The world exploded around me. I almost couldn't breathe from the echoing concussions from explosions. I wanted to scream, but didn't have enough breath to do so.
I wanted to stand, to run, to flee, but if I moved, I would die. I had been hammered to the ground when the infernal bombardment began, when the hell was unleashed, when the titans decided to press down, down down on me to crush my life from my body, one hammer blow at a time. One crushing blow after another.
I am going to die. I am going to die! I am going to DIE!
Had this been merely the shells of some human agency or even the an extraterrestrial one, I'd have had some solace that death would be merely death. Yet, these were not shells, not artillery, not like what you and I would think of. These were blasts of infernal daemonic magic.
There is one last crashing explosion. I am lifted and thrown and ... I do not know what happened next. I smashed into the darkness.
I came to and heard...and quivered. That hissing foulness. They were here. They were hunting. For me. The demons...demons...demons...I looked for my gun. I could not see it in the depression around me.
I pulled my pistol. I would go down, but not as a sweet meat, consumed like a delicacy. But not if I could help it.
The demons would not just kill me. They would consume my soul and the pitiful fragments left over would be sent to hell, reforged into something unholy and returned to the world. My soul, neither holy nor even merely undead, would return to spread the same death and corruption. I would at least try to destroy some of them. Some of their foulness. If I took three, then it would be a better trade.
I crawled up to the lip of the crater and could see them. Three unholy beings scouring for the scent of my soul. They raised their sinister snouts and caught wind. They paused and rushed and closed the gap between us.
I bang firing. One, two, three shots hit and took down one of the beasts. The second and third though closed too fast. A body blow. Falling to the ground. Crashing once more, but not with the force of the Titans.
I fire, fire, fire. Click. Click Click.
One beast that was atop me is no more, but the other tears away its hordling and throws it to the side. I scream and futilely try to escape. There is no escape. I am damned.
It forces me down, holds me and tendrils begin to sprout from its head, slowly, inexorably closing in on my eyes, ears, nose, mouth and...worse.
I hear the sizzle as they begin to eat away at my battle armor. The acidic foulness at the tips of the tendrils, the ones that would penetrate and destroy me, consume me and corrupt my very soul. I could not look away, I would not be a coward in the last seconds of my human existence. I had taken two. This thing might take my soul, but it would not take my pride as well.
Its hissing, a foulness so rich, so rancid, the worms would turn away. It pierced my helmet.
Its breath was a curse so complete, so crushing the holiest could not survive. Its touch a searing pain, exquisite and deadly, hateful and seductive.
The tendrils close so slowly, ever slowly, there's no escape, but my terror engendered is to great, to delicious for the fiend.
Then...a light. a light to bright and so pure bolts across my vision to smash back the fiend off of me. I screamed, the scream of terror and redemption, with all my might.
But I could still not move. The terror was too great. Its touch too fouling.
The beast rose up and flashed claws and teeth ready to leap at the new source, only to have bolt after bolt of synthetic light take it down into a smoldering corpse.
Trembling, shaking, quivering in terror, with what nearly happened, with what nearly consumed and seduced and destroyed and damned me.
A great mechanical hand reached down and placed itself upon my shoulder.
"You're alright kid. Come, get up."
He pulled me up. He was not alone. He was one of several soldiers in powered armor. Centaurs. Not horse shaped, but men with machines in an armor that would crush a mere mortal.
When the end of the world had come, when the Dark had risen through the earth and the fires of hell erupted upon its surface, mankind had been on the cusp of true greatness, of creation: we were on the verge of harnessing the very fabric of the universe for ourselves and creating AI. Our first true AI.
And Satan, in his unholy jealousy of humanity, could not allow that.
The soldier checked me out and quickly treated my wounds. We were getting ready to withdraw when flashes of red lightning struck all around us. And there stood pit devils of the worse sort, an honor guard for a Prince of Hell. The soldiers arranged themselves around me. They locked and loaded, but it was with energies far, far beyond what I had thrown with my pistol and rifle.
These were Templar. Humanities greatest soldiers, greatest warriors. Wielding energies that were pure fantasy a mere decade ago, we had pushed back the Beast and his infernal host, pushed them back to their final rebut on this world. Humanity had. As for where the Maker was, who knew. This war was for the soul of humanity and we wouldn't wait for help.
They say God helps those who help themselves, but we had this in hand, thanks.
The Templar were our greatest and were leading the attack on the last vestige of foulness, even millions strong and concentrated, they would not be able to resist the final blow, the angry fist of humanity.
We would win, but I, one of the scouts, had been seen and nearly caught. But we don't leave ours for the Beast and the Templar had come.
The pit fiends circled us and unsheathed weapons at best were abominations and probably worse.
The soldier who had treated me, talked with me, simply said through the coms:
"Listen kid, you're going to close your eyes, count to ten, and then everything is going to be fine."
I did and the world exploded once more.