Write a Review

Silver Soldiers - Sample

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 2

In the morning, I woke beneath him. His skin was warm to the touch and tasted of salt and sweetness. I soaked up the warmth of him, his steady breath in my ear, his heartbeat beneath my hands. He was heavy, but it did not matter.

We had picnicked on the bed, sharing rations and water, during the evening before, and become quickly distracted during our feast. The wrappings and crumbs were scattered around us. It made me smile to see and remember.

Something trilled on the armour he had left in the corner of the room.

He mumbled into my neck.

“What was that?” I asked him.

He groaned and burrowed deeper into my hair. The trilling became more insistent. He rolled, his hair a mess, to a sitting position, and snagged the armour from the corner. “What?” he demanded, in his own language, hoarse.

“There’s movement at the location,” it was the female who had watched me the night before. I recognised her voice. “You said to notify you.” I rolled onto my stomach and turned my head to watch him.

“Right,” he dragged a hand down his face, then scooped his hair back. “Right. I will be there shortly.” He leaned over me and kissed my back between the shoulder blades. “I have to go,” he spoke to me in his language, testing.

“Yes,” I replied in the same, the words coming to me, not smoothly, but there. “I understood that.” He stood to pull on his trousers as I spoke.

“Of course, you did,” he grinned at me before disappearing under his top.

I dragged myself to my knees and crawled up behind him as he sat again to do up his boots. “I’ll braid your hair,” I offered.

“Hmm,” he leaned back against me as I did so. “You’re becoming quick at that,” he commented. “Your fingers are better.”

“Yes,” I realised it with surprise. “They are much how they were, before…”

He turned and caught them in his hands, kissed them. “Good,” he said to me.

“I am not staying inside,” I said to him as he stood, popping a blue pill into his mouth. He frowned at me, silenced by the foam as it did its work. “I want to go out, into the city, today.”

He regarded me for a long moment, closed his eyes, and took stock. “Very well,” he said, surprising us both, I thought. “I can and will trace you, Briar. Don’t go far.”

“I have a destination in mind,” I agreed. “And I can defend myself. If there’s a problem, I will just… take care of it.” It sent chills up my skin... but it also invoked a feeling of... strength and independence. I had killed people, and I could again. I wasn’t scared of the monsters, because... I was one of them.

He met my gaze. “Do that,” he told me, then leaned over to kiss me.

His armour resumed its trilling. He groaned and stood. “This should not take long,” he told me.

I shrugged. “You’ll find me, when you need to.”

I showered and dressed, cleaned up our mess from the night before, before heading to the eating area. I was given vegetable soup, which was an odd choice for breakfast, but apparently, they didn’t differentiate. I ate it with a mental shrug.

I approached the gates with trepidation, but they allowed me through without comment. Apparently, the incident the other day had not affected the gate policy. I considered the streets before me. The sudden influx of available power was as heady as the freedom… I drew the death in like air, coated myself in it. It was cold, but I was colder...

I headed in the same direction as I had previously taken. I did not know for sure the path, much of what I had done had been fuelled by the pure requirement for flight. But I had a general sense of direction, and the call of death…

It was not hard to find the cemetery. In the daylight, it was a different landscape to night. The weeds were a flowering field, through which the headstones and stone tombs emerged like landmarks. I began to kill the weeds, turning them to ash. I discovered the old pathways and plantings in between. Occasionally, it required physical intervention: flowering plants that had grown off their original planting plan. I had no tools, but fingers and stones served where required.

The houses around the cemetery had stilled when I had first arrived, but as my activity appeared innocuous, they began to stir, and women and children came out into their yards to tend their vegetable patches, hang their washing, and play.

The children played at sneaking up on me, hiding amongst the headstones and weeds. If I looked their way, they would scatter, giggling and shrieking, running away, only to return, inching their way through the greenery. Their mothers watched, wary. But I was just a girl, one of them, for all I wore the black of the invaders. They watched, but they did not fear me.

“What are you doing?” A small boy stood behind me, a tumble of dark hair and big dark eyes that reminded me of Eris’.

“I am… weeding,” I sat back on my heels. “Weeding and re-sowing that which has gone astray.”

“Why?” he asked me, kneeling at my side, using a hand against my back to balance in a way that would have been overly familiar in adults but in children was just matter for course.

“Well,” I considered. “These people mattered to someone, and they died, and the people who tended their graves died, and now where they rest is tangled and lost beneath weed. It is respectful, to return some order here.”

“It makes them happy,” he nodded. “The plants and the dead people.”

“Yes,” I could feel it in him, a certain familiarity. “Look,” I cupped a flowering plant that I had just re-bedded, and threaded Life into it, made it grow and bloom. “Can you…?”

He knelt beside me, and put his hand over another fragile seedling, brought it to bush and bloom, and looked at me, smiling widely. My heart faltered.

“Very good,” I said to him. “Can you do that again?” We grew plants between us, and each time he looked at me, proud and happy.

I had a memory of a warm spring day, in the vegetable patch, with my mother in a wide brimmed straw hat, directing me to the same activity: Well done, Briar. Can you do it again?

A flash in the sky caught my eye. A whisker, circling, all but invisible, were it not for that moment of sunlight reflecting. I looked down at my little companion. I did not mind if Thorn or Ash chose to monitor me by a whisker, but my new little friend and his family deserved the choice to reveal their abilities on their own terms, and on their own time.

I selected a good size rock, broken off one of the headstones, keeping it close and hidden in the weeds… and watched the whisker out of the corner of my eye. We continued to grow, my little friend and I. I taught him to recognise daisies and lavender amongst the weeds, roses he already knew… The company was pleasant, it kept me from thinking, from dwelling... The whisker dipped closer to us, and I threw my rock. Sparks and broken pieces, and the whisker fell to the ground.

“Why did you do that?” my little friend was confused.

“They don’t need to be watching us,” I replied. They would probably come, now, but better that, then having record of the little boy making plants grow.

“My mother’s coming,” he pouted, “she’s mad.” I saw his mother exit a building, she came towards us, not quite running, but only just not, from the expression on her face. She looked at me with fear.

I stayed, kneeling on the ground. If I stood, I feared she would take the move as threatening. “He is a good, helpful boy,” I said before she could speak. “We share a talent. Look.” I brought a seedling to bloom, and saw her eyes widen. “Your turn,” I told the boy. He did the same, and looked from me to his mother, with a smile, waiting for praise. “Wonderful.”

“Yes,” she said hollowly, “wonderful. Run inside now,” she said to him, “and watch over your sister for me.”

He hesitated as if to argue, but she shook her head with narrowed eyes.

“Maybe I will see you again?” he said to me.

I smiled: “I am sure of it.”

He glanced again at his mother, a look that promised childish complaint when she returned to the house, but he turned and ran back towards their home.

“How old is the boy?” I asked her.

“Leif is nine,” she said, defensively.

“Leif,” I had gotten used to the silver one’s ways, had been amongst them so long, I had not asked the child his name. “He needs to practice his ability, to control it.”

“It is dangerous,” she said.

“Times are changing. The ones,” I nodded in the general direction of the compound, “value these abilities.”

“And what do they do with those they find who possess them?”

I regarded her. “They wish to join with us, on this planet. Share their technology, share our world and lives.”

“Do they send you out, a trained pet, as ambassador, to search out and retrieve?” There was disdain in her voice.

“No,” I sent life into another plant, and turned a weed into ash, startling her. “I came here on my own errand. I do not recruit for them. I would not even… advise that you make the boy known to them. The opposite in fact, for now,” I met her gaze. “Their situation is complicated. Until they clarify it, I would not rely on them for my child’s wellbeing.”

“What is the purpose of this conversation, then?” she regarded me.

I shrugged. “You came to me, not I to you. He came to me, not I to him. I have no purpose or interest, other than because he shares an ability of mine, and so I… empathise.” I stood, to move further along the garden. She trailed behind me, unable to part from the conversation.

“It is not safe,” she said to me, “for any of us.” She did not say ‘with ability’ but I knew what she meant.

“No, there are those who fear it. The silver ones,” I gestured towards the compound, “they say it is more common amongst us than we know, we hide it so. But those who fear it, cause great harm.”

“And they will change that?” she asked me.

“They seek to,” I shrugged. “Will they succeed? I don’t know. They seem to succeed where they set their minds to do so. He should practice, anyway,” I nodded towards her house, “the boy, Lief. He needs to use it, to control it. I will be here, often, until this work is done. If you decide, I can help him.”

“For what in return?” she wondered, suspiciously.

“I need nothing from you.” He was coming. I stood, dusting my hands off on my trousers. “One of them is coming now,” I told her. “If you fear them, you will want to leave.”

“I do not fear them,” she said, but she retreated anyway.

Thorn came between the buildings. I turned to watch his approach, long strides and confidence, smooth athleticism. He wore full armour, helmet up, but camouflage off. The dragon-scale beads and face shield gleamed. The gardens emptied as mothers drew their children back inside, away from danger. “You should drop your helmet,” I told him. “You look menacing in armour. The locals have fled in terror.”

He brushed the helmet release and shook the hood off, grinning. I reached up and took his face between my palms. “There’s my pretty man,” I smiled. He laughed, his cheeks heating, and leaned down to meet my lips. “What have you been up to this morning?” I asked him, releasing his face and seeking his hand with mine. “Destruction and murder?”

“A bit,” he shrugged a shoulder, threading our fingers together. “And you?”

“A bit of the same,” I agreed, “killing weed and making plants grow.”

“For what purpose?” he wondered, frowning as he looked out across the field of dead.

“It seems respectful. There is so much death in this city, old and new, layer upon layer. When I was at the other outpost, there was a shade at my house, a woman who hung herself by the river. I found her bones, and we made her a grave, with her name upon it. She… left… after. My teacher, there, seemed to think it a service I owed the dead… to help them leave.”

“So, you’re trying to make the dead leave?”

“No,” I struggled to understand it myself. “Maybe. It doesn’t seem right, somehow, for there to be so much. It seems… counterproductive to what your people seek to do here. I guess I feel that they need some recognition at least. Especially,” I shot him a glance, “as you are so busy adding to them.”

“What I do,” he picked a flower from an ancient rose bush and clipped the thorns off with his thumb nail before passing it to me, “is done to minimise death. You can fight an enemy with all his forces lined up against yours, and what will result will be major losses on both sides and to the civilians caught up in the conflict. Or you can target key assets, weaken your enemy with little loss to the civilian population or your own. It reduces their ability to respond, to attack or defend and demoralizes their forces which results in defection.”

I lifted the flower to my nose and inhaled the scent. “Does it bother you?” I asked him, not sure I wanted to know the answer. It bothered me, the lives I had taken...

“You’ve asked me that before,” he frowned, thoughtfully. “The answer remains the same: everyone has someone who will miss them, who loves them, or to whom they hold value. I don’t like killing. I am good at it, but I have to… turn off… part of me to do it.”

“Why do this?” I asked him. “Why did you become a soldier?”

He cocked his head at me. “Everyone does service,” he replied, “in the armed forces. When you finish your education, you enter the armed forces for training. Depending on your aptitude, you are then assigned to a field of specialisation. This was where my skills led me.”

“So, you don’t… have artists? Bakers? Seamstresses or tailors? Weavers?” We strolled towards the road. I saw Lief’s mother in the door of her home, watching us.

“Yes, we have all of those,” he nodded, “in some form or another. But they are all employed by the government, and all through the armed forces.”

“So, no one just… does their own thing? Like we do here?”

He chuckled. “No.”

We walked down the street in silence as I turned over the idea of a planet where everyone was trained to kill… “Why?” I asked him. “Why does everyone become soldiers?”

“War,” he shrugged. “I am not sure what it was like before the wars, but we were at war so long, we adapted.”

“When did the wars end?”

“Do they ever really end?” he wondered. “Direct military conflict has not occurred since my grandparent’s time in active service. Officially, we have been at peace since before my parents were born. In reality, peace is a fragile thing and maintained by constant surveillance and…” he smiled, “manoeuvre warfare.”

“What does that mean, exactly?” I asked him. “I understand what it means in general, but what specifically did you do, before you came here?”

“You are very curious today,” he approached the gates and he nodded as we passed those on duty there.

“I feel as if you know far more about me, than I do about you,” I admitted.

“The advantage of spending almost two of your years in the bushland around your farm, watching you,” he shot me a smile.

“That’s sort of… uncomfortable,” I told him, “to think of you perhaps watching, all that time…” There were things I had done, when I thought I was alone… moments of privacy stolen in the bushland. A thought occurred. “Were you always recording? Oh, skies, you were,” I could tell from his face.

“The recording had to be intact and consistent,” he told me, carefully. “Or any part could be called under suspicion. But there are some ways around that. Don’t worry, no one else saw… things they shouldn’t.”

“Except you,” I accused, blushing.

“Except me,” he admitted, with a smile and smugness.

I pushed that thought aside. “You’re avoiding the question,” I pointed out.

He sighed. “There are always people who cling to old ways, or… make trouble for self-profit… or perform crimes they cannot be held accountable for under the normal legal processes, perhaps their family has connections, or they are untouchable for diplomatic reasons… My role was to address those issues.”

“By killing people.”

“Sometimes,” he agreed. We passed through the eating area, collecting rations and water. “On the subject of killing people. You did something interesting the other night. I am wondering if you could repeat that, and how much control you have over it.”

“I did a lot of things, the other night…”

“To the men in the passage between buildings…”

“Oh,” I didn’t want to think about it. “It’s not really something I can easily practice,” I replied, we were headed towards my workspace. “It’s not something I can do alone, nor is it something I want to do to people willy-nilly.”

“You can practice on me,” he suggested.

“No,” I shook my head violently. “I could make a mistake and kill you.”

“I trust you,” he said.

“I don’t trust me,” I refused. “No.”

“It is an ability that could be very useful to you,” he said. “You need to refine it and become confident in it.”

“Well, give me people who deserve to die, and I will practise on them. I will not practise on you,” I said, scowling.

He considered me for a long moment. “There is a mission… tomorrow. It’s against my instincts, to take you into danger but…” he sighed. “It would be better if you had some basic self-defence skills.”

“So, teach me,” I suggested. “Teach me to fight.”

A slow smile spread over his face, accompanied by a mischievous gleam in his eyes. “That could be fun.”

“Why am I suddenly worried?” I wondered. “Oh,” I had doors on my workspace. “Look, doors!” I opened them. My workspace was much improved; someone had improved my drying racks and created a bigger table space. My papers were neatly stacked on this workspace, along with the quill, and a whisker was at each corner of the room. The windows had shutters, I opened and closed them. “It’s a proper room.”

“With lighting,” he noted, touching the control panel to activate it.

“Oh,” I was thrilled. “This is… wonderful.” My writing was still in its hiding place, and undamaged by wet or wind. I brought it down and placed it on my table. “You’ll have to let whoever did this know I am grateful.”

“I think it’s my brother’s apology,” Thorn commented, with a slight curl of his lip.

“Well, between this and a broken nose, I almost forgive him,” I smirked. “Almost.”

“It should keep you out of trouble,” he agreed. “Come,” he gestured to the lane beyond. “We will do some basic moves and see how you pick them up.” He released his armoured jacket and shrugged it off.

I eyed him up. “Somehow I don’t think this will be a fair fight,” I commented.

He grinned and curled his fingers, drawing me in. “Come here.”

I approached cautiously.

“We’ll take it easy as you are still recovering,” he assured me. “Hit me.”

“Really?” I raised an eyebrow.

“Yes,” he nodded. I shrugged and took a swing. He blocked it with his arm, easily. “Not bad,” he said, laughing, “you didn’t hold back. Should I be worried?”

“I figured I’d give it my best,” I grinned back, “if you couldn’t stop me hitting you, then you’re not very good at what you do.”

He laughed, brightly. “Very well. What you did is a punch, a hook. There are different punches. Straights,” he demonstrated, “uppers, hooks. Whilst they’re useful, in your case, I wouldn’t worry about it. You need to surprise, fend off, and run… so we’ll work on elbows, knees and kicks,” he made a series of swift, rather deadly looking moves, that had me backing up a few steps.

“I am intimidated,” I admitted, breathless. My pulse picked up a beat.

He grinned. “Elbows,” he demonstrated. “Your turn.” I shrugged and gave it a go. “Good,” he purred his approval. “You’re not holding back. I would almost think you’re annoyed with me about something.”

“Maybe we should have Ash here for this practise,” I joked. “I would enjoy that.”


He drilled me through elbow strikes, push kicks, knees, and some blocks, until we were both sweaty and out of breath, and laughing.

“That was actually fun,” I said as we sat to drink our water and eat our rations. “I would never have imagined I would do something like that and find it fun.”

“I always enjoyed it,” he agreed. “We will continue to practice until it becomes second nature for you. I could use the exercise, as well. I have been so busy, here, that exercise has become incidental.”

“Exercise?” I wasn’t sure about the term.

“Ah,” he pulled a face. “Using physical exertion as a means to improve health, strength and skill. My people set aside time during the day to run, lift weight, practise physical skills.”

“I have never,” I was bewildered, “heard of people doing that. Why do you need to make time for those things?”

“Your people live a much more… subsistent existence,” he said. “You do not need to exercise, because it is part of your day. You carry water and wood, dig the earth, walk to where you need to go. Our existence does not involve so much physical exertion, so we must compensate by building it into our lives, in a way we call exercising.”

“You are so strange sometimes,” I shook my head at him, baffled.

He laughed. “As you are to me.”

His expression shifted and I narrowed my eyes at him. “I am sweaty, hot, and in the middle of eating,” I told him. “You have no hope of persuading me…” He leaned over and tasted the join of neck to shoulder, teeth and tongue tracking up to the pulse point below my ear. I shuddered and melted. “Well…”

“You have doors, on your workspace,” he reminded me.

“And whiskers inside,” I retorted.

“They’re keyed for others. Not us. We will not trigger them,” he had lifted me to my feet and was moving me backwards, towards my workspace, his mouth tracing the line of my jaw.


He pulled the heavy doors closed behind us.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.