From Planet To Planet
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The thing in the containment tube looked like a human female. Fear was apparent on its features and the body parts were all seemingly in proportion. If not for the pink tint to its skin, it could have passed as human.

High-Priest Lester gazed at the specimen with passive distaste and drew close to Cleric Sonnet. “Deceptive, isn’t it? They try to imitate the grandeur of humanity; they try to get close to our perfection, but every time they fail,” He pressed a button and the alien was introduced to the vacuum of space. “This is why the Order came into formation. To preserve the sanctity of human life.” Lester watched it flail and finally fall still. He grasped Sonnet’s shoulder firmly and then left the room.

Sonnet’s watch beeped. He turned and went to chapel.

Pope Alcazar stood at the pulpit of the chapel, his head bowed in prayer. Behind him, there was a stained-glass window, illuminated by the ghostly shine of a nearby star. It depicted a black horned beast looming over him, which was contrasted by the even larger glow of a holy figure, bathed in white. Sonnet took his seat near the front and joined the Pope in prayer.

As other members of the clergy filed into the chapel and took their seats, Pope Alcazar raised his head. He was a tall man with a gaunt face. His eyepatch hung low over his right eye. That eyepatch had been the cause of much speculation. Some thought it had been taken in a skirmish with an inhuman, while others maintained it was caused by an explosion of some kind. The most extreme among them hypothesised that he himself had had torn it out in an effort of self-flagellation.

The Pope brought his hands together in a clap which resounded throughout the vast hall. Thousands of heads rose and focused on him. He gestured to the window behind him.

“The beast used to rule the universe. Its abominations roamed freely and humans, the icon of purity, were confined to one small globe,” He gestured to a small blue orb on the top right corner.

“Humans, as was their divine right, expanded outwards and grew in strength. Soon, the Devil found us. He tried to deceive us with luxuries and false promises. Some were fooled, but we were not. God’s light flowed into Pope Ferguson and the Order was born. We fought back the threat and the Devil fled. We are God incarnate,”

Pope Alcazar turned to the crowd and spoke in a low tone. “Tomorrow we land at a new planet, a planet that is infested with vile spawn. We must exorcise it of this festering cancer. They may look like us, but it is blood that separates man from beast. There is a Devil inside of each of them. Prepare yourselves.”

The next day the entire dormitory woke to the view of a new planet. The usual juddering of the floor was now noticeably absent. Excited chatter filled the halls as they dressed and shaved their heads. The ruckus died quickly as High-Priest Lester entered the room and ordered them to stand in front of their bunks. He divided them into groups of three. Each was to be deployed to a different part of the planet in order to fulfil their designated task.

Sonnet was paired with two other clerics from the opposite side of the room: Cleric Driscoll and Cleric Green. They were all in their mid-twenties, and as such they had trained heavily to join a raiding battalion after the shuttles landed.

The shuttle was a narrow cylinder with three chairs facing towards each other. The group strapped themselves in without a word and after a few minutes they were dropped from the ship’s orbit over the planet. There were no windows in the craft, so when they slowed and came to a sudden stop they had no warning to brace themselves against the of every organ in their body suddenly jerking downwards.

Cleric Green was the first out of her seat. She twisted the pressure lock and pushed the door open allowing her to safely empty her stomach into some nearby bushes. The other two stumbled out after her and did the same. Once the nauseating feeling had all but dissipated, they set to work on opening the cargo hatch located under the floor. After a bit of tugging, the hatch opened to reveal light body armour, guns, tents and food rations.

“I doubt this could block much,” muttered Driscoll as he put the armour on over his robes.

“They’ll be enough to block spears, and that’s all we’ll need,” Sonnet answered. “The creatures here are undeveloped. I assume they’re mostly harmless.”

Sonnet fished the locator out of the hatch and pointed the way to the rendezvous point. The three clerics walked along a long winding path cluttered with rocks and leaves as the white sun drifted over them like a glaring eye. This world was like Earth in terrain and nothing else. Rocks were gray and veined with red. Trees swayed when there was no breeze, and had soft skin-like bark. Sharp-toothed insectoids built nests in the boughs high above them and hissed whenever they came too close.

Sonnet lead the way, with Driscoll in the middle and Green, watching their backs for enemies. They spoke little, besides the occasional query regarding their location. Sonnet drifted into a boredom-induced trance. The relentless sun rained heat down on him, dirt crunched beneath his boots and his brain processed little more than that.

It was this trance which caused him to not hear the voices in the distance until Cleric Green had grabbed him by the shoulder. Driscoll and Green had both already stopped, and were straining their ears to hear more. The voices most definitely weren’t human by any stretch of the imagination. they grunted and growled words more complex than any human language.

They continued onwards, unslinging their rifles from around their shoulders and crouching low. They stopped at the outskirts of a clearing. It was clear to see that it had been artificially burned away. The trees surrounding it had had their skin burned off, leaving red scabbing wounds on their sides.

Around the base of the nearby hill, there was a cluster of humanoids. They were stout, with dark gray skin and thick arms which ended in large, heavy hands. Some were chipping away at the stone of a nearby rock with digging tools, while other, more well fed ones stood guard and occasionally beat one of the slower workers.

“They burned their own forests to the ground. Savages,” Cleric Green hissed “Where should we attack first?”

Driscoll stuck his arm between her and the humanoids. “Maybe attacking isn’t the best strategy.”

Green frowned, saying “Do not hesitate, John, for these wretched beasts are the makings of the Devil. To not extinguish them is no less than heresy and betrayal towards me, thy lord.”

“I know the Bible as well as you do, but we cannot afford to be late to the rendezvous.”

Sonnet sighed, “Cleric Driscoll raises a fair point, but it is our obligation to rid the universe of this pestilence.” Without another word, he crouched behind a rock and fired a round into the back of one of the guards.

The other three guards momentarily panicked before their gaze settled on them. They unsheathed their spears and ran towards them. The prisoners took advantage of the distraction to imbed their tools in the skulls of two guards, with Green shooting the final one square in the head. The workers looked up and saw the three clerics. They turned to run but fell as bullets chewed through them.

The trio slung their rifles back over their shoulders and continued forward. Before long they saw smoke drifting into the sky in the distance. They emerged from the forest to rows of campfires with their brothers and sisters crouched around them. Some recited bible verses, others cooked, but most prayed. The twilight illuminated the silhouette of distant towers looming over a strong stone wall.

Once night came they marched to the city. The wall was imposing, but it didn’t stand a chance against the bomb they placed against it. The wall blasted inwards and the clerics were firing before the dust even cleared. Dead natives were splayed across the ground.

Soon more of the creatures arrived. These ones were larger and armoured. For a moment, the Holy Army was startled. The tools in their hands looked almost like-

Bullets sprayed from the barrels of their guns. Their weapons weren’t as quick as the cleric’s but their sheer numbers quickly overran the tightly held formation. The cleric's religious zeal, built on dreams of duty and glory was tested by the brutal attack.

Cleric Driscoll was the first to turn tail and flee. Others joined him, attempting to flee but being caught in the crossfire. Green charged forward, screeching in anger, until a bullet silenced her forever.

Sonnet didn't know what to do, God was supposed to be with them, but all around him his comrades fell. The enemy army was killing off the last vestiges of the clerics; it didn’t take long for a bullet to lodge itself in his shoulder. Another cut through his leg, and the final one went cleanly through his head.

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