The battlefield was the most desolate there ever was. All manner of machines were scattered about in disarray, useless hulks of twisted and burned metal, good for only cover if anything at all. From horizon to horizon, small fires burned and wisps of acrid smoke took to the air. There were few places to place a foot and the scent of burned flesh far overpowered the scent of burnt steel.
He had been dragging himself thru this hell for days now, the clip in his rifle held ten or twelve shots, maybe, he was no longer sure. Three of the shells had come from fallen soldiers. For the past day and a half he had found no more ammunition. He was glad to have no wounds, yet, but he knew that could change in a heartbeat.
A large tank sat fully on its side just below the crest of a hill. He rounded the edge of it and found a clearing. His weariness had found him with his gun pointed at the ground and his heavy brow strained up to peer across the mound. A lone dandelion occupied the center of the battered rise. He fixated upon it for a mere moment before he became aware that he was not alone. He grumbled out a tired sigh.
He was some ten yards from the ripe seed-launcher. Ten more yards on was a lone figure in a black burka. The diamond-hatch pattern on the pistol-grip of his rifle reminded him of the war that was in progress. His sweat-rosined fingers tightened. He let his guard slip just enough to process some visual information. The detail was very subtle. The outline of a barrel and the sight at its tip began to rise from the folds of the dark cloth. He knew all too well that he had lost the race before he even began to raise his own weapon.
The first “bamph” brought no pain. The second “Bamph”, was echoed by the pop of his own rifle. He maintained the squeeze on his trigger as flash after flash told him that ordinance was definitely inbound. His clip ran out. The muzzle-flashes from the burka ceased as well. He felt a strange coolness just beneath the chest-plate of his body armor, and damnable warmth just under his back-plate. Two distinct tones of chime were winding down and he soon realized that he was hearing the falls of brass from both guns.
Dark blotches decorated the burka and he was sure he saw red just below his own jaw-line. He shoved his rifle away just as the burka-clad figure did the same. Both rifles clattered into the dirt, spent and useless. He coughed and saw red spray fly away into the singed air. The figure before him seemed to do the same and a small dark splotch appeared where the mouth should have been. His breathing suddenly labored and he was aware that the figure a few paces away seemed to be in equal distress.
It moved suddenly forward, the labor of the exertion seemed all too evident. He lunged as well and found purchase on a neck just as a hand appeared from beneath cloth to do the same to him. Locked in opposing choke-grips they struggled there weakly, just above the dandelion seeds.
His free hand seemed less useful but he still managed to bring it to bear and ripped the hood from the rest of the burka. Thick, black, long, and shiny hair cascaded over his choke arm. Another free hand swung up and slapped his face violently. His U-V-shades went flying down the little hill. He recovered from the recoil and found himself staring into powerfully deep, azure-blue eyes. They pierced his brown retinas and held fast in a defiant gaze.
He burped again and blood was the most prevalent exhalative. The woman before him repeated his action and her blood stained her full lips. Both hands sought to maintain, or even reaffirm, their death grip. Somewhere along the way both hands seemed to weary of the fight. They slowly relaxed but did not relinquish their hold. They needed something to ‘hold themselves up’. Eyes stabbed deeper, looking for a heart to peer into. Tears welled up on both sides.
Flashes of what might have been danced thru both minds, words that could have been said, feelings that could have been felt, and much more, all in fractions of an instant. Children that would never be born, passions that would never burn, smiles that would never see the light of day, and unions that would never occur all flashed by and evaporated.
Both warriors crashed down to their knees. Both blood and breath were flowing out for the last time. Elbows relaxed and faces eased into close proximity. Her hand was still a tingling appendage as she reached down and brushed the stalk of the dandelion. Half the seeds took to the air. She managed a small smile and looked back into his eyes. He returned the expression and reached down to flick at the stalk as well. The remaining seeds were liberated. Hands relinquished necks and soon after a small puff of dust rose up as two strangers collapsed to the ground around a dying and naked stalk. The meek inherited the earth, if only for a little while.
A handful of small seed-bearing parachutes rode the whispering wind in search of a good place to land. They took with them a warm memory of their liberators, two dire enemies that learned a little wisdom, and a little love, just a little too late.
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