Hunter’s bot is hidden in the trees. He’s been moving it slowly and in short bursts for most of the morning to avoid patrols from the town that is now only half a mile away. At this point he has to have it actively hidden behind a hill in thick trees. It’s slightly obvious otherwise.
The plan is simple. Hunter is going to make a big fuss. When he does Ardul and Yaren have the somewhat thankless task of getting into the town, dealing with any opposition and getting both any research being held in the town hall and the ‘rod’ that Marshal Hyfil has on his person. Neither will be easy, both will be guarded.
For most it would be a suicide run. Hunter seems remarkably chipper about the prospect.
“Okay. This is as close as I can get without getting spotted. Where are you two?”
“I’m in the tree nearest the south wall, Hunter” Ardul’s voice comes over the comms. It’s nearest the building they saw Hyfil enter when they’d been observing the night before. “When you create the distraction, I should be able to slip over the wall. With any luck, there won’t be much surveillance here.”
“Yaren, are you ready?”
With their given objective Yaren has left his ‘disguise’ in Hunter’s care, more for the fact that he didn’t want to just leave his things lying around or getting lost again, especially his new hat. It’s black leather and has a broad brim and a strap with a silver buckle.
In his true form the violet wisp has found better cover in the form of a bird, having hitch-hiked upon the unwitting avian to get in close. “Just at the town’s edge,” he reports, the communication device wedged between two branches where he’s perched. “Once we move, I shall not be able to contact either of you.” Taking the thing in as a bird would just draw suspicion, and it’s not like he has pockets.
“Ready when you are. And I will keep an eye out for you, Ardul.” That seems about the best way to go about things anyway.
“Alright… powering up… here we go.”
Hunter rams the throttle forward on his bot and pushes his machine over the hill. The moment the silvery wolf like bot appears the alarms and panic begin in the walled town but it’s far, far too late at the point.
The first salvo of missiles blasts several holes in the mud-brick walls of the town and the railgun and energy weapon fire that follows take a terrible toll on the Iyesgarthian patrols and guards nearest to hand. The soldiers in the base on other duties rush to it’s defense but as Ardul has pointed out they’re not really armed or trained for combat from a distance and Hunter is half a mile away and not really closing, so they’re going to have to fly to him. Which is exactly what they begin to do.
“There’s your opening. Go!”
The town is in chaos when they do finally get there. It won’t be possible to completely avoid guards, since there are plenty. The people of the town seem to be sheltering in place but some might be compromised. The question is will they split up and look for their objectives separately, or take the town hall and try to locate Hyfil together?
“Acknowledged Yaren. Do be careful of their attempts to infect you with nanites.” That’s a concern more for Ardul, she’s not sure they can infect Yaren. “And Hunter? You be careful too, I want your hairy hide in one piece.”
“Yaren, converge on the Town Hall, I suspect that we’ll draw Hyfil out. And if he doesn’t show himself, I’ll check his quarters.” With Hunter already moving, she stirs and ‘hops’ into the air to slip over the wall and land on the ground as near to the buildings as she can.
The bird takes flight just after the carnage has begun, flitting sideways and slightly away from the town itself as Yaren supposes a bird flying headlong into the chaos would be overly suspicious for anyone actually paying attention. It’s not a detail he devotes much time to as he’s quickly enough veering back around and then into the town proper.
Briefly he lands at the edge of one of the buildings, flinching at the noise from Hunter’s direction, watching as Iyesgarthians filter out towards the Wolfen to engage. He fights off the urge to take flight again, instead seeking out the town hall that Ardul had mentioned. The biggest and nicest building would probably be the best thing to look for, and so once again he flaps his wings, taking to the air but keeping low when possible.
Hunter draws attention and a lot of fire to the west of the city, keeping up a steady stream of railgun rounds and ion cannon fire. The field between him and the town is now a killing ground, shots flowing back and forth. It’s clear to the Iyesgarthians that their smallarms aren’t big enough and they’re now attempting to close in numbers and use their swords. That’s got the Gunwolf moving back and away.
Ardul’s initial resistance is three guards caught mostly unaware. They’ve got no real chance. That clears the way into the town hall which is ‘wired for sound’ as Hunter would say. Lots of power generation and computing equipment. A lot of it is scientific and unknowable to Ardul but big cables run toward the back area, which is locked off. Between Ardul and there though are the scientists and more guards.
Yaren is unnoticed as a small bird and encounters no resistance at all on the way in. His best entrance to the building is through the venting. When he finally gets in there he’s IN the back where there is… something. Something that isn’t Iyesgarthian. It’s part machine and kind of like…
A cat. A big one. Mechanical jaws snap at air as it sniffs. It’s agitated and can hear the fighting. It hasn’t spotted Yaren yet but the bird will be sniffed out soon enough. It’s guarding big liquid filled tanks each of which seem to have a winged person suspended inside.
Ardul doesn’t have to do much to overpower the guards that she surprises. In short order they’re dealt with and trussed up as well as she can do, given the circumstances, then she’s off again moving as carefully as she can towards the town hall.
The scientists don’t worry her too much – though they may be equipped with the means to subdue. The guards though, they’re another matter and she takes a moment before letting a long slow breath and draws her plasma blade, igniting it with a whoosh.
Then she’s running into the room, overpowering the guards as they come for her and hopefully, cowing the scientists.
Wonderful. Another cat. Normally Yaren would be fascinated, but now doesn’t seem to be the time for it. And then there’s the fact that it’s not entirely organic… Such monsters, making creatures into machines!
Sleep, he coaxes his bird, leaving it within the ventilation shaft before he seeps out, a trail of heliotrope that seeps through the vent.
What he sees within the room is beyond his understanding. He’s unsure of who it is that is kept within the tank, but perhaps Ardul will make better sense of it. Now where is she?
There’s of course the cyborg feline, which Yaren seems not too care too much as to whether it’s seen him or not, all mist and narrowed, glowing eyes.
The cat pounces. Right through Yaren. Then it turns and slaps it’s paw down… and peeks under it. Nothing. This makes the cat cyborg thing very upset and it starts to bounce around everywhere. In fact as it bounces trying to get a solid hold on Yaren it starts knocking into the tanks, the cables, the pipes connecting to them…
Ardul was the commander of the Royal Guard for a reason and she shows that here. The guards are dispatched with ease and the scientists, well, they’re not in any position to fight. They scatter. Some try to escape out a side door, others just cower. There is a TERRIFIC racket coming from the back. Sounds like cat caught in a tumble dryer.
Outside explosions and more weapons fire can be heard. How the battle is progressing is anyone’s guess really.
“What’s going on here?!” That voice. Ardul knows it.
Hyfil is standing in the door. Sword lit.
Ardul spares the fleeing Scientists a glance, considering chasing them but decides against it. The village knows something is up and if they raise the alarm, she’ll deal with it. Instead she starts towards the back room, not knowing what she’s going to find but the din is worrying.
The voice, when it comes, is a like a lightning bolt through her and for a fraction of a second she freezes before turning to face the traitor. “Nothing that shouldn’t be, Lord Hyfil.” Her voice is like ice and she has her comms to Hunter open, he can hear all this. “Do you remember me?” Her own blade is raised and if he moves, she will too. He might well lose a limb if he’s not careful.
“Heh. Nice try,” Yaren comments dryly, although he can’t help but pity the thing as it moves pell-mell about the room. Violet eyes squint in something of a wince as things go tumbling or get disconnected by its wild pouncing. “I hope that’s not important…”
While it’s doing nothing to him, he supposes the mess it’s making isn’t good, nor is the commotion. Thankfully everyone seems to be distracted in the other room, but it’s still unnerving. “Settle,” Yaren intones commandingly, although he doubts it will be followed. Which is why he’ll throw himself right on through the cat to stun it, after giving it a chance.
The cat does not settle. It does not settle and it is necessary for Yaren to stun it but once that’s done the room is secure enough. The wild flailings of the cat don’t seem to have broken anything.
Or did they. One of the winged figures in the tanks stirs and opens his eyes. His glowing purple eyes.
Yaren can feel the psychic pressure flood the room. This Iyesgarthian has a mind so potent it sucks most of the metaphorical air out of the space and a curious consciousness turns to his ephemeral being… What are you?
That’s when it tries to pick him apart to find out.
“Ardul Trasinger. I do remember you. I’m glad you’ve come here though. Gives me a chance to show you some of our new research…”
He throws a flask onto the ground which lets out a black smoke that Ardul will recognize as a nanite swarm. Unlike the other swarms this one seems to hover, semi solid and waiting for an order.
“Convert her.” Hyfil says, pointing at Ardul… and the swarm swarms toward her.
If Ardul gets converted it’s likely Hunter will be very upset. Ardul looks at the swarm and then back to Hyfil “Is that what the staff was for? It allows you to control them?” Hopefully it will be enough to put him off balance and make him wonder just how much she really knows.
As the swarm heads towards, the agile blonde moves, trying to avoid the cloud that has formed. But not away from Hyfil, towards him, drawing the nanites with her.
It’s almost like getting hit by a physical wave, and for a moment he feels unable to move, suspended in place like someone trying to tread water in something akin to quicksand.
“…that…” he hisses, feeling as the Iyesgarthian psychically probes for answers, “…is a question I should be asking you.” It’s difficult to fight against the intangible- he of all things should know. There is nothing physical to break through, and yet something pulls and prods. He won’t… he can’t allow it.
But perhaps he can do better from inside than out. Yaren lets himself waver, lets the other think it’s found a way in, intending to converge and use it as a path into the Iyesgarthian’s own mind.
As Yaren fits himself into the mind of the Iyesgarthian he finds himself suddenly subject to a MACHINE. There are implants in this man. Implants hooked directly into the brain. He can, with some effort, maintain independence but it’s fascinating. And dangerous. If he were to lose his focus he might be stuck here, obeying the dictates of these implants.
This is… some kind of ‘new breed’ of Iyesgarthian. Enhanced both genetically and cybernetically… and loyal to the new regime. Or that’s the plan anyway. He also has a name Ilya Sorensen. Half Brother to the Princep Elect Yaren helped rescue not long ago.
Hyfil raises his sword but does not attack. He defends against any of Ardul’s efforts and in short order she’ll see what he wants. He’s trying to keep her where she is while the Nanite cloud closes in on her.
He’s wearing a pouch. That must be where that rod is.
“Rod hmmmmm? I don’t know where you heard of that but you’ll tell me soon enough, Trasinger.”
Ardul can’t give much attention to the other room, she just hopes that Yaren is ok. He should be – none of her people do magic or have any supernatural abilities and he’s in spirit form.
The blonde circles, moving to keep the swarm away from her. “I don’t think so, Hyfil. I’m inoculated against your evil creations …” At her belt is the canister of countermeasure and she’s fibbing a little.
With a grunt, the Iyesgarthian ex-Knight Commander launches herself at the other, throwing herself past him and trying to wrap an arm around his throat – using him as a shield against that swarm.
His blade though catches her and slices into the silver armour she wears. It brings a low cry of pain and annoyance from the blonde and she hisses in his ear “Want to show me how that rod works now? Or will you be converted with me?”
He’ll have to trust that Ardul has things covered on her end, although inwardly he might apologize, were his own figurative hands not tied at the moment.
Defenses breached, but what Yaren finds at the other end is startling. It may be fascinating, but it’s more so abominable to him for its nature, or lack thereof. His first thought is to put this unfortunate being out of his misery. But this is something that Ardul and Hunter will definitely need to know about.
Although speaking of Ardul…
Yaren knows he probably won’t get far if Sorensen is still conscious. He’ll have to break away and stun him the way he did to the cat. If he can fry those implants, then all the better, but he’s not sure how those work. For certain he’s not staying, but nor is he apologizing for his likely less than painless egress. He’s wasted too much time here. He needs to help Ardul.
“You think that’s a simple control rod?” Hyfil laughs and breaks Ardul’s grip, elbowing her hard in the broken part of her armor. She’s still escaped the trap but he’s as good a swordsman as she. He didn’t get to the Marshal’s post for his poker skills, as Hunter might say.
The Marshal whirls his sword and lunges at Ardul as the swarm tries to work it’s way around her again.
Yaren breaks out… it takes CONSIDERABLE effort but he’s out. He couldn’t burn out the implants. Not without killing the man. The impression of just how much psychic power he had is significant though. If the other two are anything like that…
As Yaren emerges he can hear Hunter still fighting and see Ardul fighting Hyfil. Other soldiers are responding. She’s going to be badly outnumbered soon.
Ardul grunts when Hyfil elbows her. It hurts a bit but she’s tough. She’s not flashy in her sword work and smirks at the Marshal as his sword twirls “Still have to show boat, don’t you Hyfil. It was a habit I could never break you of …”
“I asked you to show me what that rod can do. I didn’t say it was simple. Nor did I say it was only control rod …” she circles, making him follow so she can get to a science terminal AND keep those nanites behind him.
As she sidesteps, the next move is lightning quick – showing how she rose so high in the military. Her blade hums and connects with his blade, causing motes of light to sparkle in the air. With a flick of her wrist, his blade goes sailing. Towards…. Yaren.
Perhaps it would have been better to kill them. The thought comes unbidden, and for once Yaren does not find himself shying from the idea or questioning why such a thing might enter his mind. He’d felt threatened by the odd psychic hybrid, and his reactions he decided were justified.
He gives it no further thought as he hears the goings-on outside, and just in the other room. He can hear Ardul’s voice, and he moves, a flustered wisp rocketing towards the doorway.
That’s when he finds light flying towards him, whirling, humming. A blade of light- and for an instant he worries that he’s too late as he concentrates and reaches to grasp that plasma sword with an ethereal hand. Only then does he realize where Ardul stands, and feeling a second wind for the relief of seeing his friend, he sweeps over. “Apologies for the delay,” he says, and he’ll gladly pass over the blade to Ardul if she wishes it, his glowing gaze settling upon the other man. Ah, this must be Hyfil.
Hyfil backs away and reaches for a sidearm… only to hear a TERRIFIC crash nearby. A very large werewolf shaped robot has just smashed physically through the walls. The sound of it’s railguns is deafening as Hunter cuts down a trio of Iyesgarthians, snapping them from the air like unfortunate flies.
“Ardul we need to leave.” Hyfil is dumbfounded by the war machine on display. Iyesgarth has nothing like it. Nothing at all.
“And they do need to live. Hunter has killed a couple dozen Iyesgarthians and scattered the rest but they’ll be back and he will run out of ammunition for all but his ion guns at some point.
And Yaren can feel a psychic mind stirring. Not the one he just put to sleep. It must be one of the others.
“Are you really going to try that?” Ardul asks dryly as Hyfil reaches for his sidearm. She takes the blade from Yaren and holds both expertly. “Remember who trained your soldiers, my lord.” The crashing of the wolf bot through the walls causes her to flinch momentarily.
“There you are Hunter …” she says lightly after a moment. “We can go. Once I relieve the good Lord here of that rod.” She stalks over to him extinguishing one blade and looking expectantly at the Iyesgarthian. “If you please, Lord Hyfil.”
Cold and icy.
When he hands it to her, she punches in the face. HARD. Hopefully knocking him out but at least dazing him, as she flies to the top of the bot. “We can leave now, Hunter.”
All, so very controlled.
Yaren certainly gives the impression of one jumping, jerking enough to displace himself where he floats, violet wisps trailing after him upon Hunter’s abrupt arrival. His eyes narrow, the larger mass of mist shifting in something of a nod.
“Agreed,” he says, seconding the notion to leave, an anxious glance cast back towards the other room he’d just left.
Ardul’s action nearly has him jump again, so on edge is he, unusual for the mystical specter. Yaren looks down at Hyfil, then to the Iyesgarthian woman and the wolfen’s mech. “We must hurry. There are those who should not be, winged man and machine both, strong in ways of the mind.” Even as he speaks he gathers himself up, flowing towards the metal wolf.
Hunter throws the bot into reverse and once Ardul is inside, sends it into a run. It’ll be many miles before they are safe from pursuit but this operation is over. Hyfil, unfortunately, is still alive. So the real questions now are… what have they gotten… and what are they going to do with it?
With Hunter creating a diversion, Ardul and Yaren slip through the rogue Iyesgarthian defenses to confront Hyfil.
November 06, 2411