• Published 2nd Mar 2013
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The Great War - RandomPerson

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Daybreak

Captain Vidar stepped out onto the deck of his ship, the wood creaking under his weight his crimson feathers ruffling in the cool morning breeze. It was still dark as night outside, but he knew the sun would be raised soon. It had taken the Gryphon navy two months to perfect their attack plan. Every ship had to leave port at a precise time, make sure they were traveling the correct routes to make it to the islands as fast as possible, and have enough soldiers to be able to overcome the Humans’ weaponry.

In the entire fleet there were three-hundred and sixty-six ships traveling towards the islands. Most carried ground troops, while others carried the diversion force that would be used to keep the Humans at bay long enough to allow the rest of the ships to land. Vidar smiled grimly. His ship, the Leviathan, had been chosen to lead the fleet on invasion day. It was a great honor, leading the first strike in this crusade for purification, surely one that would win him favor in this life and then next.

He walked to the edge of the ship. Leaning on the railing he took his spyglass from his belt and lifted it to his eye, peering through it at the first refinery island. The coast was illuminated by small lights of coastal guard post. They were nearing the island, it was time to put their plan into motion. They had been ordered to have only several lanterns alight, enough that each ship would not crash into the other, for the purpose of staying hidden amongst the dark waters.

Signal lights had been forbidden from use on this mission for the same reason. Each ship had a messenger that, upon the Captain’s order, would fly to a designated ship, alert its crew, and then move to the next one and repeat this task until the whole fleet was ready.

Vidar turned and cawed lowly, signalling the messenger to take flight. It spread its wings and took off, flying to the nearest ship and speaking with it’s captain before departing and repeating. Before long, the order had been given and that sound of wings flapping filled the air as nearly two-thousand Gryphonian soldiers took flight above the clouds and flew towards the island, taking their positions. Vidar grinned. This was the beginning of a great crusade.

~~~


Joseph sighed, leaning back against a sandbag wall. He slipped his rifle sling from his shoulder and leaned it against the sandbags as well. He hated the night shift. It was cold, foggy, and boring, the exact opposite of what he was expecting when he joined the military. The large 14-inch coastal artillery guns gleamed in the light cast from the floodlights overhead that illuminated the shore.

The low tone of the other men’s conversations buzzed in the air like insects, the only noise that night other than the waves hitting the shore. It was then that something caught Joseph’s eye.
“Hey...look out there!” He said in a loud whisper, trying to get the other’s attention. He pointed out towards the horizon, where there seemed to be hundreds of small lights dotting the water.
“What the hell is tha-” A loud collective screech above them cut him off, all their heads snapping up towards the sky. A swarm of what look like birds was racing towards them from the clouds; until they came into the light...then it became very clear.

“Gryphons!” Everyone frantically reached for their rifles, but the Gryphons were already upon them, hacking and slashing with their swords. The screams of Humans up and down the shore rang out before rifle shots began to drown them out. Some men had been able to grab their rifles fast enough and begin to pick targets, dropping the invaders like flies. Another swarm of Gryphons descended upon them, taking them by surprise, turning it into a bloody hand-to-claw fight.





Joseph slammed the butt of his rifle into a Gryphon’s head, denting the copper helmet it wore and knocking it to the ground. He was suddenly grabbed by the collar of his uniform. He whirled around, ready to bash in the head of whoever was grabbing him. His rifle was blocked by another as he was met with the face of his commanding officer, Captain Pitfield.

“Lower your weapon, Private!” He pressed back with his rifle.

Joseph realized who it was and took the pressure off his gun, allowing the Captain to speak.

“We need to sound the alarm! Bird brains have it locked down last I saw it. If we don’t the whole island will be caught off guard!” Joseph nodded and followed Pitfield.

They ran across the sand, trying to stay in the shadows so they would not be spotted by the Gryphons. The pained cries of the soldiers from both factions tore through the sounds of a raging battle, it was apparent by the sounds of the voices that one faction was slowly gaining the upper hand.

As Joseph sprinted after Pitfield, he was suddenly brought down hard by a heavy weight. The Gryphon that had jumped him squawked as it raised it’s spear. Aiming for his throat he thrust the spear downwards. Joseph jerked his head to the side quickly, the spearhead grazing the side of his helmet and sending sparks onto the ground.

He swung his fist at the attacker, punching the Gryphon in the throat. He hunted for the bayonet strapped to his leg, frantically trying to arm himself. He finally gripped the handle of the bayonet, drawing it quickly out of it’s sheath. As he went for the kill, his arm was pinned down, causing him to release his grip on the blade and groan in pain.
The Gryphon was staring deathly at him as it raised its own blade, a ceremonial war dagger. It plunged the blade downward at Joseph’s chest, only to be caught by his free hand barely an inch from piercing his body. Joseph struggled, trying to hold back the blade, but the Gryphon’s strength outmatched his and the blade continued downward at a painfully slow pace, it drew closer to his heart with each passing moment.

The corners of the Gryphon’s beak turned up into a sickly grin as he pressed the blade downward, his victory imminent. Joseph thought it was over, that he would die a slow and painful death. Suddenly, the Gryphon’s head snapped back violently, a rifle shot ringing out behind him. As the dead creature slumped backwards, he was unceremoniously hauled back onto his feet, the voice of Pitfield sounding through his deafened ears.

“Keep up, Private! I need you alive!” A rifle was shoved into Joseph’s arms and the Captain turned, resuming his sprint towards the alarm tower.

~~~

Ship after ship, hundreds of Gryphon troops were amassed on the decks of each vessel, all awaiting the order to charge. Vidar donned his helmet, the gold and crimson steel that adorned it gleaming in the light of dawn. The timing felt perfect to him. His ships drew closer to the Human shores, ready to unleash the wrath of the Gryphonian Empire on them in crushing force. This was no mere dawn, it was the beginning of a new age, an age of righting and perfection.

He drew his sword from it’s sheath, raising it towards the sky and giving a mighty screech, jumping off the deck and flying towards the shoreline. He was followed by a great swarm of Gryphon soldiers, all brandishing deadly weapons and fueled by Holy War.

~~~

Joseph fired another shot from his position behind a wall of sandbags. It had taken them ten minutes to get to the alarm, gaining a few soldiers along the way to assist them. Their path had been cut off, however, by a large group of Gryphons that had rushed them, taking their attention away from the alarm. All around him it was chaos. Some men were fleeing the overwhelming numbers, while others stood their ground, most fighting back to back as they had been encircled.

Pitfield was leaned against the sandbags beside him, nursing an injured hand. He had lost four of his fingers when a Gryphon had sprung out from behind a concrete wall, catching him off guard and giving him the crippling wound. It had swung at him with an axe, going for his head when he raised his rifle to block the swing, consequently getting his fingers cut off instead.

The Humans’ numbers were dwindling fast. What had been almost fifteen-hundred men along the shoreline had been reduced to only two-hundred. It was now apparent they were losing the shore, and losing it fast. It was then that one of the men among them spotted something in the sky.

“Holy shit! Look at that!” He pointed out to the others before frantically firing his rifle at the mass of reinforcements speeding towards the beachhead. Josephs eyes widened as spotted the swarm as well.

“Sir! We need to get out of here!” He shouted at the Captain.

“Negative! We have to get that alarm up!”

“We don’t have much time! Reinforcements are incoming, and there’s a shitload of them!”

"No, look!" The Captain shouted, pointing at the alarm tower, as well as the Gryphons blocking it.

“If I get some covering fire I can get through." He surveyed the group of enemies, the gears turning in his head.

"But, Sir! The Gryphons are advancing on us! By the time you get through there's gonna be too many to deal with!"

"Exactly! there's too many. If we don't get that alarm up the entire island is going to be overrun! Now I'm going to make a run for that tower, and as soon as that alarm goes off you all fallback and regroup. Understood, Private?!”

Joseph reluctantly nodded, knowing he had lost.

Pitfield peaked over the sandbags, waiting for the opportune moment to make a break for it. Every man reloaded their rifles, making sure they would have enough ammo to cover the Captain.

“Now!” Pitfield shouted, bounding over the sandbags and sprinting towards the tower.

“Covering fire!” All the men rose from their cover, taking quick aim and firing on the Gryphons blocking his path, careful not to hit him in the back.

Pitfield’s legs burned as he ran for all he was worth, the rifle shots whizzing past him and impacting on the Gryphons ahead. He quickly drew his revolver, cocking the hammer back and firing, blasting the remaining Gryphon that stood in his way. He slammed against the door, frantically trying to open it. The door was locked, a protocol to ensure that the alarm could not be set off without reason.

“Fuck!” He slammed his shoulder against the door several times but to no avail, quickly firing into the door handle with his sidearm and blowing it off. The door was slammed against the wall as he burst inside, reaching for the large crank jutting from the wall. He grabbed it, turning it with all the strength he had.

~~~


A blaring siren pierced the sounds of combat, drawing the attention of a particular group of men.
“That’s us! Come on let’s go!” Joseph bounded over the sandbag wall, sprinting towards the treeline away from the beachhead. The others followed suit, retreating to the fallback position. Hundreds of Gryphons soared overhead, some dive-bombing the remaining men and cutting them to shreds.

Joseph sprinted through the brush and vegetation, leaves whipping across his face as adrenaline pumped through his veins. He had a long way to go to the refinery town.

~~~

Vidar pulled his sword from another Human soldier. This was the third he had slain. His troops were crushing the last of the Humans’ defenses, overwhelming them with brutal force. The remaining Humans were fleeing through the treeline, abandoning their posts.

Vidar smirked. The cowards will be met with a coward’s death. He spread his wings and gave chase to them, hundreds of soldiers following his lead over the trees. He saw the smoke from the oil refinery rising high above the trees and into the clouds.

Disgusting, he thought. Beating his wings faster, he sped towards the smoke, hoping to catch the fleeing Humans before they reached safety.

~~~

Joseph burst from the jungle, sprinting down a small slope towards the city centered around the refinery. Many more men followed after, some firing towards the sky where the Gryphons flew overhead. He sprinted across the road, trying to evade the panicking civilians that peppered the streets.The fleeing men merged with the civilians, losing sight of each other and moving in different directions among the crowd.

Joseph ran into an alleyway, near vomiting from his continuous running. He staggered, slumping against a wall and panting heavily, trying to get a full breath of air. Searching frantically through his ammo pouches, he removed his last full stripper clip, opened the bolt on his rifle and slid the five rounds into the magazine. After laying against the wall for a few minutes, he shakily stood, staying close to the wall as he walked back to the corner of the alleyway.

He was about to make a run for it when an ear splitting screech sounded from above him, catching him off guard. A Gryphon descended on him, grabbing him by the shoulders and slamming him into the opposite wall. Rolling to his right, he barely missed the downstroke of it’s axe, cutting his uniform sleeve.

Pushing himself away from his attacker, he managed to land a solid kick to the Gryphon’s face, stunning it temporarily. He scrambled away from it, reaching for his rifle that lay a few feet from them. A claw grasped the lip of his helmet, jerking his head upwards and choking him with the chin strap. He was flipped onto his back again, a scaly claw roughly grabbing him by the throat and pressing him into the ground.

He frantically grabbed for his utility knife, pulling the four inch blade from it’s small pouch and slamming it into the Gryphon’s jugular vein. The creature sputtered, coughing up blood as it dropped it’s axe and clenched it’s throat, trying to keep itself from bleeding out. Joseph pushed away from it, grabbing his rifle and turning, aiming for it’s head. He pulled the trigger, obliterating the Gryphon’s head into a mess of blood and bone.

He panted heavily, the rifle still shakily pointed at the now dead body, as if he expected it to rise and continue to fight. He stood again, checking himself for any severe wounds he might have sustained. When he saw that he was fine, he bent over, removing the small blade from what was left of the Gryphon’s neck.

“Heh, who’s still standing now you fucking anim—AACK!” Excruciating pain wracked his whole body as he looked down, a crimson-stained spearhead jutting from his chest. There was a low growling behind him before the spear was roughly yanked from his body, letting him fall to his knees. His vision became blurry as he felt a copious amount of blood pouring from the wound, staining his gray uniform. Falling over on his side, he panted heavily, feeling the life leaving him slowly. The last thing he heard was the dulled beating of wings as his vision darkened, coughing out his final breath before his body went limp.

~~~

Author's Note:

Sorry for the long wait, I hope this chapter is a proper apology :D

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