Svelte Black by M. B. Barlow

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SUMMARY: In war there are no moments to be happy, and when you have the option of coming out on top for only one sacrifice a smile will reach your face.

Red flames lit the walls as the soldiers lined up into their formations inside the hall. Their shoulder guards were spiked as were the helmets, because the Dijon army were ready for war in order to protect the White Empire and that meant full armour. Either that or end up dead.
Dijon warriors wear armour intended to frighten their adversaries: coloured blood red with horrific carvings of creatures scattered all over the shoulder guards; they were meant to look like demons and most thought it succeeded. The red flames added to the effect
Tanks and canobikes were in front of the huge army, getting revved and set up to kill people. It was that time now, what they called "killing time."
Taikun watched high above in a skybox as his army were getting ready for a battle that he didn't agree with. He didn't agree with the war on principle, ethically, and he also had a leg that pained him, which meant that this war was not right, and especially this battle they were about to throw themselves into. He cringed and turned to his advisor. ‘This isn't right.'
‘We knew that already.'
‘Yeah, but all of this, these men, they shouldn't be wasting their lives on something so stupid.'
‘Wasting the training you mean?'
‘That too. But, damn, my leg is throbbing. Get me some juice, would you?'
‘You mean...?'
‘Of course I mean that, I'm not likely to ask for apple juice am I?'
The advisor left the room and Taikun was left with the plant he never liked. He grabbed a leave of the plant and yanked at it, wanting to pull it off but instead the plant crashed onto the carpet, levelling soil across it. ‘This ain't going to be my day,' he said and touched his leg tenderly.
All his men were in their personalised face paint. He'd changed that rule himself, that whole collective thing just didn't roll with him. He wanted the soldiers to have their own personalities intact and be creative with their own paintings, which showed their hearts on their face and on the canvas. Now that he saw them in their formations he was starting to fell, only slightly, that it may have been a mistake. A big mistake.
‘Here's your, uh, juice.'
Taikun juiced himself and felt the world grow tighter, compress and then, after the exhilarating part, release itself, letting the nerves tingle and finally flatten, leaving him lax in his chair. War did this to him, and he almost would have thanked it.
His morals weren't varied, and neither were they that ethical. But they suited him, and war only served one purpose: to cause fame.
Dijon was a nice place, mostly; sure it had its bad parts, but what doesn't? What the crowning achievement of the country was, the hub and central core to everything Dijon holds and aspires to, is the White Empire. Nobody can explain what the White Empire is or does, all that I can say is that it is one of the greatest things on Deus, and that's all that can be said.
The men and women who were lining into their formations were here to defend their country's pride, the White Empire. And I can respect that fully, because I know of times when there was no pride, nothing to fight for, but there was fighting anyway and it made no sense.

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