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RoadsidePicnic

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  1. The sun was bright, not a single cloud in the sky. In the distance birds could be heard chirping, it was warm, comfortable, almost dreamlike… “Beautiful weather for an airstrike” Kaleida thought to herself as she surveyed the destroyed city landscape from the top of a crumbling apartment complex. She knew no planes would ever fly over this city again. It had been six months since the first nuclear blasts scorched the Earth, engulfing the countryside in flames and causing buildings to collapse within the city. Kaleida could still remember the blast, and the deafening silence afterwards. The civilian casualties would have been enormous had the city not already been evacuated years beforehand and turned into an uninhabitable warzone. The only inhabitants of the city now were soldiers and a few poor souls who didn’t make it out before the shooting started. Lost in thought, Kaleida almost didn’t hear the sound of footsteps climbing up the fire escape. She clumsily fumbled for her weapon- an old standard issue rifle, and shouldered it. Moving cautiously towards the fire escape she flicked her safety off and rounded the corner to find a feral cat. “Shoo you silly person!” Kaleida whispered, tossing a rock towards the animal to scare it. The cat hissed and backed away slowly, then jumped down the fire escape and darted out of sight. Kaleida sighed and went back to scanning the horizon... Kaleida flipped through her radio channels searching for signals. Nothing. Command had been silent for the last six months since the bombs fell. She had come to America as part of an invasion force back when this was supposed to be just another resource war that would only last a few months. She should have seen the signs that it was going to become something bigger. Signs like the special activities division officer assigned to her division. Signs like her commanding officers being briefed by men who highly outranked them; but it wasn’t her place to question that. She was a soldier, proud to serve her country, which is why she didn’t hesitate when her officer asked her to join an experimental program to hack into the Lifenet mainframe in order to allow her side to clone their own soldiers, a program that ended in limited success, as she was the only soldier in her unit who’s DNA was compatible with the Lifenet database. Command was supposed to send more compatible volunteers but they hadn’t arrived before the bombs fell… Kaleida munched on an apple. Had her army survived? Had her homeland survived? Her last orders had been to hold the city against all enemy forces until death, and she had done so with her battalion. When the bombs fell, her battalion had four hundred soldiers, now she was the last..all because of this damned collar. Hundreds of times she had died for her country, and hundreds of times she had woken up in a pod, scared, confused, alone, only to find her way back to her camp to the judging looks of her comrades. They eyed her with suspicion, even fear as she was regarded by many as a monstrosity. “A soldier who cannot die cannot have a soul”, one NCO had whispered a little too loudly. But they were all gone, and Kaleida was still there… She tugged at her collar, wishing that she could just take the damned thing off and walk out into the open where surely a sniper would spot her. Kaleida knew that she couldn’t do it; not while there was a chance that her army would come back to her. “Surely they must still be looking for me”, Kaleida thought to herself. But she knew the truth, her side had lost and she was all that was left. Suddenly in the distance she spotted what she had been waiting for, an enemy supply convoy, right on time. Kaleida scooped her helmet from the ground and secured the strap with a sad smile. Kaleida raised her rifle and prepared to charge the enemy, knowing that one day this hell would end, and she would finally go home.
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