Chapter Twenty-three: The Ground Force
Bovan, despite the impending battle, smiled at the Emperor.
Hir’Shan could not help but notice the dwarf priest feeling uncomfortable knowing what they were about to face. Why does he smile? he thought. Is this suppose to make me feel better? “I’ve always found something sinister about someone who smiles for no reason, even my high priest.”
Bovan ignored the suggestion that he was sinister, he knew he had reason to smile. Everything up to till now had proven that he had made all the right decisions suggestion this elf would be emperor. Bovan looked at what was around him. The children and some of the adults had been successfully evacuated but the vast majority of the population remained. However, they did not hide; they did not cower in the corner waiting for the menace to take their lives. They had gathered in the streets of the city ready to fight. They held weapons, laser riffles, clubs and some who were trained in martial arts held swords and daggers. Their leader stood beside them waiting to face the enemy side by side with his people. Hir’Shan was ready to fight and die. “Look at what you have done Hir’Sharn, these people have gathered to fight for you. Only a just and noble emperor could manage such a triumph. No matter how this battle ends we have won, we have won with our spirit and faith. We have won with our determination.”
Hir’Shan looked to the sky noticing the large object which appeared to be a ship in orbit, he noticed twelve other smaller ships but they all had one thing in common. From them all small troop transports were being launched to the surface. The armies held position at several key defence sights but the rest was left for civilians to defend. “Captain send word to all ground force troops. They have to engage all enemies with maximum brutality. Let's show these monsters what we have got and who we are.”
The orders spread throughout the city and then the rest of the Eltheran. They were all ready for a bloody fight. The priests and religious orders did not turn away from the fight either. They knew they had to stand by the emperor and under the guidance of Bovan they held weapons ready for protection of the people they served. The high priest had dropped his walking stick in favour of a weapon that would do more damage.
Messages soon began to echo over the communications stations set up to manage and co-ordinate the fight. All the messages blazed with one clear signal. The enemy had landed.
Several troop transports landed outside the boundaries of the city. As the hatches opened they ran onto Eltheran soil looking for their first victims and their first blood. The Half-castes moved in unison keeping a flat line as they progressed. It did not take long for the Eltheran infantry to respond. Hover tanks formed the first line of defence firing large blasts and killing many of the first landed enemy troops. However, it seemed to make no difference, as one hundred were killed, two hundred more landed. Their numbers grew out of control.
The Half-castes swarmed over the line of tanks blowing the entrance hatches with small explosives and massacring the military personnel inside. They opened the hatch and threw down more explosives and resealed the door. The blasts were enough to rip the bodies of anyone into tiny peaces. They opened the hatch once again making sure the explosion had been successful and each time it was. All that remained of the three officers inside were shreds of bloody flesh smeared over the control panels and a smell that would make any normal person sick to the stomach. The Half-castes took pride in their brutality feeling their dominance over a weak race of people. They could not believe that these pathetic creatures had exiled them from their own planet.
The advance continued with the most severe consequences. The superior Half-caste forces were wiping out the military. Their ancient battle technique was incredibly effective. The military fired their laser weapons taking out the Half-castes at the front but those behind advanced far quicker and used their swords decapitating and slicing down the elves, humans and dwarfs who attempted to stand their ground. The method did not require any fancy skills or moves it was just a powerful onslaught of thoughtless violence.
The battle now raged throughout the entire city. Every second hundreds of men and women fell to their deaths. The military tried every form of attack, every strategy to eliminate the threat but all attempts were useless. “How are we doing Captain?”
“Sir the line is retreating to the city centre. We are loosing ground every second…Sir the city is a slaughter house.”
The emperor tightened his grip around the laser riffle he carried. He was ready to charge in headfirst straight into battle. Anything was better than waiting for them to be surrounded. “Emperor Hir’Shan.” Through the sounds of explosions and screaming a low ranked officer shouted for the attention of the Emperor.
“What is it sergeant?”
“Sir we are receiving a communication from Admiral De’Ress.”
Hir’Shan felt like the battle had stopped for a few moments, perhaps this would be the last time he talked to his brother. Perhaps this was De’Ress communicating to say their goodbyes. “De’Ress this is Hir’Shan.” Several explosions thundered around their position which kicked in Hir’Shan’s instincts sending him to his knees to avoid low flying shrapnel. The explosions grew more regular. Hir’Shan held his hand up to feel around the communications desk for a headset that would allow him to continue to talk to his brother. He found one and placed hit around his head while crouched behind the desk. “De’Ress can you hear me?”
“Yes, listen to me Hir’Shan you are all in danger.”
“Tell me something I don’t know De’Ress.” He replied sarcastically knowing full well that the battle was not going their way.
“No Hir’Shan you don’t understand. My orbital platform, we have been sabotaged. The platform has broke orbit and targeted the surface…Hir’Shan it has targeted Legantos. If it fires it could wipe out most of the city. My access codes don’t work. I can’t abort the sequence.”
“What can we do?” Hir’Shan enquired, as more explosions rippled around him. In the distance he could see the first of the enemy troops approach their position. At their first sight the civilians charged at them, ready to defend their homes.
“I have tried to engage the self destruct but it won’t lock on. I can confuse the system enough to hold off firing for now but someone needs to destroy the platform.” The answer seemed simple but the truth was he needed someone to destroy the platform while he was still onboard. He was sacrificing himself for the good of his people.
“De’Ress…” he paused and considered his options but only one seemed likely. At this late stage it was unlikely to be able to contact a naval vessel and there were no jets available; but one ship remained. “I’m on my way.” The emperor turned himself to another officer who had taken up position beside him. “I need to get to my shuttle lieutenant. Prepare it for launch.”
The lieutenant ran back towards the palace grounds were Hir’Shan’s shuttle stood at a constant stand-by position in case an emergency arose where the emperor required to be evacuated. However, this was no evacuation. Hir’Shan prepared himself to make the dash back to the shuttle before the enemy swarmed their position. The air stank of smoke and sweat. The sun was nearly blocked by the smouldering decay of tanks and burning bodies.
Hir’Shan counted down in his head from ten preparing himself but before he could reach the end Bovan fell backwards onto the ground before the emperor. Both their eyes met and nothing was said but instantly Bovan knew what the emperor was doing. The look in his eye was obvious. He knew soon he would be dead. Bovan nodded almost as a sign of approval and he held his hand out to shake Hir’Shan’s. The emperor returned the gesture and pulled the dwarf priest and embraced him. Bovan whispered in his ear. “I always knew I was right about you.”
Hir’shan let him go and nodded in appreciation for everything the High Priest had done for him. He turned and darted across the fields of the palace and straight into the cockpit of the shuttle.
The lieutenant had warmed the engines up and sat in the pilot seat ready to take his emperor to any destination. “Get out the seat the lieutenant; I have to fly her solo.”
“It’s not open for discussion Lieutenant. This I have to do alone.”
This would be the last time he served the emperor; he felt the voice of the emperor offering something more than death to him. This was a one-way journey. “I have been honoured to serve you sir.”
“Serve Eltheran now, the battle is over and they have won. But fight, fight with all you have and make our nation free again.”
The shuttle took off and was positioned for a continuous climb to space. It was a transport shuttle, not designed for combat and it did not carry any warheads. Hir’Shan knew exactly what he had to do. “Hir’Shan to De’Ress, can you hear me brother?”
“Loud and clear. I have evacuated all personnel it’s just me. You better hurry up the firing sequence has begun.”
“I’m nearly there. I’m beginning to overload my engines.”
Then there was silence.
The brothers did not speak. It was not a silence induced by fear or panic. They both knew that in these few minutes they had for once no problems and the external world no longer mattered. They were both free. “Hir’Shan, do you think our parents would have been proud?”
“Yes without a doubt but I will tell you something brother…I have always been so proud of you.”
“As I have of you brother.”
The shuttle approached the platform only seconds away from it travelling at the maximum speed the engines would allow. It was too late now to pull out. Hir’Shan closed his eyes and took in one last deep breath. “I will see you in the afterlife brother.”
“I will be waiting.”
The shuttle impacted into the platform causing a major explosion, which spread like raging storm around every single part of the structure. They were dead…but Legantos remained.
On the surface the battle continued to rage. The news spread quickly about the state of the other cities. Kallamanca and Shabril had already fallen and Palla, the stronghold of the halflings was almost in their hands too. The four races had retreated into the borders of the Elf Kingdom but soon even Legantos, the city of the empire would no longer be as it was.
The Half-castes were stronger and fearless; they fought with a brutal nature that no one thought possible. At their lead stood their powerful General. Kiasutra was pleased with everything he saw, his warriors were in place ready to rule the planet that they had once come from. He walked in a straight line cutting down any opponent that dared to step in his way. He had set his eyes on one thing, the area that appeared to be the command station for the attack. At the centre of it stood one male dwarf wearing what appeared to be the gowns of the priesthood. Kiasutra was not ignorant about the religion of this planet. The masters had once governed them too but when they left Eltheran they left their religion behind choosing to follow the laws of their ancient ones, the spirits who spoke from temple of the Black Fortress.
The Priest fought off many opponents with his axe tossing them aside with his great strength despite his limp from his old legs. This priest was no stranger to hand to hand combat. “Care to test your skills against a General little man? I see you wear the robes of the high priest.”
“My name is Bovan.” The two began to circle each other preparing for combat. “How does it feel to attack your own people General?”
“My own people?” Kiasutra did not understand the Priest’s remark.
“The blood of the Eltheran people flows through your veins.”
“Perhaps.” Kiasutra made his first lunge towards the dwarf bringing his sword down to cut into his head. The attempt was blocked hitting the sword to the side and the attack was returned with a kick to the General’s stomach. Kiastura fell back but his balance was quickly re-established. “But we are here to take vengeance on the humans and all the races that enslaved us.”
“Enslaved you? The Half-caste were never enslaved. Do you know how you came into being? Your human mothers were raped by the Goblin guards who held them as slaves. When the first Half-castes were born my order took those children in, the high priest fed and clothed them. They were educated. But the goblin blood in their veins drove them mad. They choose to leave Eltheran in order to save themselves. They had no wish to hurt or harm anyone. They still talk to you don’t they, as voices? If those voices are telling you to do this then they are not your ancient ones. They are not your ancestors.”
“Liar!” Kiasutra screamed. He was driven by anger and blinded by hate. His attack grew stronger and the poor dwarf was unable to defend against them. Kiastura saw his opening and sliced the high priest down through his shoulder and out the other side of his arm. Bovan fell at the knees of the powerful Half-caste warrior but he did not take delight in his killing. He fell onto his knees beside his dead victim. “What have I done?” He could not explain this feeling that suddenly surged through his body, he could only feel it. It consumed him, tormented by a sudden wave of guilt. Was he right? He had his suspicions all along about the ancient ones but he had been blinded by loyalty to his lover and to his ancestors.
Never the less the battle continued and the Half-caste foot was in the door. They were soon to have control over the surface and begin preparation for their domination. Kiasutra knew that the goblin armies would soon arrive and when they do the divide over power could possibly lead to more conflict. From his belt clip he pulled open a communications device signalling the Black Fortress above. “Kiasutra to Sherin. Your majesty the planet is ours.” His words were spoken without conviction, without any sense of pride and accomplishment. He did not feel the victory in his heart.
Sherin could not hear the doubt her only concern was the victory and she had it. The Half-castes had taken back the planet that was rightfully theirs.
The next task was simple, to round up all the survivors and put them to good use. They were to be slaves, objects to be used and destroyed if desired. As soon as the goblin’s landed it would not take long to accomplish this. Once the masses had been suppressed and dominated then the Overlords could bring the destruction they had promised. They were almost here. They would soon step foot on Eltheran again and there was no one on the planet who could stop them.
The sky was filled with goblin interceptor jets starting their bombing campaign on the neighbouring towns and villages of all the major cities. It would be too hard to send troops into these regions so their attack plan was simple. Just wipe them out.
The land soon began to burn; buildings that had once stood towering over the Eltheran landscape were being reduced to rubble and the people’s scream for mercy was falling on deaf ears.