Helios Smiles by Declan Cosson

To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,

Thomas Babington McCauley’s Horatius

The Solar System had become a chaotic zone of death and destruction, for as a result of the long period of peace which the Solarans had enjoyed for centuries, no amount of training could have truly prepared them for the all-out war that they had to endure when the Drakkar lustfully tried to claim their territory. The Drakkar had managed to punch through the Alpha Centaurian colonies, leaving death and destruction in their wake and were now besieging all of the core planets of the Solar System such as Earth, Mars and Venus, stretching the Solaran fleet thin as they tried to defend their planets. However, while many other races would have keeled under the sheer savagery that the Drakkar intended to inflict, the Solarans, descendants of humanity, were not a race of men that would go down without a fight. Thus, every fleet in Solaris was embroiled in a battle with the Drakkar invasion force in a desperate attempt to defend their home system.

Thus, Icarus was there, for he and Kaspar, safely enclosed in their egg-shaped fighters with swept curved wings, swooped through the immense battle that extended across the Solar System. Currently, they stuck with their squadron as they darted past an enormous battleship that was firing off all its plasma gun batteries and even shooting off torpedoes as it turned the more monstrous looking Drakkar vessel into a flaming wreck that was on the verge of exploding. Both sides deployed countless such vessels as these battleships, shielding them with a screen of frigates, cruisers and swarms of fighter craft.

Having lost the element of surprise that had gained them great victories at the start of the war, the Drakkar were beginning to be overpowered and driven back by the massive Solaran battleships which when properly organised and arrayed, could form an almost impenetrable position, firing hails of plasma bursts while soaking up the enemy’s plasma rounds with their gleaming shields that hugged their metallic hulls as tightly as a cocoon. The sight of all these vast but sleek and elegant emerald and amber coloured vessels that were the Solaran ships holding their position was enough to make silvery haired Icarus smile. His icy blue eyes were nicely shielded by the visor of his helmet as he focused on the battle around him, staying close to his comrades as they flew in a disciplined formation. As he flew, he could hear Kaspar ask him via radio.

“Grim sight, isn’t it, Icarus? The whole Solar System is alight tonight!!”

“Yes, but let our patron God Helios smile this night, because for once, it is our boys that are pounding these savages…”

“Yes, we might finally get a proper victory, but let’s not get too hopeful, this is a war so anything can happen…”

Before either Icarus or Kaspar could continue their banter, they suddenly got an order from their squad leader as he announced,

“Cupid Group! This is Cupid Leader! King Akatarr’s flagship the Tiberius is being attacked and cut off from the rest of the fleet by the Drakkar! All Solaran forces are to be redirected to his location! Over?”

“Understood, over and out!”

Hearing his squadron being called “Cupid” made Icarus chuckle to himself, for he knew that earlier humanity saw Cupid as the God of love who made people fall in love by firing arrows at them. But that irony only made successful engagements all the more satisfactory. As the battle continued all around him, Icarus asked sarcastically.

“Kaspar, you enjoying the view up there above me?”

“Eh…I presume so, I mean space is beautiful when you don’t get your spacecraft shot out of the stars…you’ll make sure that this doesn’t happen, right?”

“Of course, Kaspar, you know you can count on me, as long as I can count on you! Just like in school, right?”

At first, Kaspar laughed in a reassuring tone but then he suddenly blurted out,.

“Oh, sweet Gaia, Mother of Mercy! Would you look at that…”

Looking ahead, Icarus could only gasp in a strange sense of awe as he saw the flagship Tiberius, the largest of all Solaran ships, a vessel that was half the size of a planet being swarmed and encircled by Drakkar vessels of all forms from fighters to battleships. For it seemed that the entire invasion fleet was having a go at the Tiberius. Yet for all of the pummelling that this Leviathan class flagship got, the Tiberius just continued on, determined to burst it’s way out of the Drakkar encirclement as it fired its turrets at the Drakkar vessels, shredding many of them with hails of plasma. As they looked at the macabre sight before them, Icarus heard the squad leader say.

“Don’t be afraid, gentlemen…Helios is our God, for he will guide us sons of Solaris to victory or to Paradise!”

Upon these words, Cupid squadron, joined by many other Solaran craft of all forms, swooped in to relieve their King’s flagship. In doing so, the Solarans formed an encirclement of their own around the Drakkar, hoping to blast their way through. For if their king couldn’t make it to them, the Solarans would make their way to him.

This meant that Icarus and his comrades began the dirty task of murder as they would either kill or be killed. Icarus avoided repeating the stubbornness he had displayed earlier on in the war, for dying slowly and in pain alone in the cold voids of space without anyone by his side was a fate Icarus would do everything to avoid.

***

Upon the Tiberius itself, the scenario had turned very bleak for the surviving men as all of the sick bays were filled to the brim with injured men whose bodies had been burnt by the plasma and their armour melted through during the attacks. Despite the degenerating situation in which even the shields of the ship were basically useless, the Solarans, knowing that the Drakkar would simply eat them or rip their hearts out continued to fight on, even as more of them got sucked out into space when torpedoes slammed into the Tiberius’s hull, puncturing the enormous flagship with holes. The corridors were dark, but their walls flashed blood red while alarms wailed throughout the ship as soldiers, marines and crewmen rushed through them.

Up at the bridge, a towering Solaran with white but tanned skin, a beardless face and smooth tidy grey hair looked ominously as he saw the Drakkar encirclement continue despite Solaran attempts to breach it. Still the Solaran attack gave the Tiberius some breathing space to recover. As the space around their vessels flashed green and blue with the shots of heated plasma and ion weapons, the captain approached and announced to him.

“Your Majesty, this ship can only take so much punishment, and if it collapses, you risk going down with it. You must get to an escape pod…”

Hearing this, Akatar stubbornly snapped,

“No! It is not in my nature to just flee to safety while the rest of my kinsmen face the chance of a violent and cold death…”

“But your majesty…you are more than the rest of us, you are our K…”

But before the captain could continue, the whole vessel shook and rattled as if something had just slammed into it, leading all those who were standing to cling onto railings in an attempt not to lose their balance. Amidst all of this chaos, a crewman announced.

“Captain! Sire! The Drakkar have breached the hull of the Tiberius with one of their largest battleships by ramming it!! As we speak, their warriors are storming into the vessel, killing all in their path and are heading towards the core of the Tiberius, what do we do?”

Hearing this was not pleasant for Akatarr, for he had already lost his two eldest sons in the defeat at the Alpha Centauri, the younger had his heart ripped out ritualistically as a sacrifice to the false Drakkar God, Bhoolakar. The youngest son, Helius was still back on Earth, but the boy was too young to rule a civilization as vast and as complex as Solaris in times of war. Yet despite the implications his death would inflict, Akatarr still announced,

“Focus our defence around the core of the ship!! Solarans, those of you who can fight!! With me!”

Thus, Akatarr himself gathered what remaining legionnaires and marines he could find and they used the ship’s monorails to travel as quickly as possible to plug in the breach that the Drakkar had made in the Tiberius.

***

Meanwhile down in a corridor leading towards the core of the ship, a troop of Solaran soldiers, dressed in their silvery armoured space suits, clasped their plasma rifles in their gauntleted hands as they anxiously waited in the increasingly dark corridors where the flickering lights flashed blood red. Their suits and weapons had spotlights to help illuminate the vast corridor which was becoming pitch black. A tense silence caused the men to shiver with dread but despite every instinct telling them to just run, the soldiers just stood their ground, positioning themselves behind a makeshift barricade. Then the moment finally came, the rumbling, the snarling and finally the loud brutish shout. “Bhoolakar!!!”

A horde of towering crocodilian shaped reptiles poured into the corridors, their amber eyes glowing with the glee of a confidence built up by many victories, not just against Solaris but against many races before them. The bulk of them charged at the Solaran barricade, bearing thorny jagged blades and spears while some of them took cover, positioning themselves to fire plasma guns at the Solarans. Despite the ferocity and cruel snarls of the Drakkar, the Solarans didn’t take a step back and just fired plasma rifles at the Drakkar. They lit up the room with the countless rounds of plasma which sliced through many of the advancing Drakkar, slaying them. One of the Legionnaires, Creon, who was little more than a Solaran boot on the ground, just gripped his plasma rifle and fired it for as long as he could while two of his comrades manned a tripod plasma gun that was beginning to pin the Drakkar down. As Creon fought on, he could hear his squad leader asking through radio,

“Sire! The Drakkar are overrunning our position!! What are your orders??”

“Hold your ground, sons of Solaris!! We are on our way to relieve you!! By Helios, ensure that they don’t reach the Core of the ship!”

Creon, hearing this, was not relieved at all, for he wanted to escape this nightmare. But he knew he had his orders so he slew another Drakkar. Just as his comrade next to him got a burst of plasma in the chest which slammed him back across the corridor, another soldier flung a grenade from where that plasma came from. Although Creon could see the explosion, he couldn’t see the result as he had to dodge a spear which was flung at him by a charging warrior. Positioning himself at the barricade, Creon continued to fire back at the Drakkar till his gun was drained of energy ran. Before he could recharge it, a Drakkar warrior charged at him, his attempts at blocking the creature’s blade resulted in his gun being chopped in two. The Drakkar then knocked Creon to the ground. But Creon was able to roll out of the way as the Drakkar swung his blade, getting it stuck in the floor.

Taking advantage of this, Creon restabilized his balance, and activated the glowing energy blades that were attached to his suit’s gauntlets and thus was able to say the Drakkar warrior with a blow to the beast’s stomach. His boggy green eyes readjusted themselves as Creon sought to reorientate himself, only to be bumped into by another Drakkar, knocking Creon to the ground. As Creon looked up, the Drakkar snarled with a toothy grin as he plunged his spear into his hip, trapping Creon to the floor. Creon tried to swing his energy blade at the Drakkar but the Drakkar was out of reach, while his comrades fought back desperately and most of them by now were using their energy blades to chop up the advancing Drakkar. One by one, they started to be killed off and dismembered. But then, in this chaotic darkness, more blasts of plasma suddenly came shooting from the Solaran side, forcing the Drakkar into a bitter retreat and lighting up the darkened room. Creon looked up to see that the Drakkar who was spearing him, suddenly got a glowing energy blade piercing his chest, killing the monster in the process.

Surprised as the body of the Drakkar fell upon him, Creon struggled for breath as he looked up to see none other than King Akatarr standing before him, his silvery suit now spattered with blood as he heaved the Drakkar corpse off Creon. He then knelt down and reached out his gauntleted hand asking Creon. “Can you stand, soldier?”

Nervous, Creon grasped onto his sovereign’s gauntleted hand, feeling a sense of pure pain as he stood up. Much to his surprise, the spear had not pierced his flesh as he yanked it out, it gotten stuck in the layers of armour that covered his body. As he stabilized himself, Akatarr asked sternly, “Can you still fight, soldier?”

“Eh…I think I can, sire…”

Giving Creon a plasma rifle, Akatarr announced,

“Then onwards, soldier, with your brothers, you shall make Helios smile! For at long last, a victory is in our hands!!”

Then Akatarr turned to the men behind him and ordered,

“Sons of Solaris!! The very existence of our race is at stake, fight on, for Gaia, for Helios, for Solaris!!”

At these words, the Solaran soldiers let out a cheer as they reorganized into a layered firing line, supported by another row of men that reinforced the makeshift barricades. Giving the refreshed Solaran line more firepower were heavy weapons crewmen who manned both tripod plasma guns and handheld torpedo launchers. Certainly, having these reinforcements boosted the confidence of the exhausted men like Creon, even as they heard the rumbling once more of the Drakkar.

The Drakkar roared out again, shouting, “Bhoolakar!!!”

To which the Solaran men shouted back in a cheer,

“Helios!!”

Soon, the Drakkar found themselves being slaughtered like sheep by the reorganized Solaran lines who peppered them with a hail of plasma and torpedoes. Panicked and terrified at seeing their kin been slaughtered, the Drakkar panicked and rushed back to their ship, trying to fire back at the determined Solarans who just kept firing their plasma rifles, rail guns and torpedo launchers till the Drakkar had slunk back into their ship.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. heloisa prieto

    Great piece!

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