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Until The End: Part 24

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.

Part 24

“Right here!” Blaze called out as the lead Dinos reached the second level, stopping them before they headed further down. Storeroom L3 lay down the corridor to Blaze’s right. They slipped off into the darkness in acknowledgement, heading into one of the numerous corridors that made up the labyrinth of the lower levels. The stairs came down in the middle of a small chamber which in turn had passages branching off it in all directions. It was pitch black save for a couple of handheld torches and a lonely red emergency light that cast its baleful glow upon the room. A few crates lay in one corner but other than that it was bare.

He winced as he stepped off the stairs into the room, his right leg was still paining him, but he knew there was no real point getting it seen to. All the Dinos were filing into the corridor, weapons slung over their backs or clasped in both paws. There was just one exception, a slightly shorter soldier was leaning against the entrance to the corridor wheezing.

“Come on, not much further!” Blaze encouraged as he stamped over to him.

“Don’t… worry about me, I can’t… go on,” the Dino gasped his shoulders sagging.

“Soldier?”

“Been on my feet for two days now… got caught in an explosion… when the southern gate… fell, only just… made it here… I barely survived the defence upstairs…,” the Dino replied his explanation punctuated by gasps. Blaze looked at him with pity; he personally could not remember when he had last slept properly. The Dino had no visible injuries, but Blaze did not want to know or ask about internal or mental damage.

“I’ve fought and bled for each one of you, there’s no way I’m leaving anybody behind now!” Blaze retorted with steely defiance. He swung his right paw round sweeping the exhausted soldier off the floor, supporting the Dino’s back with his gun arm and his legs with his right arm. The Dino blinked in surprise nearly dropping his gun as he found himself horizontal.

“Rahh!” Blaze grunted readjusting his grip. “Time to move!” With even heavier footsteps he set off down the corridor after the others. Shouts and cries sounded behind him followed by the ringing of boots on the metal stairs. The Barrens had regrouped and were coming for them.

If he could just get out of their line of sight then hopefully the Barrens would waste time trying to find where the UCEF forces had scurried to. He was trusting that the Barrens would keep going down the stairs to the third level rather than stopping at the second. He picked up his pace, grinding his teeth with every footfall.

The corridor bent to the left only a few more metres away, barely visible in the darkness. Any moment now he expected to feel the pound of energy blasts striking his back… but he rounded the corner without incident. How the Barrens had not heard him thundering into the dark he had no idea, nevertheless he was not about to question his good fortune. He slowed to a calm walk, trying to minimise the noise he generated. If his luck held he would be able to reach the caves before the Barrens caught up with him.

“Sir, I’m slowing you down… leave me,” the Dino objected selflessly from where he lay in Blaze’s arms.

“Not a chance,” Blaze replied as quietly as he could through the amplifier on his PASHAS. “If we die, we die together.” The concept of children and fatherly love was alien to Blaze, but he reckoned this must be what it felt like. Carrying them when they could not walk, protecting them when they were on their last legs and in his case the urge to look after those under his command, his children. This behaviour was what Higher Command complained about, that he would sacrifice himself for his men rather than trying to keep himself alive to be a leading figure.

It was as dark as the void, as black as the hearts of the Barrens Blaze thought grimly as he switched his visor to night vision. The pain in his right leg was building; he knew even he could not keep going indefinitely. The dot on his tactical overlay indicated L3 was just ahead. Then with relief he spotted the outline of the desired door in the wall.

“Blaze here!” He announced as he stomped into the room, just in case any of the Dinos standing guard were getting twitchy trigger fingers.

“Thank goodness you made it,” a Dino sighed in relief, Blaze recognised the voice as that of R3318, he and ten or so Dinos were crouched round the storeroom, hiding behind makeshift cover, guns pointing in his direction. The room was relatively small, edged with metal shelves, themselves laden with supplies and spare parts. The floor space was mainly taken up by metal boxes and fuel drums. However what really caught his attention was the far wall. The shelves had been pulled away and a hole burrowed through the smooth stone, dust and debris littering the floor just beneath it.

“I have no idea how this is possible,” the Dino he had first met in the command centre stated following Blaze’s gaze. But it was, the gaping black maw in the wall was solid proof that there were indeed caves beneath the base. “I still can’t make sense of it…”

Blaze simply nodded. “In we go.” He had no idea why, but he had a strange feeling of trepidation as he strode forwards, R3318 and the others in his wake. He stepped through the hole in the wall and on into the caves.

Then he realised what they had all been on about.

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Look out for Part 25 of Mathew Gill’s story!