It’s just like they say it is – a gun fight. The lights, the noise, the adrenaline rush. When blasts hit objects they smoke and powder. Then the battle passes on its way, leaving bodies scattered behind it.

But there are three things they don’t teach you about laser blasts at Military Academy. The first thing is they don’t kill you with a single shot. Next, that they don’t seal – they explode. And then they bleed. But lastly, and most importantly, they don’t tell you how much it hurts.

Trooper First Class Erai lay in the corridor of a Republican Cruise Ship. The smoke around him was charred flesh, and the smell of pork hung heavily in the air. His armour had taken most of the blast, but not enough. The shot had passed through, taking out a chunk of his thigh. The second shot must have been lucky – his blaster was hit, and that offered no protection at all. It blew most of his hand away.

-Oh shit. Shit. shit. shit. I’m going to fucking die. Ican’tdieI’mnotreadytodie.

He took a deep breath; and thought of his mum, tears coming to his eyes.”I’m sorry, mum. So sorry.” He sniffed. She always said he’d get himself killed one day.

-And I have, mom.

It crossed his mind that if there was someone for everyone, then he had doomed his someone to a life of loneliness.

– I don’t have anyone to miss me.

He reached out with his good arm, gripped dead flesh, and pulled. He managed to drag himself to a corridor, opening more wounds and leaving a swathe of blood behind him.

-All my life and it comes to this. Bleeding and shaking on the floor of a ship.

His bladder went. He took a deep, careful, shaky breath.

He was going to die.

Someone nearby groaned and coughed. Coughed wet.

He looked at his shattered hand, the bones sticking through ragged stumps, some bleeding, some oozing. The pain had gone now – all that was left was a throbbing with every heart beat.

He swallowed.

-My mouth is so dry.

He closed his eyes, feeling the throb in his fingers, but not the wound in his thigh. Not anymore.

-Maybe…maybe I’m going to be ok? I mean. Aren’t you meant to see your life flash before your eyes or something? I didn’t see anything.

He swallowed, again.

-I’m cold though. Maybe…maybe if I sleep for a little. Just close my eyes.

Erai thinks he can hear footsteps coming his way – someone calling his name. He tries to mumble. “Just five more minutes, mum,” and falls asleep.

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