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The Deva Loka Massacre

By Craig Young

I betrayed him, you know. I don't know what led me to persuade myself that my planet's demented leadership was doing the right thing, but I suppose that I wanted stability, and the Collapse of the Great Empires had left us with a window of opportunity. I suppose that we were making a false god of security, accomplished through obedience to tradition after a time of recent stability.

Gods, however I choose to rationalise my behaviour, it still does not change what I did, nor does it offer any excuse. We appeared above this inhabited satellite of a gas giant and engaged in what Command called a police action. I wanted to believe that this was a limited act of pacification, that it would awe our adversaries into defeat.

Command didn't tell us about the PsiDucer and the effects it would have on our erstwhile enemies. A child near me just... exploded. In a moment of fear or outrage or blind hatred at her kin's murderer, a woman charged me, laying into me with a razorshard of metal.

When I awoke, it was all over, and I was in an evac hospital awaiting transport home. You know what else Command didn't tell us? That lethal field intensity would also kill our own men and women within range. So I lost Malkon - again - for good this time. Lost to a senseless genocidal crusade that should never have happened. What hurt the most was the childrens' toy, the box of blue reeds, as settlement and mining swept away the remnants of a people. Two figures, as well. and I recognised the doll with the hat and adornments.

I joined the resistance after I was invalided home. I got caught, and a senior clanswoman interceded for me, so death for treason was commuted to exile.

So there you have it. The record of Commander Vislor Turlough, Imperial Trion Expeditionary Force Deva Loka. That's how I got the metal arm.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need some good strong drink to push away the nightmares of burning children when they come back tonight.

This item appeared in TSV 34 (July 1993).

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