Vegan Muffins sped down the ramparts of Noxudol Pyramid; dodging bullets and stabbing any enemies in her way. By the time she had reached the team of shock troops to the north side of the pyramid’s west gate to assist them, already half of their numbers had been depleted by the vicious 'level threes'.
"Phalanx, you fools!" she yelled to them -- meaning they should try their riot-evasive maneuver. Ideally these fighters should have gotten in a diamond formation right then and there; shields protecting them, with some kneeling and others standing with weapons protruding out of every direction like a porcupine. But the poor soldiers on this street were second-rate shock troops. They had been last-minute fillers for the assault when the heads felt they needed more numbers to attack Noxudol pyramid. Knowing they had rushed through their basic training, head leaders like Mina must have looked the other way when they all raised their hands to volunteer for this raid. According to high command at the Croneyard, when examining what had gone wrong in battle afterwards, they were loth to recall how the most common reply officers gave to these zealous volunteers seemed to have been "Yeah, sure; I guess you can help."
And it was because of this reason that many members of the alliance of resistance fighters speculated why Vegan had met her demise right near the west gate that afternoon: seeing how the shock troops below her were getting massacred by the 'level threes', she ran head on to meet them completely unaided.
“At least those sick level fours are back in the pyramid,” she thought thankfully to herself as she ran head on to meet her enemy. “Great Tlecsuxhisto*, wish me luck.”
*Tlecsuxhisto = the ‘Creator’, in Cercorcese.
Upon seeing her take down two of these Orbüloz as she clashed with them on the street in pure hand-to-hand combat with her plasma-tipped blades, the other 'level threes' pulled back towards the northern corner of the pyramid at the end of the of the street. Straight through her crowd of comrades she ran as they futilely tried to shoot down any retreating level three Orbüloz sentinels at close range. But nearly all shots missed their mark, for the Orbüloz were too quick for them. Nevertheless, Vegan was able to match the enemy in their speed and slice through several more enemy and even cut off the limbs of half a dozen more enemy in the process, but it was not enough to neutralize their ranks. Soon she was overwhelmed as the level three Orbüloz gang-rushed her and took her down with their own blades, and it was not a pretty sight.
Those Croneyard shock troops that saw her fall did their best to assault their enemy, but had it not been for Boroka who suddenly arrived at the scene like a wild beast, they wouldn't have lasted much longer either. While Spezodelf's men assisted with covering fire in the background (and others helped attack the assaulted Curator by the front gate), Boroka let loose a wave of energy pulses that resembled giant transparent arrows which sent most of the Orbüloz flat on their backs. Then, leaping up in the air and performing the similar maneuvers he did on the balcony, he stuck out his blades and spun around in the air like a buzz-saw as he shredded most of his enemy into useless lumps. When the melee was finally over, he ran over to Vegan, but it was too late. She had suffered multiple sword wounds through her body and was beyond anyone's help. While holding back his tears, Boroka signaled to the shock troops around him to assist in neutralizing the great Curator by the front gate.
Meanwhile Spezodelf and the gun-nests were doing a terrific job mopping up any leftover enemy lurking on the balconies or the western surfaces of the pyramid. While Spezodelf and some of his best commandos scaled the slope and continued to take out many enemies until they reached the upper balconies, the sheer amount of gunfire coming from the resistance aimed at the abomination by the gate finally took it down. Its surrounding force shield was getting weaker and weaker and at the last minute, even Apple Genepple could be seen running down the street as she planted two well-landed shots which finally toppled the great creature. Full onto half a dozen enemy it fell as it crashed to the ground.
“You beat me by a moment!” Boroka yelled to Apple. The red-haired sniper could tell he was annoyed at her for hogging all the glory, but he composed himself and walked away. “Take the credit for the kill; but I’ll take credit for this,” he grinned and then nodded towards the grateful soldiers around them; beckoning them to help him assist some first aid on a few wounded near the end of the street.
Luckily nobody else had gotten hurt during the creature’s final stand, and as the resistance fighters all over the west side of the pyramid looked around them, there were plenty of dead Orbüloz scattered everywhere, but no longer any hostile activity needing to be subdued -- yet there was still much to do inside.
"Keep shooting!" cried Apple. She was leading a platoon of shock troops down a wide flat hallway without any curves and little protection. Everyone at the gate had collected as many weapons as they could from the masses of dead Orbüloz laying around and had been ordered to form phalanx positions and continuously shoot everything that didn’t beam a red-light signal while combing every tunnel. Here and there they would run smack into an enemy straggler or two, or a gun-nest of Orbüloz sentinels. But after a brief melee, the resistance fighters kept slowly pushing closer towards what they guessed was the direction of the throne room. Any allies they found themselves bumping into as they moved would signal off to them with a series of flashing lights to indicate their presence. As more and more enemy were neutralized in the tunnels, they were no longer worried about getting ambushed: it seemed that their enemies numbers had severely been depleted enough for the resistance squads to suffer a counter-attack due to some erroneous flanking maneuver, but even then they did not quite lose their wits. Every time the invading squadrons came across a sharp turn in the maze of tunnels or at some crossroads, they let off a series of skydiving bombs before they proceeded.
"Keep going!" she cried again as her squad made another turn down another hallway deep inside the pyramid. And as she did so, Hanz barked the same orders to his troops in another part of the pyramid, as did Boroka, and Stroe, and Azul, and any other squadron leaders.
It was Spezodelf and his commando team that first ran into the tyrant Demodad’s retreating army. They had entered into the pyramid through one of the side doors on the south side of the pyramid before the enemy could close off the exit, and after much fighting needing to be done down the first fifty feet of a main-artery they encountered, it seemed that Spezodelf's team had neutralized the entire area: They had crept slowly down a series of other tunnels deeper inside the pyramid and hadn't met any hostile counter-attack for the next fifteen minutes -- until they saw a large column of Orbüloz troops pass through a large perpendicular hallway right in front of them. As they immediately hid behind some massive square stones, they debated whether to attack them. They might have had the advantage of surprise, but they certainly would be outnumbered.
“And outclassed!” one of Spezodelf’s top aides noted to him: he could see at least half a dozen ‘level fours’ passing by.
"But if we retreat through the side walls," reasoned one of his men "we can confuse their gunfire: half of these tunnels circle in a loop!" Summoning up courage, Spezodelf quickly organized the attack and did indeed catch the passing army completely unawares. But instead of firing back, the Demodad’s troops set off a series of charges down the direction of the attacking gunfire and hurried by the tunnel as fast as they could.
"Shall we chase them?" asked another one of Spezodelf's men.
"No," he answered. "They look like they're in a rush to get out of here! Which can only mean that the weapons room is less manned than it was! Come on!"
It was Apple's squad that soon smacked into the brunt of the enemy’s ambush. They had stumbled onto a sudden rush of marching footsteps while they were coming from the other side of a dimly lit hall. And as they positioned themselves behind some blocks, with great zeal she and her foremost soldiers attempted to snipe down the enemy, but it was looking too late: their shields were too strong...
Excerpt from Book VI: The Demodads
Copyright 2019 Octavio Rhodes
"Note the excerpts have been slightly edited and abridged for non spoiler content"