The bleak battle for a land otherwise hidden from view.
Imagine this. One hundred crimson fireworks launched at once over a distant ocean. The streaming red flares bursting outward, crashing back down into the now darkening depths. Each twisting light kicking up a subtle coloured splash as it caressed the sea.
That was how it was the day war was declared over the subcontinent of Anatia. You couldn't see the hive ships in the darkness, save for a few dim engine glows. What everyone did see was the shield spheres as they descended from high above in that bloody corona.
And then they marched towards the shores, with bodies much like ours. Tight suits hugging their wet hides as they clamoured to the beaches. Our first excitement for these new people, from far off on the horizon faded as the first man fell to an invader's pistol.
The war began, and we had to think up a name. So of course, we called them based on the only thing we knew; Obiveis. Forgotten tongue for an ancient mythical plague.
And as they draw farther into the mainland, I realize there is little hope. But there is still a single chance, if we can rip the hive vessel from the sky, then they are without weapons, or machines, or even better;escape.
My hand tensed as the fingerless glove slid over my palm. They were here, three hours ago the hulking vessel had cast it's shadow over the capital outskirts. Citizens had fled inward, into one place to be slaughtered. Unless we bring that ship from the sky.
The set of eight flintlocks slid into my naval uniform jingled as I straightened the collar. In my other hand was the last gun, a long wooden pistol that fit well in my right hand. I pulled out one leg band and shoved it in snugly against my thigh.
Lastly, shoes. Can't fight too effectively without them. I grabbed the simple leather boots from the lockers and pulled them on, simply preferring to wrap the laces around my ankles.
I looked the part of a soldier now. Scrappy as I was. Only thirty of us left in the city, that would be cut in half in less than three minutes of battle. Better hope that fifteen was our lucky number to bring Goliath to the ground.
With that I pushed myself through the door frame of the abandoned house. Drifting less than a few hundred thousand paces was the giant construct that had dragged my familly to the grave.
The two huge metal bulbs on the front looked like storm-cloud sized eyes. The half circle behind and almost half as thick was connected by a vast array of cables and supports.
I heard a door open on the opposite side of the street, a grizzled man in a tricorn hat and patched greatcoat stepped forth. He solemnly took a place behind me on the unnaturally silent road. And farther on, another soldier stood in the street. His blue coat was all I could make out at this distance. This would be all I needed, two men to make it to the spheres.
There was a piercing scream as the underside of the hive ship's hull began to shift. The piercing red light from each slowly opening crack cast a sheen over the dense clouds above. Then came the drop, a thousand spheres launched at once in that firework display.
I was sure of it. There was a way to get on board. I had watched them the first weeks as they stormed the coast. And as I fled alone, with the ashes of my family in my canvas bag, the Obliveis had followed my route.
Each time they dropped their clean soldier in their spotless war machines, those pods would come down all at once. Each pod was connected by a near invisible wire back to the ship. Now here is where my plan begins, the pods retract into the hive, but not all at once. They go back one by one in a different order each time, which meant that the occupants controlled when they got pulled back up. Probably for straggler soldiers.
Cutting the lines was the next issue. But I had looked this down to the simplest details, when the launch ports open, you can see the massive spools that hold huge attack group wires. The pods retract in no more than thirty seconds, and to find the line amoungst the others would be far too hard in that sliver of time.
I had time to single out the closest sphere, as the deafening roar of the pods hitting the ground enveloped us. Not too far away, another group had begun an attack, the cracking of each rifle rung out against the thundering crashes.
Now was the moment to accept death if I so pleased. Quickly as I could run into the heart of battle, I could draw the pistol to my head and send myself to meet all the others who had fallen. It was a hard choice, to die in a hail of burning iron, or die by my own burning iron and never be forced to taste the pain of defeat.
I would die either way, honoured or dishonoured. And I had not a reason to free myself from this world. I would leave the job to another.
So I marched, the man behind also taking his last steps into the inferno. The empty streets passed me, and so did the soldier in his naval coat. He was much younger than I, perhaps not even a true adult. His blue eyes twinkled with tears, as he took a stand to do his duty. He could still run now, and I am disappointed that he didn't.
We closed in on the impure fires with haste, and I felt more at ease drawing one pistol from the others. The first shot was the boy's, he fired outward and struck something in the distance.
I could see them rising from the crater(the sphere buried so deep I could not see it). One Obliveis, leading the charge with ten other warriors in black masks. The masks were custom we assumed. Long featureless things with two small slits for their eyes. The leaders and warriors who amassed many more kills ended up painting mouths on theirs.
The leader this time, wore an ankle length cassock over his white skintight suit. In his hands was two shining pistols with in lined daggers on the hilt. Those pistols, they were so much like ours, even in appearance, but could fire three shot's without reloading.
The boy had already loaded the rifle again, and was on his knee. The burning smash of the hammer descending was accompanied by another black mask being shattered. The body fell back into the fire, but still, nothing was returned at us.
The grinning shark leader would not give them the right of firing just yet. He would let them fall, and they would tell of this story. How they let their soldiers fall, each life taken would leave another sting in the words of their tale. How none would stand against them.
A people who accepted their leaders command of self sacrifice, and yet built devices to save the stragglers. Such a strange civilizations.
I was not one to not take advantage of such situations. You see, this was the dishonour I mentioned, I will do anything to improve the chance of winning. I lined up a man in my sights and fired, striking him in the chest and wounding the one behind. I discarded the pistol and drew another, blasting the next masked warrior to the ground.
The leader, was watching, seeing how many losses he wanted before finally striking back. It was the boy's fourth kill, a total of seven dead with mine and the man behind mes shots. The moment this one hit the ground, he raised a pistol in sync with his remaining ten or so brothers. We instantly dispersed, the boy running left with the old man, and I running forward and right, taking another pistol and shooting dead the soldier who had drawn fastest.
I managed to find cover in a short brick wall that bordered a small lawn. I lie still, listening to the mechanized pings each enemy pistol made as it cast a smoldering orange bullet into the air above me. With slow but steady moves, I crawled inward and drew two more pistols.
I gave a countdown of three seconds before I popped up and fired twice into the vicinity of the leader. He too was shooting at my cover, and one of his shot's sliced into my shoulder. One man near his leader took the shot intended for a little farther right. The other though, punched through my target's wrist. His hand separated, held on by a stringy tendon. And as it snapped, he didn't recoil. I fled to safety again, just as another spray of fire crashed overhead.
This game of hide and seek would last little longer. The bullets were already beginning to break through the weaker bricks. Carving bigger and bigger holes, and about midway down, the whole thing crumbled to the ground.
I singled out the boy's rifle over the torrent of noise. He was hitting, and the old man too from the amount of bodies there had been. I quickly removed the long barreled pistol from my leg, and raised up, even as my shoulder bled profusely, I never aimed straighter.
The leader, raised his remaining weapon in defiance, even though it's three shots had been burned through. My flint swung down, and my steel round passed through the barrel. When the hammer retracted, the leaders magnificent coat was stained red, and I could see the place in his neck where he had been ended.
In my other hand was the third short barreled that I hadn't used. Another one fell by it.
One last pistol shot from the old man, and it then there were none. I looked over to the place the two men had run to, the cover had been a huge metal dumpster.
The boy, he lie in the lap of the old man. And then I realized it, the red was not of his uniform.
He lie back with his blue eyes still opened to the heavens. The old man removed his hat, revealing the true sadness. His eyes were blue, his face a wrinkled version of the boys. They had been blood relatives. He placed the three pointed hat over his child's face. While the old man mourned silently, I loaded my gun again. Not to fight, but to salute. One shot in the air, a token for his spirit to take to the ferryman on the cloud river.
The old man raised up, nodded to me. And then grabbed the boys rifle and slung it on his shoulder. We turned and side by side, marched into the smoldering cradle of the carriage that would draw us to the final battle.