer.

I stand up and look down at her. She looks alive and sleeping. The only way to tell that it is eternal sleep which grips her is through the lack of movement. The chest fails to rise and fails to fall. She is so perfectly still. She is so perfectly peaceful.