View Full Version : Secrets and Paths

11-26-2009, 10:03 PM
This is the direct sequel to The Sword of Morrow (http://old.privateerpressforums.com/index.php?showtopic=39048) but also happens after Hired Help (http://old.privateerpressforums.com/index.php?showtopic=132873). While this story will stand on its ow, for a good amount of backfill on the characters it is suggested you read these other stories first. Enjoy!



It was nothing short of a full invasion. During the winter of the year A.R. 605 Khadoran forces stormed into Llael's national borders. A few escaping Llaelese nationals fleeing from their occupied lands turned to their southern neighbor, the nation of Cygnar, for aid and succor. The alliance between the two nations had been long forged over the tests of time; Llael rich with natural resources and Cygnar strong with its technological and military might, each nation lending their strength to the other.

Cygnar immediately launched a counter assault on the occupying forces, but it was far from ready for an extended winter campaign. Khador however came well prepared for the offensive. Already a northern mountainous nation used to the cold climates, they planned well mounting a full assault into Llael and against its own small natural border with Cygnar. And while Khador took Llael easily, Cygnar had held their own border firm on luck and tenacity alone.

Meanwhile to the north of Llael, the dwarven kingdom of Rhul moved their forces to their southern border in anticipation of further Khadoran aggression, and while Llael didn't have an alliance with Rhul, Cygnar did. The two nations had been at peace as long as anyone could remember, but now direct communications had been cut off by the Khadoran forces occupying Llael.

Cygnaran forces continued to trickle into Llael through the winter months, mounting the best defensive they could against the invasion, but the harsh weathers slowed down the supply lines for desperately needed supplies and reinforcements, and as the winter brought on the New Year, Cygnar's forces were continually pushed back toward their own border. Major cities fell to the Khadoran forces along the north and west of Llael and by spring Cygnar had been pushed back across the Dragon Tongue river.

But the spring brought with it a promise of hope. Supply lines began to open up again and the trickle of reinforcements started to become a steady stream. What was becoming a strong force was almost ready for a major counter offensive. But what had been only little bits of information gathered by Cygnaran forces from the Llaelese refugees turned out to be horrifyingly true. Khador was killing the Llaelese nobility.

During the occupation, Khadoran forces had begun executing the Llaelese nobility that refused to surrender to the occupation officially. One by one, proud heads rolled until at long last one of them finally surrendered. The official documents were drawn up immediately destroying the alliance with Cygnar, and turning all land and title rights over to Khador. That was three days ago. This is today?

11-26-2009, 10:05 PM

The Kossite Manhunter yanked her axe out of the fallen Cygnaran soldier's chest, the dead man's Warjack standing a mere few feet away now as immobile as a statue. He had been sent around the small hill to guard the enemy's main forces flank. A single man and a warjack, Ha! She thought, as if that would scare any Kossite away. Now a hole had been opened in the enemies flank and the Shocktroopers should be able to follow her trail easily. And unlike the Ironclad which she had seen from the other side of the hill on her approach, the Man-o-war unit should be able to slink down undetected and make their way around to the back side of the Cygnaran forces. The hill came down just outside a copse of trees, which in turn blocked the view from the other side as well. The approach would be unseen by the Cygnarans.

She didn't see the unit that had been following her, but she had no fear that they weren't to far behind. She stepped over the dead man and moved up the pass. It was almost too good to believe that they had left their flank this vulnerable, but look at how easily they had pushed back Cygnar's armies. It was a good day indeed. It was with this thought in her mind that she heard the cracking of a branch from the woods to her side. She spun on her heel, raising her axe defensively. Two seconds later she was on the ground with a smoking hole in her heart.

Birds took to the skies, fleeing from the treetops at the loud blast, as crystal blue eyes gazed over two smoking barrels. Back inside the trees stood a Cygnar Gun Mage, a Captain Adept, looking out through a tree which forked upward in two directions. With a quick move he brought down his magelock, unlocking the breach and flipping the barrels forward to reload. He moved quickly out of the forest, his aim pointed at the downed manhunter. Her body lay twitching as she made short gasps for breath, each one shallower then the last. Her heart had been blown out through her back and now blood no longer circulated her body. Slowly the fresh air in her body turned sour and her brain would die of starvation. All she saw was her assailant's silhouette as the sun blazed down from behind him.

The labored gasping stopped shortly after he arrived, her eyes staring blankly up toward the sun. He looked at her momentarily, it wasn't to long ago he would have had a problem shooting a female. But the lesson of how dangerous they could be had been driven home with a terrible head count as its price. Now she was just one more opponent who chose to fight on the wrong side, her axe already bloody from the veins of some poor patriot. And then the realization came in a flash. There were only two guarding this pass, him and one other. The gun mage spun and ran toward where the other soldier had been.

Ideally at least a whole unit would guard this approach, but nothing about this whole cold bloody war had been ideal. Turning the bend, the gun mage saw his fear materialized. Slumped on the ground was Lieutenant O'Neil. He was? had been a young boy, so full of life. A recruiter had found him working on the docks in Caspia, controlling the light steamjacks for the loading and offloading of cargo from the trade ships. He'd never been outside of Caspia. He was engaged to a pretty girl back home, and had hoped to marry her when he returned the war hero. He like many new soldiers was nervous, but unlike so many had showed a great inner strength. Now he was just another name on a causality list back home.

The hunter's axe had made its way almost perfectly in between the plates of his armor. She must have practiced a shot like this. Inside the armor the Warcaster's body had been sliced by the axe's edge and crushed by its weight. O'Niel must not have seen her. The young Journeyman did not seem to have gotten off so much as a single blow. His warjack, an old Ironclad, must have seen something for instead of looking ahead for the enemy, it was turned facing its warcaster. Unfortunately upon O'Niel's death the link between man and machine had been broken and the warjack was now inert, with all the power and motion it wielded becoming nothing more than a statue of the great warrior it could be.

He knelt down and closed the dead soldiers eyes, "I'm sorry, Jackson." The gun mage apologized, using the boy's first name. "I'll do what I can to tell your girl." It was all he could think to say.

The gun mage looked up at the Ironclad. It was an older model; fought, broken, and repaired again and again, probably longer than the captain adept had been in the service of the King. The gun mage moved toward the heavy warjack, reaching out with his mind, feeling for the 'jack's cortex, the magical brain of the steam driven mechanika. And feel it he did. He put his hand on the thick steel armor of its arm, and the 'jack stood up straighter.

"Yeah, that's right, big fella. We still have work to do."

The gun mage could feel the acknowledgement from the Ironclad in his mind. The gun mage was about to give his first command to the warjack when he heard something. It had been quiet on this side of the battlefield, but now he could hear the loud rattle of armor. It was a sound he knew too well at this point.

"Slump down!" he hissed at the warjack and then made a mad dash back into the tree line. The Ironclad did as it was instructed, slouching back into the inert position it had been in when its previous warcaster had died.

Steam powered armor isn't quiet. Nor is it sleek. Steam powered armor is bulky and noisy. And it makes up for it being strong and heavily armored. And Man-o-wars are just that; heavily armored and extremely strong. Khadoran warjacks only come in one size; Big. Some have argued that the Greylords, Khador's premier magical society and makers of all Khadoran cotexes, can only barely keep up with the demand for the precious magical warjack brains for the warjacks that are made now. Others think that Khadoran men & women prefer doing the work themselves instead of letting some steam powered robot do it. Either way Khador had made up for its lack of Light Warjacks by compensating with battalions of steam powered armor units known as Man-o-wars.

The gun mage had heard them before they had even made it around the next bend in the pass. Five Man-o-wars came into plain view in their large and bulbous red armor, like eggs with legs and arms, super armored eggs wielding halberds and heavy shields with small cannons mounted in their centers. He watched them move slowly up, weapons at the ready, keeping a fearful watch on the warjack. As they moved closer they saw the downed journeyman. One of the Shock Troopers approached the corpse.

The Kapitan of the Man-o-wars stabbed at the downed Cygnaran soldier with the pointy tip of his halberd. Happy with his conclusions, he lifted his hooded visor, exposing his face, and waved his comrades forward. The gun mage saw it all, crouched down hidden in the verge. He could hear the exposed face telling his subordinates something, but he could not understand what as he did not speak Khadoran. Something the Kapitan said must be funny though, because he could hear all of them laughing. The only word he makes out is 'Natasha', and he assumes it's the name of the dead huntswoman he killed only a few minutes before. Finally the enemy leader points forward and the group started to move again.

While the Man-o-wars were busy making fun of the gun mage's downed companion, he has been turning the energy normally used for spells into Focus, and sending that energy into the Ironclad; focus being a boosting energy inside a warjack allowing it to increase its speed, hit harder or faster than it normally would, and generally making a warjack's abilities better with magic. And while the Khadorans joked over the dead man, the Ironclad had fully charged up.

As the last Shock Trooper passed the Ironclad the gun mage signaled the warjack mentally to begin its attack. The metal behemoth rose from its feigned inert stance. Taking its hammer in both hands it swung at the nearest Man-o-war. The sounds of crunching metal are barely overheard as the Man-o-war is launched like a Grind ball through the air, leaving a trail of smoke and hissing steam in its wake. The next Man-o-war turned back in time only to see that same hammer being brought straight down on top of it. The top of the egg shaped armor crumpled in, as blood spurted out around the edges, creating a splash effect like a spoon slamming into soup as hard as it can.

The other three Man-o-wars turned back toward the warjack, smashing their halberds against the metal titan as the leader of the Man-o-war unit, the kapitan, screamed orders at the top of his lungs. The first two pole arms do negligible damage to the armor on the arm of the Ironclad as it pulls its hammer free from the last opponent. The dead Man-o-war just stands there; its armor looking like someone had burst in the top of an egg. The kapitan fires his shield cannon into the warjack's chest as it lifted its hammer high again, the full force of the shot actually making the Ironclad stagger back a few steps.

During the excitement the gun mage burst forth from the tree line, enchanting his ammunition as he made his way behind the nearest opponent. Moving up he fired the round at point blank range into the boiler of the Man-o-war's armor. The bullet pierced through the boiler's outer wall and then unexpectedly through the interior wall breaching the armor itself, and while the round actually missed the man inside the armor, the damage was done.

The kapitan screamed in agony as super heated steam started pouring inside his armor melting through the skin on his back boiling his insides. Clouds of steam hissed out the bullet hole in the back and escaped through the open visor. The boiling Khadoran spun around in circles like some weird drunken dancer as he tried to get to the emergency release inside his armor.

11-26-2009, 10:07 PM
The other two Man-o-wars were momentarily caught off guard by their leader's cries. That was all the time the Ironclad needed. Releasing the hammer from its left hand, it grabbed the arm of the crushed egg Man-o-war and flung him into the nearest opponent. The weight and force sent the next Man-o-war flying backwards spilling him to the ground.

The last of the shock troopers used this opportunity to his advantage, as the Ironclad tossing his dead team mate had left the warjack's center exposed. He brought his halberd down in a sweeping arc putting all the steam armor's strength behind it. The heavy blade tore deep into the warjack's damaged armored chest exposing large gears and pistons beneath.

The gun mage had planned on sweeping around and trying the same trick on the next opponent. Of course he had only planned on piercing the boiler, releasing steam and water thereby taking away the pressure which powered the armor. The unexpected results however had proven far better than he could have imagined. He backed away from the dying kapitan who was now spinning in a steam cooked whirl. But as he backed away from one armored enemy the gun mage almost ended up underneath another Man-o-war as it crashed backwards from the Ironclad's blow. Only a last second tumble away saved his hide. From his new spot on the ground, the gun mage watched as the last Man-o-war tore deep into the metal chest of the Ironclad. And then he watched the Ironclad respond.

It has often been noted that the older the warjack, the more of a personality it seems to take for itself. Those small pieces from every warcaster that had linked up to it start to become the makeup of experience and even emotions. And while it is not always easy to spot, sometimes it is obvious. And this Ironclad was angry. If it could have growled it probably would have, as it was its controlled steam valve let out a loud high shrill whistle. The Man-o-war brought down his weapon again, hoping to destroy more armor and the mechanika within.

The Ironclad caught the halberd by its haft as it came down, then it brought up its own hammer and began to pummel. The hammer struck again and again. The gun mage could see the indentations left after each hit. After the first two strikes, the Man-o-war let go of his weapon, but it was already too late. The Ironclad kept beating and pummeling the man. The Khadoran stumbled backward, hurt and disoriented, but the warjack kept on coming. His shield had been bashed away and his armor war starting to cave in from the force of the blows, and when he tripped backwards and fell the Khadoran knew it was over.

The gun mage got to his feet watching the Ironclad rain blows on the fallen Man-o-war like he was driving a railroad spike. The warjack didn't stop until the round armor had a flat boxy surface. Steam escaped from every crack as blood collected in a pool around the fallen warrior. When it was satisfied, the Ironclad stood up and turned toward its new warcaster, the gun mage. He in turn started walking over to it, when the warjack charged him.

Out of nowhere the Ironclad dropped its hammer and broke into a sprint, an incredible burst of speed for such a machine. It ran straight for the gun mage. It all happened so fast, the Ironclad must have had some focus left. The gun mage would have been trampled had he been the Ironclad's target. It was not running right at him, but right by him, and just as it passed the gun mage it leapt into the air. He turned and watched the Ironclad fly by, missing him by less than an inch.

The Ironclad used the fallen shell of the crushed egg Man-o-war as a step to launch from. The warjack's leap lofted him into the air and brought him down feet first on the Man-o-war that had fallen to the ground earlier. The gun mage had forgotten about the Khadoran who had almost flattened him as he watched the final combat. But now that man was trying to rise and the Ironclad had seen it. The weight and the force of the warjack cracked and crushed the armored carapace. Two large indentations bit down into what used to resemble Man-o-war armor and now was nothing but a flattened hunk of red painted metal.

The Ironclad was proud of itself, and the gun mage that was currently playing warcaster could feel it. Pride. First anger and now pride, this 'jack had definitely been around a while. The Ironclad stepped off the crushed Man-o-war and headed toward the gun mage.

"Remind me not to p!ss you off, big guy. Go grab your hammer. I'm sure we have more work to do."

The Ironclad nodded and then went back to pick up its weapon. The gun mage looked once more over the small battlefield; one dead journeyman, several dead shocktroopers, and a dead huntsman. He looked back to where the woman would be, the view obscured by the hills. However what he did see was the Man-o-war that the Ironclad had originally hit. The shell was cracked open down one seam and rocking like it was trying to get back on its feet. The gun mage verified he still one chamber loaded and walked to the downed opponent.

Inside the cracked carapace lay the broken Khadoran. It felt like every rib was cracked or powder. There was nothing that didn't hurt in some form or fashion. Miraculously none of the steam lines had burst and he didn't see or hear steam escaping from the boiler. There was no doubt he was no longer ready for battle, but he thought that he might be able to make it back to his camp if he was lucky and could just get up.

The sounds of battle could be heard in the distance, but the steam armor pilot couldn't see anything from his current position, and then everything went eerily quiet. Desperate, the Khadoran struggled with his armor, like a turtle on its back trying to right itself and stand again. The large crack followed an internal seam and showed nothing but clear blue skies above. It wasn't until the light was blocked that he noticed someone was standing above him.

The Khadoran looked up and was amazed at what he saw. The brown of the trench coat and the bright blue shoulder pads told him all he needed to know. His comrades were all dead, and very soon he would be, too. Seeing a magelock pointed down at him and the Cygnus blaze upon one of the shoulder pads wasn't a surprise. What was a surprise was the man wearing them. Tanned flesh, long black hair pulled back in a tail, and pointed ears. The gun mage looked upon him with the sternest gaze he had ever seen behind blue eyes.

He spoke Cygnaran but with a strong Khadoran accent. "Since when do the Iosans work for the Cygnus?"

"They don't. They never have." The gun mage answered as he leveled his magelock.

"What? Then who? what?" the Khadoran asked, lost in the question.

"I'm just a half breed, you bastard. Tell your friends in the Umbra, Captain Willis sends his regards."

The Khadoran's eyes went wide with the realization of the half elf's final words only a second before a bullet went through his brain pan.

11-26-2009, 10:08 PM

Captain Adept T?mys Willis turned back towards the Ironclad. He missed his warjack. On that note he missed his warcaster armor as well; too many loses to Cryx forces had occurred recently, momentarily stripping him of his warcaster accoutrements.

It seemed like so much had happened over the past few months. It wasn?t all that long ago T?mys led a defensive force at a Morrowan church against a Cryx army. While he had successfully defended his assigned post, the cost had been horrifically high; all his men dead but three, his best friend resigned his commission, and the partial destruction of a prototype warjack. Shortly after that he had been assigned to patrol duty on the north western side of Cygnar after completing a mission for CRS at Point Bourne. The patrol had been much more successful mission thwarting some sort of deal between the Cryx and the mysterious Cephalax. But in doing so his warcasters armor was dealt a terrible blow by an Iron Lich, and now hung on a shelf somewhere awaiting repairs.

And now he finally found himself in Llael, a place he thought he?d be after completing his initial warcaster training. Only after the loss of his warjack and armor had he been sent here as a gun mage. That?s ok, T?mys thought. Fancy powers and advance weaponry are no match for a good magelock at your side. Quickly he reloaded his weapon and started to make his way over to the Ironclad which was returning to him.

As they met back up he asked the metal titan, ?Well, what do you think; do we wait here to see if anybody else might make a play for our flank, or do we head over the hill and give Marcus a hand??

The Ironclad did not respond, only giving T?mys the stoic look his helm like face was built with.

?You?re a big help, aren?t ya boy? Let?s say I just take a peak over yonder hill.?

T?mys crept up the hill crouched as low as he could get. From there he could see the real battle.

* * * *

The last of the Doom Reavers finally fell, a mere ten yards away from Major Brisbane?s feet. The look in the dying man?s eyes was confusing at best. Neither pain nor release showed, but an everlasting madness which seemed to come from the dark Orgoth blade he held. Legends told of how you could see the swirling faces of all the souls the blades had taken over the centuries, but all Markus ?Seige? Brisbane saw was black steel.

The Reavers had been sent forth first, like released hounds hunting down their master?s prey. They charged forth screaming madly if for nothing more than to hear themselves scream with their black blades slashing wildly at the air. It had taken almost four full volleys from the Long Gunners to take these insane prisoners down. Their bodies, leaking out the vital fluids of life, still trying to move forward as they lay dying.

Siege slid his maul Havok back over his shoulder and picked his rifle back off the ground. The canon fire of the Hunter drew him back to the enemy still incoming.

?Damn.? The warcaster cursed under his breath. He?d fallen completely for the ploy. The reavers had to have been a distraction to move up the slower troops. Men-O-War; Shock Troopers, Demolition Corps, a Kovnik, even a damn Drakhun were all heading his way. Not to mention three warjacks of a bright red coloration. At least the Hunter was doing its job though. He saw the biggest of the three incoming ?jacks stumble slightly backwards. Smoke rose from a point other than its smokestacks as it stood upright again and continued to move forward.

And that?s only what he saw in front of him. Morrow only knew what was coming up his flanks. He had sent units to guard his flanks but had yet to see either come around. To one side around the hill he?d sent a lone Gun Mage Captain Adept and Journeyman Warcaster accompanied to an Ironclad. To his other flank through the forest he?d sent a small unit of Stormblades. A team of Rangers was leading them through. And while Siege thought they should be behind his enemy?s forces by this point he?d yet to see any of them. He had heard gun fire coming from both sides, and this didn?t make him happy.

?Major! We?ve fixed it!? came a call from behind the warcaster. Siege turned to look quickly. The two trenchers; Privates Anderson and Jacobs, had fixed their Chain Gun.

?About time, Anderson!? He called back to them. ?Now get that thing loaded, we still have incoming.?

?Yes sir!? The young boy called back. Because that?s what he was really, just a boy. No more than 17 years of age. Hardened soldiers were in to short of supply. Cygnar just wasn?t ready for this invasion. Any able body that wanted to sign up was immediately drafted into service, with a uniform slapped on their back and orders in hand.

There is an unfortunate truth to war; you don?t go to war with the units you want, you go with what you have. And what Siege had wasn?t much; A unit of Long Gunners, a handful of Trenchers, luckily now with a working Chainer unit, a Hunter and a Hammersmith linked with him, and hopefully a few units moving up the Khador flanks even as they moved down upon his position.

The Trencher popped another few smoke grenades covering them and the Long Gunners. This was important because somewhere out there was a mortar crew that kept getting closer, but had yet to connect. What Siege had yet to see though was the enemy warcaster. All the damn Man-O-Wars and the Doom Reavers but no warcaster to be seen. It wouldn?t surprise him to learn that the Kovnik was controlling at least one if not two of the enemy warjacks, but that still didn?t explain where the enemy leader was.

Mortars came in whistling their approach, again falling just shy of the men. Round Three, boys. Look lively, the warcaster thought. Siege often thought of battle, as he did with most things, in mathematics. Once upon a time, back before Vinter Rhaelthorne had been usurped, Markus had been fighting for the Cygnus. And after two decades of fighting he easily saw the patterns and rhythms of how a battle progressed. And this skirmish was still far from over.

The Hammersmith moved forward with Siege not far behind. Allocating focus to both it and the Hunter, keeping the light warjack elevated as he continued to feed the spell that brought a large pitcher?s mound up under the it?s feet. It was actually from the Hunter the information fed to him on the enemy warjacks; a Devastator, a Juggernaut, and a Spriggan. Blast Khador?s heavy armor! Can you see who is controlling them? Siege thought back.

The Hunter answered the affirmative. The Juggernaut was being handled by the Man-O-War designated Kovnik. The Devastator and Spriggan were being controlled by the Man-O-War designated Kovnik/Drakhun.

?That?s a Kovnik?!? Siege squinted, looking forth with every bit sight he had. Sure as hell, it was a Kovnik riding the Drakhun. The realization came with a sudden queasiness; that wasn?t just a Kovnik? that was the enemy Warcaster.

* * *

Kommander Piotr Pomervich looked out over his steed?s head. The smoke cleared and the enemy guns fired again, this time at his Man-O-Wars. One Shocktrooper fell and another was riddled with fresh holes through the skin of his armor. Additionally one of the Demo Corps was also slain by the incoming fire. He quickly calculated the new odds in his head. While the loss of any Khadoran was a travesty, today it wouldn?t be the turning event in this battle. This little group of Cygnar was hopelessly outmatched.

Their riflemen?s ability to hit accurately had taken out his bulrush of Doom Reavers, but the conviks had died for the empire and that was all that mattered. It had allowed both his real force and his warjacks to move forward practically unimpeded until now. The only caveat to that would be that damned warjack on the mole hill. It continually fired upon the Juggernaut. Without mechaniks its right arm and weapon were now scrap. It could still fight easily enough with its left though, and there was no single man armored enough to take it on even in its current state. His own ?jacks remained in fighting condition, but his Kovnik would have to make due.

But where were his damn Widowmakers? He?d sent them up his right flank to the tree line. He?d heard some shots but still none of his main enemy had fallen. They must have engaged someone coming around that way. But all had been quiet for a while now. Either they had been destroyed or they were getting into a better position. Kora and her men were a valuable part of his army. They offset with there range what his armored armada lacked.

And the unit of Shocktroopers he sent around his left flank after that damnable Huntsman had yet to emerge from the far side of the hill either. He had heard a shield cannon go off once, but nothing since then. Would they enemy leave his front so weakened just to send more strength around through the flanks? It was possible, surely, but not probable. Cygnar?s strength didn?t seem to be relying on numbers so much as luck. Luck definitely seemed to be playing on the enemy?s side for this whole invasion. But even Cygnar?s luck could not continually stand up to Khador?s war machine.

The light warjack on the hill fired once again. And again the Juggernaut rocked back from the blast; a large hole now appeared next to its helm plate. He could see the Kovnik assessing the damage. The ?jack looked to its master, and then the Kovnik looked up toward Pomervich with the ?thumbs up? signal. Excellent! ?Forward, comrades!? Kommander Pomervich ordered pointing his axe cannon toward the enemy.

And then the ground exploded around them.

* * * *

11-26-2009, 10:10 PM
?Yes!? Siege cried as the shot from his Rocket Cannon exploded in the middle of the Man-O-Wars. Many of the steam armored warrior rocked from the force of the blast. Their armor appeared severely dented and damaged but none fell.

?Fire!? Sergeant Jackson ordered the rest of his Trenchers as the dirt cloud went down around the enemy. Six shots rang as they fired into the oncoming warriors. ?Affix bayonets, boys! It?s about to get personal.? The Trencher sergeant had seen enough battles to know when the enemy was close enough to charge. He doubted the armored eggshells would even expect it coming. Trenchers so often were disregarded, that was often the enemies? mistake. Trenchers were much more than ditch diggers and prisoners; they were a fighting force to be reckoned with.

Jackson watched his men attach the blades to the front of their rifles quickly, and he was impressed. He was watching boys become men. They were terrified, and he knew it. But if they survived the day, these boys would be that much better soliders for it. ?They?ll be coming in as quick as they can now, gents.? He peaked his head up to gauge the closing distance. ?But it won?t be quick enough. I think we have one more volley in us before we charge. Until then, smoke ?em out boys!? With that the sergeant grabbed one more smoke canister, pulling the pin with his teeth and threw it forward. His men did likewise.

As the smoke grenades flew you could hear the lever action of repeater rifles c0cking from the long gunners waiting for the smoke to clear, just waiting to throw back at the incoming Khadorans.

11-26-2009, 10:11 PM

?Shells! We need more shells!? The mortar gunner yelled at his assistant, deafened from the consistent thunder emanating from every round fired, waving one arm back toward the ammunition boxes before loading the last shell into the mortar.

?You don?t have to yell, Karlov!? the assistant yelled back, trying to pierce his supervisor?s complete inability to hear anything. He grumbled to himself as he stomped off to the ammunition crates about how he was never going to let his hearing get as bad as Karlov?s. The sad truth was his hearing was already starting to go.

The extra shells weren?t kept far from the mortar itself; just far enough so they wouldn?t explode to if the mortar was destroyed, or worse blown up from a defective round. He bent down to lift the heavy crate when he felt more than saw the shadow block the sun. He looked up expecting to see his Supervisor *****ing about how long he was taking. Instead he saw a gun mage with his sword drawn. He never felt the single slice that which separated his head from his neck; instead the last thing he would feel would be the dizzy feeling of his head rolling off his neck and hitting the ground. As his vision narrowed to a dark tunnel the last thing he saw was a large blue warjack walking toward the mortar.

Karlov didn?t hear the Ironclad come up behind him, but he did feel the ground shake. Somehow the old gunner didn?t quite piece it together. He had finished loading the mortar and was waiting for his assistant to help him reset the aim. He turned fully expect to see Yuri there. ?About time! What took you so lon??He yelled but his voice trailed off as what he saw completely shocked him. Towering over Karlov was a war damaged Ironclad carrying a crate of mortar ammunition in one hand, an overused quake hammer in the other. The warjack dropped the crate at Karlov?s feet with a loud whumping sound.

The winter guardsman looked down at the shells and then back up at the delivery boy. He didn?t move because he didn?t feel scared. Honestly Karlov didn?t know what to feel. Nothing in his experience had prepared him for this moment He had seen ?jacks before; either his country?s own up close and personal or the hulking remains of the enemies? ?jacks. But he had never been face to face to one that belonged to the other side. ?Dear lord.?

As T?mys walked up to the mortar he the other member of the firing duo being tossed like a ball by the Ironclad. Moving up besides his new best friend, he looked up into the face of the warjack. ?Really??

And then the Ironclad did something T?mys had never seen before as a warcaster? It shrugged. T?mys just chuckled. He turned to inspect the mortar. ?Looks ready to fire.? He spoke out but not toward anyone. The Ironclad could care less. ?Where do you think it?s aimed??

* *

?Where is my cover support?? Kommander Pomervich cursed. He knew his mortar had narrowed down their fire and should be able to wound the enemy, but why hadn?t they fired yet? His men were almost on the Cygnar forces, and while his forces easily outmatched his enemies, he didn?t to leave anything to chance. There were already too many unknowns. Where were his snipers? Where was his flank attacks? A whole unit of Man o Wars and that damn Huntswoman, they should have made it around by now unless they encountered heavy resistance. But there had been no tells of real fighting from over the hill, just a random shot here and there.

This location had been carefully chosen for this trap, a natural path through the forests of Southryne leading into Merywyn without using the southern or northern trade routes; large enough to move a trading caravan or small army unseen to the east in the direction of Voxsauny or even Ios without haing to go around the forests entirely. Once on the path Pomervich only had to wait near the center of the woods where the only opportunity for an enemies retreat would be a straight march from the way they came, making tracking them down that much easier. The terrain through the forest had never been leveled curving and twisting sometimes violently north or south before returning to its proper direction. I was littered with hills and rises, sometime splitting in two with a copse of trees. Even with all these hindrances it remained the quickest way through. And here the idea of letting Cygnar walk directly into a trap was working, that was until they started using their ranged superiority to their advantage. The only real advantage teat Kommander Pomervich thought they had. ?We?re almost there men.? He inspired his troops, ?Stay on your targets.? He commanded them as he reared his force forward.

* * *

?There?s the signal, Charlie.? Sergeant Engleton tapped his fellow ranger on the shoulder. ?Go let the Lieutenant know he can come out of the woods. Major Brisbane is ready for ?em.?

The young private zoomed back into the tree line? glad to be alive. Four of his teammates had been killed making this march around Khador?s flank. Widowmakers had infiltrated this side of the path, waiting silently for anyone coming this way. They had taken out the Rangers as they led the Stormblades around. They had finally killed three of the four man unit and subdued their leader but not before the cost to their own had been felt, four of their own lay dead with bullets either in their hearts or heads.

The Stromblades looked out of place funny and out of place surrounded by the wilderness. There Stormglaives and rod crackling softly as electricity ran up each? center. Their thick plated armor looking bunched between the trunks of young trees and verge. As the young ranger approached they all hiked up there weapons in readiness.

?Sir.? Charlie whispered loudly at the Lieutenant as he approached, ?Sir, the Major is ready for you now.?

Finally, the Stormblade Lieutenant thought, enough of traipsing through the woods bull and time for a straight up fight. The knights have no idea what enemies they?ll be facing, for they were sent up this flank as soon as Maj Brisbane sensed a trap. But Storm Blades are a force to be reckoned with? even more so when attacking from your rear.

The knights clear the forest as quietly as they can, meeting back up with the Ranger sergeant. Sgt Engleton looks up at the approaching men and merely points out toward the closest units of Man o Wars, a Demolition team all armed with Ice Mauls. Nods change between the two element leaders as the Stormblades head out.

?Sarge look.? Charlie points across the way where they both see an Ironclad coming up from the distance on the far side of the battlefield as they hear the whistle of yet another mortar shell.

?Things are about to heat up now.? Is all the senior ranger replies stoically.

* * * *

11-26-2009, 10:14 PM
Pomervich had moved his men and ?jacks forward as fast as he could. He knew he wasn?t quite in range yet to push them for an effective charge, but the small number of Trenchers and Long Gunners he saw across the way he didn?t consider a threat. The Warjacks might be some trouble but between his own two and the Juggernaut attached to the Kovnik, they ultimately wouldn?t be a problem. When Kommander Pomervich finally heard the whistling of the mortar his first shot was the this would end his enemy. The next thought was how loud it seemed to be getting and if he might have moved his own men to far forward in his run toward the Cygnarans. It wasn?t until the shell landed in the middle of his own forces that he realized something had gone horribly wrong.

The mortar landed squarely in front of what was left of the first unit of shock troopers, blowing two of them sky high with Annihilator Blades flying as the other two barely made it behind their shield cannons as earth went flying from the explosion. The shells timing couldn?t have been worse as the Hunter fired yet another round into the Juggernaut, this time blowing a hole clean through the center of the heavily armored warmachine. The already weakened armor buckled under the armor piercing shell completely destroying the cortex within before exiting through the rear. Every warcaster on the field felt the spark extinguish within the heavy Khadoran warjack. Some rejoiced, others cursed, but the Kovnik controlling the dead ?jack grew furious as the empty shell fell forward on what was left of its front. The thought that he would be considered more of a threat and would be targeted over the Kommander p!ssed him off immensely. But had they not targeted the Juggernaut from the beginning? The Kovnik quickly turned to rally the Demo Corps behind him into a charge forward when he saw the storm blades charging in from behind them.

* * *

The Storm Blade lieutenant leveled his Strom Rod, a voltaic spear upgrade compared to Storm Glaives, the swords his men readied behind him as the Hunter?s shot blew through the Juggernaut?s thick armor. And yet they hadn?t been seen. It wasn?t until the Kovnik turned around that the Storm blades were spotted. The Kovnik yelled something in his native Khardic tongue at the Demolition Corps team started to turn. But ready or not, the Storm Blades were upon them.

Arcs of electricity flew from the blades, sparking out across the quickly shortening distance between the charging Strom Blades and the Man o Wars while a volley of shots rang out in the distance. Shocked with electric current the steam armored Khadorans turned to face their opponents.

Knights crashed into the Man o Wars, the closest of which died first as an electric powered sword pierced into the heart of the egg shaped armor, the blade biting deep into the chest of the man inside. Current flowed into the pinned body as the whole suit of armor rocked and fell backwards. The driver cooked, twitching until the current no longer had an effect on the dead flesh.

The next knight brought his sword down in a heavy slash, but was met with the haft of a Man o War?s Ice Maul. The power armor pushed back against the charging knight? and won, spilling the Storm Blade backwards. The Man o War turned his maul on the knight who was trying to pull his weapon out of the armor of his fresh kill. He got one look through his dotted helm as the icy glowing maul tagged him in the chest, sending him flying. The knight landed yards away, ice already spreading out from where the weapon had impacted. Like a spring frost it quickly enveloped his body as he struggled against the cold that was freezing him from the inside out. There he remained frozen, dying under the icy chill as his organ froze.

As blade met maul sparks flew up and down both weapons. The mauls icy core tried freezing the sword as ice would creep down the edged steel only to pop and hiss as it cracked and melted while current tried to travel down the shaft of the Khadoran weapon until power would be required to defrost itself again.

As the warriors struggled the storm blade lieutenant pushed past the Demo corps boys and headed straight toward the Kovnik. But whether it was because he was the only man who saw the Cygnarans coming or his general p!ssed off nature of the Kovnik, he was prepared. He had seen their charge, and seen the level Storm Rod coming at him. The Kovnik simply leveled his Axe Cannon like a rifle at the charging Cygnaran and pulled the trigger. The lieutenant?s head turned to puree as the bullet banged around inside his helm. The Kovnik c0cked the repeater lever of his cannon simultaneously emptying the spent shell and loading a fresh one. Dropping his aim he went back to holding the weapon like an axe and moved towards the next Storm Blade.

* * * *

Things happened all at once. Siege was in the middle of getting a shot off with the Hunter as the mortar round hit. The fact that it landed on its own forces was by the grace of Morrow. But siege had loaded the ammunition with focus, the pure magical energy making the armor piercing shell even that much more dangerous. The effort had been worth it. The Hunter?s shot was followed closely by the Long Gunners letting loose yet another volley and then the chain gun crack-crack-cracking off round after round toward the Khadoran Forces. What was left of the first wave of Shock troopers went down under a rain of lead that sped down upon them. They fell like barrels, tumbling around in quick circles as their precious fluids spilled out the holes.

The Call for the trenchers charge came next, but not from Major Brisbane. The trencher sergeant had been around long enough to know when to seize opportunity. They moved, bursting forth from their fortified position as the Long Gunners let another volley fly around them. Each Trencher screaming at the top of his lungs as they ran forward. To aid this bold maneuver Siege sent the Hammersmith warjack forward as fast as it could go. Opting to put his remaining focus in the Hammersmith instead of maintaining his spell, the artificial hill on which the Hunter was perched began to sink back into the ground.

* *

In the Blink of an eye everything had changed. It seemed like the tables had turned without cause, and this did not make Kommander Pomervich happy. Men down, men engaged with hidden forces, his own battery taking out his troops. How had the enemy rallied so quickly? This was his ambush! The Khadoran Warcaster had had enough.

Rearing his Drakhun on its hind legs, Pomervich cast Earthquake. The somatic activator for the spell was the front hooves crashing down upon the ground, creating a loud echo for all to hear. The spells epicenter enveloped the charging trenchers, splitting the earth wide beneath them. Four of the six trenchers fell into unimaginable darkness with the fall shock troopers falling between them as the earthen walls sealed up behind them. It only a matter of seconds the ground had ripped itself open, swallowed them whole and closed again. The two surviving trencher only did so by jumping wildly and pulling themselves out of the crevice.

The Drakhun trotted over to the survivors. ?You would have died far less painfully in the dirt.? Pomeverich told them without malice before making a clicking noise with his tongue. On queue the giant horse began to trampling the two men to death, stomping up and down on their bodies until the screaming ceased. Their armored remains spread over an invisible fault line that was their brother tomb. The two survivors died painfully before those below had even suffocated to death.

Turning his attention back to his opponent Pomervich decided ?This ends here.? With that though he sent the Spriggan forth to meet the oncoming warjack, hammers meant nothing if they couldn?t get close enough to hit the target. Charge it! The Kommander ordered his own warjack.