Stygian Shock Troops
The bell rang with aloud shrieking sound, meaning only one thing. This was it. They were attacking. Hundreds of heavy footsteps echoed through the base, soldiers all moving into defensive positions, all preparing to face death. Like a wave, tens of tens of bodies slammed against the trench wall as the heavy weaponry peeked out from their hiding spots. Millions of individual rifles peeked alongside the autocannons, facing anything that threatened to emerge from the dark smog.
Kyle's breathing stayed calm. This was his twentieth solar month in this section of trenches. He waited for commands and prayed that the alarm was a fluke, but it never had been.
Figures loomed in the distance, growing ever so closer but at a snail's pace. His friend pushed his way next to him before leaning his rifle on the wall.
“See anything?” Igor’s voice was strong and gruff, but it held a certain warmth. His friend unscrewed his flask and peered into the smoke as he took a long and hearty swig.
“Just figures in the smoke, might just be my mind messing with me,” Kyle responded with ease. His voice was slightly muffled under his mask. Everybody was assigned one of the cheap, horrendous gas masks. The only way you could get abetter mask was to climb the rank ladder, a near-impossible feat for the trench soldiers.
Igor fitted his own mask back onto his face. His friend decided to paint a pair of wings on it. Said it was to help him fly to the Bright Lands when he passes.Igor was deeply invested in the Motet religion and worshiped Nomead just as much as he worshiped the Supreme Commander. To Kyle, it was just a load of nonsense.
A second alarm sounded off, spooking Igor and stopping all of the chatter that was happening inside the trench. It was the alarm to prepare to fire. With a flick of his wrist, Kyle’s safety was off and his assigned plasmic rifle was prepared to fire. Igor’s own rifle was now resting on the edge of the trench,pointed towards the black smoke.
TheSupreme Commander hated this planet. Planet Lift was right on the edge of Gobelin-owned territory. On the other side of the planet was a Fikex base. And for some reason this planet, alongside Planet 149, was an important strategic position and needed to be held down with tooth and nail.
Kyle hoped this was really just a faulty scanner and not that there were heavyStygian Fikex shock troops on the other side of the thick smog. He prayed to any god or supreme being out there for this to be true.
And then a mine went off inside the thick smoke. No denying it—there was something inside the smog that acted as a natural smokescreen. Everybody was on the balls of their feet, nervous about the threat that loomed before their vision. Then they heard it—the sick grinding of skin and bone against metal. The tell-tale sound of the monsters the heavy stygian shock troops create to torture their enemies with.
Lights buzzed and swirled inside the smog, but the trench held their fire. Even if they wanted to lash out, they couldn’t: the order to fire hadn’t been given yet. Hundreds of toxic green eyes filled the void.
A screech cut through the crispy night air and broke the silence. The green eyes raced forward, leaving streaks of the color behind. It took four seconds before the permission to fire rang out. In the first half of those seconds, the greeneyes located outlines of their bodies. In the last half of those seconds, Kyle could clearly see the malformed bodies of his fallen brothers in arms.
He was the first one to fire. The trigger pull was easy as he shot into the crowd of his already-dead comrades. Giving them a second quick death was the most compassion he could show them. This sparked everybody else to fire. The sounds of the plasma weaponry and the heavy autocannons hammering away filled the air for the next two hours.
The soldiers in the trench formed volleys upon volleys of rifle fire, ripping through the green-eyed bodies. Anybody ever told you why they colored a toxic green? It’s because of the gas the Stygians used on them. On the Stygian home world, you will find this river. And this river emits this toxic greenish gas. And the Stygians realized that they could use this gas to revive the dead if they used it at the right rate. So that’s what they did. They attacked and retreated, leaving casualties on both sides. They would then drop crates of the gas from hit-and-run ships onto the battlefield with the casualties. The fallen would then be resuscitated, but they wouldn’t be the same. They wouldn’t have any cognitive abilities left and would attack the closest person, striking to kill them.
More machines ground away inside the fog, the noises moving closer to the defensive position. One of the Gobelin soldiers thought it was a great idea to shoot into the fog at something they couldn’t see. The bullet whizzed through the air and traveled through the smoke before disappearing with a loud ting.
A bullet against hard metal. Something was wrong. Really, really wrong. And everybody stationed inside the trench knew it.
“What do you think it is?” Igor’s whisper was barely audible through the gas mask,and the deafening silence that sat uncomfortably in the air really didn’t help.
Something must have disliked Igor talking, as hundreds of laser fires lashed out from the smog. The incoming fire forced everybody to duck their heads behind the trench to avoid decapitation by the incoming fire. Kyle could hear the shouts made by the people who were next to others who didn’t move in time. He could hear the gurgles made from somebody next to him as the person also failed to move in time. He wanted to see who got hit and turned his head.
There with his back against the wall was his friend. Igor’s head had a hole in it,right in between the two wings painted on the gas mask. The wound was pumping blood out at an alarming rate.
His friend was gone, ripped away in the blink of an eye.
A signal bellowed from the smog and was followed by soldiers screaming. The Fikex was preparing a charge. Millions of bodies formed a wall and were charging at the Gobelin trench. Kyle could see each bayonet on the ends of the Stygians’ rifles. Crawling forward and attacking the trench alongside the Stygians were five large tanks. The Fikex heavy tanks that could possibly wipe out legions on their own.
The Fikex must really want this base. Kyle fixed his bayonet on his plasmic assault rifle and reloaded, preparing for the next gruesome wave. A whistle was blown, commencing the wave of rifle fire to launch from the Gobelin line.
The signal had perfect timing. It wasn’t so late that the enemy was on top of them.And it wasn't too early that the fire would be ineffective. The Fikex’s line was dropping fast. Their tanks still pushed forward but the infantry that ran alongside or in front of them would make easy pickings for the Gobelin soldiers that remained in their trenches.
The Fikex push was ultimately pushed back and the infantry that pushed the Gobelin line was quickly wiped out, leaving the Fikex Stygian Heavy tanks alone. Alone,the tanks were a nuisance, but they could be dealt with with little risk from the trenches. But with support, if the Stygians broke through the line, well,Kyle didn’t want to think about that. News spread down the trench like a fire,the commanders were planning a counterattack against the Stygian trench line. It would be a costly push, but if they did it soon, they could have a chance of gaining ground against the Fikex stronghold.
For now, Kyle just stared as he watched the carcass of his only friend get carried away in a body bag and set off to the many funeral planets. The extraction needed to be done as quickly as possible, so as to not give the Stygainians the chance to use the toxic gas.
With a final tear, he turned around and faced the empty fields filling with the natural smoke that would make one’s stomach clench in fear while facing it. He had a push to prepare for. He just hoped that his friend was watching him from the Bright land.
Corey Chapman is in ninth grade as of this moment and lives in the United States. in the US. While he enjoys petting his dog along with taking her out for walks, his main hobby is writing short stories. They provide a source to get his brain’s energy out of his system. He has not had the pleasure of publishing his work until now.