Lux Mori

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Chapter 6

“Fall in line! Melko!”

“Yes, Sergeant!”

“Did you roll call?”

“Sir, yes Sir!”

“All accounted for?”

“Present and accounted for!”

“Let’s head topside then!”

And like that, I led my men from the front, single file Topside. I had never, and would never lead from the rear. I’d also never ask anything of my men that I wasn’t willing to do myself. No good Sergeant would.
When we reached Topside, I could feel it immediately. The atmosphere had violently shifted since the last time we had been up, and it hadn’t been long at all. The temperature was already cooler Topside, which in my mind meant that the core would cool even more rapidly. The air was denser, the cloud coverage was hindering the solar panels from working at even half capacity. At first glance, it looked like all but two were intact, which was definitely a good thing, but upon closer inspection, there were at least eight that were damaged.

“Melko!”

“Yes, Sergeant!”

“Repair the panels.”

Without a word of protest, he went about his job. It was a shit job to do alone, and he knew it, but he also knew he’d earned it.

I gathered my men before sending them out into the unknown and I wordlessly studied each of their faces. I committed to memory their looks of resolve. Not a one of them held defeat in their eyes, and for that, I was proud of them. I had underestimated my unit. They were each strong in their own ways, and I just hoped that strength was enough to both save us all and bring them home in one piece.

Melko had repaired the panels as much as he could manage with the resources we had available and fell into formation with the rest of them. I clapped him on the shoulder and gave him a nod of thanks. Like that, everything between us was forgiven for now. Until the next time his smart mouth got him into hot water; if there was a next time.

“Everyone got their coordinates?” I had to shout for my voice to be heard over the roaring winds.

“Sir, yes Sir!”

“You do your best for your fellow man, and bring your asses home, hear me?”

“Sir, yes Sir!”

“If you get in trouble out there, you can try to contact one of us on your watch, we’ll try to get to you, but with as far apart as we will all be, the chances of us making it in time will be slim. So you watch your back, you be ruthless and resourceful, and you do everything you can to complete this mission. We meet back here in thirty days at twenty-one hundred hours!”

“Yes, Sergeant!”

“Head out!”

I stood and watched as my men went off in their own direction, to try and salvage something to save us all. It wasn’t until I could no longer even make out the silhouette of the last of them in the distance that I set off in search of my own coordinates.

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