Destroyer of Worlds
Aaryn focused on the figure before him. A human heavy warjack filled the scope of his Iosan heavy rifle as the Elf imagined the internal components and mentally walked through the optimal locations to attack. Aaryn had an average build for an elf with short blonde hair as he lay in the prone sighting through the weapon. He started rattling off a set of numbers as another Elf kneeling to his immediate right nodded and peered through a spotter scope. The Elf to his right looked older and was bald under his boonie hat. Both men wore the distinct armor of the houseguard with house Vyre insignia. Aaryn took long, deep, breaths as the spotter took stock of the situation. Aaryn?s spotter spoke in a calm voice, ?Target is the right arm, you?ve got your corrections.?
Aaryn altered his aim slightly to a point in the shoulder where there was a critical bundle of cables and gears and replied, ?Got it.?
The spotter hadn?t broken his gaze of the target in the last few minutes and his response was brief, ?Send it.?
Aaryn wasn?t sure if it was a coincidence or planned, but that phrase helped him focus with a degree of intensity he never thought possible. The world seemed to slow down and fade away and all that existed was the crosshair and the target. He slowly squeezed the trigger. He was jolted out of this state when the massive rifle fired.
The Iosan heavy rifle was unlike any other weapon using force generator technology to propel a solid slug. This meant that unlike traditional weapons it didn?t have a sharp crack, but rather an intense sonic boom coupled with incredible overpressure as the round accelerated to beyond the speed of sound. Heavy rifle gunners were forced to wear hearing protection or risk serious damage to their sensitive ears and even then the pressure was more than a little uncomfortable.
Through his scope Aaryn could see the impact of the round on the target. The shot ripped the warjacks metal hide like cloth sending shrapnel in all directions and resulting in a loud clang shortly after the report. He surveyed the aftermath of his work, then Aaryn?s sighed and dropped his head . The spotter put his scope down, tilted his head in a confused expression and asked, ?So tell me shooter, what in the name of Scyrah was that??
Aaryn, not lifting his head asked, ?A direct hit??
The spotter was already reloading the heavy rifle, as he continued, ?For a Rifleman maybe. Where does hull damage get us? If that really was a warjack, it?s still charging forward with all of its weapons. You can?t expect to make spotter chipping paint like that. Still, mistakes are just unrealized opportunity. You?ve weakened the hull integrity, if you can do something about it we may be in business.?
Aaryn lifted his head out of the dirt and shook it off, ?Right.?
He peered down the scope at the target warjack and called off the distance. The spotter gave him his corrections. As he was going through the process he surveyed the damage more closely and noticed a section of hull around vital systems the first shot had severely weakened. He kept an eye on the location even while adjusting his scope. The spotter was all business and after corrections were done simply replied with that phrase, ?Send it.?
Aaryn again entered a state of intense focus and was able to clearly see that he could start a chain reaction if he could get the right placement for the shot. He slowly squeezed the trigger again. This time the shot shattered multiple hull plates in rapid succession and even seemed to sever key links to the cortex. The target warjack slumped over and collapsed. Aaryn still had his head buried in the scope and couldn?t help but smile. The spotter sighed and looked down at him, ?I?ll be damned, you may yet become a spotter.?
Houseguard heavy rifle teams were recruited from the best shooters in the riflemen. All of the team members started as shooters and as they progressed in skill were honored by being promoted to spotter and training their own shooters. It was a great compliment to call someone a ?spotter?, but something of an insult among the teams to call someone a ?rifleman?. Lieutenant Lynn had been in the Vyre houseguard for some time and as long as Aaryn had known him he had been a spotter. Lynn had briefly talked about the war of the houses a few times, but Aaryn had never gotten a clear answer how involved he had been.
As Aaryn picked himself up off the ground and started checking his weapon another figure approached. The other figure was almost at a run. He slowed to a stop as he approached and paused to catch his breath as the crack of gunfire from nearby target ranges echoed around them. The Elf before them was much younger than either of them with short black hair and a rifle slung behind him. Lynn stood up to greet him, ?Royce? Who did you piss off now??
Royce laughed in between catching his breath and responded, ?Nobody LT, well nobody important enough to run from. Just got some news I figured you guys would want.?
Lynn looked at him and shrugged, ?Send it.?
It was always interesting to Aaryn how the term had come to be used outside of a shooting context. It was often used for ?go ahead? or ?get it over with? among the teams, but he had heard a number of other houseguard using it. It was admittedly rarer for everyone else, but it didn?t stop anyone from getting the meaning.
Royce nodded, ?The lord arcanist himself is throwing in his lot with the Retribution of Scyrah. We?re going to save Ios!?
Lynn furrowed his brow, ?Not what I would call it, but it seems like you?re excited. What?s the plan??
Royce held up an arm, ?Save questions for people that know, I?m just the poor bastard they tapped to run around informing the key leaders.?
Royce ran off in another direction, presumably to inform others. Aaryn had finished up packing up the massive rifle and approached Lynn, ?What do you think??
Lynn shrugged, ?I think Ossyan is looking in the wrong place, but damned if I hadn?t thought that maybe those crazy bastards were right. They did find where Nyssor has been all of these years and who knows, maybe their right about human magic. None of that really matters in the end. Ossyan is doing this to redeem his house, but for what Ghyrrshyld did and those that stood by, there is no true redemption.?
Lynn continued packing up his gear in silence and after that statement Aaryn wasn?t eager to ask more questions. Aaryn had trained a fair bit, but had never been in real combat. It was the job of the heavy rifle team to stay calm even when an enemy warjack was bearing down on them and bring accurate fire on the target. It was what Aaryn had trained for and now he would get to see if he was up for it. The thought weighed down his mind and he and Lynn walked off the range without speaking again.
Destroyer of Worlds
As Royce trudged through the dense forest he looked around briefly before saying, ?Why in Urcaen did we think volunteering for this was a good idea??
While few had said it, the young rifleman?s thoughts weren?t dramatically divorced from everyone else?s. Before leaving Ios, Ossyan had requested a small force to be sent to reinforce the Dawnguard fighting in Khador. It was more of a good will gesture to show Vyre?s willingness to cooperate than anything militarily meaningful. The small task force consisted of some of the more experienced soldiers available to Vyre in an attempt to put their best foot forward. Royce had practically jumped out of ranks to volunteer for the assignment and while his Sergeant wasn?t quite as enthusiastic he agreed after some brief deliberation. Lynn simply responded ?Send it?.
They were now marching from a marshalling area to the main Dawnguard camp. The Mage Hunters had assured them the immediate area was clear of enemies. Aaryn had almost wished it wasn?t because the several days of marching with the broken down parts of the massive heavy rifle on his back and his own pack and bedroll around his chest was both boring and exhausting in equal measure. It had given him a chance to get to know the other members of the task force. They only had one squad of riflemen and two heavy rifle teams. About half of Sergeant Bryll?s squad wanted to fight alongside the rest of house Vyre, so they asked around for some last minute replacements. The other heavy rifle team consisted of Sergeant Evelyn, a fairly good spotter if a little annoying personally, and Daryl, a new addition to the heavy rifle teams. Apparently they were the only other volunteers Vyre could drum up.
After Royce?s comment, his Sergeant, Bryll, looked over to him and then looked up at the sky, ?Does it look like rain to you rifleman??
Royce looked up with a confused expression, ?What??
Brynn turned his gaze to Royce, ?Yeah it looks like rain to me and I heard this area is famous for flash floods. For the rest of the day?s march you?d better hold your rifle over your head just in case.?
Royce adopted the huge ****-eating grin he was famous for, held his rifle above his head and replied, ?Hooah sarge!?
Bryll was crusty old bastard, but approached most situations with an air of pragmatism and a good sense of humor. He was bald and had a scar across his face. Aaryn had known him for some time and even worked with his squad on a few occasions. He was a good soldier and a seasoned veteran that seemed to have a supernatural ability to remain calm.
Lynn was in charge of the group and had taken to the task like he took to anything. He was off to the left standing atop a rock observing terrain through his spotter scope and he had his map out. After a few moments he waved to Bryll and signaled that the camp was right up ahead. He then rejoined the rest without saying a word.
It was still about an hour of marching before they arrived, but everyone in the group had long ago hit the wall and kept going so the extra distance didn?t faze them. As they approached the camp, Lynn greeted the sentries, introducing the group. They acknowledged him and one ran off to find who they were supposed to report to. It only took a few minutes for the soldier to return with a male Elf wearing the distinct armor of a Scyir. The Scyir approached, ?So you?re the house Vyre reinforcements? Glad to see it, I?ve been in charge of coordinating the support elements for our forces. I?m Scyir Gelyr.?
Lynn nodded, ?Good to be here, it was a long walk.?
Gelyr laughed, ?Yeah, tell me about it. I hate to do this just as you guys are getting off your feat, but are your soldiers ready to fight? Got a mission that would leave in the morning, but only if you?re up for it.?
Lynn looked back at Bryll who just shrugged before turning to Gelyr, ?Send it.?
Gelyr looked a little confused at first, ?Oh right, you?re one of the heavy rifle guys. Got it. Anyways, the Mage Hunters have identified some ruins that a few Human scouts were poking around. The Problem is that the Mage Hunters themselves are a little overtaxed, and Vyros is curious what the Humans were looking at. Since your guys haven?t been involved in any real fighting in this war, I figured it would be a good opportunity for you and your men to cut your teeth. Ya know, a warm-up.?
Lynn just shrugged, ?Sounds good. Where are the ruins??
Gelyr held up a hand, ?Not quite that simple. I?m also sending some Stormfalls to act as artillery if needed and a pair of Ghost Snipers to act as a reconnaissance screen. Can?t be too prepared. But one of the Stormfalls is a Captain, so she?ll be in charge. Don?t worry, she was with us a Fort Brunzig, so you should be in good hands and she?s been briefed by the mage hunters. One of my guys will take you to where her and the other Stormfalls are.?
Lynn just nodded and the group of weary soldiers fell in behind one of the Dawnguard. The camp was larger than Aaryn had thought, consisting of hundreds, possibly thousands of soldiers. He hadn?t realized how large house Nyarr?s commitment to this was until now. As they moved through the camp, they soon came across a fire with four Elves sitting around talking among themselves. These were the first Elves they had seen without the distinct equipment of the Dawnguard. One of them, noticing the group, stood up and approached. She had long magenta hair pulled in a braid which matched the color of her eyes. All Aaryn could think was that she seemed a little young to be a Captain. She had an emblem of house Hallyr, but as Aaryn examined the rest of the Elves the other three had emblems of two different houses. She extended a hand to Lynn, ?I?m Laryssa. Heard you guys were going with us.?
Lynn nodded, ?I heard that too.?
Laryssa smiled a little, ?We?ve got some food and places to sleep. Probably want to make sure everyone is rested and fed before we get moving.?
Laryssa motioned to Lynn, ?There?s something I need to discuss with you away from the others.?
Lynn followed her and they talked quietly for a few moments. While Lynn and Laryssa were talking the soldiers from Vyre dropped their gear and took seats around the fire. They engaged in banter back and forth with the Stormfalls and eventually it came out that the Stormfalls were from units that had taken losses at Brunzig and been consolidated into a single unit. The comment prompted a long silence from the Vyre soldiers.
Last edited by Mastershake; 06-17-2012 at 09:10 AM.
Destroyer of Worlds
After a few moments, Lynn returned and motioned to Bryll. Bryll had just lit a cigarette and proceeded to sigh and grunt as he drug himself to his feet acting like Lynn had just requested his first born child. Lynn whispered something to Bryll who proceeded to bring his palm to his face before looking up and nodding. Shortly afterwards the two returned to the campfire. Bryll looked over to Royce, waved, then extended him arm and made a ?follow me? gesture. Royce practically jumped to his feat, ?Moving Sarge!?
Lynn came up to Aaryn, ?We?re having a meeting. C?mon.?
Aaryn nodded, ?Send it.?
Laryssa came back to the campfire a few paces after the other two, ?Where in Urcaen are those idiots??
The Stormfalls shrugged and the Vyre soldiers just looked confused. She shook her head, ?Fine, you two go ahead, I?ll wait here for them to come back and meet you.?
Lynn and Bryll nodded and started walking towards the outskirts of the camp with Royce and Aaryn in tow. Aaryn spoke up, ?So what is this meeting about??
Lynn looked surprised, ?She wanted to meet with key leaders. She also wanted to have our second in commands present in case something happened.?
Royce called out, ?Ha ha, I ****ing knew it, you like me Sarge.?
Bryll looked at Royce then at the ground, ?Caen is getting pretty close, you should start pushing it back.?
Royce had a huge grin as he dropped to the ground and starting doing push-ups. The sound of him counting echoed in the background as Aaryn spoke, ?What about Evelyn??
?She?s a good spotter, but I trust you more.?
Lynn turned and continued walking. Bryll nodded and, with the sound of Royce counting off in the background, said, ?Be there in a minute.?
The location was just an old tree, nothing of real significance, but it was far enough from the camp to not be overheard unless someone was trying. Lynn and Aaryn reminisced a little about their training in the Housegaurd for a few moments before Bryll and Royce rejoined them. Royce was holding both of their rifles over his head this time, something that didn?t come as a surprise to anyone. Bryll continued smoking as he counted for Royce who was doing some type of odd juggling exercise. Aaryn recalled a line from Bryll a long time ago to the young rifleman ?One way or another, your upper body will be as big as your damn mouth?.
A few moments later several figures approached, but it was more than expected. Laryssa had two male Elves with her that looked like Ghost Snipers from their dress, but she also had another female Elf who had a variety of tools and equipment alongside a small Myrmidon. When the other female Elf arrived she immediately took Bryll?s cigarette out of his mouth and took a drag before handing it back to him. Bryll initially looked a little surprised, but just nodded, accepted the cigarette and continued smoking. Laryssa motioned for the Ghost Snipers to sit down. Aaryn hadn?t noticed it before, but she had the hilt of weapon that wasn?t Houseguard issue sticking out from behind her back. He couldn?t get a good view from where he was standing at the blade itself.
The other female Elf had short, faded blue hair that was in a state of disarray, but her facial features were as smooth as Laryssa?s and she looked very young. The two ghost snipers had a more rugged look. One had short brown hair while the other was bald. Both men wore boonie hats and had small strips of cloth varying in color hanging off of their clothes and hats. They also had smears of camouflage paint over their faces. They both took a seat and the bald one lit up a cigarette. The Myrmidon was a Shyeel Griffon design. It looked something like a pack mule at this point with various equipment strung along its back including a substantial supply of the specialized ammunition used by the Stormfalls. The other female Elf was the first to speak, ?I?m journeyman arcanist Nyssia. For this operation the Scyir has authorized release of one of our Myrmidons. Raise your hands if you have experience working with Myrmidons??
Bryll and Lynn both raised their hands as did Laryssa. Nyssia sighed, ?Now please lower your hands.?
Everyone looked confused but obeyed the odd direction. Nyssia smiled, ?Well since none of you have experience working with Myrmidons I guess I?ll have to tag along with this mission to supervise its deployment.?
Laryssa raised an eyebrow, ?You could have just asked to come along.?
?Non-sense, arcanists don?t want to be in the field, but if my job draws me there then I have no choice. Myself and Lurynsar here are at your disposal,? she motioned to the small Myrmidon.
Bryll laughed, ?You named a little rabbit like that after one of the divine court.?
Nyssia glowered angrily, ?he?s not a rabbit, he?s Lurynsar.?
Laryssa looked at the Myrmidon, ??Rabbit?? It's cute, I like it.?
The bald ghost sniper chimed in, ?Nobody but you would call a dinky Myr like that Lurynsar. I?m also voting ?Rabbit?.?
Rabbit?s head pivoted down generating a sad noise. Laryssa just shook her head and motioned to the Ghost Snipers, ?Whatever, theses two idiots are Kerryck and Daryn. They?ll be our recon screen for this operation and Rabbit will be our Myr support.?
*Rabbit makes more sad noises*
The bald one, who Laryssa introduced as Daryn, glared at her but said nothing and Nyssia pouted slightly before taking another drag from Bryll?s cigarette. Laryssa gave the rundown of the position of the ruins, three or four average structures of unknown origin with dense forest on all sides. She also described the humans encountered as rangers from the nation of Cygnar. As she was describing everything she began laying it out in the dirt showing the relative positions of the structures and where the Humans had been looking the longest along with the area?s topography and the best approach routes. As she was wrapping up she stood up and turned to the group, ?Everyone good on the plan??
For the most part the participants nodded. Laryssa took a seat, ?Good, since we?re all somewhat unacquainted and those here are either key leaders, seconds or support, we should probably talk a bit. Maybe discuss concerns, or ask questions.?
Daryn raised a hand, ?I have one, why are Hallyr chicks all crazy.?
Laryssa immediately grabbed the hilt sticking out from behind her back and in a smooth motion drew the blade and swung all the way to just short of Daryn?s neck, ?Sorry, didn?t quite hear that. Would you care to repeat it??
Daryn glanced down showing little fear, ?My mistake, your actions have shown how rational all the females of house Hallyr can truly be.?
Laryssa smiled and began sheathing the weapon. Its design was definitely not Houseguard issue, but Aaryn had seen sabers of that make before. Bryll shook his head and looked down at nearly done cigarette. He opened the top pocket of his ammo bandolier and pulled out a fresh one. Aaryn looked at him quizzically, ?You have cigarettes in your bandolier??
Bryll shrugged, ?We all have our priorities.?
Nyssia made a gesture with her hand at Bryll and he grunted before begrudgingly handing her one as well. Daryn laughed, ?Explains why riflemen can?t shoot for ****. Not that Stormfalls are much better, all they have to do is hit the ground and they still miss.?
Laryssa glared at him, but before she could speak Lynn held up a hand, ?Now now, we don?t need to argue who?s the second most accurate behind the heavy rifle teams.?
Daryn looked taken aback, ?Damn old man, sniped from the shadows. You could practically be a Ghost Sniper.?
Royce stood up and held up his arms, ?But we all know who you?ll be crying for when the **** hits the fan.?
He then settled back into his seat as he and Bryll bumped their fists together. The banter went back and forth for a while, but after not too much longer Kerryck spoke up, ?So any of you guys involved in the war of the houses??
A silence fell over the group. After a few moments Lynn spoke, ?Who here wouldn?t defend their house??
Kerryck nodded, ?Yeah, but doesn?t it make you nervous considering both of the Retribution?s military leaders fought against Vyre in that war? I mean what if Vyros is just doing this to get rid of you guys or keep you off doing errands??
Bryll shrugged, ?I?m a Sergeant plain and simple. I look after my soldiers. I don?t care why someone thinks they should go and fight, but if they make that decision I?m trying to get my guys back home in one piece when it?s all over.?
Daryn shook his head, ?So it?s ?I was only following orders? then? Bull****. A lot of good Elves died then and Ghyrrshyld was a monster.?
Aaryn looked at Daryn, ?So some of us may have something to attone for, why are you here??
Daryn didn?t answer. Kerryck looked at Daryn for a moment before answering, ?My son was born a soulless and so was his. It?s one thing to speak of human magic and the demise of your race, but to see it in person is completely different.?
Daryn glared at him, then turned back to Aaryn, ?yeah and I got tired of seeing other Elves in my crosshairs thanks to your house leader.?
Destroyer of Worlds
Laryssa tried to change the subject, ?So why are you here Nyssia??
?What? Oh well, I?ve always like Myrs, but they seem the most alive in the din of battle. At most other times they?re in power saving modes and barely responsive. It really makes you feel like your work is making something y?know? Also it gave me an opportunity to test a few theories involving Myrs who?s cortexes weren?t periodically wiped like Lurynsar here.?
*Rabbit makes happy noises*
Laryssa looked a little surprised, ?how long has it been since you?ve wiped Rabbit?s cortex??
?It?s been a long time since I?ve wiped Lurynsar?s cortex. I usually just note that I?ve done it without actually doing it. Who will know and I think it makes them smarter.?
*Rabbit makes more happy noises*
Laryssa shook her head. The rest of the evening was uneventful with jabs and banter traded back and forth among the group.
Destroyer of Worlds
As it got late Laryssa broke up the meeting, ?We should get our soldiers ready for tomorrow and I?m sure Nyssia needs to attend to Rabbit. I?ll see everyone in the morning, but I?ll be off in that direction for a bit if there?s an emergency.?
Lynn raised an eyebrow, ?Away from camp on your own??
Laryssa Sighed, ?Fine, I?ll take Rabbit with me. I?ll have him back at the marshalling area in a little while.?
Lynn nodded as did Nyssia and those gathered began to scatter. As everyone was going generally towards the camp, Royce pulled Aaryn aside, ?Can you believe this? Our own mission, this kicks ***!?
The two were wandering only vaguely in the direction of camp as Aaryn responded, ?Seems like a training mission, but I guess it?s better than nothing.?
Royce punched him in the shoulder, ?Don?t be a *****, we get to finally fight. It?s awesome. I got so much energy. Are you ready too??
Aaryn shrugged, ?Never been in a fight for my life before.?
Royce laughed, ?Yeah, but I know you. Remember when we were in training. You got this man. My only problem is that I need to do something or I?ll never get to sleep.?
?Like what exactly?? replied Aaryn motioning around.
Royce followed his motion, ?Don?t know, but something.?
The two?s walk had led them near a group of Dawnguard still in their battle armor. Royce seemed to instantly get an idea and Aaryn seemed to instantly know what it was as he gave a sigh and simply said, ?Don?t.?
Royce didn?t seem to pay attention as he walked up to one, ?Hey, you up for a quick spar??
The Dawnguard?s face contorted in curiosity, ?Who in Scyrah?s name are you??
Royce had his trademark grin, ?One of the new guys and I want to see what house Nyarr?s best has got.?
The Elf simply glared, ?Go away.?
?What? Dawnguard not up for a fight with Vyre? Stop the damn presses and color me a Nyss. C?mon, let?s go,? challenged Royce at this point with both fists up and almost bouncing as if to simulate dodging punches.
?If you want to get beaten that badly,? said the Dawnguard as he handed off his blade to another Dawnguard nearby.
The other Dawnguard stood next to Aaryn, ?Kids gotta learn his place. This isn?t how you do things in the Dawnguard.?
Aaryn bit his tongue at that remark. The Dawnguard took up a fighting stance. Royce didn?t need a starting cue and immediately went in when he looked ready. The Dawnguard swung out, but Royce had a lot of practice in both boxing and drunken brawls and easily went under the blow landing one of his own squarely on the Elf?s jaw. The Dawngaurd staggered back and tried to defend, but Royce?s skill in this method of fighting was clearly much higher as he was able to land another blow even past Elf?s arms and broad shoulder pads. The Dawngaurd was almost off balance as his companion spoke, ?Damn house Vyre fool, this isn?t how you fight.?
Aaryn immediately greeted this with a punch that landed squarely in the Elf?s face. Completely unprepared and not defending, the blow knocked him out his body crumpling to the ground. As Aaryn looked back, the other Dawnguard was on the ground with Royce goading him to get back up. A few others were now watching and rooting for him to get back up and beat the Vyre punk. As the Dawngaurd pulled himself to his feet, he suddenly stood at attention. Royce was still bouncing back and forth as he realized what was going on. He came to attention in mid air sliding on the dirt as he landed before coming to a stop. Aaryn also hadn?t seen the Scyir coming and snapped along with everyone else. It was Gelyr, the Scyir they had met earlier, ?What exactly is going on here??
The Dawnguard Royce had been beating on replied, ?These undisciplined Vyre soldiers wanted a sparring session. I tried to talk them down, but they weren?t having it.?
He was actually wobbling a little as he said it and Royce still had his trademark grin on admiring his own work. Gelyr crossed his arms, ?I meant why are you beaten up and that one is unconscious? Dawngaurd don?t lose and it looked like you had a fair fight.?
The Dawngaurd looked taken aback, ?I, what??
Gelyr shook his head, ?Police up your friend Dawnguard, both of you need more training if you?re losing fist fights with riflemen.?
The Dawnguard begrudgingly nodded and went over to his friend; Aaryn spoke up, ?Shooter.?
Gelyr didn?t seem to get the meaning, ?What was that??
?I?m not a rifleman, I?m a shooter? he said with confidence.
Gelyr laughed, ?Ahh, damn you kids got some energy. And some cahones too. Do me a favor though, please get back to your people and stop making my Dawngaurd look bad.
Royce and Aaryn nodded in unison. Gelyr headed off harrying the two Dawnguard mercilessly about their loss. Royce turned to Aaryn as they walked away, ?Dude, you knocked him the **** out! Ha ha and mine wasn?t doing any better.?
Aaryn shook his head, ?Think you can get to sleep now??
Royce jumped up and down a few times, ?Yeah, probably.?
?Good, I?m going to see Laryssa for a minute. I had a question to ask? He said, pointing in the direction she walked off earlier.
Royce laughed and punched him in the shoulder, ?Is that question ?your tent or mine?,?
Aaryn glared at Royce who just shrugged, bumped fists and started walking back towards the group. Aaryn thought briefly about Royce?s question before shaking it off. There were some things he had grown curious about throughout the meeting and he wanted some straight answers from their new superior. There wasn?t much sunlight left at this point, but it would still be easy enough to navigate for at least another hour. With Rabbit around, he didn?t figure Laryssa would be difficult to find. After searching for about ten or fifteen minutes, Aaryn sighted Rabbit near some trees. As he got closer he noticed what looked like steam, but didn?t pay it much attention. Rabbit was facing the other direction and didn?t see his approach.
Aaryn walked around the myr and suddenly looked away. He had caught a brief glimpse of a small hot spring and what he immediately recognized as Laryssa bathing, ?I?m so sorry?I didn?t mean?I don?t??
Laryssa interrupted his incoherent speech, ?Yeah it was probably time to get out anyways.?
He could hear water splashing behind him which was presumably her standing up. He kept looking away and was blushing red at this point. Rabbit glared at him and made aggressive noises as it seemed to be handing something to Laryssa. It then put its shield in front of her and made more aggressive noises. Aaryn could hear hair rustling which he took as her shaking her head, ?Told her she should wipe this thing?s cortex. Rabbit gets really attached.?
After another moment of silence, Laryssa spoke up, ?Since my body is clearly so disgusting you can?t look, is there another reason you?re here.?
Aaryn turned around to see her mostly clothed and smiling at him, ?No it?s not?wait what?no I??
Laryssa was having trouble not laughing, ?Ever heard of language called Iosan? You should try it sometime.?
Aaryn collected himself for a minute, ?I noticed your saber.?
Laryssa tilted her head, ?Is that code? If it is, thank you I guess.?
Aaryn shook it off, ?No the one you drew on Daryn. It?s not issued to Houseguard, only Mage Hutners use it. And how are you a captain already? And the way you laid out that briefing isn?t something a Stormfall would know.?
Laryssa?s smile had faded somewhat, ?Would it help if I took my clothes off again??
Aaryn looked a little surprised at the comment, but continued, ?That?s a pretty obvious dodge.?
Laryssa shrugged, ?Will it work??
Aaryn thought for a minute before shaking his head, ?What am I thinking, no I need answers if we?re taking orders from you.?
At his more aggressive tone, Rabbit made angry noises, but Aaryn responded in kind. Laryssa sighed, ?I guess you?re house Vyre.?
Aaryn was surprised, ?What does that mean??
Laryssa motioned for Rabbit to step aside and it obeyed, ?The Mage Hunters aren?t exactly throwing their full trust behind the Dawnlord. He?s got an agenda and we?re interested in knowing what it is. After Fort Brunzig and some of the losses taken it gave us an opportunity to introduce someone into the ranks without many questions being asked as a number of units were being consolidated together."
Aaryn nodded, ?So you?re not a Stormfall.?
Laryssa looked abnormally angry at that comment, ?My *** I?m not a Stormfall! Do you have any idea how much upper body conditioning a Stormfall has to go through to hold one of those things at a draw? I wasn?t always in the Retribution. Before that I was in house Hallyr?s Stormfall corps. Going with the Captain rank was probably a mistake, but I was a Strike Force Commander in the Mage Hunters, so it didn?t seem above what I could do. More importantly though, what does some guy from house Vyre care if I?m keeping tabs on some bastard from Nyarr with an inflated ego? Am I right??
Destroyer of Worlds
Aaryn thought for a minute, ?I guess it doesn?t impact our mission.?
Laryssa had resumed a smile, ?You seem like a good guy, in fact Lynn said as much. You also seem to be pretty observant. If you want a job killing mages when we?re done just let me know. If there?s nothing more, I?d appreciate it if you?d leave me to continue getting dressed?unless that?s secretly why you?re here.?
Aaryn shook his head, ?You're a little crazy.?
She laughed at the comment, ?Of course. Earlier I simply objected to Daryn?s generalization of my house, but I can be honest with myself. Also, Daryn is a tool.?
Aaryn couldn?t help but laugh as he turned to head back towards camp. The sun was setting, but it was still pretty easy to find. The night was more uneventful than he thought it would be. After a few hours of marching your body starts to fool itself into thinking it isn?t tired, but you find out differently as soon as your head hits something even remotely soft. Even with Royce?s banter and pent up energy he was out like a light in only a few moments. Aaryn thought he?d have trouble sleeping the night before his first real mission, but he fared little better in resisting rest than anyone else and was gone before half an hour had passed.
Destroyer of Worlds
The sun was breaking off in the distance as Aaryn completed the assembly of the heavy rifle. As he took each part out of the bag, he inspected and cleaned it to ensure optimal performance. Even in the pre-daylight hours he had spent enough time with the weapon system to know when something was off. He wasn?t at all surprised to note that most were still asleep when he started the process. His only company had been a Stormfall that was refining the gear ratio on his massive compound bow, occasionally firing training arrows at a nearby tree.
Shortly after sunrise, the entire group had awaken or been roused against their strenuous objections and started prepping their gear. Throughout breakfast Aaryn kept mentally running through the tables for windage and elevation on the heavy rifle. About mid way through breakfast he finally noticed the entire small task force was as quiet as he had been. Even Royce wasn?t saying much, simply cleaning his weapon and checking spare ammo. When everyone was done eating, Laryssa called the group together. As everyone approached, all eyes turned to Nyssia who appeared to have located hot coffee somewhere. Sergeant Bryll was the first to mention it, ?Where did you find that m?dear??
Nyssia held it close to her chest, ?What was that you said? We all have our priorities.?
Bryll grunted, but said nothing else. Soon Laryssa gave the word to head out and they started moving. Daryn and Kerryck were nowhere to be seen, but Aaryn simply assumed by Laryssa?s lack of surprise that sending them out ahead was part of the plan. The march to the ruins took about half a day give or take. Despite everyone being on their toes, no enemy contact was encountered. When they were about an hour away from the ruins a bush in front of them began moving and sprouted an arm. Despite some initial surprise that almost led to gunfire, the soldiers realized quickly it was just Kerryck. He motioned for Laryssa to come closer and she in turn motioned for the other key leaders.
As they approached Kerryck didn?t wait for a cue and simply started, ?Good news first, whatever the Humans found is still there. Bad news, the reason we know this is because they have a decent sized force approaching who?s assumed goal is to retrieve it. From what we can tell, they have two infantry squads. We sighted one light warjack and we?re pretty sure there?s at least one additional, but it?s possible there?s more. Continuing the trend, good news is that they?re a little further out than we are and don?t seem aware of us, so a good hustle puts us in an ambush position. Bad news, a few of their rangers have set up shop, so they?ll have to be dealt with. Even if we can?t get them quietly, as long as the enemy doesn?t know who we are or our effective strength or position, we should still have a good ambush site.?
Laryssa thought for a minute, ?If we can, I would like to do this quietly. How many are there and can you and Daryn get into position to get ?em??
Kerryck smiled, ?Way ahead boss lady, Daryn already has the rearmost sentry tagged and will go for any runners he sees. In total there are four. I should be able to get into a position to grab one more, but that leaves two we have to get without gunfire or explosive arrows. These guys aren?t new to this game and they?re positioned to have line of sight to one another.?
Laryssa nodded, ?Some Star Strikes rounds should be quiet enough and if we can smother the flames quickly won?t even give a good smoke plume. Two archers per scout, seems like how we?re doing this. How long will you need to set up??
Kerryck held up a hand, ?Whenever you?re ready boss lady, just shoot and we?ll follow your lead.?
Laryssa nodded and motioned for Kerryck to get into position before turning to the others, ?You remember the layout so go ahead and get an idea of where you want to set up your fields of fire. When you get the all clear we?re going to need to hustle. There?s a position on our side of the ruins that the Stormfalls can set up on for the shots on sentries and it should also give them a good position for the fight. I?ll send Rabbit where needed. With any luck we can get the sentries quickly, ambush the enemy, make them think we?re something larger than we really are and that?ll give us time to see what the big deal is. Just in case, I want you guys set up for shots on the sentries. I?d rather have a few mysterious shots than someone reporting to the enemy we?re here.?
Everyone nodded in unison. The remainder of the march was done in an almost eerie silence as no sounds came from the Elves or the surrounding forest. As they approached Laryssa motioned to the Stormfalls to take up position on a small ridge with a slight over watch vantage over the ruins. From there, they could see three of the four sentries. As the Stormfalls set up and seemed to be mentally configuring their trajectories on the targets, Aaryn set up his weapon on the ridge nearby. The Riflemen were also creeping to the edge of the tree line. Aaryn looked through his scope for the first time at an enemy. The Human wore a green cloak and rustic clothing. He had taken a seat on some of the ruins and was eating a snack of some sort. These poor bastards probably had the same orders he did. Aaryn could hear the sound on the compound bows being pulled to full draw behind him. A sudden whipping noise and a short gust of wind was all that preceded the impact.
Gouts of flame exploded around the two nearest scouts. The third visible scout looked up only to be drug down by a dark figure. As Aaryn re-focused on the two in front of him he noticed one had put out the fire and started taking flight. Lynn called out target corrections to Aaryn as he watched the figure move in between the ruins trying to spoil shots. Aaryn took a deep breath before saying in a soft voice, ?Target acquired.?
Lynn in his typical fashion replied simply, ?Send it.?
Again the world faded and the movement and actions of his allies disappeared. All but the scope and target ceased to exist. The human looked as though he was swimming in water, his pace seemed so slow. Aaryn led the target as he gradually squeezed down on the trigger. The Stormfalls had arrows ready to fire and the Riflemen were advancing into the ruins trying to get shots when a sonic boom shattered the relative calm. The Human was in between two pieces of cover and had almost made it to an entrance when the massive impact turned his body into a rag doll and slammed it into the wall. The slug kept going and blew a hole about a foot across in the wall behind him. Aaryn stared partially frozen for a moment. The dust from the damaged masonry slowly settled on the blood spatter marking the wall behind his target. He could see the riflemen approaching, weapons trained on the Human just in case. Bryll walked up to the body, looked it over and kicked it a little before waving to indicate it was clear. Aaryn took a deep breath before pulling himself to his feet and lifting the rifle to its resting position on his shoulder. Lynn hadn?t said anything since the shot, rather he just started walking down towards the ruins. Aaryn sighed and followed suit.
Destroyer of Worlds
As they approached the ruins Keryck and Daryn appeared and waved in the leaders. As soon as everyone was present Laryssa looked to Daryn, ?How are we doing??
Daryn nodded in approval, ?Pretty good all things considered. We got the two in back before they could do anything. One of the rangers put the fire out just in time for Bryll to slit his throat. The last was taken down by one of the heavy rifles. The heavy rifle doesn?t sound like any other weapon, more like thunder really, so it?s likely they didn?t think much of it and even if they did it?s a lot less suspicious that gunfire.?
Laryssa looked down a bit then back up, ?Timeframe??
Daryn shrugged, ?If they didn?t like that sound and decided to hurry we could be seeing them pretty quick. If they didn?t think much of it, we could have over half an hour. Either way we shouldn?t waste time.?
?Alright, everyone start getting your people situated. At the very least they?ll know something?s off when they don?t see their sentries. The cue to start things off will be a barrage from the Stormfalls. I want you all to already have targets lined up. It?s possible the warjacks are marshaled, but if there is a caster, we may have to get creative.?
Laryssa then turned to Lynn, ?At least two warjacks means we?ll need those heavy rifles shooting. You guys get first dibs on the choice spots.?
The ruins had three main stone structures, two on their side and one opposite, all in varying states of disrepair. There was also a smattering of low walls throughout. Some of the low walls looked like the outline of structures that had collapsed while others just looked like walkways. Lynn had selected spots in the two structures for the teams to set up. Aaryn had his rifle perched in a large hole in an exterior wall. The doorway from the building he was set up in and the building the other rifle team was occupying were across from one another, so he could see over to Evelyn on his right. Kerryck had set up a perch just behind that building using nearby vegetation for camouflage, so the doorway also afforded line of sight to his position. The left half of the building he occupied along with the wall behind him were largely missing or crumbled, but unless they got flanked it wouldn?t matter much. The riflemen had been split into two teams, one under Royce and one under Bryll. Bryll was off to the right somewhere Aaryn couldn?t see, but Royce?s team had taken positions on a wall not too far in front of his. Rabbit and Nyssia were in the back of the building he occupied. Laryssa said she was going to leave the Stormfalls on their ridge and go where she was needed and Daryn just wandered off somewhere.
It felt like an eternity staring through the scope at the terrain waiting for something to happen. Aaryn honestly couldn?t tell how much time had passed. Each moment buried in the scope was practically a lifetime. Lynn off to his left was still silent as ever and diligently scanning every time Aaryn snuck a glance. The lengthy time behind the scope staring at the same cross section of ruins and tree line did have the benefit that even the slightest movement was easily noticeable. This bore fruit after countless minutes of waiting when Aaryn noticed rustling and quick movements. He heard Lynn whisper, ?Showtime.?
Aaryn?s scope went from virtually empty to targets everywhere in only a moment. He keyed in on a light warjack moving closely with the infantry, the first one to enter his sight. From Lynn?s direction he heard some movement like hand signals before Lynn said, ?Alright kid, get the legs and Evelyn?s team will go for the cortex.?
The Light jack had a design he wasn?t immediately familiar with wielding a pick axe and what looked like a grenade launcher, but it wasn?t difficult to extrapolate based on his knowledge of Human warjack construction where the vital motive joints were located. The soldiers moving alongside were wearing trench coats and looked to be carrying primitive single-shot rifles. Aaryn could easily tell who the leader in the unit was. When in doubt, always go for the guy pointing and yelling. Sure enough there was a soldier pointing and yelling that also seemed to be directing the light warjack. The leader was Kerryck and Daryn?s job though; Aaryn was only after the jack. If the wait before was an eternity then this felt like a time warp. He had his corrections and was already on the target, but he had to wait for it to enter the kill zone with enough enemies that the ambush would work. The Humans also didn?t seem to be taking this lightly advancing cautiously and trying to figure out where their scouts had gone. For a few moments they would send pairs of soldiers forward to see if they could find anything, then come back to report. If the task force hadn?t had so long to camouflage their positions, they might have been discovered.
Aaryn snapped out of his daze when he noticed the soldiers behind the jack appeared to be passing orders along the line. He readied himself and put the weapon on target. The soldiers started running in two pairs at a time to find cover in the ruins. After the first group was set up and the second running with their jack in tow, the area erupted in explosions. After his aim settled from the detonations of Stormfall arrows, he rapidly reacquired the momentarily stunned and confused jack. Lynn?s calm voice echoed more loudly than a choir of thousands, ?Send it.?
The light jacks legs were literally ripped out from under it. The massive slug?s appetite wasn?t sated as it kept going and found a soldier unfortunate enough to silhouette himself behind the jack. The soldier and jack both crumpled to the ground. The jack tried to find its footing only to have a round damage, but not completely destroy its cortex. Before the second round had even hit, Lynn was already halfway through the reloading process. He gave the simple direction, ?Put it down.?
Aaryn was able to reacquire the jack even with all of the gunfire now ricocheting through the ruins. It was trying to limp its way into cover as Aaryn called, ?Target acquired.?
Yet again Lynn?s voice, ?Send it.?
Another precision shot sent shrapnel flying and the jack simply collapsed. Aaryn could now see through the scope the enemy soldiers were practically jumping at the peculiar sound of the heavy rifles, searching in vain for the weapons. Lynn was almost done reloading when he called, ?He?s got a friend, go for the gun this time.?
Aaryn was quickly able to see what Lynn meant as a second jack of the same model appeared from behind the building on the far side of the ruins. He pulled up the scope and drew a bead only to witness the jack firing a volley of high explosives in their direction. The detonations rocked the area temporarily throwing off his aim and sending clouds of dirt, dust and damaged masonry flying. A few of the enemy soldiers were also firing grenades from their rifles as well. Aaryn was able to regain his composure from the bombardment and get back on target before calling, ?Target acquired.?
His call was not met with a response. He looked to his left to see Lynn slumped over. It took everything he had to remain calm and not rush to his spotter?s aid, but the heavy rifle had to be fired. He took a deep breath, focused on the target and in his mind heard the words ?Send it?. Another round whipped through the air at supersonic speeds ripping the arm clean off of the jack. Aaryn then rushed to Lynn but couldn?t feel a pulse. Frantically he looked around for a moment before regaining his wits. He picked up the ammunition and began reloading. As he was doing so, he noticed the other rifle wasn?t firing either. He glanced over briefly to see Evelyn taking cover from enemy fire with her shooter on the ground next to her. After Aaryn finished reloading he propped the weapon back up. Incoming rounds whipped past them, but he paid those no attention and found his target once more. There were two soldiers attending to the damaged gun. Aaryn lined up the jack?s cortex and again the phrase echoed in the back of his mind ?Send it?. The shot shattered the jack?s cortex sending shrapnel onto the soldiers trying to repair it. One toppled to the ground and the other gripped his arm in pain.
Aaryn then went to reloading the weapon. As he was doing so, Laryssa came in through the door, ?What?s going on here??
Her question was answered with the sight of Lynn?s body. As she looked over to Evelyn also trying to handle the weapon solo she yelled, ?Son of a *****!?
Aaryn paid her little attention and continued his work finishing the reloading process and lining up a third shot. Again the shot ripped through the jack splitting the already weakened hull and sending it falling backwards into a heap. It was at this time Aaryn began to seriously question their situation. From behind the building a third jack appeared, but this one he was familiar with. It was an Ironclad model heavy jack. Aaryn was almost done reloading when it appeared. As he pulled up the scope, the jack?s gaze met his own and it broke into a full run. Aaryn cranked out a shot at the motive systems, but it didn?t do enough damage to slow it?s advance. He figured maybe one more shot before the jack was on top of him as he reloaded again. About two-thirds through the process he heard another heavy rifle fire, but Evelyn?s shot was just pinging the hull. As Aaryn pulled up the scope again he heard from Laryssa?s direction, ?Damnit Rabbit no!?
Rabbit charged the Ironclad hitting it mid-stride. Griffons never ceased to be odd sights to witness in action as their force generators made them artificially light giving them a weird loping gait and an almost flying charge. Rabbit rammed its halberd home, doing substantial damage to the Ironclad?s torso. The Ironclad began to raise its massive hammer to deliver a devastating blow. The faster Rabbit quickly pulled the halberd out and made a second jab also damaging the beast. Rabbit tried to remove its halberd for a third blow, but the weapon got caught in the Ironclad?s hull plating and snapped at the haft. The Ironclad?s hammer dropped like a ton of bricks. Rabbit held up its shield to block and the combination of its energy fields and its own shields absorbed most of the impact. Immediately after the blow, the teal energy field surrounding Rabbit, overwhelmed from the force flickered out. Aaryn had his weapon ready to fire and the Ironclad was heavily damaged, but Rabbit was blocking his shot. He heard from Laryssa?s direction, ?Damnit Rabbit, get the **** out of there so we can shoot it!?
The Ironclad dropped the hammer again. With no halberd, all Rabbit could do was hold up its shield to try and soften the impact. The hammer blow not only sent shards of Rabbit?s shield everywhere, but shook the ground causing Rabbit to lose its footing and fall. Aaryn wasn?t going to wait; he had a clear shot and took it. The solid slug did massive damage, compromising the already weakened hull plating from Rabbit and the earlier shots and causing the massive warjack to stagger backwards briefly before a last slug from Evelyn detonated the main hull causing the jack to collapse to its knees, and then slump over. Rabbit rapidly regained its footing and withdrew.
Destroyer of Worlds
No sooner had the Ironclad detonated than another warjack crashed through the building opposite their position. It was another model he was familiar with, a Centurion with a heavy shield and large spear. The Centurion smashed its way through the wall using its shield and began a slow advance towards their positon. Aaryn quickly reloaded the weapon and lined up another shot. This one met with little success as getting to the vital systems through the jacks shield proved difficult. His shot sent shrapnel ricocheting around, but did little real damage. Aaryn heard Laryssa yell, ?There?s got to be a caster around here somewhere. You find them and I?ll take out that son of a *****. Get ready!?
Aaryn shook his head, ?Ready for what??
Laryssa drew her massive longbow and said, ?For this.?
As she said it, arcane energy flowed from her hands and eyes. His weapon was wreathed in teal runes of power as was hers. The arcane energy swirling around Laryssa formed two copies of her explosive tipped arrows above and below the original. Laryssa let fly the arrow and the two copies followed suit, all three phasing straight through the warjack?s shield and hull and detonating inside of it causing it to split like an overripe melon. Aaryn wasted no time and began scanning the battlefield. He was now able to sense things through the walls and other enemies. One figure, behind the building the Centurion had burst out of, had visible arcane power flowing around it. Not only could Aaryn see all of this, but he realized that if he timed the shot right he could bypass the defensive energy. He took a deep breath, lined up center mass on the target and fired. The figure?s armor seemed to absorb some of the impact, but not enough to keep him from toppling in pain. The weird vision quickly faded as Aaryn looked over to laryssa, ?I got him??
Laryssa was on the ground, but Aaryn couldn?t see visible injuries. He started towards her, but Rabbit flashed into the doorway, picked her up and spirited her away before he could do anything. Royce came barging in the room from the left, ?What?s going on??
Aaryn shook his head, ?Captain and the LT are down. How?s it looking out there??
Royce nodded solemnly, ?Looks like they?re trying to make a break for that building across the way.?
Aaryn jumped up at this, ?They?re trying to save that caster, we got to get over there. Get your guys together.?
Royce nodded and jumped over the broken wall. Aaryn picked up the heavy rifle, pulled down one of the bipod legs, and used that to stabilize the weapon in a hip fire position. It wasn?t ideal, but he didn?t have time to set up. As he started out the door, Kerryck seemed to have overheard and was already moving. The two of them met up with Royce and a pair of riflemen. Royce nodded as the group started to cross the area between the buildings, ?Sent two guys around to the left.?
Aaryn nodded and the group started moving from cover to cover. A few lone enemy soldiers were trying to make a break or get off shots, but were immediately met with a volley of fire. Royce moved up to the wall just outside the building and surveyed the area. He then jumped the wall only to find to his surprise a soldier had been waiting with Bayonet ready a little down the wall. The Human made a lung that Royce narrowly avoided. As the rifle went passed him, Royce swung his own rifle butt around into the soldier?s face sending a spray of blood over his armor. After the soldier fell, Royce put a shot into him and motioned for everyone to keep moving. As they approached the building one of the light jacks burst to life swinging its pick axe wildly. Even hip-firing the rifle, at this range Aaryn couldn?t miss and a detonation of metal signaled its end. Royce and his riflemen stacked on the edge of the building as Kerryck went around the opposite direction. Royce looked back at them, nodded and all three went around the corner in rapid succession. A few quick shots later and one of them waved for Aaryn to come back.
Rounding the corner he saw two dead enemies and a Human caster with a hole in his chest. Royce?s riflemen were already pulling the Human to his feet against his protests as Kerryck scanned the area for threats. Aaryn nodded and looked around, ?Looks like they?re routed, we should get this guy back and see how everyone else is doing.?
Destroyer of Worlds
The group started heading back across the ruins with their prisoner. They had almost made it back to the pair of buildings, now beat up by explosions and gunfire, when they noticed Sergeant Bryll and his team alongside Evelyn and Nyssia. Royce waved at them, and pointed to the mage giving thumbs up. As they drew closer they also caught sight of the Stormfalls who had come down from their post. As they trudged up, Royce dropped the mage in the middle of the group. The man looked terrified, scanning in all directions at once while clenching his still bleeding chest wound. Aaryn looked around, ?Where?s the Captain and Rabbit? Where?s Daryn for that matter??
Bryll shrugged, ?Saw Daryn earlier in the fight, but I wasn?t exactly keeping an eye on him after it started. Didn?t see the Captain the whole time.?
Laryssa?s voice came from off in the distance. As they looked, the group saw Rabbit in tow, ?I?m fine. This stupid thing needs to take orders.?
*Rabbit makes sad noises*
Nyssia stormed towards Rabbit, ?You broke both of them? Now you have no weapons. Are you planning on dance-fighting them to death? Look at me Lurynsar!?
*Rabbit makes more sad noises*
The rest of the group paid little attention to Nyssia and Rabbit. Laryssa walked into the gathered circle and glared down at the cowering mage, ?Who the **** is this??
Royce spoke first with a tremendous air of pride, ?He?s the warcaster. Aaryn here pegged him through a wall and we drug his crippled *** back here for questioning.?
Laryssa looked down at the man, ?Are you really a mage??
The man?s voice shivering, ?Please, I have a family.?
?And how many Elven families are ruined because of you!? Her words flowed smoothly into the draw and swing of her saber, slicing neatly across his neck.
Laryssa now had a line of blood splattered across her armor and a silence fell across the group. As the man expired in front of them she sheathed her weapon and looked up, ?That was the only question any of you should ask a human.?
Scanning around she asked, ?Where the **** is Daryn??
Everyone shrugged. Laryssa rolled her eyes, ?Amazing, simply amazing.?
As she said this, Nyssia walked past the group. She was carrying Evelyn?s heavy rifle, apparently heavily damaged, along with a blowtorch and a cup of hot coffee. Bryll raised an eyebrow, ?Where did you get that coffee and what in the name of Scyrah are you planning to do??
Nyssia held the coffee close to her chest, ?None of your business and Rabbit needs a weapon.?
She kept walking as Bryll turned back to the group, ?You know she?s coming back with some kind of monster right??
Daryn came running up shortly afterwards. He was nearly out of breath, but didn?t look injured. He held up a hand to show that he needed a minute. A few moments later he composed himself and stood upright, ?Figured out why they?re here. There?s a passage leading down. Didn?t have a lot of time to explore, but whatever is down there looks big.?
Laryssa threw her head back and raised her arms in the air,?Finally we?re getting somewhere.?
Daryn nodded, ?So we can leave.?
Laryssa shot him a puzzled expression, ?What the **** are you talking about? We have to see what it is. If there?s something of value and we can take it with us we should do so. Otherwise we need to at least let command know what?s here.?
?What? Screw that! We lost good people just getting this far and who knows what?s down there. Let?s just leave and let the Dawnlord satisfy his curiosity with some other poor bastards.? Daryn waved his hand dismissively.
Aaryn spoke in a relatively soft tone, ?That?s why we need to do this, to make their sacrifices mean something.?
Daryn laughed, ?Bull****! It won?t mean anything no matter what we do. I vote we don?t join them. If they bring a caster next time we?re going to be screwed without one of our own.?
Aaryn pointed at the Human, ?He was a warcaster?and so is Laryssa if I?m not mistaken.?
Laryssa glared at Aaryn, but Daryn just laughed, ?Holy ****! a Hallyr chick and a spellcaster. It would be a damn miracle if she was sane.?
Laryssa lunged out with her fist, hitting Daryn across his jaw and knocking him momentarily off-balance. Daryn tried to regain his composure for a moment, but was still stumbling as he spoke, ?You know what, screw all of you! Stay here and rot if you like.?
Daryn?s attempt to storm off was hampered by his stumbling gait. He didn?t look back at the gathered Elves and kept walking vaguely in the direction of camp. Laryssa looked around at the gathered Elves, ?Look we need to work together here. I?ll fess up that I?m have some spellcasting, but I also have some control issues and tend to pass out if I try to do too much with it. Our priority right now is to see what?s in that passage and report to command. And Kerryck, is there any chance that damn tool is coming back any time soon??
Kerryck shrugged, ?This isn?t exactly official. We worked with the Retribution because we wanted to, not to serve some self-righteous Dawnlord. I wouldn?t count on him stopping before reaching Ios.?
Laryssa brought her palm to her face, ?Can I assume by Nyssia?s cannibalizing that one of the heavy rifles isn?t working??
Evelyn just nodded. Laryssa shook her head and paced for a moment, ?Alright, we need a small group to stay up here and keep watch while the rest of us go in the passage. Aaryn, since you?re in charge of the heavy rifles??
Evelyn immediately interrupted, ?What! He?s not even a spotter and even if he was I?ve been doing this longer!?
Laryssa grabbed Evelyn by the collar, ?Look! I?m getting tired of everyone?s ****! Lynn said Aaryn was his choice, so that?s what I have to go on! If you don?t like it, it?s a long walk back and I?m sure Daryn could use some company!?
Evelyn quickly shrunk back. Laryssa tried to regain something resembling composure and tossed a small insignia at Aaryn, ?Lynn said you were ready, he just wanted to see you in combat first. I know this isn?t how you?d want it, but congratulations Spotter. Moving on, can everyone please focus for one minute? I know the Stormfalls are good, what is everyone else?s status??
Aaryn sighed, ?Heavy rifle teams are down two soldiers and one weapon.?
Bryll looked around, ?Two injured that can still fight, just can?t walk very fast and two more gone.?
Kerryck looked around and rolled his eyes, ?One poor bastard present and one utter tool gone who the **** knows where.?
Laryssa nodded in acknowledgement as each reported then turned to Kerryck, ?So you?re our recon, what do you think about our situation??
Kerryck looked lost in thought for at least a good minute before responding, ?Well a few got away, but it?s doubtful they got a good accounting of our strength. They?ve already lost a caster, so they?ll likely want to put together something pretty substantial before giving it another go. Given the distance from the closest garrison we?re probably looking at a day minimum before we see anything other than recon probes.?
?Good to hear, thank you. That means we have some time to dig around can probably leave a light group up here just to turn away prying eyes. I?m thinking one of the rifle teams and the Stormfalls should be enough.? As Laryssa spoke the sound of metal tearing and welding was coming from Nyssia?s direction.
Laryssa tried to ignore it as she addressed the group, ?I?ll give everyone half an hour to stock up on ammo and for the rifle squad to figure out who?s staying and going.?
It looked like Laryssa was going to dismiss the group when she noticed Nyssia trying to lift something and motioned in her direction, ?Someone please help her.?
Two riflemen ran to Nyssia and a few moments later returned carrying the hammer from the Ironclad with some modifications. Nyssia was immediately behind them and waved Rabbit over. Rabbit needed both hands to lift the oversized hammer, but seemed to be able to wield it. Then Nyssia took a wire attached to the hammer and ran it down Rabbit?s arm welding it in place at key spots. All of the gathered Elves couldn?t help but watch the spectacle before them. Nyssia wrapped the affair up by attaching the wire to something inside Rabbit?s chest cavity. When she did so, the hammer adopted the distinct glow of all Elven arcane mechanika. Nyssia looked at all of the Elves watching and said, ?tadaaa??
Bryll looked at it for a minute, ?I give what did you do other than give this dinky little myr a hammer??
*Rabbit makes sad noises*
?Well it?s not quite that simple, but it wasn?t terribly difficult. You see I could just give it the Human warjack?s hammer, but their generators are pretty inefficient and have a low run time in combat, so I decided to use the heavy rifle?s force generator instead and adopt the weapon to use Lurynsar?s own internal generator. Not as clean as I would like, but it?s better than Lurynsar going into battle unarmed.?
Laryssa thought for a minute, ?So it will knock things down??
Nyssia pouted a bit, ?Don?t be so simple, it will throw a target across a room. Unfortunately it reacts with force based on target?s mass, so if Lurynsar hits something with more mass than it has it will likely send him flying almost as far as the target. However, I weighed this and considered it an acceptable drawback.?
Kerryck looked incredulous during both explanations, ?You really did all of this during ten minute conversation including weighing the pros and cons??
Nyssia seemed to be insulted at this point and motioned to Rabbit, ?Lurynsar, please hit that wall for me.?
Rabbit looked down at the hammer, across to the wall, then at Laryssa. Laryssa waved in approval. Rabbit drew the hammer back and smashed forward. As the weapon connected with the wall there was almost an explosion at the point of impact, devastating the wall and sending debris flying towards everyone. As they collected themselves and checked for injuries, they looked at Nyssia who was smiling like a proud parent. Laryssa crossed her arms and glared at the rig, ?Fine I guess Rabbit can keep his new toy, but he?s putting it to use if we find something down there. Now everyone get your people together. I want to get anything of value and get out of this **** hole before we?re stuck defending it again.?
*Rabbit makes happy noises*
Last edited by Mastershake; 06-18-2012 at 07:46 PM.
Destroyer of Worlds
Aaryn soon returned to where the bodies of the fallen had been collected. He stood motionless, staring at the pack roll Lynn?s body had been wrapped in. He was holding the insignia Laryssa had passed him, that of a Sergeant in the Houseguard. Only a few moments had passed when Royce approached, ?Got a minute.?
Aaryn didn?t turn to face him, ?Send it.?
Royce gave a deep sigh before walking closer, ?I?m sorry about the LT. I know he was your spotter for a while and he was a good guy. Cryin shame ya? know??
Aaryn?s gaze remained fixed, ?Why are you here? Why are you fighting??
Royce looked skywards for a moment before looking down to Lynn?s body, ?If you?re looking for an epic motivational speech, I got nothin?. In the words of a great Elf, ?I gotta be me?.?
Aaryn turned to Royce for the first time since they started talking as the young Elf continued his train of thought, ?I don?t know why you?re here. Maybe you were bored or something, but me, I?m just a soldier. It?s like being around these guys is just where I belong. I?m not sure I can tell you what you?re looking for here and now I just feel like I?m rambling like an idiot to fill this awkward silence. Anyways, I hope that?s at least a little helpful.?
Aaeyn?s face contorted in curiosity before he mumbled the line to himself, ?I gotta be me, huh??
Royce gave a brief shrug, ?We?re fresh out of poets. If it makes you feel any better, you did good today.?
Aaryn?s shook his head, ?It doesn?t. And I?ve got something I have to do.?
Aaryn clenched the insignia tightly in his fist and broke into a brisk walk away from Royce who was content to not follow. Aaryn?s stride seemed to find greater purpose with every step and he soon found his destination. Laryssa was seated on a piece of rubble with none but Rabbit to keep her company and her large compound bow was stretched across her lap. Aaryn stormed up to Laryssa, but she seemed to take only a passing notice of his presence. As he spoke, Aaryn crossed his arms and added as much authority to his voice as he could, ?Why are you here??
Laryssa raised an eyebrow in Aaryn?s direction, ?What??
?You lied to me earlier and you lied to everyone else just now. You don?t have ?some spellcasting?, you?re a damn warcaster. I probably should?ve picked up on it when you started talking about Rabbit getting attached; it?s not exactly something a person simply marshalling a jack would notice. And what happened during the fight? Why was I able to see through walls and the enemy caster?s arcane defenses?? Aaryn rattled off the stream of accusations without waiting not giving Laryssa a chance to de-rail his train of thought like she had tried in their last encounter.
Laryssa now seemed to be taking Aaryn?s presence more seriously as both she and Rabbit stood up, ?Huh, didn?t figure you for this. Look kid, just because you storm up to someone and act all serious like you?re not taking no for an answer doesn?t mean you?re entitled to ****. That being said, you?ve got one monster pair to come up to me after I killed that mage in cold blood while standing next to my warjack and demanding answers, so here?s a little bone. My most powerful spell gives others the ability to hunt targets that the mage hunters use, but that one usually knocks me out. As for why I?m here, you?ll know by the time we get back to camp.?
Aaryn shook his head and shoved his finger into Laryss?a chest plate, ?Not good enough. You?ve lied before, and when we do get back, nothing?s stopping you from just leaving.?
Rabbit started at the gesture, but Laryssa held up a hand and motioned for it to back off. Aaryn?s finger had contacted the still fresh blood spatter from the mage, smearing it somewhat. Laryssa glanced down at Aaryn?s finger and back up to him. Her eyes were a deep shade of magenta that Aaryn had never seen before and her expression hardened as she spoke, ?You don?t get it, I owe you nothing. That little bit of information was a gift.?
Aaryn was startled by this as he withdrew his finger and backed up a little. Laryssa?s head tilted to the side slightly and a smile graced her face as she laughed a little, ?Lynn was right about you. You?ll have your answers if we get out of here, but right now we have a mission. You might to want to check with the riflemen and see if they have some spare long rifles. The heavy rifle might be a bit unwieldy in the passage, but I still wouldn?t mind having the extra punch along.?
Her tone was that of someone oblivious to the conversation they were just having. It was friendly and almost cheerful. Laryssa and Rabbit began walking off towards the tunnel entrance, but Aaryn wasn?t eager to try and stop them and couldn?t muster the determination to continue the confrontation. He breathed a long sigh as the two passed out of earshot. It wasn?t long before Kerryck, of all Elves, wandered up. He looked at Aaryn, then glanced over to the duo disappearing through the ruins, then back to Aaryn, ?That?s not the one you want.?
Aaryn shook his head as if he had heard the statement wrong, ?What??
Kerryck rolled his eyes, ?That?s not the one you want.?
?Don?t you think I know that?? Responded Aaryn as he glared at Kerryck, seemingly offended by the comment.
Kerryck shook his head, ?No, I don?t.?
Aaryn responded in an unusually smug tone, ?And why exactly is that??
Kerryck turned to leave and made an obscene gesture with one hand before yelling behind him, ?Because I wouldn?t If I were you.?
Last edited by Mastershake; 06-23-2012 at 05:32 PM.
Destroyer of Worlds
Aaryn stood silent for a few moments staring off into the sky. He grunted and shook his head before making his way towards Bryll and the rest of the Riflemen. As he approached, he noticed Kerryck talking to Laryssa a short distance off. He couldn?t hear what they were saying, but Kerryck seemed to be giving a layout and occaisionally pointed over to one of the buildings. Aaryn just dismissed it as Kerryck doing his job. He turned back to the riflemen and walked up to Bryll. He gave a brief acknowledgement to Bryll before speaking, ?You guys have any spare long rifles??
The statement appeared to shake Bryll from his thoughts, ?What? Oh yeah, we got some spares. Look, kid, can I be blunt with you for a sec??
Aaryn looked taken aback, ?Sure, don?t see why not.?
Bryll grunted and nodded, ?I noticed you talking to the Captain and Royce said you went to talk to her last night. Something isn?t right here. With her, with Lynn?s death, with everything. You need to keep your distance and use your eyes and ears around her.?
Aaryn gave a deep sigh, ?Not again, I just got this from Kerryck. Wait, what do you mean about Lynn??
Bryll?s face contorted slightly and his expression emphasized the scar running down his face and across one eye, ?I didn?t want to say anything, not around everyone, but I was with Lynn in the war of the houses. He knows how to take care of himself and something wasn?t right about the way that went down. She also took over that light jack right away. She?s dangerous, like all Mage Hunters. I?m only taking the guys from the old squad back in Ios down there with us. Ya know, just to be safe. And I aint turning my back to her. And I suggest you don?t either.?
Bryll shot Aaryn a stern expression as he handed over the rifles along with a pair of ammo bandoliers. He motioned to his eyes and over to Laryssa, then turned back towards his squad. Aaryn tried to shake the conversation off. Bryll had never been someone prone to idle thoughts of conspiracy, but even with Laryssa?s odd behavior, the idea that she was out to kill them or something seemed patently ridiculous. He stared at the ground for a second before walking over to Evelyn. She was seated on a piece of rubble and had the heavy rifle partially disassembled in the process of cleaning. Aaryn held out one of the long rifles, ?here, it?s going to be tight down there and you might need something a little less cumbersome.?
Evelyn looked up at him with an angry glare, ?Why in Urcaen are you in charge here? We both know it should be me. Instead I?m stuck as the shooter to someone who wasn?t even a spotter yesterday.?
t took until Evelyn was done speaking before she noticed Aaryn?s equally angry glare meeting her comments, ?I?m sorry, I know Lynn meant a lot to you and you are a good shooter, but come on. This is bull****.?
Aaryn hadn?t moved during this speech and Evelyn hadn?t bothered to take the long rifle still extended in his arm, ?Just take the damn thin. I?m really not in the mood for all of this. Laryssa is lying about something, Kerryck doesn?t seem to care and Bryll is going off on some kind of conspiracy theory. I?ve had enough messing around and I just want this **** over with at this point!?
Evelyn shook her head in indignation, but reluctantly took the rifle from Aaryn. She then rolled her eyes before turning back to her task. There was still a little time before descending into the caverns and he felt himself crashing from the adrenaline rush of the fight. He took a seat on the ground and inspected the long rifle. It had been some time since he had shot one, but it was an easy enough weapon to use and his expertise with the rifle was what got him into the heavy rifle teams in the first place. As he broke it down and began going over the parts he spent some time thinking about what had happened. His thoughts soon turned to the human scout. It was the first life he had taken and it seemed so mundane at the time. It was almost like shooting at targets at the range, but instead of just hearing someone call ?hit? or ?miss? there was a pink mist and the ragdoll-like body violently convulsed at the sudden impact of the shot. It didn?t help that the individual?s only crime was being given the same mission he had been given. This invariably gave way to the scene between Laryssa and the human mage where two groups of soldiers doing their jobs became one person with a vendetta cold-bloodedly executing another.
Aaryn couldn?t shake the thought that even with Scyrah?s condition deteriorating and Nyssor in enemy hands, he couldn?t see doing this. Aaryn had barely interacted with humanity, but Laryssa appeared to house a burning hatred for them. This war would require a lot of tough decisions and ruthlessness, both things Aaryn had never had a fondness for. Taking lives, even if they were human, was also something he was having some trouble coping with. As he wrestled with his thoughts, two phrases kept repeating in his mind. Lynn?s patented calm voice saying ?Send it? and Royce?s much less stoic ?I gotta be me?. If Scyrah and the Elven race can be saved by this war, if it really is a possibility, isn?t it worth any and everything.
His thoughts were interrupted, by the rustling of feet and equipment as the group going into the catacomb started moving. Aaryn?s practice with the long rifle hadn?t been forgotten as he easily re-assembled the weapon in only a few seconds before bringing himself to his feet and following the group. Everyone was gathering around Laryssa and Rabbit. Rabbit had two spare quivers loaded with Stormfall arrows on its back. The group going down consisted of Laryssa, Rabbit, Bryll, Royce, Evelyn and two other Riflemen from Bryll?s squad back in Ios. Laryssa rejected Nyssia?s request to accompany them despite her strenuous and ongoing objections. As they gathered, Bryll and Kerryck lit up cigarettes and Kerryck appeared to be holding light sticks. These were an interesting piece of equipment that used chemicals to create a faint glow. The light wasn?t enough for most creatures, but was more than ample for the keen eyesight of elves. Laryssa briefly checked in with Bryll and Aaryn to see if they were ready before waving for the group to proceed.
Destroyer of Worlds
The entrance to the catacombs looked like it had once been hidden, but the ravages of time had long since worn away anything disguising it. There entrance was a staircase of finely worked stone and despite the aging of the rest of the ruins, the staircase itself looked remarkably well preserved. The group descended in relative silence and the only light to be had was a handful of light sticks, the soft, teal, glow from Rabbit?s generators and a few cigarettes. For an Elf, though, this was still enough to make out designs on the wall. The designs seemed more like a language than anything, but it certainly wasn?t one Aaryn recognized. The staircase gave way to a hallway with the same finely worked stone on the floor and bizarre writing they had seen previously. It took Aaryn a minute to notice how little sound Rabbit was making. Even though he had worked with them before, the Griffon?s ability to reduce its own weight never ceased to be odd, or in this case creepy.
As Aaryn scanned with the long rifle he noticed an opening up ahead in the darkness. Bryll had apparently caught sight of the opening as well and directed the riflemen to advance ahead. The pair lined up on either side of the entrance, then slowly turned in the room scanning it with their weapons before looking back and waving everyone in. The room they now found themselves was a circle with six separate openings, including the one they had entered from, evenly spaced around. The roof was semi-domed and the same weird language was everywhere. Bryll looked down a few of the openings that all seemed to lead into other hallways before walking back to Laryssa, ?So what?s the plan??
Laryssa didn?t skip a beat. She immediately took the cigarette out of his mouth and flicked it into the air. When it landed the lit end was facing the opening directly opposite from where they had entered from. She pointed at the entrance, ?Seems like that way.?
Bryll furrowed his brow before picking up his cigarette, blowing off the dirt and saying, ?Oh good, I was afraid you were just going to take a wild guess or something.?
Laryssa didn?t acknowledge the remark and continued walking. This hallway was a good bit longer than the first. It went on for about a good five to ten minutes before a t-intersection became visible. Again Bryll directed the Riflemen who, with practiced precision, checked both of the hallways before motioning for the rest. As they arrived, the group congregated in the middle of the intersection. Bryll turned to Laryssa, took his cigarette out and extended it to her. She gave a little smile and as she was about to take it, the silence was broken by a very conspicuous ?click? sound that seemed to echo like a choir of thousands. The group looked around trying to find the source before a deep rumbling began shaking the ground beneath them. A large stone slab rapidly descended behind them and only Kerryck?s quick reflexes saved one of the riflemen, but the slab had completely closed off the hall they had came from.
The rumbling only intensified after the slab fell and Laryssa started motioning for the soldiers to take up defensive positons. Kerryck and Royce were covering the hallway in front, while Bryll and the other riflemen kept watch on the hallway to the left. Laryssa had started into the hallway on the right with Rabbit, Aaryn and Evelyn close behind when another slab dropped down behind Bryll. Laryssa called to Kerryck to try and get him back, but yet another slab closed down their hallway. Laryssa started motioning for everyone to run down the hallway when the last slab started to descend almost right on top of her. Rabbit swung his hammer in a golf swing, narrowly missing Laryssa, and connecting with the slab. The impact of the hammer?s force generator created a detonation that sent the slab back into the ceiling and in the process began to collapse the tunnel. Aaryn reached for Laryssa and was able to pull her out of the way of the falling debris as Rabbit was also forced to retreat. As the dust began to settle and the rumbling died down, Laryssa pulled herself to her feat, dusted herself off, then shot Rabbit and angry glare, ?Please don?t hit the crumbling ruins with an earthquake hammer.?
*Rabbit makes sad noises*
Aaryn waved his hand in front of his face to clear the dust and held up a light stick. The strange writing re-occurred here too, but otherwise there was nothing of note. He turned to Laryssa, ?Who would design a building to do this??
Laryssa shrugged, ?Someone who doesn?t want guests? What do you want from me, I just work here.?
Royce and Kerryck had heard the small cave in, but didn?t know what to make of it. They started searching the stone slab and the area around it for any kind of switch. Kerryck gave a deep sigh and looked over to Royce as if requesting ideas. Royce pondered briefly before looking at the hallway, ?Looks like the way out is through.?
The two riflemen with Bryll were repeating the search for some sort of switch, but Bryll himself was occupied. The dust had put out his cigarette and he opened up his bandolier for another one. As he took it out and began to light he casually called back, ?Wastin your time. It would defeat the point of a trap if we could just unspring the damn thing.?
At this they nodded and readied their weapons. As Bryll tossed away his match a slowly rising sound echoed down the hallway. It was an odd sound, like the scampering of feet and metal. Bryll brought up his rifle, ?Here?s part two of the trap.?
Upon hearing the sound, Royce took a knee facing down the hallway and placed spare ammo from his bandolier in convenient reach on the ground in front of him. Kerryck nodded at this and followed suit. After he was done, Royce tossed the light stick down the hallway and settled in behind the alloy sights of his weapon. Kerryck took a deep breath, ?You?re a good soldier kid.?
Rabbit heard the noises coming from the hallway and started moving down it before Laryssa stopped him. She then took a selection of arrows from one quiver on his back, ?Probably not a good idea to use high explosive. I?m going with incindiery. You two should get ready.?
Destroyer of Worlds
Rabbit was taking up much of the hallway, but Evelyn was still able to find a spot off to the right-hand side that had a clear fire line where she could set up the heavy rifle. Aaryn readied a long rifle and started scanning the hallway for targets. Laryssa was set up directly behind Rabbit and had an arrow knocked and pointed directly at its back. The sound grew rapidly in intensity becoming a roar before the first of the targets appeared. As the dark shapes grew closer Aaryn started to make out their forms. They looked like an amalgamation of rotting corpses and primitive steam technology wielding a pair of oversized mechanical fists, creations of the nightmare emprie called mechanithralls. Aaryn took aim down his sights and took a deep breath, ?Send it.?
The hallway erupted in an ear-shattering sound made all the worse by the enclosed environment. The shot was as devastating as ever, shredding the first thrall and sending a spray of limbs and heads into the air behind it as the round continued travelling unimpeded by the creatures. Aaryn could hear Evelyn reloading the weapon as he started tapping off rounds. The creatures seemed to shrug off some damage, but without the head, the bodies fell limp. With this Aaryn adjusted his aim. The heavy rifle seemed to be tearing them apart so badly it didn?t matter where it hit. As he started firing he caught sight of Laryssa taking her weapon to full draw only a few feet behind Rabbit before letting the arrow fly. The incindiery-tipped arrow phased through Rabbit unimpeded and detonated in the mob setting them ablaze and generating more than enough light for Aaryn to guide his shots. A few of the creatures made it out of the fire and through the bullets only to be greeted by Rabbits hammer, slamming them back down the hallway into the raging inferno.
After only a few moments, the volume of enemies that got through the incoming fire became more intense. Rabbit was having trouble keeping up with the mob of enemies, some of whom were landing blows that caused his energy field to flash. Aaryn and Evelyn dutifully kept up their fire nearly deafening the whole group with the sound of sonic booms and gunfire. As Aaryn took aim at an thrall crawling over one of it?s burnt allies through the blaze the sights of his weapon filled with another mechanithrall at point blank range. He snapped off a shot quickly, but it lacked precision and merely tore away vestigial flesh from the thrall. Evelyn jumped to her feat, but it was too late. One of the fists connected with her chest, shattering her armor and spraying blood across the walls.
At this, Aaryn instinctively pulled a knife and lunged its blade deep into the thralls heads. The mechanisms inside screeched in protest, then fell silent. Aaryn scrambled for his rifle and looked back to see Rabbit finishing off the last few. He quickly looked over to Laryssa who was staring at the walls and readying one of her arrows. She glanced at him, a look of grim determination in her eyes, ?They?ll need help. Get ready, this?ll be short.?
Aaryn quickly readied his weapon and looked to the walls. Laryssa brought her compound longbow to full draw and the air filled with the same arcane energy Aaryn had felt before. Again the two teal outlines of arrows appeared around the original and again he could make out the shapes of enemies even with the thick walls of the catacombs in the way. As soon as he could see what looked like thralls running towards Royce and Kerryck he opened fire working the action of the weapon as fast as he could to make the most of this brief window. He could also make out Laryssa?s incendiary arrows impacting and spreading an inferno in the tight hallways. Under the intense heat and cramped conditions, many of the thralls expired. As the effect faded, he looked back at Laryssa. She had collapsed on the ground again. Rabbit rushed to her aid, but Aaryn waved at him, ?I can handle her, just make sure nothing is coming down that hallway.?
*Rabbit acknowledges and heads down the hall*
Royce was calm, almost mechanically so as he cycled through ammunition with appalling speed and expertise. Each shot dropped a target and he wasted no time cycling the action on his weapon before acquiring new ones. Kerryck wasn?t quite as fast, but took a little more time to line up shots to down two targets at once. Together they were able to put up an impressive wall of accurate fire. Despite their efforts, the waves of thralls threatened to overwhelm them. Just as it looked like it might be time to draw their knives, the thralls started dropping at a higher rate and multiple explosions of fire down the hallway stemmed the tide. The pair hid their surprise well enough or perhaps simply weren?t thinking about it as they continued to cycle through ever more ammunition. The raging inferno took its toll and slowed the thralls advance allowing the stalwart pair to eventually end the last of the thralls. As the last one fell, Kerryck breathed a sigh of relief. He glanced over to find Royce had taken off his pack and was loading his bandolier with spare ammo, ?Damn, kid.?
Bryll and the other riflemen were involved in an intense fight with the brief illumination of the light stick broken up by the strobe-like effect of rifle muzzle flash. The bodies of the thralls piled up in front of the soldiers, but did nothing to impede the thrall advance. As they approached ever closer and Bryll had reach the end of his magazine, he slung his rifle and drew his knife. The other riflemen simply continued firing as he did this. A thrall approached and tried to bring a large fist to bear, but before it could do so, Bryll had brought his knife clean through the neck before it met resistance. He applied ever more force to the blow causing a spray of sparks and the thrall went limp. As the first one dropped, he could see another approach. It dropped both fists in a massive blow that Bryll only narrowly avoided before plunging his blade through the creatures mechanical spine. The riflemen behind him kept up the fire turning the next few brief moments into a surreal dreamlike fight with occaisional flashes of the enemy being illuminated by the muzzle flash as Bryll nimbly dodged back and forth with his blade felling the thralls. The sound in the hallway gradually waned and eventually came to a trough as Bryll dropped his knife into the last thrall?s head.
Bryll had taken some minor injuries from ricocheting shots in such close quarters and had been grazed by a few blows, but was still standing. The riflemen behind him began digging spare ammo from their packs shortly after the last thrall fell. Bryll took a seat on a thrall?s body, picked up his rifle, and dug in his bandolier for another cigarette. He lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply before exhaling. As Bryll through the light on the ground, he heard a soft whispering. He turned down the hallway and saw only darkness; too much darkness. He pulled up his rifle and scanned down the hallway. There appeared to be figures moving in the darkness or possibly the darkness itself. The other riflemen had followed his lead and were training their weapons on the mysterious black haze moving slowly towards them. The whispers intensified as the darkness grew closer. When it got to within spitting distance, figures began to emerge from the darkness. Confronting Bryll were a group of ghostly warriors with grinning skulls emblazoned with glowing runes of black magic wearing heavy armor and carrying large, wicked looking, axes. They were banes, and as they drew closer a smile graced Bryll?s face.
Destroyer of Worlds
Aaryn glanced down the hallway lit by the smoldering bodies of countless thralls at Rabbit. The light jack was maintaining a vigil a fair distance away. Aaryn walked up to Evelyn and examined her body. Her body didn?t look terribly damaged at a glance, but the powerful fist had crushed her chest cavity. Aaryn knelt by her for a few moments and closed her eyes. He took a deep breath then glanced at Laryssa, still unconscious on the ground. Aaryn pulled himself to his feet and reloaded his rifle before walking up to Laryssa?s. As he looked down, her body looked almost peaceful. Aaryn kicked away her compound bow and put his foot into her abdomen. He leveled his rifle on her head and waited.
It didn?t take long for Laryssa to start moving. She shook her head and tried to get up before she noticed Aaryn. He was glaring at her, ?You were right, just because I act serious doesn?t mean I deserve answers. Now I?m not acting.?
Laryssa looked up at him, ?What do you think is going to happen? Do you think this will change anything??
Aaryn cocked his head in Evelyn?s direction, ?She?s dead, along with Lynn and others. Now we?re stuck down here. Tell me why you?re here and what you?re doing or Scyrah help me??
Laryssa interrupted, her voice was calm, ?No you wont. That?s not a bad thing, but doing this, it wouldn?t be you and you know it.?
Aaryn?s gaze had locked with Laryssa?s. her deep magenta eyes were almost hypnotizing. He tried to shake it off, ?Before today, I might?ve agreed with you, but there?s only one way you?re getting off that floor??
At that Aaryn felt a tightening around his leg and looked down to see Laryssa?s legs wrapped around his. As he looked back up at her, he saw a smile on her face immediately before the hallway flashed out of vision. In one swift move, his rifle was tumbling away on the ground and Aaryn was on his back staring at the ceiling. He didn?t have time to brace his head and it slammed painfully against the stone floor sending pain shooting through his body. It took a second to figure out what had happened and recover from the shock, but he managed to sit up only to be greeted by Laryssa. She had recovered her bow and found a seat on one of the thrall bodies. As Aaryn sat up, she tilted her head off to the side, ?I?m not sure you can appreciate how futile it is telling someone they don?t want to know something. In the end, it just makes them want to know it more. Since we?re kind of stuck together I need you to have a small appreciation for this and simply stop asking. I wasn?t lying when I told you earlier that you would know by the time we got back, but for now I can?t tell you.?
Her eyes were wide and she had an air of sincerity as she spoke that made him want to believe her. He also couldn?t deny that that he would have just as much trouble convincing someone they didn?t want to know something they didn?t want to know. The mere fact that she hadn?t taken this opportunity to call over Rabbit or simply execute him gave credence to her words, but it was so difficult to simply accept that you could not know something when it was within arm?s reach. He was still rubbing his head as he spoke, ?I expected to be greeted by your saber when I got up.?
Laryssa nodded, ?I could see that if I were in your shoes.?
Aaryn was having trouble focus and still somewhat dizzy from his little spin as Laryssa stood up and started walking towards Rabbit. He turned back to the heavy rifle and started picking it up. As he did so, he called out to Laryssa, ?This isn?t over.?
She replied without turning, ?I?d be disappointed if it was.?