The Black Guard of Dirren

“Do you understand your orders Sergeant?”

My commanding officer has me in his office. Why? New orders…The Brass once again calls on the Elite to do what the Troopers can’t and what the Knights are too busy to do.

“Understood Sir.”

“Good, you and your platoon will be on the war torn surface of Vae’ Somm in seven hours, do whatever you need to be ready.”

“Yes sir.”

“Dismissed…”

I hate my commanding officer, he’s never been in a single combat mission. Safe up here in his ship with the other Softies… I salute and he puts little effort in the return salute. Has he any pride in the Empire?

General Vaesan is sending us to do what several hundred thousand Daverian Troopers couldn’t, kill the High Brute. The High Brute is monstrous, he is nine feet tall, has large horns on his forehead, four arms, and a body covered in muscle and heavy plate armor. These beasts move effortlessly through the Empire’s lines, and will even give the Knights a hard fight. The Brutes are the eight foot tall versions of the High Brutes, with only four High Brutes to every invasion force, these beasts don’t just appear at random. The Brutes work in mass numbers and although they have plate armor and four arms just like High Brutes, the High Brutes can break an entire defense line if needed. They are faster, stronger, and of course more intelligent than normal Brutes, which isn’t an insult to the Brutes for I’ve seen their tactics against our Troopers in street fighting and no Trooper will ever say they are unintelligent. The Sorecrian military is the only force the Daverian Empire has ever faced that has been as powerful if not more. I’ve spent my life learning about the High Brute from field experience, there is no information that is useful in Daverian Military Archives. Brutes are dangerous and it takes many Troopers to take one down or a full magazine from a single Trooper, the High Brute takes an act of Daverius to defeat.

“New mission Boss?” Corporal Eret asks as he salutes me.

“Taking out a High Brute.”

The Corporal says nothing more, he simply follows close behind as I head to Elite Barracks. Eret has been my second in command for two years, he’s a good killer. He’s been with me on a High Brute Hunt before, most of the men in my platoon have, but there are some greens that I doubt will make it five minutes.

“Alright you dogs! Listen up!” Eret shouts as he runs into the barracks ahead of me.

“The Sergeant has new orders! So listen to him and don’t talk!”

“Thank you Corporal. Alright men! We have ourselves a good hunt. Quiet in, loud out. The Sorecrians are wiping our forces off the face of Vae’ Somm. Leading the charge is the first of four High Brutes. The auto-turrets, that kept the cowards of our forces from escaping illegally with their lives, have halted their advance. The civilian spaceport they captured is their keep. The High Brute is resting in the structure somewhere, we just need to find a way in, then search the building, using stealth combat only. Melee weapon set to Ashen if you are going to use them. If the Sorecrians can’t find bodies, they won’t have any idea we are in there. Also, we have one shot at the High Brute, while his guard is down, we’re going to hit him with an Ashen round that will instantly incinerate him. At that point the Sorecrians will know we’re there and in a rage will tear the building apart. Once the High Brute is dead everyone is to head to rally point Honor Six and we’ll head to the extraction point. Any questions?”

I look across the room, twenty-eight faces stare back at me, some are nervous, but most are confident. My veteran troops, they’re anxious, I can see the excitement in their eyes. We’ve been in space for far too long.

“Alright then, gear up, make sure everything is ready, We leave in seven hours.”

I exit the barracks, Eret is still behind me. I enter my quarters and sit at my desk. Eret sits down and I notice he’s been looking at a viewing tablet.

“What are you looking at Corporal?”

“Just reading the latest battle reports, we’ll need to know where our lines are if things get bad.”

I pull up the viewing screen on my desk and continue reading the training statistics of the new guys in the platoon. I make sure I know the limits of my men, how good they are. If a Trooper broke easily in boot camp, then he’ll break faster in real combat.

Reliability of my men is very important. On a mission like this, the smallest mistake could get all of us killed.

“Any weaklings sir?”

“No, in fact, this Trooper made the ten mile combat charge with a broken leg.”

Eret looks up at me with a surprised look on his face. In training Eret was so tired by the tenth mile that he could barely keep up with the rest of the group. He doesn’t know it, but when I read that about him in his training statistics, I didn’t rely on him for any tasks that involved running. Now, he is a great runner, I knew his body would improve, but he is still earning my trust. He doesn’t even know I doubt his abilities.

“Are you geared up?”

“Yes sir, I have it all waiting for me on the Firestorm.”

“Okay…” I read another Trooper’s training statistics.

“Do you think this is all we have to do sir?”

“No.”

“I don’t either. This is the first warzone we’re being sent into where our forces are losing. Wouldn’t it make sense they’ll utilize every resource they have to hold the planet sir?”

“I imagine we’ll be hunting all of the High Brutes.”

“Maybe the Warlord?”

“No, the Knights need their glorious victory…”

“They can have it.”

“This Trooper…Keep an eye on him…”

“Why? Is he dangerous to the platoon?”

“No, Psychologists have orders here, I can’t say anything, but I’m telling you, just keep your eye on him.”

“Y-Yes sir.” Eret says as he looks at the Trooper’s name.

“You should probably go check on the men, I want everyone suited up and ready for combat. Go get your gear on too.”

“Yes sir.”

After Eret left I pull up my personal communication channel. My wife sent me a message and I haven’t had a chance to view it yet. Her beautiful green eyes, her silky blonde hair, she is as beautiful on screen as she did the day I left.

“Hey, I hope you’re safe wherever you are. Tehr, turned four today, he’s growing so fast. He Looks just like you…I know I say this a lot, but you need to hear it more than once…I appreciate all you do for me, us, and the empire. If it wasn’t for men like you, the Empire wouldn’t be what it is today. I love you and can’t wait to see you. I know you won’t be home for a few more…years, but I’ll wait for you. Tehr can’t wait to see you again. Okay, I don’t want to hurt your focus, but remember, I love you and I’m praying for you and your men every day.”

The screen powers down after the message ends. I sit, staring at the dark screen, wondering. Why did I join the Elite when I have a family? What torture am I putting my family through, with me several galaxies away, never around to love them? No…I can’t think like this…if I lose focus, then I make mistakes. If I make mistakes, my men die. Knowing I have a few hours left I lay down to sleep, it would be the last time I would have the chance.

“Keep moving! Keep moving!” Eret screamed.

I opened my eyes and realized I was laying on my back. My platoon was taking cover from gunfire coming from the west. I felt winded like something had just slammed into my chest.

“This is Corporal Eret of the Elite! We are taking heavy fire! We need back up!”

“Co-Corporal! We need to keep moving forward!”

“No sir! It’s time to go! The Firestorm won’t wait!”

“Tell the men to advance! We’re not dying here today!”

“Sergeant! The Firestorm is about to leave! Time to go!”

I looked over and saw a Sorecrian had broken through the line. He was close enough to strike and his upper left arm swung a blade down towards me.

I woke to see Eret standing next to me.

“Sir! Its time!”

I sat up and stared at the floor while trying to relax myself.

“Go on…ahead of me…”

“Are you okay sir?”

“Just a bad dream…Don’t worry about it.”

“Yes sir. I’ll meet you at the Firestorm.”

Quickly getting my armor and combat gear on I grabbed my helmet and ran to the hangar. There the platoon was waiting, already seated in the Firestorm. Corporal Eret was standing at the ramp waiting for me.

“Sir, the men are ready, everyone is good to go!”

“Alright Corporal…”

I board the Firestorm, Eret following, and we sit down, strapping ourselves in.

“Alright men! This is going to be a long battle, we’re going to kill the High Brute and then were probably going to hunt down the other High Brutes. Remember, the outcome of the battle is decided by us. Now take this time to pray and think of the battle ahead, no talking.”

“This is Firestorm A dash Seven, we are on route to the surface, beginning launch in ten seconds.”

I grip my seat and prepare for the force of the Firestorm taking off. I can hear the pilots counting down. Three…two…one… With a loud boom I am thrown forward, but the straps on my seat hold me in place. The Firestorm feels like it’s turning, but it’s the change in gravity as we’re no longer under artificial gravity of the Troop Carrier Ship.

“Beginning cloaking systems…” The pilot says into the radio.

Soon we were moving past massive Sorecrian ships undetected. The engines were off as to not be visible. Sorecrian fighters and drop ships could see us if they looked closely, a small blur gave us away, but none ever saw us. I can hear the Sorecrian ships outside moving through space, shooting on our fleets. Sometimes a Fighter flew by and the ship would rumble from the flyby.

“Entering atmosphere…Cloaking systems down…”

The Firestorm starts to shake violently and a loud boom erupts above all noise. I can hear the pilots on the radio, but can’t understand what they’re saying. The violence of the atmosphere grows worse and I can feel the Firestorm being tossed around as it roars through the many layers.

“We’re through! Alright, cloaking systems reengaging, get ready boys, we’re almost there.”

“You hear that men? We’re close. Don’t forget what I told you. The outcome of the battle is decided by us. Will the Sorecrians win or will they lose?” I shout to the men who all look at me.

The viewing window on the emergency hatch nearest to me gives a perfect view outside. A burning city stretches to the horizon. Explosions appear at random and some take down whole buildings. Firestorms cloud the sky with Sorecrian Anti-Aircraft fire shooting down as many as they can. The Sorecrians have indeed won this battle, but with one city in Daverian hands, we still have hope, a port in the storm.

The buildings are closer now, we are below the smoke-filled overcast made by burning buildings and rocket fire. The auto-turrets are still holding the Sorecrians back, firing every so often. The Space Port was nearby, bodies of Troopers cover the ground, several hundred thousand Troopers, gone. Seems like a waste, but how well do we know the Will of Daverius…?

“Alright Sergeant, we’re here. Setting her down now. No Sorecrians detected, LZ is cold.”

“Unlatch and face the assault ramp! Wait for my order to charge out!” I shout, bringing the Firestorm to life with Troopers busy unlocking their seat straps.

The landing gear opens, I run down the middle of the Firestorm, punch the button to drop the assault ramp, and turn to my men shouting, “GO! GO! GO!”

Eret leads them out and everyone finds cover in nearby craters and building foundations. I run down the ramp and approach Eret.

“Corporal, I want to know our location and where the space port is. Get a satellite uplink.”

“Yes sir!”

Eret runs to the communication Trooper in the platoon. Using our fleet in space their global positioning systems lock onto us and in no time Eret has the information.

“We’re ten blocks from the space port sir. Enemy activity is unknown.”

“I need two men to do recon, get a visual on the space port and report an estimate of enemy numbers.” I said as I turned to Devrum and Sarrul, two veteran Troopers that have done recon many times before and are great at stealth.

“You know we’ll do it sergeant.”

“Alright, we’ll be holding position. If you are discovered, don’t run back to us.”

“We know sergeant, we’ll be back soon.”

Devrum and Sarrul leave their weapons behind and strip their ammunition and supplies from their body armor. No Trooper would go without their weapons and gear, but these two know they won’t need them.

“Daverius be with you two. We’ll see you soon.” I say as they crawl out of the crater and sprint silently out of sight.
Suddenly heavy surface to air gunfire takes down a Firestorm and it crashes a block away in a ball of fire. Eret climbs up to peek over the crater.

“This is Daverian Trooper Torrel! My Firestorm has been shot down! Most of the platoon is alive and we are behind Sorecrian lines! If anyone can give us support please respond!”

“Do we help them sir?” One of my new Troopers asks.

“No. We are not here to save Troopers, we have one mission and I will not risk failure just to save some dead men.”

“Hello! We need back up! The Sorecrians will be here soon!”

“Eret…if that platoon moves towards us, we’ll need to take them out.”

“Yes sir…”

Eret knows we might have to kill our own men. A mission like this is too important. I’ve killed Daverians before, Knights, Troopers, once we had to self-destruct a Royal Daverian Ship and make it look like an accident. These are necessary evils that must be done for the future of the Daverian Empire to exist. We don’t always know the reasons why we do those kind of missions, but I am not going to question Daverius.

“Anyone out there! This is Daverian Trooper Torrel! We need back up!”

“Sergeant, this is command, we’re picking up a distress beacon near your location.”

“Yes command, it’s a Firestorm, we’re holding position waiting for recon to return.”

“Sergeant, help those men.”

“Sir, with all due respect, this will jeopardize the mission. I request to ignore the distress call and continue with the mission.”

“Sergeant if you do not help those men, the Sorecrians will find them and sweep through your area.”

“I’m aware of that sir. May I send two men to silence them?”

“It’s your call Sergeant…”

“This is Torrel! We need help! Is anyone out there?”

“I won’t ask any of you to do this. You don’t need their blood on your hands. I will do it. Eret, you are in command, if I do not return in thirty minutes then continue on once the recon team returns.”

“Sir, you don’t need to do this!”

“Don’t argue with me, just follow my orders.”

I grab my silenced rifle and sprint out of the crater towards the direction of the burning Firestorm. The destroyed buildings and twisted ruins of the city impede my progress, but I am close and the voices of Troopers are soon audible.

“There is no one out here. We have to hunker down and hope command sends someone.”

“No, we need to move towards the fighting.”

“Are you nuts! The Sorecrians are between us and our own line! We’ll never make it!”

I’m in a window of a bombed out building that overlooks the crater with the Firestorm. Several Troopers are outside the Firestorm. The Trooper on the radio must still be inside, through my scope I can read the names on each uniform, but I don’t see Torrel.

“Keep trying to reach someone! We can’t be totally on our own. There are ships in space that can pick up our signal. Someone has to hear us!” A Trooper shouts as he walks down the assault ramp of the Firestorm.

The Ashen ammunition is loaded in my rifle, the silencer is three feet long and as I prop the rifle on its bipod I take aim at a Trooper sitting on top of the Firestorm as lookout. My finger rests against the trigger and I check to see if anyone is looking at him.

“Emmers! Tell me if you see ANY THING. I don’t want any surprises out here!”

I fire, a quiet hiss like that of steam sounds for a fraction of a second. Instantly the round makes contact with the Trooper. His armor, his body, and his weapon are incinerated. Within a fraction of a second he is dust.

“Emmers! Do you see anything?” The Trooper who was shouting walks out of the Firestorm.

“Emmers?”

“Hey! Where did he go? Emmers! Get up on that Firestorm and keep watch!”

“He was up there a second ago…” A Trooper standing near the Firestorm says.

“Okay, everyone look for Emmers. He couldn’t have gone far.”

A Trooper on the edge of the crater walks down the outer side of it. No one sees him…”

I squeeze the trigger and with another low hiss I incinerate another trooper.

“Jahl? You see Emmes?” A Trooper says as he runs over the side of the crater.

“Sergeant! I think something-“ I interrupt him by reducing him to dust.

“What? Say it again Trooper!” The Sergeant says as he heads over the side of the crater.

“Where’d he go?”

Before I kill the Sergeant, another Trooper approaches him. I ease off the Trigger and scan for another target. Thirty Troopers are gathered around the Firestorm and I know there are more inside.

“Something’s happening…” The Sergeant says as he looks around.

He’s on to me. He knows three Troopers are missing and they didn’t just leave. I scan his uniform and recognize a patch on his right shoulder. It’s the same one I received for fighting in the battle of Eronnus, the battle where I killed a Knight and several Troopers. He may have been in the platoon that went searching for the Troopers I killed. If this is true, he will make my job harder…
One by one I take out the Troopers. They never see it coming and no one sees the deaths. Once twelve were down the Troopers stared to notice.

“What’s happening!? Where is everyone going?”

“Keep your cool Trooper. We need to keep an eye on each other. Someone is hunting us and I aim to find out who… You two head up to that building and set up an observation post to keep an eye on us.”

Two Troopers run to my building. I turn around to watch the front door. As they hurriedly enter the building the Ashen trap I set awaits them. I press the detonator and with a low hiss a dusty cloud plumes from the ground, both of them are gone.

“Sergeant, recon team has returned, we’re waiting.”

“I told you not to wait. I have more of these Troopers to deal with. Just hold position….”

“Yes sir…”

Eret didn’t want to leave me behind…I like his loyalty, but he’s endangering the mission now…

“You two up there yet?” The sergeant calls out.

“Hey! Sound in! You guys ok?”

I stick my arm out and wave.

“Okay! Good. Let us know if you see anything!”

They think I’m one of them…

I take aim of another Trooper. He’s walking up behind the Sergeant and no one sees him.

“Sir, I-“

“What do you want Sehris?”

The Sergeant turns around and no one is there. The Trooper’s ashes flow into the wind past the Sergeant’s legs.
The Sergeant remembers, I can see it in his eyes.

“Everyone! Take cover!” He shouts as he runs into the Firestorm.

I begin firing without worry of who sees who. Before the Troopers are inside the Firestorm I kill seven more.

“What’s happening Sergeant!?”

“I was right…we’re being hunted…”

“By who?”

“I don’t know, but it’s not Sorecrian…”

“This is Torrel! We need back up! We’re being killed by an unknown force! Please! We need help!”

I shoot the communication antennae. These men can’t reach anyone now. No help is coming, just a merciful death…

“We gotta make a run for it!”

“What and leave our two men up there!?”

“They are dead for all we know!”

“Hey, guys fall back! Get to the Firestorm!”

“On the way.” I say into the radio.

“Who was that…?”

I bring my rifle with me and switch it back to assault mode while heading to the first floor and run outside. I rush over the side of the crater and sprint towards the firestorm. A Trooper runs out to meet me.

“Hey, buddy hurry there’s-“ I gun him down and he turns to dust.

“SHOOT HIM MEN!” The Sergeant shouts.

I spray the inside of the Firestorm and soon a cloud of dust bellows from the interior.

“Eret…I’m on my way back.”

On my return to my platoon I felt sick for having killed those Troopers. They were men with families too, but their deaths were not in vain. I had killed Daverians before, but the cold feeling never fades away. This is something I cannot get used to; if I do I’ll lose my humanity.

“Sir! You made it!” Eret says as I jump into the crater.

“Of course I did. Recon team, what did you find?”

“Sir, we count several thousand Sorecrians surrounding the space port. Inside the space port is crowded with the beasts. We got a visual of the High Brute, he is at the top of the space port tearing broken ships apart. If we take up firing positions in the building east of the space port we’ll have a clear shot of the High Brute.”

“Good work men. Let’s get going, you two will be on point and will guide us to the firing position you spoke of. Let’s move out!”

Several minutes later we were sneaking through the burning. When a Sorecrian patrol came near we laid down like we were dead. There were so many dead Daverians that it was easy to disguise ourselves.

“Keep…moving…” I whispered as the patrol left our sight.

The platoon crept across the road, moving through ruins, and sneaking past sleeping Sorecrians. I motioned to each trooper to get in position around the sleeping Sorecrians. I counted down from three and when I reached one there was a series of low hisses all sounding together. A cloud of dust filled the air and covered our exit from the building.

We entered the next building, bodies of troopers and civilians were piled up and the stench made me sick. I continued ahead of my platoon and realized I was at the feet of a Sorecrian Sergeant. I turned quickly and saw he was sleeping. I closed in on him with my blade. I tried not to breathe, I feared it was loud as shouting and would awake him. I rest my hand on his neck and his eyes open. As soon as the Sergeant looks at me I drive the blade deep into his chest and watch as he burns to ashes.

“Clear…this…building…silenced…weapons…free…” I said as I turned to my platoon.

Troopers passed me and I heard low hisses every so often. Ashes fell in a cloud from above me. It didn’t take long for my platoon to take the building, not a single Sorecrian knew we were here. Those that were killed didn’t know what hit them.

“Corporal…I…want…a…firing…squad…in…the…top…floor…to…cover…our…escape…”

The Corporal nodded and walked away from me.
I approached Devrum and Sarrul.

“How…far…?”

“Space…Port…next…block…over….”

We were close. The Sorecrians would increase in number and movement would be slower.

“Sergeant…patrol…moving…towards us…” Eret whispered as he quietly hurried towards me.

All rifles were aimed at the doorway. The Sorecrians grunted and growled as they approached. They could smell us…

“Wait…for..my..order…”

The entire patrol of eight Sorecrians entered the building. They could not believe their eyes, thirty Daverians aiming at them.

“Fire…”

Before one of them could even move we open fired. Ashes flew into the air and the patrol was gone.

“Good…work…”

“Sir…next…building…is…empty…”

We entered the next building and Eret was right, the Sorecrians weren’t using the building. We spread out and checked the building.

“This is Fire Hunter Two One Zero! Space Port sighted! Letting loose all cannons!”

“Take…cover…” I whispered as a Daverian fighter roared overhead. The space port was under attack and again the mission was in danger.

Sorecrians fired at the fighter flying overhead and I knew this was our chance to move to the target building for our firing position.

“Shoot and move.” I said as I led the platoon out of the building.

We moved across the street and killed every Sorecrian we saw. The pilot must have seen us because he stopped firing on our position.

“Command, we have Troopers deep behind enemy territory! I count…around thirty of them.”

“We have no Troopers in that area, are you sure they are Troopers?” Command lied to the pilot.

“Sergeant, take out that fighter.”

“We’re on it Command.

“Take out that fighter.”

Everyone in the platoon fired on the fighter, he tried to take evasive maneuvers, but it was only a matter of time…
“Command they are firing on me! I’m sending the photos I took and will take them-“The fighter engines burst into flames and the ship fell from view with a distant explosion following. I don’t know why command would send a fighter, they know we’re out here.

“Good…shot…keep…moving…”

“Command,we’re…not…getting…any…more…surprises…are…we…?”

“No Sergeant, every branch of the military operating out here is aiming to kill that High Brute, we’ve already alerted Naval Command to avoid the area.”

“Understood…”

We entered the target building, Sorecrians inside were dust in seconds. As the dust plumed through the room we moved up the building. It was ten stories tall and most of it was hollowed out. When we reached the top floor, Ferrlos, the platoon sniper set up his rifle and took aim at the space port.

“Corporal, I want the platoon to start moving back to the rally point.”

“Yes sir. We’ll move back, but I’ll leave men behind to cover your retreat.”

“Good. Get going.”

I looked down at Ferrlos who was laying on the ground looking down the scope.

“Sir…High Brute spotted.”

I looked through the scope of my rifle and watched the High Brute.

“I see the High Brute as well…take the shot…fire…fire…fire…”

I knew the moment the High Brute was dead the Brutes were going to tear the area apart chasing after us. Ferrlos fired the rifle and with a loud boom the rifle recoiled back. I watched as the High Brute’s head jerked backwards. The round bounced off his head and hit the ceiling. The roof of the Space Port exploded.

“TAKE AIM AND FIRE AGAIN!”

“Corporal! We’ve got company, keep the men in the building! The High Brute is not dead!”

I heard Eret’s voice on the radio, but I wasn’t listening, I was focused on the High Brute running towards the building faster than anything I’ve seen before. In seconds he jumped into the room with me and Ferrlos. Ferrlos tried to turn to shoot the High Brute, but the beast kicked him out of his way. The sniper flew like a ragdoll into the stair well, every bone in his body was broken.
The High Brute screamed in anger with all arms up in the air. I was outmatched, my rifle was out of my reach and I had only my blade. As fear took grip of me I backed up with the High Brute coming closer. Then a sudden bravery, a fire, burned inside and I gripped my blade.

I screamed in anger and jumped at the High Brute, the blade went into his chest and he fell backwards. As his body turned to ash the High Brute grabbed me and tried to punch me. I snarled and stabbed the High Brute over and over. He backed up, not knowing where he was going. Again and again I stabbed, not realizing we were falling. Eret and the rest of the platoon were below me and getting closer. The High Brute slammed his fist down on me hard and I couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. I stabbed him in the face and the roaring High Brute fell silent. With a loud slam we hit the ground. I rolled off of the High Brute as he turned to ashes.

“Sergeant!” Eret shouted as he ran to me.

Eret was dragging me while the rest of my platoon made a circle.

“This is Corporal Eret! We need to be picked up! We’ll cover your landing! Come in over!”

“Corporal, the space port is too hot. We can’t risk it, fall back to the rally point.”

“Sergeant! We’ll make it, just hold on!”

It was like my dream…Darkness was over coming me and I couldn’t fight it. As I passed out I felt myself being picked up.

“Sergeant!” My wife said as she kissed me.

“I am so glad you’re home…”

I couldn’t believe it. I was home…

“I missed you so much…”

“Sergeant…” She kissed me.

“Oh…Sergeant…” She kissed me again.

“SERGEANT!”

I woke up laying against a building Eret had been shouting to me. He had led the platoon to the rally point, the Firestorm hadn’t arrived yet and the Sorecrians were pushing hard to take our position. Troopers around me fired at Sorecrians all around us. I could hear thousands of roars and they were close. Somehow I had survived the fall and Eret carried me to the rally point.

“Sergeant!”

“Yes Corporal?”

“Firestorm is on its way, should be any time now!”

I tried to stand up, but I felt a great deal of pain on my chest, something was broken. I laid back down and gripped my sidearm. These beasts weren’t going to take me while I still had life in me. Eret stood over me shouting orders to the platoon.

“Keep firing! The Firestorm is almost here!”

“Command this is Corporal Eret! Where is the Firestorm!?”

“Corporal sit tight, the Firestorm is almost there, Sorecrian ships are hard to sneak past when the entire Sorecrian force is targeting your position.”

As the words came in over the radio Sorecrian fighters soared over head firing all over our position. Eret was knocked off his feet, but I don’t know if he dodged the shots or if he was hit. My platoon recovered quickly from the flyby and fired back to hold the Sorecrians at bay. Then I noticed something happening to my left.

The Sorecrians had overwhelmed our flank and that Trooper I told Eret to keep an eye on was holding the line with several Troopers. His rifle was broken and this was the first time I had really looked at him. He was a little over seven and a half feet tall and had bigger muscles than anyone in the platoon, even me. A Sorecrian fought to cut him down with his blade, the Trooper ripped the Sorecrian’s arm off and beat him with it.

The Sorecrian howled in anger and charged at him, the Trooper beat his chest and shouted, “COME ON!”

He grabbed the Sorecrian by the horns and broke his neck in a hard jerk to the right. He was using the momentum of the Sorecrians’ attacks to kill them barehanded. Another Sorecrian ran up behind him and punched him in the back. The Trooper turned quickly and tackled the Sorecrian, beating the beast with his fists until the tips of the horns touched. His face was crushed. Another Sorecrian ran up behind him with its weapon held high. Like a sixth sense the Trooper quickly turned around and slammed his fist upwards into the Sorecrian’s jaw. The force of the punch ripped the beast’s throat open, bathing the Trooper in blood.

Even the Trooper was surprised and in those few seconds he stood there stunned another Sorecrian ran up behind him and drove his blade deep into his back. The Trooper looked down at the blade jetting out from his chest and dropped to his knees. The Sorecrian pulled the blade free from the Trooper who in that moment turned to use the last of his strength to punch the Sorecrian in the left leg,breaking it in half.

“Focus fire on the eastern side!” A Trooper shouted.

The Sorecrians were overrunning our position now, it was inevitable. Then I looked up and a Sorecrian was running at me with his blade held high, just like my dream. In the blink of an eye, as he closed in and the blade was seconds from connecting with my face, the Sorecrian was dust flying all over me. A great shadow had slowly grown bigger over our position. The Ashen defense cannons on our Firestorm laid down heavy fire that sent the Sorecrians in retreat. The Firestorm had finally arrived.

The Sorecrians ran for cover as the now cloaked Firestorm mowed them down. The assault ramp dropped revealing the visible interior of the Firestorm. Troopers sprinted to the Firestorm with no worry of getting hit, the Sorecrians were terrified.

“Come on Sergeant! We got to get out of here!” A Trooper said as he helped me to my feet.

I knew by the pain in my chest I had at least one broken rib. The Trooper sat me down on a seat and I was surprised to see Eret already sitting on the Firestorm.

“You…okay…Sergeant?” He said catching his breath.

“Never better.” I say with a grin.

“Well you were right…”

“What do you mean Corporal?”

“We’re being taken to our next mission.”

I felt exhausted, my broken rib was cutting into my muscle tissue, but everyone is looking at me to be strong.

“Alright, where we going?”

“We’re heading into high orbit, Sorecrian capital ship is tearing our lines to pieces with orbital bombardment. We’re taking out the engine core with charges.”

“Alright, men! You hear that? Killing the High Brute was a warm up. Now we’re heading into a Sorecrian ship of three hundred thousand crewmen. We’re taking out the ship’s core to stop its endless destruction of our boys on the ground. You ready?”

“Yes sir!” They shouted in unison.

I laid back and closed my eyes. I just needed a few minutes to sleep. We might not survive getting close to the core, but I’m still going to give it my all. Do my best, fight tooth and nail for every inch of ground. In the name of Daverius I fight, but my only goal…to return home to my family.