Assault on Namkaagh: An Epic of the Anoghian Paladin Platoon

pao_05

Here I sit
Strapped in and waiting
With thirty others
Of my homeworld

I hear the roar
And whine
Of the engines
Through the hull
Of the stolen and refitted
Nephorath Troop Lander
My guts start to curdle

The commander
Stands before us
Giving words of instruction
And encouragement
His helmet
In the crook of his arm

I see his
Triple rows of teeth move
And his jaw-stingers
Curl and uncurl
But I can’t seem to hear
What he is saying

My threefold heart
Hammers so hard
That it seems
That I can hear
None else

My breath
Whooshes deafeningly
Through my helmet’s respirator
And the catch-tube
Pops into my mouth
As my battlesuit reads
That I’m about to vomit

And I do

“Are you okay?”
I hear my friend and compatriot
Zaltak ask at my side
I swallow back
The burning bile
And just nod

I gaze again
At Commander Mynch
Tall and resplendent
In his ornate battlesuit
And flowing cloak

Nothing but the highest
Admiration and respect
Has filled my core
For this individual
And the thought
Of him possibly dying in battle
Grieves my mind
To even consider

I am Nygan
Soldier in the Paladin Platoon
Of the Anoghian Infantry
And our mission
Is a deadly one;
To infiltrate
The Fortress of Namkaagh
On the world of Anok
Where the vicious
Nephorath Empire
Is said to be building
A powerful weapon

These Nephorath fiends
Have been our sworn enemies
Since time out of mind
When the High Cosmic Presence
Itself decreed
That they would be exiled
From a distant planet
Named Iurthe
And they spread
Their poisonous tyranny
To other worlds
Throughout the Great Void
Including Anoghia
Thus has it ever been

The klaxons
Within the ship
Begin to wail
Alerting us
That our landing
Is imminent

“This is it, boss!”
Zaltak hisses at me excitedly
Again, I simply nod
My friend and I
Are fresh from the Academy
This is our first mission
Long have we trained
And I can tell he is excited
While I am a nervous wreck

I feel the harsh thud
Of the ground beneath us
And Commander Mynch
Orders us into formation
As the bay doors open
And the walkway descends

The commander leads us
Into a dense and foreboding jungle
Our force
Spreading out
Into two columns

The two Source Priests
Flank the commander
Their channeling staves
Used as walking sticks
While I, Zaltak, and the heavy infantry
March behind

At our backs trudge
The bladesmen
While the grenadiers
Fall in behind them
And the sharpshooters
Bring up the rear
Taking to the treetops
With their jetpacks

As the jungle swallows us
The bladesmen mover to the
Very front to cut down
Any dense or dangerous foliage
That may obstruct our path

All seems eerily quiet
Even the wildlife
Seems silent

As I slowly traverse
The greenery
I feel some unseen thing slither
And wrap itself
Around my leg
And faster than a blaster bolt
I am yanked into the air
And dangled by a slimy green tendril
Over a gigantic ravenous maw
Bursting with razor-sharp teeth

I realize with horror
That I am
In the twisted arboreal clutches
Of a sarmoth
A giant, man-eating semi-sentient plant

I hear my fellow soldiers shouting
Laser beams and projectiles fly
To eradicate the growing abomination
That has chosen me
For its meal
But to no avail
For its outer skin
Is as hard as stone

Only I have the proper position
To take out this menace

As I am dangling
I see its thorn-covered tongue
Begin to raise up toward me
And beneath where its tongue did rest
I see a purple, eye-like orb
I now know where to aim
I unholster my heavy blaster
And squeeze off three shots

As the green colored blasts
Bathe the inside
Of the creature’s mouth
With deadly light
It sounds an ear-shattering squeal
As its inner eye
Is completely obliviated
And its tint turns
From dark green
To a rotten brown
As it breathes its last

Zaltak helps me
To my feet and asks me
If I’m alright
I answer yes
And continue
The slow march

The platoon enters
A steep uphill climb
And suddenly
The sound of plasma repeaters
Fills the air

Commander Mynch roars
To drop to the ground
And a notification within
My helmet’s comm system
Prompts me to switch
To a private channel

The commander informs us
That there are two pillboxes
At the top of the hill
Out of which Nephorath guards
Are gunning for us

The sharpshooters
In the treetops
Cannot accurately aim
From that vantage point
And anyone without
Explosive projectiles
Is most likely
To be mowed down

And so the grenadiers
Are commanded
To crawl forward
Through the undergrowth
And assault
The pillboxes

Metallic orbs
Of propelled silenced detonators
Sail up from
The jungle floor
And launch themselves
At high speed
Toward the small openings
In the pillboxes

I see the blinding fire
Of the explosion
And hear the agonized screams
Of the Nephorath guards

The grenadiers inform the commander
That all is clear
And as we continue
To make our way uphill
There is no evidence
Of any remaining Nephorath
Just charred and crumbling stone
From the assault

We come
To the edge of a cliff
A great expanse
Stretches out before us
The bottom hidden by mist
And upon the cliff
On the other side
Of the expanse
Broods the great fortress
Of Namkaagh
In all its grim glory
And covering the space
Is a vast bridge
That of which
Ten men can walk fully abreast

Abruptly behind us
We hear the grinding noise
Of a gatt-blaster rip the air
And four of the grenadiers
Covering us at our flank
Are mowed down
And I turn my head to behold
Six looming Nephorath
Each at least ten feet tall
And the breadth of roughly
Two and a half men
Their helmets come to a wicked
Pointed beak
Above their fang-laden mouths
And the exposed skin
Of their jaws and lips
Is a sickly gray

What appears to be the sergeant
Marches ever forward towards us
Spraying a lethal barrage of projectiles
From his caltrip-pistols

They must have come up
From a bunker under the pillboxes
I think to myself
As Mynch barks orders
And we scramble for cover
Behind a group of boulders

The commander screams into
His comm device
Demanding to know
Where in the multiple hells
Our sharpshooters are
And no sooner are the words
Out of his mouth
Than they emerge at the edge
Of the jungle canopy

As the commander
Squeezes off shots directly
At the enemy sergeant
From his plasma rifle
A lancing blast fires
From the treetops
And hits the hulking Nephorath
Carrying the gatt-blaster
Blazing him in the back
Of the head
And dropping him instantly

The commander finally
Nails the sergeant
In the exposed lower half
Of his face
Ending his relentless advance
For good

Then to my utter horror
I witness one of the
Nephorath guards
Aim a flamethrower
At the treetops
And fire

What looks to be
The entire treeline
Is set aflame in a flash
And I hear screams
From the sharpshooters
As the fire consumes them
And their jetpacks explode

“You son of a grondac bitch!”
I hear Zaltak scream
And I know he must be
Incensed with grief
As one of the sharpshooters
Is his twin brother, Balzac

He relentlessly fires
Angry emerald bolts
From his blaster rifle
And I join in the firefight
Screaming in rage

I manage to hit
The guard’s backpack tank unit
And the Nephorath whorespawn
Erupts in an inferno

Lined up in formation
As we are
Behind the boulders
Commander Mynch shouts
For all members
Of the heavy infantry
To open fire
And mop up
The remaining Nephorath

The demon halfbreeds
Stand no chance
As they are cut down
In a hurricane of blaster fire

We cautiously emerge
From our cover
And thank the Divine Source
That no Nephorath
Across the bridge
Guarding the dark fortress
Have heard us
They must have been
All taken out by our sharpshooters

We count our losses
And we are fortunate
All of our force remains
Save for two of our six grenadiers
And our sharpshooters

We are surprised
When two surviving sharpshooters
Rejoin our force
Flying out of the burning jungle
On their jetpacks

One of the two that survived
Is Zaltak’s brother
And the twin siblings embrace
With tearful relief

The commander gives us a nod
On a job well done
But warns that our mission
Is not even half complete
And points over the bridge
At the evil citadel’s
Cyclopean black towers
Piercing the skies
It gazes don upon us
Like some menacing dark god

I can’t help
Feeling a chill in my blood
From staring
At the architectural obscenity
What horrors lay within
I cannot even begin to imagine
Nor do I want to try

Mynch commands
The remaining grenadiers
To detonate the bridge
To prevent any more Nephorath troops
From crossing
And as the charges are laid
He explains that we will scale
Down the face
Of the opposing cliff
And enter the fortress by way
Of the sewage system

He announces he possesses a grapple gun
With a zipline
And that our battlesuits
Will each hook
To said zipline
And carry us across

When the grenadiers
Have fled safely back
From the bridge
A remote detonation
Is executed
And the explosion
Is like a titan’s roar
Flames consuming
The whole of the bridge
And taking large slabs of it
Down into the cloudy abyss

No Nephorath guards scramble
To the edge
Of the opposing cliff
Either the explosion
Made our enemies deaf
Or our shapshooters
Did one hell of a job
Mopping them up

The commander fires
His grapple gun
And the piton
At the end of the zipline
Punches through
The opposite canyon wall

One by one
We each descend the zipline
Until we are all across
And have activated
The grapple mechanisms
In our armor
So that we are able
To scale the rock

All twenty-two of us
Descend the cliff
Down through the cloud below
And when we have broken through
The thick, white vapor
We see
A giant sewage pipe
Jutting out of the rock

As we descend
To the exit pipe
We notice a grating
At its opening
The framework of which
Prevents anyone from entering

Two bladesmen
Are employed
To use the plasma-field
Around their vibra-swords
To cut their way
Through the grating

Once they have done their work
We enter in formation
Once again
Behind Commander Mynch
And his Source Priests

We have to activate
The floodlights
On our helmets
As all is pitch black
The green sludge
Of the sewer system
Comes up to my shins
I am thankful
For the artificial air
Cycling through my suit

The commander advises
Keeping a sharp eye
Because any nightmare
Could be lurking
In the dark
Beneath the Nephorath fortress

Through seemingly endless tunnels
We travel
No sign of hostiles anywhere
But we discover in time
That we are not alone

I hear an eerie clanking
On the ceiling above us
I look up
And my heart freezes
In terror

Crawling upside-down
On the pipes above
Shamble an army
Of horrific mutant creatures

Below their gaunt torsos
They possess the bodies
Of serpents
Which they use to coil
Around the pipes
To keep them aloft

And from their fingers
Grow long, wicked talons
Their skin is
Bone-white, wet, and scaly

I silently tap Zaltak
On the shoulder
With my trembling finger
And point up towards one
Of the scaling horrors

I hear him breathe in
Sharply through his helmet
And it is then
In that absolutely disquieting second
That the thing moves its head
And stares straight at us
With its bulging eyes

The abomination
Opens its puckering mouth
Impossibly wide
And emits a cacophony
That sounds like a cross between
A deep, throaty roar
And a wet, sucking noise
The fins at either side
Of its flabby neck
Lift and rattle
Threateningly

Out of pure fear
Zaltak fires two shots from his blaster rifle
Missing his target
And is about to fire again
When the thing drops
From the ceiling
And all of its brethren
Drop down upon us

I hear Commander Mynch
Shout to execute
A circle formation

The commander moves himself
Into the center
With his Source Priests
Our two sharpshooters
And three remaining grenadiers
Form the inner circle
While our four bladesmen
Form the second
And we twelve
Heavy infantry units
Form the outer circle

“Blast the bastards!”
The commander barks
And we heavy infantry
Cut into them
With our blaster bolts

Over seventy of the filthy monsters
Are slithering toward us
On all sides
I notice that our shots
Are being deflected
By these beasts
By long twin
Blade-like protuberances
That appear to grow
From their forearms

“What kind of genetic freaks
“Have the Nephorath left
“Down here?!”
Zaltak shouts
Above the blaster fire

I’m about to answer
When I hear
A heavy infantryman
To our left yell
“Aim for their gut, boys!
“Then aim for their heads!
“That will knock ’em down!”

Zaltak and I follow the advice
The filth do not expect us
To burn a hole through
Their guts upon first blast
Leaving them surprised
And vulnerable enough
To have their heads blown off

The infantryman to our right
However
Is not so fortunate
As the slithering monster
Sees its opening
And takes his head
With one swipe
Of its bladed arm

His fellow soldier
Who was right beside him
Screams in anger and grief
Blowing the mutant
In the side of the head
And goes on a rampage
Mowing down three more
Of the sewer-scum
Until his body is sliced
To ribbons
By three
Who close in on him

I don’t believe
I will ever be capable
Of ridding his harrowing screams
From the echoing corridors
Of my mind

The two sharpshooters
Balzac, and his partner, Jyzen
Are felling the scaled slime
With ease
From their perches
In the shadows
Two kills became four
And four became six
And on and on
Until it becomes a competition

Our three grenadiers
Deal absolute destruction
With their deton-launchers
While the Source Priests
Summon up violet bursts of mystic energy
From their channeling staves

The bladesmen are commanded
To the front
At certain intervals
And like savage berserkers
They dispatch the brutes
With their vibra-swords
The arm-blades of the blasphemies
Being hacked off
And proving no match
For their plasma fields

Fiend by slippery fiend
We whittle them down
Until they retreat
Back into the shadows
Back into whatever dark nest
They came from
The primitive rejected experiments
Are hopeless
In the face of
The power and might
Of the Paladin Platoon

With praising words
From our commander
We gather back into marching formation
And journey on

******************************

Out of the muck
And the mire
Of the sewer systems
We reach the lowest levels Of the Citadel of Namkaagh

We have turned off
Our floodlights
To avoid being spotted
By the enemy
It is still very dark
Save for a few
Glow globes
Placed in wall sconces
That glow a hellish crimson

According to the fortress schematics
That were given to us
By the Zormphon spies
We are now in the dungeons
And the commander informs us
That we have a mission down here
As well
For one of the spies
Has been captured
And is being held and tortured
Down in these godforsaken depths
As we travel through
The nighted twisting corridors
Even though they are
Still quite high and wide enough
To accomodate the Nephorath giants
I feel the hallways closing in
Like they are going to suffocate
And crush me

I notice saddened, pitiful
And scared faces
Of various interplanetary beings
Staring from behind
The force fields
Of their prison cells
And I feel for them
I quickly speak up
On our private comm channel

“Commander Mynch, sir
“With all due respect
“I think we should let
“These other beings free.”

“Negative, Private Nygan.”
His voice rasps
“We can’t be held responsible
“For their lives
“As well as that
“Of the Zormphon prisoner.”

Sergeant Calia
The leader of the heavy infantry
Interjects
“If I may say so, sir
“Private Nygan is right
“We can’t leave those prisoners behind
“What’s more is
“If they choose to accompany us
“We will have more
“To fight on our side.”

There is silence
For the space
Of a few seconds
Then the commander answers
That the sergeant had made
A good point
And tells her
And three of our heavy infantry
And one of our grenadiers
To stay behind
To rescue the prisoners
And then return
Once their task is complete

My friend
Is one of the four
Asked to assist in the rescue
And I am worried
But Sergeant Calia
Assures me
That he will be alright

Our platoon stealthily moves
To the end of the corridor
Where there waits
A large steel door
With a Nehporath guard
To either side

As the giants spot us
The commander shouts
For us heavy infantry
To set our blasters
To silenced mode

Before the hulking demonspawn
Can shout out in alarm
We lance through their armor
And they crumble to the ground

Grabbing a keycard
From the person of a dead guard
Mynch unlocks
The large door
And as it slides open
I and my comrades
Witness a gruesome sight

In a wide
But dark chamber
Lit only by
A few red glow-globes
A Nephorath
Clad in a white, sleeveless
Gore-stained tunic
Bends his obscene bulk
Over a strange, cruel-looking apparatus

In the infernal light
We see other macabre machines
Of torture
Scattered throughout the room
The highest technology
Used for the lowest and most reprobate of means

The grisly monster
Slowly turns toward us
His long hair in ratty knots
A single horn protruding
From the center of his bulbuous forehead
And his eyes glowing
The same color as the globes

“Oim efraid yer too late,”
He laughs
With a voice like a grating
Trash compactor
“This ‘un had no information
“So I’s done with ’em!”

We see a device behind him
That resembles a sizable metal box
And out of the top of it
We can see the Zomphon’s
Sagely head

Oddly enough, its face
Has the look
Of complete tranquility
Its four eyes all shut
As if in deep meditation

The Nephorath torturer
Presses something on the device
And a transparent dome
Closes over
The poor prisoner’s head
And explodes it
In a splatter
Of yellow gore

“You overgrown, grey-skinned bastard!”
The commander screams
“All heavy infantry open fire!”

“B..but Commander,” I stammer
“Shouldn’t he be taken to trial?
“Instead of…a full-on execution
“Right here?”

Mynch grabs me by the gorget
“You heard the order, Private!
“Don’t make me smoke you
“For treason!”

My fear at the commander’s
Harsh words and manhandling of me
Shifts as I see
The brutish Nephorath
Heft a colossal cleaver-like blade
And raise it high into the air
With a fierce growl

I pull off several shots
And so do my fellow infantrymen
And we scramble
Out of the way
As the immense, charred corpse
Falls smoking to the floor

“Never mess with Paladin Platoon
“You Watcher-spawned filth!”
Commander Mynch spits
As he kicks the dead torturer
In the teeth

If he still is wroth with me
He doesn’t say anymore about it
Nor does he have time to
As a large bay door
At the other side of the dungeon
Ascends
And a squad of Nephorath
Burst in

They are led by a sergeant
Who points at us
With a wicked-looking sword
Commanding his troops to attack

As the gargantuan enemy
Fires into our ranks
The commander snarls
For all to take cover
Behind the various torture machines
Spread throughout the dungeon

As the brilliant colors
Of blaster fire
And launched detons
Criscross over the dark chamber
I take cover
Behind a chair with straps
And some sort
Of huge disk-shaped gun
Facing it

I observe two
Of our four remaining bladesmen
Leap to attack the sergeant
In the center of the room
With flips, kicks, and pirouettes
They attack and dodge the sergeant’s
Savage sword arcs

Then I notice a third bladesman
Drop from the ceiling
Onto the sergeant’s shoulders
And thrust his steel
Through the Nephorath’s exposed neck
And just for good measure
The fourth bladesman
Runs the behemoth right through the gut
Sending him crashing down

The commander fires his blaster
Like a man possessed
While the Source Priests
Hunkered down with him
Fire lightning bolts
From their fingertips
At the enemy

One of the bladesmen
Is shot through the throat
While trying to get back to cover
While a grenadier’s
Head is blown off
By a deton
As he peeks out
From cover

I switch on my commlink
As it suddenly hits me
What I am hiding behind

“Commander!” I exclaim
“I am in the cover
“Of some sort of sonic wave device
“I can see the turret
“In front of me.”

“If I can turn
“This sonic weapon
“Up to its highest setting
“And aim it at the Nephorath
“It could prove to our advantage!”

“Brilliant thinking, Private Nygan.”
The commander’s pleased voice answers
“Get your ass on that turret
“And cook those overgrown s.o.b.’s now!”

“Yes sir,” I shout
And hop on
The commander meanwhile
Orders our platoon
To activate full audio protection
Within our battlesuits

Another of our heavy infantry units
Falls in a barrage of blaster fire
And a sharpshooter
Picks off the dead one’s assailant
As I carefully aim
At the Nephorath
At the far end of the chamber

Locking it in
To its highest setting
And activating my own
Audio protection
I say a quick prayer
To the One That Is All
And I fire

Huge translucent circular waves
Of sonic decimation
Are released from the weapon
And into the enemy force

All of them scream
In excruciating pain
And clap their hands
To the sides of their heads
But it is of no use

Their monstrous forms
Drop like Myrtignian flies
And the chamber seems to quake
Under their collapsing weight

Commander Mynch
Commends me
For my idea’s execution
And the rest of the platoon
Enter the torture chamber cautiously
Having returned from their mission
To the prison cells

Thankfully all are intact
Including my friend
And five rescued prisoners
Have now joined our ranks

They all introduce themselves
With salutes to our leader
Tresslas, a bulky Reptoid from Sigma Draconis
Who has sworn off the oppression
Of the dark Reptoid Empire

Nabchula, an acrobatic, yellow-furred being
From the jungle world of Mynga
Who has sworn vengeance on the Nephorath
For conquering her people
And forcing them into slavery

Duul and Dran, twin sorcerers
From the small race known as the Unar
Who also were forced into slavery
By the Reptoid Empire
Who are allies
To the Nephorath

And Zamnozz, from the insectoid race
Of the Chirrans
Being grateful for his rescue
For he was going to be used
In cruel experiments

According to the schematics
The turbo-lift
At the end of the chamber
Out of which our now-dead
Foes had emerged
Led straight up
To the top level
Of the fortress
Where the Nephorath weapon
Was said to reside

All twenty-six of us
File into the turbolift
Which can accomodate
Our numbers easily
As it was designed
For the mammoth Nephorath
But we find, strangely
That it is no longer operating
Perhaps a failsafe
Was built into the camera
That Commander Mynch destroyed
With his blaster
When we entered the lift

At any rate
We decide
To climb through
The maintenance access hatch
In the lift’s ceiling
And scale the shaft

We climb the maintenance ladders
On the right and left walls
Of the shaft
All of us
Except for Zamnozz
Who can simply ascend
Using his wings

He agrees to scout
Further upward
To see if there
Are any nasty surprises
Awaiting us

It’s not long
Before we see
Red fire
Being shot from
The Chirran’s pilfered blaster rifle
And we hear
His buzzing voice
Warn us
Before a storm of sickly white wings
Surround him
And rip him to shreds

“By the Source!”
I exclaim to Zaltak
Bringing up the rear below me
“What are those things?!”

“Strag!”
He curses under his breath
“Those creatures are Grykim!
“Very nasty!”

I had heard
Of the Grykim before
They are said to be an interplanetary scourge
Able to transform the makeup
Of their bodies
So they can travel through
Deep space
And birth their spawn
On myriad worlds

Their nests were usually found
In cavens deep underground
And in dark places
A turbolift shaft
Was a perfect place
For them to thrive

Before I realize it
I hear a sickening squeal
Directly above me
And the dreadful wings
Of one of the beasts
Descend on me
And I am grabbed
By its sharp talons
And whisked into the air

Looking up at the thing
That has me in its clutches
By the illumination
Of my helmet’s light
I see its clusters of night-black eyes
Gazing down at me
With malicious intent
And its dog-like muzzle
Draws back to reveal its carnivorous teeth
Its wicked tongue
Darting across them
In a display
Of vicious bloodlust
As it soars me back
To its nest

I recognize that obviously
Although these vermin
Are dwellers of the dark
They are not sensitive to light
One less potential weapon
In our arsenal against them

I also realize
That I am so far up the shaft now
That if somehow I manage
To kill this nightmare
I’ll fall to my death

If I could only get it
To veer
A little closer
To the nearest service ladder

I unsheath
My vibra-knife
From its strap
On my breastplate
And ram its blade
Into the Grykim’s leg

The winged horror
Voices a grunting scream
And a fierce hiss of anger
As the pain
Makes it swerve
Toward the ladder
I was aiming for

Meanwhile, I see the brilliant colors
Of blaster bolts
And laser beams
Lighting up the dark
As more of the fiends
Swoop down
In a plague of wings

I witness both monster and soldier
Fall to their death
I know not how many
For my mind is focused
On battling my current adversary

The horrible freak
Voraciously tries to bite me
With its demonic fangs
I barely dodge its attack
And hit the activation switch
On my vibra knife
Embedded in its leg

The blade
Cuts itself clean through
And the devil’s leg falls into the chasm below
As does my knife
And I soon find myself falling
As if in slow motion
Black blood from the creature’s
Severed limb
Dripping onto my faceplate as I plummet
And the horror flapping away
Now disinterested and in searing pain

As I know I am plunging
To my doom
I quickly mouth a prayer
That my journey to be united
With the Supreme Cosmic Being
Will be an easy one

I feel something grab me
Around my torso
And attach itself
To the nearby ladder

I find I am staring upside-down
Into the simian face
Of Nabchula
As I hang from her prehensile tail

“You are lucky, Anoghian,”
She smiles wickedly,
“That we Myngans can see
“So well in the dark
“And that we are so acrobatic
“I believe you owe me one.”

“I’ll buy you a Tyraxian ale
“Once we’re offworld,” I answer, out of breath

“Done,” she smirks
And sets me right-side up
Putting me on the rung below her
And no sooner am I placed back down
Than I observe
Her swiftly unsheath
Her recovered vibra-sword
From her back
Holding it poised in her tail
Activating its plasma field
As the Grykim
Plunges back down
For the kill
Ferocious maw wide open
And claws lusting to tear flesh

With an ear-shattering warcry
Nabchula swings the glowing blade
And severs the blasphemy’s hideous head
Letting it plummet with the rest of it
Following after

The Myngan can’t see my expression
Behind my faceplate
But she knows I am astonished
And gives me a sly wink

Not three seconds after that
The both of us are captivated
By a net of bright cerulean energy
Closing around three more Grykim
And sending them hissing and screaming
To their dark graves

The commander’s voice
Pipes up on the comm system
“Alright, men
“Looks like we’ve cleaned up
“The Grykim trash
“Thankfully, the Source Priests
“And the sorcerer brothers
“Thwarted that last attack
“With a combined spell.”

“We’ve suffered some losses
“But we must press on
“Just another stretch of climbing
“And we’ll reach the top chamber
“Keep your wits and senses sharp!”

As I continue to climb behind Nabchula
I look across and my floodlamp
Illumines the fierce-looking Reptoid
Who gives me a quick, approving nod
The two, child-sized Unar sorcerers
Are strapped securely to his back
I consider the beautiful irony
That the universe manifests

**********************************

We all emerge
From a crawlspace
And enter a monstrous, cavernous chamber
The vaulted ceiling is so high
It is lost in shadow
The entire room is one large dome

My platoon has lost even more
Of its members
The commander and Source Priests remain
But only five of the heavy infantry
Have survived
Three bladesmen are with us
Along with two grenadiers
And two sharpshooters
And of course, the four rescued prisoners

Nineteen of us remain
And I wonder what that number
Will be cut down to
When this mission ends

“Looks like this is it,”
My friend says to me
And I am thankful
That he is still alive
Along with his brother

“Whatever happens,” he says firmly
Planting his gauntleted hand on my shoulder
“It’s been great fighting alongside you.”

I try my best
To choke back the tears
“Likewise, my friend,” I whisper.

Commander Mynch orders us
To all fan out behind him
And to be wary
For this is the last stage
Of our mission
And this weapon
Whatever it is
Should be within this chamber

“Welcome,” a mocking, booming voice sounds
And from out of the shadows
Steps an exceptionally tall Nephorath
Dressed in elaborate black and crimson robes
With a triad of horns
Growing out of his head
With his wicked, pointed, short beard
He resembles a grotesque hybrid
Of goat and man

“Lord Ruulgh..”
The commander spits out
The fiend’s name
As if it is poison
On his tongue

Ruulgh mockingly bows
Gripping his staff
Which seems to be cast into the form
Of a fell, monstrous worm
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Commander.”

“The pleasure’s all yours, scum!”
Mynch barks
“I don’t play nice
“With a sick zaprash like yourself
“That pals around with demons!”

“Oh, that’s a shame,”
The towering Nehporath sighs in mock sadness
“Because all of you
“Are about to be an integral part
“Of this operation.”

An honor guard of twenty Nephorath troops
Come out of the darkness behind Ruulgh
Leveling their blasters at us
While a hatch in the floor
Opens behind them
And a giant mechanical archway
Decorated with sinister-looking runes
Rises into place

“You’ve heard about our new weapon, I trust,”
Ruulgh smirks noxiously down on us
“But it’s not a weapon in the sense
“Of a blaster or plasma beam
“Or disruptor
“Or any such object
“You see, this weapon can change time.”
“The means to travel through time…”
I blurt out loud in awe
“Your empire has acquired it?!”

“Indeed, my brave Anoghian friend,”
He sneers
“The Emperor’s aim is to use it
“To travel back to when Enoch, your ancestor
“Worked with Yahweh against our fathers, the Watchers
“And had them bound in the prison of Tartarus
“We will kill your meddlesome progenitor
“Before he even begins communication
“With that tyrannical fool, Yahweh!
“When we succeed
“You Anoghians will have never existed
“And our Spirit-Lord, Satanus
“Will have complete sovereignty over Earth
“And the entire universe!
“Hail to Emperor Ogus
“Who has brought forth
“This master plan!”

“Hail Emperor Ogus!”
The enemy troops shout
With fanatical zeal

“You…you speak blasphemy!”
My comrade Zaltak rages
“You can’t defeat Yahweh!
“You don’t stand a chance!”

“Oh, trust me,” the foul Nephorath Lord chortles
“The Emperor possesses more than enough ambition
“To try
“And you fortunate ones
“Are going to be the first
“To enter the time-gate
“We shall strip you
“Of your armor and weapons
“And see how the primitive
“Peoples of Earth react to you!”

Lord Ruulgh punches
A quick configuration
Into the strange archway’s console
And a blazing, swirling
Blue field of energy
Pulses within
The gateway is open

“You’re not getting away with this!”
Howls Nabchula over the roaring din
Of the time portal
“Not if I have anything to say about it!”

Like lightning, the Myngan leaps
Through the air
Artfully dodging the blaster fire
Flying at her
And while the Nephorath
Are distracted with her
We take our opportuninty
To open fire

Standing atop the portal
Directly above the machine’s
Green-glowing crystal
Nabchula unsheathes
Her vibra-sword with
Her tail
And screams
“This is for my people!!”
And plunges the blade, plasma field activated
Into the crystal
Her fingers squeezing off shots
At our foes
With twin blasters
At the same time

The portal overloads
With crimson lightning
That cruelly courses
Through the body
Of the Myngan warrior
And the interdimensional gateway
Changes from blue to blinding white

Time seems to slow to a crawl
As a being
With a face that shines
Like a thousand neutron stars
In brilliant flowing white robes
Steps through the device
And catches the charred Myngan
In his arms
As she falls

From behind the stranger
Two towering Seraphim
Who dwarf even the Nehporath
Enter through the time-door
Irradiant in immaculate white armor
Encrusted with precious stones
Their majestic wings
Covered with eyes that see all

With one flash
From each of the angels’
Flaming greatswords
Every last Nephorath trooper
Is decimated

Gently laying the charred corpse
Of Nabchula down at his feet
The shining visitor
Speaks with a voice
Like thunder
“Your time here is at an end, Ruulgh!”

The Nephorath necromancer
Shielding his face
From the interloper’s light
Snarls with venom,
“Who are you?!”

The light from the creature’s face dims
And all of we Anoghians
Fall on our faces
When we realize
Who stands before us

“You!”
Ruulgh hisses
“Enoch, the meddlesome one!
“Who has always held the favor
“Of Yahweh!”

The two titanic Seraphim
Move to strike
The haughty Nephorath Lord down
But Enoch shakes his maned head
And they snap back at attention

The ancient one
Unsheathes a staff
From his back
And holds it before him
Its headpiece
Decorated with
The connected orbs
Of the holy Sephiroth

“You will accompany me
“To be placed in the prison of Tartarus
“With your demonic fathers
He firmly proclaims

“You are power-drunk, old-man!”
Ruulgh spits
“I will not go without a fight!”
He levels his worm-staff at Enoch
And channels forth
Night-black lightning
But before his spell can reach
The old one
Our age-old father holds his staff on high
And surrounds himself
With a blinding white orb
Absorbing the dark magic blast
And dissipating it
Into nothingness

He hurls the orb
From himself
And into Lord Ruulgh
Shattering the villain’s staff of power
And knocking him with a resounding quake
To the floor
His robes lie in tatters upon him

“Nephilim Lord, your power is shattered!”
Enoch exclaims
“And in the name of the Most High of the Cosmos
“I bind you with a threefold cord!”

Ropes of searing golden energy
Lash out from Enoch’s staff
Wrapping themselves around
The necromancer’s mouth, arms, and wrists
And suspending him in captivity
In midair

“Rise, my children, rise,”
Our Father says with a smile
Upon his bearded lips
“Blessed refugees, rise as well
“You have no reason to bow before me.”

“We know greatness
“When we see it, my lord.”
The Reptoid Tresslas grates
As he stands

“And I know greatness
“When I, in turn, see it,”
Enoch laughs
“You are brave warriors
“All of you
“Especially you, my children
“You mighty Anoghians
“I know your Queen Mother
“Who now rests with me
“In the Beyond
“Is proud of you.”

Tears fill my eyes
As I remember
Our beloved Queen Tralia
Who fell in love with our Father
Aeons ago
And birthed our race

The silence is broken abruptly
By the whine of ships’ engines
Echoing through the chamber walls
I smile at Zaltak
As Enoch says his goodbyes
Taking Ruulgh with him as his prisoner
And restoring Nabchula to us
Back from the dead
With a final approving nod
He, the broken Ruulgh, and the Seraphim
Exit through the glowing portal
And are no more

I can tell by the sound of the ships’ engines
That the Anoghian interdiction fleet
Has arrived right on time
We are going home!

 

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