Rennite Rebellion is my new fiction. It will be written in the form of a serial, with various chapters coming in installments.
I will accept any criticism the other users have for this story.
Dolen carefully aligned his rifle with the Kappa's head, and fired. It was dull work; once Kappas fell into a pit, they would just sit there, unable to figure out how to escape. Then, it was just a matter of picking them off one by one.
As he shot the Daemons, he could not help but feel a bit of bitterness. They had burned his home, slaughtered nearly everyone he had ever known, destroyed his whole country, and now they wouldn't even put up a good fight.
He rembered when the Daemons had first been encountered; the village council had declared the discovery of alien life, and had sent a team of voluteers to meet them on neutral ground. A few days later, Styx's major cities had all been destroyed by Hellfire bombs, and most of the population had been forced into slavery, building the Daemons ships and weapons on some distant, hellish world. Some of his closest friends, and some of his family, had been enslaved. They were probaly dead by now; the Korgrath slave overseers were notoriously violent.
And that was why he fought; why he shot the last Kappa, even while it screeched in pure terror and agony. Although it was not in Rennite nature to be cold-hearted, the Daemon's deeds had not earned it any pity in his mind.
Then, buzzing at his belt signalled a message from HQ. Two buzzes and then a silent beep meant "come back to base". And so he strapped his gun to his back, and left.
Dolen walked down the steps and into the bunker.
The Rennites did not like subterranean homes; they prefered to be on the surface, with nature. However, with Daemons sweeping the surface every day for signs of the resistance, a bunker was the only thing that would do.
Two burly guards stood in the way. "Password", said one. Dolen's voice sank to a whisper. "Uchen", he breathed softly. Uchen was a mythical figure; legend had it he had won the right of freedom for all Rennites centuries ago. The Daemons didn't know about Uchen, so therefore no Reaper could ever guess that password.
As he walked down the steps, through corridors and deeper into the heart of Styx, he heard Sola's comforting voice. "Come on down, get something to eat. Then we've got ourselves a council." Sola was one of the special few who had not lost her sense of fun and optimism during the War. Even while killing Daemons, she maintained a happy view of the world, joking as she lopped off the heads of Kappas and similar vermin.
After all had eaten a good meal of fish and gorbol, they started the council.
"Well," started Sola, "Let's start with a general overview of our situation."
"Agreed", said the other council members in unison.
"We are here", she said, poking at a board with a long stick. "Umbran's fortress is right here, and that's where all of these ****** Daemons are coming from."
Everyone merely nodded and continued to stare at the board. This was old stuff; there was nothing different from last council, or indeed since last year. They had been fighting the same war for two years, with no major victories or losses.
"I know this all seems the same," said Sola, "But it's about to get a lot more interesting."
Everyone began to pay a lot more attention.
"Hey Xela," coaxed Sola, "Come on out and tell everyone what you've learned." A tall, female Rennite entered the room. She was a spy for them, and therefore one of the most valuable personnel they had. She had killed a Shaytan once, and stolen its armor. Thus she could infiltrate Umbran's stronghold, and mingle with the Daemons, learning as much as she could about them. She looked quite shaken; yet again, one couldn't spend twenty-four hours a day around Grakk and Korgrath and still feel just fine.
"I fear the worst for us all," said Xela, "I heard the Korgrath speak of it today. The Seven will gather on Styx tomorrow."
Everyone present gasped. The Seven? Here?
"We're all doomed!", sobbed a council-member.
"Actually," said Sola coolly, "I see this as a golden opportunity." Everyone quietened at once, and listened. "Think about it", said Sola, "The Seven. All gathered in one place."
"You don't mean...?", asked a council-member nervously.
"Yes. I mean we are going to kill the Seven."
At once an enormous outroar broke out, with everyone present arguing about whether the idea was good or bad, whether they should try it at all, and whether or not they should all either surrender or commit ritual suicide.
"Quiet!", shouted Sola. "This may be the only chance we will ever have, so listen well. The plan is simple. One of our operatives captured a Hellfire bomb earlier today. We will send Dolen, Xela, and Kolar into the base. They will infiltrate the Seven's council, and afterwards destroy their fortress with the Hellfire. Any questions?"
"Yes", said a wizened old Rennite. He was ancient and wise, and was the only council-member who had not panicked a minute ago. "How are we to disguise Dolen and Kolar? We would need the armor of a high-clearance Daemon."
"You're absolutely right. And that's why, before we can even think about killing the Seven, we need to get some Korgrath." She pointed to a spot on the board not far from where they were. "Here, the Kolgrath Chaon will travel through the swamp to get to Umbran's palace before their council. He is highly trusted; he would be let in without a moment's thought. Dolen and Kolar will ambush him on his route, and kill him. They will then take the armor of him and his lieutenants, and then head straight to Umbran. By that point, the council will be in session, so they'll probably be made to attend. Afterwards, they'll plant the Hellfire, and kill the Seven. Thus, freedom will be ours!"
Everyone at the council cheered, except for Dolen and Kolar. After all, they were the ones who had to kill the powerful Korgrath on Styx, and then kill the most powerful beings in the universe shortly later.
It was dull work, sitting in the swamp and waiting. Dolen had always hated this job; and now, they were ambushing a Korgrath battlelord instead of a few Kappas. It was almost as if he were waiting to die. He probably would. If not then, the Seven would certainly rip him apart. He had heard Soulbane tortured prisoners, and that Death's Shadow fed Rennites to her pet Imp. Dolen shuddered. Imps were messy eaters.
Kolar was not discouraged though. "Hey, Dolen, look at this!", he said under his breath, handing him a photograph. It was a picture of a Rennite female. "She's beautiful", said Dolen, "Is she your wife?"
"No," said Kolar, "She's my fiancee. We were gonna get married sooner, but then we couldn't figure out who to invite to the wedding, and then the apocalypse happened, and one thing after another put it off. We're getting married next spring, though."
Dolen smiled. Rennites didn't marry enough anymore; there weren't very many of them, and there wasn't much time for anything but fighting anymore. Kolar had never given up hope though.
Another Rennite gave him a hand signal from the opposite treeline: I see him. Get ready.
Dolen sent back another signal, Where?
But he got the answer quickly. A large Daemonic convoy was heading through the forest. This one was larger than usual; they were apparently bringing in more troops to guard the Seven.
The front truck stopped as planned; the spikes in the forest floor had helped a lot as far as that was concerned. The Rennites waited for their moment.
Suddenly the truck doors slammed open, and several Shaytan began to pour out, to see what had stopped the truck. A huge Korgrath, with armor made of some gold-like material stood behind them, lashing them with a whip when needed. It was Chaon. Dolen sent a message to the other Rennites; Now."
The air was alive with the sound of projectiles as every Rennite in the clearing rained down ammunition upon Chaon's guards. Shaytan began dropping like flies, and yet more still came. However, Chaon started running out from the truck and into the forest, away from the rebels. Dolen quickly took Kolar and a couple of others, and chased after him. The others would kill these Grakk and take supplies; a long convoy like this could supply their base for months. However, Chaon had to die.
Luckily, Chaon was not capable of running far; his armor weighed him down, yet Rennites were built for speed.
Chaon stopped, and stuck out his arms in their direction. A long blade slowly contracted from each fist; each blade must have been around three feet long.
The Rennites opened a volley of projectiles on him, each one present firing at a rapid rate. The air was already foggy, and the discharge from their rifles made it even more so. Presently they couldn't even see what they were firing at. This went on for about two minutes before they ran out of ammunition.
Chaon strode out of the fog, swinging his blades in every which direction. Of all of the shots fired at him, not a one had left so much as a dent in his armor.
Out of desperation, one Rennite jumped at him with a knife; Chaon sliced him in two almost casually. He advanced on each one individually, and killed them. If they fled, he would merely fire his own missile, from a large calibre machine rifle built into his arm. There was definitely some kind of brutal art to his fighting.
As Dolen dodged blades and attempted to stay as far from Chaon as he could, an idea occured to him. Chaon's armor was near indestructible; but would it conduct heat?
Slowly, he removed his cartridge; it was full of both ammunition and fire-powder. He removed the ammunition, and took out a match. He carefully ignited the cartiridge, and left it on a tree stump. It would be just a minute until it lighted, since the cartridge was made to not burn quickly, for obvious reasons.
He then ran around to face Chaon, standing just opposite him.
"It is not too late to renounce your ways and join the forces of Soulbane", said Chaon, "Renounce your ways, and surrender. You will be spared."
"What?" Chaon was shocked.
"You have one last chance to renounce the Seven, and live free, without killing."
And Chaon merely laughed.
Dolen charged, and bounced off a tree onto Chaons head. He beat his helmet repeatedly, until he fell into the stump from lack of balance. At that moment, the stump ignited.
Dolen and Kolar ignored his agonized screams, and waited until they subsided. They then cooled it down with a large ammount of water, and removed his armor. Instead lay a bat-like head, burned beyond recognition.
"I warned him," said Dolen as they took his armor. Kolar took the armor of another Kolgrath.
Dolen climbed inside the armor; it was mostly mechanical, and so he could control it fairly well. His vision was not obscured by the helmet; in fact, there seemed to be sensors put in place that allowed to see more.
"Come on Kolar", he said from inside the armor, "We have Gehennians to slay".
The Daemon Fortress could be seen from quite a ways away. It was about a mile tall, and the same in width, like an enormous black cube sitting in a swamp. Huge, spiked turrets covered the surface.
Dolen felt the sudden desire to not enter at all. "Come on Kolar," he said, "It has to be done. Let's go." He said this more to comfort himself; Kolar seemed just fine.
They came to the entrance. Dolen felt as if he had to drag himself along.
"Password," said a Minotaur at the gate. Although stupid, Minotaurs could perform simple tasks such as this with relative ease. "Oh," said Dolen. He had not believed Daemons used passwords. He decided on a different tactic.
"You dare to deny me entrance, Grakk? Stand aside and let your betters through." Some form of speech modulator made his voice deep and menacing. The Minotaur, however, still wouldn't move. It seemed somewhat confused. Dolen sighed. "Lest I lop off your head." The Minotaur quickly stepped out of their way, and they entered the fortress.
The inside was made almost entirely of stone; there was not much light other than from torches, giving the walls an ominous look. But worst of all were the Daemons.
There must have been representatives of every caste there. He saw scores of winged Korgrath, pools of Kappas and Ammuts, and legions of Shaytan marching down corridors.
A Zahhak guard stepped into their path. "Come now," it said in a hissing voice, "The Masters are ready for you, Chaon." Dolen and Kolar followed the wyvern into a large chamber.
Dolen stood shocked as he looked into the room. Gehennians; huge, dark dragon creatures, filled the room. Seven of the largest sat at one giant table. The Seven. He recognized every one of them; The Seven were fond of placing huge stone likenesses of themselves on conquered worlds, and he had seen a statue for every Seven. But the knowledge of who each one was did not lessen his fear. A Shaytan gave him a quick hand gesture, signaling that it was Xela. She had gotten here much sooner, as she did not need to fight Chaon.
The Seven merely sat, occasionaly giving each other looks of intense hatred. A dark, horned Gehennian looked at him for a while, and then said, "Where have you been, Chaon? And where are your troops? You've never been one to keep a straight schedule, but still..."
"My lord," said Dolen, dropping to one knee, "We were ambushed by Rennites on our way here. There were a huge number of them; my forces were quickly outnumbered. I alone survived, and made it back here."
"Fear not," said the Gehennian, now laughing, "It would take more than a Rennite to kill you, Chaon." The Gehennian looked around at the others at the table. "And now let us begin our council."
"I agree with Umbran," said another, called Bloodburn, "We shall begin. And where better to begin with but here. Styx."
Soulbane started to protest, but Bloodburn continued his speech. "We have now spent two years on Styx, and yet the rebels which he stated would be 'crushed within days' are still at large, and slowly wearing down our forces. Two years, and a huge loss of resources. Two years, and no significant victories. Now, tell me, Soulbane, have you ever considered that we may need the resources you are wasting every day? Have you ever stopped and considered that we may need these resources? But a few days ago, I had to retreat from a fleet of Angeli, because I didn't have enough troops. If you had not wasted everything we had, we most certainly would have won the wars against the Angeli and the Typhons by now. Not to mention..."
"What?", Soulbane roared. Legions of Zahhak clustered around him and Bloodburn. "And what of your wasted ships, Bloodburn? What of the fleets you have lost?"
"Not so much as compared to you!", retorted Bloodburn angrily.
Soulbane looked ready to attack Bloodburn then and there, but then a blue Gehennian- Death's Shadow, he believed- spoke. "Come now," she began, "Are you two truly going to fight, like Imps for table scraps? Let us be reasonable. Yes, we have a problem with Styx. Let us attempt to fix it."
The others began nodding. This did seem sensible, even to a Gehennian.
Bloodburn regained control of himself, and said, "Yes. I propose we leave Styx behind, and focus more on the Angeli and Typhon wars."
"But you fail to understand a crucial factor," said Soulbane, "And that is the Fear Effect. We have control over hundreds of worlds, and we keep control by inspiring fear in all of them. The populace of each sees how we treat rebellions on other occupied worlds, and have decided that rebellion against us is foolhardy. But if we give up on Styx, and leave, all other worlds in our Empire will also think they can rebel. By giving up Styx, we will give up our Empire. And I doubt that the Dark King would be much pleased about that."
Darkshriek spoke up now. "But can't we just launch an all-out attack on the Rennites? Surely we'd win then."
Bloodburn snorted. "Of course we'd win. But we don't know where their base is, and therefore we couldn't lauch an all-out attack."
At this moment, Umbran stood up. "I have an announcement to make," he said, "And one that will change this campaign greatly. Death's Shadow and I had an idea..." Soulbane began to snicker. "Yeah, you two have a lot of good ideas, don't you?" Umbran glared at him. "Quiet, you. Now, I have knowledge of the Rennites base. My Reaper told me."
The Shaytan that was Xela morphed into a black, armored figure. "It also told me that there are two Rennite spies standing in this room right now." He gestured towards Dolen and Kolar.
Suddenly, a large Zahhak grabbed Dolen, and pinned his arms. Another did the same with Kolar. Dolen was in shock; he couldn't seem to think straight. Out of desperation, he pulled away from the Zahhak, pulled out his pistol, and fired several times at Umbran. The bullets didn't even make a scratch. Indeed, The Seven laughed.
"Take them away," said Soulbane, still laughing. "Feed them to the Kobolds."
And so Dolen and Kolar were dragged away, with the laughter of The Seven echoing behind them.
Earthrender dismally sorted through the prisoner's belongings. Normally, this job was reserved for lowly Korgrath, but the Seven gave him this job quite frequently, as a personal insult.
He hated the job. A few meters away, the Rennites sat- still shocked- in their cage, awaiting their deaths. By Kobolds. Earthrender shuddered and tried not to think about it.
And then he found something which changed his whole outlook on the situation. Inside one of the Rennite's bags was a small image of a female Rennite. He paused, unable to continue for a moment. The female in the picture reminded him of... Nightshadow. Certainly not in looks, but in spirit. He tried to brush it off and return to his work, but he soon found that he couldn't. He looked at the Rennites; one sat gloomily, trying to see the picture of his beloved.
And so Earthrender decided to do something.
Sola stood atop a hill and gazed out into the swamp. It was still beatiful; the random statues of Gehennians didn't change that. In fact, they complimented it a great deal.
She looked to the west, towards Soulbane's palace... and saw a nightmare.
An army of Daemons was approching their base. Shaytan, Korgrath, Warbeasts, and legions of twisted Wraith. It seemed as if they were launching an all-out attack; and they knew where their base was.
They got Dolen and Kolar, she thought. She raced down the steps to the base. "Everybody up!", she shouted in every bunk. "Daemons are coming! It's gonna be a SIEGE!"
Soulbane continued his speech with the Seven. "If we are to triumph over the Angeli and the Typhons," he finished, "We will first have to triumph over the Rennites. Bloodburn, bear in mind that we are just as much at war with these mammals as we are with anything else in the universe. Without them, we will not be able to hold any occupied territories. Any effective occupation must make the populace fear the establishment. If we do not follow this principal, we will lose, and the Daemons will fall."
Each of the Seven in turn nodded, their heads, and began to murmur amongst themselves.
"It is decided," said Bloodburn, "We will allow you to lead one last assault on the Rennites. This is your last chance. If you fail, we will have to exit this war. Do you understand?"
"I understand," Soulbane said earnestly.
"Very well then," said Bloodburn, "We now leave you and your petty fight for the time being."
As soon as all of the Seven had left, Soulbane let out a loud laugh. "The fools," he said, still laughing. They had no idea of what was coming.
Soulbane would rule.
Dolen sat miserably in his cell, staring at the floor. So this was how it would end, eh? Locked in a cage and lowered into a pit full of Kobolds. And for once, Kolar seemed just as depressed.
Suddenly, the Gehennian- Earthrender, he thought- walked over to their cage. This is it, thought Dolen.
"What I do, neither of you shall ever speak of," said Earthrender, "If you do, I will hunt you down and slaughter the both of you." He then unlocked their cage door, and set them loose on the ground.
Dolen sat in shock, while the Gehennian continued talking. "There is a large army of Daemons on its way to your base. You need to get there and you," he said, gesturing at Kolar, "need to get your love out of that place."
Dolen finally recovered enough to say something. "But why are you helping us?", he spluttererd.
Earthrender gave a very slight smile. "We're more alike than you know. Now. You may use this to leave Soulbanes palace." He handed them a small black device, which apparently clipped onto their chests easily. "It's a Perception Modifier," continued Earthrender, "It will render you invisible, at least in the time it takes you to get out of this base."
Dolen took the device gingerly. "We owe you much, Earthrender," he said, "Is there anything we can do to repay you?"
Earthrender merely looked at Kolar. "Go take care of your love. That is all I ask. And of course, that you do not speak of this encounter to anyone. Master has ears in many places they say, and if he heard about this... Just go now. You don't have much time."
The Rennites gave him one last gesture of gratitude, and left.
And so they made their way back to the exit. As they approached a long corridor, however, Dolen stopped to read the caption proclaiming where it went. It read "This way to Ships."
"You go on, and get back to base," whispered Dolen to Kolar, "I think I know where to find a Daemon ship."
"What?" said Kolar, but Dolen had already broken away and had left. Furiously, Kolar turned towards the exit, hoping that Dolen wouldn't be far behind.
Dolen sneaked into the Ship bay quietly, crouching along the ground and watching out for guards. While at the council, he had distinctly heard Bloodburn say something about the enemies of the Daemons, the Angeli and the Typhons. They had apparently been capable of holding their own against a Daemonic fleet. And as the old addage went, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." If he could get just a small ship and get off of Styx, he could contact one of those races.
He looked out from behind the crate he was hiding behind. Apparently the Seven had not believed that anyone would be stupid enough to infilterate their base while they were in session. They had left only a single Afrit to guard the smaller ships. Now if he could just take out that guard... He had a better idea.
"Hey! You!", he yelled at the Afrit, "The Seven stink! That Bloodburn's little more than a large lizard!"
Sure enough, that got the Daemons attention. It came running with a raspy cry of "Blasphemer," and attempted to smite him down with a long sword.
But Dolen was ready. He leapt aside, and pushed a large number of crates full of explosive weapons onto the hapless creature, and then lit the crates on fire.
Needless to say he got to a ship as quickly as he could at this point, and climbed aboard. Just in time- the crates had just exploded, and shreds of Afrit began raining down.
Luckily the ships controls were all clearly labeled (they had to be, or else Grakk couldn't be of any use on board a vessel), And so he quickly got the ship airborne, and then, in space itself.
Styx from space was a beatiful sight; seeing all of it's green swamps and blue oceans from this height was truly amazing. But he had more important things to do right now.
He saw a bullet, sitting on a table. Investigating it, he found to be made of a hard silvery metal. Shrugging, he pocketed it and entered FTL.
Soulbane stared at a map of the Daemoniverse, putting the final finishing touches on his plan. Suddenly, a younger Gehennian by the name of Dreadhiss entered the room. The daughter of Umbran, Dreadhiss was well known for scheming. Probaly not something to concern himselft with, though.
"Go away," he said.
"But actually," said Dreadhiss, "I know something that you may want to hear."
"Oh yes? What then?"
"Well," she said, clearly enjoying herself, "I know about the bullet you put in the Rennites ship. It was very clever, using Neutronium-metal. The Rennite you allowed to escape of course. You knew Earthrender would let him out. And of course, I heard the command you issued to Cthire, and the one to the Korgrath on Inferno."
"So," said Soulbane, "You know every detail about my plan, eh? Why haven't you told the others?"
"I will," said Dreadhiss, "Unless you make me the governor of Nether. And maybe more, later on."
"Ah. So you're blackmailing me. Very well. I know what I am forced to do."
Dreadhiss smiled and turned away.
Suddenly, Soulbane strided across the room, and held her neck in his jaws. With a twist, he tore her throat out. Licking his lips clean, he laughed. Was anyone so foolish as to think he could be stopped at this point?
With a jerk, Dolens ship flung out of FTL. Pulling himself off the ground, he checked the scanners. Apparently, another ship had interupted his journey. Turning on a message reciever, he listened carefully for a beacon.
"Attention Rennite," said a loud, slightly hissing voice, "This is the Gehennian Cthire. I am of the Seven. Stop and surrender, and you will be spared."
Dolens heart sank. They had found him. He hadn't gotten anywhere near the Angeli, and now Cthire had captured him. He attempted to control the ship, but it had been jolted so as to be useless. He sighed, and pulled out a small pistol. "If you want me," he said over the intercom, "You'll have to come and get me."
"Very well," said Cthire, "We shall board your ship."
Dolen positioned himself beside a wall, and waited.
For a few minutes, he waited while a Korgrath on the other side of the wall attempted to cut its way in using a laser.
Then, the wall broke down and Daemons entered the ship.
The first was a Rakshasa wielding a large spear; Dolen dropped it with a shot to the head. The open passage could only allow one Daemon access at a time, and so he had plenty of time to shoot them each before they got in. More Rakshasas came in... And more fell, impeding the paths of the others. Then, an Afrit pushed its way in through the door, and entered. The bullets merely bouced off of its armored hide. Dolen tried to run, but it grabbed him by the tail and dragged him into Cthires ship.
After a few minutes of rough handling and his own struggling, they came to a very large room. Within, on a large thrown sat a large Gehennian. Dolen recocgnized him from the council as Cthire.
"Hello, Rennite," said Cthire, "May I ask how you are doing today?"
The Gehennian was quite obviously toying with him. "Well," said Dolen, "Can't really complain."
Cthire laughed. "You're that Rennite from the council. The one that tried to shoot Umbran." Cthire laughed even harder. "Well," he said, "Are you going to try to kill me?" He laughed even harder. "You apparently annoyed Soulbane, though. He sent me to capture you, and bring you back to Styx." Cthire began to speak more softly. "Of course," he said, "I could use a good lieutenant. The one who killed Chaon would make a good lieutenant, if you're interested in any way..."
"No thanks," said Dolen, "I'd rather die."
Dolen wanted desperately to fight back, to do something, but he couldn't. He still had a small pistol, but his bullets were back on his ship. Not that they would do much good against Cthire, but it would at least be a sign of defiance. Then he remembered the small bullet he had found on the ship when he captured it; the small silvery one. Quickly, he pulled out his pistol, loading his last bullet within. He aimed it at the Gehennians forehead.
Cthire laughed. "You still think you can kill me with that, don't you? Very well, take a shot, see what happens."
The shell of the bullet had apparently held some form of high explosive within, to lauch the bullet farther and faster. The downside of this was that it threw him back about six feet.
Getting up, he heard the shocked shrieks of Zahhak. Cthire was on the ground, convulsing in death throes. Blood covered the ground in front of him. At last, his body stopped moving entirely.
Dolen stood shocked. How had this bullet killed him? He had thought the Seven to be indestructable, or at the very least, bulletproof. There must have been something different about the bullet, something that made it a sort of Seven-killer.
He did not have much time to ponder this, however, for a whole legion of Zahhak confronted him. He had recently nullified their purpose in life, and that irritated them somewhat.
Still shocked, Dolen ran for his life, down the twisted corridors of a Daemon Warship.
Soulbane listened to the message with excitement. "My Lord," said the Korgrath, "I must inform you that Cthire has been slain."
"That is a shame," said Soulbane, "Tell the others."
"It shall be done, my Lord." The transmission went off with a beep.
Soulbane laughed. It had worked. He knew it would; a piece of neutronium-metal going at that velocity would penetrate just about anything. Still, it was good to hear of its proven success.
Cthire was dead, he thought happily. One down, and five to go.
Dolen quickly came to the ship storage room on board the ship. Apparently, Cthires death had sent most lower-level Daemons into panic and hysteria, so nobody was guarding the smaller ships. Dolen climbed on board one, and sailed off into space.
His ship sailed through space for about an hour or two, and then he found what he was looking for. A fleet of Angeli ships was floating right in front of him.
A radio beacon could be heard. Luckily, the ship had built in translators that allowed him to understand the message.
"Stranger. What are you doing in Angeli Space? Are you Daemon or Typhon?"
"Neither," said Dolen, "I am a Rennite. I have come to you requesting aide for my race. The Daemons have conquered my homeworld, and now they are coming close to slaughtering us all. Will you help us?"
"We help all who desire freedom and life. Come onboard our ship and we shall discuss matters further."
"Bring more reinforcements!" shouted Kolar desperately, "The Daemons are getting in! They're breaking down our doors!"
At the moment he said this, the only standing door collapsed into splinters, and a small legion of Rakshasas charged inwards.
"Fall back!" yelled Kolar, firing as he retreated, "Fall back! They've breached our walls!"
Just then, Korgrath and Shaytan began to pour in, and everything disolved into chaos.
Death's Shadow cautiously stepped on board the Torment. Soulbane stood waiting for her, with a large smile on his face. "Death's Shadow," he began, "I'm glad you could come."
Suddenly, a large explosion rocked the ship. "Sir," said an Afrit, "An Angeli ship has just exited FTL."
Soulbane frowned. "This wasn't supposed to happen," he muttered. Then his face brightened. "Come along, Death's Shadow. I wish to speak with you alone."
They walked into an isolated room onboard. "Well, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?", said Death's Shadow.
Soulbane smiled. "You see, Shadow," he said, "Things change. Eras come and pass. Truly, everyone thought the Veiled Ones would last forever, but where are they now?"
"What are you getting at?"
"By tommorow, The Seven will be no more. Daemonkind as we know it will be no more. Hectocapitus will lay broken amongst the ruins of Pandaemonium. And I will rule the Daemoniverse."
"You don't have to fight in the battle," said the Angelus, "You have done your part. Let us do ours."
Dolen continued to load his weapon. "Yes, I do," he said, "I will not stop fighting until every last Daemon is dead. Now, what's the battleplan?"
The Angelus sighed. "Here it is. You and a portion of our infantry will make planetfall, and attack the rear flank of the Daemon army. This will provide a distraction, and thus the besieged Rennites will have a chance to push the Daemons out. You will surround them, and conquer them. Meanwhile, our warships will engage the Torment and the Armageddon."
"I like that plan."
They walked to a large cargo bay. A large number of Angeli soldiers were there, holding long rifles. "You're going to be dropped onto Styx in these pods," said the Angelus, gesturing to large coffin-like objects in tubes, "Just get in, buckle yourself up, and everything will be fine."
Dolen dutifully stepped into his pod. The inside was dark, and somewhat dingy. It would have been crowded if he had been Angelus-sized, but luckily he was only around four and a half feet tall. He buckled himself, and waited.
A few moments later, he felt a wild sensation, as if he were falling at thousands of miles an hour. And in fact, he was. After hardly any time at all, a faint blue glow appeared around him; internal dampener shields. There was a very loud crash as the pod struck the surface of Styx. Dolen quickly got out, and checked the perimeter. In front of them, the Daemon army had its flank to them. Angeli infantry were already out, and were aiming rifles at the hordes rear. Dolen smiled. This should count as a distraction.
Sola ducked behind a table, but checked over it. The Daemons were falling back; it seemed that something on the surface had distracted them. "Come on, men!", she shouted, "We've got to advance! We can win!"
She looked behind. The other Rennites were terrified; they were taking this as an opprutunity to retreat.
"No!", she yelled, "Come back!" But they continued their retreat. Sola's heart sank. Was this the end of the rebellion? Then, she had an idea. She didn't like it, but she'd have to go through with it.
"You cowards!", she shouted, "If you won't fight, then I WILL!" She charged the enemy, ducking from cover to cover. As she had hoped, the troops immediately began to charge with her, trying to get her to safety. There was only one problem, she thought to herself. Once they get to me, they will drag me back to safety, whether I want that or not. There's only one way to get them so mad they'll keep fighting to the end.
She grimaced. She had hoped it wouldn't come to this.
She charged straight into the path of a Shaytan wielding a firespitter, and stood her ground. The Shaytan lowered its weapon, and fired.
As she fell to the ground, she heard the rageful cries of her troops. Several of their bullets struck the Shaytan down, and quite a few Grakk disintergrated in the volley of projectiles that followed.
Despite her pain, Sola smiled. The Rennites would be free.
Death's Shadow felt a deep chill in her spine. "What do you mean?", she asked, just barely concealing her fear.
"Exactly what I said," Soulbane said, smiling. "I shall destroy Hectocapitus and take over the Daemoniverse."
Death's Shadow regained her composure. "And how do you think you're going to do that? The Master is un-stoppable."
"Not true. He is merely nye un-stoppable." He pulled a lever, and two missles were revealed.
"These are Skyflames," he said grandly, "Leftover relics from the Julth War. They ignite a planets atmosphere, destroying everything on its surface. I have two. One for Styx, and one for Inferno. After this, the Daemoniverse will be thrown into chaos, chaos which I shall thrive in!"
Death's Shadow slowly realise what this meant. The end of everything she knew. Of Master. Of Inferno. Of Umbran...
"How did you get these weapons?" she demanded.
"It's an interesting story," said Soulbane, "One that requires the introduction of a friend. Rothel, our guest wishes to meet you!"
Death's Shadow felt suddenly cold. The lights dimmed. In hovered a black shape, with long streaming tentacles. "I AM ROTHEL", said a voice; it was not loud in the conventional manner, but somehow it demanded all of her attention regardless. It was perhaps telepathic.
"What are you?", she said, now truly scared. It's very presence was disturbing.
"I AM FROM THE DISTANT PAST", said Rothel, "IN A TIME BEFORE EVEN THE DAEMONIVERSE WAS BORN. BEFORE THE VEILED ONES. BEFORE THE JULTH. BEFORE ALL THAT YOU NOW KNOW. "
"So this is how," said Death's Shadow, "This is how you got the Skyflames! I bet you really did kill Cthire!"
"Yep," said Soulbane cheerfully, "And I may do the same with you. But I have a special fondness for you. Renounce Master, and become my Queen. You shall be my second. Together, we can rule the Daemoniverse."
Death's Shadow thought for a moment, and decided what she had to do. "I will... NOT!"
Soulbane frowned. "Then you shall die. Goodbye."
At that exact moment, the doors flung open, revealing Bloodburn and Ravana. "Stop!", yelled Bloodburn, "Surrender now, and you will be spared."
"Why must everybody stick their snouts in my affairs?" said Soulbane, before leaping into battle.
Death's Shadow and Ravana attacked Rothel, firing plasma beams and clawing madly. However, plasma beams deflected off his skin, and he was too fast to claw easily.
Meanwhile, Bloodburn and Soulbane fought with tooth and claw, with neither side gaining advantage over the other. Indeed, they were equals in fighting.
For a while it seemed that the fight would never end; but then, the entire ship began to quake.
"The Angeli!", shouted Ravana, "They're launching Halo Rays! Much more of this and we'll all die!"
Rothel hovered towards Soulbane, and stopped. "WE MUST FLEE, MY APPRENTICE," he said. The room grew colder and colder, and a Dimensional Rift appeared. They grabbed the Skyflames, and flitted through it with ease.
Death's Shadow tried to catch them, but the rift closed just before she came near.
"Bloodburn," said Ravana, "You should see this. It's bad."
Dozens of Angeli ships were exiting FTL. And Rennite ships on the planet below were flying upwards, and destroying Daemon ships left and right.
Bloodburn stared in dumb shock for a moment, and then gave the order. "Retreat!", he yelled.
All throughout the Rennite camp, there was cheering. A large feast had been prepared, and all were overjoyed at the battles end.
Dolen watched the festivities with a smile. Kolar and his fiancee were dancing together, and the Angeli, although suffering from a language barrier, were still laughing, apparently finding the whole thing vaguely amusing.
"What are you going to do now?", asked Sola. Although she had been seriously injured at the Battle of Styx, she was now on a firm road towards recovery.
"Well," said Dolen, "I don't know." He sighed. "This war isn't over. The Daemons will be back. They'll always be back. The Angeli can't hold this planet forever. What we need is a large collection of allies."
Sola agreed. "But where will you find new allies? The Typhons?"
"No," said Dolen, picking up an old pistol, "I have a better idea. Have you ever heard of Lanka? There's a race called the Praedicans there, with a story very similar to our own. Perhaps they would be willing to join forces with us."
"So, you're going to Lanka?"
"Yes. I'll stay just long enough to help you prepare for the next attack, and for Kolars wedding. But then I'm leaving."
Hectocapitus sat deep in thought. Bloodburn had just brought him news: news of Soulbanes betrayal, and of a mysterious being known as "Rothel".
"Praetus!", he said to a nearby guard, "Bring me that book. The Codex Futurae."
The Korgrath brought it to him. Hectocapitus briefly flipped through it, and then found the line he was looking for.
Ere Light comes to Rothels Hall,
Events conspire, one and all
For Daemons Bane and Salsenes Blame,
Childs Game and Aian Slain,
Even Time will fall.