The flames in the night lit the right half of Mercia’s blood-splattered face, mirroring the gibbous moon that shined above, disinterested in the plights of lesser humans. The ground shook mightily as another rocket exploded on its launchpad on the other side of the complex. Mercia picked herself up, pumped the charging primer on her pulse rifle, and smiled. That explosion meant one more rocketfull of Abandonists remained on Earth to the last. As it should be.
This was humanity’s home, it’s birthplace and birthright. Humans are fighters. We’ve been shaped and honed and forged by a million years of murder. Now a couple drop ships full of little green men show up and we’re just going to up and leave? No way. Everyone fights. And if we lose, everyone dies. So be it.
Running was it’s own kind of death, in a way. There could be no surviving among the stars. But it was a colossal—criminal—waste of resources, and she would allow it no longer. Not one more night.
She set the next block of launch site dormitories ablaze and then patrolled the halls looking for the Abandonists within; escapists, avoiding their duties, their obligations, their fates.
Something cold slid into her mid-back and her legs dissolved under her. An older man stood above her looking shocked, mortified. He held a dripping carving knife. She aimed high and pulled the trigger. There was little left.
She didn’t feel any pain, but she didn’t feel much of anything. The sonofabitch paralyzed her lower body. The flames crawled toward Mercia faster than she could crawl away. But at least she’d gotten that Abandonist to fight for something before he died. Baptism by fire, she supposed. The flames licked at her numbed legs, and she turned the rifle around.