Concept Art Writing Prompt: At the End of the Battle

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: At the End of the Battle

As the sun sets, a giant mechanical figure surveys a smoldering battlefield, while a smaller figure admires the damage. Tell us your tale of this battle and its aftermath.

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This digital painting by Tomas Honz is titled simply "Done." As always, we invite you to come up with a story inspired by this image and post it in the comments.

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The battlefield didn't look like much, actually. Mech battles can be like that - the blood too little, the flesh too small to be visible amongst the hulking remnants of the vehicles the dead once piloted. In fact, it was quite likely that there might be a few still alive out there in the twisted metal and distorted shapes that were once a Chinese mechanized marine detachment.

His commanding officer had been a geek, back in the day before he earned his wings and the silver oaks on his shoulders. He liked old cartoons from the 1980's. Kept on calling him "Max", even though his name was Jose. Jose Garcia, in fact, by way of some distant and long lost parent's words shortly before she died after giving birth to him. He didn't know much about her, and didn't have the will to find out after spending a decade and a half in the system.

He joined up when he was 15. Recruiters weren't picky at that moment, and he just wanted out of the slime holes the system kept sticking him in. He had 'brothers' who had gone out the other ways - runaway, gangs, violent death. Suicide by Marine Corps didn't seem too bad, after all, they paid for their pound of flesh - or so he thought.

He had skills of course. Hand eye coordination that most people would die for. Some called it twitch response. Made him a hair trigger sniper expert, a deadly precision hand to hand fighter, and pretty much dead on accurate within the range and tolerances of any weapon they put in his hands. He kept on training, fighting, and most of all, winning.

They picked up pretty quickly that he was probably pilot material. Japanese had come up with some crazy mechs, Veritech's his CO liked to call them. The military referred to them as Type 3 LAAMs - Light Aerial Armored Mecha. Folded up right nice and looked kind of like a cross between an F22 and a F35 Lightning in fighter mode, if you squinted just so.

That was when the Marine Corps realized exactly what they had in Jose. His brain just seemed to click with the mecha. He wasn't so much trained to pilot as he seemed to be born to pilot. Every motion as economical and fluid as a trained dancer - yet with tons of airborn metal and mechanics around him. He also seemed to instinctively grasp the thinking caps' capabilities. Being under 17 years old probably contributed a lot to that.

Now at 23, he'd seen three wars, China kept on trying to take things for themselves. Jose thought it was simple desperation on the part of the Chinese - they'd petered out after a while. Tried to play in the big leagues, and suddenly found out just how Russia lost after so many years and having so much going for it. And China kept on making the mistake of going into a hot war - they kept on thinking that their economic master-strategy would destroy 'The Capitalists'. As the Japanese would be apt to say, "do not tickle the sleeping dragon for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup." However it was unlikely Japan would ever give the Chinese that particular proverb. Considering the wonderful relations China and Japan have had and continued to have, Jose could only imagine a bunch of Japanese bureaucrats high-fiving each other in the diet after getting the daily status reports of how the United States slapped back yet another attempted incursion.

This battle, though, was his last - if he wanted it. He was done. Three wars, five years, nearly 250 sorties over sixteen campaigns: enough to burn out any fighter, any warrior. The Chinese weren't likely to dig themselves out of Asia any time soon - at least not for another shot at the good ole US of A. As for the US? Well, there was a little less unity there than there had been before. The festering decay had only been delayed by the external threat - not destroyed. Another decade or two and what little national pride came from not falling to China would wear off and someone else would try for the brass ring of super-power stardom - preferably over the corpse of the US. Maybe it would be China, or whatever managed to crawl out of the wreckage. Maybe it would be Japan, or even Russia. Or maybe one of the African or South American nations would give it a shot.

Didn't matter much, not to Jose. This time next week he'd be going up on an Elevator Ride. They had built one out in the middle of the Pacific, ferrying colonists to their new home after a short jaunt in a transport ship. The Chinese had intended to colonize the moon - or so they said. It was just a cover up for their very Earth based land grab attempts. Meanwhile, the US, Europe and a few other nations had decided that Space colonies sounded good. Colonies need defenders. And his LAAM fit the bill quite nicely. A few modifications, and an upgrade to handle ion reaction mass instead of combustion fuel, and his LAAM would function just as well in deep space as it did on Earth.

So he enjoyed the sunset over the battlefield. He wouldn't have too many of them from Earth's perspective for a while. Maybe that was for the best, because for the first time in a long while, he had something to actually look forward to. Others could fight the battles on Earth that were sure to come. For him, he'd have a few months time to spend with his wife and newborn child after they transferred to the orbital colony - then a relatively leisurely pace training new recruits and helping the planetary defense. He'd actually have a lot of time off for his family, too. All in all, a whole lot of perks - except, changing diapers should count as hazard duty, right? Who knows, maybe he'd actually watch that Gundam Wing cartoon that his old CO was raving about.