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By WateredByTheShade All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Fantasy

Prologue I

I saw the end of the world creep upon a blue and green planet. I imagined, and I still do, the entire populace of the planet running aimlessly for any hope of salvation. The countless cries of agony that rose up as everyone’s final moments rushed past them, as well. I imagined silhouettes of dark jaws eclipsing the high noon sun in the sky. The dread must have filled the air like a foul plague. I would think that some of the planet’s populace choose to end their lives prematurely, to skip out on the horrors to come. The air must have shrieked in a wailing eulogy as the jaws of the Planet Eater came down to a close.

But I was a million miles in space, I could see or hear none of the destruction of the planet. Only imagine it. But a million miles in space, a million miles away from the destruction, I could feel the dread. The dread that resonated with the sinking feeling I started to discover in my heart.  This newer dread, was the dread that my rescue mission was disintegrating.

A Walker charged at me during that moment. It wore thick ebony armor, covering all of his foul green skin, all except his hands. He had two purple blades in his upper set of hands . I clenched my jaw, cursed, and swung my lute in a high arc over my head. The Walker’s head soared high away in the vacuum.

I managed to take one more final look at the planet. Aeacus; that was the planet’s name. It was famed for its' rocky coast and picturesque sunsets.  The Planet Eater’s jaws were fully shut around Aeacus, the large metallic nostrils of the Planet Eater were billowing large plumes of fire. No planet had ever been rescued from the Planet Eater’s jaws. Hell, even now that list is pretty short.

I received news of an incoming attack on the Phonecian system, this attack I’m describing now, weeks ago. The Planet Eaters had eaten a dozen of systems that year and the frequency of their attacks have been increasing. I thought I could make somewhat of a difference here. That I could muster enough forces and lead an attack to drive back the Planet Eaters back into whatever void they warped from. I was a fool; I was not a leader back then.

I took the news of the attack, and traveled from one system to another, from one planet to the next, from one nation to the neighboring one. Advocating, campaigning, pleading, and trying almost anything to get an intervention in Phonecia.

By the time those weeks slipped away, I had an army. A raggedy band of volunteers, a few nations, and glory blinded idiots. We were still late. I think we came about an hour after the Planet Eaters did. But worse, we weren’t organized.

We were like a mass of flies charging against a flame. Do you know how foolhardy-nay completely brainless it is to fight a battle with people who had no sense of unity, or teamwork? It was a catastrophe.

There were three planets in the Phonecian system. Three planets we hoped to save, 10 billion lives we hoped to rescue. In my gun-ho grandeur I named my forces the Salvation forces. They were anything but. We charged towards the three planets, splitting awkwardly into three different forces, each force heading towards one Planet Eater. In two hours, we lost two of those planets. We lost too many people, and too much hope.

Minos. That was the name of the last remaining planet. It was the planet that I was trying to save desperately. The planet was 125 thousand tantalizing miles away from me.  A whole legion stood in my way. The last reaming Planet Eater, already in orbit around Minos began to unhinge its’ jaws . The other two had already begun a multi-dimensional dive.

“Mal, Mal do you hear me?” I switched on my communicator, and attempted to get in contact with one of the only battleships that we had on our side. ”Mal, I need you to charge through the battle lines! We are about to lose Minos! ”

Mal had made a charge for Aeacus. Back then I thought that what Mal did was heroic, now it was just stupid. He left his flanks open, took too much damage. In the end the ship was as much as a battleship as an asteroid was one.

“Negative,” the reply came between static. “We have shhhh taken too much shhhhh- I repeat shhhh much damage.”

“Xi!” I was desperate to try to save Minos. “I need you to lead a small force and disrupt the last Planet Eater,” I yelled through the intercom. ”Xi, where are you dammit!”

Xi was dead. She was pinned to the crust of an asteroid by an impalement of a dozen purple blades. Her signature braided purple pony floated around her undone. She was covered in a cloud of her own blood. Her death didn’t hit me dead. No, her death came crashing down into my reality months later. It’s a bit poetic, that in my bleakest hour, when I felt no hope I would invent my strongest creation. But that’s a story for another time. Xi was dead, and I was attempting to stop another 3.5 billion of deaths.

“What do you need, M?”  Talim responded on the intercom. She was young, had short brown hair and almond eyes. Despite her age, she sported dense, but not overly thick muscles.  A small blue ocarina hanged around her neck. Talim . . . she was powerful. She was one of my strongest and closest friends. She took on numbers that dwarf her lone self. She took on and out battleships. But the most amazing part was that she always came back. Well, almost always.

“Talim! I need someone to charge ahead and disrupt the Planet Eater until the main force engages it.” Don’t judge me for what is to come next. I was both so desperate and full of hope.

“On it! I’ll take the Planet Eater down too.” Talim lifted the ocarina to her mouth and began to play an upbeat melody. Her arms and legs erupted in flames that left her unhurt.

“Take a few men with you, and here take this too.” I handed her my Empahisezer, you know the old contraption that can store enough energy to fire a beam capable of taking down a Planet Eater. The Empahisezer was an old invention, crafted by an even older inventor.

Talim had her own Empahisezer. It was a small weapon, about a hand span big and it could easily fit into a pocket.  I was trying to make Talim’s mission as successful as possible.

“It’s charged Talim,” I spoke.

“I understand,” she responded. “Ajax! Thorion!”  She bellowed through the intercom, “Follow me!”

Talim sped off like a shooting star burning up through the atmosphere, with two other, not as brilliant, nor as fast shooting stars trailing behind her.

That was the last time I saw Talim.

I engaged a couple of Crawlers there, in attempts to give Talim some cover fire. I fired off streams of light from my lute, managing to hit one in the jugular, while swatting away any who came close with my lute.

“Mithios! What did you just do?” Snag came next to me, covered in green blood from head to toe. His prized tambourine must have removed several scores of heads in this battle. Snag was strong. He was built like chiseled mountain, and anyone who saw him would let you know that he was as tall and commanding as a mountain too. Snag cared too, most people would dismiss him as a cold hearted, calculating warrior. Nothing could be further from the truth. Snag was kind, Snag was a friend, a good friend. Snag and I fought for the same ideals.

“What did you just do?” He repeated

“Talim went to save Minos.”

“No Mithios!” Snag was angry, his fist clenched. ”Where is her back-up? Who is covering her?” Where is her escape route?”

“It’s our only chance! We can’t lose all the planets! We can’t lose all those 11 billion people!”

“No Mithios! Look around you.” Snag spread his arms wide. “This is what we fought so hard for. A united front. We can comeback from a slight defeat, but not a pyrrhic demolition at the hands of the Planet Eaters! We can’t afford such sacrifices.”

“We have to do something! Minos is about to fall.” It was true. The Planet Eater was starting to move its’ jaws to surround the planet.

“If we fail it’s all over! If everyone dies here, then this is the last chance we get. But if we are defeated here, and we live then-” Snag took a moment, fighting the invading fury on his eyes. ”Then, we have a chance. For revenge! For their slaughter! For our victory!”

“Mithios, this army is. . .not what it can be- what it should be. They need to learn to work with one another. We need to survive this battle.”

Snag was right, I don’t think I will ever admit it, but he was right. Yet, I was young and stubborn – and stupid, don’t forget stupid! I couldn’t what Snag had always known.

A shrill invaded the intercom. Snag and I broke away from our talk and looked around for the source of the interference. We knew who it was, we faced it many times before. It was the High Soarer.

The High Soarer. As far as we knew, he was the most authoritarian figure we knew of in the Planet Eater’s hierarchy. He was easily twice the size of even Snag. His armor, black as the depths of space was covered in purple highlights, glowing maleficently. His armor had runes on them, the sort of runes you see in the Last Ones ruins. His wings, three pairs of them were all purple.

“I’ll take him on.” I clenched my hand around my lute. “He won’t kill me, we know that.”

Snag nodded. “Survive nonetheless brother. I will try to salvage the situation here.”

I flew towards the High Soarer, the legion of Planet Eater’s giving away before me. It liked me, well it liked toying with me. We would fight, and it would tease and blabber. I knew I was no match for it, and it knew it too, but the High Soarer liked entertainment.

The High Soarer spread its wings and dived at me, drawing a purple sword in a quick, practiced fashion. Our weapons met in mid-space. It’s purple sword scrapping at my lute.

“This was marvelous, idiot! MARVELOUS!” The High Soarer teased. “A mass of disorganized soldiers charging, in no formation, a battle tested fleet filled with trained soldiers.”

The High Soarer drew another blade and started beating me back with both of them. “Tell me idiot: Who designed this battle strategy? A goat?”

I fainted a slice to the front, and then sidled backwards. I drew my lute sideways and fired off beams of light at my enemy. It swatted them away with its’ lower arms. The High Soarer flashed in front of me, and kicked me in the gut. I was thrown backwards. I was lucky. I instinctively dropped to a guard position with my lute, and I intercepted his incoming double stab.

“Was it a goat?” The High Soarer spoke. ”Or was it a decaying carcass of donkey?”

“You know, it just might have been a live donkey,” I spat back, trying to create some distance between us two.

“Doesn’t this scare you, High Soarer? This is the biggest coalition against you yet! And the momentum is growing!”

The intercom picked up interference that was how you knew he was laughing. “It will save us the time of looking for all of you. I say bring them, but this time line them up like cattle for the slaughter. It will save me much annoyance!”

I kicked its’ shin, and made a strike for his neck. He dodged it effortlessly. Instead, he punched me back and I flew back several feet.

“Enjoy the sight, donkey.” The High Soarer stepped to the side to reveal Minos. The Planet Eater finished snapping its’ jaws around the planet. There was no explosion; there was no sudden heroic stamper of the Planet Eater. My heart cried out for Talim. She deserved a better death-no a better life then what she got.

The legion began its’ retreat. The Planet Eater had already snapped its’ jaws, but no billows of flame erupted from its nostrils. A hole in space was torn to shreds by the Planet Eater, it was a multi-dimensional rift, and the Planet Eater started it’s dive.

“I’ll see you next time, donkey!” The High Soarer Flashed in front of me, and slashed at my face. My blood bled out into the vacuum. I was blinded. “Bring the all of the cattle.”

The Forlorn Hope, Chp. VIII by Mithios the Leader

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