The Hero From Meridell: Part Nine
Also by bestpet21
Jurro fiddled with the reload compartment on his new Z-9 blaster, repetitively snapping it open and closed. He was waiting for the ship to leave the station, but getting such an unruly gang of soldiers into the ship and settled down was going to take quite a while. The pilot of the ship sighed in frustration as the soldiers poured into the ship, all of them talking, shouting, and generally making fools of themselves. It appeared to Jurro that he and the pilot were the only calm, capable people aboard the entire ship. This was going to be a short battle, he thought to himself.
Captain Garrim appeared on the ship, ready to lead, but still a little under the weather. He had caught a bad case of Sneezles only two days ago and was still recovering from its effects. His eyes were still watery, his nose still red, and his voice sounded nasally. He shouldn't have been going out on this mission, but all of the other captains were in the Grundos' prisons, so there hadn't been much choice in the matter.
Jurro offered the green Blumaroo a tissue from his duffel bag. He was often susceptible to Sneezles as well and was obliged to keep some spares with him at all times. Garrim took the gift graciously and continued to the front of the ship where he sat and blew his nose quietly. Or, at least, it seemed to be quiet, for Jurro definitely could not hear it over the shouts from the Grarrl on his left and the Bruce behind him.
Several minutes later the ship roared to life, and all of the soldiers gave a loud cheer, throwing their hands into the air and whooping wildly. Jurro only sighed in relief and relaxed his posture as the vehicle pulled out of the station and began zooming towards Kreludor.
Commander Rylar's glaring face appeared on the screen in the front of the ship, admonishing them to be sharp and alert. He repeated their mission briefing a couple more times, an activity which he usually scorned but was forced to resort to in this case due to the condition of his troops. After the third repetition, it seemed as if at least a few soldiers understood the plan, and he was too frustrated to go through it again anyway. He gave his good wishes. Then, the screen flickered and turned off.
It was only a short time later when they landed on the moon just around the outskirts of the disputed territory. They began pouring out of the ship with their Z-9s in tow. Captain Garrim moved to the front of the group and motioned for them to be silent. In several minutes he had achieved a reasonable peace and began to speak. “We are going to divide into two groups. One unit will take the left flank. The other will take the right. I will lead the first unit...” His eyes searched over the crowd for a remaining competent soldier. He paused on the young blue Kyrii near the back. “You there, what's your name?”
“Jurro, Sir,” he responded stiffly with a curt nod.
“Jurro, you are going to lead the right flank unit. Are you up to the task?”
Jurro scanned the faces around him and saw that, though he was of a low rank, he was certainly the most able. “Yes, Sir.”
“All right. In that case, we'll go in now. Tonight we're on the offensive. Get in as many hits as you can, and we'll try to take them down as fast as we can. The sooner we get this over with, the better.” He made arrangements to divide the troops in half as they were standing, and, marching off to the left, separated from Jurro and his half.
Jurro cleared his throat and made his way to the front of the remaining soldiers. “Let's go, Team.” They, too, set out, this time to the right. As they moved farther into the Grundo's territory, they began to encounter scouts, which they managed to strike down before they could call in and inform the others of their presence. Before long, however, they began to reach the heart of the territory, and they could no longer move forward without being detected. Jurro ordered them to pause for a quick rest, and told them that they were about to march into the thick of it. He tried to calm them as much as he could, but gave up eventually, motioning for them to charge forward. They did without hesitation, as noisily as seemed possible, and were soon completely immersed in the swarms of Grundo soldiers.
Jurro held behind to be sure that they were performing as they were supposed to. He also held back the soldiers with longer-range weaponry and ordered them to fire from where they stood. As his eyes skimmed across the horizon, he saw the glint of blaster fire from the other side of the Grundo base. Garrim's troops were on schedule and, as far as he could tell from the distance, were putting up a fairly good fight.
“Sir,” said the shadow Zafara on his left, “the Grundos are deploying more troops!” She pointed a shaky finger toward the entrance of the base, and, sure enough, streams of Grundos poured out of the entrance. Every one of them appeared angry and ready to fight. They were serious, formidable, and wielded their blasters like experienced experts. Jurro felt his knees knock against each other. There wasn't much he could do. He didn't have any extra soldiers to send out, and his long-range soldiers were doing the best good back on the perimeter.
He breathed in deeply and responded coolly, “I see that. Keep firing.”
The Zafara acknowledged this by peering through her laser sniper's scope and firing with more accuracy then she had been before.
Satisfied, Jurro threw his gaze back into the fray. He could barely distinguish his troops from the Grundos who wore heavily padded armor so that one could hardly see their orange coloring peeking out from underneath. He looked back over the horizon once more and saw the blaster fire still leaping through the sky. Garrim's men were still holding on, evidently.
It wasn't long before Jurro saw the activity in the field begin to die down, and he realized his men were being badly defeated. The snipers at his side were all still present and accounted for, however, and they were doing their job to the best of their ability. It wasn't enough.
The Grundos were advancing forward every moment, and they were coming dangerously close to Jurro and his remaining soldiers. He gave the word for them to begin slowly backing down the slope. By doing this, they would be giving up their good view of the battle, but they would also be preserving their chances of getting in a little more punch. As soon as the Grundos appeared over the crest of the hill, Jurro's snipers began firing, picking them off one by one. It almost appeared as if they might win, and Jurro indulged in a short, but hearty laugh.
The laugh cut short when he realized the Grundos were still coming. There were still more of them than he had realized, and they weren't backing down. Before he knew it, the Grundos were right up upon him and his snipers, and he ordered them to attack with as much power and force as they could. He, too, rushed into the tumult and got in several good shots, but then he felt hot blaster fire graze his arm and he rolled to the ground as the world went black, and he felt deep sleep close its icy fingers around him.
Garrim was watching from higher ground and saw Jurro and his men fall to the Grundos. He stifled his untimely and annoying attacks of sneezes and tried to remain brave as his remaining troops continued to lay siege to the Grundos on their side of the station. They were only slightly outnumbered now that Jurro had picked off so many, but it was still wearing very heavily on them. The captain himself didn't think too highly of how the battle would turn out. In his heart, he knew who would probably win, but he wouldn't conduct himself in as if what his heart felt were true. He wouldn't back down or give up simply because the odds were against him, so he kept fighting.
Strangely, he felt his mind jump back to the young Kacheek named Zamrin who had disappeared only a short time ago. He knew almost for certain that he had gone to save his friend the Eyrie, and he wondered if he had been successful. Garrim certainly hoped that he had, for he knew if they didn't get off Kreludor very soon they would never get off. Any moment now, the Grundos would emerge victorious, and would move forward to conquer and control all of Neopia's moon.
To be continued...