"This must be Heaven," Sgt. Simmons said with a weary smile. He stared up at the beautiful blonde and sighed. "What's your name, angel?"
"Mercy," the young woman replied. She sat on the ground, one slender arm supporting his shoulders with surprising strength, and cradled his head against the soft pillow of her chest.
"Nice name," he said. "But what's a pretty thing like you doing in a war zone?"
"I'm a forward scout for the ResMed teams," she explained. "The battle is over. We won."
"Doesn't feel much like a victory," he said bitterly. "Last thing I remember was me and my boys charging one of those D'Couri particle beam emplacements." He nodded weakly toward a nearby slope that was littered with debris, both organic and metallic. "The damned cannon opened up on us and next thing I know there's you. Not that I'm complaining about the company. Be nice if I could feel my legs though. How bad is it?"
"I'm sorry," she said, keeping his face turned toward hers with a gentle hand. "Your wounds are... serious."
"Yeah? Must have some spinal injuries, huh?"
"Yes, spinal injuries," Mercy agreed. "Nothing the Nanosurgeons can't repair. Just relax and wait for the ResMeds."
Simmons did as she suggested, letting her softness and warmth soothe away some of the horror of the past hours. "You know, I have some furlough coming up," he told her. "Was thinking about hitting the beaches on Selacias V for some R and R. How'd you like to come with me? Once the Docbots get done patching me up, I mean."
She smiled down at him wistfully and stroked his face. "That would be nice. I've never been to Selacias V. Why don't you tell me about it?"
"Well, you'd like it, I bet. It's real pretty there. The beaches are made of blue sand and at night you can hear the coral bats singing to each other. There's this little floating bar there that makes the best margaritas. You like margaritas?"
"Um humm...," she murmured in response, still gently caressing his face.
"It's getting a little hard to see, all of a sudden," he said, his voice growing steadily weaker. "Think I'm going to pass out. Hey, how 'bout a down payment on that date? Just to remember you by while I'm healing up..."
Wordlessly, she bent down to kiss him. As their lips came together, his body shuddered and she felt his soul slip free. It rose up, passing through her on its way to the Beyond, letting her briefly sense the valor and courage of his final hours. In that moment, she loved him intensely. Raising her face to the smoke-filled sky, the Valkyrie sang the Lament of the Grieving Lover over his lifeless husk.
Once the sacred song was sung, she rose, wiped the tears from her pale blue eyes, and moved on. The victory against the D'Couri had been costly indeed, she thought, glancing back at Simmons' body, its lower half little more than ash-covered bones. There would be many more for her to love before her work here was done.