Flames of Bedlam

Flashback 1 .. In a Past Life

Time: A Year Ago
Location: The Invader Stronghold

This will probably sound vain.

But, when I reflect back on my past life, I don’t think about the bloodshed first. Instead, I wonder how I must have looked to the Invaders. What did their seemingly omniscient gazes see when they peered down on my broken body?

I was nothing to them. 

My dark hair was stringy and ragged, pitted with spots that had either fallen out with disease or was ripped away along the scars of war that crossed my skull. Deep rings darkened my dull eyes. My scabby skin pulled tight over the bone that shaped my hollow face.

I was one of their soldier-slaves. A thing that had been bred to fight their conquest against my own home world.

One of my arms hung limp and useless, a casualty of battle. It’d happened so long ago that I’d forgotten which fight had claimed it. Only the fact that this was not my blade-arm kept me alive. No, my blade-arm still knotted with strong muscle. Strong enough to swing a weapon for them. That’s all that mattered.

I was born into the world with no name. Like all of our children, I had nothing but an identifier that was burned into the base of my neck, under my left ear. In my younger days, I tried to see it in reflections of my image. But their symbols made no sense to me.

The Invaders had a language of their own, and only spoke ours when absolutely required.

As I grew older and more broken, seeing my own face disgusted me. I stopped looking. I stopped trying to make sense of it. 

All that we knew was war and death. 

The Invaders’ battle had raged through generations until my clan no longer remembered what life was like before they came. Mine were a shattered people, identities erased by the crushing weight of subjugation.

Still, in the depths of the night, our stories lived on — a tiny light of hope passed from mother to child. I wonder if my mate whispered the tales of our people to my son, as my mother had to me. 

The Invaders didn’t appear to understand family. Or maybe they did, but they didn’t believe we should have that social luxury. We, the creatures crushed within the steel fist of mechanical tyrants.

We were given mates, but not for emotional purposes. Our lifespans were short due to our living conditions, and the fact that we were fodder on the battlefield. So, our women were guarded and protected in large domed living quarters located near the cities.

The soldier-slaves who survived long enough were allowed to create offspring. The Invaders had to replace the ones who died, after all. Extraordinary soldier-slaves were sometimes rewarded and allowed to choose their own mate. 

I suppose that’s why I felt a connection with my mate — I was allowed to choose her. She was a creature of grace and beauty, despite the world she was brought into.

I had so little time with her, but I knew that I’d chosen well. I didn’t know much about our child, for I was rarely allowed to visit. But, the last time I saw him, he seemed to be thriving. So much like his mother.

One day, the Adversary raided the city outskirts, destroying their living quarters. They both died in that strike.

The Adversary.

I knew nothing about them except that the Invaders sent us to die to their weapons. They were strong and well-advanced. They were, like my people, natives of our world. They fought to defend it from the Invaders. But, they cared nothing about who they hurt.

The Adversary might have won the war, too, if they hadn’t burned the living quarters that day. If they hadn’t taken the lives of my family.

It’s so sentimental. I’d like to say their death wasn’t the reason for my rage. 

But, I’ll be candid here.

After I learned my family was gone, I swore I would have my vengeance on them – both the Invaders and Adversary.