“What have I done? What have I got to my name that people would even consider me? Why was I allowed this life? Who am I that I should live and my comrades die? I am nothing but a grain of sand. These were great men, men who lived, loved, and fought for what they believed in. Me? I am a simple man who is content with nothing. I cannot even go a day without complaining about my ruined life”, Krill Mayth wrote in his journal.
Krill was a short, stocky Alderaanian Human, his normally slick, golden brown hair frazzled from numerous nights without adequate sleep. Deep, black circles surrounded his glazed eyes. His old, tattered, and dirty clothes clung to his atrophying body. It had been months since he had cleaned them.
Piles of papers cluttered his desk around him. His room reflected his desk; articles of clothing strung every which way and trash littered the floor. Empty beer cans collected on the ground against the scuffed wall beside his desk. Small, half-empty canisters labeled “Pain” in jerky handwriting were dispersed across the kitchen countertop behind him, while full bottles labeled “Sleep” in the same handwriting rested in the trash can beside. To his right, his bed remained unused. His sheets still lay stiff in the same position as when he last threw them off in the morning. Above his desk, black streaks marked the number of days since he shut himself off from the world. That day totaled seventy-five.
A mercenary and soldier of Stark’s Commercial Combine, it had been nearly three years since he had been in combat. Krill suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the death of over half the platoon he belonged to, Platoon D-9. He still remembered the event vividly. Every night, he relived the horror and trauma he went through trying to escape the mountain range they were searching, hoping to find a way to the Republic army. He could hear the screams of his fellow soldiers trapped inside the mountain. With each heartbeat, he could still feel the vibrations of their pounding fists against the enclosed cavern mouth. Each night, his mind slowly sank further and further into insanity. Each night, he died just a little bit more.
Krill’s work-assigned counselor had recommended that he write down his thoughts and dreams in a journal to be able to get them out of his mind. This would help him process the event and get rid of the torture he suffered from recalling the mission night after night. Krill longed for sleep, and restful sleep at that, again. He longed to lie down in his bed, close his eyes, and when he opened them, to find himself still in his one-room apartment in Aldera, the capital of Alderaan. However, Krill only complied to convince the advisor he was getting better, but the truth was—the journal merely enhanced his thoughts. It drowned him in fear, and suffocated him with anger. He could never truly get that night out of his head. Not by that means, anyway.
Krill placed the writing utensil down on his desk and stared at his paper. He had written two pages thus far and could have kept going another five if his hand had not started hurting. The pain throbbed in his right wrist as his arm started twitching. He knew he had to stop for a moment, but he feared that if he did, he would lose his train of thought. He had to write. He had to get it out of his mind. He could not dwell on that night. He could not remember it anymore, though he knew it was useless.
For nearly a year Krill had dealt with it. One year was enough. He had been doing this same thing over and over for nearly that long, and still expected a different result every time. As soon as he put his writing utensil to paper, he would lose control. His left arm started twitching. He felt a cold sweat setting in. His breathing hastened. His heartbeat quickened. Krill had to finish his train of thought. Quickly cracking his knuckles and neck, Krill picked up the writing utensil and put it back to his paper.
“I don’t get why I continue to fall short when I’m faced with trials. I have strength. Hell! I was a mercenary! I was a soldier! I’ve seen more crap than most would see in a lifetime. I have strength. I have support. My counselor knows my condition. He knows my trouble. But, does he know me? Does he know who I am? Should I tell him? Should I divulge?”
Krill put the utensil down. He could not write anymore. He still had to get the thought out of his head, but he simply could not write anymore. His hand hurt too much, his body was too distracted. Krill kicked his chair back and stood up. He walked back to his kitchen, where dishes and aged food sat out, molding away. Sifting through various empty bottles on his counter, Krill finally found a couple pain pills. He threw two into his mouth and opened a can of beer to wash them down. Immediately, Krill started feeling better. Deep down, he knew the affects were merely psychosomatic, and he was not actually without pain—he just thought he was. The pills had lost their effectiveness months ago.
As Krill stood in the kitchen, his mind wandered. He found himself back on the side of the mountain, walking into the cave his platoon entered. Krill’s breathing rate increased, only taking half breaths before exhaling. His fists clenched. His eyes widened. His apartment faded around him, the metallic walls melting away into the craggy walls of the cave. His flickering light burst, leaving Krill in darkness. He was alone and confused. He altered his gaze from one stone to the next, looking around him trying to figure out where he was. He heard a noise from behind him. Turning around, he saw his old platoon walking into the cave. He watched as the mission unfolded before his eyes.
The dark caverns of the mountain range consumed Platoon D-9 of the 450th airborne division as they cautiously ventured in. The hollowness within the mountain prevented visibility beyond a several centimeters. Even as their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they could not see up to a meter. The brittle cold of the rocks permeated through the skin of the fifteen soldiers hoping to find an entrance to the Republic holdout. The mountain range was located just on the far side of the planet, where frigid cold was the only temperature, as opposed to the opposite side where extreme heat thrived. Peaking three kilometers above the surface, the entrance point hit two and a quarter kilometers, the altitude adding to the freeze settling into their bones.
It had been several weeks since the Republic had been caught up in the mountain, when their minor war had been declared. Their leader, Iaco Stark, had devised a plan that would cripple the Republic forces and their allies. With a virus infecting the navigational computers of the majority of the Republic fleet, the Republic captives were nearly helpless. No one could aid them. Now, the Combine merely hoped to pin the Republic forces in the mountain and overwhelm them. They had already entered once before and were forced to retreat due to the Jedi that hid with the Republic inside. After Stark learned that several officials had escaped, he ordered his men to return. Knowing they could not reenter the way they went before, they searched for an alternative route, which supplied Platoon D-9 with their current mission.
Krill rounded out the rear line of defense, behind the six riflemen leading the way and the four snipers scoping out the route. One of two heavy weapons specialists in the platoon, he held his grenade launcher out in front of him, ready for any sudden ambushes that might leap out of nowhere. After confronting the Republic forces and their Jedi allies, Krill knew he had to be prepared for anything. He had heard stories of creatures that roamed the caverns of the mountains in the dark there on Troiken, and knew he might have to be prepared to encounter them. He had heard of their ability to swarm their victims and overpower them through their great numbers. If the rumors were true, his rifle would do him no good. He would have to rely on his speed; a feat he knew was not his greatest.
Being shorter and stockier, speed and agility had bypassed him. Instead, he was graced with a sturdy structure and sound mind. Years of smoking and death sticks, however, had started to erase his sound mind, leaving him with just a sturdy structure. A feature like that would not give him a quick escape. Krill figured that was Rex’s plan in having him bring up the rear—it would give him a slight advantage in case of retreat.
Rex Ordana, their unofficial platoon leader, led the way, standing just in front of the group of snipers. He stood tall and courageous. Though Krill could not see him at the time, he knew what he looked like. He was a man built for leadership, unlike Krill who was built to hold people behind. Rex emulated the ideal man with his short black hair and square jaw. He was rugged and everyone adored him.
The cold, damp darkness of the cave finally got to Krill.
“Why couldn’t they have given us some lights, or warmer clothes, or at least something to help us with this mission other than no intelligence and no idea where we’re going?” Krill cried out, complaining about his situation.
Krill always complained of his situation. He was never content.
“The Republic might know we were coming if we had lights.” Labon Sweef, one of the snipers, spoke out. He was wise and intelligent, unlike Krill who was slowly losing his mind. Labon stood average height and, to Krill, seemed to be the ideal man for any woman. Where Krill admired Rex’s raw manliness, Krill envied Labon’s refined ability to romance women. He was clean cut, broad shoulders, and strong arms. His square jaw, like Rex’s, protruded from his short neck, giving the appearance of firm build. Women would die for their man to look like Labon.
“Quit complaining, Krill, and keep moving. The Republic is buried somewhere in this damn-forsaken mountain. We need to find them before nightfall.” Rex reprimanded.
Rex was right. He was always right.
“Nightfall? It’s already dark enough in here. There’s no difference.” Krill argued.
“But at night, the critters come out.” Labon mentioned under his breath.
Krill caught his comment and gave him a quick glare, or at least who he thought was Labon, knowing the reference was directed towards him.
Someone spotted a faint glow in the distance. Though Krill could not exactly see it, he could make out that there was something in the distance. Whispers filtered back to Krill of it being a Republic outpost. He also heard that it was the spirit of a late Jedi who could have fallen during their first excursion. Either way, he knew it would need to be checked out.
“I think Labon and Rex went to check it out.” Rim Perth Granode, a human mercenary from Tanaab. He was tall and firmly built, the other weapons specialist in the platoon. His blonde hair laid flat on his head and stubble began to appear on his face. He gave off a demanding, respectable aura, a trait often found in leaders. Krill possessed none of these traits.
“Oh, good. Do you know what it is?” Krill asked.
“Of course not,” Rim replied, “I’m here with you”
Krill sensed regret and disdain his Rim’s voice.
“I heard it was a Republic outpost.” Krill mentioned.
“Then we’re on the right trail.” Rim spoke, his responses short and to the point.
“Pray it isn’t what I fear it is.” Tesh Vohore, an Arkanian, interjected from behind. Krill was unaware of Tesh’s presence behind them. Though they were in pure darkness, Krill could see Tesh’s white eyes, reflecting what little light lingered in the cave, as he turned around. His long, white hair, also highlighted, flowed from his head to his shoulders. He stood at average height, with a strong build.
“What do you fear it is?” Krill asked, his nerves starting to heighten.
At that, they heard the blast of a sniper rifle. In the distance, the faint glow disappeared. A moment of relief settled over Krill. Whatever the source was, was now gone. It was no longer an issue.
“Crap.” Tesh whispered.
Krill’s nerves immediately surged.
They heard the quickened footsteps of several soldiers. Someone shouted “Run!” as a small group passed Krill. Confused, Krill was not sure whether to heed the warning or not. He turned around each way looking for some reference to help him out. He felt more people rush passed him. He turned and looked towards what he thought was the mouth of the cave and saw a blue glow rise in the distance. Panicking, Krill turned and ran the opposite way as fast as his short legs could take him.
Stumbling over rocks and stones, Krill managed to catch up with the rear of the platoon. He glanced around him to see large, glowing insects take down two of his comrades and start to nibble away at them. Their haunting screams echoed in his ears. He filed in behind another man, when another group of insects flew over him and tackled the soldier to the ground. Not sure what to do, Krill ignored the man and kept running. Finally, he could see the mouth of the cave.
Thinking he was running the other way, it took Krill a while to get his bearings correct and understand the glow had been coming from further within the cave. By luck, he had managed to run to safety. Luck was never in his favor—for some reason it decided to grace him this time. He heard Rex call out for him in the distance.
“Rim! Krill! Close the mouth!” Rex ordered.
Krill knew it would be nearly impossible to hit the wall of the cave to cause the mouth to collapse on the run.
“Yes, sir!” Rim sounded off, loading his launcher.
“I don’t think I can do it!” Krill shouted.
“Do it or die!” Rim demanded.
The two specialists loaded their launchers and tried to steady the weapon as they took each step. Timing it, they both opened fire between steps, giving them the steadiest shot they could take. The grenades flew through the air, striking opposite sides of the cavern wall. Immediately, rubble started to fall from the ceiling. More men fell around them.
Krill saw the roof start to crumble and knew that he had to race to get out. Running faster than he had run before, Krill sprinted to catch up with the others. Passing two men just as Challat eaters attacked them, Krill managed to leap through the opening of the mouth around the same time as Rim, whose legs were longer and stronger than his.
Suddenly, Krill let out a piercing scream, throwing the beer at the far wall. He snapped back to reality as the can burst on impact. He found himself still standing in the middle of his kitchen, still alive. He should have died that day with all those other far more able men who fought along side him in Platoon D-9, but instead he survived. His counselor tried to get him to believe it was because he was meant to do something great. Never had he heard as great a lie as that. He was not destined to do something great. He was not destined for anything. He got lucky. His arm started twitching again.
Shaking the event from his mind, Krill went back to his desk. Looking at his journal, he knew he needed to finish his thought, but he could not remember where he had left off. He read the last line again: “Should I divulge?” It came back to him. He sat down and picked up the writing utensil.
“Why do I feel like two different people? How can he know who I am if I don’t know who I am? How can he figure me out if I can’t even do that? He can never know me. He can never help me. I have my secrets. I have my problems, but I can deal with them. I have strength. Though, I wish I never had this secret to begin with. I wish I had never started.”
The twitch in his arm grew unbearable. Krill stood up, frustrated. He slammed the utensil down on the desk. He kicked the chair away from the desk, knocking it to the floor. He knew the reason he was twitching. He knew what he had to do to fix it. Stomping into the kitchen again and threw open the top drawer at the far end of the kitchen. Pushing a button at the bottom of the drawer, Krill watched as a small, concealed chamber opened up. Krill stared down at its contents. He glanced back over at his desk.
“I wish I had never started.” Krill whispered to himself.
Krill reached down and pulled out a transparent box. Within the box, there were two rows of fourteen cylinders; only four of them contained red and yellow fluids. Hidden within the box, a small injection needle rested between the two rows. Krill placed the box on the counter and reached in to grab the needle. He unscrewed the back and took out a cylinder containing a yellow ixetal cilona fluid, a powerful hallucinogen. Sliding the cylinder into the needle, Krill screwed the back lid on.
Hesitating only a moment, Krill slammed the needle into his arm, activating the automatic injection mechanism. Within seconds, the serum entered his bloodstream. The room immediately brightened, vibrant shades of red, green, blue, and yellow splotching the walls and swirled around the room. Krill stumbled back to his desk, remembering he needed to finish his journal. His arm no longer twitching, he could finally write without interruption. Sitting down at his desk, he picked up the utensil and began writing.
“But I did start. I need to finish it. I need to get control. If only I can get control, I can leave this addiction behind. I can reconstruct my life. I’ll get something worth fighting for, something to my name. I could become someone—finally. If I can do that, I can get rid of this addiction. I can do this. I have strength. Right?”
Exhaustion overwhelmed Krill. He felt as if he could not write anymore. Figuring he had come to an unexpected conclusion in his thoughts, he was content with what he had written. Setting the utensil down gently, Krill folded his arms and placed them on his desk. Letting his head lay on the intersection of his wrists, Krill closed his eyes. Deep inside, he knew he wanted to get better, but something on the surface kept getting in the way. Since he could see no hope past his shortcomings, he willing gave into the lie that he could not do it. Fighting the truth became too exhausting. He wanted to end it the only way he knew how—giving up.
Krill took a deep breath and breathed no more. He fell asleep and never woke up, finally finding the restful sleep he had been longing. At least, that is what he had convinced himself of what he longed.