“What right does God have to deny us this power?” Dr. Michael Harrison declared to his audience, the entirety of America’s armed forces, deployed directly in front of him.They stood outfitted in full battle gear next to the new tanks, affectionately referred to as Hellraisers. Capable of transporting 300 soldiers each, the tanks shielded each man and woman’s mind from certain effects the journey would have on them. Without these battle platforms, every soldier’s mind would crack before the invasion could even begin.
Dr. Harrison turned to the giant metallic ring behind him and thrust his arms dramatically in the air. “Instead, mankind will handle this matter, and take what is rightfully ours!” He walked quickly to the panel beside the ring and stood next to his lab assistant.
“A little bit over-dramatic, Michael,” she whispered, shaking her head.
“We’re already running late, hit the damn switch before we miss our window,” Michael grumbled, still smiling and waving to his audience.
Her fingers flew over the keyboard attached to the panel and with a deep breath, she flipped the large red lever to her side. The entire platform began vibrating, and the Tesla coils attached to the sides of the large ring sparked to life. Four laser beams fired across the ring, forming a cross shape, stopping just short of touching each other. The machine began to make a crackling noise while shaking violently, as the lasers cut into something unseen. The process went on for almost ten minutes, increasing the tension in the air to unbearable levels. Finally, a force was unleashed, with a crack of thunder so powerful that even the massive Hellraisers rolled back a few inches.
A massive green and shimmering energy field appeared within the ring, forced into our world through the unnatural rift. Squad leaders began barking commands, and the soldiers steeled themselves for their upcoming journey into the mouth of hell itself.
Lucy was having a really bad day. It seemed like every demon in Hell had signed their name up for the Succession Debate. He placed his massive hands on his large hellstone desk and leaned heavily against it, sighing heavily. “As if it were somehow my fault the humans have found out about us,” he muttered to the empty room.
The forces of Hell had an army of course, a centuries-old tradition. At one point, there had been rebellions twice a year. Thankfully, that all changed, when a particularly intelligent and cowardly Baron of Hell rewrote the Law of Hell to simply make rebellion illegal. For the Baron of Hell’s word was more than just law, it was Truth. So began the tradition of spirited debate instead of simple assassination. The consequences of failing to win the debate were harsh, of course. No demon would look lightly on losing two entire pay grades. Such were the risks of defying the Baron of Hell.
Lucy glanced out the window at the enormous green rift in the middle of Main Street. Countless humans and war machines littered the once bustling streets of Hell, along with scores of demon corpses. Imps, Balrogs and Pit Lords were fleeing in every direction, dropping briefcases and newspapers along the way.
He could scarcely believe the brutality of the invaders. The rumors were true. The human race was hungry for a new energy source, and the inexhaustible Fires of Hell had proven irresistible. Lucy glanced skyward, spotting a single brave imp fluttering above the host. It clutched a bucket full of what appeared to be lava in its scaled talons. Suddenly, it swooped low and turned the bucket upside down, spilling the contents on several unfortunate men. Their screams of anguish brought back–just for a moment–memories of the old days. Lucy allowed himself a brief moment to smile.
Suddenly an obnoxious trumpet broke through the rifle fire, drawing his gaze to the source. It was Hell’s finest, the only hope for his kind.
Private Monroe threw himself onto the ground when he spotted the approaching demon host. He heard his squad leader bellow something, but it was drowned out by the horrific noise the monsters before them were making. A massive host of demons, scaled, bleeding and shrieking, sprinted towards him with vicious-looking swords and spears.
Monroe didn’t wait for an order. He aimed his M16 at the nearest fleshy monster and squeezed the trigger. The creature fell on its horrible face, and burst into flames before disappearing into a small amount of ash. Monroe heard a soldier next to him bellow loudly, “Fuck yes, they die,” followed by every soldier in his platoon firing their weapons into the approaching horde.
A single lucky demon had avoided bursting into flames before reaching Monroe’s squad, but before it had a chance to swing its weapon, Monroe had driven his combat knife into what he believed was the thing’s heart. Monroe got to his feet and looked around at the soot-covered battlefield. Maybe they could win this fight after all.
Of course, the Legion was slaughtered, down to the last Troglodyte, within moments. Hell’s finest were armed only with copper weapons, forged 3000 years before. Lucy sighed as he reflected on the poor decisions made by previous Barons. Why would Hell ever need an army after the Succession Wars became the Succession Debates? Only tradition had left it intact at all. It was considered quite a honor to be chosen for the Legion.
Lucy dived away from the window, right before it shattered with a little help from a sniper’s bullet. Dusting himself off, he lurched to his feet and glared at the human forces arrayed against him. There was only one thing that would rid Hell of these monsters, and it was fear.
Lucy felt his elegant suit begin to shred as his muscles stretched. The tusks on his face and the horns on his head grew more menacing and his body began to expand. Eventually, he grew so large that his office could no longer contain him. It shattered around him as he continued to grow.
Unfurling his leathery wings, Lucy took to the sky, landing directly in front of the invading force, sending a massive tremor throughout the surrounding area.
“FOOLISH MORTALS,” he bellowed, allowing his voice to become so foul, so threatening, that the people closest to him covered their ears. “IF YOU WERE SO EAGER TO COME TO HELL, I WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE THAN HAPPY TO ARRANGE A TOUR!”
Just below, a soldier shouted into a headset, “Light ‘em up!” The air was filled with twinkles of light as several hundred pieces of lead filled Lucy’s body. He collapsed to his knees, and then finally onto his chest as the soldiers continued to fire. “THAT WAS… EXACTLY… WHAT I WAS HOPING YOU WOULD NOT DO,” Lucy croaked as the life left his demonic body.
“All right, people, area secure,” the squad leader barked, “Now let’s get these oil derricks set up. This place has got to have some black gold for us!”
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Wendryn challenged me with “Flying in the dark, completely comfortable.” and I challenged Major Bedhead with “For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky”