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.


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