Hycane Invaded

Lightning flashed over James Reilly’s head as he harvested this seasons grain in his specialised Harvest-‘bot. Finding it odd that a storm had set in so quickly, Reilly only set his shoulders grimly; he knew he would be losing some of his valuable harvest today. A former engineer with the Hycane Defense Force, Reilly controlled his Harvest-‘bot like it was nothing more than an extension of his own body. Sharp blades scythed through grain cleanly, other extensions packing the grain into bales. His thoughts wondered home, where he knew his family would be preparing for dinner now, their existence dependent on him working in these fields. His thoughts of what awaited him at home were interrupted as a fiery, rock-like object crashed to the earth in front of him, scattering dirt and debris everywhere.

 
An object quite unlike anything he had ever seen before lay before Reilly. Suddenly, it cracked violently, cracks spreading across its surface. An insectoid like creature clambered out, clicking and growling as it did so. Almost instinctively, Reilly quickly swung his harvest blades, the sharpened edge decapitating the creature with one fell stroke. He looked up to see similar fiery orbs descending from the heavens, seemingly from nowhere. Then the darkened clouds parted, revealing the horrifying, instantly recognisable silhouette invasion craft of the Rak, specially designed for this very situation. Reilly felt his stomach drop, his heart quickly picking up speed. He turned his bot and hit an blistering sprint towards his home; towards his family.

 
As he ran, Reilly found the ground pockmarked with similar asteroid like objects, cracked open and embedded in the ground. Reilly reached his home and roared. His home was ablaze. He heard a noise and saw a hovering prison craft in the distance. Presumably his wife and son would be on there, on their way to the Rak’s horrific labour camps. Reilly set his jaw, determined to do all he could to save his family. None had ever escaped the infamous camps. Until now.
Reilly piloted his ‘bot towards his towards the barn, oddly untouched by the invaders. He opened the large steel doors, revealing a seemingly endless array weapons, bombs and other device. After a highly successful decade in the Defense Force, Reilly was hailed as a genius, able to things with materials that few others could. However, Reilly quickly became disillusioned with the idea that his creations were taking lives on a daily basis. Unable to live with this reality, Reilly resigned, many of his phenomenal inventions mysteriously disappearing with him.

 
A calm, collected man, Reilly knew he would be unable to break into the nigh impenetrable fortress-camp with his simple Harvest-‘boot. Equipped with his marvelous weaponry though, might tell a different tale of wrath and revenge.

 
Lily Reilly sat terrified in a chair so cold it almost began to hurt. But she kept a straight face, not wanting to show either pain or fear to this psychotic maniac, known as Ra. She knew he would garner pleasure, fulfillment from her fear, and this only hardened her resolve. All who had proceeded her had left Ra’s grasp different people, broken by the master of mental torture. Lily was determined for this not to be the case.

 
Ra prowled around this young woman, predatory instincts barely suppressed. He, deep down, wanted blood to spill more then anything, to hear the screams as he tore the person apart with his claws. But he knew that would bring nowhere near the satisfaction, the pleasure, which he would otherwise gain from breaking this woman’s mind and soul. So he controlled himself, pushing the desire to kill deep down inside him.

 

The metal doors of the barn hit the ground with a loud clang. Much larger robot then what had entered stepped out, every inch of it bristling with weaponry and reinforced armour plates, able to deflect everything from Rak claws to bullets and smaller caliber shells. The reborn Harvester broke into a sprint towards the camp.
Reilly reached the walls of the camp, with no effort to conceal his arrival. A missile flew from his shoulder, embedding itself in the gate. Reilly silently counted down in his head. Three. Two. One. The embedded detonated, with a tremendous boom, shrapnel flying in all directions. Reilly couldn’t help but grin. Now the Rak would the feel full wrath of James Reilly.

 

Lily screamed in terror as she felt the alien’s mind brush up against her own. There was something inexplicably horrifying about it, feeling another’s mind touching your own, knowing that all they wish to do is cause pain and suffering. Usually ones own sacred sanctuary; Lily steeled herself, preparing to defend her memories, her mind, and her life. She thought of her family, knowing that James would be on his way, knowing that nothing would be able to stand in his way. Hope filled her heart. She would fend off this alien.

 

Ra struggled to comprehend the situation. Every time he charged forwards to break into this seemingly frail and weak human’s mind, he was turned back harshly and painfully. There was seemingly no way penetrate these foreboding defences, no cracks or blemishes which he could exploit and worm his way in to. Whatever this person was thinking, whatever was keeping him out, was possibly stronger then his greatest weapon: fear. Yet Ra was the best. He would not give up.

 

Reilly was met by a contingent of Rak, all ready to fire upon him. Unperturbed, he unsheathed his harvesters, now crackling with lightning like energy. The Rak opened fire upon Reilly, their bullets ricocheting off his newly armoured harvester-‘bot, leaving Reilly unharmed. The Rak screamed as Reilly descended into their midst, dealing death with ruthless efficiency. He was a man possessed by the conflict, changed by it. The calm demeanour was quickly replaced with a brutal berserker. He was fighting for something dear to him, allowing him to fight fiercer, with purpose. His thoughts flitted back to his family as he dispatched of this first contingent ruthlessly and without mercy. A scream rang out across the otherwise dead silent camp. Reilly knew straight away who it was, and with a primal roar, charged towards its source.

 

It was almost too much for Lily to bear. The constant torment was threatening to break through her, up to now, unsullied defences. Every time she thought it was close to finishing, that she was going to be finally left alone, the torment continued as if nothing had occurred, renewed and with a greater sense of purpose. Just as she was about to collapse from exhaustion, unable to fend of the attacks any longer, a loud explosion echoed through out the small room. Finally, the aliens mind lost contact with hers, the first true reprieve. It was bliss; as if a great weight had been lifted of her throat.

 

Ra opened his eyes, his concentration shattered by the explosion. He turned slowly, angered by the unexpected interruption. A whirring noise filled his ears, the sound of machinery at work. Suddenly, the infamous torturer’s head fell to the ground sizzling, energy lancing across its surface. Help had, finally, arrived.
Reilly stepped out of his craft and went to embrace his wife. However, she ran past him and into the room opposite, where his son sat, head in hands, traumatised. Things could never the same; Reilly knew that his family had been forever change by the conflict. He knew that there was still plenty of work to be done to cleanse his home of the filthy Rak. But he couldn’t help but be happy, his family safe, at least for now.

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Part Two

Tael’s legs pumped underneath him as he ran towards his burning home. Two black shapes galloped down the road, traveling at an unearthly speed. By the time Tael reached his home, the two mysterious riders were already out of sight.

Tears began to fill Tael’s eyes. First he didn’t have any idea where his father went, and now his home was gone. Tael looked at the flames in hatred, wishing they were gone. He let the hatred flow through him, every fiber of his body willing those flames away. The sky went dark, rain clouds quickly gathering above the isolated farm. Rain fell, the burning husk of the farm sizzling as the rain fell harder, dousing the flames.

He felt a sudden wave of hopelessness overwhelm him. No home. No father. No family. He decided to go to the nearest town and find out where his father had gone too. Then he would find what or who had destroyed his home. Tael stated walking down the road out of the farm, the same road that the dark riders had gone down, their footprints washed away in the torrential storm, completely unaware of the power that lay within him.

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Part One

Tael looked up in disgust as he saw how much more of the field he would have to harvest before dinner. Muttering under his breath as he walked, Tael called Bela, the family’s draught horse, along and continued working. The peaceful creature lifted his hooves, dragging the heavy cart behind her, Tael throwing the crop on after he cut it down. Locked in on either side by towering mountain ranges, Tael and his father, Torsen, lived on their humble farm, unknowing of much of the world around them. However, this was soon about to change dramatically.

 

Tael opened the door wearily, only to glad to see the glow of the hot fire. He sat down, legs barely holding him up for any longer. Winter was on its way, and they only had a couple more days to collect the crop before it was too late. Torsen walked in, just as weary, and sat down next to Tael. They both ate in silence, completely exhausted from the day of work and quickly went to bed.

 

Light peeped through Tael’s window, revealing a crisp white landscape covered in snow. ‘Thank God we got it all in yesterday’ Tael sluggishly thought to himself. He crawled out of bed and walked into the main room, not a sign of anybody or anything. Slightly disturbed, Tael sat down and ate his breakfast.

 

Tael went about his usual chores, checking on the livestock and feeding them, caught by surprise when he didn’t see his father’s horse in the stable. Tael left the stable scratching his head unsure of where his father’s horse had gone, only to see his home burst into flames.

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Retribution-Andrew Bartlett

Major James Reilly leaped off his dying horse, the noble beast brought down by a volley of black arrows. A veteran of many wars, Reilly was known by many as a ruthless, heartless killer. His hatred of orcs was legendary. Fueled by the murder of his family at the hands of the brutes, Reilly had joined the Royal Army, eager to get his vengeance. Many towns had fallen to the ravenous hordes. One such town was Reilly’s latest assignment. He had come to cleanse the town.
Landing lightly, Reilly quickly unsheathed his sword. With a roar, he charged down the cobblestone street towards his assailants, a group of some ten orcs. Arrows bounced off his blessed breastplate as fire flew from his fingertips, ancient magick engulfing the orcs. Reilly readied his sword, the weapon as eager as Reilly, and went slaughtering the monsters with merciless efficiency. It wasn’t long before Reilly stood alone, dripping with sweat as he stepped over the immobile bodies as he moved on to the next part of the town.

Major James Reilly leaped off his dying horse, the once noble beast brought down by a volley of black arrows. A veteran of many wars, Reilly was known by many as a ruthless, heartless killer. His hatred of orcs was legendary. Fuelled by the murder of his family at the hands of the brutes, Reilly had joined the Royal Army, eager to get his vengeance. Many towns had fallen to the ravenous hordes. One such town was Reilly’s latest assignment. He had come to cleanse the town.

Landing lightly, Reilly quickly unsheathed his sword. With a roar, he charged down the cobblestone street towards his assailants, a group of some ten orcs. Arrows bounced off his blessed breastplate as fire flew from his fingertips, ancient magick engulfing the orcs. Reilly readied his sword, the weapon as eager as Reilly, and went slaughtering the monsters with merciless efficiency. It wasn’t long before Reilly stood alone, dripping with sweat as he stepped over the immobile bodies as he moved on to the next part of the town.

However, something Reilly chose to ignore was that those “monsters” had families as well. While different in many ways to Reilly’s concept of a family, it still existed. And while Reilly liked to believe that he was a hero, he knew that in reality he was stealing somebody’s father. It terrified him to think so, but he had come become desperate to avenge his long lost family and wife. While he claimed he fought with the power of The Nine, he knew that his real motivation was much darker-revenge.

Continuing on with blind fury, Reilly killed every orc that stood in his way. He chased, hacked and went to the next one. He was unforgiving and left none alive. Any who surrendered would not be met with an open hand, but the sharpened blade of his sword. More than twenty years had passed since his family’s demise, and yet still the wounds lay open.

It didn’t take long for Reilly to cleanse the village, but the once picturesque landscape was barely recognisable. Buildings were burnt down, roads cracked. But Reilly knew that the families of these orcs would be nearby. With the blood still on his sword, Reilly followed the trampled trail towards the orc camp. Darkness fell over the land.

Reilly dispatched with the sentries before they even knew of his existence, an arrow through each of their throats. Akin to a blood thirsty demon of old, a battered and blood stained Reilly trundled into the camp. He went about his business with practiced efficiency. Summoning the power that lay within him, Reilly extended his arm and, as he pointed to each of them, set the tents ablaze. Screams of pain and horror echoed throughout the night, as bright as the flames themselves. Reilly watched as his hated enemies burnt in their homes, all of whom felt his wrath.

As day broke, Reilly once again stood alone amongst the charred bodies. He fell to his knees, weeping for the man, the good man, he once was, and his family. Worst of all he knew that the killing had done nothing to ease his pain.

(The Nine are the gods)

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The Crusade-Andrew Bartlett

The boom of an artillery shell echoed through the trench as the bombardment from the faceless enemy continued. They had been holed up in this position for well over a week now, trying to survive on barely sufficient rations of food and water. Sergeant James Reilly thought back to how he had even gotten involved in this goddamn hell hole. Told by his uppers that this was the next ‘Great Crusade’ to rid the world of terrorism, Reilly was still curious as to how it was worth leaving his home and family to come fight another man’s war.

This ‘Great Crusade’ was the second to sweep through the Middle East and was destined to be worse than the first. Fear and power do not mix well, and the United States of America had both. More horrific terrorist acts had taken place; many iconic buildings of the US had been brought to the ground, the Empire State Building the latest to go. Before long a new war was declared and the American people, dying for an opportunity for revenge, threw their support behind this newly declared Crusade. Men streamed into recruitment offices, eager to protect and serve their now ravaged actions. The cloak and dagger type attacks on the Al Qaeda were over. This was an old type of war reborn-war built of revenge, called without thought and would have unprecedented support from its people. America wanted blood.

 

At first, Reilly believed in the whole retribution mantra. He wanted to make them pay for his countries suffering and embarrassment. He was quite the patriot. But now, after more than a year away from his family, he was beginning to question the intelligence of his decision. Reilly had seen things, horrific terrible things that he had hoped that he would never have to see. It was not only the deaths of friends and fellow men that haunted him, but the terrifying circumstances under which they happened. Men dying slowly from irreversible wounds, some of them reduced to a bloody pulp within seconds of engaging with the enemy. One time such thoughts would have drained him, leaving him as nothing more than a shell, but this war had hardened him, made him a different man. What would have once brought tears to his eyes, barely even interrupted his chain of thought. He wasn’t fighting for America anymore; he was fighting for his mates that had died and his family.
However, Reilly knew that to voice such thoughts would result at nothing more than certain death. Not only would he die, but the blood thirsty warhounds he called ‘sir’ would track down his family and no doubt finish them as well. This, more than anything, kept Reilly facing in the right direction.

 

The explosion of another shell interrupted Reilly’s thoughts as the constant state of war continued around him. He heard the call echo down the line. Time to go over. He took a deep breath as he prepared to meet his fate. Reilly checked his gun, making sure everything was clean and ready for action. Huge helicopters flew overhead as the army was preparing for a make or break charge. The next few hours could change the fate of the war. The terrorist stronghold of Datta Khel was no more than two kilometres away, the centre of terrorist operations in the Middle East. But, as a primitive roar filled his ears, it wasn’t revenge that made Reilly throw himself over the top of the trench, but fear of what would happen if he didn’t.

 

Reilly’s legs pumped underneath him as he dashed across no man’s land, eyes fixated on the enemy’s ramshackle barricade as machine gun and rifle fire screamed through the air next to his hears. He shot the low wall down with a blast from his grenade launcher and with a primeval roar, unsheathed his broadsword and leaped into the maelstrom.
Reilly growled as a bullet nicked his shoulder, going through both muscle and bone as he whipped around, decapitating his unfortunate assailant. He hacked indiscriminately, fighting like an enraged bear with little care for bodily harm. Before too long, Reilly cleared the area of enemies, this part of the trench cleared of terrorists. Reilly ran down the ramp and, with an intake of breath, surveyed the vast array of tunnels that lay before him.

 

Reilly entered the catacombs as a bone shattering thud crashed down behind him. A psychotic voice slithered through the now dark space-“You thought that was hell, wait to you get a taste of this”, the madman cackled. Sergeant James Reilly steeled himself as he stepped into the suffocating gloom, prepared for the fight of his life.

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America-Andrew Bartlett

James Reilly lay in the undergrowth, musket in hand. His men were on either side of the valley, the valley which he had chosen to station his men at for an ambush, an ambush that could change the face of America. 2000 British redcoats were marching on Boston, heart of the revolution, and Reilly had 1000 loyal American patriots and the element of surprise to stop them in their tracks.

Boulders were prepared to roll down the hills when the signal was given. They would crash through tree and undergrowth until they reached men, hopefully inflicting grievous casualties on the pompous British. Red came into view, as Reilly hid, waiting for the exact moment when the British wouldn’t be able to escape.

The sound of boulders crashed through the forest. A roar was heard over the thundering rubble, as Reilly and his men charged towards their hated foe

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Revolution-Andrew Bartlett

Civil war racked the lands of Kazaldor. Kings men were fighting against the peasants of the land, in what would appear to be a simple, one sided war. However, the despotic king had more than one set of enemies, and soon even the land began to revolt against its tyrannical ruler. Legends had reawakened. Legends were being forged.

Former General of the Kings Army, James Reilly led a different kind of regiment to what he was used to. A major fight with his fellow generals had resulted in him having his rank ripped from him and being ejected from the Guard, his name now worth less than mud, his family’s reputation in tatters. Given the choice between death and dishonour, Reilly chose the latter. He couldn’t change anything if he was dead. Compared to the glittering armour and fluttering banners of the Kings Royal Mounted Guard, his men looked like nothing more than a ramshackle array of peasants and vagrants. Which they were. But Reilly knew more than anyone that these men would continue to fight until their last breath and would give up their lives for their friends and family. To Reilly, this was more important than any measure of skill or ability.

Reilly wheeled on his horse, turning to address his men. “Today, we fight for all that is right. Today, we fight for those who sit at home, awaiting your return. Let us make sure that they don’t wait any longer!” Reilly roared, knowing that his men, those who had followed him across this land, defeating foes that many believed invincible, would be right behind him. Suddenly, a bestial scream unheard for many a generation echoed across the battlefield. Reilly, eyes fixated on the approaching enemy infantry, saw a gigantic winged shadow fall over the battlefield ‘Dragons’ Reilly thought.

The column of cavalry pulled up, halting their charge before they could reach the foe, many horses and men deserting, as they saw the legend reborn swoop upon the Kings men. A searing blast of fire engulfed the enemy as screams of pain filled Reilly’s ears. Reilly watched on as the once thought to be extinct dragon reaped a bloody toll, leaving little more than rags and bloodied fragments of armour in its wake. The beast’s wings unfolded, pumping hard as the dragon lifted itself of the ground then, with a primeval bellow, flew towards Caldor, the main city of Kazaldor and the seat of the king. Reilly smiled and kicked his horse into action, following the winged monster on its charge to the throne.

The smell of blood filled Ragnarok’s nostrils as the dragon flew towards the city, knowing that the rebel followed him. Too long had he lain in rest, watching his lands slowly fall under the cruel rule of this arrogant king. Ragnarok felt the wind under his wings as he swooped towards the capital’s gates, pulverizing the ancient wooden door as he slammed through them. He roared as he charged forward, knocking men over and cleaving his way through the city as he ran towards the palace, intent on finishing this dispute in the one way he knew how-claw and fire.

Reilly reached the city gates, the once sturdy doors little more then kindle as his warhorse walked through the gate. The dragon’s path was evident, as bodies and ruined buildings littered the path towards the palace. Reilly galloped forward, only as a thud rocked the earth. Reilly watched as a red dragon emerged from behind the palace, and with a beat of its wings, stormed towards him. Reilly steadied himself, prepared to meet his fate.

Ragnarok saw the traitor fly out from behind the palace, realising it was about to reach the man. Ragnarok dived, and with a monstrous thud, collided with the oath-breaker. With a terrifying scream, Ragnarok snapped his jaws on the red dragon’s neck, going for the killing blow. However, the blood traitor squirmed out of his death grip, and wheeled around in mid air engulfing Ragnarok in flame. Pain engulfed Ragnarok’s body as his scales absorbed the worst of the flames. With a growl, Ragnarok swung his claw, connecting with the defector’s face.

Reilly galloped forward, grateful for the dragon’s help, eager to finish this once and for all. He reached the open palace doors and dismounted, unsheathing his sword. Reilly cautiously prowled into the building, sword at the ready, prepared to take back his land. Suddenly the very earth beneath his feet shook violently, nearly knocking Reilly off his feet.

Ragnarok grappled with the traitor as they both slammed into the ground, their weight cracking the earth. He stumbled to his feet, as the red dragon did the same. Ragnarok tensed his legs, leaping forwards throwing all his weight towards his foe. Ragnarok tore into his weakened foe, a bloodthirsty roar of triumph tearing through the city.

Reilly’s heard the roar of a dragon as he steeled himself, preparing for battle. Suddenly, he heard the scraping of a sword behind him. Reilly whipped around, barely managing to block the blow of the tyrannic king. Reilly quickly turned the king’s blade off his own, leaving him defenceless. With a flick of his sword, finally, Reilly had set the land, and its people, free.

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