Bewildering stories, January 2018

The light is brilliant and absolute, surrounding me. I reach forward.

An alarm sounds, loud and jarring, a warning that cascades around me. I rub at my eyes, blinking as a dark line takes shape above me.

The citadel.

Something stirs in my thoughts, a message or a command: You are the sniper. Defend the citadel. Do your duty.

I flinch, reaching to my right thigh. I sigh in relief, running my fingers over the pulse blaster, slotted into my black nano-armor. I sense the weight of my arc-rifle on my back and I swing it around, checking it quickly. Although bright shapes flash in my vision, I can see more clearly now.

I’m standing beside a black pillar, its rough edges glinting. The ground here is dusty and uneven, marked by more pillars leading to a copse of tall trees. Beyond them, the citadel rises, impossibly high, its pinnacle shrouded by clouds. Around it float dark oval shapes, lined with jagged spikes. Deathships, ready to defend against raiders.

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