A little short story about an old hero's end
|Few choose how they die.
This is especially true for those who call themselves soldiers. For those who fight well past their prime. For those who fight a fight to heavy for any man to bear.
As the last shell clattered to the ground Tex sighed gasping for breath and glancing around feeling almost unnerved by the near silence as explosions and war raged outside the ship he had worked so hard to hijack. He tossed down his gun the once deadly machine now just a pile of junk clattering on the bloodstained floor.
Walking cautiously forward he checked the seat that had previously been occupied by a pilot, the body was still their, but the soul had left recently. The limp corpse was unceremoniously dumped onto the ground as the aged man sat down in the chair too big for him and his shoulders which had remained straight through wars and into his ripe old age finally sagged as though under a great weight. He lifted an old radio from his belt and turned it on.
“Honey you done yet?”
A voice crackled over the radio tinged with concern, “Yeah I think we’ve cleaned out the ship dad. You okay up there?”
“A couple of new holes in my coat, but mostly just old aches acting up,” brushing his bruised hands through his grey hair the man heaved a sigh of relief, “You and the others make your way to the escape pods hun, I’ll join you once I get this bomb set.”
“Sure thing dad, see you soon.” The radio fell silent.
The old soldier sat his radio down and pulled out a device he’d acquired earlier in his career, close to half a century he guess. About the size of a football, black metal and glass, with a cube the size of his ample fist suspended in the middle. A genius threatening the world might now help save it.
He chuckled at the irony and carefully set the thing on the ground next to his seat watching as more ship continued to pour through a massive bubble in the sky. He watched them face off with an army of ships he’d help design, unimaginable when he was born. He watched explosions and thousands die, this was nothing new.
He briefly clutched his chest with a twisted arm so broken it was barely human only moving thanks to a set of pistons wrapped around it. He snorted in a brief moment of pain before lying back in his captured seat and whispering, “Not quiet yet. Just a few more minutes please, I know you’ve been more than patient.”
His radio crackled again, “We’re all here, where are you dad?”
“Right here hun,” he answered pressing a button with sad finality.
In the distance there was a clang and the sound of air blowing several armored orbs into the ground.
“Dad, you wouldn’t.” The radio asked with scared certainty. She was smart; she probably already knew what he was doing.
“Sorry little one, but I’m afraid I am,” the father said sadly mindlessly moving the ship like it were a part of him.
“You’re just giving up!” the radio demanded angrily, “I don’t care how wounded you are, a suicide run is a coward’s way out! And my father is no coward!”
With a laugh he answered, “Sharp tongued as ever eh princess? No your dad is no coward, nor is he seriously wounded. I had no plans of surviving this mission to begin with, this old bomb has no timer on it, it’s manually activated. Even if it had one I’d still have to ride this out, break the portal device stop the invasion. As for this being the coward’s way out,” he chuckled sadly, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to do this? I’ll never see you get married, have children, build an insane weapon, or live in a safer world.”
“Set up a macro or something! I don’t care, just don’t do this!” the radio pleaded.
“I can’t,” the old man scolded, “Even if I could I wouldn’t I told you, I don’t plan to survive this mission. Hells and gods all know I shouldn’t have survived this long. Look at me! I’m a ninety-year-old man with three crippled limbs fighting a multi front war along side superhumans against aliens and monsters! If I don’t die here I’d die somewhere else, shot by a gangsters bullet, eaten by a monster, overrun by zombies, or, gods forbid, in the sick bed of a hospital from old age!”
“We still need you damn it!” The radio cried, “I still need you!”
“No you don’t damn it!” the old hero snarled, “Your forty years old, a damned fucking amazing soldier and hero! You do crap I couldn’t have done in my prime! You haven’t needed me for ten years, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love every moment of our time together. Teaching you to shoot pistols with your mother at two, fighting back to back with you against an endless stream of atrocities, sitting around the base designing a gun that shoots Twinkies, or simply doing nothing. No matter what anyone says, you were never a freak, a monster, or an- well at times you were a bit of an ass but you got that from me.
“Nevertheless, you are my daughter and in light of your exceptional service to this country I here by promote you to General Testarossa Xavier and grant you the honorary title of Tex. May you wear carry this honor proudly and carry on my example of giving everything to protect your country, people, and justice in this fucked up and dying world. Do you swear to do this by all you still hold sacred?”
“I do dad,” the radio answered proudly.
“I love you Tessa, my little angel. Be happy.” With that, he took the radio in his hand and crushed it in a pile of junk.
“Are you ready?”
“Not quiet yet,” the broken soldier sighed maneuvering the ship towards the bubble that showed an alien sky, “Almost though, and I can’t thank you enough for this.”
“I doubt I could drag you away if you weren’t ready if I wanted, you refused to go last time.”
“True,” he chuckled, “I have to ask though. My wife, all my old friends and comrades in arms. Will I see them again?”
“You are an amazingly smart man Theo. I’m sure you’ve already realized the answer.”
A small chuckle, “True.”
His ship slid through the bubble like a knife between ribs gently moving towards a landing site radioing a lie about heavy damage and need of repairs. He lined up the ships’ main weapons and in a heartbeat burned away the machine that connected his home to this world. His deceit revealed the sky filled with death.
The old man straightened his shoulders scooped up the old weapon and broadcasted to the world, “Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds. I am sorry it came to this.”
He was surrounded by fire and insults but he stood straight and tall facing down a fleet meant to swallow a country once more, once more alone. Once again, he just smiled and laughed.
He flipped a switch and a world was washed in fire as opposites met and destroyed each other. At its heart, a soldier finished his long service, turned and said with a tearful smile, “Thank you for waiting.”