Author:
Sarah Lucinsky

This last day, then his mother, his brother
Keep pushing! One foot in front of the other
Each foot protected in iconic kangaroo skin
Its owner tripping over what’s come and been 
 
His implant buzzed, warning of enemy near
But he’d long since lost that needle-like fear
AI intel, bioenhancements, anything he’d need
The implant could coordinate at quantum speed
At first he’d been thrilled, even named it Ned
Because it rhymed with, but prevented him dead
 
He sighed as rain drops fell on his boots
That same pair he had kept since recruits
Ned might save his life, but what of his soul?
Alone in every sense, fighting without control
 
Ned buzzed loud and insistent, the 2-click alarm
His CyroSuit loaded two Comets on each arm
The ghoulish screech of approaching Shinigami
The Comets shrieked out, meeting one mid-apogee
The death bird shattered like the surface of moonlit water
He mimicked the Shinigami cry aloud, call to slaughter
 
These hunters were the enemy in this desolate place
Wiry and featherless with vacant eyes set in the face
Time spent alone with their black hollowness
To him, represented his internal apocalypse
 
The boredom and waiting, was expected by a soldier
But now wars were fought alone, not shoulder to shoulder
He was a vet, he remembered what wars used to be like
Patrols out of Helmand shared with Smouch and Mike
The boredom was still great but shared with one another
By the end, Smouch was like a sister and Mike a brother
 
Ned buzzed and buzzed, alert after alert
Two Shinigami colonies, too many to divert
The soldier sighed and activated his stealth shield
As the birds massed, he watched, safely concealed
 
And all around him in that forsaken place, emptiness and pain
His mother, his brother, knowing he would return, not the same
Without their target, the birds spied a wild thing dart away
He mimicked their cry as they tore and shredded their buffet
And like that little creature, the soldier - alone, felt defenceless
The Shinigami clawing at each other rushing to feed, all senseless
For what purpose, dammit, is a soldier for,
Without a beating heart and esprit de corps