The heat came in waves, as I and the other Chicken Troopers marched towards the army of our most hated enemy. We had landed on this alien planet, Kepler 563 b according to old earthling terminology, two days ago. It was a planet of many plains, forests and mountains. Deserts were non-existent. I spotted some of the enemy on top of a high, craggy mountain. They disappeared suddenly. Were they scared or what? Also, how did they disappear so quickly? It looked like each mountaintop would have to be taken from them. Even with our technology, I didn’t think we would win. Our ships dared not fly in this area. Only the C.T. or Chicken Troopers would travel in this area, nicknamed ‘black hole’, because no ship or division ever came out in one piece. The berees, which are a kind of alien bird, moved slowly through the blue sky. The plain was nearly devoid of grass. Shells had blown it all away. A scraggly creature dodged from crater to crater. It dashed across the road over the deep ruts. Trees were sparse at first but ahead of us, they became less scarce until a dense, dark forest loomed ahead of the unit. Thunderclouds approached us. The sun grew dimmer as a light sprinkle dampened our feathers. The wind shook the leaves of the forest, causing them to fly away, and the wailed across the field. It began to quicken as the clouds approached. A road had been cut through. Weeds covered the road. Bombs and shells had marred it with craters and rusting, bombed out equipment lay on all sides. The wind moved my feathers side to side. Condensation joined the falling drops on my feathers as a deep fog fell down upon us. However, the stench of rotting bodies filled the air. A platoon had been slaughtered on this same road. Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t see any tracks except for chicken tracks.
A crow interrupted my thoughts. I hit the ground. Another crow sounded and we jumped up and charged. The wind moved through my feathers as shells bombarded. We dashed on into the shells. Explosions tore apart soldiers on either side of me. It was sickening. Would I be torn apart like that? About 400 others and I dashed into the forest and safety. I noticed shrapnel had injured one of the other chickens. I started to go but stopped and went back. Luckily, some other soldier ran out and dragged him to safety. Thunder rolled across the plain and through the forest. Every boom shook the trees. Branches fell down hitting some chickens. A tree exploded. Splinters whizzed everywhere. Thunder crashed again.
The remainder of the troops lined up except for the wounded soldiers and a few medics. I adjusted my gun, as I marched towards what looked like a plain filled with fortifications made by them. Suddenly, there was commotion in the front. The soldiers parted as some other soldiers marched one of them down the trail. It was trembling slightly. One of the guards was carrying its gun. The rifle was perfectly built for them. Its stripe upon its fur, its ringtail, its almost cute face all hid an enemy that was so fearsome that we lived in fear every day. They were the enemy that we fought. They threatened the Chicken Federation like no other enemy. The bobcats were too predictable, the bears too big, the cats too distractible, the dogs too loud, but they were perfect enemies. We marched on as it was marched to the rear. They were in those fortifications. Everyone shrank back from charging. I heard the fated order. When the commander crowed, we charged. Lasers zinged on each side of us as we charged them. We grounded at the fence. The chickens trained their guns waiting for the fateful order. It came with a crow. We fired. They retreated and formed again. This time they had a tank. The anti-armor chicken edged beside me and trained his RPG on the tank. The tank exploded throwing bits of metal everywhere They, however, kept coming. Finally, I heard the order. The formation slowed down but kept on coming. Some chickens began to retreat. I followed them. No doubt the others ran too. I knew the excuse wouldn’t wash, but the battle had no glory, only death.
I headed north as the thick forest gave way to a field of potatoes. I grabbed some and went back to the forest to cook them. I thought about what I had done. All the bullets were flying at me. Better men than me died. Why, oh Lord, had I survived? I turned the potatoes over in the pan. Why would God pick me for survival? Also, when would he not? One rooster I had seen killed was the nicest guy in the battalion. Always there with a smile and a helping hand, yet he had died. When the potatoes were done they smelled so delicious that a tramp joined me. Since I had plenty to share, I let him stay. We started to have a conversation and he seemed to be really excited. I asked him why he was so pleased.
The tramp told me why, “T’was a great battle. De ‘coons charged dem reestors o’er an’ o’er again. Ad one charge some of da reestors begin to run, but da rest stood firm. Dose lorbogs were defeated ‘or da first time. Me and me buds were so ‘cited. Maybe the reestors ‘ill win and we ‘ill not have to live in fear what dey ‘ill do nex’. “
I sat there stone faced. My buddies had held. I had deserted. I needed courage to stand even when defeat was inevitable. When the meal was done I packed up, bid the tramp good bye, and went on my way. I couldn’t believe it. They had held. It made me pace randomly until I stumbled upon some troops, walking around. Obviously, they wanted to catch deserters. I waited until they had passed and I sidled up to the rear and fell in marching. Nobody looked at me. I sighed in relief. We marched on and caught some deserters. Most looked sheepish and said they thought the order to retreat had been sounded.
When we reached camp, chickens paced back and forth. Some of the others cleaned their guns. Medics were tending to the wounded, as quickly as possible. I asked the captain what was the matter. He didn’t say a word. He just pointed at the coons. They were running about and beginning to form up. Man, this was bad. They had artillery this time and armor. I started to ask about our anti-armor, but he cut me off saying, “If they ain’t ready, then we ain’t ready.” A scout ran up and let everyone know that ‘them lorbogs’ were flanking us with a large force. Everyone began to panic.
At that moment the other formation of ‘coons started marching towards us. I ran up to the fence. I looked around. Most of the roosters had dropped their weapons and ran. Only twenty-three stood at the fence. I heard the order. It was ‘Empty your guns, there is no turning back’! Luckily some of the all-important armor brigade had stayed. They fired their missiles at the tanks. The tanks exploded. But still more tanks were coming. I fired my rifle repeatedly. These twenty-three roosters stood their ground. I continued to fight as rain poured down. Lightning crashed as explosions fell around us. The twenty-three, no wait, fifteen roosters held back the army of ‘coons.
The other formation of ‘coons were seen. They were performing a flanking maneuver. Some of the remaining roosters swiveled and hit the ground. Lightning crashed behind us and a fire broke out. I fired only to hear that dreaded clicking sound. I reached for a magazine but my groping feathers felt nothing. The soldier beside me must have seen the panic in my face because he gave me another magazine of plasma gas. A bullet zinged beside me. The rain fell faster and faster. We stood in ankle deep water all around the hill that the ‘coons had their fortress on. The artillery that they used slowed down , then stopped. That was the only laugh that day as the coons frantically pulled barrels of gunpowder out of the water. Nevertheless, that was the only good thing about the rain. Frogs or amphibs were now attacking us. The way to stop a frog was to use a crane. It was a type of rocket that didn’t bounce off the curved metal sides. Luckily, we had one. One of the frogs exploded.
I saw the tramp I had seen and who I supposed was his buddies. They were observing the battle. They wanted us to win because they would be free, and wouldn’t be oppressed by the ‘coons. I felt an anger rise up. No, this wasn’t anger, it felt different than anger. It felt like purpose, justice. I gave a yell. The others looked at me in surprise. I jumped the fence and ran, while yelling like a banshee. They tried to shoot me but I sped on. The other roosters also gave a yell and charged after me. The coons stopped firing for a second but when they did it seemed different. The firing flew in all directions now. I dashed up the low hill as bolts zinged around me. I leapt over the fortifications. I fell back as a ‘coon pushed me out.
I looked back. A storm of birds fought their way up the fortifications. No wonder the ‘coons had seemed shocked. I saw roosters, ganders, ducks, turkeys, and any bird that the ‘coons eat. Even some natives charged with them and I started to see those tramps leading the charge. The coons just kept firing. A boom from a mountaintop surprised me. The boom wasn’t of artillery but of C4. A ship passed overhead and landed behind enemy lines only to explode from a rocket. We surged over the wall and blew the communication dish. Several ‘coons made a stand at the HQ but we slaughtered them and captured the general. A white flag rose over the rest of the ‘coons. My captain, who had stayed, congratulated me on my courage saying, “If I had three thousand men like you, I could tear the stomach out of the war in three weeks.”
We moved on to defeat the rest of the raccoons. The final base stood at the top of a leveled out mountain. It was strong and imposing. It could not be taken by storm. It could not be taken by siege. It could only be taken by strategy. But how? The force my captain had was lacking in artillery. It had to be taken. The other chickens walked around aimlessly. My captain had been pacing around the fortress. The walls were high. But there was a cleft. He gave his orders. The grappling hooks swung up and on the cleft. A loud guffaw came from the soldiers as the raccoons franticly tried to cut the steel cable. Several ganders flew up and discharged their guns in the face of the raccoons. The C.T. dashed to the assistance of the ganders. One of them threw a moltov cocktail at the wooden armory. Bad idea. The resulting explosion blew the walls out and the birds and raccoons went flying. We were in bad shape and when another group of troopers came by, they couldn’t help at all. Not that they were not able to help, but the C.T. were on the ground clutching their sides, laughing. Ships picked the prisoners and us up. The rest of the ‘coons on the planet soon surrendered.
Three months later the war had been won. The Chicken Federation, now the Aves Federation, had defeated the U.S.R.R, or the United States of the Raccoon Republic. Later, one of the generals called me. He awarded the tramps and I a medal. The tramps for getting the reinforcements and me for leading that charge.