Victory or Death
My name is Drezdk.
There I was, a member of the honorable reconnaissance/assault taskforce… The reconaissault, they called it. It was a part of the airborne division for those adept in quick flying and who had particularly good eyesight.
While it was good to be out of the confines of our ever-so-precious home, it wasn’t under these circumstances that I wished to see the morning light. Me and twelve others were idly hovering in the breeze. I tried to calm myself by listening to the relaxing hum of our wings but it proved to be futile.
My white, lucent wings beat at an irregular rate- undoubtedly as the result of pure fear and anticipation. I jerked my goldenrod head around, looking at what the other yellow-bodied bugs were doing before the big battle which was said to be for the security of the hive.
“If it is for the hive then why don’t we wait until it is actually in danger?” I silently wondered.
Most of the others were either rubbing their ivory stingers together in an attempt to sharpen them, or honing their fighting stance through a series of stinger thrusts and blocks. Some were sparring with each other and others were fighting an invisible target or perhaps the calm wind which blew through our antennae. They all seemed so confident, so fearless, and so mislead.
I wanted more than anything to avoid this battle. Sure it was my second battle, but the first one hardly counted. The first was merely an initiation for us new guys, who the veteran Beedrill called greenstingers. We were told to probe into ‘enemy’ territory to scout around for their hive. One of us-Arceus, I forget the poor guy’s name-lost his nerve. The guy flew off in the other direction. Then… it was awful… These two Beedrill marked with green bands on the base of their left stingers-the vets called the guys blood bands-they did it, before he could fly even five wing beats. They turned and started shooting their death splinters (known to others as ‘poison sting’) at him. The whole group was stunned. He had so many of them in his back that he looked like a Sandslash even before he hit the ground. He seemed to fall in slow motion, not even making a sound before his body hit the forest floor with a thud.
He- he just wanted to live, and they justified his MURDER by saying that there was no room for cowards in the reconaissault team, let alone the hive. It was the blood band’s job to make sure the only possible route was forward. They said that if he ran, then we’d all run and they needed to make an example of him. I admit that their tactic worked. I wanted to run away, but then I had no initiative to. To run away from danger would only result in death, and avoiding that was the whole reason one would run in the first place. From then on it became clear that we lived in a hive stabilized only by one’s value for their own mortality. It was either kill or be killed. Our mission was a success; we spotted out the enemy hive without being seen.
On the way back I couldn’t help look but at his body a final time. He lay on his stomach with a multitude of violet pins sticking out of him; a small trickle of light green blood flowed from the puncture wounds. I really wanted to bury him. I longed to go back in time and beg him not to fly away, knowing what his fate was. I prayed he died quickly with a feeling of hope, hope of making it back to his friends and family. I felt envious of him, except for his death; he would no longer have to be apart of this terrible catch-22.
That brings me back to where I was: waiting outside the hive, watching the other soldiers practice and chatter in anticipation for my second mission. This time the ‘aissault’ part of ‘reconaissault’ was emphasized. I hovered nervously, unsure of what else I could possibly do. Being a greenstinger: my fate for my first battle was obvious… Death. I tried my very best to hide my fear, but it seemed impossible. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two blood bands whispering and looking over at me… They were probably wondering whether to kill me now and save them the trouble later. They could undoubtedly see the fear in my red eyes. They were waiting for me to break.
The abrupt voice calling my name startled me and I quickly swung around to find myself face to face with a familiar Beedrill.
“Uh, yes, what is it, Talvoc?” I asked sheepishly.
Talvoc. My best friend. Ever since we were young Weedles we were inseparable. He was always the courageous one who could never stay in one place. He got me both in and out of trouble. A true friend.
“You look troubled, Drezdk. Anything up?” he asked, placing his stinger on my shoulder.
“I am troubled, Tal. I don’t think I can do this. They’re sending us on a suicide mission!”
“It’s not a suicide mission! We’re going to win, am I wrong? Also, keep your voice down,” he urged, wary of the blood bands close by.
In a harsh whisper, I retorted, “You saw how many Beedrills were guarding their hive! Why are we attacking them anyways? They haven’t done anything to us.”
“For the hive!” He mimicked the reconaissault team leader perfectly, also taking a mock-heroic stance.
I couldn’t help but let out a shaky chuckle before continuing. “I’m serious, Tal!”
“Look, Drez, does it matter why? It’s not like we have a choice! You’ve seen what happens when someone flies off. It’s either sure death by the blood bands or possible death by the enemy. It’s all the more reason why we have to win!” Talvoc stated.
I sighed. I knew he was right, but still, it was so unfair.
“Tal…” I whispered, “I’ve been thinking about this plan I had.”
“Oh yeah, Drez? What plan is that?” he questioned curiously, hovering in closer.
Checking behind me, I made sure that the blood bands weren’t nearby. I continued to whisper, “I think we should lay low in the battle- wait until things get really intense. When they do, we should fly off and never return. Alive and well… and free.
“You must be off your honeycomb! That’s crazy!” Talvoc protested.
“Why is it crazy?” I asked, a bit irritated.
“Desertion, Drez? In the heat of a battle, too?! Tell me, where would we fly to? We’re on a damn island!”
“There’s a few human hives nearby… along with a… what’s it? A Pokemon center!” responded I, losing more and more confidence.
“Humans? Humans HATE us. They think we are all over-aggressive jerks out to kill them!”
I scoffed, “With this upcoming raid I can see why.”
Talvoc whacked me between my antennas with his stinger.
“Ow!” I cried, holding my head. “What the hell was that for?!”
“Get your head in the game, Drez! I promise we’ll be fine. Just don’t fly off!”
Looking into his angry red eyes, I nodded before turning my head away in disconcertion.
“That’s the spirit, Drezzy!” He gave me a playful whack with his stinger on the arm. “Just be happy we’re out of the confines of the deep, dark hive which we are so nobly protecting today!” exclaimed Tal with a dramatic emphasis on the last three words.
Then a familiar voice of authority shouted out to all the Beedrill, which caused us all to go silent.
“Listen up, team!” the team leader said. We all formed a line and we crossed our fore-stingers across our chest like an X in our traditional saluting fashion.
“At ease.” We uncrossed our stingers and hovered expectantly. “As I’m sure all of you know, in a few minutes we are going into battle. We may be fighting our brethren, but we are not fighting our brothers! No true brothers of ours would wish to drive us out of our own territory! So we must fight for our freedoms!”
“Freedoms?” I scoffed under the tiniest of breaths.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Talvoc mouthing along with the leader in an apparent mocking fashion.
“Now we shall nobly protect our home and we will fight for the hive!” he went on to say.
Tal’s impression was in such perfect sync that I couldn’t help but let out a crack of laughter. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who noticed Talvoc’s impression seeing that the team leader buzzed over to us. We quickly straightened our posture and tensed our muscles.
“Something funny, you two?” he asked us, peering down at us menacingly.
We quickly shook our heads, crossed our stingers and bowed our heads in salute. “No sir! Sorry sir!”
He continued to sneer at us before turning to only Tal.
“Have you heard this speech before, Talvoc?”
“Are you sure about that? Tell me how the next part goes!” the leader insisted.
I looked over at him nervously while he paused.
“No mercy. No retreat?” Tal answered, a little hesitantly.
He nodded. “Good, and don’t you forget it! If we weren’t in wartime I’d have the two of you cleaning up after every newborn Weedle with your teeth.”
We both swallowed uneasily.
“Now, I would put the both of you on point guard, but this is a detrimental battle and since you are both greenstingers, you will be at the rear of the column to watch our flanks. From there you can watch how real soldiers fight, and maybe then you’ll earn some respect!”
He then conked our heads with the blunt sides of his fore stingers and gave the signal to get into positions. Tal and I rubbed our sore heads and looked at each other. I sighed and went with him behind the aerial formation shaped like one of our stingers, except thicker.
“Remember,” the lead Beedrill reminded again, “aim for the head, you’ll be sure he’s dead. Aim for the body, the hit is shoddy.”
“See? Flank guards; I told you we’d be fine!” Talvoc said while we flew into our positions a good deal behind the tip of the formation. I forced a smile, but fear still gripped me. I hovered in my place beside my friend and waited.
Some say that waiting is the worst part, but they couldn’t be further from reality.
I saw the team leader raise his right stinger. He then moved it forwards- the grim indication that it was time to disembark. The hum of our wings took on a higher, faster pitch as we began to fly forwards in sync. The afternoon sun seeped through the trees and highlighted our yellow bodies with an orange gleam. The wind was still constant, but our wings were powerful enough to bypass the potentially annoying breeze.
Before my first mission I was in the ignorant and confident “I can’t die! Not ME!” train of thought, but since then my view has changed. Now I’ve been thinking, “It could happen to me. I don’t want to die!” Most of the vets have either accepted their deaths or are fighting desperately to keep alive. It’s usually the ones with the greenstinger mentality who are quickly killed by the enemy, while it’s usually people like me who are killed by the blood bands. The vets on the other hand are the ones who usually make it out alive…usually. Me, I’m still looking out for myself. I need to stay alive. What’s worse is that, in the history of our hive, there has never been a retreat order-or so I’m told. It has either been a glorious victory…or death.
I was snapped out of my trance by an order given by the team leader. “Eyes open for hostiles!” he shouted.
Hostiles. That’s what we called them, the Beedrill from the other hive, although I did not know how hostile they even actually were.
Although Talvoc and I were back watching the flanks, there were two Beedrill farther behind us. We recognized them by the green bands on their stingers. The two blood bands following our team buzzed from side to side, keeping a close eye on each soldier.
“Do the blood bands have any remorse for killing their own brothers?” I wondered to myself.
Talvoc began to ask me, “How much longer, do you think?”
Answering with a shrug, I commented, “Not long enough. You just can’t wait can you, Tal?”
“Noise discipline! Shut up you two and keep alert for hostiles!” the team leader scolded, yelling back at us.
Sighing, I continued flying. It was only a matter of time now. I took a good look into the sun; I knew full well that this would probably be the last time I would ever see it. I ogled the orange orb and admired its beauty for all that it was worth. One couldn’t help but wonder if pokemon went to the sun when they died. It seemed like it would be an ideal place- warm, relaxing, and home to limitless possibilities. I continued to ponder my life as well as the afterlife while I was lost in the glorious trance of the sun’s hypnotizing hold.
“It’s so beautiful,” I mumbled in awe.
“What?” I heard Talvoc say, but I ignored him and continued staring in wonder.
I was quickly awoken from my blissful daydream by the haunting words of one of my team members. “****! Hostiles, dead ahead!”
My stomach knotted up. I tried to see our foes but I couldn’t look over the team and I also couldn’t break formation. All that I could see was the grass clearing below that we were in, surrounded by many trees. It made for a good battleground, one would think.
“This is it, comrades!” the leader shouted out. “Victory or death!”
And with that the charge had begun. Everybody, including me, flew faster. After looking upwards, I looked to Talvoc, who nodded. We kept formation but flew upwards to get a better view of the hostiles. Once we could see above the reconaissault group the hive- as well as the Beedrill foes-were in plain view.
I nearly felt my heart stop.
There were so many of them I couldn’t even begin to count! Their numbers dwarfed ours without argument. Where the hell was the rest of our forces if this hive was so damn important to attack?! Were we simply the group that was sent to test the water for the others!?
I felt every part of me tremble; I struggled to even fly on. The daunting amount of hostiles hovered in front of their hive, no bigger than our own. Unlike us, they were not in formation and haphazardly awaited our approach. The team swiftly approached them; all I could hear was the hum of our wings and the occasional order from our leader.
One of the guys on the end of the stingerhead formation suddenly broke off and began to fly back towards me and Tal.
“Hey! What are you doing!?” a Beedrill’s voice called out.
The guy looked absolutely terrified. “We have to get out of here! Th-they are over three times our numbers! We can’t win, we have to run!”
“Hey, buddy, wait a minute!” Talvoc tried to say, but it was too late. He had already moved past us and was flying away. The blood bands behind us saw him make a break for it. I had to do something this time. This time…
I turned to fly after him. “Hey, stop it! Please come back! Don’t do it!” I yelled. It was hopeless; he just ignored me. I began to fly to the rear, but Talvoc’s stinger held me back.
“Let me go, Tal! I have to stop him!” I pleaded, struggling to get free of his hold.
“No… it’s too late,” he solemnly answered.
He was right. I saw that one of the blood bands had caught him with a snare thread which was launched from his mouth (again, ‘snare thread’ was known to others as ‘string shot’. Why they gave these functions the names that they did baffles me.) Anyways, they caught him and one of them was nearing him. The other one kept a watchful eye on me, much to my terror. The blood band raised his stinger over the tangled Beedrill while the other one kept staring at me.
“Come on, Drezdk, let’s get back in formation,” Talvoc mumbled mournfully.
I let out a pathetic whimper as he turned me around. We began to fly just in time to hear the guy’s soul shattering scream. I struggled not to show any emotions while Talvoc and I caught up with the group.
The hostiles remained next to their hive and we grew even closer. I admit I was surprised that we still hadn’t reached the enemy after falling behind. It was like they didn’t want the battle to start without us.
Talvoc looked at me. I turned away, unable to look anyone in the eye right now. “Are you okay?” he asked me.
“Not in the slightest,” I mumbled back.
He nodded and continued flying. The ten Beedrill ahead of us raised their right stingers above their heads in an attack stance. Tal did similar and I followed his action. We also raised our posterior stingers and put our left stingers across our chest in a blocking position.
I looked at Talvoc with evident worry. “Don’t worry, Drez, I’ve got your back.”
Nodding, I followed the team as they charged towards the enemies. The daunting swarm of hostiles hovered around in anticipation, waiting for us to draw first blood. I don’t know why they waited instead of attacking us and being done with it. Maybe they really didn’t want to fight unless they were directly attacked.
We flew nearer. Nothing would stop us now. A burst of something seemed to accompany my fear. It made me want to fly faster. It begun to take over me. Tal seemed to be feeling similar. We neared. Closer. Closer. I could see into their eyes. Almost there. Nearer. Almost! There!
The leader drove his stinger into the nearest Beedrill, dropping him out of the sky. The hoard of thirty descended on us. The two Beedrill next to the leader were taken down instantly. I didn’t know how but I just knew that they weren’t in the air anymore.
Then, to my left, the unmistakable violet of a death splinter caught my eye. I ducked and the needle barely clipped my antenna. I could hardly feel it but I knew it brushed by me. A very small trickle of my green blood dropped down my antenna and curved around my eye.
I had almost died. Remaining in the exact same spot, I was stunned. My worst fear had almost become realized. This incident made me feel both relief from surviving and extreme terror for the revelation that I might not be so lucky next time. My insides seemed to bundle themselves into a horribly tangled knot.
All that I could see was yellow, black, and white with the occasional purple. I had no idea what to do. I looked down at the ground. It became littered with freshly fallen bodies of Beedrill, both good and bad, if you wanted to put it like that. A new bug would fall every five or ten seconds, wounded or dead. My next instinct was to look for the shooter of the death splinter in the midst of all this chaos. I tilted my head upwards and saw three hostiles in the air above us. They were sharpshooters- precisely picking off our ranks with well aimed, single death splinters. My first thought was, “Better avoid them.” So I did. I made agile, zigzagging maneuvers as one tried to fire at me. I put myself in closer to the fight, near the hive, so that they would cease firing at me for fear of hitting their own.
My fear remained strong, though. There were thrusts of ivory fore stingers and toxic main stingers every which way. There was a guy in front of me all of a sudden. Two jabs were thrown at me, which I had to dodge and parry with my white stingers. I noticed the team leader stab my assailant in the neck with his main stinger. Shocked as I was, I managed to return the brotherly nod he promptly gave. He perforated two more hostiles simultaneously with his fore stingers before I lost track of him in the moving throng. There was an obvious reason why he was the reconaissault team leader.
There were yells of the soldiers and the clangs of clashing stingers echoing throughout the battle. I turned around and saw one of the blood bands fighting a hostile. The enemy clubbed the side of the blood band’s head, catching him off guard. Then, with a stunning aerial maneuver, he spun around and stabbed both of his fore stingers into the blood band’s abdomen. The hostile quickly ejected his arms from his victim, causing the excess weight of the body to plummet to the grass. He then went back to the frenzied battle.
“That’s one out of two,” I thought. Later I would feel bad for thinking that way, but as soon as both of them were dead, we could get out of there… mostly.