This has been eating at me for a few years now. I believe I read this in one of the 'best sci-fi of the year' aggregations.

The plot centers around an old warrior living in peace in a small town. He was once part of a unit or army that had been fighting a war for hundreds or thousands of years. I don't think the town people know about the war or even that these two species exist (because they hide/camouflage maybe).

At some point, the warrior realizes that the enemy has found him and will be attacking soon. He then starts performing some sort of ritual meant to individually call his old friends from the unit, but each ritual reveals that they have died.

Eventually his enemies arrive on the planet (after numerous signs) and he has to fight alone and knows he will probably die. I believe the fighting was primarily fencing/sword fighting. Also, the warrior is some sort of plant species and he grows bark as a shield.

  • Probably not this guy... – Spencer Feb 20 at 16:41
  • @Spencer I am Groot. – Jenayah Feb 20 at 17:23
  • Hi Adam. I have a pretty comprehensive collection of Best of ... anthologies but this story doesn't ring a bell. If you can think of any specific details that would help jog my memory that would really help. Any names of people or places for example? – John Rennie Feb 21 at 11:20
  • Hi John - thanks for taking a look. I can't remember any more specific details, but would note that the things that stick out the most are: plant-like ability to grow bark and shields, sword fighting / fencing, and the ritual around smoke and song to call their fellow soldiers. Does that help? I'm starting to doubt now if it was in a Best of anthology :) – Adam Putterman Feb 28 at 15:58

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