AN/ This was written for a challenge. "Second person short story, futuristic, under four pages." Yeah. Well, I hope it works out! I know it ended up a bit rushed. I'd like any and all feedback.


Your upper lip curls without your permission at the sight of the young recruits. One of them glances at you where you stand on the high platform and then turns excitedly to another, whispering about seeing the great Titus Dmitri, no doubt. So sure. So ready for death and glory. You lost your surety, your eagerness for blood the moment that you realized this is a trap. There is no glory in being consumed by ambitions not your own. There is no greater good to be strived for.

The black and white world that your mind had accepted, had been fed, was ruined on the Day of Triumph.

That day. You know it has been put into the history logs as a victory, a day to be celebrated. And the Coalition did win. But at a price.

You glare at the recruits below you (children, they're only boys, how many lives will this war destroy?) and imagine their faces if you told them the truth. Gone would be their boasts, their bravado. Color would leave cheeks, white teeth hidden beneath grimacing mouths. And like you, they would try to run, only to realize that there is no escape, excepting death.

But you will say nothing. You will watch, as you always do, watch as any good left in the world is torn apart by corruption.


You hadn't been able to move – that was almost the worst part. Your whole life, you had never felt so helpless. To your shame, you know that your immobility didn't even stem from an injury; you were just afraid.

The other officers had been in a panick, their soldiers scattered and unsure. He'd never once questioned why the Coalition had only sent a tiny fraction of troops to face an entire planet. He'd even been flattered, assuming it was a show of trust in their abilities. The batlefield had proven the officers artless, the soldiers under-trained, and their numbers paltry.

When the jets had flown by, you assumed they were bringing reinforcements. The sight you had beheld instead would never leave your mind, no matter how you tried to purge it.

You sat and watched as the government you had devoted your life to slaughtered thousands of innocents. You don't know what poison they used, but you know it took out most of the population on the planet, and left the rest sickly, easy to kill. The troops sent in had merely been a formality to make propaganda vids easier to produce and to stop questions from being asked.

You saw the aftermath. The melted corpses of what had once been children - alien children, but children nonetheless. Soldiers fallen where they stood, unaware of why they'd been fighting to begin with. A whole planet, desolate. A race of sentient beings blotted from existence.

And you said nothing. You said nothing afterwards. You sat by as other surviving soldiers discretely wiped out, to keep the truth hidden. You were allowed to live as their figurehead, given your history of loyality and high rank. Now every good citizen of the Coalition believes you carried out a glorious defeat of the evil inhabitants of Kelper.

You wish they'd just killed you.

Like they killed Henri.


Since you were children, Henri was your bedrock. Your parents were ripped from you at a young age by the same war that took Henri years later. You were left with a thirst for revenge and a deep protectiveness towards your only remaining family member. Henri followed you everywhere, imitated everything you did, so of course he joined the military as soon as he was eighteen. Even when you believed every scrap of propaganda, you didn't want him risking his life. He shouted hypocrisy and followed you anyway, face open and eager.

His face on the battlefield looked slack and accusing, eyes void of warmth and life.

You dream of him most nights. He watches you, smiling as he drags a knife through your flesh, and your brother whispers, "This is what you did to me."

You sometimes want to beg him to stop, but you stay silent. How could you plead for yourself at night when you never speak for others during the day?

He tells you to break your silence. He tells you to shout what you know from the rooftops, to cause unrest. Revolution.

You never listened to Henri, even when he was alive. You hold the secret to you, deep in your chest, and like a living creature, it claws at your insides.

Even in your waking ours, his eyes follow you, accusing, as you carry on with your façade, play the stern admiral. Your superiors have no idea of the treason running through your mind. You've always been the perfect puppet.

If you spread the truth, there would be immediate dissention and possible mass revolts for the government to deal with. But who knows how easily those would be put down, how many people would die, if anyone would even believe you.

Coward, whispers Henri.


You stalk back and forth, keeping your demeanor of calm authority. You can practically taste the sweat pouring off these young men as the white star pounds down on them. You're spewing the usual jargon of honor and duty when you see Henri.

Intellectually, you know it can't be him. He looks years younger, like he did when he first joined the military. He's smiling his bright smile - one that you've only seen in your holos of him for years - in stark contrast to the stoic faces of the men around him. The recruits begin to mutter among themselves as you take several paces back. You're shaking.

Your eyes are transfixed on your brother. Blood now spills out of his mouth through his smile. His eyes roll back in his head until only the whites are showing. Then he opens his mouth and screams.

All you can do is scream along with him.


Waking up, you hear the murmurs. Admiral Dmitri. Psychotic break. Panic attack. Week's rest.

After the nurses have cleared you to leave the medbay, you stumble out dazedly. When you reach your quarters, nothing looks the same. You take all of your medals and throw them in the trash, unsure of why you hadn't years ago. Nothing matters anymore. Maybe nothing ever did.

You start with basic messaging. You just don't care that every official of higher rank than you will be able to tell that you were the sender. You send all that you know about every immoral detail of the government's operations to every soldier under your command.

From there, you contact the conspiracy theorists who clutter the cybernet and send them all the encrypted documents you've ever had access to.

You don't sleep, you don't eat. You let go.

It's only six hours before you're caught. You're surprised it took that long. You chalk it up to bueracracy. From what you can tell, there is already unrest among the lower level soldiers and several distant colonies. You have released the secret from it's jar, and you feel lighter for it.

You know information has been leaked before, but never at this scale. You stand before the cameras ready to capture your death and hope that a true revolution will begin this time.

As the venom is injected into your system, you wonder if Henri would be proud of you.