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Until The End: Part 6

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 6

 Blaze futilely tried to rub the growing fatigue from his tired eyes; slowly he crept back through the barricade and into the protection of the defences. Several of the remaining Dinos gave him and the other three quizzical looks, but nobody questioned where they had been.

It was quiet now, the injured had been taken into the bastion for treatment and sleeping bags had been unrolled and occupied. The majority of the Dinos were resting, or trying to, curled up in dry and sheltered spots; nestled against the wall for protection or spread out on plastic sheets. Three of the Dinos were keeping watch on the walls, sitting or crouching by the parapet and staring into the oppressive night sky. A few working lamps had been strung up and lit to provide background illumination, but even their constant white glow was not reassuring. They were an island, a tiny outpost amidst a violent storm, holding out against the brutal elements. Every moment fearing the raging seas would sweep up and consume them.

“I’ll take over watch duty,” Blaze announced, as R3298 replaced the barricade behind them.

“No you won’t sir, you need rest; you’ve been awake for far too long,” R318 reprimanded him.

“So have these loyal soldiers,” Blaze retorted, indicating the Dinos on the walls.

“Sir, they need somebody to look up to, they need you to be able to lead them in what’s to come. You’re no good to anyone exhausted,” R318 said. He sounded like an overprotective Human mother.

“I’m fine, these…” Blaze swayed slightly on his feet. R318 just folded his arms and looked at him with a gaze that said ‘I told you so’. “Okay, you win, but you’d better rest too,” Blaze relented.

“I shall, but first I’ll relive those on watch; now go grab something to eat,” R318 confirmed, heading to the wall.

Blaze made his way over to one of the opened crates of supplies and pulled out a ration pack. He took a seat on an empty container, leaning his rifle against it. The ration pack consisted of the basic stuff; dried fruit, nutrient bars, an energy drink and some chocolate, all of it calorie dense. He knew from experience none of it tasted that nice; despite the technological power at the pawtips of the Dino scientists, they could not seem to rustle up a realistic strawberry flavour.

Blaze munched quietly on the food and mulled over the situation. He expected the Barrens would attack either at first light or shortly after, at least that was what he would have done if he were the Barren general. From their point of view, the longer they waited the more time UCEF had to recover. With only short days and nights on Hayveon, that meant they would likely attack in about four hours.

“Sir?” a voice whispered, Blaze turned to see a young Dino in a sleeping bag a few metres, away looking at him.

“Yes?” Blaze replied quietly trying not to disturb those who had somehow found sleep.

“Do you think we’ll survive the next attack?” It was a question Blaze had wrestled with himself. He doubted despite their best efforts, that the defences would hold. They would almost certainly be pushed back into the bastion. What he was not sure about was if they could then hold the Barrens off the bastion itself.

“Yes,” was all he said in response.

“Honestly sir, I want the truth,” the soldier insisted, Blaze paused.

“We can’t hold this perimeter; we will likely have to fall back to the bastion.”

“And can we hold that sir?”

“I don’t know, I think we should be able to if we fight well. We can slow the Barrens while they advance and attack these outer defences, then when they reach the bastion we should be in a position to drive them back,” he answered. The soldier nodded and settled back down, satisfied with the reply.

Blaze finished his food then found a spare sleeping bag, dragging it over to the shelter of the wall he spread it out. Kicking his boots off and laying his rifle down within arm’s reach he slid into the bag, not bothering to remove the rest of his gear. Exhaustion quickly claimed him, almost as soon as he shut his heavy eyelids; he had been on edge for a long time and his body desperately needed rest. He surrendered to the oblivion of sleep, knowing he would be unlikely to get much. He just hoped his earlier assessment of the situation had been correct, that they could hold the Barrens off the bastion.

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Look out for Part 7 of Matthew Gill’s story!