Nick of Time

Rushing to the precious center of a section of the wall, Tarian grabbed one of the rifles of the dead still lining the failing wall. He bent down, and a tear threatened to escape, but he forced the emotions down. He could grieve for the dead later. Tarian wished that the dead could have been given the respect they deserved, but they couldn’t spare the manpower. As a result, bodies and their rifles littered the walls.

With burning, hatred, Tarian popped up and fired upon the advancing horde. After getting a couple of shots off, he spun back under the meager protection the wall presented him. After a couple of moments, he turned toward a hole in the wall, and he could see the undulating mass below. Tarian brought his weapon to bear upon the swirling mass of body and sinew. As he studied the things through the scope, he could make out individual creatures.

With methodical breaths, Tarian stared down at the things through his scope and with precision movements fired his rifle. Each lance of light took one of the swirling bodies in the chest, but before the corpse could fall from view more jumped in to fill the momentary void. As Tarian focused on taking another shot, he was torn from his perch. Though as Tarian’s body twitched to keep the enemy in his sight, he heard someone shout, “Tarian!”

The use of his name hit Tarian like a blow from a massive hammer. His beleaguered eyes looked at the source of the shout, and he saw Lloyd and Sherry. He crouched lower and asked them, “What is it?”

“We need to fire the missile,” Lloyd said as he ducked further from view.

Sherry stared at Lloyd, but she addressed Tarian. “No, we cannot use the last missile yet. We need to save it.”

“And what exactly do you want to save it for, Sherry?” Lloyd quipped as he tightened his grip on the debris from the crumbling wall. With narrowed eyes, he went on anger building with every word. “In case you haven’t noticed those things have massed right in front of us and show no signs of stopping any time soon.”

“We have to wait, Tarian,” Sherry pleaded as she ducked under an arrow.

Tarian shook his head and addressed Sherry, “No, Lloyd is correct. Their mass has centered itself. This is our chance to eradicate most of what’s out there.”

“What if you’re wrong?” Sherry asked as she tried to vanish from sight.

Tarian returned his attention to the creatures below through his scope. As he took shot after shot at the never-ending sea of death, he spoke to both of his advisors. “We need a little more time. And right now the missile is the only thing that can give us that.”

“Tarian, we need to wait,” Sherry implored.

Tarian fired two shots into one of the charging creatures. And as it fell to the ground, he rested his forehead upon the stock of the rifle. “We don’t have the time to wait, Sherry.”

He returned his attention to the scope and started taking more shots at the massing creatures. “If we don’t fire the missile then we’ll be wiped out.” After dropping another monster, Tarian spun and issued Lloyd’s order. “Fire the missile at their center before they disburse.”

“Yes, sir,” Lloyd said with a grim smile. As he left Tarian heard him mumble, “If they’re going to take me, I’m going to drag as many as I can with me.”

Tarian returned to the security of a crumbling wall until he heard the roar of the last missile. It raced into the sky and then plummeted towards the mass of bodies below. The explosion ripped through the creatures, but when the smoke cleared the massive void began to vanish.

Tarian’s head fell as he heard Sherry wail, “I told you we needed to wait to use that!”

Tarian shook his head as he bounced it off the remains of the wall. “We didn’t have a choice.”

“THEY’RE COMING!” Shouted so many of the remaining defenders that Tarian returned to a position to fire upon the mass once more.

With five pulls of the trigger, Tarian dropped five more bodies. He lowered the scope from his eyes and watched as scaling equipment was thrown up against the wall. The chants and cries of the monsters terrified Tarian. As the monsters began climbing their equipment, Tarian increased his rate of fire, but the horde appeared endless.

Tarian focused on the mass of creatures that climbed to reach him. As each thing climbed, Tarian fired and struck one of the monsters down. But as before the numbers of these things overwhelmed the defense.

And when one reached the top in front of him, Tarian flung himself away from the creature. Tarian watched as the thing’s eyes went wide and then it fell to the ground with an arrow in its back. Tarian heard squeals of pain echo forth from the far side of the wall. When he scooted over to his perch, he looked out and saw arrows falling upon the monsters.

Looking out into the distance with his scope, he saw axes cut down the creatures from behind. He lowered his rifle and looked up into the sky and whispered, “They did it.”

And from out of nowhere, Tarian heard the echoes escaping from the living defenders, “The Dwarves and Elves came.”

He turned to look at Sherry, “Like I said all we needed was time.”

Tarian looked up to the sky and shouted, “We will defend this wall!”

“TO THE END!” Came the reply from the beleaguered defenders now refreshed from the arrival of help.