Challenge #03004-H081: Guilt of the Survivor

I was a trained soldier, I taught others how to fight.

I was a trained soldier, I taught others how to escape.

I was a trained soldier, I taught others how to kill.

I was a trained .....soldier..... I taught them... how to die well.

A flower was placed upon the stone, tears sliding down their face. Two dozen stones, each one with the same, white and red, flower, upon it. The old man's head bowed. His caretaker, a gentle havenworlder, placed a hand on his shoulder. The human looked to them, bent, broken, the voice metallic from an artificial voice box, the prosthetic hand upon a cane. "Alright, we can go back home now. I just wanted to see my friends again." -- Fighting Fit

Humans have a saying for everything. If not a saying, then a quote. As storytellers, they are a species that have a way with words. The one that came to mind now was, There are old soldiers, and there are bold soldiers. There are no old and bold soldiers. Walking now through the serried ranks of Humanity's dead, in a monument the size of a small city, Companion Thruk could understand why.

Human Sam marched past the monuments. Columns in the style of a past age, all cut short. Some were much shorter than others. This, the unspoken words said, is where the bold ones went. Human Sam was one of the rare ones who had grown old. They were lined up as they had been lined up in battle. Each troop. Each sergeant. Here and there, amidst the rows and columns, were gaps. Other old soldiers had yet to join the army of the dead.

Human Sam sometimes joked that ze was halfway there already. Two and a half legs, one arm, one eye, and a few internal organs had been replaced with artificial substitutes. Age had indeed wearied him. If the years condemned, he gave no sign. Companion Thruk had to trot to keep up with hir as ze marched through the troops of the dead. So many of these columns had had time to age. So few were complete, indicating that the deceased had lived a full life before they assembled for the hereafter.

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