On the far-flung planet of Hayveon Blaze, a plucky army commander, is fighting a seemingly hopeless battle. In a universe where empires span solar systems, a great war has split the galaxy into three. UCEF, the Union of Creature Energy Force, is an alliance of aliens fighting for freedom and justice. But set against the Cosmaratic Empire and the Barrens, an empire with mind-controlled citizens, UCEF must achieve the impossible in order to win peace.
“Come,” Veel-ra-sah stated before turning, she stalked towards the swarm clawed hands swishing. Blaze blinked, his face blank as his brain caught up with the strange events of the last few minutes.
“What about the Barrens? They’ll be down here soon, there are hundreds of them, all well-armed,” Blaze exclaimed, trying to warn the Queen. If The Family was not going to try and attack UCEF, and by the sounds of it they were not, then that made them allies. Whatever happened he wanted to maximise Barren casualties, if only so that it kept his own troops alive for longer. Therefore it was imperative that the Barrens did not catch The Family unaware.
“We can deal with them, The Family will grow,” Veel-ra-sah replied, stopping and looking over her shoulder as she replied. “You must come,” she added, resuming her walk.
“Everybody move!” Blaze ordered, where to he was not yet sure. There was a moment’s nervous pause. “The Barrens are behind us and The Family are offering us help, we’d be fools to reject their aid,” Blaze reassured, seeing the reluctance of his soldiers. Hesitantly the assembled Dinos slung their weapons over their backs and picked up the stretchers again. Blaze broke into a pounding job and caught up with Veel-ra-sah wincing as his right leg reminded him of his injury.
“Before we talk can you find us somewhere to rest? My soldiers have been on their paws for far too long and we need to treat our wounded,” Blaze requested. The question would also let him know how willing The Family were to actually help them, or whether they were harbouring ulterior motives.
“You may, up here,” she replied, leading the way up one of the stone ramps. Blaze nodded to himself, apparently their aid was at least partially genuine. The swarm parted before her clearing a path for the Dinos. Blaze’s whiskers bristled as he made his way past them, up close he could clearly see the deformities each creature bore. He spotted a guy with a twisted face, a Human eye on one side, three black alien eyes on the other. There was a woman whose fingers on her right hand had fused together and lengthened into a single bony blade. Another had a line of brutal spikes down one side of his body. Blaze’s theory was being confirmed and he did not like it, he had a grim suspicion that the members of The Family had once been Humans…
The Dinos followed in his wake, all looking equally nervous and disturbed at being in close proximity to the creatures. Veel-ra-sah led them under a large arch of stone and onto one of the shelves of rock at the back of the cavern. It was hidden from the sight of anybody standing at the caverns entrance by another similar shelf of rock, neatly concealing them.
“Your troops may rest here,” Veel-ra-sah stated, indicating the stone clearing. Like the rest of the cave it was lit by the luminescent growths, which bathed the place in an eerie light. The area was about the size of a large hanger, big enough to comfortably fit them all; several pillars of stone dotted the shelf, reaching up to the vaulted roof.
“Okay everybody set up camp! Queaksys get a medical station going; I want the wounded properly seen to. R3318 organise defences I want shifts of forty Dinos guarding this position, heavy weapons get dug in. Keep all lights facing down if you have to use them, we don’t want to give away our position. The rest of you, get some rest,” Blaze ordered as the Dinos filed in. “The Barrens haven’t finished us yet.” Dinos jumped to obey his demands, surviving squad commanders doing their best to organise the defence. R3318 nodded to Blaze as he strode over.
“Good luck with the Queen,” he whispered, resting a paw on Blaze’s shoulder guard.
“Thank you, keep everybody motivated, but ensure as many Dinos as possible get rest, most of them are dead on their paws,” Blaze whispered as quietly as possible. “Don’t let your guard down, I don’t trust these… things.”
“Yes sir,” R3318 confirmed, banging his paw against his chest twice, the gesture was well meant, but it lacked strength or energy.
Blaze cast his gaze across the remnants of the UCEF force, it was a sorry sight for tired eyes. Dinos slumped against columns of carved rock, guns fallen from limp paws, heads hung in defeat and fatigue. Those who were not utterly drained had bravely taken up positions around the shelf of rock, protecting and covering the entrances. Not that it would do much against The Family should they turn on them, for they seemed to be able to climb and scale walls with ease. The Queaksys were busy patching up the injured as best as they could with the assistance of some of the less mentally shattered Dinos.
Blaze closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had no idea what their future held, everything up until now had been focused on just staying alive for as long as possible. Beyond his plan of reaching the caves he had not given anything else much thought. They would need food, more medical supplies, ammunition, sleeping bags, water. If the Barrens or The Family did not get them, it looked like a lack of bare essentials might.
He sighed deeply, surviving the first battle had been one thing, surviving the next few days would be another matter altogether. Their only hope lay in The Family. Their only chance for survival was if they could somehow strike a deal, if not, they were doomed, one way or another.
Look out for Part 29 of Matthew Gill’s story!