“I am Sergeant Caliss, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be “Ma’am”. Do you maggots understand!?”
Kick ’em hard, right from the start. That’s what my ol’ sarge used to say. I couldn’t believe my luck a couple of weeks ago. SI:7 pulled me out of Shat and sent me on some R&R in Darnassus. There’s a compound there for people like me, for Temporal Operatives. I thought I was done working backwards in time. I thought I was done working, period. Girls like me, with frayed sanity and too many citations in the books, we don’t get second chances. Outland came close to breaking me, you know. Sent back to do this or that, back to a world that died a long time ago … and then they pull me out.
I knew I couldn’t be that lucky. Not for long.
I slept for fortyeight hours upon my return, barely woke up for nature’s call. Everything was a haze. I hardly even knew where I were. Then things cleared up a bit. I’ll tell you later about the compound, but first there’s the matter of Junior.
Andrea Rawls, everyone called her Junior. Fourteen years old, ’cause the army has lowered the enlistment age for years now. First Deathwing took a toll out of the body, then Garrosh got his sacrifice. By the time the Iron Horde stormed through the portal, both the Alliance and the Horde was scraping the bottom of the barrel. Over here, the blue and gold, we got it down to science. Twenty years of age became eighteen, then sixteen, then fifteen. Then – fourteen (we call them “boosters”). There’s a rumor that press gangs enlist the aid of mercenaries and rip the kids out of the arms of screaming mothers. Ugly business, for sure. If it’s true or not, well you know, no one fucking cares. Let’s just say that the Goldshire marshall recently bought himself a new house. A big one.
Meat. We need meat. Some live, some die. In the end they’re all meat. We know it. They know it. I saw it in Juniors eyes. Blue eyes, a bit on the watery side like she was about to cry but had forgotten how. Her face was already old, lips clasped together so tight her mouth was but a stripe across her cheeks. White lips. The humans say you can spot a virgin in their eyes. They’re wrong. It’s in the face. Those who smile, those who breathe through slightly moist lips – those are the one’s who dream of fucking. Trust me. So many recruits grabbed their tiny pole that first night, thinking of me. I know it. I heard them. Then again … it doesn’t matter if you got laid or not, because here in Tanaan, well if you don’t know how to kill?
Everyone is fucked.
I’m well trained. I look for that particular face. The killer face. The solemn, already dead, face. The “I have no dreams of a future miss pinkie with my fingertips on the button”-face. I want dead people. That’s the face of someone who will survive. Life have fucked them already. They know they’re dead, time just haven’t caught up with them. Andrea was one of them. You know what we call them?
We call them the Black Guard.
That’s why your first duty is to make them fear you more than they fear Gul’Dans berserkers. Because trust me – no one wants to be the Black Guard. That greeting up there? That’s my tag line. Those young faces with beards that look like black or blonde pinstripes on their pimpled cheeks lose their luster once I’m done with them. Those young meatshields, some of them have never been kissed. Some of them barely have breasts. Meat, all of them. Boys, girls. It doesn’t matter. Andrea bled for the first time right there, grimacing from cramps but still standing. I punched two guys out, one on her left, one on her right, when they snickered. She knew why she was here. I dare say no one else did. She knew …
They were here to die.
Meat. Smiles fade, exitement turns to embarassment or fear. I don’t care about the one’s who get embarassed. They’ll be dead soon. I single out the one’s who grit their teeth. They’ll be dead later – and later is better than soon. They’re here to make my job easier. They’re meat. I’m the knife.
Junior didn’t flinch.
She didn’t smile, or blush. She didn’t step back, not even when blood spread, not even when the cramps turned her face white. She just stared at me with eyes too old for her young face. For some reason that small detail bothered me. A “One Four”, as we call them. She shouldn’t have that kind of eyes … truth be told she scared me. I was like her, once. A long, long time ago …
She had a scar running down the left cheek, from the ear to the chin. It was an old scar, neatly healed, just a white line down her face. I wondered, when I saw her, what could have caused such a scar. You know the grapewine of Lunarfall, I’m sure. Someone heard something, told it to someone and eventually I heard it. Was it true? Nah. A couple of days later during chow I asked Junior about the scar.
“So, you got cut by an orc death knight stealing your farm chickens, huh?”
“Uh-uh.” She never talked much.
“Dad gave it to me.” She looked up from the plate of grits and stew and stared at me with those pale, watery blue eyes that was too old for a kid. Then she just shrugged, lowered her eyes and kept on eating. Hammering her knife into the grits.
I found her a couple of weeks later, out in the field. Gul’Dan hit us hard at the Iron Front. If not for the meat those damned green animals would have bumrushed all of us, straight into Talador. Less than a dozen vindicators and a couple of hundred infantry dug in right at the broken gates and held the line. It was enough time for “the specialists” to arrive. Junior was still standing, smack out in the middle of the battlefield. Just a kid, she couldn’t even hold a sword right. I walked up to her, walked straight across the still smoking remains of thousands of dead orcs.
“You alright there, private?” I said.
“I’m in a world of shit,” she said, without looking at me. Then she turned her hollow stare at me and whispered: “Seven, six two inches … “She actually hissed as she raised the sword. “Full. Metal. Jacket.”
Her body armor, simple ghost iron because True Iron was too expensive or the grunts, was covered with blood, soot and chunks of orc meat.
“I live.” She said. “Fuck it.”
Then she dropped her sword and clung to my neck, screaming. I tried not to cry. In the end, I didn’t. I held her, staring into her eyes. Ten thousand yards of staring eyes. She grinned at me, it wasn’t a smile. It was facial muscles, too hard to let go. you know what?
I had the same grin.
This is no war for children. When they grow up, what will they be? The question lingered with me for days on end. They sent Junior back to Karabor, the field hospital there is one of a kind. I put in some paperwork and eventually I heard, through the grapewine, she had been “pulled out”. SI:7 caught her.
Two days later I was pulled out as well. Maybe it was that last thing I did that got the attention of SI:7. Maybe someone just knew I was fed up. I broke the siege of Zeth’Gor. 0430 hours I just stood up behind a barricade and said “fuck it!”. then I walked into that monster of a town and carved, cut and danced. Eyes wide. Lips bared. Grinning.
I Vanished and ambushed. I shed my armor, painted myself with blood and ash. Two hundred, eighty nine dead. Men, women, children. Even their pet beasts. I never caught sight of Kilrogg, the bastard was already holed up in the Citadel. I didn’t even know I wanted to kill him. I just … I just wanted to kill.
I painted my face with ash. I smeared charcoal around my eyes. I danced the dance of death with Kilroggs orcs – naked. You want to know what fear is?
Fear is the smell of sweat, beads of stink on the body of an orc as I gutted him, from the pelvis to the ribs, and then disemboweled him with my bare hands. I force fed brutes with their innards. If anyone tells you night elves are kind … they’re wrong. Hate drove me, rode me, the best lover you can have is the smell of blood, feces and fear. I came as I killed.
They pulled me out. I was “losing it”, as the commander said. They sent me back to Darnassus, the Compound.
The first thing you should know about the Compound is this: On the heavy cloth walls in the house carved out of a tree trunk, someone has adorned the environment with “pleasant thoughts”. It’s wooden boards, filled with sentences like “Time Is A Stream: Swim With It!”. Or “History Is Here And Now!”. Or “Temporal Operatives Saved the World of Today Yesterday!”. Or “No One Ever Dies If you Know What Timeline You Are Sent To!”. Or “Chromie Wants it!”.
Most of us in the Compound are crazy. Most of us fall back on the simple things in life. Sleep. Food. Sex. Pain. We’re time whores, all of us. Temporal Operatives … I’m pretty sure I fucked myself once, going back in time, taking out a wizard with a quick stab in the back, then laying low … I went to a brothel in Dolanaar. I grew up there, you know. Was it me? I don’t know. She was young, she was scared, I had to hold her down and force her to lick. She did a lousy job and I slapped her.
That was me. Once. Crying as I did it but the sentinel who slapped me … never mind. That was ages ago. I grew up. Two years ago I found her, in Astranaar. I fed her with her ovaries (they never caught me). I told you we’re crazy. just like Junior said, I know this now:
I’m in a world of shit. But I am alive.