A lone figure saunters the shattered streets, bombed-out ruins the only indication that life once lived. The streets are empty apart from the vaudeville wraith that ghosts through them, footsteps echo through empty urban habitat: 'Tap...tap...tap...'. He walks onwards with no real destination. A warm morning breeze sweeps the dust through the streets and puts the Trooper in a nostalgic mood. It was peaceful. Almost pleasant.

He stops.

A ruined half-man lies on his back in the middle of the road, his body a cauterised stump from below the waist. He breaths raggedly. The Trooper gets that promethium heat on the wind, and with it, bitter ashes. To him it smells of defeat, of immolated ideals now cast to the mercy of four howling, gibbering paths. It was a losing war to begin with, a war fought against the base instincts of man.

The Trooper crosses the road for an old friend, on the opposing side. He can still see 'I. Malone' on the defaced uniform. Malone tries to speak: The Trooper is also at a loss for words. What can he say? Abstaining from speech, he lights himself a cigarette. No food or drink, but there's always a cigarette.

He figures there will be an Exterminatus within the hour, the planet is lost, beyond all salvation. He feels the need to kill himself before it happens, but doesn't want his old friend to die alone. He has a single bullet left in his autopistol, the result of an earlier lack of control.

If he shoots Malone, he himself must wait an hour to die.
If he shoots himself, Malone dies alone.

Malones' lasgun was lifted when he fell by his comrades. He thinks of stabbing his dear friend in the heart or slitting his throat, alas neither of the two have a knife. No broken glass lies on the road, a strange thing even in peacetime in the City. So, he will bash his head in with a nearby lump of rockcrete. As he thinks that to himself, Malone starts sobbing.

He feels guilty so he shoots Malone through the forehead. He jerks, and sighs the secret Word, the supreme susurrus .

The Trooper sat in the middle of the road and looked towards the heavens. He watches ethereal ships floating by in the brand new morning, lazy, hazy explosions erupting in the dawn light. A fantastic light show, and the poet in him was stirred by the beauty of it.

He figured he has about fourty minutes.

Words crept from cracked lips:
'The city...'

He stops.
Louder now.
'The city...'

He stops.
The dead must hear this.

'THE CITY IS A MONSTER WITH TEETH OF GLASS AND STEEL, THAT DEVOURS, DEVOURS, DEVOURS!'

Dust dislodged itself from a nearby ruin.
He continued, his voice cracking.

'Words I had written fifteen years ago...'

++++++++++++++


++++++++++++++

He flicks open the newspaper in the dark cafe, setting the slow haze roiling.
City lights, City deaths.

Shut down, the night flipped broken worm guards, strung up broken like kiddies. Uptown sprayed with gutters, by methadone commune. Burnt torn gutter night. Spent, churn out into a pity. Not serenity. Ghetto taking graphed girlfriends, her into a flamethrower. No disturbing the necropolis, addicts to the metropolis. Irons clubbed, the hands of pity, he remains in the City. Snores in a shut wake, no pity for a walled Committee. Who will thirst in the pit, spending the death time trying to get out of it?

Another unknown martyr dies, taking 20 with him.
The cause? No cause, aye that's the cause.
Incredible release of energy from destruction of the self,
used to annihilate the other.
Energy, and incomplete tears from the Fabric.

The dissolution of central government today, Anarchy raging against the Sword of Order in the bleeding streets. Insurrectionism a sacred, inalienable right.

It's raining again, a softer truth to block out the harsh drum of machine guns in the cantina, of interrupted cries in the far distance, too close to do something, too far away for fear. I'll go for a walk, slip on heavy coat over flak, lift a lasrifle, police the peace by the clock, whether that time is right or wrong.

+++++++++


+++++++++

Wandering around. Aimless. Purposeless.

I picked up a gun, went out to a field, kissed it and pulled the trigger.
I was tired of thinking.

The Sergeant turned to me and said I would make a fine soldier.

Walking empty bombed out streets reminds me of those days.

I have no name now, I have no need of one.

+++++++++


+++++++++

Strolling by a lonely interzone, a crack!, and a lasbolt singes my ear.
I throw up my arms and shout: 'Don't shoot! I'm with you!'

I wait and hold arms high to the heavens, and the figure came from upper decayed hab-housing.

Even flak and a lasgun couldn't make her older than 17.
That was nice, I liked them wide-eyed and innocent.

We walked, and then, we talked.

She was a feral girl, raised by dogs until she was 6.
The Girl hated when people said it was a dog-eat-dog world.
Dogs had shown her more compassion.

Mentioned a Doctor, who rehabilitated her.
Can't remember his name, though I really should.

She wore a headband with a pair of dog-ears on it, to remind her of her heritage, though she still acted like a dog sometimes. She drank in my scent, and kissed me wetly.

Neither of us were people persons.
She was a dog, now without a pack.
I was, as ever, alone, so we made the connection.

'We could find a back alleyway somewhere... and fuck like dogs.'
I growled, stroking her hair and nuzzling her cheek.

She bit him playfully on the ear and took him by the hand. 'I know just the place....'

We walked through the ruins of the red light district, which I moved through with easy familiarity.
We thought we saw a glint of movement in an upstairs window, and decided more people would be welcome.

+++++++++


+++++++++

She was partially skinned.
She had been tied to the bed with rags and lay on stained newspaper.
From the redness around the slit I guessed someone had tried to shave her, as if she wasn't young enough and this was all they could get. A rotten, sperm filled corpse.
I wondered if it was them or us who did it. I suppose it hardly matters now.
I sat on a ledge.

The Girl left the room and vomited noisily from the third story window.

Some kind soul had slit her throat, an everyday miracle, though I wasn't sure of the timescale. The flies drank in blood in where the buds of breasts had been cut off.
The Girl wiped her mouth and dabbed her eyes. 'Human beings make me sick.'

We left the building down three flights of stairs without saying a word.

+++++++++


+++++++++

We walked and talked of fucking.
As things seemed to be reaching a conclusion and as we walked up what I remembered was once a leafy avenue, a hidden heavy bolter position opened up on us. The Girl dropped to the ground without a back. I knew they had been drawing a bead on us as we walked up hand in hand. She looked to me with pleading eyes. She whined and panted.

Ammo must be scarce, they'll finish her with bayonets, like killing a dog.
I was hiding behind a burned out car, out of sight, out of mind.

'I'll get help' as she crawls towards me, bleeding everywhere.
I get up, spring around the corner and then I keep on walking.

Another day, another broken soul.

+++++++++


+++++++++

Walking alone again, this time (or whatever time) in the night.
Intermittently, the world goes white, and I drop to the ground to be shaken by the bucking earth. Armies, armies duelling with new suns as babies boil in pregnant stomachs and flesh creeps and crawls over bone. The City was empty now, though a few broken, warring parties still scarred the streets with small arms and violent minds.
Things had devolved into a gang war.

+++++++++


+++++++++

The sun shone, having no other alternative, on the nothing new.
Down another long thoroughfare, identical buildings either side.
I wrapped my heavy coat around me against the bitter winds of nuclear winter, still tasting radiation in the dusty black flesh of the dead on the breeze.
Atomised humanity could still poison.

I was walking down the central white line when a shout went up almost simultaneously from both sides, then a crack and heat over my shoulder, then more and more until I was draped in red thread, some of which pierced my leg. Both sides of the street noticed the presence of each other and promptly engaged, heavy bolters spraying chunks from the faded façade and stubbers chewing the air to pieces. The noise was terrific, and as the hell-symphony continued and I hopped around in pain, I felt obliged to take out my autopistol and empty the magazine into the sky, to at last be part of something. I span around blowing holes in the air, tears running down my face.

Both sides brought up rocket launchers and both sides fired simultaneously.
The first frag round took out the roof on one side, broken rockcrete crumbling to the floor in cinematic slow motion; the second cleared the middle of the building. The lasfire lessened and I shouted in despair. Why was it ending like this?
Both sides brought out the krak, and with the vapour trail still hanging in the air, both buildings crashed to the ground, unable to take the impact, struts breaking out after so many years and impaling men out of sheer hateful spite. The dust cloud raced up and enveloped me, turning the world yellow.

I stood up five minutes later, absolutely caked in dust and death.

'I thought both sides would be better shots.'

+++++++++


+++++++++

The breeze kicked up dust.

'...And then I came across you.'

The Trooper sighs.

'There has to be more to it than this.'

A small piece of rubble breaks from a ruin and tumbles to the ground, the sound of cracking ribs. The Trooper looked to the corpse for an answer.

Then he laughed, a broken, hollow, empty, terrible thing.
He has the last laugh.

Life goes on.
The sun will rise tomorrow.

Ships circle above.
he light still shines.

The Trooper stood, sneered...

And waited for the Rain.