Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We, The People [Session 6, the Finale]

The morning was still young when the trio were awoken by a panicked messenger. They were needed urgently in the command tent. They all knew what was going to happen today, yet as they rushed to ready themselves, going through their normal morning routines, it was still yet to kick in. The morning was foggy as they left their dwellings, and little light managed to break through.

“One of the nearby towns, Elise, has fired a flare off. This means the garrison who decided to stay in the town has been accosted by Red Tide Rising. This also means they will die soon, if nothing is done. It’s a bit of a drive there, and we’ve already got reports that Red Tide Rising are beginning to form into units and arm themselves for battle. If anyone does go to help Elise, they may not be back in time for the fight.” Mayor K. Peterson looked solemn. He was wearing flak armour instead of his usual suit, yet his bow-tie remained tight around his throat; he had no intention of forgetting who he was, or why he was here.

No one said anything. Everybody was willing to consign Elise to death, to protect there own. Peterson was about to continue onwards, until a hand rose at the back. All eyes turned.

“I’ll go,” Zanderkar softly spoke. “They won’t die. Not here.” He stood, and without waiting for anybody else, he left the command tent, returned to their nearby vehicle, and was gone. Everybody watched him leave, unsure if they would ever see him again.

“We have much to do..” nodded K.P., and after a sort explanation everybody went on their way. Darius Gould, so-far the hero of Viradenne Drop, went to track down Granth, the teams four-armed saviour after the disruption in Newarth, and the betrayal of Zackery. Augustus, meanwhile, was lost in thoughts of the battle. He followed Dunyain; he knew death would stalk the battlefield beside them today, and he knew many would not return to see their liberated town, assuming they even won. He strode calmly to the battlefield, standing at the edge of Viradenne’s grassy knoll, and removed his weapons. With his suits vocal amplifiers turned to maximum, he began to pray to his God.

“Listen, I’ll do what I can, okay?” returned Granth. Darius was asking him for his support. “The Cutter barely got out of Newarth in one piece, okay? This was a hack job to save my – our – skins. The desert air has chewed the engine to pieces, damnit!” He threw the wrench he was holding onto the ground in desperation. He was tired, having worked almost all night on the ship to get it ready. It still wasn’t even near. Darius knelt down, and picked up the wrench.

“We only want you to do what you can. Just like last time.” He smiled, and Granth took hold of the wrench; Darius refused to let go. “Okay?”

Granth smiled, and laughed once, a tiredness in his laugh. “Okay. Okay!” and he patted Darius on the shoulder.

It didn’t take long for Darius to get to the field. He saw Augustus’ prayer meeting, growing in numbers by the hour. Everyone sought salvation, and Augustus was the only priest here; the town had always followed Sammael, but now more than ever they needed that feel of salvation, to quench their souls. Dunyain ruled over stability, but also suffering, and most importantly, battle triage. Now, more than ever, they needed his kindness.

Darius gathered enough men to finish the trenches, and begin digging enough holes for land-mines, provided by the TOWER weaponsmith they had liberated from their control but a few weeks ago. They set up four marginal patches at key locations across the field. By the time they had finished, almost the entire defensive force had gathered. Four units had formed, with almost 100 men in each, and a few mercenaries sticking around to keep the units in control. The trenches were full with men, with three units equipped with rifles, and one with enough RPG’s to really cause some damage.

An hour passed in the trenches, maybe longer. Words weren’t spoken. The fog was finally broken with the sounds of soldiers marching, laughing and firing into the air as they went. Howls and the barks of vicious dogs caused Viradenne’s barely-trained ‘soldiers’ to panic, but the officers kept them calm and under control. Worst of all, Zanderkar still hadn’t been in touch about the situation in Elise. Tensions were thin. Darius knew someone had to say something, to inspire the men and keep them fighting whatever the cause. He stood, and spoke, loud and clear across the trenches.

“Free people of Arcan! I call you free people because today you chose to stay and fight against oppression and corruption! Today you will need to fight with not only determination but with fire in your hearts and guts in your bellies. Take a look at the brothers in arms around you. I say this because it is your job to keep them alive as it is theirs to keep you alive. After this day world will get back to the whole of the ARC, of how free defeated many and stood against a corrupt TOWER to fight for a fair and just world!”

The battle seemed to fall upon them in mere moments. Troops were a distance away, marching onwards. Barely a breath had passed, and the Red Tide Rising soldiers had moved into range of the Viradenne troops. A second moment passed, and the dogs were approaching the trenches. Shots were fired either side; most of the panicked men in the first trench were shooting at nothing but the dogs, their fear of snarling teeth and claws drawing their aim, but the small and lithe targets were too fast for small arms fire.

It seemed whenever a Viradenne Drop conscript stood to fire a shot, a torrent of heavy machine gun fire would chew them up before they could let off a burst. The unit to the far right of the battlefield was pumping out shots on the trenches, drenching them with hot lead. Many had already fallen. A second unit came charging from the city behind them, more conscripts arriving late to the fight, but Red Tide Rising had a near-constant stream of warriors from their camp.

Mines began launching flame and dirt high into the air, catapulting the hounds straight over the trenches, leaving the soldiers soaked in a gentle rain of blood and gore. Rockets from the now-set up Viradenne unit began arcing overhead. Still, the heavy machine guns cut a swathe through the entrenched units, and what started as a means of defence was quickly becoming a mass grave. “Someone gets those damn machine guns!” Darius roared into his radio. An unexpected voice answered the call.

“I’ve been saving this beauty for some time. No one takes this town without the Mayor’s say so!” Mayor Peterson rode past the trenches with a fully-loaded APC, pouring out a unit of men, and letting rip on the vehicles heavy machine guns. The enemy’s response was sluggish; wracked with fire, they panicked, before attempting to reposition and fight back. The remaining dogs poured over the side of the trenches, but there were so few left that the conscripts managed to finish them off with little struggle. The men cheered heartily, and prepared to open fire.

“This is the time! Your time! Show them the darkest hour of the day isn't in the night but here and now where we will show them no fear, No surrender! and no mercy! Open fire!” roared Darius. Their cheers were cut short, however, when they a tank began forcing its way onto the battlefield. It’s treads caught the dirt and much easily, so the vehicle moved at some speed. It came to an abrupt halt behind the soldiers, rotated it’s cannon, and let off a uproarious blast which collided with the dirt besides Petersons APC. “That was close! Little help with that tank?”

No one responded to Petersons request. The battle was becoming close knit, with only a couple of hundred yards between the two opposing battle lines, grenades and arms fire being exchanged rapidly. Augustus’ unit began to steel themselves for combat; the heavy guns had slowed their fire, reloading their weapons, and it was almost time to strike. The tank readjusted it’s aim, and fired another deafening shell from it’s cannon. This struck the side of the APC, which rocked hard to one side, then regained it’s footing. Peterson began to panic.

More reinforcements began to arrive for Red Tide Rising. It was with a cheer, and a sigh of relief, that a familiar voice responded on the radio; “Zanderkar here. We’ll take those heavy gunners from behind. We haven’t got the men for sustained battle though.” Augustus laughed, and spoke a silent prayed to Dunyain. “We’ve got your covered Zanderkar, on the way!” The two units merged in unified combat against the heavy gunners, and Peterson started to reposition the APC from the tanks fire.

Near the rear of the battle, though, a sequence of heavily-armoured trucks with an all-too familiar logo pulled onto the battlefield. “Logant wants these piss-ants taken care off. They fucked with him, they won’t fuck with anyone else. And whoever brings Granth to him alive will get more money than they can dream of!” The hired hands cheered, and rushed into battle, their combat weapons glistened in the scattered light thrown across the battlefield by the fog.

Units on both sides were struggling now. Viradennes men were defended, but as the enemy closed, they found their defences meaning less and less, and their lack of armour meaning more and more. “They have breached the trenches! At them! Push them back kill them all. Make them regret jumping into this trench with you!” responded Darius to the encroaching enemies. Red Tide Rising, meanwhile, were advancing on near-open ground; even with the conscripts lack of real training, it was a straight shot to kill a mercenary, something any strong-armed male could accomplish with ease.

The hatch for the tank opened, and a Red Tide Rising mercenary stuck his head out the top to get a better view on the APC, their designed target. The sniper shot struck him hard in the back of the head, his body slumping back into the tank. “Icarus here. You got a tank problem KP?” The Cendran mercenary let off an uncharacteristic laugh, and replaced the empty shell in his rifle. “As long as we’re not paying you by the kill!” Peterson retorted, and ploughed his APC through a unit of unsuspecting Red Tide Rising mercenaries. Realigning his scope, Icarus watched just long enough to see his armoured golem collide hard with the head of the tank, wrapping it’s arms around the rear entrance, and tearing off the armoured door in one fell swoop.

More of the Red Tide Rising reinforcements began swarming across the battlefield, though. As the soldiers looked to the sky, however, a large-scale cutter, large enough to easily hold hundreds of soldiers, began to descend to the rear of the battlefield. Worse still, it’s accompanying gunship, sent to ensure safe delivery of the troops, quickly separates from the cutter, and makes a beeline to the Viradenne soldiers, it’s large mounted plasma cannon making short work of the defenders unlucky enough to fall within it’s sights.

“You know, you can’t pay for those weapons if you die.” Leonard Lucas, the weaponsmith from Hess, spoke through the radio. “I’ve sent you some men. Heard they’ve just arrived. Volunteers from Hess, too. Don’t let them all die.” Darius spoke a quick thank you to Leonard as his men unloaded from a set of trucks, similar to the ones the weapons had arrived in almost a day ago; two full units, one of conscripts similar to the men already defending, and one a smaller unit of well-trained men, probably some of Leonards own bodyguards, equipped with heavy missile launchers and ready to fight.

The tide of the battle began to shift quickly. The Red Tide Rising battle lines, despite reinforcement began to weaken. Their reinforcements began to thin. A commander had stepped into the centre of the battlefield, made visible by his shouts and calls to his fellow men, demanded loyalty, and expecting the utmost. Soldiers around him began to fight harder than ever. The commander himself was a sorcerer, who was launching bouts of raw energy at the conscripts, burning many alive. Next to the sorcerer, bound by spoken chains, stood a monstrosity; a creature of pure flame and ash, an Elemental, defined and enslaved by the sorcerer. The creature released a torrent of flame on any target within reach, scorching whole squads alive.

“Vile abomination!” roared Augustus; he was a Priest, one who spoke out against the whims of sorcerers, and their most vocal opponents. A Priests faith in their God was enough to produce miracles, and yet a sorcerer took those miracles and corrupted them, working and reworking them on a daily basis. Augustus struck out from his unit, and charged the sorcerer. The Elemental reached with flaming arms to knock Augustus back, until a well-placed shot from Zanderkar sent the creature reeling. It’s flaming eyes turned back to the Indrafil sorcerer, and each half-wrapped in the Unreal, they began to duel.

Augustus had reached the sorcerer. He drew his short sword, the sorcerer lifting his curved sacrificial dagger, and the two began to swirl around each other in lethal combat, swapping blow for blow; the sorcerer dipping into the Unreal to predict and respond to Augustus’ blows, where Augustus using his faith in God, and his suits inbuilt computer, to respond in lightning speed.

In the battle, the gunship was tearing apart the soldiers of Viradenne. The cutter began to unload scores of men, the trained elites of TOWER sent to ensure success, and they were attacking as only a trained and unified unit can. The golem belonging to Icarus quickly made short work of the tank, and turned to plow headlong through the units around him. Icarus himself had loaded his rifle with ‘Killer’ rounds, utilising the extra armour piercing to begin tearing through the gunship with the rifle. The unit sent by Leonard was preparing it’s heavy launchers, waiting to get a lock on the gunship.

Peterson, meanwhile, was driven into a fury by the TOWER units, driving his APC head-first into the masses, firing as he went from the heavy mounted machine guns. Few could respond to this armoured threat. Logant’s men, meanwhile, had managed to get into close range of a number of Viradennes unit, and was overwhelming them with superior strength, firepower, and equipment. Until the radio crackled to life one more time.

“Darius, I owe you this, I guess,” muttered Granth, as his own personal cutter roared to life over the battlefield. The passenger hatch opened wide, a pair of heavy gunners were raking fire across Logants men. “And Logant, you bastard, I owe you this too!” The squad was quickly torn to shreds, as Viradenne soldiers swarmed over them. More mines were exploding as Red Tide Rising soldiers tried to close the gap against their enemies, and quickly found themselves overwhelmed.

The Elemental was silent as it unleashed flaming bolt after bolt at Zanderkar; it was silent, unspeaking and uncaring. Zanderkar deflected the majority of the blows with his own grasp of the Unreal, his knowledge of Arcane power, and redirected mental blasts of energy at the creature, together with shots from his own ranged weapons. The creature looked sad, not angry or enraged, as first it’s leg, and then it’s arm, simply faded to ash and dust before it. But it fought as a prisoner fought; ruthless, and without care for anyone around it. The Elemental erupted, spreading molten fire and igniting the air around it. Zanderkar was hit hard, but was still standing; many Red Tide Rising soldiers were simply burnt alive.

The sorcerer was tiring, keeping mental control of the Elemental while fighting Augustus. A parry to the left, a lucky dodge, and an overshot from the sorcerer gave Augustus the opportunity he needed; he plunged his short sword hard into the sorcerers chest, who gasped for air. He fell to his knees. The Elemental was already beginning to solidify and crumble. With a final blow, Augustus cleaved the sorcerers head clean off, ending the creatures foul connection with the Unreal. The Elemental crumbled; flames ruptured from it’s body, burning those too close, including Zanderkar. A one-armed, one-legged statue was left standing in it’s place.

The battle was nearing it’s end when the radios again buzzed to life, this time with a message of hate, not support; “You fools! You pay good money for mercenaries and they send you these useless bastards who couldn’t even take a peasant town if it was handed to them on a plate! You won’t get past me! Not now! I’ll raze your town to the ground!”

The battlemech stood four stories tall, and towered over the battlefield. Administrator Albert Simms looked confident in the cockpit, even as the battle fell apart. The Inferno cannon mounted on the mechs back rages into life, and wipes out an entire unit of Viradennes conscripts in an instant, reduced to nothing but shadows and memories. Darius redirected almost all fire towards the mech; they had to take it over.

A swift shot from Leonards men, and the gunship was brought crashing down into the now-empty trenches. The APC and the Cutter, with Peterson and Granth respectively, had removed their targets and turned to face the mech; the APC began raking it with heavy weapon fire, and the Cutter flew lazy circles around it, firing off at-will. Icarus used his rifle to target key areas, while the golem lifted the tanks remains into the air, and hurled them at the mech, to little effect. The rocket troops re-grouped with Leonards men, and began unleashing punishing volleys of concentrated fire on the mech, together with the remaining soldiers and their small-arms.

The mech turns hard, attempting to swat down the Cutter; it’s powerful pulse cannon firing five times, hitting the Cutter only on the last. It was enough though, and the craft plummeted to the ground through a haze of smoke and flashing alarms. “Aim for the leg!” shouted Zanderkar, mentally weakened from his battle and quickly falling back with the rest of his unit. Darius saw it, and so did Augustus; when it turned, it’s weight shifted hard onto one leg.

The mech turned to shoot once more. Before the shot was unleashed, the order was given; rockets, high-powered rifle shots, a thrown piece of the gunship, and small- and heavy-arms fire all collided hard with the left leg of the mech, a few pinpoint shots colliding hard with the joint, and the other shots breaching the armour, leaving the leg a mess. It fired hard from the pulse cannon, but it still stood. “Once more!” roared Darius! “It’s got to work,” he spoke, softly this time, more for himself and his God than his men.

The Inferno cannon began to charge, and aimed at the bulk of the surviving men. The barrel lit up brightly. And it fired. The blast of energy shot off into the sky above Viradenne Drop, and the leg crumpled, the energy discharged from the Inferno cannon throwing it completely off balance. The leg remained standing, while the battlemech fell hard backwards.

Everyone cheered, throwing their weapons into the air as the colossal machine crashed to the ground. Many rejoiced. Until the battlemechs free arm lifted, and began firing cannon shots wildly, both at the men it could still target, and at the town itself. Few connected, but those that did were devastating.

Augustus was already there though. He climbed, then punched hard, again and again, through the glass of the cockpit. “You don’t want to do this! Let me go, I can make you rich! Take you back home to Cendra! Or..or.. to the ARC! Loadsa nice tech, chapels and temples for every God. Women?! You want Women?! Money?! He rapidly tried to undo his belt, but he was trapped, and all of his men were dead. The class shattered, and before Simms could respond, he took a hard blow to his forehead, and everything went dark.


The party was huge. Everybody from every town nearby had gathered. Leonard had arrived to celebrate. Icarus helped an injured-but-well Granth to the head table. Darius, Augustus, and Zanderkar took the head position at the table; behind them, Albert Simms was tied to a post, long-since given up struggling and screaming, now simply tired and defeated. Peterson patted Darius on the shoulder, while bringing another drink for Zanderkar. A few scribes knelt next to Augustus from the local temple, desperate for him to pray with them in the next service. Darius stood, and everybody went silent.

“Men and Women,” he sighed, then smiled as he looked around. So many people, young and eager, aged and experienced, all looking to him. “Today you not only did yourselves proud, but also your friends and families, comrades, and above all, Me. It may not seem like a victory as the casualties were high but Tower will think twice about attacking again. Remember the dead as they sacrificed there lives for this town and neighbouring towns survival!” Everyone said a solemn prayed for the dead, took a drink, and the festivities continued deep into the night.

Young women approaching an otherwise-shy Darius, asking to dance with him next, even though he hadn’t stopped all night. Zanderkar spoke with the men of Elise, speaking of his knowledge of the Unreal, and his battle with the Elemental. And men, women and children all gathered around Augustus, familiar with his prayer before the battle, begging him to tell the story of Viradenne Drop one more time…


“And Simms?..”

“Gone, Sir. The battlemech is damaged, but intact. He was captured.”

He sighed. The Chief Administrator looked out over the planet Arcan from the TOWER capital ship, high above the planet. Here, he could barely even make out the entire Cain region. The continent in question was smaller than his clenched fist.

“Okay.” He span the chair to face his second. “I want news leaks sent out immediately, dated two weeks ago, about the rogue status of Albert Simms. Something along the lines of ‘due to the murder of his family blah blah blah he went rogue in the Cain region blah blah blah.’ He’ll be blamed for the terrorist activities over the last few weeks, and listed as their ringleader. He took a unit of freelancers and attacked TOWER outposts in Cain, and we responded with our trained elites. Many innocents lost their lives, but he was eradicated. Get reliable witnesses. You'll have to kill his family, too, but I think that goes without saying.”

“Of course, sir. And the body?”

“Well, we’re just going to have to get it back..”

“Yes, Chief Administrator Healy.”

The Chief Administrator turned back to the planet. “At least they lost,” he mused. “God knows the political backlash if he had won and taken Cain. Hopefully they kill the bastard. It’ll save us doing it…..”

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