There was once a young knight, who was to marry a beautiful and kind princess. On their wedding day, however, a dragon appeared from underneath the ground and stole the princess away. The knight vowed to the king that he would defeat the dragon and return with the king’s daughter, before embarking upon his quest with nary but a blade and a coat of mail. The dragon’s home was far, it was said, but the knight was not discouraged, and claimed that he would return triumphant. Weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. Still the Dragon’s lair remained as far away as ever; it had cast a spell so that all who tread upon ground would walk hundreds of times as far to reach its home. The years passed, and the knight aged. Along with his youth, disappeared his memory of the princess, the king, and all reason why he had gone on his quest in the first place. All he knew was that he pursued the Dragon.“Forget about the Dragon, and stay here,” he had heard many times, but his mission could not be put aside. The knight continued ever onward, towards his hopelessly distant goal.This was a folk tale that dated back to the times of Nauk Imperial, almost two millennia ago. Many endings to the tale have been told, but the original tale, strangely, had no such ending. Every contemporary writing of it ended with the knight’s journey far from over, with the conclusion to his quest nowhere within his reach.-----You are Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht, officer of Panzers in the Archduke’s army. You remained such, even though you and your compatriots would be named deserter and traitor by most right now, excepting the schemers in the Intelligence Office whom had sent you on this uncertain journey.It was for a good purpose, no doubt. Worth all of the risk and temporary dishonor; a mission to rescue about thirteen score of hostages from the clutches of savage eastern banditry, who had been holding them as ransom against invasion by your allies.
You had just slain their leader, one Selgess the Skull, and as could be expected of mercenary criminals, they abandoned their postings to begin a trek home to determine their new king, but your mission was far from over. You were to pursue these beasts home to their degenerate nation, and save these innocent lives; the most prominent among them being your fiancée, Maddalyn Von Blum, who had been snatched just hours ago.After your victory over the leader of these brigands, his underlings had retreated, but pursuing them was not an option, not immediately. As much as it would have pleased you, chasing the Blood Suns through Valsten dressed as Strossvalders was far from a wise idea. Instead, the plan of the Intelligence Office demanded that you break southwards, and meet disguised infiltrators, who would aid you in preparing proper concealment and supplies for your journey. Your equipment would still unmistakably be of Strossvald origin, but Sosaldt’s arms market was such that, apparently, one could find just about anything there. So long as you wore the proper colors, no questions would be asked. Apparently.You counted yourself quite lucky that you had to do no more fighting when you saw the telltale mark of an infiltrator; a black armband worn above Valsten’s plain khaki uniform. Your own vehicle was in little shape for a fight, having had its turret partially shattered by a heavy shell from Selgess’s landship.The damage your tank had suffered had its own bizarre quality that you would not have expected from any other vehicle in your platoon. During a battle you fought in on your way to challenge Selgess, yet another heavy hit to the turret had been mitigated by some layer of meticulously engraved golden plate that had a strange creature living within it. Said creature had also repaired the damage that had been taken in short order.Thusly it wasn’t too great of a surprise that, between the deep cracks that ran through the turret, deep black ichor was oozing out. Stein had been concerned about the tank “bleeding,” but you had seen such happen with Maddalyn before, and she didn’t seem to suffer very much permanently from it, despite how alarming it was too see at first. You hoped that it was merely part of a healing process; that your tank would, like before, reassemble itself.
You at least wished that it would finish before you had to explain what in the world was happening to more than befuddled Intelligence Agent; you could fob off one with excuses about oil and lubricant, but more witnesses meant more questions, and the less of those the better.Thankfully, by the time you were herded to a more discreet place to hide, the seepage had crystalized into a thick, flaky matter that, while still disconcerting to look at, was far more mundane looking than a bleeding machine would be.You were all led into a subterranean bunker, which was full of plainly clothed people of all sorts; presumably a whole mess of Intelligence agents, inhabiting a structure not built for them at all.A team of men dressed in stained coveralls had led your vehicles away, presumably to be repainted in the colors of the Blood Sun. It would likely be much easier since you had stolen one of their vehicles; nothing aided a disguise like a three dimensional reference.You accosted the group observing your entry as soon as your tanks were gone.“When will all this be finished?” you demanded of them, “I don’t have time to waste.”“Calm down,” a stern, long haired woman who was dressed in clothes that looked more suited to a walk in the park than being worn by an agent of the Archduke’s Intelligence, although that may have been the point in its entirety. “Your quarry is not the type to cover their tracks. You do have background in basic intelligence gathering, do you not?”It made you uncomfortable for this bunch who you’d just met to already know so much about you. “I don’t see why that excuses any delay.” You pointed out bluntly.“This delay is entirely intentional, Lieutenant,” the woman snapped back, “Did you think you could follow them at an arm’s length and expect them not to notice? The further behind them you are, the better. So long as you arrive in East Valsten within three days.”“Why? Are they about to join in on our lovely war here?”East Valsten was, militarily speaking, weaker than Valsten in the land aspect, despite having comparable to superior naval and air assets. They preferred to fight on the defensive when it came to terrestrial conflict.
“The Union of Free Valstener States is not blind to opportunity.” the woman explained shortly, using East Valsten’s proper name. East Valsten apparently laid claim to all of Valsten’s colonial states to the south, but you knew very little about the details to that; only that their ability to back up such a claim was rather moot, as the Great Gales had closed away the southern sea lands during the civil war itself, and that after less than a decade, the Great Gales had closed the gates once more, leaving only enough time for the colonies to indeed state their alliance to the “Union of Free Valstener States.”“And if the Blood Suns decide to take their time?” you challenged, heated.“Then you will have to make do.” The woman said curtly, her lips tight. “I do not like the tone you are taking with me, Lieutenant. Perhaps I do not look like it, but I outrank you. You will not speak to a Major in the tone that you are currently using.”“…My apologies, m’am.” You bow slightly, “What would her ladyship the Major have me do, then?”The woman curled her lip at you, “Your personnel will rest in the barracks, for now. You and any other wounded personnel are to accompany me to visit the Doctor.”
The “Doctor” didn’t exactly have the gentlest bedside manner. As soon as you had sat down on the cot, the old, wild eyed man, whose face was knitted with old scars, had pressed you against it with one strong arm while ripping out one of the long shards of shrapnel from your chest with a set of tongs.“Aaaargh!” You criticized the man’s technique monosyllabically. “Shut it,” the old man, coughed, “None of these are anywhere near fatal.”“You’re getting blood on my uniform,” you whined, dark red spots appearing to support the spray that had occurred when the piece of metal had been unceremoniously ripped from you.“You don’t need any uniforms where you’re heading,” the Doc said before prying the next piece out of you, soliciting a similar response despite your attempt to be better prepared.Eventually you had had all the relatively major wounds sutured, as well as a bunch of little ones you hadn’t even noticed disinfected.“So what about on my face?” you pointed to your right side expectantly, while looking at a mirror across the room. “Aren’t you going to sew those?”“They aren’t deep and they aren’t bleeding that much,” the Doctor said hoarsely, “They’ll heal fine.”They certainly didn’t feel shallow. At least they were relatively little cuts. Definitely nowhere near the level of Hilda’s hideous facial scarring. Maddalyn was blind anyways, so it wasn’t as if she would care, at least.As much as you would have liked to nap after all of that, the stinging pain of both having pieces of metal ripped out of you as well as the burn of disinfectant discouraged you from resting quite yet.You decided you could pass time by doing something else. As much as you’d like to go over mission files or something similar, your minders hadn’t bothered to give you anything of the sort yet. It was entirely possible that you’d go without them entirely; to better maintain your cover as deserters without any actual plan, possibly down to the level of said deserters really having no plan at all.Really, with the painters working on transforming your vehicles, all you could do was change into your prepared “disguises,” which were really just the sort of mixed fashion Sosaldtian banditry liked to wear, and socialize.You went to speak with…(select 2)>Your crew>Your officers>Captain Honnrieg and the Bat Company volunteers>The worst bodyguard ever hired>Other?>Past threads pastebin @ https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh>New pastebin for miscellaneous files here: https://pastebin.com/k8yuNeuS>Miscellaenous files are sparse for now; there's only a map, but I'll fill it out eventually. It will certainly not be required reading: the only things that go in the files are what has been encountered or explained in quest.>announcements and other shit are @scheissfunker on twitter
>>1630039>Captain Honnrieg and the Bat Company volunteers>The worst bodyguard ever hiredBat Company are professional bandit hunters so we'll go to them for advice. And we need to look at Hilda's condition.
>>1630039>your crew>The worst bodyguard ever hired
>>1630039>Your crew>The worst bodyguard ever hired
>>1630039>>Captain Honnrieg and the Bat Company volunteers>>The worst bodyguard ever hired
I'll post in about an hour, I'm being called out for lunch after a no-warning errand.
>>1630039>>Your crew>>The worst bodyguard ever hired
>>1630039>Captain Honnrieg and the Bat Company volunteers>The worst bodyguard ever hired
You knew your crew and officers well enough for the time being. It was best to get to know the least known element of your group; Captain Honnrieg and the picked men of the 3rd Holtenberg Light Rifles called Bat Company.You’d go and see Hilda after them, if only to make sure she hadn’t gone off and hurt herself again. First Signy, and now this beat up Varbonnlands hick. At least Maddalyn had the decency to put her own eyes out while you were watching instead of going off and getting hurt without you able to do a thing to prevent it.You found Bat Company goofing off in the barracks. They had made themselves comfortable, but not so much that they wouldn’t be ready to depart at a moment’s notice. You didn’t recognize what game they were playing at first; all of them were crowded around three sets of two players, sometimes wandering to check on the others. It was cramped, with bunks the space for gaming even sparser than normal, but spectators formed viewing booths atop bunks, squinting over the edge of the beds to get a better view of the action. When you got closer, you recognized that they were playing some crude facsimile of chess. Twine laid out square grids on the floor for boards, and various pieces of matching junk formed the pieces. The pawns were pistol rounds, the bishops, rifle rounds. The only piece that wasn’t some small piece of something found in a soldier’s kit were the kings, which were roughly carved hunks of wood.“The hell are you doing, Gefreitor?” You heard Honnrieg criticize a player you recognized as a man named Adel, “Don’t just move pieces without thinking about it! That Knight was pinned, and now you’re going to lose a Rook because you were short sighted and only thought about the risk in front.” Adel cringed as his opponent laughed good-naturedly and captured his Rook, placing Adel’s King in check. “This isn’t VierSechs, bonehead! You don’t just roll the dice and hope for the best. God’s sake.”
Honnrieg noticed you, and approached. “Von Traht. I see you’ve walked in on our training.”“You didn’t seem the sorts to play chess,” you said, uncertain of whether that sounded bad.“Normally, no,” Honnrieg coughed, “Not in the Rifles, but in Bat Company we do. You can’t just be fiercer and better armed than your enemy. You have to be cleverer, too. There’s some situations you can’t fight out of that you can think out of, and,” Honnrieg chuckled to himself, “It helps that most Sosaldtians couldn’t think their way out of an open box, you know?”“Sure…” you said, thinking about how devious Maddalyn’s capture had been compared to everything else you’d seen from the Blood Suns.“Anyways.” Honnrieg walked past you, waving you over away from the rest of Bat Company’s twenty fighters. Once you were out of easy earshot, he looked at you and clicked his tongue.“I can’t get a read on you, Lieutenant. Not from just looking, so I just want to ask you something.”“Shoot.”“How personal is this to you, really?” Honnrieg scratched his chin with a finger, “You told us that your wife had been kidnapped, sure, but how much of this is that? I can smell the Eye-Oh’s sticky fingers all over this. She’s a rich girl, you know. Von Blum could pony up whatever ransom any two bit bandit could ever want and not blink. So what’s your take?”>Maddalyn being in danger was enough. I took her down here, and she wouldn’t have been taken if I hadn’t. I’m obligated, to her as well as to her family.>It was a tactical opening. Intelligence told me there wasn’t much else we could do if I didn’t do it, and I am nothing if not a faithful soldier of the Archduchy.>It’s a mission. I don’t think personal investment has much to do with anything, we’ll just get it done. Or am I being “too hard to read” with that?>OtherI'll be multitasking for a few hours so updates might be painfully slow in that time period
>>1630769>>Maddalyn being in danger was enough. I took her down here, and she wouldn’t have been taken if I hadn’t. I’m obligated, to her as well as to her family.
>>1630769>Maddalyn being in danger was enough. I took her down here, and she wouldn’t have been taken if I hadn’t. I’m obligated, to her as well as to her family.
“Maddalyn being in danger was enough.”“Maddalyn? Oh, the girl. Yeah.”“I took her down here,” you continued, “and if I hadn’t she wouldn’t have been kidnapped. I don’t think I could have done anything about it since I didn’t know she was a target in particular until it was too late, but I’m nonetheless obligated to do what I can to save her, to her as well as her family.”“How dramatically dutiful.”“Selgess the Skull thought so too, thankfully.” You added, “Which was why I could even get close to him and take him out, apparently.”“I’ve made my appraisal,” Honnrieg nodded to himself, “You aren’t Hell’s?”“Son? No. Heller Von Tracht is my uncle. As far as I know, he never married or had children.” You explained.“Are you sure?”“Of course I’m sure.” You said, crinkling your brow, “My father and Heller might have not been very alike, but they did at least treat each other civilly. They’re twins after all.”“Explains how you look so much like him, at least.”“You could tell them apart by the scars after he signed up,” you sighed, “Before then…well, he didn’t stop around much anyways, so far as I was ever told. What was your appraisal, anyways? Of what?”“You’ve got the same thing as Hell, right? The whole hang up about being the nobody family, reclaiming lost glory? We want in on that.”“You want in on that?”“Hell told us a story that we wanted to be a part of.” Honnrieg closed an eye, “We can talk smack about the rich and powerful, maybe it’s a bit hard for you to get, but you have this thing, this flame that attracts us little people like moths. We haven’t had that since Hell left, some of us’ve never seen it. Nobles, sure, but nobody with the spark.”“I’m glad I’m such an…inspiration?” You really weren’t sure what he was talking about.“No no, not inspiration.” Then Honnrieg thought better of it, “You know, sure. Whatever you like. Get a promotion before you start telling anybody that, though. You’re still green as spring grass. I really ought to be talking down to you instead of telling you all this crap.”“Great.” You said, any sense of pride you had left deflating.“Also the scars.” Honnrieg added, “You need a few more to really rate. Make you and the sliced up broad match and have equally cut up little bastards.”“I’m not intending on doing that.” You said, unamused.“…Not as much like Hell as I thought, then.” Honnrieg mumbled in response.
Despite Honnrieg’s expectations to follow Heller Von Tracht’s tradition of lechery, your plan to meet with Hilda had nothing but concern for her, as of recently, poor health. Her personal drive far exceeded her body’s ability to act, for the time now, from what you could see.You heard her far before you saw her, dry heaving in the bathroom. You were waiting when she walked out, looking exactly as dour as she always looked. She stared at you for a few seconds in the doorway before saying,“Scars look a lot better on men than women.”“They do?” you said quizzically, touching your facial wounds, “These are just knicks. Wait, are you flirting with me?”“Just an observation.” Hilda trudged past you, hands shoved deep into her pockets. “So what do you want.”“I’m just checking in on you. I’m an officer. It’s my job to make sure my subordinates are healthy and fit for service.”“Subordinates.” Hilda echoed. “Sure.”“So are you feeling well?”Hilda stared at you coldly, not answering.“I mean, can you…keep on.”“I’ll be fine.” Hilda said, for what must have been the tenth time.>I know you have a problem with the “emoting” thing, as well as a few other things like common sense and self-preservation, but you can’t just tell me you’re fine and expect me to believe it.>I know I was harsh earlier, but I was wrong. You can tell me if something’s wrong. I care.>Scars look pretty hot on women too, actually.>Other
>>1631371>I know you have a problem with the “emoting” thing, as well as a few other things like common sense and self-preservation, but you can’t just tell me you’re fine and expect me to believe it.>I know I was harsh earlier, but I was wrong. You can tell me if something’s wrong. I care.One of these, either one is fine.
>>1631371>I know I was harsh earlier, but I was wrong. You can tell me if something’s wrong. Maybe subordinate isn't the right word but I care that you are okay.Maybe as we're leaving:>Scars look pretty hot on women too, actually.
>>1631471Yeah, this sounds good. Changing to supporting this.
>>1631371>>I know I was harsh earlier, but I was wrong. You can tell me if something’s wrong. I care.Did we get angry at her earlier for trying to inform us of something?>>1631471Support.
>>1631371Also ask her how old she is.
“I know I was harsh earlier,” you said carefully. Hilda’s constant icy glare made looking into her eyes difficult, but it was something that had to be done, otherwise you looked like you were blowing her off. “but I was wrong to be so critical. You can tell me if something’s wrong. Maybe subordinate isn’t the right word, but I care that you are okay.”Hilda avoided your eyes. “I said I was, didn’t I.”“I think that you’re hiding it. You don’t have to.”“I don’t need anybody’s pity,” Hilda said, slightly more insistently, “I get enough of that as is. You don’t need to try and make me feel better about myself. I’ll do what’s needed of me.”“I need you to tell me how you’re doing, without just giving me the same answer no matter what.”Hilda’s eyes flicked back and forth, and she didn’t say anything for an uncomfortably long time.“Not here,” she finally said, “We’ve been blocking this for too long.” She gestured to the bathroom. “Somewhere else.”
Hilda hadn’t led you to the barracks where everybody else was, but rather to the corner of the larger room from earlier, where relatively few people were milling about and it was easy to have space to oneself.“…it hurts. A lot.”“Your wounds?”“Yes…” Hilda said, still avoiding looking at you, though it didn’t seem to be out of disrespect. Her hands were held gingerly behind her back in a way you hadn’t seen her do before. “I’m usually good at hiding it when it hurts, though. It’s less trouble that way.”“Doesn’t seem very healthy.”“I’ve survived worse.” Hilda said, crossing her legs tightly and leaning against the wall. “When the bear gave me…these. I was all alone. I was afraid I would die. But then I thought…I had to stop panicking, or else I would die. Everything became clear again. I managed to put myself together enough to make it home. I looked in the mirror afterwards and…I guess I was never pretty, but…I knew everybody would look at me like they would. That hurt so much that I thought I would die…then I remembered how I didn’t die with the bear. People say I’m weird. That I’m creepy. But it doesn’t hurt anymore.”You weren’t quite expecting Hilda to spill her guts to you, and you didn’t really know what to say.Awkward flirting was always reliable, wasn’t it?“Hey,” you tried, “Scars look pretty hot on women too, actually.”Then you saw about the last thing you expected. Hilda blushed.“S-stop that.” She stuttered.“How old are you, anyways?” you went on, “I know it’s rude, but…”“Why are you doing this?” Hilda looked up with pleading eyes, “You said you were engaged. That you were going to be married to the person I failed to protect.” Hilda’s eyes suddenly went cold again. “…twenty…one.”>I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Would you be so kind as to forget about it?>[Act Oblivious] You don’t look that old, to be honest.>Other?
>>1631909>[Act Oblivious] You don’t look that old, to be honest.>Other?>You ever play chess? Buncha guys back there who'd like to hear about you fighting a bear I think.
>>1631909Oh God, Hilda's one big tangle of trauma, isn't she?>I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Would you be so kind as to forget about it?>You ever play chess? Buncha guys back there who'd like to hear about you fighting a bear I think.>[Stop flirting]
>>1632052Supporting this one
“You don’t look that old, to be honest.” You did your best to salvage your precarious misstep. When Hilda just blinked at you, looking spectacularly unimpressed, you were forced to come up with something else on the spot.“You ever play chess?”“I don’t know how to play it.” Hilda said, emotional as a marble.“Well…” that rather put a damper on your scheme, but what choice did you have at this point but to storm the walls anyways? “There’s a buncha guys in the barracks playing it, the Bat Company people. They’re a tough bunch, and I think they’d like to learn more about a lady who fought with a bear.”Hilda seemed to think about it. “…I guess. I’ll go see them.” She turned as she went off, “Maybe it doesn’t seem like it, but I appreciate your attempts to make a girl feel better. Even if you’re really bad at it.”You didn’t have any good response to that, and simply allowed your ego to endure the light bruising as Hilda left.When you found a cot, sleep came, eventually, but only for a couple of hours before you were roughly awakened by your driver.“Mayeiteng,” he urged you.“Mating?” you asked groggily, “Oh, meeting. Yeah.” You picked yourself up, wondering why your sleep had been so much less eventful than the past few times you’d gone to dreamland. Perhaps whatever ailment you suffered was getting better? Or was it a sign things were getting worse? You’d deal with it on your long trip to come, you decided, as you went off with Malachi to find out what terrible fate lay in the future for you and your merry band of misfits.Waiting for you were your officers, as well as some IO agents, in particular the Major from earlier, as well as an old man you hadn’t seen before. He had aged well, and his eyes still bore the spark and fire of someone thirty years younger; his hair was wiry and white, but cut close to his head except for an arrow of baldness that divided his head.
“Good afternoon, Lieutenant,” the old man said, his voice carefully clipped with each word, rolling over consonants like a river over stones, “I am Lieutenant Colonel Aram.”You saluted respectfully.“None of that now, Lieutenant. After all, you are a deserter to your nation, are you not? You may as well play up the part while you are allowed it.”You simply shrugged. “I suppose I’m not the type.”“Only a suggestion. Now, I will keep your briefing from here short, since much of it will be left to your own initiative. Major?”The Major straightened. “First, the matter of your supplies. You will be granted two fueler vehicles, a truck with approximately four days of food, water, and other supplies, and two hundred Union Marks for basic trading. Other than that, you will have only what you brought with you. We don’t have the capability to provide everything you might want without compromising our own operations.”“I suppose I shouldn’t have expected any better.” You muttered to yourself.“Keh.” The Major glared disapprovingly.“Your vehicles have been properly decorated as equipment of the Blood Suns,” Lt. Colonel Aram continued where the Major left off, “You have also been provided with falsified papers, which you will find in your vehicles. The Blood Suns will recognize inconsistencies, but no others should question their legitimacy. As I am sure you have heard, the Southern Cities have a way of ensuring their potential business partners do not inconvenience their dogs.”“So I just follow the remnants of the corpse-formerly-known-as-Selgess’s warband back home,” you leaned back in your chair, “Do I at least know what route they’re taking?”
“In the vehicles you captured, they indeed had preplanned a route to return home to,” the Lieutenant Colonel pointed out a trail on a map, “They, somewhat wisely, have given the front a wide berth. Naturally, they will likely deviate if our forces advance further than they expected. It should be obvious that you should avoid our forces whenever possible, as well.”“So we’re passing through East Valsten,” you noticed, “Will they really just let us through?”“The Union of Free Valstener States exists directly adjacent to the territory of the Southern Cities, and is a significant trading partner and weapons purchaser from them,” Lt. Colonel Aram said, “They would not dare impede you, so long as you act the proper, pompous part.”“I see. So what do I do when I get to this…Todesfelsen?”“We cannot say,” the Lieutenant Colonel glanced at you, “As I have said before, our influence upon your operations after you leave this place will be very limited, if not nonexistent. We also have precious little information about the territories around this Todesfelsen. You will have to find out much on your own. That said, I am invested in the success of your operation, so I will happily provide whatever information you ask that I have access to.”>Any questions?>Any requests for additional supplies or support (Practically guaranteed to be extremely limited; don’t expect much)?>Other>I understand, I’ll be ready to leave whenever.
>>1632908>I understand, I’ll be ready to leave whenever.
You were rather certain that you had everything you needed to know or arm yourself with. “I understand. I’ll be ready to leave whenever.”“Good.” Lieutenant Colonel Aram waved a hand while looking at the Major, “Major, prepare for Lieutenant Von Tracht’s departure. Have his equipment ready within the hour.”“Understood, sir.” The Major rose and left the room.-----Your m/32 looked…improper in its new colors. The beige-brown was dull and ugly, and the insignia of the Blood Suns painted over the turret was offensive to look at. The crest had been pried off, and the place where it had been roughly sanded down to disguise the vehicle’s origins. The fresh coat of paint at least hit the black, craggy lines that were a reminder of the devastating hit you had taken; they were now merely indentations. Scars, which would one day perhaps disappear.Your crews, as well as Bat Company, had been provided with suitable clothing. All of it non-uniform, definitely out of regulation mixes of civilian gear and ragged bits of foreign gear, but unusual circumstances demanded tolerance of such things. None but you and some of the officers appeared to mind at all.“To be honest,” Von Walen said when you approached him and the rest, “I’m rather glad to be rid of that stupid hat. It looked awful.”“It is a descendant of the uniform of the Cuirassier,” Von Metzeler objected, “The cap may not be to your questionable taste, but you cannot disagree that it was noble.”“It was dumb.” Von Neubaum said with critical boredom, “My favorite part of acting as enlisted is not having to wear the pile of crap. It’s hot and itchy and the tuft is a century out of fashion.”“Bah.” Metzeler turned dismissively.“Are we ready to move?” you asked them.“We are,” Von Metzeler answered you among a mob of singular affirmations, “The Captain has reported that he is ready, as well. We merely wait for you to take the lead.”
With that, you were on your way, following the trail the Blood Suns had so generously laid out for you. Despite the simplicity following a pre-planned way offered, the roads themselves were certainly not necessarily agreeable. The main highway leading away from Salzbrucke, for example, normally presumably packed with commerce, was now jammed up with refugees from all directions. There were a few automobiles, but primarily the tangled mess was populated by horse drawn carts and people walking on foot, pulling handcarts, pushing wheelbarrows, or even lifting sacks over their shoulders.To your fortune, the refugees readily made way for your vehicles. Presumably, when the people you were impersonating made their way through here, they had made good case for why it was a good idea to not obstruct them any more than absolutely necessary.Naturally, this boon didn’t last for long before it became an impediment.“It was them!” you heard a hoarse voice shout. You looked, and saw a pair of middle aged men shouting and pointing at you, accompanied by a Valstener soldier. From the look of what you could see atop your tank, he was part of what looked to be a recon and route clearance detail, consisting of a piddly complement of a single armored car and a couple of utility cars.“Their bunch stole our car and drove off after beating us up!” Accused one of the refugees, as the soldier looked on. “A bunch with tanks and that symbol of the spiked wheel!”“…it’s a Bloody Sun.” the soldier corrected, before looking up at you. “What do you have to say about that?”>I say piss off. What are you going to do, arrest us?>We didn’t take it, so you can go up the road and bother the guys who did. I’d give my sympathies for your loss, if I cared.>Perhaps you could be persuaded to forget?>Other
>>1633302>We didn’t take it, so you can go up the road and bother the guys who did. I’d give my sympathies for your loss, if I cared.
“We didn’t take it,” you tried to mix the typical lack of empathy you imagined a brigand would have with at least a modicum of concession, “so you can go up the road and bother the guys who did. I’d give my sympathies for your loss, if I cared.”“Bastard,” the soldier said bitterly, “You think you can just do what you want to these helpless people? Not only do you abandon the front that you swore to hold, but you pillage our people too? You call yourself soldiers?”“No,” you replied, “We call ourselves Blood Suns. Get out of the way.”“Feh!” the soldier balled his hands into fists, then let them go.“Is he going to do nothing?” One of the spectating refugees whispered loudly, just audible over the rumble of the tank’s engine, “What do we even have an army for if they can’t protect us?”The Valsten soldier likely heard it even more clearly than you did, and you noticed him twitch slightly, before walking forward and heaving himself onto your tank.“Hey,” you said, hands reaching for your sidearm just in case, “What do you think you’re up to-“The soldier came up close and you felt the barrel of a pistol twist into your chest.“I don’t like your attitude, Blood Sun.” he muttered to you, “I think you could afford to be a bit more generous to the people who are paying you to do the work that you’re leaving behind."“You think this is a good idea?” you said, hand on your sidearm, but nowhere near quick enough to draw on him without taking a shot yourself. You couldn’t do much, although your eyes flicked back and you noticed Stein taking aim with a pistol of his own, eyes on you, waiting for some sort of signal. He’d have a shallow, uncertain angle, though.“I’m not dumb,” the Valstener said smugly, “My men and I couldn’t hope to force you to stop by trying a straight up fight. I’m sure they care enough about their boss, paymaster, whatever you are, to get the message that while they can go where they like, they can’t play around with our people.”>No need for any violence. We can work out a deal, can’t we?>Eat me. You can’t do a thing. Shoot me and you start a battle here. I don’t think you’ve got the guts to even try it. [Call his bluff]>Resist in a violent manner [Bad Idea]>Other
>>1633441>Eat me. You can’t do a thing. Shoot me and you start a battle here. I don’t think you’ve got the guts to even try it. [Call his bluff]"This place is filled with civilians, you won't shoot."
>>1633441>>Eat me. You can’t do a thing. Shoot me and you start a battle here. I don’t think you’ve got the guts to even try it. [Call his bluff]Is he willing to let all these civilians he so nobly wishes to be hero for be slaughtered to a man, if they want to cross us so badly? What does he expect to accomplish if they're all dead?>>OtherBut we're feeling a bit generous, if he had a deal in mind, then maybe we'd consider it. Of course he'd have to put the gun away and improve his attitude first if he wants to get anywhere.
>>1633441>Eat me. You can’t do a thing. Shoot me and you start a battle here, right in the middle of a crowd.>Stray bullets will fly everywhere, you know.>And then the rest of the Blood Suns will hear of it, and you should know that two of our main values is intolerance to disrespect and disproportionate retribution.>I don’t think you’ve got the guts to even try it. [Call his bluff]
>>1633441>>Eat me. You can’t do a thing. Shoot me and you start a battle here. I don’t think you’ve got the guts to even try it. [Call his bluff]
>>1633468>>Eat me. You can’t do a thing. Shoot me and you start a battle here. I don’t think you’ve got the guts to even try it. [Call his bluff]this
It was child’s play at attempting to hold a hostage, really. What you had the potential to take from him was far, far disproportionate to the damage he could do to you.“Eat me.” You said, returning the smirk that thinly veiled the Valstener’s lack of confidence, “You can’t do a thing. Shoot me and you start a battle here, right in the middle of all these refugees. You won’t look so heroic after we wipe out everybody here. You think you can cross us and not expect retribution? One of us, for a hundred of you. Does that sound like a fair deal from your side?”Your foe’s confidence was clearly shaken, but he still pressed his gun into you.You weren’t shaken by this meager threat at all. “You know we’ll do it. But will you do it, now that I’ve made it clear what’ll happen? You don’t have the guts to even try.”A drop of sweat trickled down from the soldier’s forehead, and he tried to push the gun further into you. An eternal few seconds more, the standoff went, before he finally withdrew his gun, with a heavy sigh.>Slug him. A true heartless bastard wouldn’t give him the dignity of walking off the vehicle on his own.>”I thought not. We’ll do what we like, and you’ll go die up north. Don’t try and change that, we won’t have any problems.”>”I’m glad we could come to an agreement. Now get off of my tank and stop bothering me.”>Other
>>1633555>>”I’m glad we could come to an agreement. Now get off of my tank and stop bothering me.”
>>1633555>>”I’m glad we could come to an agreement. Now get off of my tank and stop bothering me.”He might not pull on us, but a civilian we can't see with a grudge and a pistol can still set this whole thing off. If they see him slinker away then they probably won't try something. Probably.
>>1633555>”I’m glad we could come to an agreement. Now get off of my tank and stop bothering me.”
>>1633555>”I’m glad we could come to an agreement. Now get off of my tank and stop bothering me.
“I’m glad we could come to an agreement,” you smiled even more devilishly at the defiant soldier, “Now get off my tank and stop bothering me.”The soldier of Valsten didn’t say anything as he jumped off your tank and slunk away, pursued by rumors and accusations of cowardice. You pitied him, but you had a mission of your own to pursue. Something that the man’s pride could afford being a casualty for. If he knew your goal, you were certain he would have been fine with what happened here.Of course, he was heading off to war. The chances of meeting him again, let alone apologizing, were quite low.“That was tense, commander,” Stein said from below, “All that talk certainly scared him, but honestly, if he did shoot you, I think we’d be at a loss.”“He wouldn’t have,” you reassured Stein, “and I wouldn’t have expected you to carry out any of those things I threatened. So long as he backed down, nobody would have known better.”Having seen whom they thought would be their champion falter, the refugees parted before you with all the speed they could muster. You could have gone faster, but there were already signs that a stampede could break out at the slightest threat. You were still only an actor playing a part for an unwitting audience, and that wouldn’t change, if you could help it.With the aid of the ripple effect of refugees spreading word of your advance down the road, you soon came to more open roads, sped along by the malleability of Valsten’s citizenry. Occasional columns of military transports passed you by, as well as soldiers forced to march, already looking tired and discouraged. They looked at you with disappointed, yet contemptuous eyes.
You passed through a few villages that had been completely emptied. Two still had inhabitants; one, with an ancient couple still sitting outside of their house. They waved absentmindedly as you passed. The other with a lost child, bleating for her parents piteously. Krause attempted to convince you to stop for her, but Von Metzeler cut him off. He had sighted a Valsten Army patrol coming up the road ahead of you, and it would be better to leave such things to them, rather than compromise your image, no matter how difficult it was to ignore helpless children.The day dragged on while it passed, but when it was over it felt like it had been a flash, as things tended to be when traveling long, lonely roads. Hans managed to find the frequency for a local radio station, and the enemy’s news was dire indeed. Notices for evacuation far past the point you thought your own forces would be able to advance, advertisement calling for volunteers who had not been selected in conscription lotteries, retired soldiers to head towards rear line bases. Had the stories about Valsten’s buildup on the border just been that; stories? Or were the Archduke’s forces overwhelming what had been assembled, and the foe was simply preparing for the future?The local news was prevented, it seemed, from stating exact numbers or what was happening at the front, for fear of the enemy listening in. How right they were on that theory, at least. What little you could interpret still prognosticated ill tidings.At the end of the day, when the heavy clouds and the setting of the sun made it impossible to drive on without the use of headlights, you decided to make camp at the next settlement you came across. The drizzling rain had ceased, but the stars and moon still remained invisible behind the grey blanket above you.The little town you arrived at had been abandoned when you arrived. According to the maps you had, it was called Agrunn; not that there was anybody to welcome you to it. The lamps were dark, and the streets were silent. Doors had been left open, and litter was scattered in the streets. Various mementos of the people who had dropped their belongings in a hurry to escape.>Make camp outside>Nobody’s living here. Allow people to stay in the houses>Find some public building to stay in; do not molest the homes>Other actions?
>>1633791>Find some public building to stay in; do not molest the homesLast thing we need is a Valstener patrol thinking we're not only leaving them to die but LOOTING behind their front lines. Maybe we'll get a chance to really play the part of bandit elsewhere, but anything from these homes is either traveling with the owners or buried deep somewhere.
>>1633791>Find some public building to stay in; do not molest the homes
Sorry for the delay, update soon
You deemed it best to seek out public buildings to take shelter in. Despite the less than favorable appearance you had taken, you still thought it best to minimize any ill will towards you and your people; it also helped spare you from notice, as well. At least, any more than would be typical.The town hall would do. As a house of public servants, who could say no? Besides, the church was locked up tight, and you found it would be distasteful to break into the steeple when the seat of governance had its doors wide open.While the enlisted sat on the ground in the entrance waiting room and peeled open cans of dry ration bread with fruit preserves, you decided to explore upstairs. “Nice.” You heard somebody say, though about what you couldn’t imagine. Trail rations hardly had much variety, besides the particular kind of fruit the preserves were. Maybe it was just optimism for having food at the end of the day at all.The drawers in all of the offices appeared to have been ransacked. Presumably a result of the documents either having been taken along, or destroyed, as per usual military orders to town governors. Besides that, there was no barbarities unleashed upon the furniture unused for storage. Lovely chairs, benches, and lamps remained upright and unharmed by any past chaos.These would do well for officer’s quarters, you decided, tossing your bedroll in the corner. You could shove Hilda in one room, too. Despite her probably not wanting to be singled out for special treatment, it would simply not do to have a woman sleeping among a mob of men. Certainly if said men were supposed to be Sosaldtian bandits, who were not well known for their respect to the fairer sex.After everything had been arranged, the exhaustion of the day took hold of you, and you settled down for much needed sleep.Once again, you found yourself dreamless. Stress melted away into peaceful blackness, before suddenly, a voice coaxed you to wakefulness, the dim light of morning leaking into the window.
“Good morning, sleepyhead.” Came a voice that had a rattling echo to it, like wooden wind chimes. “Miss me? Come on, roll over and say hello.”You rolled over and saw Poltergeist. He must have been sitting on a chair, but his robes mostly covered the legs. You hadn’t been expecting to see him this morning, to say the least.>You’re late. You were supposed to see me early, yesterday. How forgetful are you?>You know, I thought I had finally escaped from the deluge of wizards in my life. Like so many times before, I turn out to be wrong.>Go get me some tea. I don’t feel like getting up for you.>Other
>>1634227>>You’re late. You were supposed to see me early, yesterday. How forgetful are you?
“You’re late,” you groan as you sat up, “You were supposed to meet me yesterday. Early. How forgetful are you?”“Quite,” Poltergeist said, “Although, not about everything.”“So…”“Perhaps you need to be reminded,” Poltergeist leaned forward, “You do not tell me what to do. Am I clear?”“…Crystal.” You muttered. What was that? When he said that, you felt incredibly fatigued, as if you were a piece of meat that had been beaten into loose threads. Then when you had replied, the feeling had gone away.“Good.” Poltergeist said, “I must say, it does not please me to remind you of your place, but if you forget it, it could be quite dangerous for you. Neither of us would want that, would we? Not every Soulbinder is a barely toilet trained hedge mage like the Riverman, and far less of them tolerate knowledge as intricate as placing souls within bodies. The pursuit of immortality is forbidden, as well as the purposeful spreading of knowledge of our forbidden arts. You may have been simply asking after some old fairy tale, but when you know a certain amount, asking after such things becomes dangerous indeed. If you put yourself on the shit list of the Lords of the Mountains, not even I will be able to help you. If you meet any other than I, you had best be careful with what sort of knowledge you reveal.”
“Sheesh,” you lean against the wall, tugging at the neck of your loose undershirt you were wearing, “I’ve never been lectured seconds after I woke up. I get it, I’ll be careful.”“I also caught a stray spirit, clinging to your tank,” Poltergeist pulled a can out of his coat and twisted it open, before reaching in.“Unhand me, you masked goon!” cried the voice of Emma, whom he lifted out by the “tail.” She had little time to protest before being crammed back into the can.“Is this what you intended to grant a body? You do know what an Ember is, do you not?” Poltergeist held up both hands questioningly.“It’s a ghost.”“No. It is a parasite of the soul.”“Well,” you crossed your arms, “She’s still a person.”“If the thing entertains you so, you may keep her,” Poltergeist handed you the can, “But most Soulbinders eliminate these on sight. If you are not careful in what sort of energies they are exposed to, Embers can transform into much more dangerous creatures. You know how dangerous an aggressive spirit can be, do you not? For someone who thinks themselves knowledgeable, you lack proper caution.”“...I mean,” you tried to recollect yourself, “She’s already dead, right? I was just thinking…”“In time.” Poltergeist said, sitting back again, “In time. Perhaps I have not been hospitable, though.” He adjusted himself in the chair, “Since you promise to be ever so careful in your dealings with these things, I will allow you to ask me what questions you will. Although…” He held up three fingers, “I will only answer three.”“…Alright.” You began to think.“Good choice on the Glennzsegler girl, by the by,” Poltergeist gestured out the door, “Useful skills, experience with the sort of messes you like to get into by virtue of her father. Although I doubt your fiancée will appreciate your ever expanding harem of women younger than she is.”"Stop that.">Write in questions (Up to three)>Other
>>1634561Ask if he knows why our tank's armor seems to be made of ghosts and how we can get it to heal itself again.
>>1634578Yes, this is a good question.We should also ask about the dream world we get pulled into randomly, where time and space seems to be totally dark souls mode.Ask what he's doing there. Ect.
>>1634561>>1634561Christ I dunno.I'd ask that these three only be chosen if another anons approve as well:1: What the hell is בריכת נשמות?(Yes I copy pasted that, maybe write a symbol or two of it and show him?)2:>>16345783: What must I do to free from myself from visiting the Navel, wizards, monsters, and anything that might destroy my soul? And don't say to just give you the Demiphantom, cause I don't think that'd be enough.I feel like this would be a good opportunity to get his help, but I dunno for what specifically.
>>1634622>I feel like this would be a good opportunity to get his help, but I dunno for what specifically.maybe trade the demiphantom for maddies eyesight in the future
>>1634631That might work.Shit that reminded me, it's a bit gory but Maddy can see blood right? For reading?What if we splashed some pigs blood or something on our face so she can see it? Not exactly sanitary but I'm sure she'd appreciate putting a face to an otherwise horrifying existence of always talking to blank slendermen.
>>1634644>What if we splashed some pigs blood or something on our faceThat would be awfully kinky but I suggest we save that sort of thing for at least after the wedding.
“Alright,” you pivoted and sat cross legged, hands on your knees, “Three questions, huh?”“Ask as many as you like,” Poltergeist specified, crossing one leg over the other, “I only said that I’d answer three.”“Hmph.” What a prick. “Alright. First off, what are you doing here?”“A freebie,” Poltergeist cut you off, “I came here to make you stop dicking around with things you don’t understand. Also because I was bored.”“…Fine. My tank is haunted, and it heals itself. Do you know anything about that?”“Of course I do. But go on.”“Tell me more about that place, too. The Navel, I think it was called?...Oh, you want me to just keep going?” You scrunched your brow in concentration. You hadn’t been prepared for Poltergeist just yet. “Er…do you know what…uh, this, is?” You still had the scrap of paper with the symbols you tried to have Maddalyn read on it, and you retrieved it from your things. “This.”Poltergeist took the scrap from you, grunted at it, and pocketed it. “That’s two. Surely you have more.”“Just one, really.” You sighed, “What must I do to free myself from these constant visits to the other world? It’s getting rather inconvenient. I’d ask to be rid of monsters and wizards too, but I suppose that’s too much to ask, isn’t it.”Poltergeist laughed hollowly. “It is.”“Damn.”“So, firstly,” Poltergeist adjusted the length of robe on his right shoulder, “Your vehicle. You are rather lucky to have received it, rather than created it. I was tasked with eliminating The Hermit because of his work in helping develop such things. Fortunately, the Mountain Lords only prohibit the creation of such things, not their use. You are free to reap the benefits of using the fabled Armor of Fate.”“Armor of Fate?”“That’s what I said. The exact mechanics of how it works are difficult to explain properly, but to put it shortly, it uses a Possessor spirit, sealed within a golden plate, as a manipulator for presence energy inserted into it. Whenever something strikes with enough force, the energy is released to counter said force, usually neutralizing it completely. A wondrous sort of invention, truly, although those who don’t know how to maintain it often never utilize the few pieces out there to their potential.”“So how do I maintain it? Give it energy again?” You asked excitedly.
“Is that another question?” Poltergeist mused.“Sure, why not.”“Simple. A Possessor is a presence life form, thusly it consumes presence energy.” Poltergeist reached into his coat and pulled out a large pearl looking thing, which looked oddly familiar. You could swear you had something like it. “This is a Radiant Pearl. Spiritual energy crystalized into a solid shape. Quite powerful when used correctly, and unlike many spirits, completely stable. It will never change, and only functions as a wellspring of energy until it is consumed. Extremely valuable, understandably, for my sort. You have one, I believe, as well. Should you feed it to your pet, it should grant you two or three uses of its abilities.”“Abilities? Not ability?”“I investigated your vehicle, for fun. The Hermit was a creative sort; your cannon is infested by yet another Possessor. I suppose you would call it a Smiting Cannon, since that is what the only other example of such a thing I know of is called, but it can fire presence energy in a deadly bolt, if properly stimulated.”“How?”“Don’t ask me that. Ask your fiancée.”You grit your teeth as you realized that in your excitement, you could have easily given Poltergeist a chance to only answer things that were likely trivial to him.“Alright. What about the other things I asked?” you prompted Poltergeist.
“I don’t feel like telling you about Betwixt. You haven’t been to the Navel, by the way. You’ve been to the place between here and there.”“Fine,” you look away irritably, “How do I stop going there, then?”“You haven’t gone there recently, have you?” Poltergeist leaned his chin on a hand, bending forward, “I can tell that the Well of Souls, your Demiphantom, hasn’t decided to tug at your presence for some time. Perhaps for a day.” He poked at the place where you had been wounded in the chest, and you snapped backwards in reflex. “That may have helped.”“What, poking my wound?!”“No, a situation of extreme stress.” Poltergeist scratched at his chin under wrappings, “It helps anchor you to your own body, in a manner of speaking. Only for a limited amount of time, though. You will require more traditional remedies…” Poltergeist reached once more into his coat, a seemingly bottomless chest of knickknacks, it appeared, and withdrew a pair of paper twists. “Blackflower is traditionally used to block one’s presence from outside interference. A dose of it each time you feel like you’re about to go on a trip, or whenever you want to go to sleep, should keep you nice and rooted in yourself.”You looked at the twists, then at him. “Isn’t there anything else? Smoking blackflower…”“…makes the ladies unreasonably persistent, yes. Either that or unfortunately vulnerable. Don’t you know that you can chew it?”“No, I didn't…” you admitted. “So long as you don’t kiss anybody afterwards,” Poltergeist said with a choked laugh before tossing a few more blackflower twists at you. “That’s your three questions. I’ll be leaving now; I have some business to attend to. See you later.”“Hey, wait,” you reached out after him, “I wanted to ask about your favor deal.”“Not yet,” Poltergeist said, “I told you to save it for something important. You don’t have anything suitable for me to trade to you yet.”“How do you know that?” you demanded, frustrated.“I already gave you three answers.” Poltergeist snickered.Then Poltergeist, annoyingly, as always, walked out the door and seemed to vanish, as the sound of his footsteps ended as soon as he departed.
I'll resume running tomorrow at 3PM EST. Til then, have a good night. Or morning. Whatever.>>1634644Maddalyn is still quite capable of sensing through touch, you know. Just in case that dissuades you from attempting to terrify everybody around you by smearing blood on your face and saying it's for your wife.
>>1635068Good run bossman.Von Metzeler stop looking at me like that! IT'S HOW I EXPRESS LOVE OKAY?
Poltergeist is a nice guy, hell I like him. He can come over to Maddalyn's house and fuck her sister.
3pm EST he said.
>>1635889My apologies. My body disagreed.I'm here now, I'll have an update soon.
You looked over your maps with your officers to find out where you were set to go today; you were just around fifty kilometers from the Meridr River; a distributary of the Glennz that flowed down Valsten and into the Green Sea. Initially, it had been the border between east and west Valsten when civil war broke out, but the loyalists had managed take ground in the initial fighting, before being stopped cold at the Bergblutz River, where the line would stay until an armistice was agreed upon. “So a lot of unhappy campers living there, presumably.” Von Walen theorized.“Well, it’s been about fifteen years,” you said, “There’s been time for a whole generation to grow in the new order.”“Actually.” Von Neubaum spoke up, with a usual bored tone. It wasn’t the same sort of tone as Hilda’s complete blankness, though it was certainly related. His voice had the slightest edge of disaffection. “Easterners, or Colonials as they call them, are still a major political problem in Valsten. The war in 1929 was a direct result of suspicions that the Archduke was supporting Colonial resistance cells in Valsten’s heartlands.”Unfortunately, your knowledge of the world besides what everybody knew was greatly limited to when it related directly to war. Von Neubaum, being a star student at the academy, unintentionally highlighted this in correcting you.“Not that it matters much for us right now.” Von Neubaum continued, still seeming to not be entirely awake as he rubbed his eyes and yawned, “Most Colonials living in Valsten’s border territory with East Valsten were relocated. It was too much of a risk to have them remain close to an enemy they would be sympathetic towards. They mostly live in the center of the nation, these days.”>So smooth sailing, basically? That’s good to know.>Considering that you seem to be the resident expert, I’d like to know a few more things (Write in)>Fascinating, but I’m more concerned about the ones over the border than the ones we’ll just be blowing past.>Other
>>1635936>So smooth sailing, basically? That’s good to know.
“So smooth sailing, basically?” you said, “That’s good to know.”“Speaking of smooth sailing,” Von Metzeler pointed at a river in your path, “Hopefully we won’t need to find a ferry here.”“Thankfully, with the river being so large,” you point to a town on the map where the Blood Suns planned to cross through, “There are plenty of places like this. We’ll be crossing the bridge in a place called Clarr. I’m presuming that this place has a big bridge, since they needed to get that Landship across somewhere, and I don’t see why they would risk crossing at a place they didn’t know could handle their biggest equipment.”
“So what do we do if there is another incident like yesterday, or anything similar to it?” Von Metzeler had his elbows on the table, supporting his head with the backs of his hands. “Although I do not think it could have been handled better, considering the result, it could have gone very wrong. We should have a contingency plan, both for active and passive opposition.”“I don’t see why we can’t just use the intimidation that the guys we’re tracking have been probably doling out,” Von Igel piped up. He was unintimidating, and appeared more suited to scholarly pursuits than war, with his round features and spectacles. He hadn’t been very impressive in combat thus far, but none of you really had enough experience anyways to make sweeping judgments. “It doesn’t take a skilled analyst to know that a whole platoon of tanks, along with whatever else we have, would potentially do a lot more damage and be more difficult to stop than it’s worth. We don’t really have to change any way we’ve been handling things.”
“But what if we run into somebody who isn’t an analyst at all?” Krause countered, holding up his index finger, “A zealot, if you will. Somebody who’s short sighted enough to not see the potential risks, and passionate enough to carry out something they think is the right thing to do at the time. What if the Commander had been stuck up by somebody less open to reason?”“Er…” Von Igel visibly lost confidence, “Well, I think that such people would be held back from doing something like that by the people who do have something to lose. It’s not like we would actually mete out revenge anyways, right? We’d just have to be watchful.”“I think we would do better by acting unusually kind.” Krause proposed, “We would be the betters, and we could catch any malcontents off guard through acting in reverse of what they expect. That confusion, I believe, would be enough to confuse anybody thinking that we are an evil threatening enough to need to impede, through violence or otherwise.”“I think you’re overthinking things.” Von Neubaum tapped his finger on the small desk you were all crowded about as a makeshift planning table, “All we need to avert disaster is to look like somebody else has already taken care of the problem.”“You lost me.” Von Walen said.“You’re always lost.” Von Neubaum said, not even looking at his fellow junior lieutenant, “I’m saying that if you really want to avoid trouble, you need to appear as if you have an escort. We have gold and money, and if need be we have the capacity to steal. A vehicle and some uniforms would give the facade of an official watching over us, to ensure we don’t cause the same trouble.” >Decide that Von Igel has the right of it; no need for anything complex, just go as always. It shouldn’t be a common problem anyways.>Krause has a good idea; being the good bandits might bring some unexpected boons, and it would be an ease on your conscience.>Von Neubaum has a clever idea; it couldn’t be too difficult to procure a light vehicle and some uniforms for a fake “escort.”>Some other idea?
>>1636088Being good bandits would only work against the rational but somebody pissed off at the Blood Suns is going to be pissed off at all of them, especially if they are being irrational.Problem with faking an escort is the scenario when a real Valsten patrol wants to see some ID.Let's ask the professionals their opinion. And if we go with faking an escort we can get them to do the heavy lifting. They seem to be quite good at sneaking.>Other>Ask Bat Company about faking an escort and potential problems with it>Von Neubaum has a clever idea; it couldn’t be too difficult to procure a light vehicle and some uniforms for a fake “escort.”
>>1636088>>Decide that Von Igel has the right of it; no need for anything complex, just go as always. It shouldn’t be a common problem anyways.ways.
“I’d like to get Captain Honnrieg’s opinion on this matter,” You look over Von Walen, to the captain who was leaning against the door, listening in but not offering much in the way of opinions yet.“You all get up far too early,” Honnrieg said groggily.“On these ideas, I meant. If we tried this idea of faking an escort, how hard do you think it could be for you and your men to impersonate a real Valsten article?”“Just looking like it would be cake,” Honnreig yawned, “We could take the papers off anybody we bribed, and with the chaos of initial conflict, we could just as easily make up an excuse as to why we’re away from the formation our papers say we are. It wouldn’t be hard to find somebody to buy off, either. Valsteners are conscripted, after all. What would be hard is sounding like it.”You hadn’t considered the accents, to be honest. With most of Sosalia speaking New Nauk anyways, language differences didn’t come to mind most of the time.“All of you, for example, sound like you’ve come straight out of the middle of Strosstadt. That’s fine if you’re pretending to be bandits, they come from all over the damn place, but you’d stick out like a sore thumb in a Valstener Uniform. Meanwhile, me and my men would sound too eastern.”“That’s not great, then.” You mused.“The only person I know of who sounds Southern enough to do it is the chopped up girl you brought along,” Honnrieg offered, “Though Valsten doesn’t put females into conscription lots. She’d have to lower her voice some to fit the part. Also, you know,” Honnrieg mimed lifting invisible breasts on his chest, “You’d have to tie her down pretty tightly. I think it’d be easier to just bribe some suckers into doing it for us, instead of us doing the labor of pretending.”>Same choice thread as before, though with potential modification to Neubaum’s plan.----->Decide that Von Igel has the right of it; no need for anything complex, just go as always. It shouldn’t be a common problem anyways.>Krause has a good idea; being the good bandits might bring some unexpected boons, and it would be an ease on your conscience.>Von Neubaum has a clever idea; it couldn’t be too difficult to procure a light vehicle and some uniforms for a fake “escort.”>Go with Captain Honnrieg’s idea of just bribing some Valsteners into “escorting” you.>Some other idea?
>>1636225>Go with Captain Honnrieg’s idea of just bribing some Valsteners into “escorting” you.We have gold up the ass, let's use it.
>>1636225>>Decide that Von Igel has the right of it; no need for anything complex, just go as always. It shouldn’t be a common problem anyways.I don't like the idea of a group of actual Valsteners tagging along with us constantly; if we do get into trouble we can't trust them not to stab us in the back if they think they can get away with it. Especially if they start to get suspicious as to who we are. The less we interact with people the safer our mission is.
>>1636276Yea this makes sense, I'm up for just going too.If anyone is asking questions and demanding papera we'll throw gold at em.
>>1636276>>Decide that Von Igel has the right of it; no need for anything complex, just go as always. It shouldn’t be a common problem anyways.Okay, the Cap and this anon convinced me, too many places where it could go wrong. It's going to bite us in the ass but it's the best of a bad situation.Although the idea of trying to convince Hilda to act like a man is highly amusing. I can practically FEEL her anger just suggesting it to her.
>>1636225>Decide that Von Igel has the right of it; no need for anything complex, just go as always. It shouldn’t be a common problem anyways.
“I’ve decided that we’ll keep it simple,” you say to your officers, “We’ll do as Von Igel suggests and rely on our reputation to avoid trouble. Anything we can’t run by, we’ll try and avoid entirely. The risks associated with trying anything else aren’t worth it. We’ll just have to be careful.”Your officers accepted this, and you all stood.“Have everybody ready to go in twenty minutes,” you said, being lenient; anybody with proper training could easily be ready to march in five. “We’ll be heading down to Clarr and crossing the Meridr, then hopefully getting to East Valsten this evening. I’d like some distance between us and the potential front in case the IO is accurate in saying a war’ll start after three…now two, days.”Breakfast was had on the go; whatever could be easily scrounged was worfed down before throwing packs back into vehicles and loading up.“Shame there’s no honey,” you heard one of Bat Company saying to another as they pushed unloaded supplies back into one of the provided supply trucks, “I smelled it back here and got all excited, but it’s just one spot that really smells of it for some reason. Looked for it for a damn hour last night too.”“You’re just imagining things,” his squadmate punched him lightly, “You really think we rate honey? You’re nuts. Next you’ll be asking the captain if we can have steaks and wine.”Honey did preserve well, but as far as you knew it wasn’t standard for any iron rations. Liquids weren’t ideal for such things, after all. A strange thing to hallucinate, nevertheless.
Soon enough, you were on your way, fresh wind from the sea far to the south having blown away the gloomy clouds of yesterday. The echoing booms of artillery sometimes rang out, but they were too far away to be anything more than soft rumbles, and as you went on even those disappeared in their entirely. You rolled into a middling town, where masses of tents and rows of wagons indicated that some refugees decided to stay here. As you went through the center street, an old shopkeeper with scratchy white hair and deep wrinkles on his face called for your attention.“You there! In the tank!”“Yes?” you responded reflexively, after getting the column to a stop. Then, remembering your character, you asked more roughly, “What in the world do you want?”“Well,” he said nervously, keeping a careful eye on the numerous weapons spiking menacingly out from your steel fortresses, “It’s just, that a bunch just like you came and cleaned out my shop, and said the guys following them had all their money and that they would pay. You’re them, aren’t you?”“Deh they knu?” Jorgen murmered from below.That probably wasn’t the case. More likely, the Blood Suns had been screwing with this old man, and hadn’t expected anybody to actually be tailing them.>Nah. The guys behind us are the ones with all the money. Ask them.>Why are you trying to deal with me, and not them? You’re out of luck, pal. You should have gotten the money from the people you sold your shit to.>Maybe I am. How much did they owe? I think I’ll want to haggle.>Other
>>1636764>OtherJust throw a gold brick his way and tell him to go back in his shop. Let's keep on our way.
>>1636777That'll do. If he says he needs more say the guys behind us have the rest of the gold to pay him.
>>1636777Sounds fair. Will keep him happy, doesn't draw attention or waste our time unnecessarily. Too bad we have to pay for the Blood Sun's meal though. Fucking mercenaries.
>>1636806Eh, it's charitable l. The war will be be at his doorstep any minute they are already getting flooded with refugees.
“Hold on a second,” you tell the old man, “Hey, pass up the box.” You said over the intercom.After cracking it open, you pried out a 50 gram brick and tossed it at the old man. It fell into the ground beside him, its bouncing roughly towards him and forcing a puff of dust out where it hit.[-1 Gold Bars, 93 remaining]The old man’s eyes went wide as he felt the weight of gold, familiar to all. “Does that about cover it?” you asked him.“Er…” he scratched at one of the few places on his head still haired, “I…I suppose, but…When can I get my granddaughter back? Your friends took her after I wanted them to pay then, I’ve learned my lesson, won’t you tell them to bring her back?”Unlikely. While slavery itself was illegal throughout the known world, you had come to know the way brigands got around such things through your research on your uncle. Brigands would typically take children or people similarly unable to fend for themselves, and drop them deep in Sosaldtian territory. Sooner or later, they’d come to the first people willing to serve as their guardians, where they would be groomed for whatever work they were wanted for. Such people were valuable, too; these bandits posing as mercenaries had likely seen an opportunity to make a quick pile of marks.>I’ll give you another couple pieces of gold to forget she existed. Don’t call any authorities about this.>I can’t tell them to do anything. Sorry for your loss, chump.>They let her go a few towns down. You should go and get her; it’s only a day’s travel.>Other
>>1636897>Other>Come on old man, you and I both know what really happened there. I gave you the gold because I felt bad for you but there's nothing I can do about your granddaughter. If I see her up the road I'll try to send her back your way but I can't make any promises. That's just what happens when your country contracts with lawless mercenaries for protection.
>>1636929I agree with the gist of this but we gotta remember we're Blood Suns right now. Maybe a little less nice and more vague with the promises.
>>1636956I felt like we could drop the act a bit just for this one old guy. He seems too clueless to actually get suspicious and make trouble for us, and he needs someone to be frank with him and tell him the truth.
“Come on, old man,” you said, grimacing, “You and I both know you aren’t seeing your granddaughter again. I didn’t have to pay you, but I did anyways because I feel bad for you. There’s nothing I can do about their decision. It’s what happens when you screw with people like them.”“Oh…” the old man sagged.“I’ll see what I can do if I catch up though.” You said, after seeing the sadness that washed over the elderly man, “Just wait patiently. I won’t make any promises I can’t keep, but I’ll see if they gotten bored of her when I get there.”The old man didn’t acknowledge you, but instead solemnly turned and reentered his shop.“Keep moving, platoon,” you ordered. If you caught up in time, you thought, perhaps you could save one more person.
You managed to reach Clarr, although as you approached the chain of ever increasing amounts of refugees became worrying. They did have the courtesy of moving out of your way, although quickly and in enough of a hurry to do so that it brought about another sort of concern.Despite the ever-thickening crowds, they all stayed well out of your way. Something to thank the people you were chasing for; although you didn’t wish these particular refugees misfortune, on the sort of mission you were on, you weren’t about to pass up their unwilling compliance in favor of the obstruction they would otherwise present.Despite the road becoming even more clogged as buildings formed walls and limited space, the refugees never failed to get out of your way well in advance, before just as quickly moving back into the space behind you. Eventually you spied the bridgehead itself. On your side, there were a few army cars and officers, as well as escorting soldiers, but they were well hemmed in by refugees on their way across.The bridge was terribly clogged; on one side, army transports were attempting to go one way, and from the other, refugees fled from the west. Military traffic police were trying desperately yet failing utterly to instill a sense of order in the eastward traffic, and westward traffic was only making terribly slow progress. A military transport train blew its horn futilely as refugees crowded in its path, flowing in front and around like stream water around a stone.“Make a path for Defense Army vehicles!” a soldier with a megaphone, standing on a platform, tried to sway the crowds. “The front lines are stabilizing, there is no need to panic! Organize yourselves onto one side of the bridge, and allow passage!”A cacophony of responses met him, all of them either inflammatory or insubordinate pleas for sympathy. “God damnit.” An officer you were passing by muttered, “The Imperials will be here before we move the regiment across this godforsaken bridge.”“Don’t say that. Look over there.” You noticed that the officer speaking was doing so while looking at your column, “Let’s get to the Colonel, he’ll want to see this.”“I’m not even up front and I can tell this is a clusterfuck.” Von Walen said over the radio, “Should we turn back? There’s other bridges around, I’d bet.”“If it is this bad this distant from the front,” Von Metzeler chimed in, “We would have to go further south to try and find a place where refugee traffic has ceased, but we would be just as likely to run into significant military traffic as well. If speed is a factor, we’ll have to bull our way through here.”
Already in your wake, a massive fight was brewing as the people who’d moved out of your way fought to occupy the space you left. The scant few soldiers around attempted to make their way to the scene of conflict, but they were dispersed too quickly and quickly gave up, separation from their comrades quickly bruising their confidence beyond utility.“You there, mercenary.”“Hm?”You looked down at a middle aged officer, who was shorn bald. A scar ran from his temple across his face, terminating at his left cheekbone. “I am the Colonel in charge of the unit crossing here.” He introduced himself, “As you can see, we are having difficulties crossing.”“I couldn’t tell.”“Amusing.” The Colonel looked over your platoon, “You’ve noticed the effect your presence has, haven’t you? I noticed it when your compatriots passed through earlier. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach them before they had charged through.”“What do you want?” you demanded, “You want to make some sort of deal, hurry up with it.”“You’ll be paid handsomely,” the Bald Colonel offered up front, “We need assistance in organizing the crossing here. It would at least be smooth, if still slow, as long as proper lanes were established.”“So you want me to herd these refugees into proper paths, then?” You looked over the confusion, not feeling too good about having to deal with it.“You have a reputation for being ruthless and cruel, no? Some spite that, but in situations such as these it can be used for the greater good. Surely even you care for such a thing so long as you’re paid enough.” The Colonel tightened his gloves, pulling on his wrists, “As soon as things get moving, they should stay moving. Not even these people are single minded enough to stand in the way of a train that’s gone up to speed, and moving wheeled vehicles. As is, we are hopelessly stagnant while also incapable of executing the force needed to move these refugees. If you were to do it, your appearance alone significantly reduces the force needed. It would be better for all, I assure you.”Nothing was really forcing you to do as this Colonel wanted. If anything, the congestion here aided your allies. Would it be wiser to spend time here and potentially help the mission, or to simply press on and indirectly aid your forces up north?>Refuse. Claim you don’t have time to do the Valstener’s dirty work.>Accept, and wring them for all the pay you can muster.>Refuse, but instead of going over the bridge and past the army contingent, turn and find an alternative crossing points.>Other plans?
>>1637566A question:So now that Selgess is dead it means our forces can advance again?
>>1637666Theoretically, yes. You don't know for sure. It's possible that there's still a stagnant front if there is a risk of the hostages being harmed because of it, due to the forces only withdrawing and not changing the demands to cease operations.This would only be in the area of Salzbrucke, though. Their terms only applied to the forces around Salzbrucke and their general area of operations, not the whole line down the extent of the borders.
>>1637688Ok. Cause from how much the Valsteners are panicking it seems like we're just blitzing through their country like it's nothing, even though we haven't seen a single Strossvald soldier.
>>1637798Lack of information leads to holes being filled by the worst case scenario. You've been able to move forward and rest unmolested, and you haven't seen friendly air forces since the weather cleared. In any case Strossvald doesn't have a large scale concept of a "blitz" anyways, save for small scale spearheads and raids. Tactics tend to follow the theory of a strong battle-line and supporting it both through strengthening of key sections and support of weakened links through careful reorganization of reaction forces. Most of Strossvald's infantry are not mechanized either, so the battle-line itself tends to move as fast as a marching foot soldier even though forward elements jump out and back in much more quickly. To summarize, Strossvald's front line, Richter knows for certain, is outpaced by anything that moves faster than a march-step. Valsteners' knowledge of this is unreliable at best, especially due to how their last war with Strossvald played out, which was a slow, effective defense punctuated by a powerful strike by mechanized units which dealt a severe enough blow to send the entire line into retreat.Perceptive Valsten generals noticed that retreating forces were only rarely caught once they moved a certain distance from the front lines.
>>1637566>Refuse. Claim you don’t have time to do the Valstener’s dirty work.If we want to catch up and maybe save that granddaughter, we have to not waste time.By the way, did we take the can with Emma with us? Maybe we should talk with her at the next stop.
I say we help... grab the officer and make him stand on the turret with you, fire a gun shot in the air and order the civies to stand aside so that their defenders Can pass and do their job and defend Them and then we rush over the bridge first chance we get, saving time is more then enough payment
>>1638004Yeah something like this. That girl is more important than helping this this officer that's bad at his job, we don't want or need money so. It wouldn't be unexpected of us since we are blood sons. Anyhow, Richter seems to put issues of state above the individual and innocent (because of us whoops) these refugees need to get outta our way. muslim joke
>>1638097>Richter seems to put issues of state above the individual and innocentI'm not saying that's ideological position but there is some cognitive dissonance. During the train ride with Maddy, when she brought up that maybe the government wasn't 100% honest regarding this war with Valsten, Richter was like "N-naaaaaaaaah" And then we literally, days later provoked them to war with a preemptive raid. During such they bombed a town full of innocents but not really. That whole situation was very weird... Look, all I'm saying is, it's weird and makes me think all that "Their building up their forces on the border." Is bs and Richter should give it some thought. There was also multiple times Richter commented on how there should be more Veslten troops and how they're so disorganized and if they were actually building up and planning for war they should be a lot more prepared but now I'm just ranting. It's weird OK.b
>>1638101There really is some cognitive dissonance. Richter was literally hypnotized to ignore it. That's why he makes all these observations and overlooks the implications.Look forward to the inevitable meltdown once the dissonance becomes too heavy!
>>1638109Oh shit I forgot about that plot point!aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaTanq where the fuck are you going with this story?
>>1638004Something like this, let's play bad cop to their good cop.
>>1638004This but no reason to only accept saving time as payment; we can always ask to be paid first.Also I suggest we try a cannon shot rather than a gunshot, I'm sure the Valsteners have already tried the latter.
Since it's July 4th I'm going to be taking part in some things that'll make it impossible to run on the desired schedule. I also won't expect people to be around this evening either, but nevertheless I'll try and start updating again at around 8-9PM EST.>>1637942>By the way, did we take the can with Emma with us? Maybe we should talk with her at the next stop.She is securely stuffed into a can, yes.>>1638366>Also I suggest we try a cannon shot rather than a gunshot, I'm sure the Valsteners have already tried the latter.Might want to keep in mind for that, that you don't have any blanks for your cannons.>>1638109>>1638111There is nothing wrong.
>>1638111>>1638109I suggest we listen to Captain Hondogg and put these thoughts out of our heads. The last thing we need is to shutdown in the middle of this operation. Solstadt are the good guys, the Archduke is Satan, Poltergeist is our future selves, the Navel is a our real belly button, we've been the Demiphantom all along, MADDY IS ACTUALLY 54 YEARS OLDNope, just hum the National Anthem and forget that our tank is a living abomination.
>>1638413>you don't have any blanks for your cannons.Can't HE fuses usually be primed to explode after a certain travel time if we just fire into the air?>>1638424Funny, I was actually thinking of going back to him and asking if he was serious about that hypnosis stuff, and how he knows about it if so.
>>1638424MADDY IS ACTUALLY 54 YEARS OLDDELET THIS THOUGHT
>>1638537[Delet this in New Nauk]
>>1638532>Can't HE fuses usually be primed to explode after a certain travel time if we just fire into the air?Not in this case. 4.7cm HE shells solely use impact fuses, and even if they had timed fuses they are delivered with fuses affixed, and you are not provided with fuses by themselves.The m/28's 2.5cm fragmentation shells similarly use impact fuses exclusively.The only vehicle that could possibly have access to delay fuses is the T-15 you stole, which is armed with a 7.5cm medium velocity gun, but brigands and mercenaries prefer simplicity and thus those are in all likelihood impact fused shells as well, since the T-15's gun was designed as a direct fire support weapon.Really, considering the amount of fear the people already have for you, further intimidation may not be necessary.
>>1638554As an addendum to this, if you were to pry out the fuse, you could probably still fire a (relatively) inert lump of explosive. The 2.5cm fragmentation shell for example has a piteously low amount of actual explosives.Really it's in all likelihood not necessary, though.Also firing a shell into the air at a steep angle is difficult for the m/32-47s due to unfortunate limitation in elevation and depression for the main gun. Presumably you'd want to fire with the one in front in any case, and your tank is in the lead right now.
“How much do you have?” you ask the Valstener Colonel.The Colonel smiled at your interest. “I can give you a note for five…no, seven hundred marks.”A note, or in other words, an “I Owe You.” Useless for your purposes.“I want it in cash,” you said, “I don’t care if you have less, the only sort of paper I want comes in bills.”The officer’s smile vanished. “Hm. That may be problematic. The amount we could give you immediately is…much smaller.”“I don’t care,” you said again, “Whatever you have to offer, I’ll take it.”The colonel murmured something to his adjutant, and they headed towards the other soldiers who had crossed, conversing with them. A few minutes later, the Colonel had returned with a wad of bills folded in his hand, which he held out to you.“Fifty eight marks. That’s all we have in currency form.”You made a show of taking it and counting through them. “It’ll do,” you said, putting on an air of dissatisfaction, although really this was just a bonus to something you figured you’d have to do anyways. “Get up here and stand on the roof with me.”
After you yanked the colonel up with you, you drew your sidearm from your holster and fired a single shot into the air. The loud pop made the crowd suddenly silent and still, and the eyes of a thousand refugees were suddenly on you.“Listen up, dogs!” you shouted at the top of your lungs, “You’re going to get into a nice, neat column and clear to one side of the bridge so your meat shields can cross this bridge! Do it now, and I won’t get any more pissed off at how useless all of you peasa…dogs are!”The horde immediately directed their pleas and protests at you, but you had no obligation in this particular disguise to be civil. You fired another round into the air, which silenced them once more, although petulant whining still cropped up here and there.“Shut your goddamn mouths!” you shouted, “Whatever problems you have, I don’t give a damn! That was the last shot going in the air, the next shots will be from the tanks! You’re making a path right god damn now. It’s your choice whether you’re leaving on your two feet or if it’s being swept into the river in bloody chunks, I couldn’t care less. You should be thankful we haven’t just run you over!”Terrified murmurs rose from the crowd as they began to cram themselves to one side of the street. Massive brawls started almost instantly, as available space was at a premium and nobody wanted to move backwards. You saw one woman right below you push another woman to the ground and start beating her face to a pulp, while the other woman’s daughter screamed and clawed at her mother’s assailant. Similar situations were erupting down the line as the refugees slowly cleared a path, partially by chewing space out of their own ranks. On the bridge, you noticed people being pushed and thrown over.>It’s not your problem. Get moving as soon as you can.>Attempt to do something to control the damage [Write in]>Other?
>>1639261>Attempt to do something to control the damage [Write in]We need to get people who are causing problems and lock detian them until most of the people have crossed the river. If they give us shit just give them a kicking, they'll eventually get the idea and camly cross the bridge.
>>1639261>>It’s not your problem. Get moving as soon as you can.
>>1639280If we just let them brawl it will take way more time than if we get them under control, time we don't have. Don't get too into character now! Looking at you Richter, calling them peasants...tsk tsk..
>>1639297I don't think the implication was that the brawls are stopping them from clearing the bridge, it's just unfortunate. I think it's faster to force them aside and move on rather than controlling the damage.
>>1639331Well if the brawls and such arent holding up the line fuck it not our problem. If they are we gotta fix it tho.
>>1639344To clarify, the way is clearing, even though it's clearing out in a violent manner. Intervening would likely not make things happen faster; only more humanely, and the act of doing so would most likely be slower than just peeling out when a gap appears.
>>1639353Ok then fuck it.>It’s not your problem. Get moving as soon as you can.Let's get outta here.
>>1639261>>Attempt to do something to control the damage [Write in]Point the machine gun/turret from all of our tanks at any brawlers an shout that they are wasting your time and time wasters become mulch. In reality we don't want to cause too much damage but they don't have to know that.And/or start moving the tanks forward to encourage them to stop fighting and just move.Also get the Colonel to start directing his men to either break up fights or get people moving we aren't alone here.
>>1639364Yeah, I don't know about thay MG idea. If we start firing into the crowd I'm sure that will just cause a panic the stampede.Cmon guys, we're playing the part of asshole merc let's not get too immersed.
>>1639373I never said fire, just point and imply. Hell, synchronize every turret to spin around in a pirouette anything to show them to quit wasting time fighting.
>>1639380>synchronize every turret to spin around in a pirouette
You got back into the tank. You did the job you were asked to do. This was what the Colonel wanted, after all. The consequences were on him.“Mission accomplished,” you told the Colonel, “We’ll be on our way, unless you’ve got any objections.”“No,” the Colonel said, “Believe it or not, had we been delayed, these people would have undoubtedly had it worse, if reports from the front are to be believed. Where did you come from?”“Near Salzbrucke.” You told him. If the Blood Suns were anywhere else, you wouldn’t have known, so best to go with the definite answer. “Yes,” he nodded, “I heard a northern general authorized the use of Flayer Gas on a town near there. The Archduchy issued an immediate apology and condolences, but for such weaponry to be wantonly used by anyone…I suppose I can at least thank the Judge of All that the general is being court martialed.”“I don’t care,” you said with a mask of uncivilized irritation at matters that would be beyond the concern of any Sosaldtian, “We’re going. Good luck not being turned to hamburger.”The Colonel frowned, then disembarked from your tank. Immediately afterwards, you called up your platoon.“We’re moving on. We’ll be hurrying out of this place.”“It looks like a mess with the refugees…” Krause noted sympathetically.“The Valsten Army will take care of things,” you reassured your softer hearted officer, “We have a mission to take care of our own. We don’t have time to solve every problem in the best way. This is as good as we could have hoped for with this in consideration.”“Hmm.” Krause relented halfheartedly.Certainly, if organizing things more cleanly were a vital part of the mission, perhaps you wouldn’t have dealt with it so hastily. Then again, if the Colonel hadn’t been able to handle it with more men than you had, perhaps this was the only way to clear the path at all. Perhaps these refugees acted the way they did because they felt backed into a corner; like even holding their place in line was a matter important enough to deal with violently.There wasn’t much else you could have done differently either, you reassured yourself. Would you have threatened them further? Tried to play nice when that had failed earlier? Could you have just distanced yourself and found another place to make the situation none of your business?It didn’t matter now, anyways. You left the feelings of responsibility, for now, back in the town, which vanished much more quickly than your thoughts of it did.
After making it away from Clarr, the roads had been notably empty. You noted trains all going the same direction, towards the front, but you passed by fewer and fewer army columns until two hours had passed without running into any opposing army traffic at all. Mountains began to loom to the north, their solemn peaks having grown snowy in these colder months. You were looking upon the tail end of the Altossian Range; a mountain range that stretched across Strossvald, all the way down into Valsten and East Valsten. They influenced the terrain nearby, something noticeable in a vehicle going a quick speed, as the flatlands turned into rolling hills.“It must be because we are coming closer to the border with East Valsten,” Von Metzeler concluded when you wondered about the absence of the Valsten Army in your path aloud on the radio, “Beyond the ten kilometer demilitarized zone on either side of the Bergblutz river, I wouldn’t doubt that the two nations have their most capable troops and deepest fortifications. The two are nemeses two one another, after all.”“Even more than the Grossreich?” wondered Von Walen.“Even more.” You answered for Von Metzeler, “The Grossreich and Valsten haven’t been at war for almost fifty years. East and West Valsten’s last war ended only two years ago.”
The Demilitarized Zone of the Bergblutz had been negotiated by third parties, namely Emre and Naukland (Two nations fairly distant from the either Valstener states; their motivations were unknown to you) after the two nations had clashed in late 1930. In an attempt to improve relations between the two nations, the armistice council had set up a demilitarized zone where no fortifications or large garrisons were allowed, only allowing small outposts for security. It was supposed to be an area where trade and good feelings could be exchanged, leading to eventual long lasting peace.That was about where your personal knowledge of it cut off, so you had little idea of how well such plans had gone. From what the Intelligence Office forewarned, you supposed it had not gone well at all.“Von Neubaum wanted me to say something,” Von Igel said uncertainly, “He says that the Demilitarized Zone of the Bergblutz is…what? Oh…he says that while we’re not far from the border, the sun’s going down, and the Demilitarized Zone is unsafe at night because of…aggressive response to unknown elements?”“What you are saying is that we should encamp outside of the area until tomorrow.” Von Metzeler finished for Von Igel.“I suppose.” Waiting until the third day of your time limit might be dicey, in case East Valsten decided to declare war ahead of schedule. It would be inconvenient to have to cross the border during a war, even if you really weren’t on either side of it. Then again, the Demilitarized Zone apparently wasn’t worth trying to go through at night. Was it because of overzealous border guards who were suspicious of night movement? Perhaps something else?It was difficult to think of any reasons; largely because instead of thoroughly studying the history of Strossvald’s neighbors that didn’t involve war, you had chosen instead to spend, shamefully in retrospect, more time perusing what some called “female centric art,” or what the professors called “pornography.”I’m not kidding, you people did put slightly more points into centerfolds than actual history.>Stop and stay a night in the territory before the DMZ, and cross in the morning.>Push into the DMZ and stay in one of the settlements within. It couldn’t be that bad, could it?>Try and cross the border tonight.>Other?
>>1639935>>Push into the DMZ and find an isolated spot to camp in. We'll set a watch and stay alert for trouble, maybe even stay off the roads to avoid being noticed. It'll be a bit slower but this way we don't have to sacrifice all our progress for the night.
>>1639935>spoilerWorthy pursuits of an Officer and a Gentleman>Push into the DMZ and stay in one of the settlements within. It couldn’t be that bad, could it?If there are any locals still about they'll probably know a thing or two about the risks.Taking too long puts us at risk and crossing at night risks us starting the conflict.
>>1639935>spoilerWhat else did you expect putting up that option on 4chan?>Push into the DMZ and stay brazenly in the middle of open field so as not to look like a force preparing to attack.
>>1639935>Push into the DMZ and stay in one of the settlements within. It couldn’t be that bad, could it?
Seems we all wanna push on
I'll be running in a couple hours. 5 EST instead of 3.
Delay that by another hour, sorry
“We’ll push into the DMZ and find a place to camp within,” you decided, “We won’t try and cross the border til daylight, but we can make some progress.”“Roger,” your platoon answered.The sky darkened with astonishing speed. The starlight cast the hills in an ethereal blue-grey light, the round stones that were scattered about glowing like stones from the moon itself. The necessity of headlights reduced your night vision significantly, but you still spied dark shapes flitting about the hills, moving back and forth between the low stones and brush. Tall, gnarled pines grew in the valleys between the hills, each depression containing roughly half a dozen of the bastardized mountain flora.You saw the black, glistening light of the night reflecting off of the Bergblutz river ahead. Across it stretched a stone bridge lit by dim lamps in the middle and at the ends. Dark pools of shadows hit all other aspects of it. A scant distance away was a sprawling town, itself only somewhat lit by the pale yellow light of oil lanterns. From what you could make out, it was well and dilapidated, and numerous scummy looking characters stumbled to and fro, leaning against walls, squatting in corners, and laid out over piles of debris.“Von Neubaum says,” Von Igel said over the radio, “That the Demilitarized Zone is a nasty place, and it isn’t good to stay alone…what? Alright…I’m putting him through.”The nervous titter of Von Igel was replaced by the cool, collected, and eternally pessimistic voice of Von Neubaum.“Commander,” he said, “While banditry isn’t common here, but the primary output of the region comes from illegal cottage drug factories, thriving from lack of enforcement up and down the river. I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded how untrustworthy such businesses tend to be, and what sort of company they keep. They’re territorial, and they don’t like competition sniffing around.”>Risk setting camp outside; you’ll just be passing through, best to remain off the map.>Go to the settlement and make your introductions. They’ll understand that you aren’t a threat so long as you come out front and center.>Other
>>1641182>Risk setting camp outside; you’ll just be passing through, best to remain off the map.We have tanks, I'm pretty sure drug dealers won't fuck with us. let's set some people to gaurd in shifts just to be carefull.
>>1641182>Risk setting camp outside; you’ll just be passing through, best to remain off the map.These don't sound like the most rational individuals. Also who knows how they'll react to Blood Suns. Allies? Sworn enemies? Dammit why did we replace our history books with an issue of Strossvald Strumpets.We should set up watches through the night though and coordinate with Bat Company.
>>1641182>>Risk setting camp outside; you’ll just be passing through, best to remain off the map.
“We won’t sniff around then,” you told Von Neubaum, “We’ll find a good place to set down and wait for the morning. We won’t run into any louts more heavily armed than we are. I doubt anybody here is mad enough that they’ll go out of their way to tangle with a superior foe.”“I suggest the small rise there, if we are to encamp,” Von Metzeler spoke up, “There is decent visibility, and nobody will be able to sneak close enough to nullify our advantage in materiel, as well as numbers.”You set up a makeshift fortress of tanks around a center with the supply and fuel trucks. Annoyed crewmen fumbled in the dark with siphons and tubes to begin refueling the vehicles. You had ordered for lamps and torches to remain off; best not to draw more attention to yourself. This many vehicles would be easily spotted in the day, certainly, but the night had a way of making the world blend together.Bat Company was notably more comfortable with the darkness than your crews, as was Hilda, whom had been assigned by somebody to sit solemnly on top of a truck and keep vigil, shrouded in a thick blanket against the assault of chilly evening gusts. “So how are you doing up there?” you asked, hoping she’d forgotten about your last exchange a day ago.“There’s lights near.” She said, not answered your question, “A line of them. Hand lanterns.”“Where?” you climbed up to get a better view.“Coming from the north, around that hill and through the trees.” Hilda pointed, “I could guess it might be three dozen, maybe two dozen and a half.”“Trouble, you think?”“Maybe, maybe not. They aren’t carrying weapons.” Hilda still had her rifle wrapped up next to her. It was some old frontier model that had been converted for new ammunition, you had recognized. Popular among the Border Patrols. Lever actuated; far out of fashion for most modern weapons, but many liked the style of such weapons.You squinted at the lights. “You can tell from that far away? You’ve got good eyesight.”“…a hunter can’t rely on a scope.” She said dully in response. “They look like they’re heading this way.”>Go and head them off. Take a party to scout them out, maybe meet with them.>Wait for them to come here. They aren’t making any attempt to hide, probably just nomads.>Other
>>1641409>>Go and head them off. Take a party to scout them out, maybe meet with them.Might as well get the drop on them before they get near anything vulnerable.
>>1641409>Go and head them off. Take a party to scout them out, maybe meet with them.We should probably scout them and see if they have weapons or what. Meanwhile have our men ready to respond to any threat, until we know more.
“We’ll go and head them off,” you said, “Come with me.”“Me.” Hilda said, her flat tone still making you uncertain whether she was being sarcastic or when she was actually inquisitive.“It helps soften the initial impact,” you explained, “From where I’m standing a bunch of men look less threatening to a band of travelers if they have a woman with them.”“I’m certain my gentle and soft appearance will fool any blind people they have with them.”You sighed. “It’s dark. Your face won’t matter as much as your shape.”“There’s no need to bring up my weight.”You were certain at this point Hilda was messing with you. “Just come.”Along with Hilda, you took your loader and driver, Jorgen and Malachi. You had a tendency to leave your other crewmen out for such things, it seemed, but Hans was better with banter than he was at fighting at first glance, and Stein had a lanky appearance that didn’t inspire confidence.You wanted to round out your party with Honnrieg, but the Captain refused.“Take Adel instead.” He said, pointing to the Gefreitor, “This sort of thing is easy. You aren’t trying to fight them anyways, right?”You relented.One of the advantages to having two people who had difficulty speaking your language, Hilda, and somebody you didn’t know too well, was that the temptation of chitchat never came to anybody. You all silently closed with the unknown interlopers, keeping to the shadows and keeping a keen eye on the direction the other people moved. They weaved to and fro, themselves keeping low, despite their dim lanterns. Presumably, they cared about being easily noticed, but not so much that they thought it worth completely going dark.
“What do you see?” you asked Adel, who had taken your binoculars and gotten boosted into a tree; one among a loose clump of evergreens that were becoming increasingly common away from the flatlands. To your confusion, the first thing Adel had done when you have him your binoculars was retrieve what looked to be a piece of sheer fabric, like what was used in women’s hosiery, and stretch it over the lenses. “They’re typical runners,” he muttered down to you, not taking his eyes off his target, “Big backpacks, signs and badges on their clothes saying who they’re with. Not a group I recognize, but we aren’t anywhere near Sosaldt so that’s obvious.”“A group?” you asked, “Like a warband?”“No, more like a business brand. If they did it like further east their guards would be openly carrying, a message to tell everybody interested in causing a ruckus to buzz off. These guys are more counting on people to respect the sign and assume that business as usual is much more profitable…or…”“Or?”“Well,” he said, losing confidence, “I…guess they could also be mountain nomads. The symbol might just be tribal.”“We do happen to be close to the mountains,” you observed, looking upon the misty peaks looming over you all.“They’re all wearing hoods,” Adel added, “So I can’t really say. If they weren’t covering their heads, I could tell you if they were a mountain tribe because their hair would be green as the forest. Or so I hear. I’ve never actually seen any mountain people.”>Go and meet with them. What harm could they be?>Trail them more closely and see if you can find out more.>Return to camp and wait for them there.>Other?
>otherCan we check and see if they have weapons? I'd imagine we wouldn't have to get close to see if they have rifles.
>>1641637Hilda said they aren't visibly carrying weapons.
>>1641637They don't have weapons, or at least they aren't carrying them openly. They don't have any imprintation that indicates that they are hiding larger weapons either.
>mabye not, they aren't carrying weapons Huehue. Ok then, lets just get back to camp.
>>1641613>>Trail them more closely and see if you can find out more.May as well follow them all the way until they reach our camp or pass it.
>>1641879>Return to camp and wait for them there.>Other?It seems like they don't know where our camp is, maybe we should make a ruckus by the campfire and scare them away? If they are runners they will avoid us, if they are more interesting then that maybe they will seek us out.
“Let’s get back,” you stood up as Adel slid down the tree’s truck, “We’ll see what they’re all about if we just go back to camp and wait. Maybe they’ll avoid us, maybe they won’t. We’ll make our presence known a little and see how they react. Nothing major, just a few patrols so they see us moving around.”To add to this effect, you didn’t make an effort to hide your movement back like you did on your way to observe the journeyers. When you came back, you spoke with Honnrieg and Bat Company.“I want two patrols of five around our camp, no more than fifty meters away,” you said, “We won’t be turning on any lights, but there’s a group moving nearby and I want to gauge their response to us. Two dozen or so, unarmed. Definitely no heavy weapons. If they’re making any threatening moves, I’ll leave decisions up to you.”“You heard the Lieutenant,” Honnrieg nodded to the two subordinates who had lined their men up when you called them to attention. “Junior Lieutenant, Sergeant, organize patrols. Pick five from each of your squads who need to burn some fat.”Thus the patrols began. You sat on top of the truck with Hilda, who had quickly reassumed her place away from the rest.“So how are you feeling?” you asked.“Lonely.”“I, er,” you awkwardly scratched at the back of your head, “I meant your wound.”“I slept all day.” Hilda said, tone still flat and even as cut stone. “It’s healed some. It’ll be alright.”“Though if you’re lonely you can get somebody else to take watch, you know. It’s not like people will refuse to hang out around you.”“I like looking like the cool, distant gunner.” Hilda said, “I don’t need any more people looking at me like a sad, desperate ugly woman.”“I don’t look at you that way,” you snorted.“Richt-…Lieutenant. I’ve been looking after myself for years. I don’t need a shoulder to cry on.” Hilda retreated deeper into the blanket that already shrouded her. “I’ll be fine.”“I think…” you started to say, but Hans shouted something from below.“Hey, Boss! Quick making out with frosty and get down here!”“Frosty?” you wondered.“Better than ‘Elbows’.”“That doesn’t make sense either.”“Just go.” Hilda said.
“What is it?” You asked Hans when you jumped down.“As soon as your patrols started they ran into some guys,” your Radio Operator said, pointing backwards over his shoulder, “They want to talk to our leader, apparently. As long as he’s not too busy macking on young women away from everybody else, right?”“Please. It’s not like that.”“I know.” Hans punched you in the shoulder while smirking, “You prefer them a bit more compact and less top-heavy. Anyways, they’re down there. One of the Bat Company guys is waiting to take you over.”“One last thing,” you said, “What the hell sort of nickname is Elbows?”“You know the elbows trick?” Hans grinned and mimed doing it.“How juvenile.” You rolled your eyes.“It’s a blessing, boss. Too pure minded to know, yet mature and stacked enough for it to have simply beautiful results. It feels bad but it looks so good.”You reminded yourself to keep Hans away from any other women you met as you turned and left without a word. At the very least, he behaved himself around Maddalyn.-----The Bat Company man led you down the hill, where a procession of lanterns waited, held by hooded travelers.“What do you want.” You asked them, trying to switch to the attitude of a surly mercenary, “Are you lost?”“Oh no,” one of the hooded figures with a blue scarf addressed you. He pulled the hood back off of his head, and it was a relatively young man, with small, slight features. “We are not lost, but the night is dark and these lands are unsafe. We were wondering if we could stay the night under your protection.”“There’s a town just over that way,” you pointed out. “Couldn’t you stay there? They’d probably like your business better.”“Business?” the young man looked to his cohorts, one of whom said something in some jibberish that sounded oddly familiar.“Oh, er,” the young man smiled, “No, we aren’t drug carriers. We are Acolytes of the Mountain, training to serve…er, serve…wandering wise men?”“Kooks from up north.” The Bat Company soldier murmured to you, leaning close, “They seem harmless enough. Any trouble they’d cause would just be typical stupidity.”>”Piss off. We’re mercenaries. If you want to be babysitted for the night we need coin.”>It couldn’t hurt. Allow them to spend the night in your camp.>Send them on their way with a less hostile excuse. (Write in)>Other?
>>1642758>”Piss off. We’re mercenaries. If you want to be babysitted for the night we need coin.”Can't go around handing charity to everyone we meet.
>>1642758>”Piss off. We’re mercenaries. If you want to be babysitted for the night we need coin.”We need to stay in character
>>1642751Hilda seems like she definitely needs a shoulder to cry on. We need to set her up with someone.>>1642758>Allow them to spend the night close to, but not inside your camp.>Chat with them about "wandering wise men">Tell Malachi he has an opportunity to talk with people who actually understand him.
>>1642798>>1642956These guys are definitely connected to soulbinders, and as such could give us valuable info.
>>1642969>Allow them to spend the night close to, but not inside your camp.>Chat with them about "wandering wise men">Tell Malachi he has an opportunity to talk with people who actually understand him.Hmmmm, well Old Polt did tell us to stay in the Lords' good books. Fine, let's make an exception then.
“You can stay close to us for tonight,” you acted contemplative, slowly stroking your chin and looking over the assortment of “acolytes” before you. “Not inside our camp, but close to it. Nobody should bother you so long as we’re close by.”“We are extremely grateful for your understanding,” the representative beamed, “I am Nathaniel, of the Watching Peak. If you wish to converse with us, I represent the acolytes. Some of them do not know the new tongue, after all.”After informing the rest of your people of this development, you went down to the acolytes’ camp. You offered for Malachi to come down and converse with them too, thinking that he might have enjoyed the opportunity to speak with people who were fluent in his native language, but he merely said “Neai,” and wouldn’t hear of it. When you asked why, he merely said “Zayecreuit.” So you had shrugged and gone to see what you could find out from Nathaniel and his group.Some sat away from the others, but the rest sat in a circle, some smoking colored, rolled paper. It wasn’t tobacco; it had a slight, sweet smell, like charcoal and jerky.“Would you care for some Blackflower, strange leader?” Nathanial offered, “The spirits are calm, but it never hurts to calm your own ghost.”You thought about turning him down, but you remembered Poltergeist’s advice concerning the stuff. If it would keep the Demiphantom from pulling you into whatever “Betwixt” was, you couldn’t exactly refuse.“So,” you said, unrolling the paper twist and popping the stuff in your mouth. “Tell me about these ‘wandering wisemen.’ They sound interesting.”Nathaniel looked to his friends, and exchanged a few words in their strange language. He then rose, beckoning. “Come with me.”He led you to the other group, which upon closer notice, were all young women. Their separation from the rest made much more sense now. Nathaniel said something in his mountain language, and one of them stood up and closed with you.She wore a heavy hood, but in the dim light you could see her face underneath; round, delicate, with her hair a puzzling shade of green. She put a slender hand upon your chest, and you felt something course around you like a wind unfelt by any others.“One stronger than I has determined this man worthy of trust.” The young lady said in ever so slightly accented New Nauk. “He may be treated as you would treat your fellows.”“My thanks, Lady Ada.” Nathaniel bowed, while leading you back with one hand. “Who, if I may ask?”“The one who calls himself Poltergeist.”“Hm.” Nathaniel seemed somewhat distressed by this news, “Alright then.”
When you had come back to the circle with the other men, Nathaniel had loosened up somewhat.“So the girls don’t get to be part of your smoking circle?” you asked, despite already knowing the reason why.“It has an…awkward effect on their behavior. We must be mindful of even the wind.” Nathaniel said, “They do not feel excluded, I assure you. It is an honor in itself to be always by the Lady’s side.”“So which of you bachelors gets to be the groom?” you teased him.“Oh, no.” Nathaniel laughed, “An acolyte’s duty is to serve, not to pursue. The Lady’s hand in matrimony can only be claimed by contest among other sages. Otherwise it is entirely her decision.”“Where we were earlier though,” you redirected the conversation, “Tell me about the wanderers that you say you’re training to serve.”“You already know who they are, it would seem. A rarity among those not from deep in the mountains.”“He has an odd fondness for me, and I don’t seem to have the best of luck.”“Poltergeist purports himself to come from the Watching Peak,” Nathaniel shifted in place, “He has always been…strange. The strangest thing of all being where he came from.”“Oh?”“He insists that he was taught at the Watching Peak,” Nathaniel said lowly, “But our records are deep, and precise. We have no record of him coming from our mountain. He simply arrived one day, with the skill and might of a master sage.”“Mysterious.” The blackflower wad had lost its taste, and you spat it out. “So why are you down here? It’s a long way from the mountain.”“Well,” Nathaniel regained his better humor, “The Lady wished to see the ocean. The Elders thought it good for her to have some experience away from the peak. There is another reason only she knows, so I could hardly tell you that part. It’s a secret to all of us.”>Do you have any further queries to ask these men? [Write in]>Other actions?
How would one go about acquiring radiant pearls?
>>1643479Ask about if they know the Riverman, and how they feel about Sages involving themselves in war.The only other thing I can think of is if they have any tips for dealing with hostile spirits.Betcha ten Strossvald Dollars that the Elders detected Maddy and sent this Lady to poke her head around the trail.
>>1643658These seem like sensible questions, I don't have any to ask.
“You know about something called a Radiant Pearl?” you asked Nathaniel, “I think I want to look for one.”“Of course,” Nathaniel answered, “But I don’t think you would be able to find one even if you knew what to look for. Sages constantly look for them, and the places where they could form. They are created by spirits, in places of great spiritual strength. Places that only the Sages know of.”“I see.” You said with disappointment. You really didn’t know what to look for, though perhaps you knew somebody who did. The Hungry Darkness that had given you your only pearl had, you could only presume, come from the secret laboratory in the Blumlands. Was that a “place of great spiritual strength?” Or had the experiments there turned it into one? Or was it not anything like that at all? Who knew?“You haven’t heard of anybody called the Riverman, have you?” you followed up your question.“Not at all.” Nathaniel answered, puzzled, before asking his compatriots presumably the same question. “None of us have. Is he a sage?”“I suppose.” Soulbinder? Sage? Wizard? Whatever. “They’re supposed to not intervene in wars and such, right?”“It is forbidden, yes,” Nathaniel nodded, “By the Mountain Lords. For over two thousand years, this has been the law. Those who dabble in the realm of the spirit may not intervene in the realm of man, unless absolutely necessary. This world belongs to the Judge, and the other belongs to Yjens, daughter of Ocean and Earth.”It sounded like blasphemy to you, but you accepted it. “Presumably where that line is drawn is up to interpretation.” You mused.Nathaniel grimaced, “I suppose it depends upon whom you ask, but according to the Mountain Lords, at least, whose words are what is followed by Sages the world over, a Sage cannot seek worldly power, in governance or through formation groups that fight or intimidate others. They are also not allowed to share their knowledge with groups who could abuse their power. Armies and scholars and such.”
“On another subject, you say you smoke this blackflower to keep bad spirits away,” you gestured to the smoke blowing away towards the camp, “say if you were to run into one anyways, what would you do? How do you deal with hostile spirits?”“We trust Lady Ada to disperse them.” Nathaniel said simply, “One does not have to be a sage to manipulate presence, but it is exceedingly difficult, near impossible, to do unless you can see the presence. Only those who have bound their soul, or those inhabited by spirits, are able to see the way their own presence and the presence of other beings of living matter move. If we were to encounter anything without Lady Ada, we have been instructed to flee.” When you sighed with disappointment, Nathaniel quickly added, “I have heard, however, that fire disrupts the form of many spirits, as do salts of earth and noble metals.”Hopefully next you ran into something scary, you’d have better ways to deal with it than waving burning sticks at them.“Are you headed for the mountains, good sir?” Nathaniel wondered.You did have to head through some mountain roads to follow the route the Blood Suns were taking. “Yes, we are.” You answered him.“You should be careful when you do,” he said forebodingly. “Those that live below the mountains have risen, and while they are normally peaceful, they can be easily aggravated.”“What lives below the mountains?”“Living Stones, primarily. Some other things, but Living Stones are the most common.”Living Stones were land dwelling crustaceans that mimicked stones or piles of pebbles. They were usually only about the size of a hand, and even the biggest ones barely came above the ankle. You said as such, and that you weren’t very intimidated.Nathaniel laughed darkly. “No no, these ones are much bigger. At least as tall as you or I.”“I’ll avoid aggravating them then.” You decided out loud, “Thank you for your information. I will be returning to my men. Have a good night.”>Take any actions at camp? (If you wanted to ask anybody anything in particular earlier this is the place to do it. I’m forgetful and when people say they want to ask certain characters near them certain things it can slip my mind)>Get some rest
>>1643938Maybe we can check on our friend in a can?
>>1643938>you gestured to the smoke blowing away towards the camp>towards the camp>the camp>camp>HILDASWEET JESUS. MAN BATTLE STATIONS, LOAD THE TURRET, WE SLEEP IN THE TANK!>Get some rest
>>1643961Also, let's do it in a place where our soul binder friends won't notice.
>>1643967oh god I guess make sure hilda was not effected by the black leaf
>>1643972Oh shit.....I guess we should check up on Hilda and then ghost girl.
You noticed the blackflower smoke trailing back to the camp, and thought suddenly of Hilda sitting on top of the truck, the smoke rising as it went along…You quickened your pace.Hilda was still sitting motionless on top of the truck. You climbed up to her again.“Are you alright?” you asked her.“Yeah.”“Are you sure? You don’t feel anything?” you pressed her, nervously.“Blackflower doesn’t work on me.” Hilda threw her hood back, “Not as much anyways. Tch.” Hilda’s face wrenched up and she punched herself in the leg. She cringed and hissed through her teeth; it looked like it had hurt her a lot more than it should have. “But that’s…” you started, but Hilda kept going.“It’s rare, but it’s possible. My mother, it didn’t work on her at all. My father smoked it all the damn time. I only got some of that resistance. Mmf.”Hilda hit herself again, but took this one better.“Why do you keep doing that?” you asked, baffled.“Blackflower gets at your mind and body both.” Hilda whistled through her teeth, “In your head it’s like being drunk, but you can still move well enough. Your body…your senses are multiplied. Especially your nose and skin. If I hurt myself it hurts like hell, but it keeps my head clear.”“So if I did this…” you stroked Hilda’s arm.“Nhhnnn..!” Hilda sighed, wilting slightly before Hilda punched herself twice, grunting. “…Don’t…do that.”“Right.”“Just leave me be up here and I’ll get through it.” Hilda insisted. “Nobody else’s even come near like they’re going to come up except you. I’m fine.”>You don’t seem fine. I must be able to do something for you. (Suggestion)>If you say so. Night.>*poke her*>Other?
>>1644123>>You don’t seem fine. You should go find a tank or tent or something to go into and get out of the smoke. We'll find someone to watch the truck for you.Also if we're going to check on ghost waifu we should do it in a similarly enclosed space so we don't accidentally kill her.
>>1644123>>You don’t seem fine. I must be able to do something for you.Ask someone for a gas mask maybe?
>>1644123>You don’t seem fine. I must be able to do something for you. (Suggestion)We do have our gas masks in our tank don't we? We should give one to Hilda.
Rolled 47 (1d100)“Hang on,” you said, “I can get something that’ll help.”You went back to your tank and dug out the container for chemical equipment. Blackflower was obviously not something that the filters were tested for, but it would probably be strained from the air regardless. You pulled a mask out; the rubberized gloves and boots probably weren’t necessary.You came back, and threw the mask up towards Hilda…
>>1644349I kinda wanna roll deviation.
s-so what happened.
>>1644484>>1644494Sorry, I got interrupted.I'll have the next update soon.
It clattered next to her, and she looked at it, then looked at you.“Make sure it’s tight around your face,” you advised, “the filter lasts three hours in combat conditions, so it should keep until they go to sleep, at least.”“…Alright.”“Do I get a thank you?”“…Thank you.”-----With that taken care of, you crawled into your tank to talk with the resident ghost. Doubtless she had much to say. You twisted open the can, and the little flickering blue light rushed out.“Finally you let me have some air, you masked brute! I demand to know why you…you…you’re not him?”“I’m sorry to disappoint.” You said to the little blue and white wisp.“Well,” Emma, who was once a girl in Salzbrucke three years ago but was now an ethereal flame soundlessly burning before you, “I suppose I haven’t lost any ground. Who was that?”“Your nefarious captor? That was Poltergeist. He’s a…stalker?” You didn’t really want to call him a friend, but he wasn’t your enemy either; he had been far too supportive in his actions for that, despite his terrible manners. “Speaking of stalkers, how did you get in my tank?”“I can go out if I want to,” Emma replied, sounding hurt. “What could even happen? Would I just die again? I can’t stand the idea of staying at ho…in that ruin any longer, after three long years. The Monsters didn’t try looking under the tank, and they don’t step through it, so I just…stuck along.”
“Well, you’re out here,” you let yourself lean against the back of the turret, “What do you think?”“So far I’ve been under a tank, stuck in a can, and now I’m in a slightly bigger can.” Emma sniffed, “I’ll have second thoughts about having left if all I’ll be allowed to do is get put in cans all the time.”Or barrels, you thought about saying but decided better.“That masked man said something strange to me before he canned me.”“What did he say?” you let one eye close.“He told me, ‘Don’t be scared. It will all be better in time.’ What do you think he meant? Weird thing to tell a girl before you shove her in a tin.”You shrugged. “No idea. It’s getting pretty late, though. Do ghosts sleep?”“Of course they don’t,” Emma crackled, “What eyes do we have to close? What bodies do we have to rest?”No mouth to bitch with yet here we are, you thought but let slide. “I see. Being in that can must have been terribly dull.”“To be honest,” Emma said, looking as pensive as a will-o-wisp could, “When I’m shut up in something, it feels like time passes by very quickly. I don’t know why, but it feels like it’s only been a couple of hours since I was closed in here again. But it was morning then? And you said it’s night now?”“Presumably you were ghost-sleeping.”“That sounds stupid.”“You don’t know the half of it.”“Well,” Emma smoldered, “Can I go outside then, daddy dearest?” Then, in a much more subdued tone, she added, “I just want to look at the world…that’s all I ever wanted…I promise I’ll be good…”>Maybe if you fix that attitude you have. You’ve been dead three years, you’re not in puberty any more.>If you promise to be good. Not right now, though. There’s mean people that will put you in worse things than cans outside right now.>I’ll let you out
>>1644579>>If you promise to be good. Not right now, though. There’s mean people that will put you in worse things than cans outside right now.
>>1644579>If you promise to be good. Not right now, though. There’s mean people that will put you in worse things than cans outside right now.
>>1644579wow I didn't notice the options cut off til now.>I’ll let you out when it’s alright. For now, get back in the ghost-can.>Other
>>1644579>>I’ll let you out. I'm not in charge of you, I don't really care what you do or what happens to you. I had been looking into the possibility of finding new bodies for you and your siblings, out of the kindness of my heart. But if you think you have better prospects out on your own, feel free. It's no sweat off my back.
>>1644595passive aggressive much?
>>1644600I didn't mean it to be, I just honestly don't understand why she thinks Richter would be in charge of what she does or why Richter would want to be.
“You don’t have to stay around me, you know.” You said, “In spite of your mockery, I can’t do anything to keep you where you are. If you want to go, don’t let me keep you.”“You dumbass,” Emma sparked, “I don’t want to trade freedom for being alone. I might as well let myself get eaten if I wanted that.”“Am I being held hostage?” you wondered aloud, “I’m not sure whether you want to stay or go.”“I want to go with others. I don’t want to leave, I just want to see something other than the inside of a metal box.”“So you didn’t invite any of your siblings with you?” you asked.“They aren’t my siblings. They aren’t even my friends. They’re content to sit and wait in a dark hole while some stranger promises them the world. Am I foolish for wanting to see how that plays out? And if it doesn’t, to at least have done something other than sit around for Judge above knows how long waiting before I lose hope in a basement in a pile of burned crap?”“Sheesh.”“Don’t you sheesh me, Imperial. Now are you going to answer my question or not?”The sigh you let out might have been heavier than you intended. “If you promise to be good you can go outside. Not right now, though.”“Why not?”“Because there’s mean people who will put you in worse things than cans that are outside right now.” You warned the little ghost, “If you really want to stick around me you can’t be seen by the wrong people. That could get both me and you in trouble. Do you understand?”“Yes…”“I won’t put you back in the can,” you shook the metal container at her, its strap rattling against its thin shell, “But if you’re going to live in my tank you can’t go around spooking my crew. Stay out of sight and mind, alright?”
The Blackflower had the advertised effect on your rest- the freaky dreamland once more stayed far away from your sleep.In its place came worse things. A faceless horde slowly surrounded you, pushing you, and when you looked behind you there was a cliff and a sea of blood. The crowd slowly, steadily, pushed you over.You sank into the sea, choking, grasping, only a wall of red in your eyes…“Commander!”You were woken up by Stein.“Morning,” you said groggily, “you wouldn’t believe the sort of dream I had.”“Later,” Stein said seriously, “the Captain’s up in arms. Saying we’ve got to get going.”“Why?” you heaved yourself up, but Stein left you behind, assuming you would follow. You had little choice but to.You noticed a small, slow single engine plane lazily drifting above you. When you got to Honnrieg, he pointed up to it.“Spotter plane,” he said quickly, “Probably reconnaissance photography. It came from the east, so there’s only one place it could have come from.”“We’re out of time, I presume,” the situation had a way of chasing away drowsiness. “Everybody’s ready to go, yes?”“I took the liberty of getting the wheels in motion.” Captain Honnrieg said.“Much obliged. As soon as we’re all set, we’re rushing that bridge. The sooner we get into East Valsten, the better. I don’t want to be caught between two Bilgie gunlines.”
The acolytes accepted the short farewell, as well as advice to not linger in the area. Afterwards, you charged through the town and over the bridge, scattering pieces of unfortunate infrastructure and garbage over your path as some roads were unpredictably obstructed.None seemed awake to chastise you too severely, besides some sleepy bums who shouted incoherently when you knocked their trash piles to smithereens. Before you knew it, you were over the bridge, and, at least nominally, in the territory of East Valsten. The road headed towards the mountains; presumably somewhere at their feet there would be a checkpoint or patrol, waiting, to demand what you thought you were doing treading on their nation’s sovereignty.“What the hell do you think you’re doing, using your tanks to trample on our national sovereignty!”That was the first thing one of East Valsten’s finest demanded at the border checkpoint. They hadn’t decided to open fire on you, thank goodness, but the border officer was still indignant. He was short, stout, and the verdant green uniform he wore, while similar to that of their western cousins, was supported by leather gear instead of canvas webbing. His armament was different too; a holdover from East Valsten’s military arms primarily coming from the navy and marines, who used navy equipment rather than army.The checkpoint was small; possibly only a squad stayed here to check on all traffic through here, although in the distance to the south you could see other, more substantial structures that could hold much more, as well as shapes covered in brush and upset earth; the telltale sign of a hastily prepared fortified position.“We’re with the Blood Suns that passed through here earlier,” you showed the false papers that you were provided, “Didn’t they tell you?”“They told us that nobody was following them, was their words.” The borderman pointed an accusing finger upwards with a cocked eyebrow, “You lot are mighty suspicious…I ought to impound your vehicles and hold you for investigation!”“Can I possibly convince you to not waste your time?” you asked.“I think not!” the officer waggled a finger.>I’m sure we can pay a fine for not filing the proper paperwork. Do you like money?>Come on. You don’t want us to get violent, do you? The only reason I stopped was out of sympathy.>What if I told you that I was from Strossvald, and that my men and I are on an important mission in support of our nation and yours alike? You wouldn’t want me to report any obstructions, would you?>Other
>>1644859>OtherAct outraged:>Wait, and you actually BELIEVED him? Those bastards actually think they can use you to slow me down enough to miss the election to pick the new Leader? >I want you to tell me their NAMES. When I catch up to them they will regret the day they crossed their future warlord, Captain Skullcrusher! If that isn't enough to befuddle him just start boasting about our infamy while tossing gold bars at his feet while our tanks roll past. We absolutely can't tell him our real mission.
>>1644899I support this... although skullecrusher seems a tad bit corny
>>1644908All the better to outshine the Dread Pirate Roberts.Also it doesn't have to be Skullcrusher, I challenge my fellow anons to come up with something even more groan worthy.
>>1644899Sure, something along those lines; basically just act supremely confident.If possible a less cheesy name than skullcrusher would be nice.
>>1644946Am i the only one who finds "bloodflag" fitting?
>>1644899>>1644859This. And act as bloodthirsty and unhinged as possible so that guy doesn't get an idea to extort us for a bribe.
>>1644946Hmmm....Captain Iron Death?Captain Bloodthirster?Captain Deathmonger?Captain Killeye?Captain Death's Hoof?Captain Eviscerator?Captain Poltergeist?
>>1644988Captain Waifu Wrangler
“Wait,” you said, trying to match the border officer in indignance, “you actually believed him? Those bastards actually think they can use you to slow me down, so I’ll miss the chance to become the new king?”“You can be the king of waiting in the interrogation room for investigators, if you want.”“I want you to tell me their names,” you said with as much bile as you could muster, “When I catch up to them, they will regret the day they crossed their future warlord, Captain…”Skullcrusher? That was the first thought, but it sounded too cheesy. Iron Death? Bloodthirster?“I’ll be sure to spread the tale of Captain Uhhh.” The border patrolman was much more amused than he was threatened. “Shouldn’t you already know their names, oh invincible lord Uhhh? They’re part of your band, yeah? You should at least know the names of your competition for ‘king’, right?”Crap. “You don’t know their names, so what would me telling you prove?” You countered.The Border Officer merely smirked at you. “Look, you don’t have a single bit of Zeelen in your accent, and out of all the sorts of tanks to bring you’ve got Nauklander tanks. I know you’re not from West Valsten. Just give me some reason why you’re really here so I can pass it up the chain, or we’re going to have trouble.”It seems you’ll have to make up a convincing story, or perhaps test the limits of the man’s sense of duty with enough temptation for gold.>We’re a rival group under the same organization, the Blood Suns. We’re following them back to teach them a lesson for messing with our employers by running off after one little battle.>I can’t tell you why we’re here. How much would you want to just tell everybody that I’m with them anyways? I guarantee I can pay.>You’ve got serious guts, messing with a bunch who outnumber you and have tanks. What if I stopped humoring you and decided to get out and teach you a lesson?>Other
>>1646826>We’re a rival group under the same organization, the Blood Suns. We’re following them back to teach them a lesson for messing with our employers by running off after one little battle.Wait these are the enemies of the Blood Suns employers. The border guards may want to stop us just to spite West Valsten. Maybe we do want to inflict some punishment but we need a better reason.Part of me wants to say because they kidnapped our fiancée but I'm sure the higher ups would be able to connect two and two.If he's this confident then he does have the guns somewhere to back it up. We aren't that far from the border between two nations who hate each other.
>>1646826>>We’re a rival group under the same organization, the Blood Suns. We’re following them back to teach them a lesson for messing with our employers by running off after one little battle.
>>1646826>Maybe I'm here to crush overly curious border guards underthread, have you considered that?
Fuck it, just throw gold bricks at him until he seems satisfied.
“Alright,” you shrugged, “You’ve caught me. We’re a rival group, under the same organization though. Blood Suns.” You pointed to the emblem on the turret helpfully, “We’re following Selgess’s band back to their home to teach them a lesson. They ran off after just one little battle. That’s not how we do things, you know?”This was a bit of a conundrum. You remembered that, apparently, East Valsten preferred to maintain good relations with Sosaldt due to sharing a border and trade, but would that preserve if one of the larger mercenary companies of Sosaldt was working for Valsten? Perhaps the Blood Suns were to only operate against Strossvald, which was why the Blood Suns even managed to pass through earlier?The Border Officer leaned against the wall of his outpost and tapped a finger on his short, square chin. “A dispute between Blood Suns? I guess that makes some sense…still sounds like I should send it up and see what brass has to say. They usually want to hear about Sosaldtian drama…”“Surely they’d appreciate it more if you didn’t risk angering said higher ups by leaking this?” you suggested gently.“I don’t know,” the Border Officer continued to tap his finger on his chin, “I get a bonus for every suspicious individual I hold for inspection. You know?”“I think I know.”>Sling gold bars at him (write in number)>Try paying him off with the fifty eight marks you extorted from the Clarr troopers>Threaten him into submission (Write in)>Other?Sorry for the slow speed today, tomorrow should be better, at least until midnight EST. I've not been feeling in the writing mood. Not thinking of ideas I like.
>>1648134>>Sling gold bars at him (write in number)2 should be fine
>>1648134>Sling gold bars at him (write in number)Flip 1 bar and when he predictably wants more toss him two more.Are there no honest businessmen left anymore?No worries bossman, you do the pace you wanna do.
You cracked open the case full of gold, and retrieved three bars. You tossed the first to the Border Officer’s feet. “Will that cover it?”He picked it up, and examined it. “See, this is more the attitude a person should have when they’ve got something to hide. Easy way to earn sympathy. Although,” his eyes shifted deviously to you, “I’d still need to keep you around for a day, to search for contraband. Can’t have anything suspicious going over the border, right?”You threw down the other two bars. “I can assure you that we’re not carrying anything besides what is needed for our business.”“Big spender,” the Border Officer whistled, “I only expected one, but since we’re both feeling generous, I’ll waive that inspection. In fact, we did our inspection, and didn’t find squat. Right?”“I appreciate your understanding,” you sank back into the turret and cracked your knuckles below, inside the turret, “Do I need to sign anything?”“No, no,” the Officer said, pocketing the gold, “just another lie on a paper that’ll get lost anyways.”[-3 gold, 90 50-gram bars remaining]
With the border checkpoint sufficiently corrupted for your purposes, you pushed onwards. According to the map of the Blood Suns’ travel plan that you looked down on, before looking forward again, you were going to take a mountain road. It must have been a large one, to go back and forth with tanks on. Mountain roads didn’t tend to be, as far as you knew, very safe for motor vehicles. However, going through the mountains here must have been at least faster than going around. Although these mountains, for some reason, were awfully misty. It wasn’t an ocean fog; the fog seemed to billow from within, from some unseen source in the valleys. The road sloped upwards, then shifted, then eventually began to walk up the short mountain in your path; small enough that it was practically just a large hill, but nevertheless the first of many in the range. The road was meandering indeed; it was no easy task to drive up a mountain, and roads tended to be built between them rather than through. This must have been a huge endeavor to construct.The last stop before the road dove around a mountain and into the unexplored, thick mists, was a village. It looked to be a small mountainside community, built in the shoulder of the large hill and the first, actual rocky looking mountain. It was joined by a small outpost, presumably staffed by East Valstener Rangers. Two of which stood by a welcoming sign, rifles slung over their shoulders.“Ho, there!” one called, “Stop for a moment!”You obliged. “What is the problem?”“No problem, traveler.” The Ranger said, “Not with you, anyways. I suggest that you take another road than the one ahead, though.”“Why?”“A bunch that looked like you passed through earlier. Locals say they riled up the wildlife something fierce. So there’s that, not to mention that the fog’s up during the breeding season.”“So?”
“So,” the Ranger said, looking off to the mountains instead of you, “A lot of bad things happen when the fog and breeding season mix. The fog already makes it dangerous. When the Living Stones are shambling about, all territorial, they’re dangerous too. Even moreso since they can smell you while you can’t see them, so they’ll think you’re ignoring their warnings when you accidentally intrude on their personal space.”“That and the Ever Wanderin’…” the other Ranger said forebodingly.“That’s hogwash,” the first Ranger condemned his partner, “Only reason for the high rate of disappearances is because of what I just said. It’s dangerous, but there’s no mysterious maze or whatever in there.”“Then why don’t search parties ever find the ones who go missing?” shook the superstitious Ranger.“Because the nomads pick up their things, obviously.” The skeptical ranger sighed and looked back to you, “Anyways, it’s just not a good idea. It’s still faster to go through there, I guess, since the traffic around’s been blocked up by army logistics for the past couple days, but you can just stick around til the fog clears in a week, too.”>We’re in tanks. We aren’t afraid of any giant crabs. We’re going through.>We can afford to stay a week, I suppose. Where do we stay?>Giant crabs and mountain mazes. Can’t say that appeals, and I have to keep moving. I’ll take your suggestion and go down the main road, delays or no.>Other questions/actions?
>>1648454>We’re in tanks. We aren’t afraid of any giant crabs. We’re going through.I wanna kill crabs and get through this as quick as possible we have to catch up to the blood suns
>>1648454>We’re in tanks. We aren’t afraid of any giant crabs. We’re going through.
>>1648454>We’re in tanks. We aren’t afraid of any giant crabs. We’re going through.Constantly dealing with with the army is getting dangerous, the moment our purpose is discovered the hostages are doomed.>Other questions/actions?Uh, how giant we talking here?What did the previous group do to rile them up?Any hope of seeing their territorial marks beforehand?If either of these boys seem capable there's a gold bar a piece for a capable guide.
>>1648163>>1648172>>1648917Damn, people, you're too generous with gold. It's not coins, it's goddamn 50g bars. Depending on purity and bank stamps, they are valued around $2000 IRL today.>>1648454>We’re in tanks. We aren’t afraid of any giant crabs. We’re going through.>>1648917These questions as well.
“We’re gonna go ahead and go through anyways, but, uh,” you scratch the back of your head and smirk innocently, “I’ve heard the crabs around here are pretty big, but that’s an exaggeration, right?”The skeptical ranger looked sideways at you. “Taller than you or I and about three times that as broad, and those are the small ones. I’ve seen one that was as big as your tank, once.”“Judge above.” You’d heard of large Living Stones in the mountains, certainly, and you believed it, but never of any that colossal. “How is that even possible?”“Beats me. They only show around these mountains. Locals say they come from deep underground, and folk like Grimm here’ll tell you they get big because of magic.”“’s not magic, Ullo,” the ranger known as Grimm said, “The nomads say they’re touched by spirits, and I’d be keen to trust ‘em since they’re the ones who still go in an’ out in these sorts of times.”“How did they get riled up, as you say?” you asked, trying to keep your hold on the conversation.Grimm harrumphed. “The way you’d ‘spect, really. Making a lot of noise and shooting a lot of things.”
“To elaborate,” the skeptical ranger, apparently called Ullo, spoke over his compatriot’s muttering, “These Living Stones aren’t just stupid crabs. They’re reasonably smart, and don’t tend to like getting into fights. Usually they’ll keep out of the way if something bigger comes near, and if you throw food at them they’ll not try for a piece of you instead. Easy peasy, they respect the bigger things and they expect respect from the smaller things.”“They’re social too,” Grimm interrupted, “Kill one, you piss off the rest of them close near.”“More than that,” Ullo glanced disapprovingly sideways, “What really sets them off is dicking around in their nests. To get them this pissed, though? Your pals must have stolen some eggs.”“Not much we can do then, presumably.” You said, with little anticipation of good things.“Not unless you can catch up and take them back, no.” Ullo said, “The locals catch dumb tourists sometimes and make them give them up. Returning the eggs and leaving an offering helps calm them down faster, but your fellows are way too well armed for that. Should be a fun trip.”“Can I at least see signs of them ahead of time?” you grumbled, “So I at least know when they’re coming.”“Depending on the condition of the trails, you might not have a choice.” Ullo said, “Not that you’ll see them too well in this weather. Once you get into the mountains proper the fog’ll be such that you can’t see much further than five meters front. Good enough to keep on the road but damn if it gives you enough room to keep out of the way of the stones.”“Grreeeaatt.” You sagged in the turret and fell forward in mock exhaustion, “So you’re Rangers, right? You know these mountains well?”This was a question you asked for the sake of their ego, since you already knew the answer. Both Altossian (a territory of Strossvald) and East Valsten rangers trained hard in harsh conditions, and were well known to be a cut above most infantrymen. It took hard people to survive, let alone fight, in the conditions the mountains presented.“If you want a guide you’re out of luck.” Ullo laughed, “We’re stationed here with our platoon to keep watch and make sure nothing comes out of that end of the mountain that shouldn’t be wandering. Patrols are already sparse enough without any of us wandering off, we’re only waving off travelers because it’s our break time. If you want a guide you can look around the town, but the path isn’t exactly complex.”“It is in this weather, the Wanderin’ times…”“Don’t frighten the tourists more than necessary, Grimm.”>Could I bribe one of you with a ludicrous amount of money to change your mind?>I guess I’ll go in the town then. Anything I should look for?>It’s a straight road east. Who needs a guide? Just keep on.>Other actions/queries?
>>1650571>t’s a straight road east. Who needs a guide? Just keep on.
>>1650571>>I guess I’ll go in the town then. Anything I should look for?Besides them being crazy.If we go into town I don't think we should take any vehicles with our Blood Suns markings just in case there are locals who hate them. If we bring back a guide and they think they've been tricked we let them in on the secret.
>>1650646>t’s a straight road east. Who needs a guide? Just keep on.
“I suppose I’ll be on my way, then.” You said, “Just making sure, but at least one thing you told me now was bullshit, right?”“Only whatever Grimm said about Wandering times,” Ullo cocked his head towards his fellow Ranger, “Safe luck, traveler.”“’Tis not bullshit, Ullo. You might not think it’s real but you respect it all the same.”“Of course, Grimm.”-----You called the group to advance while the two rangers continued their bickering, passing by the village and any help it could have offered. You didn’t think the risk was such that you needed to add any foreign, uncertain elements to your group. The longer you stayed anywhere, the greater the chance of your cover being blown. It was best to keep to yourself and continue moving, at least for as long as it was ideal.The road wasn’t small, but it wasn’t large, either. Your smaller vehicles would be able to barely pass by one another, were it required. It was a vehicle road, and not a footpath, after all. Double lanes were the minimum requirement for such, although apparently in these conditions you wouldn’t expect much opposing traffic.To say that the fog could be cut like cheese would be an understatement. It was thick enough that you had doubts an axe could bite into it. Within very, very little time at all, everything had vanished save for what was directly near you, only dim shapes indicating you weren’t on an island in a sea of clouds. You kept a nervous eye on the edge of the road; while there was a safety rail and bright indicators for now, it couldn’t be said for certain that those would be a steady reminder of the distance between safe travel and speedy death, tumbling down the mountainside.It might be preferable to keep the vehicles going at a jogging pace, so that forward scouts could find obstructions or threats before your tank, in the lead, ran headlong into it. Although that would leave whoever was scouting without the protection of armor, the only thing that gave you confidence that any gigantic crustaceans could be matched in a fight…>Keep to the vehicles. You’d rather risk not knowing what was ahead than risk life and limb against the local fauna.>Organize a group that would scout ahead. You can’t risk bashing into something that might be the size of your tank, and angry. (Write in scouting element composition)>Other plans/considerations?Remind me not to try silly shit with perspective when trying to keep things quick; it looks awful and it isn't worth the extra time
>>1650961Have half of the Bat Company contingent scout, while the other half rests in the trucks, then switch.
>>1650961>Organize a group that would scout ahead. You can’t risk bashing into something that might be the size of your tank, and angry. (Write in scouting element composition)If the local wildlife is agitated we're probably going to spook them no matter what we do, and tanks aren't exactly good close combat specialists so we need advance warning of what's coming. In all likelihood the most dangerous Living Stones can shrug off machine gun rounds.I'm thinking we send our fastest tank forward with some spotters on the side slightly ahead of us to spot for trouble. If any does appear they button up the tank and radio where the threat is. Maybe the smaller ones we can pick off with machine guns even if they are swarming all over the lead tank. If any of the bigger ones appear the lead tank retreats and the rest of the column can fire upon it.>>1650983The only thing I'm worried about is if they walk on top of these things we're gonna take losses while they retreat and we can't see where the threat is from. I'm worried about pincers snipping off limbs here, it might be walking into a minefield of burrowed crabs and our visibility is so bad that it's guaranteed anyone walking if going to be squishy meat to these things.
>>1650961Wait. WAIT!Belay >>1650983Have Emma scout. She's invincible to physical threats, right?
>>1651040Insteresting. Wonder what tanq would say to this. It's a neat idea, I'm down for it.
>>1651040As an immaterial being, Emma is indeed likely to be unharmed by the efforts of the purely material. There is little reason for Richter to believe otherwise; after all, these beasts, while strange, are natural.
>>1651131>>1651040Works for me if she is okay with it.
Yeah, let ghost girl do it.
You had a thought, and took out the can that housed your resident ethereal entity. You must have looked rather comical, talking into a can, but it wasn’t as if your crew wasn’t used to bizarre phenomena by now.“What is this place..?” Emma asked as she floated out, into the mountain air. “It smells weird. Like metal.”“You can smell?” you scrunched your face in confusion.“No! Yes? I don’t know!” Emma didn’t seem to know either, “You said you wanted me to go look for big rock crabs?”You did.“All by myself?”You confirmed this suspicion.“I guess I could do that. Do you really have to hide behind a poor, defenseless little girl?”“You’ve got the vocabulary of a sailor.” You pointed her forward, “Since the only thing that’s reminiscent of your original form is your mouth, I’m forced to conclude that you’re a surly deckhand on shore leave. Go earn your keep.”“Arrrrrgghh…” Emma groaned before floating forward.“Not too far!” you called out after her, “Just see what’s out front as we follow behind, and tell me if something’s coming up!”“Yeah, yeah.” Emma grumbled as she disappeared into the fog, only a slight blue glow indicating she was somewhere in front. You waved your group forward, and you began to move along the trail at a steady pace.
Half an hour passed without incident, only the blue light moving back and forth telling you that everything was more or less all right ahead. Suddenly, the blue light vanished, darting to the side.“Hey!” you shouted after it, “Where’d you go?!”You had the platoon slow, and you noticed a pile of rocks to your right; some product of a rockslide. Growth on it indicated that it had happened a long time ago. The familiar blue flame squeezed out from a hole, and floated over.“I’m here, I’m here, God…” Emma whined, “I just wanted to look in the cave for a second. I’ve never seen a cave before.”You allowed your head to sag into your hand as you steadied an elbow on the top of the turret. “Could you at least tell us before you decide to sightsee?”“Sheesh, it was only a quick look.” Emma flickered irritably before floating forwards again. You sighed loudly and wondered why a more polite and less bratty spirit couldn’t have stuck around with you.
A mere ten minutes later, and Emma came floating round again.“Hey mister,” she said uncertainly, “Are we going left or right?”“Left or right?” you squinted into the fog. “Let’s get up there. I didn’t see any notices about any forks in the road.”You moved forward until Emma told you to stop.“It’s right here,” Emma gestured by moving the whole of her wispy body up and down on a spot, “Don’t you see it? You’re looking around like you don’t see it.”“The path’s just straight here.” You said, “There’s no fork here.”“If you turned right and just to the right of this big rock here,” she circled a mossy boulder that you felt compelled to examine further for crabby bits, but it seemed to unmistakably be a boulder; too much of the bottom was visibly. “Past here, there’s another road just like the one you’re on.”“That’s just the side of the mountain.” You observed astutely, “I’m not going to start driving up the side of it. Are you sure you’re not seeing things?”“I’m sure that you are definitely not seeing things!” Emma blazed, “Could we go on this road to the right instead?” She bobbed back and forth towards the mountain wall, “There’s something cold and creepy down the other way…”You pulled yourself out of the tank and walked over towards the boulder, confident that you’d find nothing but the mountainside. However, when you started walking towards the right of it, it suddenly felt like you were walking through water, and you stepped back in alarm. Your surprise wore off quickly, and you delved a little deeper; the land became more translucent the further you went, and indeed, further up, was a path heading off to the right.How odd.>Don’t be ridiculous. You’re going down the normal path. You’re not crossing some barrier or whatever this is just for the feelings of a lump of burning charcoal.>If Emma thinks something is strange with the other path, then down the weird one you go. What’s the worst that could happen?>Other actions?
>>1652327That's...odd. Where's a ranger when we need one? Maybe we should convene with the other officers and see what they think. It's tempting not to go down the cold and creepy path, but on the other hand following some strange hidden road when you're only supposed to go straight is a good way to get lost in the fog forever...
>>1652515I say we stick to the main rode, weird spooky paths that apear out of no where in this thick fog sounds like a bad idea.Though, I'm not adverse ti convening with our platoon and seeing what they think before we decide.
>>1652588remember that the stone crabs could have a spiritual residue and that might be what she is sensing on the main road
You thought about convening with your other officers about the matter. While it seemed to you that the obvious path was straight ahead and not through the illusory mountainside, you had to admit to yourself that you weren’t as sure on that matter as you ought to be.It didn’t take long to agree over the radio that the other path was nonsense, though.“You’ve got to be seeing things,” Von Walen said with slight aggravation, “There’s no reason at all to not go forward. How would anybody get back and forth along here consistently if they had to look for invisible paths? Be serious.”The rest of the officers could only agree with this notion.Feeling foolish for even asking as you took the headset off to scratch under your ears, Stein suddenly had something to say.“You did look odd when you were walking out there, commander,” your gunner said supportively, “I can understand the problem’s not if it’s there, but if you should follow it.”“So what do you think?” you asked him.“Well,” Stein began with a long breath, “You’ve heard of tales about how, to get to some places in legends, you have to go there at a certain time, or go a certain way, or otherwise not do the thing that’s normally expected to? There’s places that work the opposite way in folk tales too, where you’ll be trapped unless you know what to do. Fairy nights and such, where you can’t get out of a dream until you dream your death, or whatever.”“I’m not seeing where you’re going with this,” you said, getting ready to pop back out the top, “If this was something like that, we still wouldn’t know if it was one or the other, or if it was anything at all.”“I’m just thinking,” Stein said pensively, “those rangers said that the only people who went in and out normally in this fog during the crab season were the locals, right? Like those weird people we ran into in the Demilitarized Zone, they came from mountains like this, right? I’m just thinking that we ought to think of taking the path that they’d choose, in this instance, not the one that we would take. If it was different, I mean.”>Take the hidden path>Take the straight path>Other actions?
>>1652844>Take the hidden pathJoin the supernatural folk club.
>>1652844For once I actually wish Poltergeist were here to tell us what to do.
>>1652844>>Take the hidden path
>>1652844>Take the hidden path
“Gentlemen,” you announced to you platoon and its guests, “I am now going to disregard all of your reasonable advice and drive straight into the mountain. All I ask is that you trust me and follow my lead.”No real protest came, although the responses were sullen and hinted that some of your officers had thought you’d taken leave of your senses.“Malachi, take the tank forward and to the right,” you directed your driver to the right of the lichened boulder.“Birgpayck.”“I know it looks like the side of the mountain,” you only guessed at what he was saying, “but just drive straight into it. If it’s really there we’ll start running up on it anyways, and we can stop before we tip over.”Your driver was nonetheless ponderous and careful, until you began to breach the illusory veil. As you went further towards it, the fog became thicker and thicker until you couldn’t even see all of the tank below you…until it melted away like snow on a stove.When you had moved past the stone, you looked to your left, and where there should have been another path, and indeed the rest of the mountain, was nothing at all. The stone that had been your guidepost instead hung precariously off the edge. Did that mean you would have driven off the edge if you had gone straight ahead?No, that was impossible. You had tried the other way too, in gauging the paths, and you could tell that part of where you had been walking was now open air. Emma had also seen that path, and it definitely wasn’t an illusion; merely suspicious. What could it all mean?Questions to ponder later. You continued onward, unfettered by the unusual events that were merely few of many that had unceasingly bombarded you as of recent.It felt like a long time before you encountered anything else. You checked your watch, but for some reason, its measuring of time felt…unreliable. It only read as half an hour on the trail, but it felt like you had been going for much longer; the sun’s position overhead told you as much.It was then that Emma came floating back after having gone forward for an extended time.“Wait, wait!” she cried, “There’s a big rock in the road, and it has a face!”“How far ahead?” you asked, “What kind of face?”“Maybe…one hundred paces?” Emma guessed, “And it was like a creepy bug face, or something. It’s huge, too. It might be bigger than your tank.”There wasn’t much you could do about it, if it was in your path. You couldn’t even really see it yet; the mist was still blindingly thick. You certainly couldn’t try to find another path. You would have to either try and somehow move around the Living Stone that was somewhere in front, or kill it.>Advance with the vehicles and get ready for a fight.>Try to get a better look at it on foot, attempting to be stealthy.>Roll up and see if you can intimidate it, and have it move on its own. It’s an animal, after all.>Other actions?
>>1653953>Try to get a better look at it on foot, attempting to be stealthy.You know when I initially heard about the GIANT ENEMY CRABS I thought it was supposed to be a joke!
>>1653953>Roll up and see if you can intimidate it, and have it move on its own. It’s an animal, after all.Stealth is a trap option. Remember the rangers saying the bugs can smell us?
>>1654002Ah sod.>Roll up and see if you can intimidate it, and have it move on its own. It’s an animal, after all.
>>1653953>Roll up and see if you can intimidate it, and have it move on its own. It’s an animal, after all.
>>1653953>try to bait it off the path with foodThe rangers said they'll usually accept offerings of food instead of fighting people, maybe we can get a big chunk of meat or something and lead it far enough off the path that we can pass.
It was just an animal, you decided. No matter how big it was, tanks were big and noisy on their own. It should flee with little effort. You ordered the group forward.“It’s really big, you know,” Emma said, “The biggest thing I’ve ever seen.”“It’s flesh and blood…well, shell.” You said with some confidence, “We’re of steel. The material difference is too great.”“If you say so.”Soon, out of the mist, you saw the thing.It was colossal; perhaps Emma had seen it while it was lying down, because this monstrosity was certainly larger than your tank. It stood tall on many legs, and leaned upon its large, asymmetrical claws forwards. It wasn’t taking an aggressive stance; you’d seen land crabs enough to know that it was still in a state of rest. Its antennae flicked curiously at you; it seemed to be sizing you up, uncertain what to make of you.It being this large was troublesome. You had some confidence that you could kill it with a few well places shots if you needed to, but its mass was such that it might block the road, and take incredible effort to clear away. Worse, if what the rangers said was true about killing one aggravating the rest, then your attempt to move the corpse would be surely interrupted.>Try and distract it with food; it’s huge, but ponderous looking. A few crates sacrificed to it should keep it occupied.>Try and annoy it with a volunteer, who would aggravate it and lead it off the path. Simply annoying it shouldn’t draw the ire of the rest.>Shoot it. It’s just a big bastard of a crab and a rock.>Other?
>>1654344>>Try and distract it with food; it’s huge, but ponderous looking. A few crates sacrificed to it should keep it occupied.
>>1654344>Try and distract it with food; it’s huge, but ponderous looking. A few crates sacrificed to it should keep it occupied.It may be a big bastard of a crab and a rock but I'm not the one going to start saying that to its face.
>>1654344>Try and distract it with food; it’s huge, but ponderous looking. A few crates sacrificed to it should keep it occupied.
You thought up of a plan to distract it with food. Land crabs were scavengers, and the Living Stones you knew of weren’t ambush predators, despite their camouflage, but fellow omnivorous scavengers. If these gigantic ones were similar at all to their cousins this plot would bear some fruit.That, and the rangers suggested that they were easily distracted with offerings of food. All you had to do was increase the proportion offered, and everything should have been dandy. Temporarily, at least. Whatever the Blood Suns had done to irritate these creatures, this particular one hadn’t recognized you as a threat yet.You and five of Bat Company made a journey into the supply truck to find spare rations; ideally ones not canned, to donate to the cause of freakishly large crustaceans. You looked over your shoulder on the way, keeping sure of the Living Stone’s continued caution in regard to whether or not you were a threat.“Fricking honey smell still hasn’t gone,” said one of Bat Company as they climbed up into the Handelwagen, “Teasing me. Saying, ‘Come, Erich, come search the crates a second time, you’ll find that sweet blessing!’ It’s the sight of a dress stretched tight across a pear-shaped woman’s ass, but it calls on a deeper need, the very need to eat.”“Excuse me?” you asked, wondering how the smell could still be strong enough after a whole day.“Er, sorry, Lieutenant milord, forgot you were with us. ‘snot right to titter about such things with nobility, I know.”“No, I meant about the honey. Let me come up and smell for that.”“Sure, right up here.” The soldier helped you up into the bed of the truck.Already, from within, you smelled the faint scent of sweet flowers.“I know they didn’t spill honey or anything and not clean it,” the Bat Company man went on, “Because there’s no ants or bugs or anything like if there actually was. It’s just a ghost of a smell, like it’s there and nobody can say where it came from. Like a fart in a briefing.”“…indeed.” What a mystery. “Anyways, let’s get some of this moving.”Each of you were soon heaving crates of foodstuff towards the large creature like it was an ancient god, or a beast in a folk tale that threatened to destroy a town if the fairest maiden was not offered for its meal. For a soldier, at least, it was said that sometimes the fairest maiden was a dry ration, if the man had an empty belly. One of your teamsters carried two crates, insisting that he was mighty enough for the task. He walked in front of you, unsteadily stepping back and forth to balance the badly-weighted box of food.
You made it past your tank, and twenty paces forward, when suddenly you heard a rumbling, then a crash, and the lead man shouting “Scatter!”The other members promptly dropped their boxes and scrambled off to the side, and in the time you were processing why they did that, you noticed the Living Stone crawling forward with remarkable speed that you didn’t think it had.You dropped the box and split in a way that likely looked even less dignified than it felt, but you counted yourself lucky to have not soiled yourself, it shocked you so.Once you made it back to your tank, skidding and tumbling behind it, you permitted yourself to look back. The Living Stone was messily tearing the crates to pieces, horking down pieces of wood, food still in containers, all. The two arms near its mouth doing their best to pick at the debris the mass of tendril-like mouthparts left behind after shoveling entire piles of crushed crate and food into its maw at once.You jumped up onto the tank and got one foot into the turret. “Alright, move, move!”Hans relayed your message dutifully, and you began moving, the rest of the group surging to life behind you in a hurricane of dust that, combined with the fog, made visibility impossible.The Living Stone was finished far more quickly than you could have anticipated, and it stared at you, dashing past it, its beady eyes holding little interest.Then you saw it take notice of your food-transport, one of the Handelwagens positioned safely in the middle of your formation. It emitted a horrific clacking, screeching noise, and thundered towards your truck.With astonishing speed it turned, and as the truck tried to make its way past, the Living Stone grabbed the rear end of it with its longer claw, yanking it to a halt, before raising its other stouter claw and bringing it down upon the rear of the truck. The front pitched upward, and a horrible sound of metal being flattened and torn combined with wooden boxes exploding as a boulder-like arm crushed the back of the truck. The ground shook and a sound like thunder echoed through the mountains as it did so, the shaking like a howitzer shell striking directly next to you. It immediately set upon the ruins, shifting what was left of the truck up and down with the ferocity of its feasting.You looked back in awe as the two members of Bat Company, the sole occupants of the said truck, jumped from the cabin and sprinted for Von Metzeler’s tank, jumping onto its back and clambering up to its top. “Fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!!!” One screamed as he held for dear life to the back of Von Metzeler’s tank’s turret.>Instruct your group to begin fighting; there’s no telling what this thing’ll do next, and it’s not getting your food!>Flee while it’s still distracted, it’s just food. It’s not worth fighting over.>Other actions?
>>1655901>Flee while it’s still distracted, it’s just food. It’s not worth fighting over.
>>1655901>Flee while it’s still distracted, it’s just food. It’s not worth fighting over.This flower smell bothers me. MAybe we should ask Emma to investigate later.By the way, it wasn't the smelling truck that just got eaten, was it?
>>1656089The smell was in the food and rations truck.Which just got eaten.
>>1656164Welp, I guess we'll never know what that was.
>>1655901>Flee while it’s still distracted, it’s just food. It’s not worth fighting over.I guess we'll be scavenging or purchasing our food from now on.
>>1655901>Flee while it’s still distracted, it’s just food. It’s not worth fighting over.>>1656230Honestly it may be for the best, fuck wizards and their shenanigans.
With the knowledge that it was only the food they were after, you encouraged your group to keep moving. So long as it didn’t decide that the rest of you were worth eating, you should have been in the clear. You squinted backwards, and watched the final vehicle, the captured T-15, peel around the Living Stone’s legs, nearly pitching itself over the edge in the process, and pursue the rest of the formation.You didn’t need to tell your driver to move with haste; it was impossible to truly be speedy on these roads in these conditions, but you were definitely going far more quickly than would be safe. A dark series of shapes appeared on the road, and you barely managed to shout out a warning before Malachi heaved the tank around, splintering the guard rails ahead under the treads as the tank slid precariously to the left. You looked backwards and, thankfully, the drivers behind noticed the point where you had nearly slid off the road. “You’re going too fast!” Emma complained, slightly behind, “I can’t-“She was interrupted by you swiping her designated can over her like a net, and bringing her in. The sounds of your foodstuffs being obliterated grew softer in the distance. It seemed that you had gotten away.Up ahead though, there was unusual movement. It was as if the road ahead was writhing.
When you got close enough to see why, you had to speak quickly and get your driver to stop immediately.Ahead, there was a sea of Living Stones of all shapes and sizes, from the size of a hand to ones large enough to come up to your waist, crawling over and around one another. They gave you no mind, treating your vehicles as mere obstructions in the road. The exhaust coming out the back clearly irritated them; no more than a few braved the spaces between the rear of your tank and the next to take advantage of the space.Their movement was mostly orderly, though sometimes a large one would kick a smaller one out of the way, provoking the smaller crustacean to posture and click ineffectually while the larger one continued forward, unconcerned. When two of similar size bumped into one another, they would square off for a few seconds before the push of the crowd broke them apart naturally and they forgot their squabble by virtue of being unable to reach one another to begin any contests.The amount of time it was taking for all of them to pass grew more and more uncomfortable, but just when it seemed as if it would never end, a final trickle of quite hefty creatures indeed signaled the end of the tide. The very last one was offended by your vehicle, and slapped it with a huge claw. A slight discoloration appeared in the paint, and the rock sullenly skittered away, seeming slightly frustrated by its opponent’s lack of desire to want to fight. You heard similar reports down the line as this final, frustrated Living Stone struck each vehicle in turn, with varying degrees of success. When one of the Handelwagens reported a headlight being smashed, you decided to get moving and not satisfy any more of that thing’s competitive curiosity.“If you see that thing moving on you, go around it. I’d rather the food be the only thing we misplace today…”With your more leisurely pace restored, you let Emma out of her cage. The local supply of Living Stones appeared to be exhausted. Emma would sometimes report one ahead, but when you approached where they should have been, you’d notice naught but a boulder on the side of the road. Three hours later, the sun began to set, eerily early, by your recollection. When you checked your watch, it had suddenly become evening.“There’s a village ahead,” Emma came back from an expedition into the fog, “But there’s nobody there. You have to turn off the road to get to it.”>Stop at the village and stay the night. The idea of wandering around the mountain fog at night isn’t very appealing.>Keep going and stop on the trail when you need to rest.>Other actions?This'll be the last story update for this thread. The next thread'll be in a week and a half or so. I'll announce on twitter ahead of time when.
>>1657702>Stop at the village and stay the night. The idea of wandering around the mountain fog at night isn’t very appealing.Given that we just lost all of our food, we really need to do our best to scavenge anything that isn't nailed down to the floorboards.
>>1657702>>Stop at the village and stay the night. The idea of wandering around the mountain fog at night isn’t very appealing.>abandoned ghost village lost in the fog of these mysterious mountains off a hidden illusionary pathWhat could possibly go wrong?
>>1657702>Stop at the village and stay the night. The idea of wandering around the mountain fog at night isn’t very appealing.
>>1657702>Stop at the village and stay the night. The idea of wandering around the mountain fog at night isn’t very appealing.>Praise Emma for doing good job.
>>1658422>>Praise Emma for doing good job.Not too much praise, wouldn't want it going to her head.jk she doesn't have a head anymore