"Sergeant Tark, Squad 7, responding! Where are you, Burneki?" Jazz said.
"Oh thank god," the voice over the radio said in exasperated relief. "Sending coordinates. We've lost one man already, and I don't think we'll get out of this without help."
"The Lord provides, Sergeant," Paul said, open comms. "We won't let you go to Hell with these demons if we can help it."
"Doing my job again, Crusader."
"Apologies, Sergeant. Won't happen again."
"Anyway, coordinates locked in, Burneki. You're not too far from us. Initiating rescue."
"Please hurry! They're closing in again! Dammit!" In a burst of static the radio went dead.
Cataclysm was back on his feet, and together they rushed off in the direction of the distress call. Wight sped out in front of the group and was the first on the scene. It didn't look good from where he sat.
"Boss! I see 'em! They're pinned down in a box canyon, and the enemy's closing in fast!"
"You know how I tell you to never rush in, Wight?" Mojo asked.
"Of course, boss, you chewed me out enough..."
"Rush in. You're the fastest. Go help. We're right behind you."
Wight didn't take the time to question his commanding officer. New he might be, but he knew better than to disregard a direct order. He flared his jets and took off, jumping the top of the canyon to land in front of the confused defenders.
Squad 4 was in a bad way. There were only four of them, and two of them sported obvious damage. Wight turned his laser on the onrushing enemy and let fly, screaming into open comms, "The cavalry's here!"
This rallied the remaining Squad 4 members, and they took up the fight alongside him with their small arms. The enemy was momentarily taken aback, but that didn't last for long. With renewed fervor they rushed into the box canyon as the rest of Squad 7 appeared on the ridge. Jazz took in the situation at a glance.
"We need to save Cataclysm as long as we can. Crusader, Zerstörer, this one's on us. Let's go. Cataclysm, you stay here as backup. If we get into trouble, unleash hell."
"Will do, Mojo," Patton said grimly, setting his targeting computer to the opening of the canyon as his squad mates followed Wight off the cliff.
The three landed in a cloud of dust and scattering rocks, and the enemy stopped as they appeared. Blades flashed, Gauss rifles zapped, and laser cannons belched phosphorescent death as they waded into the crowd of monsters. These were mostly Goblin-Class, and stood no chance. But a few Bugbear-Class monsters did give them momentary pause. As they laid into the enemy, the remaining members of Squad 4 rallied around Wight and began harrying the creatures with their laser rifles.
Together they fought their way to the canyon entrance, taking only minimal damage as they went. One of the damaged Squad 4 Raiju went down, but they couldn't spare the time to help him. They sent word to Command to deploy a recovery team, but as they crested the hill they saw that would be no use.
There were millions of them.
Jazz hit the radio and shouted, "Cataclysm! You're up! Make these bastards regret this!"
"Your wish is my command, Mojo," Patton's grizzled voice responded, and a deafening explosion went off from the top of the canyon wall.
Within seconds the valley before them was engulfed in flame. The creatures in the center of the blast were vaporized instantly, but the rest screamed and cried as they burned to death under the onslaught. Squad 7 had seen this numerous times, but the remaining members of Squad 4 marveled at the destructive power of a Burroughs-Class Raiju unleashed.
"Dear god..." Sergeant Burneki breathed. His words were caught by his microphone and relayed to all in the vicinity.
"He delivers blessings unto the faithful and wrath unto the sinners," Paul said. Turning Crusader to take in the remaining Squad 4 members, he continued. "Pray you do not find yourself among their number one day."
"Get down here, Cataclysm. We're gonna need you again before the day's out," Jazz said.
"On my way," Patton responded, and Cataclysm stomped off around the top of the canyon toward entrance.
Mojo turned to the Raiju Burneki was piloting and straightened to its full height. "Gimme a sitrep, Sargeant," Jazz commanded.
Burneki, sounding relieved to give command over to the man with the big guns on his side, said, "We were ambushed while scouting out the enemy line. They were too fast, and we lost Reynolds. Looks like now we lost Burns, too, damn it." The voice sounded choked for a moment, but he recovered. "We were trying to clear a path through these Goblin-Class creatures so Squad 6 could come in behind us for a direct attack on the Lucifer. I don't know where they are now, so that plan looks to have fallen through."
"You're with us, now," Jazz said. "You help us get in range of that Lucifer, and Cataclysm can take it down. We just need a good cordon to get him there. Can you do it?"
Burneki thought for a moment, at last saying, "All right, we're with you. Put us where you need us. Squad!" He turned to the remaining members of his team. "We're under Squad 7's command now. You're to follow orders from Mojo. Keep it tight. We need to take out the big one."
The other two agreed, and everyone looked to Mojo for direction. He commanded them to take forward positions and keep weapons hot. Jazz tilted Mojo up, saw that the great beast was very close now.
As he watched, it unleashed another energy blast on Hell's Mouth. The shields failed, for the briefest of seconds, but it was enough to wreak untold destruction on the city inside. Entire buildings were evaporated before the shields kicked back in, and he knew that they had to act before that thing could get another of those blasts off. He raised Mojo's right arm and pointed it towards the beast.
"Move out, everyone. Looks like we're the city's last hope. Keep those monsters off Cataclysm. We're going to need him again before the day's out."
The Raiju took off into the eternal night, dodging rocks and obsidian, skating over glass lakes, wading into the seemingly endless waves of the enemy. On and on the creatures came, and again and again they put them down. The Goblin-Class monsters were easily dispatched by Wight and his new pseudo-squad. They had great sport dropping monster after monster. For the larger ones, the Vance-Class Raiju had to engage.
Mojo and Crusader worked together like two musicians crafting a song. Their movements flowed in and out of one another as they unleashed their Gauss cannons into the oncoming beasts. Ogre-Class monsters reared up and were struck down by their blades.
One monster, larger than any they'd encountered beforehand, appeared over the enemy lines. This looked to be a Dragon-Class abomination, and Cataclysm readied his weapons to take the thing down. He was stopped by Zerstörer, as the smaller heavy Raiju ran at the thing, blowing past its squad mates with a speed they hadn't suspected it possessed.
Hydraulics whined, machinery strained, and the heavy Raiju leaped into the air, cocking back a grappler claw for a devastating punch. It hit the beast in the chin, sending its head flying back as Zerstörer landed on its belly. The thing's claws flashed up and grabbed the Raiju, piercing its cockpit.
Burkhard coughed, and saw blood spatter the console before him.
"Zerstörer!" Jazz screamed, watching one of his best soldiers die in front of him.
The warm, friendly voice, heavily accented, cut across open comms. "Don't worry, Mojo. I've got this bastard. You boys go. Stop that demon mountain. I'll make a hole for you."
The rest of the squad watched as Zerstörer engaged its heavy cannons and unloaded into the stomach of the abomination. Explosions rippled across the battlefield, and the creature screamed as its insides were blown apart. It collapsed, but Zerstörer didn't stop firing.
Jazz figured that the first blast had knocked Burkhard out, or killed him, and his finger was locked around the trigger. In any event, the firing didn't stop until the creature and a sizable portion of the battlefield around it was dead. The twisted remnants of Zerstörer lay in the thing's putrid guts. But Burkhard had done his duty, and opened the way for them.
If you enjoyed this story, you can find many more like it here on my Steemit, or in the anthology Darkest of Dreams from DimensionBucket Media on Amazon. You can also find more of my work at my website, jimfear138.blogspot.com, including my weekly podcast and audiobooks I've produced. You can also throw me a tip if you like at Ko-fi.