I am sad to hear that Robert has enlisted as well. This is no place for him. He should have stayed at home and continued apprenticing for Mr. Dylan. I believe Robert’s time would be better served in crafting homemade cabinets than in contributing to this failing and pointless war. My only hope is that we do not end up fighting against one another in the future. I do not think I could bear to rodeo his Titan or to have my Titan rodeoed by him. It is all so awful now that the sheen has worn away. We spend so much time admiring the surface thrill of war here–the gleaming metal of the robots, the extra-sleek cut of our pilot uniforms–that I almost never find time to think about what we’re doing. It disturbs me when I do. We are simply killing each other over and over again for no real reason, hoping for just one more taste of combat to fill the empty hours of the day.
They’ve transferred me to the Militia, which greatly surprised me at the time. Once the IMC’s campaign was finished I was given a lanky Stryder Titan chassis like a gold retirement watch and whisked off to the opposing side. What does it all mean? I’ve thought about this for days and can come to no satisfying conclusion. Details of the IMC’s war were hard to keep track of at the best of times and now, with hindsight and experience, I think all of the combat added up to nothing. I didn’t learn a single thing about what we were trying to accomplish. I even feel confused as to the nature of the world we live in. An existential malaise has fallen over me that I hadn’t been expecting when I bought into this war.
The waiting times I mentioned in my last letter home to Robert have become intolerable. It seems I spend more time hanging around, trying to find a chance to engage in combat, than I do actually fighting. Everything is unclear now. The fun I had before seems like a distant memory. How is it that less than three months after the war began it has already petered out into such utter boredom? Where are the other soldiers? Do they only sign up for missions that take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (Eastern Standard Time)?
Maybe if they allowed us to practice fighting against automated “bots” we would be having a better time. Not that artificial opponents would offer the same kind of challenge as real people, but at least they’d allow pilots like myself to do something with our time. The “DLC Map Pack” that some of the soldiers have been purchasing seems ill-advised now. The temptation of traveling to strange new battlefields cannot hold up against my suspicion that these places, too, will be entirely deserted before long. I believe I will save my money rather than invest in such a shaky prospect. I am trying to be careful with my savings, just as both of you always taught Robert and I when we were growing up.
All in all, I think I’d prefer to just come home now. There seems so little left for us to do here. The Militia offers nothing that I haven’t seen before in the IMC. It’s all running from place to place, shooting our guns, and stomping around in our robots. This premise is exciting enough that it enticed even me–someone who usually isn’t hoodwinked so easily into playing at war–into signing on. But I believe I am done now. All along I have only been fighting in order to distract myself from the boredom of an ordinary life. I signed up to a war that promised to be different from all the others before it, and have now come to understand that this was impossible. It will take more than a few neat little changes to the old formula to keep the kind of never-ending battles they offer us here exciting in the future. Perhaps it’s this over-familiarity–the disappointment of learning that there is no real revolution to be had here–that has caused the other soldiers to leave in droves. It is sad that Robert has become, like me, a latecomer to this failure, destined to experience the same skyrocketing highs and equally dramatic plunges back to reality that I have.
Thank you for the care packages and dutifully sent letters. Every mail delivery has helped to raise my spirits in these desperate times. I hope you are keeping well and that everything is all right at home. My earlier expectations of remaining enlisted until Christmas appear foolish now. I expect to leave very soon. I only hope that Robert is able to keep respawning safely until he comes to the same realization I have. With any luck we will both be sharing a Sunday dinner with you before long.
Reid McCarter is a writer, editor, and musician living and working in Toronto. He has written for sites and magazines including Kill Screen, Pixels or Death, Paste, and The Escapist. He is also editor-in-extremis for videogame site Digital Love Child. He tweets tweets @reidmccarter.