Richard had always hated red lights, they never seemed to illuminate anything good. The crimson LEDs on the timer were doing little to change his opinion as they ticked down closer and closer to 0. Towards his end. An explosion shook the chamber he was in, dust dropping from the ceiling and falling onto his already filthy face. Two minutes, wouldn’t be long now either way.
He wiped grime off the monitor in his lap, swiping between what few camera feeds were left to him as he watched the enemy approach. That last shell had finally blown through the bunker’s armor, and he could see dozens of heavily armored troops rushing across the field towards the smoking crater. The base’s defenses were offline, the shelling having picked them clean, and so there was nothing Richard could do but watch as they invaded his home.
Sobs wracked his body as he tried vainly to stand once more, his legs still limp and useless from a bullet to the spine. This wasn’t right, this wasn’t how he was supposed to die. Tears streamed down his face as he reached for the button that would deactivate the base’s self-destruct feature. His fingers came closer, maybe a bit closer than before but it was no use, and the red numbers continued their march to his death. This wasn’t how he was supposed to go…
Dying was part of a soldier’s duty, this was true, but when he’d imagined it things had been different. He’d been standing shoulder to shoulder with his squad mates as the enemy finally overwhelmed them, he and his brothers in arms giving their last in a heroic last stand worthy of the old tales from ancient times. Instead he found himself here, unable to move and watching his last minutes tick down towards nothing.
Rationally he knew that his squad had made the right call in leaving him here, Commander Marcus even going so far as to give him a long talk about how his sacrifice would be honored for as long as his unit survived. The orders had been clear, hold the base till it was hopeless and then evac on foot into the hills and go to ground until HP got in touch. There was no room in there for a paralyzed soldier. All that knowledge hadn’t dulled the sting of abandonment, and as the timer had come closer and closer to 0 his willingness to die had dwindled to be replaced by fear.
Five seconds now… The tears were coming freely as the door to the command center caved inward from a breaching charge… Four… He could hear the startled shouts of enemy soldiers as they realized the base was about to blow… Three… This was it, Richard took a last breath of the smoky air, savoring it even as it burned his lungs…. Two… Things seemed still now- the shouts of the soldiers somehow muted. One… The last second seemed to go on forever, he screwed his eyes shut and then…