Bloen [ Part VIII ]

Trickster Dragon

Parts: [I] [II] [III] [IV] [V] [VI] [VII] [VIII] [IX]

That foe had bested me. Or was it pride that bested me. Was it over confidence in my strategic prowess, or was it that I simply underestimated that vile beast. Even with the Chieftain’s many warnings, I have underestimated this trickster Dragon. But that was not the end.

I dried the streams of doubt coursing through my head and began to calm myself from that overwhelming rage as I landed east of the field. The ships hovered still over the flames that devoured the lands below, awaiting my commands. I took a moment to recollect my thoughts and figure out my next move, I was losing and I do not like to lose. Actually, I hate losing so much so that even the thought that I might lose a battle cripples me to the point where I become incapable of critical thinking. I become a blind raging bull, causing self-destruction more than anything else. I never lost because of my enemy’s power, only by my own devices.

As my psyche became more clear to myself, a certain inner struggle slowly started dissolving into molten will. Molten will that poured into a cast driven cold by the truth of reality — hardening — and strengthening my resolve.

I ordered the ships to deploy south of the field and await my instructions; I switched my attention to the heads’ up display on my helmet’s visor. When we had arrived to the planet some days before, we planted several spy satellites at different orbits. The data from these satellites relayed directly to our main system which all our helmets are connected to. Sifting through the data, something came to my attention. The images scanned by the x-ray-capable satellite showed a tunnel system beneath that field. It seemed my foe had installed traps and ambushes throughout those tunnels, running in foolishly would’ve spelled doom to my people. It seemed we had to retreat, for now.

I called in the retreat but asked the ships to go into stealth and remain hovering over that field. I ordered them to nuke anything that pulls its head out. I asked the remaining troops to retreat to our allies’ village leaving behind only a few surveillance drones to monitor the area and report any activity. Today was not a day for battle.

The Chieftain welcomed us back into his village where the other tribes had gathered as well. They had witnessed the battle in the sky and knew of our losses on the ground.

I retreated, along with the other Chieftains, to the central hut. Anix joined us shortly after. As soon as he walked in, he started talking.

“Admiral, my heart aches for the loss we just faced. But we must not retreat. This battle must continue.”

“Anix,” I answered “We lost enough for one day. I am not in the mood to discuss this further. Your men will stand down and await my command.”

“This is ridiculous!” Anix complained “I don’t know what this planet is doing to you, but you are not yourself Reyn. You made a bad call, deal with it. You are not the first nor the last commander to face such a crippling realization. The realization that you cannot ensure the safety of your men. This is cowa…”

“KNOW YOUR PLACE!” interrupting him, I shouted. “Do you think it was fear that drove me to call a retreat? Do you think it was self-pity? How dare you question me in such a moment! Call your men back away from that field, from that cave, and await my command. I do not want to hear another word regarding the matter.”

Admittedly, Anix’ words struck deep within me, firing up my insecurities. I had just lost a battle, and many warriors. My confidence in my leadership was shaken and Anix didn’t make things any easier. He had never doubted me before and it got the best of me. He turned around and left the hut. I excused myself, asking the Chieftains to join me in the morning for a strategy meeting to detail our next move against Bryxun and headed to my hut to try and get some sleep.

“ADMIRAL!!!”

I woke up to the sound of a soldier calling out for me, barely a couple of hours into my sleep. I could sense a shiver of urgency in his voice that filled up the corner of the village where my hut stood. I got up and stepped outside to see Stexyu — a captain in my fleet — running towards my abode. “What is it!? What happened?” I asked, as he got closer to me.

“Admiral! It’s Anix and his crows. They moved in on the enemy!” he stopped to take a breath. “Some other battalions followed them as well.”

I took a deep breath at this news of defiance. “God fucking damn-it Anix,” I thought.

“TO YOUR BATTLE STATIONS!!” I commanded the remaining troops. “Let’s go back our comrades, we take out the enemy tonight!”