The Bloody Snow
A long, long time ago on a planet far, far away…
Bullets smacked into the hull, making holes for the fuel to pour out. Someone was shouting to get it fixed but none of the engineers were left. The black liquid leaked out of the wounds onto the snowy ground and the vehicle roared like a dying animal. The overly affectionate driver soothed the tank, re-assuring her that she’d be alright. The gun thunder and belched a large round that punched its way through the building, killing those that had tried to hurt her. The driver patted the surface of the tank and smiled.
“Donnelly!” shouted the same voice from before, “Get that tank turned on the machine guns!”
“Yes, commander!” shouted back the tank driver in a thick Scottish accent, turning his attention to the large creatures that slowly marched towards them.
“Echo Squad, to me!” the commander bellowed down the radio.
The soldiers of Echo Squad ducked as they ran, taking cover from the enemy’s bullets. Their blue/grey great coats billowed in the wind and snow tried to claim their vision by clouding around the visors of the gasmasks. Charlie, November and Whiskey squad held the line, ducking in and out of cover to take shots and the enemy, bursts of gunfire a constant sound now in the city of Hothinia, the one and only settlement on Sidonis Six. Tall spires reached up into the sky, seemingly touching the white expanse, the binary suns hidden behind cloud.
“Quickly now Echo!” said the commander, clapping her hands to spur that squad on. The commander was a tall and slim woman, shapely too. Not the kind of body you’d expect to see on a battle field, especially the 64th Parallel, the line that divided the city from the Space Corps forces and the enemy. But she also bore the scars of war, a deep wound traced its way down her neck and along the edges of the metal prosthetic that sealed the otherwise exposed flesh, regulating her breathing and allowing her to live.
“Echo Squad reporting in!” said a private from behind a dirty gasmask, his voice muffled.
“What happened to Sergeant Garkarian?” asked the commander, her tone level and hiding any worry.
“He’s dead, sir!”
The commander sighed, she was loosing men fast. Nelson Company was out numbered and out gunned, surrounded and without backup. “Take that mask off soldier; the Vorka couldn’t use bio weapons even if they wanted to. So, what’s your name private?”
The private removed the mask, breathing in the cold crisp air that hadn’t been processed through the filters. He revealed his piercing green eyes and his shoulder length brown hair fell down onto his broad frame. “Plisken, ma’am. Thomas Plisken.”
Suddenly, the radio in the far corner burst into life.
“Bravo Bravo Charlie, this is Captain Capaldi. The Doctor is coming; I repeat the Doctor is coming.”
“Plisken, get the squads ready! We’ll talk later,” the commander whirled around to run to the radio, “This is Bravo Bravo Charlie, get Yankee Squad back here Capaldi! We need that bomb detonated. If I have to drag your sorry ass through a war zone then I will!”
There was no response, just the hiss of static. She tapped her neck prosthetic and a look of worry flashed across her face.
Outside the bark of assault rifles sounded, with the occasional crack from the sniper rifles from afar. Donnelly’s tank boomed as it took out enemy machine gun positions. Screams of soldiers pierced the air as the Vorka charged in their crazed mobs at the line, cutting the men with simple blades and crushing their skulls and chests with heavy hammers.
“Hold the line!” shouted Plisken, taking up position behind a wall that had been part of a small café, the posters for local events still on the metal, the edges flapping in the wind. The Vorka were attacking in huge waves, the gruesome creatures almost enveloping some of the positions, nearly taking out whole squads in one attack. The tank propelled another shell from its barrel and sent it hurtling to a large group of Vorka, leaving little more than a green stain on the snowy ground. A machine gun nest sprayed a building with fire, punching holes in the walls and killing any Vorka taking cover inside. Nelson Company seemed to be pushing them back, Plisken chancing a look as he peeked out from his cover to assess the situation. The commander was trying to co-ordinate with the other squads, pulling them back to here. Plisken squeezed the trigger of his weapon, a burst of three bullets leaping from the barrel and landing squarely in the chest of a Vorka, flipping the creature backwards and onto the ground. He ducked back behind his wall as a hail of bullets from angry Vorka showered his position, taking out a member of Echo Squad.
But a sinister hiss came from near his ear. His heart leapt as he spun round and found himself staring face to face with a Vorka, its crooked face broken by a cracked grin of yellowed fangs. The skin was scared, twisted and scaled. Its eyes were menacing yellow slits against red irises. Green blood oozed from a wound in its side, the viscous liquid dripping onto the floor. It carried two axes, each soaked in the red blood of his friends. Time seemed to slow as the creature brought its axe up, preparing a strike. Plisken thudded the butt of his rifle into the chest of the Vorka, pushing it away. It collapsed in pain and surprise at the speed of which Plisken had reacted. But it didn’t last long; Plisken fired several bullets into the skull of the creature and killing it instantly. Plisken looked at where the creature had come from: part of the line had collapsed and a whole in the perimeter had opened, allowing the Vorka to pour in.
“Plisken!” the commander cried as she swung her gun at a small Vorka, only 5 feet tall, and sending it flying across in the ground in a wave of green blood. You’ve got to arm the bomb Plisken! NOW PLISKEN!”
Plisken watched as Vorka swamped her, hacking and cutting at her. She did not scream as she died but continued to fight even as the creatures clawed their way at her neck, tearing off her prosthetic. Plisken made his break for the command tent, looking for the activation codes for the remote detonation of the bomb. But in the tent was a large, bloodied and scaled creature: the Doctor, creator and god-king to the Vorka. His visage was festooned with metal prosthetics but underneath he resembled a human being. One arm had been replaced by a large blade, its edge sharp and red.
“Looking for these?” laughed the Doctor, his voice deep and threatening. In his hand he held a datapad, presumably containing the activation codes for the remote. He slowly closed his fist and crushed the pad, destroying the codes. Plisken readied his gun but he was too slow, the Doctor swung his blade into Plisken. His right arm dropped to the floor in a fountain of blood, the green fabric of the tent now stained crimson. He collapsed onto the floor from shock, the deep laugh of the Doctor echoing in his thoughts as he slipped into unconsciousness.
It was dark when Plisken woke; the Vorka had moved on or gone back to their lairs. With great effort, Plisken crawled on his stomach, too exhausted to stand up. Slowly, he crawled outside, the snow still falling but now it was a slow and peaceful fall, a beautiful sight. On the bloody ground, many bodies lay. Some were Vorka but most were soldiers of Nelson Company. Plisken dared not shout for help, scared that Vorka scavengers might be lurking about. The commander lay facing the sky, her greatcoat torn and bloodied. Her black armour had been violently ripped open and her throat featured a large red rupture. Her prosthetic lay nearby, the Vorka had discarded it as useless junk. Plisken crawled towards it, reaching out his remaining hand to grab the small silver device. A small button protruded from the back, the commander’s final option for the detonation. Plisken rolled over onto his back, feeling the snow fall onto his face. This was the end. He thumbed the button. A thunderous crack echoed in the still night air.
The Vorka hives deep under the city collapsed as supporting struts were destroyed from the bomb blast. Fire erupted from gas pipes and engulfed whole clans of Vorka. Plisken lay with his eyes closed, waiting for the reaction to reach him. Buildings collapsed as the labs and sewers underneath buckled and gave way. Fire and smoke plumed from the ground and dulls thuds boomed across the city. But a warm air blew down over him, the snow flakes whipped up in a flurry. Plisken opened his eyes but was blinded by the bright flash of the shuttle engines.
“There’s one!” shouted someone from the open shuttle, “Set us down Cortez!”
“Yes sir, Captain!”
The last thing Plisken remembered before passing out again was Captain Capaldi’s weathered face staring down at him, shouting something but his words drowned by the explosions.