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They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason. —Ernest Hemingway

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Voltaura arrived at her hotel room. Cracks and small white marks covered the room, leaving it a sad shell of its former glory.  Voltaura rushed over to the drawer with the desperation of a dying animal and opened it, revealing a belt, a spoon and a syringe.

She pulled out a bag of sickly white crystals and poured some onto the spoon. She then produced a lighter and lit it below the spoon and waited until the crystals melted. The Toa then poured the substance into the syringe, accidentally dropping some of it on the floor in her haste. She then put the belt around her upper left arm, choking it until blood flow ceased, and injected the disgusting substance into her veins. The rush never came. It hadn’t come in a while, in fact. But feelings did.

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Mazeka looked at the scarred sky. Corrupt lime everywhere you could look. Rogulon, Petros, Photokgrad, it didn’t matter. As the last remaining uncorrupted planet in the STC, they were bombarded constantly with enemy troops.

Even then, Mazeka knew that Tanma was playing with them like a Muaka with its prey.

My son.

“Father, how long will we hold? Even with your and Photok’s help, we cannot hold the planet for much longer.”

I…do not know.

Mazeka would’ve prayed, were it not for the fact that he knew it would go unanswered.

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Tahatai looked at Shake Your Foundations’ broken mask. Ever since her transformation, she had not been able to reawaken her Kahagah. She didn’t blame it entirely, to tell the truth. She envied it, in a way.

She opened the cabinet and pulled out her last bottle of Galian wine, possibly the last one in existence, and drank it all in one sitting.

Before blacking out, she looked in the mirror and hated what she saw.

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Voltaura hated the new recruits. Their bold and cocky attitude, their weakness, but most of all, their naiveté infuriated her. Those three were going to get killed on first contact.

One of them, the Toa with the red Kakama she believed was called Njoru, was the one she loathed the most. At least the two Skakdi had some combat experience.

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A pure signal from the universe’s core. Our last hope for survival.

We traveled there using the same dropship we stole all those years ago. Brought back memories to those who still lived back when everyone lived, before the Nova Blast, before Tanma returned. Back when Kingy ranted about the economy, when Clorox made an ass out of himself, when Onuvaak led us. Back when…

It’ll be over soon. All our suffering. All our pain. All of our struggles, if we manage to protect the core just long enough for reinforcements to arrive.”

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The core was not pure as they had expected. The signal was received 5 days after it had been fully corrupted, its purity scattering as a dying gasp.

Mazeka was paralyzed when he saw the scorching light of the lime green core. Shortly after, his divine power came bursting out of his chest in response to the instability, killing him instantly. There was no choice but to dump his body outside, exposing them to the large armada of ships stationed in the area.

Flight was the only option.

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“I can’t deal with this anymore.”

The red Toa clutched her head and started screaming.

“Shut the fuck up Njoru, if you can’t deal with this then do us all a favor and eat your gun.”

“Ah agree, if tha’ bitch can’t handle this shite then she shou’d shut up and let us do tha’ dirty wo’k”

When they arrived back at Solekial, it was clear that the Tanmanians were tiring of the game and were going in for the kill. Fires could be seen from outer space. Ships could be seen fleeing the planet. Solekial was falling. The ship was shot down moments after arrival.

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When Voltaura came to, she saw Njuru with a gaping hole in her chest yet still alive, crying into her shoulder.

A pulse on Voltaura’s chest.

Bump.

Bump.

Bump.

...

Voltaura rose to her feet, and then dropped again in pain. A series of bullets pierced her armor.

“I don’t want to die here. I don’t want to die. Oh gods above, don’t let me die here, not here, please…”

And in that trench, Voltaura succumbed to her injuries, bloodied and bitter, dying not a satisfying death, not a warrior’s death, but a death fit for a pathetic person. A bitter, unfulfilling death.

And in that moment, Kopaka woke up.