// war, death, disposability
This is the end. It’s finally over.
ERROR! COLLISION ALERT! ADJUST HEADING!
It’s a stupid, pointless warning. Bright, cheerful, and out of place. You shoe it out of your HUD, then after a moment, dismiss the rest of the screens, letting your eyes take in the darkness.
The fighting died down days ago, shifting to orbit, to cat and mouse games between colonies. You had been on the verge of celebrating; not that there was much for a thing like you to celebrate when your masters were victorious. They had underestimated the spiders though. You smile.
When the conflict broke out, it had initially been limited to the surface and developed a rather restrained posture. It was a civil affair between two advanced intelligent species, fought using things they didn’t particularly value. Things like you.
The spiders attacked with drones, exotic animals, and billions of their (disposable) young. Your masters responded with convicts, debtors, and anyone considered undesirable or lesser. All very advanced and civil, no minds of value were harmed in the making of this warzone.
No one seriously thought the spiders would be willing to go this far. Well, they sure called that bluff. You laugh aloud into the quiet darkness. Jagged fingers of ruined highrise reach towards an endless blanket of stars. You can already see the comet tail. It’s beautiful.
Your exosuit can keep you alive through nearly anything. It won’t survive this, and you aren’t sure you’d want to be around afterwards anyway, but it’s near indestructibility is the reason you know the faint glow is your coming death.
A suit designed to work in atmosphere as well as in space has one set of error messages designed for both settings, just pull the appropriate one as needed. The only reason the alert you saw would appear is if you were going to crash into a space habitat. You were planetside.
By process of elimination: a space habitat is about to crash into you, which means that brightening and expanding cometary halo is a colony coming down. You fish out a cigarette, pause, and pull a second one out, lighting them together. Might as well enjoy the last few moments.
The spiders had twelve space habitats, all of them hundreds of kilometers long. What they were doing wasn’t hard, your masters had just thought them too weak willed to do it. The impact would be an extinction level event. They were wiping the board clean. Good for them.
Almost absentmindedly, you key up your radio, “Hey. Attention all surviving combat dolls, support units, everyone listen. We’re finally retiring. This is the end of the war. You did good, everyone, we all did good. We fought to the end, we’re free now.”
You look up, watching the leading edges of the colony begin to kiss the atmosphere, brightening and trailing debris. It won’t be long now, you take a last drag, “And to all you cowardly pricks hiding in your shining city who forced us out here to fight and die for your empire…”
The colony explodes in the upper atmosphere, silently fracturing into titanic fragments with a blinding flash, debris tumbling behind the expanding pressure wave, “…serves you right.”
The sound arrives with the force of an asteroid impact, and the world comes to an end.