It was quiet on board Dusk, save for the humming of the titanic engines whirring away, keeping the fortress afloat just above the blackened and corrupted clouds that blanketed the lands of the Frontier.
The captain of the airship and the entire theatre of war, one Gordon Brutus, lay sprawled in the ornate chair on the ship’s bridge, looking down from his safe haven with some contempt at Dawn below it. Brutus had learned to simply shut out the frantic hurried errands of the thousands of men on board and their mundane existences, though he did respect every single one of them for being a brave soldier and a survivor. But still… Brutus could not concern himself with their discrepancies. He wasn’t a imbecile of a man, not just anybody could claim to be the theatre commander of the Forlorn Battalion; perhaps the largest army the world has ever seen - Gordon knew not to get attached to any of his men, as only depression would follow in the wake of the death of a friend and Brutus knew that they would all perish sooner or later.
Brutus was shaken from his deep thought by the weather analyst gently nudging him in the side, assuming he had dozed off.
“Sir, the heavy rain across the central region of Dawn is passing with extreme speed, visibility should recovered in several minutes should this rate of clearance stay constant,”
Gordon looked to his right and looked the young lad in the eyes.
“Good. How long has this storm been going for?”
“Four months, twenty-two days, sir”, the boy responded in a practiced and rigid tone.
Brutus stretched his limbs, groaning from the cramp that had built up in his extremities before placing both his feet to the ground and pushing himself upright into a standing position. He stood at least a head taller than the boy, and would have been an intimidating figure to any man if he were not seen as the father figure for almost the entire army. Back in his front line days before Dawn fell he was even known as the ’Animal’ by virtue of having the speed of a Krenth soldier and the ferocity, size and strength of a Vargul Warlord. Though that was his youth, and his years were catching up with him, the first signs of grey making themselves known atop his head and wrinkles began to carve at his forehead and face. He saw age as a virtue rather than a curse. He hoped, deep down, that maybe he would be granted the blessing of a natural death, though he knew that that would not be the case. He would die standing and fighting. It was an inevitability he never wished to face, something he would shy away from meekly were he not the only thing holding the army of the memory of Dawn together through hell-on-Earth.
“Have you ever seen a storm-break, Private?” Brutus asked, his booming voice echoing through the partially crowded bridge deck.
The lad shook his head a little unwillingly.
“Not… not one of this magnitude, sir”
“Well then, you may want to witness one” Brutus winked, and gently shoved his elbow into the boy’s ribs. “For research,” he mused.
The pair walked toward the reinforced glass overlooking the world below, as the thick black cover of clouds began to thin faster and faster, small splotches of brown-black land broke through the monotone pitch as the clouds disintegrated before them.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it, sir? You know… in it‘s own way” The boy looked up to Brutus, looking for reassurance that it was a good sign for the men below.
“I suppose,”, he replied, “For them. But for us the clouds are an escape, we do not have to witness the horror of the world. Up here we can ignore it all, though that is never a good tactic. You do not know what you will find when pull back the veil.”
The last of the clouds disappeared, and the boy leaned closer to the glass, looking down at Dawn with a look of sheer terror on his face.
“What the… fuck?”, he whined.
Brutus looked down, too, seeing what the boy saw, except he did not show fear on his face, he wore an expression of deep resentment and anger.
For below the airship, there was gunfire, artillery and hordes of foreign creatures simply swarming across the churned earth like shoals of rueful insects.
And Gordon Brutus knew exactly what they were.
He spun on his heel, and bellowed out to the deck behind, “Dawn is under attack! Prime the Tesla cannons!”, as transmissions from the ground finally reached the ship and the chamber was filled with the recordings of gunfire and screaming men being cut down.
“Send orders to ground command to move the Sentinels inwards towards the city ruins, and for the Reapers to assume invasion positions!”
Brutus turned back to the huge glass panels looking down to the battle below, and slammed his fist against them, vibrating the entire deck as he roared with anger.
“Targets acquired, sir.” came a shy voice from the rear of the deck, “On your order.”
There was a deafening roar as Dusk unleashed bolts of sky-rending thunder and heavy artillery shells onto the land below.