. . . . . . I remember. In times such as this, as I gaze outside the small, rectangular window to my right, starring aimlessly at the burning city within the distance, my mind mind wanders off to more joyous times. My childhood, as I used to play in the parks and arcades with my friends back home. My education, as I used to skip classes to spend some time with my crush. My marriage, as I fondly remember the crying face of my wife in front of the altar. Yet, try as hard as I may, the memories only last a few moments, before the deafening blast of an artillery blast brings me out of my trance, and makes my body shiver in fright. I cover my ears with my hands and duck my head between my legs, rocking back and forth in my seat, as the incessant pounding of bombs and projectiles grows quieter by the second, until nothing but the buzzing in my ears can be heard. Taking deep breaths, I slowly move my shaking hands away from my head and place them on my knees, straightening my posture on the chair as the buzzing in my ears slowly fades away and gradually gets replaced by cries and moans of a little girl. Turning my head to the left, I can see sitting next to me a small lass, not a day younger than ten, tightly gripping onto her stuffed animal and sobbing into it's back. I feel like a coward while looking at her.

"Anne." I mutter towards the familiar girl, slowly bringing a hand closer to her as she kept sobbing. "Anne, please." I mutter again, gently pressing my open palm against the the top of her head, slowly petting my nieces hair. I'm unable to even form an assuring smile on my lips, before the girl begins to violently flinch and flail around in her chair, desperately trying to form a coherent sentence between her tears. I do what my instinct tells me to. I tightly grab the girl and press her head against my chest, above the armrest separating us, pleading and begging with her to calm down and stop crying. She flails around in my arms for what seems like an eternity, clawing at my arms and punching me in the chest while screaming at me, while I do nothing else but tighten my grip around her small head and bury my nose in her hair, shushing her and petting the back of her neck. After a while, she eventually stop, her arms going limp for a second and letting go of her toy, letting it fall to the metal floor of the shuttle. Her crying seems to have died down for the moment. She tried to complain, only to end up chocking on her words and grabbing tightly of my jacket, burying her face into my chest and resuming her muffled sobbing.

I couldn't find the courage to speak a word to the little girl. I frankly doubt there were any words known to any civilization that could genuinely comfort someone that has lost her parents. All I could think of at this moment, was how history repeats itself. I was no older than her when I lost my own mother. Even now, I can clearly remember my last moments with her, as she gently pushed my head into her bosom and massaged my head, humming a gentle and relaxing tune into my ear over and over, until the tears stopped streaming down my face. Before I knew it, I was doing the same thing to Anne, gently humming the same song my mother did whenever I could cry as a child. I hummed and I hummed, over and over for hours on end, while the girl was peacefully sleeping within my arms. I feared that if I were to stop, she would wake up and remember everything.

Is this what has become of us? We came from a proud nation, destined to glory. But nowadays, when I look at the face of my fellow Imperial, I only see a couple of rats and vermins, fleeing from war and abuse constantly, our name and honor dragged through the mud. We cannot go on like this any longer.

~Excerpt from "Memoirs of an Imperial"
Grant Camerata