Battle Roh ZN-10-4, Annex Class, 004
I apologize for my poetics.
Once I spoke in staccato, without emotion, through the Vox—that telepathy of machines, a channel for instantaneous communication. Most of my speech was reserved for tactics, for relaying my position, my next position, for observations, insights, a language for war. The battle schools taught us that expression is another tool of the soldier.
But I have had little to do for the last century lying here in the rubble of dead anneks, disregarded by the squids, who have no use for technology except the stolen plasma rifles they used to retaliate against invasion. Those too have been tossed; I often find myself looking at a las slinger not three throws away. When I see the squids fly overhead like crows, I never see them with tech; just those tentacles, those glibbering sacs of air, those long pinnacles that mark their heads. Theirs is the freedom of old-world dolphins.
No, my sentiment comes from reading files in my boredom—leftovers from school. Poems written millennia ago, writ before the human race was perverted and destroyed. Odysseys, monomyths, epic poems, extracts. Folk tales. Plays. Some have been adapted into propaganda. An annek is marooned on a planet and must circumnavigate ice floes and dagger rains and pinkskinned worms. An annek must reject the love-offering of a thermalwave engine to complete his mission objective.
We, the Roh of Annex Class, are identical, from the rings between our joint-bulbs to the glass of our retinal runes. We store these stories to find inspiration in dismal times. These heroes are the closest thing we have to individuality and the concept of moral courage.
I am marooned, too, like VC-11-9. But unlike this hero, who forded white rivers on a patch of his spaceship's wing, my legs are missing. My arms are missing. I am battle clutter.
Actually, I could move if I chose to. My weapon arm is cut after the elbow, and I can crawl in a jagged way. But to where? There is no destination worth my interest. Nowhere for a lone Roh to go. A century ago, I was disconnected from the Vox. The event told me that my people had left completely. Otherwise, I'd be a data point among others to map the ground, recording information for a counterattack. Disconnected means the Roh have the left the planet—left orbit—left the system.
I am alone.
No harbor. No haven. No purpose. No thoughts of revenge. No anger or pain. Just the stillness. The spectacle of the squids. The soothing steam-spouts and white towers. The hot rain that peels away my blue paint.
Do you see why I've turned to poetry?