The War Series

December 10, 2008
Part I

July 19, 3046

Behind me, I could still see gunshots and bangs, the few dark streaks that were bullets and the chunks of lava glowing pink that were being fired as I ran to the escape ships. As I climbed aboard the scarlet starship Rackchet, what had happened hit me like a hammer's blow. Reol Stell had fallen. The last planet in the Outer Colonies.

Allow me to tell what has happened in the past five decades. Humans have lived on numerous planets for generations. All has gone well, except an experiment on Earth that went terribly wrong. The thirty-odd people that were being experimented upon were horribly mutated and went insane. Thinking that they should rule the galaxy, these “Carkinaters” fled to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. That was a century ago. They had obviously bred, for they now numbered around ten thousand and had developed awesome new lava launcher weapons! How could we possibly stand up to that?

So far, we had been doing pretty well, managing to keep the Carkinaters from destroying a handful of planets. Except for every one planet we saved, the Carkees blew up two more!

Anyway, back aboard the Rackchet, I could just barely see the Carkinate ships pulling away from Reol Stell. Any second now...

There was a huge flash of light, so bright I was blinded for a second or two, and Reol Stell became huge chunks of rock. If the ship hadn't been so far away, There would have been a loud Boom, loud enough to rock the ship. I sighed. Another planet gone, I thought bitterly. How long can we possibly survive? That was the real question.

Sooner or later, we knew we would have the answer... we just didn't expect it so soon.
February 12, 3059

Thirteen years. So long had passed since the Carkees blew up Reol Stell. A lot of things had happened since then, I thought. A lot. Not to mention I had been picked to be in a top-secret project, I added to myself smugly. Then I got back to work.

The project, code-named SHADOW, was training people like me like never before. Deadly, secret, courageous, that summed us up pretty well. Expert pilots, marines, ground troops, and volunteers, thirty-six of us, thirty-six bearers of death.

Our missions was to repel any Carkinate invaders from any human-held planet. The first six months were good. We drove them away from ten different planets.

Then it all went wrong.

They killed twenty-eight of us on one mission. I don't know how. All I knew was that we had eight more Shadow Warriors with rifles to repel at least two thousand Carkinaters with lava launchers. Not very good odds.

We did it, somehow, in the next month. We took out at least two hundred Carkees before they killed (gulp!) five more of us. Three more Shadow warriors left to repel the Carkees.

Anyway, back to the present, I was decoding a Carkinate message with my computer. I suddenly stumbled upon the Carkinater's home world. For all their intelligence, they didn't have the sense to keep their home world hidden from us, and it's coordinates!

Excitedly, I called Admiral Satcom and told him the news.

“Great job 269,” he praised. “We'll tell every ship we can to head to this Hoaroc to blow it up. And you Shadows are more than capable of doing that. So you're going to blow it up.”

Part 2

February 26, 3059

As the war raged on throughout the galaxy, we finally arrived at the coordinates. There were five of us aboard the Rackchet: the Shadow leader, Jack, number 912, a pilot, my friend Bob, number 792, also a Shadow warrior, the person who was in charge of the Rackchet's weapons, and me, number 269. We were the three last Shadow Warriors left out of thirty-six. And we intended to pay in blood for what the Carkinaters had done to the thirty-three dead Shadows.

Anyway, when we grabbed our first look at the planet the Carkees called “Hoaroc,” we were surprised. I mean, we had mixed opinions.

Hoaroc was huge. I mean huge. Even bigger than Jupiter! But this was no gas planet. No, the only kind of gas it had was radioactive gas. And it hardly had any solid land!

“Heck!” 729 exclaimed out loud. “It's one giant volcano, not a planet!”

He was right. It was a huge, active volcano with more lava than solid land. I had seen some strange things doing missions, but this one definitely topped them all.

I couldn't see any Carkinate buildings, but the Carkees were as sly as foxes, and as good at hiding as crocodiles. I wouldn't be surprised if they could see us right now.

“Well, the fact that it's a volcano will make it easier to blow up,” Chief 912 piped up optimistically. “It'll just blow itself up.”

We had to hurry before the Carkees really saw us and sent ships to destroy the Rackchet. So we boarded our souped-up Hummingbird dropship and blasted away from the Rackchet. We landed safely on the planet's surface, but as we landed, we could see Carkinate ships flying out to challenge the Rackchet. We had chosen the largest piece of solid land on the planet. It was about a square mile in area, so we had a lot of space.

As soon as I stepped off the Hummingbird, the heat of this planet hit me like a sledgehammer. My armor was the only thing that stopped me from being toast. In fact, my air conditioning overloaded and had to shut off! I could also see the lava from the volcano glowing red-hot. I heard the rumble of the volcano in the distance, and I swear the ground bucked! I took a deep breath to calm myself, and inhaled a mouthful of ash for my trouble. I spat it out, and as I did, I could smell the smoke from the top of the volcano-planet.

Then I became aware of marching feet. Carkinaters! We would have to hurry.

We quickly relieved the dropship of it's precious cargo besides ourselves, which was a gargantuan charge of dynamite to blow this accursed planet to kingdom come.

We had it all set up and about to board the dropship when about six dozen Carkees rounded the corner. The lead Carkinater, talking in this weird clicking language, shot a ball of glowing lava right above our heads. I didn't need a translator to figure out what he meant. It was our warning shot. One more shot, and we would be badly burned and killed from their lava balls.

Over our Com channel, I heard the Chief swear and he roared, “Take 'em out, boys, take 'em out!” There was an all-out-take-no-prisoners edge to his voice.

So we took them out.

We darted into the shadows, the Carkinate lava balls hitting the hull of the dropship. We flung ourselves into the shadows, firing wildly into the ranks of the Carkees as they broke ranks.

We had killed about two score when it happened. They found 792.

They found where he was hiding, and peppered it with lava. I could see all that happened.

First the lava balls, being fired wildly; then the rustle in the shadows where 792 was hiding. The Carkinate leader signaled four Carkees to go behind him. I was reloading, I could only watch as they circled behind him, shot the lava balls at him, and could only see the balls hit their mark.

Bob screamed, then toppled forward as both his armor and his skin burned off. He died almost instantly.

A surge of rage rushed over me. I was enraged at the Carkinaters for their ambition, enraged for their love of blood lust, enraged that they tried to destroy everything I knew.

Bellowing with madness and rage, I shot out of my hiding place, grabbed 792's gun, and started shooting double-handed.

There I was, spinning in a circle to kill Carkinaters, firing wildly at everything I saw, feeling murderously insane.

I didn't stop until the Chief pinned my arms to my side,ordering me to stop, saying that, “They're all dead!” So when I finally did stop, I was so dizzy, I fell over. The Chief had to carry me back to the Hummingbird.

When we arrived, we inspected the damage to both the Hummingbird and the dynamite charge. It was nothing serious, seeing that we put a triple-layer hull on the Hummingbird and a bullet and heatproof box around the dynamite. So we opened it up and put the box in the Hummingbird (we didn't want the dynamite to go off in the box!). Then we climbed in and blasted off in search of the Rackchet.

As we passed through space, we found the burned-out hulls of Carkinate ships. The Rackchet had destroyed them all.

When we boarded the Rackchet, which had no serious scrapes, the pilot told us that life aboard the Rackchet had been boring without us, making the four of us laugh. When we were done laughing, the Chief sent the detonation signal. There was another huge flash, and Hoaroc became flying chunks of lava. The war still raged on throughout the galaxy, but victory was in our grasp.

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