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It takes four days transit to get from the warzone to Sternheim.

There's a military flight out of system, but after that we fly commercial.  My Marine ID gets me a decent billet, but no frills.  Civilians stare at my uniform.  I stay in my cabin during transit, avoiding their questions.

At Sternheim, it's another nine hours in a passenger carrier from the orbital transit hub to the surface.  I sleep through the flight.  As the carrier comes in to dock, someone drops a case.  The heavy thump brings me to my feet in a split moment, wide awake, ready to fight.  The marshal in charge of our cabin happens to be just one row behind my seat.  He lays a steady hand on my arm and says very softly "As you were, Sergeant."

I turn to him, surprised, and still wrestling with combat instincts and the adrenaline surge.  "You?"

He nods.  "Ten years.  I was a lieutenant, Ground, at Hemnon.  We're coming in to dock, Sergeant.  Please take your seat."

"Yes sir."

Rush meets me at the shuttle port.  I pick him out of the mob at ten meters, long before he notices me.  He was my best friend, before.  I was in thrall of his flair and style.  Now I glance over his sloppy appearence: hair too long, disheveled; garish red leather jacket; strategically ripped trousers unbloused from red ranger boots – 'fashionable' reproductions of the real thing – synth-leather, stamped in a scale pattern, steel-capped pointed toes, and not quite the same shade as the jacket.  Sum up, he looks ridiculous.  I catch myself calculating how hard to thrash him for it.  Spooks me a bit.

He grins, and hugs me.  "Welcome home, Soldier."

Automatically I correct him, "Marine."

"Marine!  All right.  How do you want to spend your first night back from the zone, Marine?"

"Not talking about the zone."

"Okay.  You got it."  He grabs my duffle, even though I can tell it's too heavy for him.  He struggles valiantly.  I give him his pride.

"I want the longest hot shower."

"Easy enough.  After that?"

"Feed me like a wilderhund, get me drunk, and get me laid."

He laughs out loud.  "Simple pleasures."

"You have no idea."

"We should be able to accomodate you."  On the tarmac, Rush's trick little sport cruiser waits for us.

"Nice ride."  I think it's the stupidest thing I've ever seen.  All look-pretty, no meat.

"Thanks!  Graduation present."

"I would have gone with the black."

Rush laughs.  "Ladies only notice the red ones."

"Sure.  And I'll bet the leather interior sells it."

"How'd you guess?"  He grins as he triggers the door release and the 'wings' slide open.

"I can smell dead cow from here!"

Folding down the driver's seat, Rush fights my duffle into the back.  I wait, pretending not to notice his difficulty.

The evening is cool, cruisers prowl the ramps, lightmurals crawl across the towers.  Seven different musics crash into each other, set my teeth on edge.  The people around us laugh and talk and argue.  Laban is winding up for another long night.  Nothing has changed.

"Hey, relax!" Rush says.

My attention snaps back to him.  "What?"

He laughs.  "You're all tight, like you think somebody's gonna jump you.  Relax."

"I'm tired," I lie.  I slept the whole flight down from orbit.

I used to think all the excitement of the city was a thrill.  Now it triggers every alarm in my system.  I can't track all the action.  I feel wound and unsafe.

I rent a dormitory room for the week.  I spend almost an hour under the shower.  I almost fall asleep.

"Aren't you gonna wear the blacks?" Rush asks from the lounge where he flashes through stations on the network terminal.

Without thinking I've dressed in familiar utilities, drab green.  I don't have anything else except my Class A service uniform.  I don't want that kind of attention.  "This is fine."  The fatigues are new, clean and creased, that's all I care.

"Ladies love the uniform," he smirks.

"Don't have dress blacks with me.  Not authorized."

"Well, I guess that'll work."  He flicks the terminal off and rises from the lounge; pulls his jacket on.  "I called some friends to meet us."

"Friends?"  Most of the names that word brings to mind now belong to dead men.

"Girls, friends."

"Flash."  I wonder if he thinks of anything else.

"Where do you want to eat?"

The place is packed and noisy: laughter and shouting, vicious synthar and drums.  Smoky.  Perfect.  We sit at the bar, warm up with a few shots, then graduate to a table as it becomes available.  The steak is hot and the liquor is ice cold.  I must have died in that last skirmish, because I'm in paradise.

Rush gets stupid after his second drink.  I've seen the bottom of five – or maybe seven – after an hour and a half.  The alcohol helps level my nerves and dull the paranoia.  The constant noise and activity does the rest.  I'm finally starting to relax.

"Can I bring you gentlemen anything else?"

It takes me a minute to get my brain to focus on the question and not her chest.  "Yes.  Double order of king prawn, fried eel with rice.  And a refill."  I raise my glass in mock toast and finish it off.

She smiles.  "Mauler's again?"

"You got it."

As she glides away toward the bar, Rush asks, "How can you eat more?  You already put down half a cow."

"It was a small cow."  Combat has left me underweight and ravenous.  I could gain ten kilos and still be nothing but skin and bones.

"Here they are!"  Rush nods toward the door, rising to his feet.  I glance over the newcomers.  Bretta and Iane, girls we knew in school.  Bretta, short and blonde, curvy, puffy lips, in some skimpy red thing; Iane, long and tall in something more modest up top, but showing off her smooth, dark legs.  Both pretty enough, but at this point, pretty is an afterthought.  I'm like to mount anything with a pulse.

Rush waves them to our table.  Bretta immediately wraps herself around Rush.  My estimation of his friendship slips a notch.  Iane sits next to me, lets me slide a hand up her thigh.  "Hello, legs."

She laughs.  "You haven't changed a bit!"

"I'm drunk, love."

"Well, and I will be, give me an hour or so."

"I'm feeling generous, I'll give you two."

Rush pays for a car to drop us at the dorm which might win him back a point or two in my book.  Upstairs, I find Iane's dogtags as we strip, but I don't want to think about it.  We fuck, and doze and fuck again.  She is lean and soft and wants me, but doesn't want it to mean anything.  Neither do I.

"When did you join?"

She's half-stupid in the afterglow.  "The Marines?  I joined out of school."


"Because they'll pay my way to university."

"That's a shit reason, Iane."

"Not all of us have rich fathers willing to pay our way, Sabbath."

"Don't."  I hate that name, she knows it.  I hate him even more.  "I never asked him."

"You don't have to."

"Fuck you, Iane."

"You just did," edge on her voice.

I almost hit her for that.  Even draw my hand back for it.

She glares at me.  "Don't you dare."

I'm supposed to live to a higher standard than this.  We both are.  I let my hand drop.  "I'm sorry."  This anger is stupid, and I'm not sure who I'm mad at.

"It's all right."  She strokes my hair.  I'm almost asleep when she asks, "What happened to your back?"

"Hmm...?"  The welts she means.  They're almost healed.  "Fucked up.  Stood a thrashing."

"Poor thing."

"Deserved it."  I'm too tired to explain it, but she doesn't ask.  She counts my ribs with slim fingers, but doesn't tell me the obvious.

"Go to Flight," I tell her in the morning.  "You're clever, could be a pilot.  They live like human beings.  Hot meals and showers."

"Thanks for the advice."

"I'm proud of you, Marine."  I mean it.  It spooked me at first, but I am proud to serve with Iane and call her my Marine sister.

"Thanks, Sarge," halfway making fun of me.  But she smiles.

"I'd like to see you again."

Her smile fades.  "I don't think that would be good for us."

"Why not?"

"My muster date is in two weeks.  I have a lot to wrap up in between.  And you need to find a job."

"Iane, it's my second day back, can't I make it a week without thinking about that?"

"No."  She sticks her tongue out at me and laughs.  "Listen.  I had a good time.  I had fun.  But it's not going to last."

"Not even two weeks?"  That part about not wanting it to mean anything?  I think that was my liquor stupor talking.  This morning, a few steps closer to sober, I'm suddenly looking at being alone – well and truly alone - for the first time in almost four years.

Marines are pack animals.  We eat, sleep, play, and fight in groups.  I've gotten used to having somebody watching my back.  All day, all night, no matter what.  I don't think I can handle a solo run.

"You've got six months before you go back?" she says.

"Yes."  The thought scares me, so I avoid it.  "Or, I can take discharge.  My enlistment term is almost up.  I haven't decided."

"Then you definitely need a job."

"You're circling the issue."

"Sabbath.  No."

I have to let it go; have to let her go.  And as soon as the door latches shut the crushing silence closes in.

'2nd' Draft of this piece.

A bit of backstory on Sgt. Sabbath Trex on furlough after his first combat tour.

The Marines in my universe are of course based on the US Marines, with some exceptions:
Their dress uniforms are black, not blue.
The rank system has been somewhat restructured.
The Corps is organized in two distinct sections - Marine Flight[aviation and spacecraft] and Ground Marines[infantry, armor, artillery, etc].

:star: Any crit/questions/general feedback are as always much appreciated.

chars/text © =KreepingSpawn
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-09-07
Furlough by =KreepingSpawn

"Whether he's writing about a fictional universe or our own wars here on Earth, he always brings home the fact that soldiers who kill and maim and torture also love and hurt and cry" (from the suggester). ( Suggested by LiliWrites and Featured by neurotype )

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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aeowap Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Good story, and I don't even like short fiction.  He reminds me of every SF, Army, or Marine I ever worked with ever so extra good job! :)  I think the ending could be tightened up a bit, maybe change the last few sentences a bit to give it a bit more resonance.  One of my professors in uni would say give it more twang (resonance) and less bang, lol.
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner May 27, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much for taking time to read and comment! :D
I'm glad the piece rings true with your experience. My foremost priority is always to give an honest portrayal of soldiers' lives - even through a sci-fi filter.  ;)

Any specific suggestions for 'tightening' the ending?
aeowap Featured By Owner May 29, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Specifically?  No.  The sentence structure at the very end   "I have to let it go; have to let her go."  Extend this bit.  Discuss it more.  What he's letting go.  Is it really just her he needs to let go or is it something else?  Get deep into his psyche.

"And as soon as the door latches shut the crushing silence closes in."  This sentence needs more.  It's the last sentence of the story so it needs to be extra special.  Sweeten it.  Sharpen it so you cut the scene like a knife. 

Sorry if all that comes across as rather vague but I hope it helps.

Something I just noticed something, though.  In the military, they pay you salary and you continue to receive that pay whether you're deployed, at home station, or on leave.  Do they not do that in this universe?
Isengim Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Congrats, man. It's been a long time coming.
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks mate! 

Glad to see you still 'lurking' about.  ;)
Isengim Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Like a ghoul in a graveyard :iconwhistleplz:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
blubbityblub Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I really like this. I'm watching you for more, this is really good.
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much!  :D
Hope you enjoy.  :)
Steve-C2 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013

The thoughts of the combat-hardened soldier seem realistic.  I cannot speak from experience, having never served, but it seems to echo what I've casually observed or run across in reading.  Besides, it just makes sense.

I'm not sure exactly what happened at the end, where he was, or such - but that is probably my own reading, and not as important as how everything came across.  It's a good stream of thought piece.

Good job.
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much for taking time to read and for your thoughtful comment.  :)
And thank you for the :+fav:!

For clarity, the closing scenes take place at Trex's rented dormitory.  ;)
laurotica Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013   Writer
Your military fiction is some of the best of the genre I've seen on Deviantart.  Congrats on a well-deserved DD :clap:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much!  :)  I appreciate you taking time to read and comment.

And thank you for the :+fav: and watch!  :hug:
laurotica Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013   Writer
No problem! :D
Euxiom Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013
Fantastic piece! :D
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much!  :D
GDeyke Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013   Writer
Great voice, and I think you did a really good job depicting the difficulty of adjusting. My favorite bit was this: I used to think all the excitement of the city was a thrill.  Now it triggers every alarm in my system.  I can't track all the action.  I feel wound and unsafe. - because it's a feeling I know, if not for the same reasons.

Two things I want to point out for being a little awkward:

I'm like to mount anything with a pulse. - Did you mean likely here?

"Hmm...?" the welts she means. - The lowercase on the really bothers me here, which is interesting because I didn't have a problem with edge on her voice. I think it's the fact that the welts she means is a complete sentence that bothers me: complete sentence, but not dialogue tag.

Otherwise I think this is really great. The narrator definitely feels very natural and believable. :)
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much for reading and for your thoughtful crit!

I'm glad the narrator is natural and relatable for you. 
I'm curious about your own experience, but I respect your privacy.  ;)

I did mean "likely" and tried changing it, but it seemed to break out of voice whenever I read it over, so I changed it back.  ;p

Thanks for spotting that rogue "tag."  I'll fix that!
GDeyke Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013   Writer
Welcome! :)

Oh, it's a common feeling for me when I'm in loud/busy/crowded areas (oddly concerts don't seem to trigger this if I can get into the music - which I suppose is why I'm not surprised at Sabbath's managing to be comfortable in the crowded bar), and in extreme cases even when I'm at home with small groups of people I know well. I'm not sure if I have a reason - I honestly can't remember if this has always been the case for me or if it started after bad experiences - but I certainly don't have a military background to blame it on.

I can see what you mean about the voice. I was actually debating whether I should point that one out, because it was only slightly awkward and everything else I tried in my head sounded worse, but I figured it would be better to make sure. ;)
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I can relate.  I don't like crowds either.  ;p My dad is the same way, but more so.  I can cope, but it's uncomfortable for any long period of time.
That's why I like to live in Vermont, where it's more rural, and quiet.  :devilish:
But, I do like concerts, although I haven't been to one in ages.

Thanks for sharing.  :D
GDeyke Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013   Writer
I live in a quiet, rural area too - but then twice a year there's a market and I freak out. :p Doesn't stop me going, though.
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
:giggle:  At least you can face it!  Don't let it chain you down.
GDeyke Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013   Writer
Well, I do my best. ^^;
lintu47 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    Congrats on the DD! :dalove:
    Have a nice day! :heart:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you!  Thanks for having a look!  :)
lintu47 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    It's my pleasure :happybounce:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Congratulations on the DD. :heart:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you very kindly for suggesting it!  :tighthug:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012   Writer
Congratulations on the DLD! This is a fine example of your work, always appreciated. :iconspreadmoreloveplz:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you! :D
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012   Writer
:iconyourewelcomesignplz: ... :hug:
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2012
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DailyLitDeviations in a news article that can be found here [link]
Be sure to check out the other artists featured and show your support by :+fav:ing the News Article.
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
That was unexpected! Thank you! :D
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2012
You are quite welcome! :heart:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I honestly don't have much in the way of critique to offer here. I like the character, and I think you accomplished the feeling of being out of sync with society very well. The narration is believable and witty, and even manages to avoid cliche with his admission of actually wanting to try a relationship with Iane once the booze starts to wear off. The details about this world were sparse, but they seemed to fit well so I wasn't confused about what was going on. Not to mention, I was too busy getting to know your character to care much about the smaller details. :P

So, all in all, great job. I'm sorry I don't have critique for you. But I would LOVE to see more from this character. :+fav:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks! :D Encouragement is at least as important as crit. :nod:
I'm glad you sympathize with our 'hero.' There will be more to follow!

There is a little tidbit here: [link]
But VERY short.
ElaineRose Featured By Owner May 26, 2011  Student Writer
I see that the "2nd" is in quotations. I just skimmed the original before heading into this draft, and I can't say that I found any notable differences--perhaps a lengthened beginning. That said, this makes more sense and has more appeal the second time around. What changes did you make from the original, and what new/altered direction were you planning on taking this in?
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner May 27, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
The '2nd' in quotes because this is really like a '7th' draft. ;p

There is an 'extended' begining - the scene with the marshal,
expanded scene with Rush @ the shuttle port, I inserted some more specific descriptoin of Bretta and Iane, and tried to show how tense and off balance Trex is. He's very much out of his element and trying to compensate, but mostly failing.

My main purpose here is to show Trex's mal-adjustment to civilian life. This 'first night back' scenario rather then being just a bumpy start, ends up being more the rule for him. It makes more plausible [I think/hope] his ultimate reenlistment. The military represents a comfort zone, which he has no immediate need or desire to distance himself from. The interaction with Iane is representative of most of his relationships - it was fun but it won't last - giving him nothing to invest him in the civilian world.
ElaineRose Featured By Owner May 27, 2011  Student Writer
Very good. I'd say to go ahead and replace the original, because this one is much more readable than the original. You made good changes.
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner May 27, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks very much. :)
i appreciate all your help!
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Submitted on
May 25, 2011
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Mature Content


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