Intercosmic - Chapter 33 - Battle Scars

“Shoot back you bastards,” I keep yelling over the gunfire to my team. “Don’t let the Vaznians get any closer. We’re almost to our withdrawal point.”

Casey and Maura keep trying to hold me down as if we’re not in the middle of a fire fight. Faramund and Habeeb are doing a great job keeping space but we need to get back in the fight. I can’t seem to find my rifle; I might have lost it in the blast. It doesn’t matter. I draw my sidearm and fire into the brush I can't tell if the screams are from me hitting my mark or the screams have always been there and I had been ignoring them.

“Sit him down,” Maura keeps yelling at Casey. “He can’t fight like this.”

I try to stand but my body is off balance, I collapse again. This has to be the work of the Vaznians, psionics can affect balance at close range. One of them has to have snuck into our circle. We need to find them fast. I slip into the mud again; my arm fails to break my fall.

“Efrem, I need you to sit down,” Casey puts a knee into my chest.

“Get off me, we need to move,” I fight but can’t seem to get leverage to move him off me.

“Please, stop,” Casey pleads with me.

I keep trying to push and shove him away but he’s unwavering. I’m not sure if he has tears in his eyes or sweat running down his face. I try to slide my way free before he finally slams his fist down on my face. By the fifth punch I get the message and stop fighting back. There doesn’t seem to be much I can do to overpower him from this position. If I could just shift my bodyweight I could get the upper hand.

“There’s too much blood, I’m going to have to tie a higher tourniquet.”

“Is the gel any use?”

“No, the wound is too large, this isn’t a bullet hole.”

I get a glimpse of my arm. Mud and blood surround the remains of my bone. I suppose he’s right, maybe I should take a seat. I’m going to die out here and they’ll never recover my body. Oh fuck, I’m going cross eyed. A burning sensation forces me back to consciousness Casey is holding my shoulder with both hands as Maura drives a signal flair into the wound. Soon pain overtakes the confusion and I’m forced to scream, drawing anyone who might be watching to our location. Deep heavy pounding, do they have bombs, is it our rescue team clearing the area? This might be the end for us.

The pounding on the bedroom walls pulls me from my dream; my recurring nightmare. Someone in the adjacent room must have heard me screaming or talking out loud. At first, I didn’t remember losing my arm, now I’m reminded of it at least once a month. I think I’m reminded of it, I have no idea if that is really what happened. Maybe my mind is just filling in the blanks, there’s small differences each time. Casey always punches me in the face, if that’s true, I really need to thank him. He visited me in the recovery center when nobody else did, until I told him to get lost. Maura always patches the wound, sometimes it’s a flare, other times it’s a hot rifle. The most gruesome is when she just cuts my arm off with a plasma sword. I wonder how she’s doing. I wonder if she even has a plasma sword, they’re not super common for most missions and I don’t recall her having one at any other point.

Sleep is out of the option, I have a glass of cold water and climb back into bed. I spend a few minutes scrolling through my wrist comp, just to see if anything interesting, or at least good is happening in the world. There was an arrest in the Enka murders on Mars, a man with ties to a human supremacist organization. There haven’t been any investigations into the actual organization, as expected. I give up on the news and choose to watch some television.

After flipping through hundreds of channels, I settle on a show called Space Cowboy. It follows a group of bounty hunters as they travel throughout the galaxy. Kōichi Blum, a former mafia member who settled on bounty hunting after being betrayed. Beau Ishizuka, a former police investigator, he’s my favorite. Beau lost an arm and is using the skills he learned to track down criminals. If it wasn’t a fictional show, I’d wonder if I could follow in his footsteps. I might be a good investigator and I can handle a shootout just fine these days. It’s fun to imagine. Right now, they’re tracking down a criminal that their partner Megumi Lee has fallen in love with. Megumi doesn’t have any knowledge of her past, and is probably searching for a family of her own. She just doesn’t realize she’s joined a family already. Megumi is gullible but far from a damsel in distress, and a little bit of scam artist. Aoi Fahn is their super hacker, and they’ve located the target. The entire thing ends in a spectacular shootout with Megumi realizing she’s been played and shooting the criminal. They embrace at the end, and the entire thing gives a happy vibe. The thing is, none of them are happy when they’re apart. If they were separate they’d all run off and die on their own. Kōichi will run off and try to take down the mob on his own, just to end up dead. Beau would try taking on some terrorist organization until he couldn’t move. Megumi would probably spiral down into despair chasing her past. Then Aoi, might not be able to survive on their own, the kid is too good for this world.

I don’t know if I like this show after all. I think I’m just attracted to people who can’t seem to find happiness or struggle with their past. On top of that, none of them want to be bounty hunters forever, but they don’t have future plans. They’re just waiting on one big score so they can retire forever. Right now, my savings are starting to run low and I still haven’t found a place to settle. Maybe bounty hunting wouldn’t be so bad.

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