The centaurs moved in formation to take best advantage despite their small numbers. Gr’ozz was with the chief, and seemingly tireless as the long stride of his massive legs helped him easily keep up with the centaurs’ four on only two. Gr’ozz’s gills let him breathe silently despite his need for oxygen, hardly making a sound in the cool night breeze.
Gr’ozz suddenly had an ill feeling, like something would go wrong, and he had the wisdom to show it, gesturing his misgivings to the chief, who nodded gravely, for he felt it too. Still, to let the enemy advance was the greater danger, so on they went.
Suddenly, their eyes adapted to the night, was the painful glare of floodlights in their path. The enemy knew they were coming. They had been expected. Through the glare, they could see the enemy in formation and ready to attack, gauss weaponry with depleted uranium slugs aimed at them, reptilian lips under helmet-shrouds pulled back in serrated-toothed smiles clearly not expressing good intent.
“Me, Gr’ozz will burn you, Bad Men!” roared the dimwitted reptilian giant, fully twice the height of the Dragons, as he opened his mouth wide, and spat forth a stream of superheated flame, hot as the atmosphere of the sun. He incinerated three squads of enemy troops before they could pull back and regroup. The centaur chief drew his massive steel longbow and with his fellows, fired into the enemy formation, as orders were shouted to subordinates on both sides.
Dragon troops fell as heavy, steel-tipped arrows mowed down the front line while those to the rear took their place and began firing. Now it was the centaurs’ turn to die. Then Gr’ozz went berserk, rushing into the enemy formation with his bone mace flailing, broken bodies in crushed armor plating falling with each swing. Behind him, the centaurs had pulled back, and though having taken losses, fought like devils as the Dragons tried to target them with gauss rifles.
Gr’ozz had effectively lost it, crushing and burning Dragons as he drove into the enemy ranks. It seemed as though he would win as the Dragon formation became increasingly chaotic. That is, until they played their ace. A heavy armored vehicle had entered the fray, a Dragon assault tank, aiming its main cannon array at the centaurs.
“NO! You not hurt half-horses!” roared a berserk Gr’ozz, “Me, Gr’ozz will save!” He dove forward, placing his massive body between the cannons and the centaurs, and took the brunt of the shots to his own midsection, falling backward, prone and bleeding, but not before preventing what would have been certain death for the centaurs. At the instant he was shot, he had crushed in the turret of the vehicle with both fists, effectively putting it out of action.
The Dragons pulled back in full retreat, as the surviving centaurs continued firing into them. In moments, all was quiet, as the centaurs gathered around the fallen giant.
Gr’ozz opened his eyes, not yet glazed over. “Half-horses safe?” He rumbled to the chief.“Yes, they’re gone, for now. We’re safe until they bring a larger force. You did it.” “Me Gr’ozz am happy. Gr’ozz do good. Now Gr’ozz to go to sleep forever . . . .”
Motionlessness, a brief hiss of escaping breath, then silence.
Gills stopped opening and shutting. Eyes were now blank and staring into eternity, dead eyelids closed by semi-equine fingers as a sign of respect. “He shall be remembered in story, in legend, as the Great Scaly One, slow in mind though quick in cunning, first in battle, and of hearts three sizes larger than most.” The centaurs gathered ‘round, and gathering brushwood, set Gr’ozz upon it, lit it, his body to be consumed by the flames as the centaurs, voices lowered and chanting a litany for the dead, tossed rare herbs into the immolating giant’s pyre to send him on his way.
Goodbye, Gr’ozz. You were fun to write about, but for you, this is The End.