Almost Sounds Like the Guns Themselves

Shrapnel Cover (Issue 6).jpg
Almost Sounds Like the Guns Themselves
Story information
Author E. Clark Avery
Type Short Story
Product Shrapnel Issue 6
Era Succession Wars era
Timeline 30 November 3025 - 23 June 3027

Almost Sounds Like the Guns Themselves is a short story by E. Clark Avery that was published in the sixth issue of Shrapnel.

Plot summary[edit]

Walther Suydam, born on on the Aurigan Coalition world of Itrom, piloted the only Sitwell Powerman IndustrialMech in the rimward Periphery for House Gallas. Eager for greater glory, he responded to the Aurigan Directorate's call for MechWarriors against the Arano Restoration. However, he becames the sole survivor of his command when an elite Arano mercenary unit brutally attack his garrison unit protecting a vital mineral silo.

Surviving the war but battling severe PTSD, a desperate Walther prematurely stops treatment for a high-paying three-month job on Coromodir to support his mother and sister, again piloting the Powerman and aiding in salvaging the crashed DropShip Iberia. Struggling with PTSD triggers, a tortured Walther secures life insurance to provide for his family, contemplating a fatal on-the-job accident to bypass the suicide moratorium. When tensions between Directorate and Restoration supporters overflow in the commissary, Walther seizes his chance to attack former Restoration soldier Yuri Warren, who responds with brutal force.

The anticipated fatal blow never materializes, and to Walther's astonishment, once he recovers he is introduced to Directorate remnant Ibex Rampant, led by the presumed-dead Alistair Haust. Mistakenly thinking Walther is loyal, Haust discloses their plan to salvage the Iberia's mostly intact Long Tom artillery cannon to attack the Arano Palace. Seeking redemption, Walther agrees to help. With the Powerman, they swiftly reconstruct the cannon. However, unbeknownst to Ibex Rampant, Walther plants demolition charges which he triggers before they can fire the Long Tom, a massive explosion annihilating the worksite and the cannon.

Ultimately Walther Suydam survives the worksite blast but suffers severe injuries, losing an arm and a leg and his ability to hear and speak. Having sent what he assumed would be a posthumous recording revealing the plot to the authorities, Walther's family receives a full military pension for his seemingly loyalty and sacrifices for House Arano and the Aurigan Coalition. At a small ceremony in his honor Lady Arano herself promises Walt that no expense will be spared on bionics to make him whole, where he unsuccessfully tries to suggest she spend her money instead on the less fortunate on Itrom. Able to resume his medication now he is unable pilot the destroyed Powerman and unable to hear any noises to trigger memories of the war, Walther Suydam finally achieves a measure of peace.

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