A/N: So yeah, back. Haven't been givin' much love, been listening to music-You guys should really check out a band called Russian Circles, they're hella tight. What, you want to read the fanfic, instead of reading my endless blatherings? Preposterous. Fine. I won't tell you about how this is a continuation of Joseph's history, and it might be it's own little vignette series.
See what happens when you're rude? You don't learn things.
Joseph walked at an easy pace, slow enough to spot mines and rumbling ground, but fast enough to cover distances efficiently. His squad mates in front of him walked at the same pace, constantly surveying the surroundings, looking for shelter in the crumbling buildings around them.
He'd been with the cog for a few months now, and was enjoying every minute. Every grub killed was a monster that couldn't attack his family. Every emergence hole sealed up with a grenade was one less exit for the monstrosities. The commercials that went on the radio inspired him, and when he was sure the com was off he started laughing inside his helmet, giggling hysterically as Locust were mowed down by his bullets.
He was doing the job that needed to be done, and he was happy.
Their sergeant's voice invaded their helmets, his calm baritone making the speakers in the com vibrate. "Red house on the left. Joseph and Karkaroff, inside."
They went in efficiently, the training from boot camp still giving each of their moves the precision that comes only with yelling drill sergeants. Clearing the house quickly, they set up their lights (the worst way of dying in the night was getting chewed on by krill), and Josephs' sergeant ordered him on first watch.
Joseph boarded up the windows, locked the door, and stuck some wood in a oil drum. Lighting it with some gunpowder and a match (he was never much of a boy scout) he sat behind the door and stared at it, waiting for a Theron to burst through the door and staple him with explosive arrows. When Locust failed to attack, he started to look around. Filthy whitewash, ash and trash filled the room, reminding Joseph how deserted the city was.
He shifted position, and felt something poke him in the rear. Lifting a cheek, he felt around and found something rectangular, and pulled it out.
It was a book, but not one Jacob had ever seen. It was bound in metal, and had a cog tag engraved in the front.
Joseph opened it, and revealed starch-white paper perfectly preserved by the metal.
Do you know what death smells like? No? I do. He smells like flowers. I can't tell you which kind (it's been so long since I could actually find a flower to smell), but I know for sure that's what it is. Or maybe it's flower scented detergent, or perfume.
Whatever it is, it stays in my nostrils. It invades them, making me relive every time I've seen that robed bastard. Sitting next to her, while she rasped in her final moments, that peculiar aroma rising from her sheets like her last breath. In the fields watching buddies get cut down, and just below the stench of blood, sweat and guts you can smell the flora, something just out of reach, unidentifiable.
You can hear him. He has these boots, kinda like grubs boots, but quieter. Grubs stomp. He slithers in, the steel on his skull-crushers making the lightest whisper. When he leaves you hear him sigh like the back of the refrigerator; resigned, but not depressed.
Death might not smell the same to you. You might not even hear him. But if you do, for god sakes keep your head down. If you inexplicably smell muffins when you're in the middle of a firefight, do not pop your head up to see if the grubs have been replaced with the pastries your mom used to make. If you hear children's laughter, do not step out of cover to check. These are death's warnings. He's telling you "I'm here for your buddies, keep your head down and I won't have to get you too."
How do I know this? Why should you believe me?
Shut the fuck up. Do you know who I am? Do you even know how to fire that piece of shit you've got strapped to your back?
Take the advice of a gear who's been fighting a war you haven't even fully conceived of yet. Read my book, and understand the messages given to you within. If you find any copies of my book scattered around Sera, read them too, they might have information not stored in this one. They'll tell you things you'd never even thought about before. How to properly fire a gun, how to figure out if you're going to die from infection—everything your sarge couldn't find time to tell you. It's all there, along with some theories you might find interesting.
So go on, if you're reading this forward and the rest of the book is still there, take a peek. Don't worry, if you're squad leader is any good he's read it too. By the time I'm writing this, it's been circulated among the enlisted men three times.
And do me a favor. Once you're promoted, as a squad leader, give this book to someone who needs it. That dumbass rook that can't tie his boots the right way. The struggling fat kid (does Sera even have fat people these days?), the fourteen year old with illusions of glory. Make them read it.
Are you still having doubts? You think you can do better, following the C.O.G.'s advice? Your squad mates? Fine. But don't throw away this book. I beg of you, on hands and knees, give this to someone else. Chuck it at their head if you have to, but do not break this chain of information.
The print shop we're in won't survive another raid, right now it's just me and Terrance rolling off copies and I'm pretty sure this will be the last print before we've gotta scoot. So unless we find another abandoned newspaper shop, these dozen books that we're printing are going to be the last.
So don't waste the efforts of two retired gears. Pay attention. Read, discover. For god sakes learn, and hopefully you'll smell flowers out of armor.
See you at Jacinto.
–Staff Sergeant Lawrence, Corporal Terrance.
Jacob rubbed his eyes. Retired gears? That sounds suspiciously like something people say when they're trying to differentiate from being a coward and being a smart ass, like "strategic retreat." Their retirement was probably something along the lines of "not-so-honorably discharged."
Something made Joseph's hand turn the page, and he got so engrossed he forgot to wake up the next two look-outs.
A/N: So there it was. As always, review, and check out some of that awesome gears fanfiction (gears in therapy is the awesomest in the world) and I will see all forty three of you guys next time!