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.
“Best not to think about that sir,” R3318 advised in an undertone. Blaze nodded sagely.
“Anyway, The Family plans to fight the Barrens. Hopefully with the element of surprise they’ll beat them and drive them back, at least for a little,” Blaze informed him.
“They can’t win though,” R3318 stated flatly. “Not against a whole Barren battle army. How could a horde of aliens fare better than us? We had a bastion, legions of troops and spaceships, The Family has… what?” He trailed off. “The Barrens will overrun them, or simply collapse the tunnels on top of them,” R3318 continued.
“I know it sounds hopeless but they seem to be making out that they have a trick or two up their sleeves,” Blaze replied. “I think our best bet is to hit and run after The Family kill any Barrens in the tunnels. We should grab supplies from the bastion and then pull back into here, then perhaps see if we can find a way out of these caves. There must be a passage that leads to the surface somewhere…” Blaze mused.
“I guess it’s a possibility sir. And if The Family don’t kill the Barrens then there’s not much point making any further plans,” R3318 said grimly. “First, however, you need some rest”. Blaze did not even bother arguing. He staggered his way over to a column of rock and, bracing his fleet, began the dearmouring cycle. After confirming the process and placing his gun on the ground he waited as the PASHAS began to unlock. The heavy armour plates unfastened and swung open, starting from his broad shoulders and working down. Instantly Blaze felt the strength fade from his body as the powered joints and motors of the armour suit ceased to support him. He slumped forwards like a puppet whose strings had suddenly been cut; the pain in his right leg flared up again as it was once more forced to take his full weight. R3318 sprung forwards and caught him, gripping Blaze by the shoulders. His eyes flicked down to Blaze’s leg. A nasty gash lined the back of it, caked in dried blood.
“You need to get that seen to sir,” R3318 remarked as his commander found his footing again. Blaze felt vulnerable. Without the PASHAS he was a small creature outside of its protective shell. There was also a twinge of regret. He enjoyed the power, the strength, the feeling of invulnerability granted by the PASHAS. So long as he was encased within it he was one tough Dino, but without it he was just as exposed as any of the others.
“This?” Blaze looked at the wound on his leg as if it were a minor irritation. “There are soldiers with more critical injuries to tend to. This is nowhere near life threatening. Don’t worry about it.”
“As gallant as that is sir, that PASHAS is our strongest weapon. We want you in the best condition so you can use it to maximum effect,” R3318 countered. Blaze paused for a moment then relented.
“Of course,” he resigned. R3318 spoke the truth and it made tactical sense, even if it did make him feel bad as he would be taking the attention of the busy medics.
“Good, then get some rest sir. We aren’t out of this by a long shot,” R3318 added. He turned to leave, but Blaze caught him with a paw on the shoulder.
“What about you? You’ve been on your paws just as long as I have.”
“I haven’t been at the centre of it all. I’m fine sir… well alright, not fine, but I’ll manage,” R3318 reassured him.
“Very well, for UCEF!”
“For UCEF!” R3318 replied with defiance, a challenge to the Barrens; UCEF was not finished yet. He banged his paw against his chest twice and Blaze mirrored the gesture, then Blaze turned and limped to the impromptu medical station. Two weary Queaksys drifted over to him, levitating about a metre from the ground, their red bodies in non-descript cone shapes.
“Blaze, what are your orders?” the smaller of the two asked, her voice showing signs of strain but still containing the lyrical properties of a Queaksy.
“R3318 sent me to have my leg sorted,” Blaze replied, casting his gaze over the numerous Dinos lying on stretchers. Most were asleep, or drugged into a stupor so they did not feel any pain. A few were sitting up having bandages changed or medicine applied. A couple turned their heads and nodded respectfully to him. The larger Queaksy tilted her body down and took a glance at Blaze’s injury.
“Of course, just come over here,” she said. Blaze noted the lack of the respectful ‘sir’ but let it slip; they were doing a truly admirable job. Queaksys far surpassed Dinos in the medical field and these two alone had probably saved multiple lives already.
She led him to an empty stretcher. The green material bore a rather sinister stain, not completely concealed by the rag that passed as a blanket. Nobody said anything but they all knew why the stretcher was empty. Blaze obediently lay down and let the two Queaksys get to work. He gritted his teeth as they pulled the leg of the undersuit up to reveal the wound. He stared up at the cavern roof aware that only a little while ago this would have been the last sight one of his brothers in arms saw.
His vision started to blur. There was only so much he could take. Blaze had seen too much, experienced too much trauma and been under too much stress and there, with the vague comfort of the stretcher beneath him, his mind slipped into a dreamless oblivion…
“Sir, sir! The Barrens are coming; the scouts spotted them in the tunnels!” The sentence was the next thing Blaze was aware of and it was not a nice way to wake up.
__________________________________ Look out for Part 34 of Matthew Gill’s story!