The war at the river Zitar Nuo
Morgan La Femina
The Zitar Nuo was the great river set winding between a valley and two mountain ranges. It sat strategically between the battle-lines of two corporations whom lusted after it. Each company’s employees were set to fight the other, their machines grinding through the dirt of the riverbanks while sinking ever deeper into its muck and mire. The soldier’s boots sinking into the mud, sucking on them as they struggled to break free. Each company’s soldiers running from the massive machines pounding the muddy ground even more. The men of the Nenthar Corporation set against the Xelon Dru Company. One must hold the land, power, and only one. The Xelon Dru Corporation slung fire right in the water of the Nuo pounding the Nenthar Corporation’s loyal soldiers with heavy mortars, fire mortars and then the gas bombs. The Nenthar’s shrunk from the withering fire, digging into the mud forming a deep defensive trench line using machines and monster equipment’s straight from the factories, the silicon and steel machine factories.
The Nenthar soldiers sucked precious filtered air in their sealed suits, their air conditioners strapped to each of their backs, their helmets protecting their face and lungs from the noxious gases. Their suits also tapped with computer electronics and antenna. Another wave of gas streamed from the splintering shells as they sank into the muck, plasma shooters and rifles, useless as they dangled from straps about the Nenthar soldier’s shoulders. Abreon in his suit was a trained Nenthar buried deep into the pits riding upon the platform of a machine which task was to drill forward and underneath their defensive line and under no man’s land. The machines drilling auger was steaming hot punching vertically down under the muddy ground. Abreon turned the machine about, the machine bogging in the thick mud, as he spoke into a helmet speaker, “Drean, the driller is choking in the muck, it’s not drilling down any further.”
A mortar flew overhead reaching the location of another Nenthar trench, blowing up soldiers and equipment. The commander of the corporate unit of 1 Beta, Drean swearing at the blast and yelling at the struggling Abreon, the driller and Abreon caked in thick brown mud, “Keep drilling! We need the trench deeper to prepare for the final assault,” referring to an assault over the Zitar Nuo, which would later prove to be fruitless.
Abreon yanking at the driller controls, but the driller seizing up completely consumed by mud packed in all around it. He struggled, breathing heavily, sweat pouring down his face, behind his mask as a mortar hit the ground nearby, throwing muck up everywhere. Most of the Nenthar soldiers began to pull back from the unfinished forward trenches to rearward previous dug in older and deeper bunkers. They scurried back timidly awaiting the offensive cease-fire that still had yet to occur. Abreon cursing to himself, giving up on the driller, jumping off as his suit warned him that it was now running off emergency power. Abreon leaped off the machine into the mud, forcing himself back, through perpendicular front line tunnels, like a sewer rat. Abreon struggled as a display within his helmet began flailing red as he pulled himself along, past others and their suits, the mist of poison gas thick. Abreon yelling to his commander, “Drean help me, damn you!”
Drean hiding in a well-placed bunker, the guns of the Nenthar in the distance and rear of their positions, barking back into his suit microphone, “Abreon, I’m in authority over you!”
Abreon pushing himself through the mud, screaming, “I’m going to die!”
Drean, “l am your superior officer! Hold your position, dig!”
Abreon falling into the mud, standing as the flashing red helmet indicator grew even more urgent. Once power shut off he would not be able to filter the poisoned air. He would suffocate to death. Abreon wiped his mask off with a muddy forehand, soaked in thick, brown mud, water from the river seeping into the corporations defensive line trenches. Abreon struggled into still another trench, the computer within his suit whispering more subtle warnings:
“Warning, you have twenty seconds of remaining power.”
Abreon screaming to his commander, “You used me and you’re going to let me die!”
Drean, “No! You wasted yourself! You’re a Nenthar solder!”
“You have ten seconds of remaining power.”
Abreon finding a bunker, “Come on!” pulling the airlock door open and grinding it closed behind him. Abreon punched in the detox codes on its key panel the airlock drawing any residual air remaining inside then refilling it with a fog of cleansers.
The airlock cycled through the cleansing procedure, pulling back out the cleansers, finally depressurizing the unit with clean purified oxygen.
Abreon’s suit shut down, now without power. He gasped for breath while snapping his helmet off. He fell back to the floor of the airlock chocking but recovering as he took deep breaths of fresh air. Through those gasps, he spoke into his helmet, “Drean?” You deserve all the hell you get! You know that! I’m alive, damn you!” He pulled himself up, opening the second internal door open as he looked at the outside door’s portal window. He could see several other men, outside clawing at the door. He closed the second door behind him, as one of the eight men grabbing Abreon and his helmet. One yelled into it, “Save us! Save us! There is no food or water here!”
Another one snatching the helmet, as Abreon stood, then fell back to a bunker wall, the other one screaming into his helmet microphone, “We’re all going to die! The gas is thick outside! The mortars push us down further, every day!”
Finally, Drean speaking through Abreon’s helmet, “I am your commander. You will speak to me with respect! Have patience, your time will come.”
Abreon standing there amongst them, shaking, “Let me see that!” stumbling over, taking the helmet back, the words of Drean reverberating as the bunker shuttered and as a mortar impacted the ground nearby, Drean continuing “Listen to me! We need new tranches and shafts under the 23rd quadrant… HQ wants us…” Abreon turned the communicator off line, shaking his head in disgust. He looked at those around him, a rag bunch. He sat down next to the closed air lock noticing they were in shambles and the fact that they still had their plasma rifles over their shoulders, “We need to conserve the battery life of the helmet transceiver. My suit is out, but my helmet has its own draw.”
All eight of them sat on the floor of the bunker. They looked like a morally and physically destroyed group of men most with their suites half off or simply naked. They seemed hungry and thirsty but at the ready to murder, with their guns slung. One of them who was sitting, hunched over, “Your name?”
“Abreon is my name. I need the helmet switched off because we need to know when the gas and mortars have stopped, so that we can continue through the trenches. We will send out a communique every six hours.”
A second: “Do you have any water?”
“I have some water rations hooked into my suit.”
A third looking up, “Do you have any food?”
“I have none.”
They hunkered down near the airlock, waiting.
The second night of Abreon’s imprisonment within the bunker the fire light flashes from the gun battery’s outside launching mortars no longer streamed through the six-inch acrylic plate that formed the internal and external airlock windows. He looked around, now just the pale overhead lights illuminating the inside of their bunker. One of the surrounding eight began to shake, then after a few more hours he broke, screaming out to them all, “Let me out! Let me out! I’m going to die! We are going to die in here!”
Abreon pulling him away from the airlock, “If you leave we’ll all die!”
The bunker shaken by another mortar and another causing the internal lights to flicker off, putting them in near total darkness.
Another one screaming, “I can’t see! I’m blind!”
A second naked soldier, “Shut up! Shut up!”
Abreon struggling with them, “Listen! Stop it, all of you!”
“I can’t see!”
The second soldier grabbing the one who could not see, “Shut up!”
The first “Let me out! Let me out!”
The soldier who grabbed the third soldier beating the one who could not see, “Shut up!” punching the poor man, “I’ll show you about seeing!”
Abreon letting the soldier he detained slump to the ground pulling the third soldier off the second, punching him then shaking him in a bear hug till he was exhausted and finally dropping him to the ground. The soldier slunk back into a corner and began to cry. Abreon wiped the sweat from his head and sat back down sipping on some of his suit water. He closed his eyes, the other soldiers, sobbing or whimpering returning to their fitful sleep.
That night came and went. The next day passed and as the night grew long, Abreon decided it was time to send out a broadcast. He flicked on the power to his helmet transceiver ready to send out another status update. He upended his helmet with its power indicator glowing red in the darkness. He spoke into its microphone, “Drean, Drean? When are the gas mortars going to end? Drean? Is anyone there? When are they going to end?”
Another of the eight in the dark yelling at Abreon, “They’ll end when we die, of thirst!”
A second whispering, “Soon.”
Drean from Abreon’s helmet, “Any moment now! If our calculations are correct, the battle should end soon!”
One of the soldiers in the bunker with Abreon, “Shut up, everyone stop crying!”
Drean, “Then we can fight again.”
The second soldier again, “I can’t see you!” coughing, “I still can’t”
Drean squawking from inside Drean’s helmet, “Then we can dig again.”
Another crying, others scratching, some words, others with only tired primal fears. Drean now livid, “Just shut up!” The first soldier as Abreon’s eyes widened, “Kill him!” as the solider snatched his gun, the second unknowing, firing in the general direction of the crying voice, the clear plasma melting into the chest of that man eating a hole the size of two fists through his flesh. Abreon yelled, “No!”
The crazed soldier holding his rifle out, finding Abreon, through the glare of the gun’s light. Abreon dared not breath, the soldier, “I’ll kill you too.” as the crush of sound from inside the bunker ceased. The now hysterical soldiers became silent as the mortaring outside ceased and all was quiet. Drean yelled from Abreon’s helmet, “What the hell is going on in there!”
One of the soldiers, “They stopped shelling!”
Another, “Soon we will be able to leave the bunker!”
Then all of them began to push, obtaining a view through the airlocks windows and out toward the field, to watch and see when the haze of gas would lift. Drean, “See of course! Our calculations were correct!”
Abreon disgusted switching his helmet off and waiting for the poison clouds to break. They cycled through the airlock and stepped out into the war torn barren world around them. They looked around, all brown with mud and ash. Abreon took a deep breath of the fresh air. They took the time to look up at the sun, the horizon, for they were between moments of war, bombs, gas, mortars and firebombs. Many had died from the gas, as they’re suited bodies lay everywhere, but the corporation would be pleased.
Abreon was stuck inside the machine and the machine drove him on toward his mark. Now the Nenthar Corporation’s heavy cannons and launchers began to work and flex their muscles of steel and grease, as they cycled between fire and rest. Each moment after grinding moment those turrets began to launch their steel shells directly at the Xelon Dru first across the Zitar Nuo into their trenches and into their bunkers, smashing them. The Xelon soldiers seizing a break in the onslaught climbed up and out of their muddy trenches and charged from where they were most safe onto water craft the Nenthar guns lowering their sites to continue firing on the closing water craft. They followed the encroaching Dru, the mortars hitting the water with impact, the shock waves overcoming their boats in great gulps of liquid and shards of metal. Many soldiers were thrown into the air, ripping them and their boats to pieces.
As the Nenthar cannons fired ruthlessly on their encroaching targets, a significant quantity of boats and surfing jeeps still were able break onto the Nenthar beachhead territory. The generals of the Nenthar Corporation called a limited withdrawal their men struggling to free themselves of the dirt and muck surrounding them, all of them climbing up and out of their trenches to flee from the pushing Dru. Abreon seeing the retreat dragged several bodies to the foremost trench wall, stacking them, standing upon them as they sunk into the mud, other soldiers shored up his flanks, some stacking bodies in like fashion, “We have to fight hard for the Nenthar Corporation!”
Another near to him, gun ready over the waft of the iron and steel, “We are the people’s soldiers!” The soldier thumbing up to him then firing his weapon at the onslaught of Xelon soldiers making their way over the beachhead and into no man’s land. Abreon lowering his weapon and overtop the waft of stacked bodies, firing bursts of molten rounds at the charging Xelon Dru. Abreon screamed as they began to fall from the hot accelerated plasma ejecting out from his gun and others, the charge of the Xelon slowing as they returned their fire from their own laser rifles. The momentum ground down but it continued. They were nearing the Nenthar trenches.
Abreon, “They’re gaining!”
Another Xelon Corporate solider, “What are we to do!”
Still another, “Have no fear!”
Abreon critically sized up the situation as the enemy pushed forward from the badlands of the Nenthar Corporation, up from the shell shocked no man’s land, up from the thick mud and corpses, to the front trenches of the Nenthar Corporate front lines, needing to act. Abreon yelling out to one of his loyal soldiers, “Soldier, aim for their torsos! Aim for those with the rank of B4.”
The soldier rotating in a wide angle scope, the view port finding his keyed targets, the face of the loyalist full of sweat dripping from his head onto his face and down his chest, “Yes, sir!”
Others men or crying in the background, as Abreon switched from semi-automatic to automatic, Abreon squeezing the trigger, the fine line of plasma warping the air about as the Dru fell, but it was too late as one lunged at him grabbing the barrel of his the weapon. Abreon fell back. Abreon clawed back, releasing the trigger, depressing a thumb-slide upon the weapon, a knife releasing from the stock of the weapon. Abreon screamed in terror, “Die!” grabbing the uniform of the Dru, pulling him down, stabbing him in the throat, throwing him over, as he snatched his gun, firing in a long line of heat, killing those Dru who were now in the trenches with him. He did not want this.
Another leaping onto Abreon, struggling with him, Abreon fearing his own mortality gripping his knife tight, turning the blade and ramming the knife into the abdomen of the Xelon Dru then pulling it out. In tears, Abreon rammed the blade back into the man tearing it out of the other side, turning as he saw yet another soldier upon him, this one with her own held above her head ready to plunge it into him, as another Nenthar shot her with a plasma burst right into her back. She fell, Abreon wiping the tears from his eyes, trying to be proud toward him: “Good shot soldier.”
The Nenthar soldier, “We need to head to the rearward trenches!”
Abreon running from the Dru soldiers, leaping over dead Nenthar’s some from the gas while others from the Dru Corporation. As Abreon ran, his boots sucked down into the mud, pulling him, he could hear men screaming, others fighting. He passed a Dru as he ran toward the rearward trenches, banked toward a closer one, tripped over a soldier and fell into the mud. He struggled as a Xelon Dru found him, putting him up from the muck, the Xelon strong and angry, “You’re going to die!” The Xelon shook Abreon punching him in his head, Abreon then falling back into the mud from the blow. He rolled, unable to grab his knife deep in the mire or a gun, as the Dru angled his rifle, to the chest of Abreon from above him. The Dru grinned a toothy pin, ready to pull the trigger, as his chest exploded over Abreon, as a long hot line of plasma streaked over from another Nenthar in the distance hitting the Xelon. He fell ripped apart. Abreon wiped his face again, full of blood and mud, grabbing the Dru’s rifle. Abreon pushed himself up with the rifle and continued his retreat.
From the other side of the river the Dru Corporation aimed their artillery just beyond the approaching Dru charging soldiers. They list the sky with shells, which rained back down on Nenthar territory. Abreon heard the high-pitched screech of an incoming shell. He leapt, timing it, as the shell hit the ground behind him the blast blowing a gaping pit into the ground, bucking Abreon in the process. The shell impact threw Abreon to the ground, covering him in mud, fire from plasma rifles streaking over his head. A soldier cried out, grabbing him as he stood up. Abreon fell again, kicking the soldier away from him. He found a gun and fired at him, the solider falling. Abreon looking back at still more soldiers firing at him and other retreating Nenthar’s. He ran and leaped onto the surface wall of a second defensive trench line. Abreon climbed over the wall and down into the trench. He found a tunnel, crouched down and snaked his way down it, leaving the Dru behind, leaving most of the remaining Nenthar’s behind. He scurried down the tunnel, took another and then hit his head on a steel supporting ring knocking himself unconscious.