The Solitary SoldierThere once was a solitary soldier. Sleepless and fierce, her body and her will alike were as hard and strong as steel, and she wielded a wicked trident that never left her side.
She was a peerless fighter, and was the first and obvious choice for the most dangerous and valuable missions.
Her final mission, however, was a simple matter of standing as a sentry.
But in reality, it was not quite so simple a matter.
She had to travel a great distance away from her home, to a strange place far on the other side of the oceanside horizon she knew so well.
She was stationed on an old metal platform far, far out in an unfamiliar, murky green ocean.
There was a building on the platform, and a dock, but they had been long abandoned...
Yet there it stood, surrounded by open water in all directions, and her standing atop it, ever vigilant.
Her commitment to her duty, once impossibly steadfast, slowly began to waver.
Was she being punished? Had there been some error, a mix up that resulted in her receiving the wrong mission?
Why had she heard nothing, seen no one, for so long?
She stared distantly out across the water, day and night, through clear weather and storms alike, but the ocean gave no reply, and no others ever came.
Then, one night, as she was patrolling through the building, something made her freeze.
Staring in at her through one of the windows was the ghostly form of... a woman? Her face featureless save for two pitch black eyes.
The soldier charged out at the apparition, but it was nowhere to be found.
The next night, the apparition appeared again.
The soldier took a fighting stance and stared back into the apparition's eyes... and the eyes began to grow in the soldier's field of vision, larger, larger, larger...
The darkness enveloped the soldier, and she felt herself... not falling, but drifting back and forth, ever so gently, as though floating beneath the surface of a warm and still body of water.
Her mind was filled with a deep, profound feeling of regret, the guilt and remorse of someone whose sins are great, innumerable, and irremediable.
She flailed at first, thinking she was under a psychic attack of some kind, grasping for her trident which was nowhere to be found in this void.
Then, she stopped.
And she wept.
As her tears fell, the enveloping darkness slowly fell away in turn, and she found herself alone on the platform once more, her trident once more in her hands.
Quietly, she stood and walked to one edge of the platform, and cast the trident out into the waters, watching as it swiftly sunk into the murky depths below.
Then, she crossed to the opposite edge of the platform, and leapt off into the waters below, her body of metal carrying her quickly beneath the surface.
The surprising warmth of the waters felt like a gentle embrace to her, and for the first time that she could remember, she felt a deep and overwhelming sense of tranquility.
As the light from above faded away, she closed her eyes blissfully, and at last her sleeplessness came to an end...