Six boys in three days. By the end of his campaign, he’d be lucky if half the boys that started with him would have the honor of being able to return home as men.
He thought of the boy he had been during his first campaign. The fear; the blood. He’d been one of the few to come home. A celebrated Veteran of the Pharm Wars, protecting their systems and livelihood. They gave him a medal: Valor and Courage, it read. Stacey had been so proud.
It was a lie. The man that came home had not known how to explain the lie to Stacey. How to explain that valor and courage merely masked the blood and the fear. Blood and fear could seep back in whenever you least expected it. And so his bride left him, unable to understand, and Sam turned back to the only thing he knew. He would help boys learn to live with blood and fear.
Sam turned to descend back into camp. Six boys in three days. And Sam did not know who the lucky ones truly were: the boys that died, or the men who survived.
Source: Wed Stories: Valor and Courage