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/qst/ - Quests


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You are Richter Von Tracht, and you had marched with your enemy in tow- in a confluence of fortune for him, and a methodically scouted and risky operation for you, Andrej Gerovic had been taken alive. It wasn’t without cost. In your absence, Gerovic had taken his troops and attacked your company’s base camp, and drove out what he didn’t destroy. You could have given an advance warning…but such would have betrayed your presence behind Twaryian lines.

So you took a brief respite in the smoldering ruins of the camp, a light sprinkling of snow beginning to fall in the now afternoon. You didn’t know if you could walk to the UGZ-09 like you planned- as soon as you sat down, the screaming of your overworked wounded leg settled into numbness, and became about as useful and flexible as a wooden pole. You’d have called a utility car, or a truck, but the radios were all smashed. The first contact you’d have with your people would likely be encountering them face to face. Which was what you planned to do by going to the UGZ. That place was a second strong point for your company, and had other units assigned there, as well. It was a natural fallback point, besides Kamienisty. You could have gone to New Jorgenstohn, yet…you didn’t trust the new mayor there. He had caused unrest with a hoard of Twaryian sourced equipment, and you had no doubt that bringing Gerovic to the town now could very well result in him slipping out of your fingers right after so much work had been done to take him.

Also, Lucia’s destination would be the UGZ, as well. UGZ-09 was unlike the other UGZs after your work there. Kryz hadn’t accompanied you, but it couldn’t be too hard to retrieve him later.

Lucia had been unwrapped before Gerovic, but she was still asleep. She’d have to continue being carried. Gerovic, however, had just woken up.

“Mmahh. Hello? Whoever’s decided to kidnap me, I’d like to request parley, about now. Or at least a returning to a bed. You rather interrupted my plans for the day.”

His voice had been a surprise to hear, but you weren’t interested in fulfilling any of his requests. “…No deal.” You said gruffly as you could, “There’s only one thing I want out of you. You attacked here last night. What direction did you see my people retreat..?”
>>
“What?” Gerovic wriggled in the sheets he was bundled in, “I can’t see so well in here, you know.” A sigh from yourself, and a gesture to the Ellowians, a squad of whom had escorted you back. They dumped Gerovic onto the snowy ground.”Auoof!” He objected, rubbing his eyes and blinking. He was so…ordinary. Even more so in person than in the photograph. You hadn’t gotten to take a good look at him before now- you both got a good look at each other now.

“I thought I heard the unfamiliar tone of a Strossvalder accent,” Gerovic stood up, brushed himself off. He reached for his pocket and the Ellowians all pointed guns at him, to which he clicked his tongue. “Relax, gentlemen, I’m unarmed. Though. Kommandant Von Tracht, was it?” Gerovic gave you a smile you didn’t like, “I hadn’t heard you were blonde. Who did you dye it for?”

“…Be quiet.” You gave the only response he’d get for that. “Answer the question. I don’t have to bring you in alive…” This air of levity Gerovic had was puzzling. Was he putting on an act? He couldn’t have been treating this like he was going on some sort of adventure, could he?

Gerovic frowned. “I thought you’d be more fun. More smug. I suppose it’s said to never meet your heroes.” He took a look around, and pointed north. “Down that way, I guess. The path. There weren’t many of them sticking around here once I dealt with your mercenaries. You ought to decorate them.” A smile back to you. “What’s wrong with the way you talk? Somebody with your appearance shouldn’t speak like a dullard.”

“…Gag him. I don’t want to hear anything else from him…”
>>
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“One moment, one moment,” Gerovic held up his hand, “Von Tracht. I’ve something to return that I borrowed. I’ll reach into my pocket here, and your Kaiser’s Kneelers won’t shoot me, is that fair?” Regardless, he had already slowly reached into his pocket…and withdrew some delicate black cloth. He looped his thumb into one part of it, and let it dangle. It was…familiar. “I couldn’t resist.”

“…Where did you get that..?” you demanded.

“I plucked them off of her hips personally while you were gone from her side, I’d dare to say they might even still be warm.” Gerovic splayed his hands towards you and to the sides, innocently, a smile returning. “So? How about I give these back, and in return for my kindness, we at least chat on the way to whatever prison you hope to keep me in? Hopefully the home of a beautiful woman?”

This was a man feared by many. Who had bounties upon his head for his destruction, whom the Archduchy’s intelligence arm had an interest in above any others of his ilk. Here he was, mocking you with Anya’s underwear, a look on his face like he had landed in a surprise birthday party. Smug self-assurance, and not even spread across the face of a half-dressed athletic blonde. Incredibly annoying.

>Have Gerovic gagged and be on your way to the UGZ. Enough lip from him. He was wasting your time.
>Punch the Twaryian right in his face and take back that underclothing. How dare he?
>On second thought, he could go to a beautiful woman’s house. In subjective terms. He could be taken right to the Major, without delay.
>Other?

Past Threads are collected here: https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh
Twitter for announcements and various horseshit is @scheissfunker
>>
>>4276767
>>Have Gerovic gagged and be on your way to the UGZ. Enough lip from him. He was wasting your time.
Gag him with the pantsu
>>
>>4276767
>What the fuck is going on with your hand you fucking mutant?
>Don't hit him, because he's obviously provoking us exactly for that.
>Gag him, but not with the pantsu because he might like that.
>Bring him to UGZ because we can't rightly bring our men to see the Major, can we?
>Let Anya punch him. A lot.
>>
>>4276783
>>What the fuck is going on with your hand you fucking mutant?
Oops.
I plead the fifth for backwards hands. No, he doesn't have two left hands.
>>
>>4276767
>Have Gerovic gagged and be on your way to the UGZ. Enough lip from him. He was wasting your time.
I'm sure the rest of our guys would be happy to show their 'appreciation' for last night's raid.
>>
>>4276789
Also if our leg is really going to slow us down send a couple of guys ahead and see if the UGZ can get any transport plus escort to link up with us.
>>
>>4276767
>Have Gerovic gagged and be on your way to the UGZ. Enough lip from him. He was wasting your time.
>>
>>4276767
>On second thought, he could go to a beautiful woman’s house. In subjective terms. He could be taken right to the Major, without delay.
>>
>>4276767
wait a moment, he has 2 left hands ? that explains everything
>>
>>4276767
>>On second thought, he could go to a beautiful woman’s house. In subjective terms. He could be taken right to the Major, without delay.
>>
>>4276777
Eat the side ties.

>>4276783
Belay that.

>>4276789
>>4276806
The actual vote of the two previous of not hearing any more lip and going to the UGZ. And getting a ride there instead of murdering your legs any more.

>>4276853
>>4276905
Make a direct visit north.

Writing.
>>
Gerovic was practically begging to be punched- but you wouldn’t give him the pleasure. You snatched Anya’s underwear back out of his hand. “…I’ve heard enough. Tie him and gag him.”

“If you wouldn’t mind, you’ve a perfectly suitable gag right there-“

“Shut your mouth.” Gerovic wanted to banter, but you didn’t. You were sick of him and all his shit. “Pikkarski…can you take some men ahead to the UGZ? I don’t think I can walk there the way my leg is. It’d probably save time to send some cars back here…”

“Of course, coordinator.”

Gerovic had stopped his smarmy commentary for a moment, but as the squad put his arms back and prepared the rags to be used, his gaze flicked from them, to you, that smug look on his face the whole time. “I rather expected a duel of panzers, but you chose this route. Trickery and drugging, espionage. You got me, I suppose. But it does tell me…we’ve nothing to fear from you lot.” Having his last word, Gerovic accepted his binding, and sat down on the ground like he was taking a break from some voluntary duty.

You’d be happy to be rid of him, you thought as you turned your back on him. “…Get the woman out of her bag. She should be up soon, and we’ll be waiting here…”
-----

Lucia woke up some time before anybody came back for you at the camp- unlike at the brothel, she was far from talkative. A tentative, uneasy look about to orient herself- before asking where her son was. You told her how it was. That he’d be retrieved when possible. Lucia had frowned, said nothing, then gone back to her uncomfortable glancing about. You hoped she wasn’t feeling deceived; you’d take Gerovic alive like she’d unreasonably requested, she could at least trust you to hold up the easier part of your deal.

The hopeful sound of cars approaching- though the squad that Pikkarski had left with you told you to stay down in case they were Moskity. Not so- merely Von Metzeler and a few escorts. A few large cars, with armed motorcycle protection.

“…Von Tracht…” Von Metzeler saluted you after he stopped in front of you, his other arm at his side, terminating in an empty sleeve. You were too tired to return the gesture. Von Metzeler gave a glance to Gerovic, sitting peacefully on the ground. A glance back to you- you nodded. “…I am unimpressed…” he said to Gerovic, “…You were not gone so long, but you must have many questions…we will talk as we return to the UGZ-09…”
>>
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The car was covered- more suitable for talk, both in noise reduction and the lack of cold wind and snowflakes blowing into your face. Gerovic had led a raiding force the other night, whose composition and numbers were still unclear, but a lucky outing by the mercenaries attached to you had given a valuable early warning. As the Hogs delayed, Krause had made the decision that, based on the information available, staying in place would incur heavy casualties while still being driven from the camp, so a rapid evacuation had been staged. What couldn’t be taken along was sabotaged, information and radios and codes were destroyed, and supplies burned. This had resulted in very few casualties- Gerovic’s party managed to reach the tail end of the retreat’s rearguard action, which prevented complete scuttling of the vehicles left behind- but the company’s stores of ammunition were in critical condition, and the X-80 as well as the captured T-15 had been lost. A reexamination of the hull had revealed that before destroying the X-80, a selection of ammunition including its high-explosive plastic shells had been taken. The Iron Hogs’ tanks had both been rendered combat ineffective write offs in the field, and half their number had fallen. Both Illger and Eakova had perished- the contingent that had come up here had been reduced to a handful of dazed crewmen and support troops with naught to support.

You could have prevented this. Was this worth the cost? You couldn’t help but think that at the news. Would you even dare to mention that you knew this attack was coming? Or would you take it to your grave?
>>
“…I have started preparations to send your Retinue back to the Archduchy…” Von Metzeler said afterwards, “She is too heavily wounded to take active part in anything. When it was only her arm, it was a tolerable state of affairs. Now that she has been beaten so badly after your trip to Perlowieza, I do not see how her continued presence here can be justified…I had to carry her out of the camp myself, with her resisting as much as she was able. She insisted to be left behind, to not delay anybody because of her state. Unacceptable, obviously…in multiple ways…” Von Metzeler met your tired eyes with a serious look, “I doubt I would be able to convince that stubborn scamp of such…and I have no right to send your retinue home. She somehow found out about the fate of those who she shared a mercenary company with…and I believe it is affecting her. Despite her unwillingness to show it. It is my opinion that she be sent away…”

>Maybe Anya was badly wounded and of no use in a battle at the moment, but she would recover. And you needed her. She wasn’t going anywhere.
>If you sent Anya away now, she’d never forgive you. Where would you even send her? Your house? She’d just do her best to get into trouble.
>Von Metzeler was right. Much as you hated to thin the ranks of your allies, it was too much to demand of your Retinue to stay under what she’d been subjected to. It was time for her to go.
>Other?
>>
>>4277104
>>If you sent Anya away now, she’d never forgive you. Where would you even send her? Your house? She’d just do her best to get into trouble.

Tell Metzeler we understand his opinion but sending her back is basically equivalent to telling her to fuck off elsewhere. Either we let her expunge this grudge by herself by killing a bunch of Twaryians or she'll nurse it for the rest of her life.

Also other things to ask:
Any messages from the IO while we were gone? If not then we'd better immediately contact the Major once we get back
How have the Netillians reacted to last nights raid?
>>
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>>4277104
>If you sent Anya away now, she’d never forgive you. Where would you even send her? Your house? She’d just do her best to get into trouble.
Seriously fuck Gerovic. Hopefully the sacrifices and shell technology was worth it for the IO.
>>
>>4277103
>Both Illger and Eakova had perished
It seems that the cockroach finally got crushed, what a pity.
>>4277104
>If you sent Anya away now, she’d never forgive you. Where would you even send her? Your house? She’d just do her best to get into trouble.
Let’s talk to her first, although I think she’ll be staying for the time being
>>
>>4277104
>If you sent Anya away now, she’d never forgive you. Where would you even send her? Your house? She’d just do her best to get into trouble.
Hey tanq any losses amongst the infantry?
>>
>>4277104
>Von Metzeler was right. Much as you hated to thin the ranks of your allies, it was too much to demand of your Retinue to stay under what she’d been subjected to. It was time for her to go.
Soon we will be alone.
>>
>>4277104
>If you sent Anya away now, she’d never forgive you. Where would you even send her? Your house? She’d just do her best to get into trouble.
I bet Kryz also died in that ERA group we refused to help. You'll see, anons. You'll see.
>>
Rolled 8, 5 = 13 (2d8)

>>4277120
>>4277126
>>4277139
>>4277286
Maybe she's not fighting fit now, but if you send her off now, she'll kill you when she is.

>>4277168
Send her home to populate a collection of injured women at your house. This might be concerning.

Writing.

>>4277139
>Hey tanq any losses amongst the infantry?
Yes.
Let's see how much with this roll.
>>
>>4277386
Fug
>>
>>4277414
That's your fault.
>>
>>4277519
How is getting high rolls my fault ?
>>
>>4277559
He wouldn't have rolled if you didn't ask...
>>
>>4277573
but I wasn't the one who asked, see the trip retard
>>
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You couldn’t send Anya away, not now. She’d never forgive you. Where would you even send her? If you tried to cast her off, even for her own good, she’d get herself into trouble in a show of stubborn defiance.

“…I understand you opinion,” you told Von Metzeler, “but to send her away now would be an insult. An insult I’m unwilling to lay upon my Retinue. If she nurses a grudge…then it would be best to let her fulfill it here and now…”

Von Metzeler narrowed his eyes slightly. “…She is your retinue...”

“…Yes. I’ll talk to her, and make sure she is alright…” You wanted to ask Von Metzeler a few other things while you shared this car. “…Have there been any messages from the Major..?”

Von Metzeler shook his head. “…No. I presume you were doing work for her in fetching Gerovic against his will..?”

“…He’ll be given to her at some point. I’ve the mind to show him around to the people he’s wronged, but we’ll see. How are the Netillian component of the company doing..?”

“…” Von Metzeler sighed, “They have a proper fear of Gerovic, if not Twaryians in general. The battle with the train and the attack on the base, and now the night attack yesterday, they’re on edge…though if you’ve captured Gerovic, they may be at ease. If word gets around of that, however, no doubt the other Netillians will be interested in taking him. Were I you, I would spread rumors that you killed him, instead…otherwise you will have captured him, and then he will have vanished…”

That was a good point. Those with you in taking Gerovic had been Ellowians, thankfully. They wouldn’t need much convincing to hide things from the Netillians. “…Were there casualties among the infantry..?”

“…Thirteen, from Second Platoon. They manned the rearguard, and were collapsed upon by the wave of armor that came when the mercenaries could delay them no longer. They escaped in the cover of darkness, but the initial attack caught many in a vulnerable position…”

It could have been worse. You nodded, leaned back- contemplated. In his last night in action, Gerovic had done a terrific amount of damage. That damage had best have been worth what the Intelligence Office would get from the man himself.

-----

The new “camp” as it was, was actually the inner section of the UGZ-09, right in the same perimeter as Maenesko’s compound. Instead of Penal troops, however, there were men of 4th platoon, and apparently, places had been rented out for the rest of the company to stay while a new camp was being hurriedly constructed at the edge of the UGZ-09 where the vehicles had been placed. You’d seen the new motor pool as you approached the entrance. Work was progressing quite quickly, with the aid of quite a few UGZ denizens working as labor. The goodwill you fostered paying off.
>>
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Your retinue, Sergeant Anya Nowicki, was being kept in an apartment complex whose individual rooms were little more than walk in closets with beds in them, with a little lamp, though such was actually more spacious than the underground rooms that had been constructed in the old camp. The lack of possessions made the place seem more closed in than it actually was. Apparently there hadn’t been time to go and scavenge what could be rescued from the old camp yet, and Anya had but the loose white shirt she’d been dressed in since the hospital, blue shorts that were little more than sleepwear, and the sling that kept her right arm still and healing. Bandages still covered her bruised and beaten face, but there was a glare in her fierce green eyes that was new. There was an anger there, that tried to dull when you knocked and entered.

“Hey.” Anya said dully, sitting up on the edge of the bed, “You’re back, huh. Where the hell did you go?”

“…I went and got Gerovic.” you said, “I went over the border and captured him. I’m back now. I’m sorry I wasn’t here, when he attacked…”

Anya bit her lip, ground her teeth. “…Wouldn’t have changed much. He got us good.”

“…”

“…So what do you want,” Anya said roughly, eyes focused elsewhere like there was an invisible enemy in the room, “I’m just sitting in here with my thumb up my ass. Letting people get killed for me. I’d get my ass out there, but whenever I try and walk…I still can’t quite do it. I got the shit beaten out of me worse than I thought.” Anya put on an aggressive snarl for the unseen enemy she regarded away from you. ”Fuck’s sake.”

>Best not bring up anything directly if she didn’t. Say it’s been a while since you had something to drink- did she want you to bring back anything? Or could you take her somewhere?
>Tell her that you’re sorry about what happened to her old friends. Or fellow mercenaries, however it was. You’d let her have a chance at Gerovic before you passed him on.
>Comfort her. (How?)
>Other?
>>
>>4277790
>>Comfort her. (How?)
Tell her we perfectly understand the feeling of being useless; that's basically been Richter for the entire latter half of this mission.
Also tell her that we're not sending her back so focus on recovering and she'll definitely get her chance for payback.
Lastly offer her that chance at Gerovic. He's a smug prick so you'd probably feel better afterwards.
>>
>>4277830
>>4277790
This
>>
>>4277790
>Best not bring up anything directly if she didn’t. Say it’s been a while since you had something to drink- did she want you to bring back anything? Or could you take her somewhere?
>Tell her that you’re sorry about what happened to her old friends. Or fellow mercenaries, however it was. You’d let her have a chance at Gerovic before you passed him on.
>>
>>4277790
>Comfort her. (Tell her we understand how feeling useless feels and that's ok that she feels that way. Tell her we can and will get through all this shit together and that we'll always be working to become "better" for her and the rest of the crew. I would say more like Hell, but Richter isn't him and he never will be. What he can be is his own man.)
>>
>>4277790
>>4277868
Also put a hand on her shoulder that isn't bruised to shit. Make sure Richter makes I contact too, that's important.
>>
>>4277830
>>4277868
This. Remind her when there's life there's hope (and a chance to avenge the fallen)
>>
>>4277790
tanq that looks really good! I mean, she looks really bad now, but you get what I mean.

>>4277830
Supporting this, just remind her we need him alive.
Plus offer to get her things she needs, at the very least pants and some more books to read. Tell her if she can't train her body yet then maybe she can train her mind.
>>
>>4277909
Oh yeah that reminds me. Give her back her underwear. It'll probably wind her up even more for Gerovic.
>>
>>4277790
>Best not bring up anything directly if she didn’t. Say it’s been a while since you had something to drink- did she want you to bring back anything? Or could you take her somewhere?
>>
>>4277830
This
>>4277912
Not this. She doesn't need any more winding up.
>>
>>4277830
>>4277912
>>4278013
>Lastly offer her that chance at Gerovic. He's a smug prick so you'd probably feel better afterwards.
can she even punch the guy with her better arm without risking injuries or just her bullet wound arm is fugged ?
>>
>>4278027
I like this.
>>
Im all for the comforting bits, but not for letting her have a go at Gerovic. Whats she gonna do, shoot him? She isnt exactly in the best shape to get physical with him, and her killing or wounding him while he's a prisoner is just... fucked?

There will be a time where we or our men get captured, and if Richter gets the reputation of harming prisoners then we'll only wish we hadn't.
>>
>>4278157
This
>>
>>4278157
Well I think the idea is that Gerovic is going to disappear into the hands of the Major and no one will know what happened to him. It sounds like we're better off telling people he was killed and we never even captured him in the first place, so I don't think we have to worry about our reputation concerning our treatment of him.

And whatever Anya does or doesn't do to him I'm sure she can manage to avoid either killing him or further hurting herself in the process. She might have a temper but she's not a raging barbarian. She'll probably just hit him enough to wipe the smug grin off his face and then tire herself out. As far as morality goes his level of smugness is probably enough to be considered an act of violence so I think her hitting him can be excused as self defense.
>>
I return.

>>4277830
>>4277834
>>4277892
>>4277909
>>4278013
Useless puff, you will rise again. Punch a slone?
>>4277868
Same vein I think but rolling to not hoverhand.

>>4277929
>>4277851
Get her drunk. Again.

>>4277912
Don't ask me how I got these. Again.

>>4278013
Avoid death.

>>4278157
>>4278205
Don't let her at Gerovic.

Writing.
>>
She was holding herself together admirably, but Anya couldn’t hide how angry she was- how frustrated she was, not for misfortune, but for how little she could do about it. That feeling of powerlessness was well familiar to you at this point. You sat next to her on the bed slowly, which finally got her eyes off an invisible enemy, a sideways, confused, half lidded stare as you reached an arm around her and rested it on her shoulder.

“…I’m fine,” Anya said as though insisting to herself, “I don’t need that. I appreciate the thought, but I’m fine.”

Yet your hand wasn’t pushed off. “…I understand the feeling of being useless. I’ve felt that way since I’ve come back here…”

“You say that, and come back with Gerovic.”

“…I didn’t really do much. I had a lot of help. I need help to do anything, it feels like. Help like I need from you…which is why I want to keep you around, why I want you to recover. We’ll both make it…even if I’m useless, I’ll keep working to be better again. I want you to do the same, instead of beating yourself up…it’s alright to have to rest a while…”

Anya didn’t say anything at first, but gestured with her left hand. “That retard speech is getting on my nerves. Fix that, alright? Does that way you did before still work?”

…Well, she requested it, not you. You carried your other arm around her, and slipped her into a loose, careful embrace. “…If you want, before I have the Archduchy come and pick him up, you can get a few slugs in on Gerovic. They won’t care if he arrives with some punishment.”

“…Nah.” Anya settled further into your arms, tensed less. “It wouldn’t count. I wanted to beat him, not kick him while he’s down. That’s not the way I do things. I said I’d be fine, alright?” You kept her close, still, for those few moments of silence. “…It’s not like I wasn’t ready for it. Illger’s died before. Twice, even. I’ve lost people. That’s not new. I’m sad about it, but that’s what being a Hog is. If it’s somebody’s time, you saw Death coming a long ways away, and at least chose the way you went out. But…” she tensed up again, “I should have been there. I don’t care if it would have killed me, I just wouldn’t have been...wouldn’t be…” Anya trailed off, and didn’t finish whatever she was saying.

“I wouldn’t have wanted you to be killed.”

Anya didn’t say anything to that.
>>
“…I can get some things for you, if you want. More books, maybe, trousers…since it’s cold, and all.” You suggested.

“They didn’t wreck the camp completely, I hear. We haven’t picked through yet, but all my clothes were back there. If you can go get those, I’d appreciate that. At least get that uniform back on.” Anya’s voice was sullen, but less on the edge than it had been before you were holding her. You did have one article of her spare clothing on your person…but you didn’t want to work Anya up again. “…I guess I won’t complain about having more to do. Making the time go by until my stupid body fixes itself.”

“Alright,” you started to loosen your grip, “Then I’ll go and-“

“Wait.” Anya said firmly, and grabbed your arm. You obeyed- and you sat there with your arms around Anya for a few more minutes. “…Alright, get the hell outta here,” Anya shoved you, and you let her go. “If you stay here any longer I’ll heal up and kick your ass out of my room yourself.”

“I’d like to see you try,” you shot back evenly as you left. “Don’t hurt yourself too quickly after you get well again…”

“Hey.” Anya coughed as you were midway out. “You too.”

“…Mm…” you nodded, and shut the door after you.

-----

Gerovic was kept under heavy guard by you and your crew in a bare, concrete room in Maenesko’s headquarters compound- you’d rather have reunited with your men by going to a tavern, or at least being able to talk freely, but you weren’t going to give Gerovic anything, not even conversations to listen to. You had told Malachi and Jorgen to break his legs if he tried anything, despite being tied to a chair- such was all you allowed Gerovic to hear, until the Major received news of his presence here. You expected her to come without even being called, considering the gravity of the situation, as she might put it, and that her agents would inform that it had been done, but you had asked Von Metzeler to get her anyways.

Less time than you expected- and here she was. Long, black hair, taller than anybody else on the heels she wore, dressed in an black wool long coat sunglasses over her eyes, accompanied by a pair of Intelligence Office agents so burly and hard bodied they made Jorgen look ordinary, each carrying a heavy attaché case. You sent your crew out, and the Major and her escort stepped in, one closing the steel door behind them.

Gerovic, for his part, had a look that showed he was positively entertained. Well, you’ll see about how long he can keep up the smug act.

The Major stepped forward, and gestured to her thugs, who removed Gerovic’s gag.

“My, oh, my,” Gerovic purred with faux admiration, “And just who is this fine specimen? If you’re an admirer of mine, I have to say, I’d have accepted an invitation to your bedroom just fine, and we could have skipped all this nonsense with abductions.”
>>
“Every further smart remark you make, I will have my men here pull out one of your teeth.” The Major responded, cool as ice, “You have only been ungagged to answer very particular questions here. Save your banter for when I am through with you.” The two other agents opened their briefcases, and took out heavy duty restraining belts, and what looked like some odd mask-apparatus. Hypodermic needles and vials of various substances were also produced.

Gerovic’s humored look still didn’t fade, though it must have been false bravado, as leather straps were bound about his head and an agent affixed a device that kept an eye wide open, the other agent preparing an injection needle.

“Congratulations, Von Tracht,” the Major said to you with a slight turn of her head, “I didn’t expect you to take him alive. Leave this room and wait in the meeting room across the way. We’ll talk soon.”

The IO spooks were certainly not waiting for you to leave to start working, so you certainly did speed along. Immediately outside the door you saw a pair of Netillian troops flanking the way- but you didn’t even have to think about it to know that they were simple further Intelligence Office goons, guarding over whatever was going to happen in that room.

-----

The Major came in alone, after only about half an hour. You hadn’t even finished the newspapers that had been left in the room.

“…That didn’t take very long…” you observed blithely.

“Not much had to be done. The most pertinent queries take little time to answer, and anything further can wait until he is safe and secure in the Archduchy.” The Major didn’t sit down, and paced beside you, putting her hand on the table in front of where you were seated. “Now then. As agreed, you’ll have help for your idiotic duel with an infamous sniper. I have no doubt I will lose valuable operatives, but you’ve managed to provide me some reason to owe you.”
>>
A sarcastic sulk from you. “…I’m sorry that such a horrible thing has been inflicted upon you, how can I ever apologize…”

“The details of how you’ll be kept intact will come when we next meet, tomorrow.” The Major told you, “Though. You took Gerovic alive. Much as such was not required, in case you were unable to capture him, and we were given a choice between having him dead or letting him continue to wreak havoc, you are allowed a further reward, for such an effort.”

“…Further reward..?”

“A small one.” The Major specified, “Beyond previously promised aid, but nothing so drastic as, say, cancelling your assignments, or withdrawing legal proceedings against your character, hm?”

So you couldn’t ask the Intelligence Office to go away and leave you alone after this. Of course not. What could you ask for, though…

>Demand the copy of the Opal magazine. You knew the Major had it, you needed it.
>You wanted the answers to particular questions. (Not too many. Careful not to overstep the bounds of being in some semblance of good graces)
>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office. If they wouldn’t leave you alone, maybe they could at least treat you less like a dog. Maybe you’d like to call yourself by your rank and no other name.
>A reward, from the Intelligence Office? Turn your nose up at that. They could keep their "rewards," you refused to be thrown any dog treats.
>Other?
>>
>>4279804
Hey tanq what does the third option mean?
>>
>>4279833
It means asking if you can go further up the glow in the dark ladder.
>>
>>4279804
>>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office. If they wouldn’t leave you alone, maybe they could at least treat you less like a dog. Maybe you’d like to call yourself by your rank and no other name.
I think this might actually be the most valuable thing we can ask for. If we can't shake the IO any time soon our safest bet is to at least become someone whose life they'll be slightly less likely to throw away on semi-suicide missions.
>>
>>4279839
Ah alright.
>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office. If they wouldn’t leave you alone, maybe they could at least treat you less like a dog. Maybe you’d like to call yourself by your rank and no other name.

Also more general question:
Now that Gerovic is finally dealt with how soon can our guys be pulled off the line? All our men could use a good block of R&R before Alpha Two kicks off.
>>
>>4279804
>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office. If they wouldn’t leave you alone, maybe they could at least treat you less like a dog. Maybe you’d like to call yourself by your rank and no other name.
btw what is the opal magazine ?
>>
>>4279873
+1
>>
>>4279804
Didn't these guys orchestrate Maddy's kidnapping or something to start the whole Sosaldt misadventure? I'm not sure we want to be in bed with them more.
>>
>>4279917
I don't think anyone isn't aware that the IO is shady as hell but as >>4279873 points out if they're not letting us out of their grasp any time soon we must as well get better treatment for ourselves.
>>
>>4279873
This
>>
>>4279804
>Other?
Ask for a direct line to Maddalyn.
I'm fucking sick of having to deal with these local mayors to talk to her and the time between letters is far to long for my taste anyway.
I don't care about the details of how such a thing would work, a means of quick and efficient access to her will do wonders for Richter's moral. He deserves the ability to talk to his wife damn it!
>>
>>4279804
Tempting as it is to tell them to go fuck themselves, we have to at least pretend we're not going to be a future problem.
>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office. If they wouldn’t leave you alone, maybe they could at least treat you less like a dog. Maybe you’d like to call yourself by your rank and no other name.

Probably just call him piggy or monkey instead. It's a start at least.

Plus more visibility into their whole operation, less likelihood of getting quietly disposed of, and gathering more info for Richter's dad to investigate.

I was initially thinking to have the IO let Von Metzeler and his crew go, but I think even they will realize that sending a one armed man on stealth missions is counterproductive.

>an eye wide open, the other agent preparing an injection needle.
Oh shit are they gonna hypnotize him into a double agent eventually?
>>
>>4279804
This: >>4279966

For the people who think getting closer with IO is good: the more in we are, the less safe we are, until we get at the very top and our status starts to outweigh all the dangerous things we know.
>>
>>4279804
>>4279966
This is probably our best bet. They will use this as a means to spy on us and we'd need a way to communicate that to her without tipping them off so she doesn't spill any magic related beans, but it will be worth it to be able to talk to her. Besides didn't we promise her we'd try not to stay so throughly involved with their future schemes when she came to visit?
>>
>>4279966
I'm with this guy
>>
>>4279804
>>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office. If they wouldn’t leave you alone, maybe they could at least treat you less like a dog. Maybe you’d like to call yourself by your rank and no other name.
>>
>>4279804
>>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office.

Might as well post before bed
>>
It wasn't so long ago that I watched anons vote to kill the protagonist in another quest. There, at least, the consequences were immediate.
>>
>>4280892
Anon if they wanted to the IO could disappear us at any time already, knowledge be damned.
>>
>>4280897
The point is not to give them a reason to want that.
>>
>>4280900
And as long as we're doing stuff for them they won't.
>>
>>4280905
Secret agents being disposed of after an operation is a common trope.
>>
>>4279804
>Request a further in, to the Intelligence Office. If they wouldn’t leave you alone, maybe they could at least treat you less like a dog. Maybe you’d like to call yourself by your rank and no other name.
>>
>>4280912
I don't see how that's any more of a risk from our current situation. We've already been doing operations for them, and as a completely low level expendable tool. All we're asking now is for them to make us a more valuable asset so they'll have less reason to get rid of us. The Major already showed more concern for the safety of the operatives in Dymny than she's ever shown for us; if we can get closer to their level then I don't see how that could put us in more danger of being disposed of.
>>
>>4279873
>>4279887
>>4279903
>>4279909
>>4279956
>>4280022
>>4280788
>>4280887
>>4281063
Let me into your secret club mommy

>>4279966
>>4280733
>>4280687
>>4280737
I need delivery boys to carry my dirty letters to the runt house. Or a very, very long telephone cable specially for me.

Writing.

>>4280022
>Oh shit are they gonna hypnotize him into a double agent eventually?
They're certainly not just giving him a hit of smack, that's for sure.

>>4279903
>btw what is the opal magazine ?
A controversial magazine that refers to its contents as artistic nudity, but which others scoff at as pornography, whose pages have pictures of young and fetching noblewomen in various states of undress. There's a sort of prestige to both being in it, in a way- and in having a subscription in the first place. Only patrons able to afford the lofty money barrier (or have a prestigious enough title) get copies of the magazine, and they're very, very limited print because of this exclusivity, though like anything exclusive, a few can't help but leak out- usually for a hefty sum of money.
A notable model in an issue some twenty three years back was your fiancee's mother, Lady Miriam Von Blum.
>>
>>4281459
>some twenty three years back
About twenty five years, rather. Important correction.
>>
The initial thought was to guarantee your communications with Maddalyn- ever since Gespie was ousted from his mayoral position, you lacked any way to send letters to her, and had never been able to receive any back from home, from anybody. Ending that isolation couldn’t have been too much to ask, but as you thought more on it…maybe you should better insure yourself against the Intelligence Office? By shrouding yourself in its favor? Surely a request to advance within their rank was far from unreasonable, considering what you’d done for them, regardless of how much you actually wanted to do it. You didn’t trust them- they had used and abused you, and your fiancée, but this would be a move to protect yourself, not to ingratiate yourself.

“…Can I ask for a promotion? Within the IO, that is. To be the next tier up from Hound R, or whatever…”

That made the Major raise an eyebrow. “That isn’t what I would have expected from you, but yes. Provided you endure this assignment. Though, I’m sure you understand that such would mean you would be expected to continue to accept assignments that are out of the ordinary.”

“…Would I really have a choice not to..?”

“You might,” A clipped response, but for once not a patronizing one. “You are sure that that’s what you want?” A steady nod from you. “We’ll see about that, then.”
“…So would I be called the Lieutenant, like you’re called the Major..?”

“No.”

“…Oh. Then…I’ve one more question. Since you have Gerovic now, the biggest problem to reveal himself here, how soon can my men and I be pulled off the line here? To at least have some rest before Alpha Two…”

“There has been no change in plans regarding your stay here,” the Major said in a clipped tone, “You have approximately two more weeks until you are expected to be withdrawn. Likely a few days beyond that, depending on how events transpire. If you want to take pressure off yourself, I would suggest requesting a replacement commanding officer for your company. I’ve heard you and your people have taken over administration of the unit entirely, and while I’m sure the Military Council appreciates the weight off their shoulders, as a coordinator and advisor you have no obligation to assume total command.”
>>
A sigh from yourself at that. “…Nothing else, then. I suppose I’ll content myself with an accelerated career advancement…”

“You do that.” The Major went for the door, “Though I wonder if you are prepared to die, for any further advancement.”

“…Die?”

“It isn’t as demanding as you might think,” the Major said without actually explaining, “I’ve died before, to get here.” A pause. “Redo your hair as soon as you can. Blonde looks atrocious on you.” Before you could think to ask what she meant by that, the Major had left you, alone in that meeting room. When you left the room, the guards across the way were gone, and the room where Gerovic was, utterly empty.

-----

Unfortunately, you couldn’t join back with your crew with good news that your stay here would be shortened, but it was nice to be back with them again. The time you’d been hit in the attack on the base, they hadn’t been in the tank. It hadn’t been one of them who had been killed under your command. You were still thankful to Anya for unintentionally saving them, by taking them elsewhere at that time.

“You done dealing with scary folks, boss?” Hans asked, looking side to side. Your crew knew who you were doing this for, even if most of the details escaped them. You nodded. “Great!” Hans relaxed, and so did everybody except your tall, blonde gunner. “So you gonna keep that dye job? I think Creampuff likes blonde guys, you know.”

“…I don’t know about that…”

“I don’t know if like is the right term either,” Stein said, sore about something.

“Maybe his runt likes it, eh?” Hans elbowed you, “What d’you two think,” he addressed Malachi and Jorgen, “yay or nay on that hue?”

“Lahkshett.” Malachi said without hesitation.

“Aehh, shedduhp,” Jorgen punched Malachi’s shoulder, “Yehd mehkkem go graehn, bet.”

“Leterrwaekol, nogouden feht, derkerstinetuh.”

“I’m not dyeing my hair,” Stein said grumpily.

“You should know better than to get into an argument with Mal, he’ll outlast you,” Hans chuckled, “So, boss, you gonna stick around with us a little bit? Gerovic’s gotten grabbed, and he ain’t gonna be our problem anymore, y’think we can just sit around and do nothing now? Especially how you’re hobbling around, and how half our tanks went up in smoke. Call me yellow, but I’m fine with not doing any more fighting for more fuckin’ pepperheads at the minute.”
>>
That wasn’t necessarily an option, what with you offering the Grandmaster aid in a potential large attack against the Twaryians. Granted, you weren’t compelled to fulfill that deal, considering that the aid he’d offered hadn’t actually been used, but you didn’t doubt that the ERA would insist on it anyways. There was also the matter of Bertram in…Judge Above, would you just bite the bullet and try to get the IO’s help and take him on in the same day, or would you come to him on the deadline day? You knew where he wanted to duel you- but you had avoided more than that. No doubt looking around it or sending anybody to look around would be interpreted as a formal opening of hostilities.

…Well, most people. Emma would be looking around up there, and Bertram couldn’t have thought that Emma was affiliated with you. Additionally, he had no way to destroy her. Emma hadn’t gone through with helping the Archduchy, but she had agreed to help protect your life in this affair. You hoped she’d report back soon…hopefully far away from Yva. The soulbinder would no doubt no longer tolerate Emma’s existence given her evolution from harmless wisp to full on apparition.

At least Gerovic was no longer a problem. Just everything else.

You had spaced out while your crew kept talking. Attention was paid again right as Stein was talking about bars. “-not any here that would be any good. They don’t like serving to people besides their own. Kamienisty’s not too much further from here than it was from the old camp, is it?”

“Wonder if we could get a date to Perlowieza like the boss took Fluffy on, huh?” Hans put you on the spot, “No, we see how it is. Special treatment for the girl, of course.”

“Dehnwantrenk,” Malachi said plainly, “Gonzlep.”

“Suit yourself.” Hans sniffed. “So how about it boss? We take a load off somewhere now that our troubles took a long walk off a short pier? Your treat, of course.”

>Could you turn that down? Sure, you’ll take your men out. (Where? What sort of place?)
>You couldn’t, unfortunately. They could go, but you had to handle business. (Of what sort?)
>The only place you were going now was a bunk. Tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.
>Other?
>>
>>4281749
>The only place you were going now was a bunk. Tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.
>>
>>4281749
>>Could you turn that down? Sure, you’ll take your men out. (Where? What sort of place?)
Is Perlowieza too far for an overnight trip? I'm thinking we might go there or Kamienisty and scope out a decent hotel that we could post everyone up in to get some R&R for a few days if we take the Major's advice. Maybe Krause could stay behind to orient and advise the new company commander in our place, since I think he's the least beat up of anyone. We also need to find a place to get this dye out of our hair.
>>
>>4281749
>>Could you turn that down? Sure, you’ll take your men out. (Where? What sort of place?)
Kamiensty; Iet's avoid Perlowieza for now given what happened our last trip. Find some restaurant/bar to celebrate. Potentially find a hotel like >>4281790 suggests.
>>
>>4281747
Aw crap they want us to go full Secret Agent 007 if we really want to make it anywhere.

>>4281790
This works.
At some point before we talk with Major about Bertram tomorrow we should at least coordinate with Von Metzeler and Krause about our withdrawal timetable and securing the sector even if Gerovic isn't around to stir up the pot.

Also I don't think we should get another Captain, leaving this sector unstable at our departure would work best for Alpha Two. Let's just offload some paperwork on the Platoon Lieutenants.
>>
>>4281790
>>4281790
These work. Since we're meeting the Major tomorrow anyway we can stay overnight in town?
>>
>>4281783
Collapse.

>>4281790
>>4281825
>>4281851
>>4281881
Overnighter at Kamienisty, see the Major in the morning. Dump any and all responsibility on your other officers.
Anya might have asked you to do something for her. But you're going to be dead in a couple days anyways, right?

Writing.
>>
>>4282047
I guess we can always stop by the old camp on the way back tomorrow.
>>
>>4281747
>Though I wonder if you are prepared to die
Ah. So we'll have to stage our death to advance in IO. Goodbye family life with Maddalyn.
I hope you're happy with your choice, anons.
>>
“…How could I turn that down?” you replied to that earnest request, “We’ll go to Kamienisty. We’ll even stay the whole night over. I just have to clear things up with the other officers, to get some things moving…”

“Yeah, yeah! Boss’s gonna foot the bill!” Hans practically cheered, and you pointedly noted that your wallet seemed to be the real star, “There’s a schnitzel place there that I heard some of the pepperhead fellas talking about, we’ve gotta hit that up. Then we can get Mal blitzed and rip off his dumb mask.”

“Allkyeckyoress.”

“I know you would. We could get the Yaegir wasted too, take bets on which one of you two’ll kill somebody first, eh?”

“…I’ll call a car…” you said, but Jorgen held up his finger and clicked his tongue.

“Tehk th’ traeck, dehn’t wehnt touweyt, eh?”

“…Huh..?”

“We’ll drive a truck out there.” Hans told you, “One of those Twaryian ones we took. It’s got a few guns on it, goes off road real well, too. All the marking’s been brushed off, we won’t get shot.”

“Well stocked with ammunition, too,” Stein commented.

“…Will that matter..?”

“It’s the Border Zone,” Stein shrugged absently.

“We’ll be in the motor pool, we stuffed them with the tanks when we got out,” Hans was already leaving, “Get your shit done quick, or we’re going without you.”

“…I wonder how I’ll pay if I’m not there…”

“We’ll open a tab!” Hans declared as he led the crew away, “Now hurry up!”

-----
>>
Krause was who you left in charge- it was he who you still found in charge, looking tired but not low in spirits.

“Hey, Lieutenant,’ Krause gave a lazy salute, “Good to have you back. Sorry about your tanks, I tried to get everybody I could out as fast as I could. At least Gerovic’ll never bother us again.” Krause took out a pair of cigarettes, “Smoke?” You shook your head. “Alright,” He put one away and lit the other one, “Shame about the mercenaries. I remember one of their bosses from Todesfelsen. If they didn’t go out and hold the line, they’d have caught us with our pants around our ankles and our butts in the wind.”

“…Mmhm. I talked to Anya about it. I think she’ll be alright…”

“She was really pissed that night. I had Rondo go and get her, she was spitting some real fire when she was getting hauled over his shoulder. She wanted to stay back real bad.”

“…I’ll have to thank Von Metzeler for getting her out, even if that wasn’t what she wanted…Where is he, right now..?”

“Getting his glasses girl settled,” Krause breathed out smoke slowly, “I think he ought to just skip all the pussyfooting about and shag her. Platonically. We don’t live forever, you know? Some of us don’t figure that out ‘til we almost die, though.” He shook his head with a laugh, “He’s too straight edged for his own good.” Krause chuckled to himself softly, “He says sometimes I’m a bad influence for him, but I wonder, if he’s so uptight because that’s the way he is, or if he’s just trying to be the opposite of his family. But, he’s still how he was, even though all his memory fell out his ears.”

“…That’s reassuring…” Your memory hadn’t vanished- just your skills. Were those as much a part of you as Von Metzeler’s remembrances?
Krause gave a look to your side, “What’s that black string?” He reached out and pulled Anya’s panties out of your pocket, as though he already knew what it was, before you could react. He gave you a dull eyed look. “So you went and talked to her, and now you’ve got these? I was a young vandal, a pickpocket, and even now I appropriate things I ought not to, but you’re just incorrigible.”

“…That’s not-“

“I know, I know,” Krause tossed Aya’s underwear neatly on top of your head, where they landed perfectly to rest without slipping. “Just saying that you can’t blame anybody for the gossip.”
>>
“…Gerovic had them, from the camp after you fled, I think,” you said as you put away Anya’s underwear again, “I’ll give them back at a more appropriate time.” That reminded you. “Can you take some people back there and get her things? They didn’t set the tunnels on fire, and she moved down under…she wanted her clothes bag, at least. Her uniform.”

“And her underwear?”

“…Har har. I also need you to drop a few boxes of food and water in…you know the woods, about, eh, and eh?” you approximated with your hands, “There’s some…refugees, there, that’ll find it. Anya wanted me to handle that, but I’m about to take my men out to town. Can you handle these things..?”

“Normally, I’d tell you to run errands for your mistress yourself, but since I’m the only one around here without a piece blown out of me,” Krause slapped you on the back, “Go ahead. Careful, though. Gerovic might be gone, but that attack disrupted patrols, and there’s a whole bunch of new Revolutionary League insurgents running about.”

“…Thanks…really…”

“One of us here has to not be a crazy blue blood,” Krause lit up another cigarette, “Don’t keep out for too long, yeah? It didn’t take long for people to come here asking questions I didn’t know the answer to.”

You avoided telling Krause you didn’t intend to come back until tomorrow.

-----

“…So even though there’s all sorts of people who want to kill you, and you’ve got to keep your head in the game,” Stein said wearily, a few mugs of beer down him, his second double-fried schnitzel with sweet mustard, potato, and pickled cabbage plate only half finished, “You look over and see her cute butt right there…Hans says she has some mass to it, and you just wanna,” Stein made a slapping motion at the air, “…you know?”

“Yeah, the boss knows,” Hans wrapped his arm around your shoulder, “So whose is better, eh? I know you’ve grabbed both, B-G, heh heh. Dog.”
The drive over here had been uninterrupted- the combat car must have bristled with enough guns that no insurgents thought you worth having a go at. Jorgen lamented such after you’d arrived at your destination. The combat car was parked outside this place- probably illegally, but you’d fix it when somebody made it a problem, you figured.

A long drink to Hans’s question. “…Maddy’s is unparalleled.” You declared. It wasn't like you remembered anything to the contrary.

“Uh huh. Sure, alright,” Hans took his arm off of you, “How about the rack?” A roll of your eyes. “Fine, if you don’t want to shoot the shit, I’ll come back later. Hey, Stein! Let’s get some billiards goin’, yeah? The Yaegir’s already over there.”
>>
You were left alone with Malachi, and there was a moment of quiet as you thought of what to say. “…So…where in the mountains did you come from?” you asked, “Altoss? The Sosalian Spine? The Nauk Range?”

“Naert.” Malachi quipped.

“North. Alright.” A moment. “Do you miss it?”

“Neh.” You saw a rare moment where Malachi shifted his masking up slightly- a rock-square wide jaw and stubble was briefly visible as he chugged down a whole tall mug of dark ale, before letting it fall naturally again. “Boosbeder, thobeshesarshed. Can geder, besemful. Onerfeng.”
“Hmm.” You thought you got some of that. “So why don’t you show people your face?”

“Onerfeng.”

“Same reason?” you squinted at Malachi, trying to find his eyes behind the lenses of his goggles. The glare of light shifted for a moment, and you saw them- they were large, but heavily lidded, tired. “Sorry about that, then.”

“Neh. Lahntehmnehmeder.”

“You must miss one thing, at least,” you said to Malachi, getting on this track, “I’ve been away from my home for…years. It’s funny, Hilda will know it better than I do when I get back. But, even though it’s near Strosstadt, the air isn’t smoky, and it’s not so far from some nice woods, artificial lakes and ponds…some general or noble made them, I can’t remember who, but he wanted to make a place of beauty, since he came over from seeing an Emrean park, where they were trying to restore a place of natural beauty that was destroyed by the long war…war hasn’t touched the heart of Strossvald in a long time, but…it’s a nice place to be.”

“Hrm.” Malachi grunted, “Affing. Nobeis?”

“Nobes..?”

“Beis. Bzz bzz.”

“Oh. Bees, right.”

“Naertpakes, beisdoney. Onei. Spealraekbeis, weld.” Malachi was trying his best to make sure you understood- far more than he usually did. “Oneisweider naefen. Bessef, haerdafen lehkald. Hehdweise, waenaferd.”

You weren’t sure if you understood even half of that, but it still felt fulfilling to hear.

“Eeyboss,” Jorgen suddenly lumbered up behind you, and slammed a full mug of…something, in front of you. “Drehnk, drehnk!”

“What…what is this?” you couldn’t help but ask, but Malachi must have known, as he joined in on the encouragement, and neither he nor Jorgen provided any explanation beyond something that sounded like that if you didn’t drink it, you were a woman.

…Well, you couldn’t have that, could you? Down the hatch.





>Those Penal Battalion guys are giving you funny looks…
>Time to take that combat car out for a night stress test,
>You’re short on tanks. Edelschwert had plenty you could borrow, right?
>Other? (You can’t choose to not have an intoxicated misadventure)
>>
>>4282352
>>Those Penal Battalion guys are giving you funny looks…
>>
>>4282352
>Time to take that combat car out for a night stress test,
Let's not get into combat and get even more fucked to fight Bertram, so I'm willing to maybe just fuck the car
>>
>>4282336
Oh don't be like that. It was a shitty choice and we're now entrenched with an organization we want nothing to do with but who knows, maybe it won't be that bad. What's his face said he was happily married, if we're lucky we'll end up like him rather than the Major or Owl 3.

>>4282352
>Time to take that combat car out for a night stress test.
Donuts with the lads.
>>
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>>4282352
>Those Penal Battalion guys are giving you funny looks…
Must still be pissy we took their Base away from them.
>>
>>4282352
>Time to take that combat car out for a night stress test.
>>4282382
Also IMO from the way she put it we don't actually have to do any of the unconventional stuff just that if we want to advance.
>>
>>4282352
>Time to take that combat car out for a night stress test
>>
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>>4282352
>>Time to take that combat car out for a night stress test,
haha..oh
>>
>>4282382
>What's his face said he was happily married
If you noticed, he was far away from his family, risking his life all the time.
>>
>>4282352
>Time to take that combat car out for a night stress test
Drive it like you stole it. Also, little bonus for all our tanks blowing up, there’s less potential repairs that field shop we lost could have done, which means it’s more ok that we lost it. That’s how that works right?
>>
>>4282352
>Those Penal Battalion guys are giving you funny looks…
>>
>>4282361
>>4282390
>>4282947
Get into a fight with political criminals. Maybe there are some anarchists in their lot, utopianists, republicans!

>>4282377
>>4282382
>>4282391
>>4282397
>>4282423
>>4282729
Is driving while intoxicated illegal in Netilland? Who cares, you probably broke plenty of laws already. Victory laps, go!

Writing.
>>
“…I don’t feel so good…” you said, as you stumbled out after your crew, “What was in that?”

“So here’s the deal,” Hans told you all, “Jorgen here told me he heard of this Salt Bog Brew that the Twaryians make, from both the mercs and the Ellowians. It’s either amazing, or it’s goddamn rancid, but the point is, we need that, now. Fuck, we needed it yesterday. The Twaryians have got to have some of it, so we’re gonna go get some.”

Back over the border? You just got back, but you were trying to fight something in your head, so you just got into the car. “Mal, what was in that stuff?” you repeated, as your masked driver took up his position behind the wheel.

“Why, it was the Nectar of the Peaks,” Malachi said in perfect, smooth New Nauk, “I hope you are ready for a magnificent journey.”

“…What?”

“Do not shoot the demons until I say so.”

“What?”

“Mallemmeevroo,” Hans said in some garbled approximation of speech.

“What?” you insisted, unease growing.

“Of course you cannot drive, Hans. You’re too intoxicated.” Malachi said, throwing you off once more.

“Yahruntahk.” Stein gargled.

“Of course, but even drunk, I am still five times the driver you will ever be.” Malachi started the engine, and revved the deep, heavy rumble of the engine. “Place in the top three of the Gold Line and we’ll see if you get to drive.”

VRRROOOORRGH, the engine came fully to life, and after an entirely too quick check to see if you were all aboard, you driver reversed the vehicle in a skidding half circle. Clunk, clenk-clunk, Malachi shifted the gears noisily, and ignored the angry protests of Netillians that had to dive out of the way as you tore out of Kamienisty.

“Is this thing supposed to go this fast?” you shakily asked Malachi as the other seats began to laugh uproarishly.

“No.”

“…Ah…” The roaring of the engine started to mix with something else, as shapes began to dance in the sky…then in the snow. Familiar spirits, gradually twisting into long shadows and reaching arms. “M-Mal-“ you shakily said, before coiling arms of blood red shadows whipped their way towards you. “Aaaaugh!” you cried and covered your face.

“Eyh, kommandestweakout!” Jorgen laughed “Wooh!”
>>
“Waaaauugh!” you shouted up at them, and blasted away with the machine gun. Bits of crab rained down, but the gun went dry, and you were engulfed soon after. The other gun! You had to keep shooting! You struggled to the other side, to the other machine gun, which might still have ammo in it…thank the Judge’s mercy that it did, as you resumed firing into a mass that engulfed you, but hell if you’d go down without a fight!

“Moeferbehss!” Hans shoved you as the second gun clicked empty, and the devil crabs ceased pounding down. Something rattled in his grip- something glass?

“Noddasuf, lesryoferace!” Jorgen shouted as he leaped on back.

“What?!” you shouted back, breathless.

“We haven’t found the salt bog booze, we’re trying another place,” Malachi slid back in the seat next to you, “We scared the people at this place off with all the screaming and shooting, we’ll just have to do that at the next place, too.”

“The next place!?” you objected, losing your voice, “Why are we staying in…in Demon World? We need to get back to anywhere but here!”

“Not until we get the bog booze!” Malachi declared, and once again the truck roared and you were off, into Demon Land.

-----

…Ugh…

You stretched yourself out in the pile you’d found yourself in. Where were you? What was over your eye instead of an eyepatch, and who…who was this that you had been holding in your sleep? Why did you hurt in places?

“Morning, commander,” Stein told you as he walked over, responding to your confused grunts, “How are you feeling?”

“…What…where am I…?” you started, “…What is this,” you pointed to the new covering over your eye, “And who…who is this?” You scrambled up and snapped your head about in all directions, “Where are the demons? What happened to the…” you cooled down as you realized you were acting insane. “…Ahem…”

“We’re back in Kamienisty,” Stein told you, “We set up…I guess it’s a camp, in an alley here,” he pointed about where indeed a makeshift shelter had been set, the combat car at one end of it. “You lost your eyepatch when we ran into that tank. So we-“

“…Tank?” you interrupted Stein, “When..?”

Stein shrugged. “I don’t know, commander, you were the highest I’ve ever seen anybody that whole time. All we could find that was suitable was that pair of women’s underwear you had in your pocket. Figured it was good enough until we found another thing.”
>>
Don't mind me just consistently goofing formatting.
>>
“They’re only demons, Commander,” Malachi admonished you, like that was supposed to help.

”GAAAAAAUUUGGH!!” The Demons screamed back. ”BRAAAUGHHHHH!!”

“Aaaauggh!” you agreed with them loudly.

“Hans says you are killing the mood.” Malachi said dully.

“W-when can I shoot the demons?!” you were shaking uncontrollably as bellowing shapes erupted from the ground and the air, sparkling lights hanging in the ground and bursting asunder. “Judge above!”

“Have some patience, for goodness’ sakes. Yjen’s embrace won’t hold unless you accept the darkness!”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean!?” you snapped as a phantom flowed out of your eyes, “AAAUUGGHH!” That wasn’t for the phantom, but for the land turning to water and the truck sinking into the snow, then the tunnel about you tossing up and about like snow in a snow globe, before swirling with the night and sunset tones cast on the ground.

“Heeua, weflen!” Hans cackled on the other side of you.

“What?” you stammered as the truck fell through the abyss before rolling over stars and back up into a cloud, “What’d you say?”

“We’re flying,” Malachi told you.

“Dehllsen, yuearinim?” Stein demanded from the automatic cannon position in back.

The Border Zone was a warped parody of a fusion between it and a place that didn’t exist for a long while, but at least the demons stayed far away.
Eventually, Malachi gunned the engine again, and shouted, “Here come the demons, Commander!”

“Where the hell are we!?” you demanded- as far as you could tell you were halfway up the night sky.

“Werruwuannabeboss!” Hans told you in a loud voice over the throttle of the heavy engine, “Werreuwannabe!”

“Derrahr!” Stein shouted and pointed ahead, to a pack of horrifyingly colossal demons that had risen out of the blackness below.

“Shoot them, commander!” Malachi ordered you, and you had no trouble obeying.

“Aaaaauuggh!!”

While screaming.

“Ferren!” Stein shouted, and the cannon made its declaration. PAHM-PAHM-PAHM-PAHM-PAHM. CLUNK.

The cannon blew chunks off the massive demons, while the machine gun fire from you and Hans prickled them full of tiny holes, but the amorphous creatures continued their implacable charge for the truck.

“W-we have to turn around!” You shouted at Malachi.
>>
The mountain man ignored you. Instead, he accelerated, and the demons grew so large you saw naught but black, until the truck rammed straight through one, and you burst through to a pure white plain, sparkling flakes blowing up all about. Malachi span the car about in place, and you slid to what might have been a stop, if you weren’t still falling down afterwards.

“Keep shooting, Commander!” Malachi shouted at you.

“Leggestoof!” Jorgen bellowed from behind as you were left behind in the car, a swarm of scuttling crustaceans made of red ribbons surging up from the sky.

“Waaaauugh!” you shouted up at them, and blasted away with the machine gun. Bits of crab rained down, but the gun went dry, and you were engulfed soon after. The other gun! You had to keep shooting! You struggled to the other side, to the other machine gun, which might still have ammo in it…thank the Judge’s mercy that it did, as you resumed firing into a mass that engulfed you, but hell if you’d go down without a fight!

“Moeferbehss!” Hans shoved you as the second gun clicked empty, and the devil crabs ceased pounding down. Something rattled in his grip- something glass?

“Noddasuf, lesryoferace!” Jorgen shouted as he leaped on back.

“What?!” you shouted back, breathless.

“We haven’t found the salt bog booze, we’re trying another place,” Malachi slid back in the seat next to you, “We scared the people at this place off with all the screaming and shooting, we’ll just have to do that at the next place, too.”

“The next place!?” you objected, losing your voice, “Why are we staying in…in Demon World? We need to get back to anywhere but here!”

“Not until we get the bog booze!” Malachi declared, and once again the truck roared and you were off, into Demon Land.

-----

…Ugh…

You stretched yourself out in the pile you’d found yourself in. Where were you? What was over your eye instead of an eyepatch, and who…who was this that you had been holding in your sleep? Why did you hurt in places?

“Morning, commander,” Stein told you as he walked over, responding to your confused grunts, “How are you feeling?”

“…What…where am I…?” you started, “…What is this,” you pointed to the new covering over your eye, “And who…who is this?” You scrambled up and snapped your head about in all directions, “Where are the demons? What happened to the…” you cooled down as you realized you were acting insane. “…Ahem…”

“We’re back in Kamienisty,” Stein told you, “We set up…I guess it’s a camp, in an alley here,” he pointed about where indeed a makeshift shelter had been set, the combat car at one end of it. “You lost your eyepatch when we ran into that tank. So we-“

“…Tank?” you interrupted Stein, “When..?”
>>
Stein shrugged. “I don’t know, commander, you were the highest I’ve ever seen anybody that whole time. All we could find that was suitable was that pair of women’s underwear you had in your pocket. Figured it was good enough until we found another thing.”

Great. So you were wearing Anya’s panties over your eye. You already wanted to shoot yourself, but you may as well find out who the hell the little woman next to you had been. “…And who the hell is that..?” It was a short, dark red haired woman whose hair fell about to her shoulders in crimson waves. Her hands and feet had been bound and her mouth had been gagged, but more significantly, her uniform was the deep black of a Twaryian soldier.

“I have no clue. Some second line garrison trooper, I guess?” Stein threw up his hands, “You saw her at the second place we hit and started shouting about how you had to save your wife, and you came back dragging her. She was scared out of her mind, but you didn’t want to let go of her, so…” Stein laid his hands out towards the woman, “She doesn’t really look like her, I mean, but I guess when you’re on whatever drugs you were on…Jorgen and you got into a scuffle when he tried to pry her away from you here, though I don’t think he had good intentions anyways.”

She had rounded, youthful features, but yes, it was clear to anybody that that wasn’t Maddalyn Von Blum at all.

“…I didn’t do anything, did I..?”

“Just hugged her and petted her head.” Stein said easily, and you relaxed.

“…Did we get the Salt Bog Brew..?” you recalled what you had ostensibly wandered off to get.

Stein gave you a funny look. “Of course not. I mean, we got things, but we barely got away as is. I don’t think it even exists.”

“…You believe in ghosts and spirits but you don’t believe in Salt Bog Brew…”

Stein rolled his eyes at you. “You said we were staying overnight here, right? Did you have something to take care of?”

>Just in time to see the Major, then. What a great start to your morning all this would be. Leave anything else to your crew at this makeshift camp, rather than the hotel you had in mind.
>It wasn’t proper to keep a terrified woman tied up with your people. Maybe you should take care of that first. (How?)
>Other?
Also-
>Roll two sets of 1d100 to find out what you came back with-
1-25: Garnizon Underclothing
26-50: A Disheveled ERA Order Fighter
50-80: Cases of unidentified hard spirits
80-90: A minor wound
90-95: A motorcycle
95-100: A tank
>>
Rolled 35 (1d100)

>>4283302
cmon baby papa needs a new tank
>>
Rolled 9 (1d100)

>>4283302
By the Judge's scales, what
>Just in time to see the Major, then. What a great start to your morning all this would be. Leave anything else to your crew at this makeshift camp, rather than the hotel you had in mind.
>Other?
Do a head count, make a quick assessment of the car and whether it's in a state to get us back to camp, proper.
I don't think there's much we can do with the woman while we're camped in this alley, besides holding her until we get back to UGZ-09 where someone like Pikkarski can find a better use for her. At the least, un-gag her and offer an apology and maybe something to eat, for whatever it's worth.
>>
>>4283302
>Just in time to see the Major, then. What a great start to your morning all this would be. Leave anything else to your crew at this makeshift camp, rather than the hotel you had in mind.
Also to deal with the woman we probably want to get her to our base as soon as possible, maybe get some squad leader or sergeant to watch over her and give her a decent room to stay in until we can figure what to do with our kidnapping victim.
>>
>>4283302
>Just in time to see the Major, then. What a great start to your morning all this would be. Leave anything else to your crew at this makeshift camp, rather than the hotel you had in mind.
Wow, that was both way more eventful than I thought it would be.
>>
Rolled 99 (1d100)

>>4283302
>It wasn’t proper to keep a terrified woman tied up with your people. Maybe you should take care of that first. (How?)
Leave her in the UGZ
>>
>>4283332
A confused child.
>>4283334
Exotic intimates.

Of course this roll after the two you got >>4283484 just serves to cast a shadow on it. At least you didn't get shot, right?

>>4283415
>>4283425
Go and finish up your business. Hopefully.

>>4283415
>>4283484
Have this random prisoner of war and totally not abductee taken to the UGZ.

>>4283334
Apologize and hope she understands New Nauk.

Writing.
>>
>>4283501
Rather get shot tee bee aych
>>
>>4283501
"That least you're not dead", is the worst condolence you can give a man.
>>
>>4283484
why couldnt you have rolled first
>>
>>4283484
nooooooooo we could have had a tank
what have i done
>>
What were you supposed to do with this woman? You’d have the crew take her back to the UGZ, you supposed. She might have been an enemy combatant as far as Netilland was concerned, but, you didn’t know, you felt sort of bad for her. She wasn’t the one who blasted over the border and captured anybody, after all.

“…What else did we get in that ill-advised jaunt..?” you asked Stein.

“A few cases of women’s underwear, in the truck.”

“…Why..?”

Stein shrugged. “Oh, and a kid. You said to go by a place, and we picked somebody up. You were late in waking up so the rest of the crew took him with them to eat. Said you knew each other and his mom.”

“…Oh.” That was a relief, then. Thankfully even when losing your mind to mysterious mountain drugs, you remembered some priorities. “He’ll have to be taken to the UGZ-09. I told his mother I’d retrieve both of them. I’ve business to take care of, you don’t mind taking this woman to the same place, right? Putting her in a room and with a guard?”

Stein cocked an eyebrow at you. “…She’s a Twaryian, commander. We captured her. We came in so hard on places that the people there just ran off, except for the tank that came to get us. I don’t think she’ll appreciate it any more being your prisoner instead of the Netillians’, is all.”

“…I don’t care. Do it, please…” You knelt down to the redheaded Twaryian and undid the gag. She had fallen asleep, so you prodded her to wake her up again.

A wriggle, then her eyes flew open in alarm, as she stared up at you. “Ah!” she yelped, but she wasn’t as terrified as you had feared she might be, “Cho prehzkhodet?” She seemed more confused than anything, “P’chaemuteto deleaesh?

“…Sorry,” you apologized, “Er, are you hungry..?”

The Twaryian woman stared at you helplessly, then flicked her eyes about. She must have at least known she wasn’t in a place where screaming would help her- she looked an awful lot like she wanted to try it were it otherwise. “Nenasaelimaenye, poezhaliesta.

This wasn’t going anywhere. “…Give her some bread, I guess.” Could you ask anybody how to ask in Twaryian if somebody had to go to the bathroom? At least that could be answered with a nod or not. “I have to go. Just look after her, alright..?”

Stein sighed gruffly and shortly. “Whatever. Sir.” As you nodded and turned to leave, Stein cleared his throat. “You’re sure you want to do whatever it is with women’s underwear on your face?”

“…I have to cover the eye somehow. Does it look like I have underwear on my face..?”

Stein squinted, acquiesced. “Not really, I guess. It helps that nobody in their right mind would do that.”

“…Alright then…” Maybe you weren’t in your right mind, but that hardly mattered at the moment.
>>
You went on your way to the usual tavern where you went to see the Major- you weren’t in any mood to goof around with drink guessing, though. It was one day until the deadline- you might even go today, just to get it over with. Your life, that was. If it would go that way. A dead man walking had little to fear from being berated.

Being in Kamienisty as it was, it didn’t take long.

The tavern was empty, since it was morning, so you didn’t waste any time. You walked right up to the tavern keeper, sat down in front of him.

“…Call her…” you said wearily.

“Nothing to drink, sir?”

“…Call her please…”

The bartender frowned. “One moment, then.” He walked off after reaching nonchalantly under the counter. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty. The bartender came back. “She says to meet her at her hotel. Says you know where it is.”

You didn’t exactly, but you remembered what section of town the dingy place was. Knowing better than to ask for a guide, you nodded, and went back out once more.

Twenty more minutes of searching and you found the place again. An IO agent you recognized was lounging at the bottom of the stairs up to the second floor, where the Major’s room was. He nodded at you as you went up, not blocking the way. A knock at the Major’s door- it opened soon after.

The Major, like when you visited before, hadn’t bothered dressing fully. She was in shorts and a loosely buttoned shirt, standing taller than you despite not wearing her high heels, her usual sunglasses off, revealing sharp dark green eyes…that felt oddly familiar to look at, thinking about it. “In,” she beckoned coolly, letting you step into the dimly lit space, the only light being the morning sun floating in through the shuttered windows and a dull lamp from the study. “You shouldn’t keep those on your face unless you’re extremely trusting of who wore them last. Though, you seem to become more intimate with your retinue by the day, don’t you?”

You refused to entertain that statement for a moment. You knew how ridiculous it was, but you weren’t going to waste time on it. “…You couldn’t come and see me at the tavern..?” you asked after you closed the door behind you.
>>
“I see no reason to get dressed and get out of my room at this hour if I’m not even being bought a drink,” the Major said, like she was explaining to a child, “That, and this is concerning your sniper problem, no doubt. It is easier to gather the involved people close to here, where there are fewer studious onlookers.” You didn’t bother replying to that, and just followed the Major into her study. “So. Bertram Glennzsegler is an extremely dangerous individual, and I don’t care how you pissed him off. Only how we are going to get him off of you. There’s two decent ways. One is to attack him with yourself and my finest combat operatives. This has a good chance of killing all of you, so it isn’t a good plan.”

“…Your people can’t take him..?”

“You ought to know how skilled he is. You went on your adventure with his sister, almost as capable a sharpshooter, by our reckoning. Would you not measure her talents highly?”
It was true. Despite being an emotional wreck, even as wounded as she was, or worse, she was very deadly. An excellent shot, a capable acrobat, an expert stalker and hunter, strong of body and sharp eyed. You’d never considered what it would have been like for her to be your enemy. “…So what’s the alternative…”

“You die.” The Major said flatly, “There is a drug you can take, that facilitates an easy false death. Upon the body taking significant shock, it induces a near-death coma, able to be withdrawn from with drugs, or after around a day or two. You go out for your silly duel, and one of my agents shoots you in a place you’re unlikely to die from with a light round. Very, very low risk. You die, the Full Moon Sniper accepts this disappointment, and you come back to life once again. You’ll need a new name, but that is not so difficult to get in our position.”

“…No…”

“Pardon?”

“…I don’t want to die.” You said firmly. “I have a fiancée, friends, family, so much I’ve worked so much for…”

“And if you die,” the Major’s cold tone didn’t change, “You will have lost all that anyways, with no way to get any of it back. You can find other women, other friends. You have plenty of potential life to spend working up achievements once more.”
>>
“…My family. My house. My ancestral legacy,” you insisted, “I would be the last Von Tracht…my parents have no other children…” Your mother had been cursed by repeated miscarriages. You had been the sole survivor of many potential siblings. For your mother’s sake, your father demanded none after yourself.

The Major made an odd face, for her. She smirked, laughed. “Ha. Ha ha. Yes, I suppose you are, aren’t you? I suppose you could fool the man for a time, but he would probably take it as an affront if you got right back up and started walking around again as yourself, wouldn’t he?”

“…I don’t see you offering better ideas…”

“I’m willing to hear them.” The Major told you, though part of you was sure that she was sticking with the option of your false death to draw you further into the IO; the request you’d made earlier, being given a twisted affirmative response. It was certainly what the IO wanted you to do, but you wouldn’t bend so easily to that, would you? “I am willing to help. I am harsh, not needlessly cruel. You did me a favor, and I’ll pay it in kind. You may have access to far more tools and materials than you might think…”

>Loading up for bear and going out with all you had against Bertram was your best bet. Say you’ll be going with the plan she finds to be stupid- Bertram is far from invincible.
>The fake death seemed good enough- but you refused to die completely. You’d just keep a low profile from now on, that is, if your good friend couldn’t be assassinated as he went up to check on you.
>Make some other plan. (Lay it out; the tools needed, the procedure, in general.)
>Other?
>>
>>4283784
>Loading up for bear and going out with all you had against Bertram was your best bet. Say you’ll be going with the plan she finds to be stupid- Bertram is far from invincible.
We made that deal with Poltergeist right? I'd say with him on our side it's not that bullshit of an idea.

>The Major made an odd face, for her. She smirked, laughed. “Ha. Ha ha. Yes, I suppose you are, aren’t you?
Sounds like she knows something we don't...
>>
>>4283784
>Loading up for bear and going out with all you had against Bertram was your best bet. Say you’ll be going with the plan she finds to be stupid- Bertram is far from invincible.
time to call the ghost
>>
>>4283784
>>Loading up for bear and going out with all you had against Bertram was your best bet. Say you’ll be going with the plan she finds to be stupid- Bertram is far from invincible.
>>
>>4283784
tanq this duel has no set time to begin right? It's just that Richter has to be there on that date?
The problem with faking our death is it'd have to be total. If we just resume living later Bertram will eventually find out, thus kicking the can down the road. And if even we do die, there's no reason he couldn't just kill our friends out of spite.
Also if we go with false death, why wouldn't he go after and kill our "killer" since we clearly didn't abide by the rules of a duel?

>Make some other plan. (Lay it out; the tools needed, the procedure, in general.)
While they don't know it we do have paranormal help with Emma. Once we pin down his location, a strong enough hunter team can probably shoot him. His strongest weapon is being hidden, I'd love to draw out Bertram out of a place he's had weeks to prepare for, but short of just kinda 'missing' the general area but waiting for him somewhere close to the mark we have to walk into his traps.

Just spitballing here with two options, which greatly endangers either Richter or the hunter team. If Richter wraps himself up in Kalamirz(?) bark, waits for Emma to point Bertram out and then fires a flare towards where he will be that should set the hunters on the chase. This does open them up to his supernatural eye and puts them in the line of fire and any traps he's laid for the occasion.

Or they hide themselves as tightly as possible and Richter does the most inept job of hunting that can be done, bright orange vest, short range gun, bird whistle whatever. If Bert sees him as such a non threat that he tries to toy with him before killing him that might cause Bert to make a mistake and expose himself. This highly depends both on Bertram not spotting our help, and feeling malicious and not just end Richter with one bullet.
>>
>>4283862
>tanq this duel has no set time to begin right? It's just that Richter has to be there on that date?

Correct. You could potentially go there early, even. He's pretty much just waiting for you, at least, such was what he implied, and once the date ticks over...well, self explanatory.
>>
>>4283862
Actually you know what? Another stupid idea. Let's duel with our tank. Dependent on the terrain, we accept his challenge with our weapon of choice and just become the biggest fucking target so the hunter team has all the distraction it needs to help. We bring smoke, HE, heaviest body armor we have and never poke our head out of the tank.
I'd like to think instead of fading away he'd accept the chance to kill us in our element. He probably has ways to disable the tank, but hopefully not enough to penetrate it. We probably have to carve out new hidden viewports/natural camouflage and seal the normal obvious ones otherwise he'll just pick us off inside.
>>
>We came in so hard on places that the people there just ran off, except for the tank that came to get us.
Good lord, I can't imagine the sight of this without laughing my ass off.
>>4283784
>Loading up for bear and going out with all you had against Bertram was your best bet. Say you’ll be going with the plan she finds to be stupid- Bertram is far from invincible.
I'd like to hear some original suggestions from anons before we commit though.
>>
>>4283867
I think I implied we should take a tank to Bert's gunfight as a tongue in cheek kind of joke once, but I can see the method to the madness if we've got some extra help working in background.
>>
>>4283784
>Make some other plan. (Lay it out; the tools needed, the procedure, in general.)
Well the broad strokes of the plan would be to first confirm Bertram is even in the forest to begin with. From there we can try to either lure him into a part of the woods where it would be easier for some asset to get a shot at him, or we signal some reinforcements to try to move into the woods and start sweeping towards us. I'm relatively confident in the ability for smoke and spooky tree stuff to keep Richter hidden while moving to help bait Bertram further into whatever trap we can manage to set up. If we have the spooky ghost girl that would really help with finding out where Bertram is, but I don't want to rely on her.

tldr lure Bertram into an area where we have something set up to deal with him.
>>
>>4283784
>Loading up for bear and going out with all you had against Bertram was your best bet. Say you’ll be going with the plan she finds to be stupid- Bertram is far from invincible.
>>
>>4283784
>>Loading up for bear and going out with all you had against Bertram was your best bet. Say you’ll be going with the plan she finds to be stupid- Bertram is far from invincible.
We have an ace up our sleeve the Major doesn't know about: Emma. All she has to do is expose Bertram's location for us and disrupt his shots long enough for the Major's combat operatives to find and eliminate him. Maybe make loud noises or create a bright glow over where he is, and shake leaves in his face whenever he tries to aim. She should be able to manage something along those lines. For the IO combat operatives it'll be like playing a video game on easy mode with cheats enabled.
>>
>>4283334
>Apology
>>4283415
>A decent room

She's a prisoner of war, anons. Follow the SOP and stop thinking with your dicks.

>>4283784
You know what? I support going in with a tank, like >>4283867 said. The reasoning being that Bertram could expect us doing so, and certainly would be prepared in some way, so he won't just run away. What he wouldn't expect would be IO people.
>>
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>>4283867
I also support this, even if we're surely going to be faced with some mellowlink hijinks
>>
>>4283867
>>4284044
>>4284240
Why the heck would Bertram stand and fight us if we show up in a tank when he can just slip away and go after our friends/us later?
>>
>>4284269
Because he's a crazy fucker who hates us and wants to humiliate us and savor our fear. And, more importantly, I believe he is absolutely capable of taking us out even in a tank if we come without support. He can expect us to bring a tank, he has a whole week to prepare to fight a tank, he knows that beating us in a tank would be an ultimate humiliation.
>>
Didn't he say if we show up with people he'll just fuck off and kill our whole family? Tank idea is funny but probably not a good idea.
>>
>>4283867
>>4284894
The big problem with bringing tanks and other vehicles is that Bertram can probably hear them from a ways off, and if he doesn't like that, he can just slip out of the forest to start a sniping campaign of terror. Unless we know where he is or we surround the whole forest with tanks and infantry it is going to be hard to actually use some heavy support effectively.
>>
>>4284894
>Didn't he say if we show up with people he'll just fuck off and kill our whole family?
Nope.
He said he'll kill anybody we bring along. But he'd stay and fight.
>>
>>4285000
Of course nobody thinks we can sneak up on him in a tank. I'm betting on him not wanting to slip away.
>>
I'll hold off on the tank thing unless tanq confirms exactly what bertram said. Yes I am lazy.

Leaning towards something like what other anons are saying of getting io boys to lay in wait while emma tell us where he is and richter acts as some sort of bait. Or even better a richter look alike whose actually an io agent.
>>
Also requesting tanq post a map of the area closest to the woods the duel is arrnaged for, if there is one.
>>
Apologies for the delay, Saturday was pretty full.
>>4285178
The exact "conditions" as it were,as far as he said, was-
>So dance for my pleasure, you wretched thing, or give me as good as you have. Not tonight, no. North, some ways beyond the Railhead. There is a forest between rolling hills. A lovely valley. A good place for a contest, between hunters, predator and prey. By the end of next week. Come there alone, or I’ll make you alone. Play the coward and flee from me…I’ll stay here a while. Cull the flock some. So long as you follow the rules, this remains between us.”
This might not exactly be written down as a contract and filed in triplicate but his sister's illiterate paperwork isn't hick specialty.

>>4285539
There isn't one. Yet, at least.

It's been a day I know but I'll still be holding off til half after the turn of the hour to call it.
>>
>>4283801
>>4283804
>>4283820
>>4283868
>>4283920
>>4283949
Go hunting with the Major's boys. Bring your dead girl to work day.

>>4283867
>>4284044
>>4284240
Attend the date with a tank. Well.

>>4283915
Become living bait.

There are other general ideas I'll note down for when you proper embark.

Writing.
>>
“…I’m thinking I’d rather go with the plan you’re calling stupid.” Your death, whether it was genuine or exaggerated, was not going to be an acceptable outcome. “Maybe you don’t think much of it, but I have more tricks up my sleeve than you know…” The most important was Emma- as far as you knew, Bertram had no way to avoid being tracked down and followed by a ghost. Thank your lucky stars you found her again in time. There was a temptation to also bring up that you had tanks- but your willingness to use them wasn’t properly motivated enough to be confident in such a statement. On one hand, could Bertram really beat a tank? On the other hand, maybe he could. Worse, maybe he’d break off whatever he’d planned to attack something else because he couldn’t beat a tank. The worst scenario.

The Major was ever so slightly amused by this. “Don’t you seem confident. Are you sure there’s nothing you want to share?” When you replied to that with silence, she was unperturbed. “We all need our secrets, don’t we. Though a word of warning. While my men are willing to do favors, you aren’t important enough to commit suicide for. So don’t think you can trade their lives for your own- they’ll notice, and not be appreciative for the opportunity.”

“…I’ll keep that in mind. When can I expect them..?”

“They’re already here. When you go out, they’ll be ready to go with you. Also, just so you know their capabilities,” The Major picked up a heretofore unseen long gun case, laid it on the desk, and opened it before you. It looked like a plain Strossvald army issue Hagen Rifle- the carbine variant, to be specific, like was present in your tanks. That only extended to the action and the furniture, however. The barrel looked to be shrouded in something like a water cooled machine gun might be, running down its entire length. The rounds for it were also odd. The casings were short and the bullets were larger. “This weapon is extremely expensive. The rounds for it are custom made, and so is the suppressor. It is very effective- but only for several shots.” You instinctively reached for it, but the Major batted your hand away. “Not for you right now. Only when you embark. If any fall, you are expected to retake their weapons and ammunition or destroy them. I’ll know otherwise.”

“…Of course…” you grumbled, leaning back and crossing your arms, “Is there anything else you wanted to taunt me with..?”

“No.” The Major shut the case again, “Just a final decision on when you intend to do it. I would advise against attacking him at night, after all.”
>>
“…Tomorrow is the deadline.” Today was the 18th of January. You’d been given by the end of next week since Bertram attacked you first to go and meet him. The 19th was the final day. You’d see if it was also the last day of your life. “I’ll be running it right to the edge…”

“If he has given you so long to prepare, then why not exploit it, I suppose.” The Major put the gun case back down on the floor, before squinting into your eyes. “Interesting.”

“…What..?”

“I have been studying you and the other Lieutenant. I’d heard from my men that you and your friends went on a bizarre night raid over the border for no apparent reason. It seems to have had an effect.”

Did it? You honestly didn’t remember. “…Alright…”

>Though half fictional and brewed by powerful hallucinogens, your raid the other night has steeled your spirit ever so slightly. +1 Valor. Your current gain is 4.

“If there was naught else, I’d like you out of my room.” The Major not so subtly shooshed you out, “Get that underwear off of your face as well, you look ridiculous. If you’re going to color coordinate with the bleach then at least get a proper patch.”

You needed no more motivation to get up and go out without another word. Was there even a place to have hair dyed again around here? Bleach didn’t come out if you washed it hard enough, did it? You had no clue, it wasn’t like you’d ever considered It before, but the IO likely hadn’t cared how long it might last.

After that short talk, you went back to where the temporary camp had been set up, only to find Stein to be the only one waiting for you. He was just there to make sure you got back. The others had piled in the combat car to go right back to the UGZ-09, which was fine enough. At least Lucia would have her son back as a result of that unplanned raid, where you had also gotten a frightened Twaryian woman and a few cases of women’s underwear. Was it worth being chased by a tank? None of you had been hurt, at least. Maybe the truck had been, but it wasn’t yours anyways.

…If drug fueled combat helped, then maybe you could ask for some more? No, best not to try that. Blasting through a psychedelic hell that twisted your mind and senses wasn’t something you wanted to experiment with. It might have only worked out in the first place because you had the luck to go over the border during one of the Twaryians’ transitionary periods where their night people woke and their day people hit the sack.

Maybe worth a little more thought as you drove back, though.

Have to go for a while- will complete update later. Like tonight later.
>>
>>4286877
speaking of drugs, how much wakeleaf do we have left ?
>>
>>4286890
I'll have to go back and check when I get back. You might have snorted it all when Von Metzeler was disarmed, but I'd orefer to be sure of that statement.

Anya told you to not take it any more or she'd beat you.
>>
Back earlier than expected and as for-
>>4286890
I checked back and Richter snorted two hits of Wakeleaf back in the First Camp Battle, so yeah, you're fresh out.
You could buy more, I guess, but is risking becoming addicted worth it?
Resuming writing.
>>
>>4286877
We've fought DEMONS for measly +1? Preposterous! Scandalous!
>>
Outside the UGZ, you got back in touch with your unit- made sure your men had come back with their two new passengers (occupying the seats that had been relinquished by yourself and your gunner), but as you went for the gates proper, to check where they went, Junior Lieutenant Frederick Krause found you.

“Hey, Richter,” he addressed you, “Come over and talk with me a bit, Rondo’s busy hanging out with women instead of me. Bad habit of both of yours, eh?”

Hm. You supposed you had no reason not to spend some time with your sole officer remaining fully intact. “…Sure. Is it business..?”

“Some of it. Doesn’t have to be just that.” Krause led you towards a section of UGZ wall that was actually stone rather than fence, and stopped, taking out a cigarette and lighting it. “Sure you don’t want to try, this brand’s something better than usual. Snagged a box from Wielzci’s boys, pre-occupation brand. Token of thanks from the Representative council here or whatever for kicking the Penal Company out. Even though Rondo’s the one who did that.”

“…I appreciate it, but I’d really rather not start a habit…”

“Last few people I talked to ended up liking it, is all. Rondo’s figured it helps with his…you know, thing, you both had. Taught that girl Signy how to do it too, when you set up that date for us. Heard from your guys she’s still on that.”

“…I see.” Krause had gotten Signy smoking? In only one night? The stresses of the Republic must have been no joke. She’d certainly continued the habit.

“I’ll see if I can get the Sergeant on it too, eh? Oh, don’t give me that sort of look, I get it, I’ll keep away from her with my bad influences.” Krause took a drag of the cigarette, “She’d be a bad influence on my own vocabulary, in any case.”

“…I actually wanted to talk about, getting ready to go home…” you said wistfully, “Or at least, out of here. Should only be a couple of weeks, or so I’m told. Just have to wrap up what we’re doing here…”

“With Gerovic permanently stopped from stirring anything up, shouldn’t be too hard, yeah? Aside from this rogue group of penals that’s been growing, just have to take care of this latest crop of Revolutionary League people that came over here on the train that day, and we can sit on our hands ‘til we have to leave. Not like they gave us too much trouble cleaning them up last we did it.”

“…I suppose.” It might not be so easy this time, with the anti-tank guns they managed to offload, as well as potential collaboration with the National Liberation Front. Perhaps that collaboration might make things easier for yourself, though? “We’re weaker than we’ve ever been, though. If any more threats come around, I’d rather not have to run away from a camp again…we don’t even have our radios and furniture, do we? We escaped with the bare essential, practically…”
>>
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“Speaking of, there were a few things salvaged. Sergeant Nowicki’s laundry bag, some other things. Seems most of what was underground wasn’t interesting, or they didn’t want to stay long enough for Edelschwert to come around again.” Krause blinked at you, “Actually, speaking of…are you wearing the Sergeant panties? On your face? I thought there was something funny, but now that I look closer-”

“I didn’t-“ you snapped, “It’s not-“ you choked, and sighed, “Somehow when I went out last night with my crew, I lost my actual eyepatch, and when I woke up my crew had put them on me. I need some covering for my eye while it heals…”

“Think they stole it and put those on you as a joke,” Krause snickered, “If you don’t mind wrapping yourself with a bandage, I can sneak those in with the rest of her clothes and it’ll be like they were never gone. Unless you want to keep ‘em?” Krause added that last jab with a dirty smirk.

“…I’d appreciate it if you conveyed them to her, when I replace my eye coverings…” you said sorely, touching at said coverings before realizing what they were again.
“Hah! Eh, couple of weeks though, eh? Think we’ll take the tanks back with us?”

“…I was told they were coming with us because the army had gotten all they could out of them. They’re basically Valstener leftovers now…” you mused of the dwindling collection of tanks that had come with you, “The weaponry they carried seemed more important, in the case of the X-80, but now that that’s gone…”

“I liked that thing,” Krause clicked his tongue and shook his head, “Too bad it got so beat up. Couldn’t run off with it. I’d liked to have spent some more time with it. For how outdated and weird their other stuff was, seemed like the seagulls were putting together some fine stuff for the future. Can only hope the Archduchy’s doing the same, huh?” Krause took another long breath of smoke before flicking the spent cigarette away, “What do you think? These new tanks got your fancy? I know there was something funky up with your old m/32. We really wore those things out, didn’t we? Wouldn’t be surprised if what we took back had to be refitted after we dumped them off. You have a preference? You want to get back to your old love, or has a new flame gotten your favor?”

>The m/32 hadn’t ever failed you. Every day spent with these foreign capture tanks made you feel further from the Archduchy. These tanks had done well- but you wouldn’t miss them.
>The X series tanks were quiet and resilient, and their array of weaponry had been exciting to have access to. You’d like to keep them, if you had the choice- haunted or no.
>Weren’t you allowed to like both equally? A tank commander couldn’t “cheat” on their equipment…
>Other?
>>
>>4287669
>Other: We need new tanks with bigger guns. We've had trouble with Twaryian armor every time.

By the way, did any of the mercenaries survive? We need to give them a huge bonus.
>>
>>4287669
>The m/32 hadn’t ever failed you. Every day spent with these foreign capture tanks made you feel further from the Archduchy. These tanks had done well- but you wouldn’t miss them.
Spooky m/32 best girl
>>4287691
Was going to ask this too, see if anyobody made a visual confirmation as much as one can potentially distinguish a single charred corpse from another that Eakova and Illger went out with their tanks. I have a hard time believing the salties dicked our cockroach that easily.
>>
>>4287669
>The X series tanks were quiet and resilient, and their array of weaponry had been exciting to have access to. You’d like to keep them, if you had the choice- haunted or no.
>>
>>4287669
>Other: Hopefully the Archduchy can use the data we've collected so far plus the captured T16 to accelerate getting out a new medium tank.

The X tanks were good but ultimately just like other light tanks once we can't run away or kill the enemy immediately things get pretty messy as seen by the camp assaults. Maybe Metzeler would still have his arm if he was in a m/32.

Would be nice if the Archduchy or the Blumlands came up with an improved model even to our 47mm version though; considering all the new Twayrian models we've come across. Imagine the m/32 with a proper engine for the additional armour and with a gun that has even better performance without the drawbacks of the 4.7cm.
Alternatively some entirely new model would be nice as well though with the m/32s being pretty new I'd doubt it.
>>
>>4287691
>>4287698
Supporting both sentiments
>>
>>4287669
>>4287691
>>4287698
These.
>>
>>4287691
Supporting. Something with a casemate would be neat.
and the m/32 is too ugly
>>
>>4287775
>spoiler
Them's fighting words
>>
>>4287775
No casemates thanks; we want a proper tank not some tank destroyer or assault gun.

Though tanq would tank destroyer crews/units be considered separate from the Panzer branch in Strossvald like some nations did historically ?
>>
>>4287669
>>4287691
>>4287698
+1. Also ask him if he knew that some of the X-80 shells were taken during the raid.
>>
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>>4287781
I think there's merit in a tank destroyer type. It should be a lot more cost effective to put a big gun in an existing hull than design a whole new turret capable of accommodating a serious cannon.
The Archduchy has a ton of m/28s lying around that are basically obsolete by now, maybe they could be retrofitted into some kind of Hetzer-esque vehicle. Not that Richter has much a say in such a matter, but who knows.
>>
>>4287812
Not arguing against Strossvald having tank destroyers, just that I don't want Richter in one considering TDs are primarily meant to be used defensively. Give me a Panzer III or IV analogue over a Hetzer any day.
>>
>>4287817
I was under the impression the m/32 is something of a Panzer III analogue and the m/28 the Panzer II, respectively.
>>
>>4287821
Actually yeah I can agree with you on that point. Panzer IV then. IIRC the T-15s already have a 75mm gun with AP rounds and who knows what the other big bois like the Reich possesses.
>>
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>>4287669
>The m/32 hadn’t ever failed you. Every day spent with these foreign capture tanks made you feel further from the Archduchy. These tanks had done well- but you wouldn’t miss them.

It is quite actually a tank with potentially invulnerable armor. This is no actual comparison here.
Best case it gets an upgraded engine and gun that can compete better. Also I for one like the dumpy looking tanks.
>>
>>4287669
>The m/32 hadn’t ever failed you. Every day spent with these foreign capture tanks made you feel further from the Archduchy. These tanks had done well- but you wouldn’t miss them.
I say this because the Armor of Fate is literally the best thing ever and that would probably color Richter's view of things.
>>
>>4287669
>>The m/32 hadn’t ever failed you. Every day spent with these foreign capture tanks made you feel further from the Archduchy. These tanks had done well- but you wouldn’t miss them.

I wonder what indigenous Strossvald designs look like, since the M series are licensed from Naukland
>>
>>4287694
>>4287839
>>4288079
>>4288149
Take me home country roads to the Blumlands where my tank belongs

>>4287696
But these tanks are called X, not ex.

>>4287691
>>4287698
>>4287700
>>4287725
>>4287775
>>4287787
If that don't work, use more gun. More armor. Bigger and better.
Also check out if the theft of experimental shells was known.

Writing.

>>4287691
>By the way, did any of the mercenaries survive? We need to give them a huge bonus.
Five crew and the support people, yes, though you're not actually responsible for their pay- the Republic of Mittelsosalia is. You're just who they're ostensibly employed by.

>>4287781
>Though tanq would tank destroyer crews/units be considered separate from the Panzer branch in Strossvald like some nations did historically?
The foot/towed units are part of the infantry, and theoretically, mechanized tank destroyer units would be part of the armor. They'd likely be considered to be attached to, if not the same, as the Panzer units, though such would also depend on their patron due to the decentralized nature of Strossvald's army on the formation side if not necessarily overall command.

>>4288149
>I wonder what indigenous Strossvald designs look like, since the M series are licensed from Naukland
Strossvald's decentralized, patron based army was once much less uniform, something that changed roughly twenty years ago. Were it not for the Armed Forces Uniformity Act, you'd likely see a far greater variety of equipment for reasons of both prestige and rivalry. Part of the decision to make Naukland designs the primary tank designs (besides saving money) was so that the most prestigious units wouldn't suffer controversy over where a design came from, though as one can tell from the Von Blum model M/32s, there's still loopholes that are exploited.
Armored Cars, being the domain of lowly border patrol and reconnaissance, have no similar issue, same as the standard infantry weapons, as the Hagen Rifle and the Von Muse machine gun are products of local inventors.
>>
You did miss your old tank, along with its strange, supernatural capabilities, especially the Armor of Fate and its ability to nullify any incoming damage. That was especially appreciated after you’d suffered a direct hit in one of these new tanks with their armor lighter than even the baseline m/32, let alone the up-armored Von Blum variant. Even then, it wasn’t your own armor that had most caught your attention- it had been your enemies. The 5 cm gun that was the best general purpose piercing weapon your tanks were equipped with- was able to be defeated by the T-15’s frontal armor, and the T-16 was relatively resistant to it as well. The old m/32’s 4.7 cm gun was more powerful, with more power behind a slightly smaller diameter round, but even then it was beginning to age as even in Valsten the newer, heavier tanks could resist that round, and the T-15 had to have weak points aimed for as well. Such was against Valsten and Twaryi- who could say if the greatest foe, the Reich, had even more intimidating vehicles that they had kept hidden, and were waiting to unleash? You couldn’t properly recall their inventory at present, but they surely weren’t resting on whatever laurels they had remaining.

“…I’d prefer bigger guns and thicker armor…” you summed up in one phrase to Krause, “It’s not pleasant to have less of either than your enemy…”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Krause agreed, “I’m sure that’s how the people in Sosaldt felt when we rolled up, huh?”

“…Probably.” An admission of being in a position of superiority more often than not thus far, “But I’d rather not relinquish that particular advantage to balance the scales…If we maintained that advantage, Von Metzeler would still have his arm…”

Krause’s smile vanished. “…Yeah, I guess so.”

“…Von Metzeler told me about some of the X-80’s shells being taken in that raid. Did he tell you..?”

A grimace flashed across Krause’s face. “Yeah, we tried to blow up things on the way out, but we didn’t get enough time. We couldn’t blow them up where they were because they were too close to where we had to get things out of, and when we thought we could get them on the way out, they went straight for them. They knew what they were after.”

Well, the Intelligence Office hardly needed to know that. “…It’s for the best to have focused on evacuation rather than destruction anyways.” The IO could stuff it if they thought you’d sacrifice your people’s lives for their silly shells, valuable as they were. “We can probably learn more than they would from us just from what we’ve taken from them. The T-16 is new, after all…”

“Maybe.” Krause was still morose. “Has Rondo shown you his new fiancée?” A short not in response. “Cute, isn’t she?”

“…Ehhh.”
>>
“Don’t be like that, she seems nice,” Krause shook his head as he took out a second cigarette, “Though when she first meets Rondo, he’ll be, the same state you’re in, without an arm…just a shame, you know.” A short puff on the cigarette, “If he has a change of heart from staying on because of that, and takes up being in reserve because of the injury, I’ll probably hand in my resignation and join him where he goes. I’m common born, panzer corps never expected much from me anyways, and I didn’t join up to go up the ladder. Though, that means we’ll be leaving you alone with the Sergeant, eh?”

“…She’s actually told me, that if I’m not in the field, she won’t stay around me,” you recounted to Krause, “She’ll go elsewhere. I can’t stop her if she’s set her mind to it, but I’d rather she get at least a little better before setting out on her own…”

“Sheesh, we’re all just gonna let you go, then?” Krause looked at you sideways, “Rondo won’t like the sound of that, for better or worse. He’ll follow your bad example and leave his fiancée at home forever.”

That remark prompted a sour frown. “I’ll be heading straight back after we’re finished in Ellowie…”

“Rondo said you called her over in Sosaldt,” Krause caught you in a direction unawares, “She’s certainly willing to come to you when she’s called, is all.”

“…I’d rather have all the troubles dealt with before potentially having her harmed, again…”

“Depends on if all the troubles will ever be dealt with, Commander,” Krause said with resignation, “Speaking of. The supervisor here, Maenesko, he’s called. Said there was a new problem with those Penal Company deserters, they’ve expanded, and a bunch of Sosaldtian mercenaries that got fed up with the Kommissar paying them joined them too. He says the Representatives are concerned, with them being close to the UGZ, and the risk of them attacking the roads or the workers going to the logging site is there, and they could disrupt the logging itself, too. Technically, it’s the Penal Company’s job to take care of their own, but, ‘course, Maenesko asked us for a reason.”

You didn’t like hearing that much. “…And the reason is..?”
>>
“Because the Penals won’t do it, of course.” Krause said baldly, “Says he tried asking, but he knows they won’t do anything. Apparently the Captain’s afraid that even if they wanted to handle it, trying to round them up would mean his men turn on him. There’s a rumor saying they’re planning to flee west, go back to Sosaldt through something called the Spout Market, but they might hit whatever before and along the way.”

“…Mhm.” you didn’t really need this today, but you nodded nonchalantly, “Anything else..?”

“Thankfully, no.” Krause said, “Over the border, I hear things are mucked up, but there hasn’t been a Twaryian sighting in a while. Guess they think the local insurgents were the ones who grabbed Gerovic, not you across the border.”

An unexpected boon indeed.

“So, you think you’ll take up that favor? Figure it might be a good way to get some grit in the new Ellowian platoons, though,” Krause glanced back at your motor pool camp just outside the UGZ, “It’d be a lie to say we were in good condition to give them any support. I guess Rondo isn’t sick or dying or anything, so we can get you and him, maybe all three of us, maybe Wielzci too, hell maybe we get Edelschwert’s help, but we don’t have to do it.”

>Sure, if it’s a favor for Maenesko and the UGZ. You’ll take that up, no matter if you could be in better shape. You probably wouldn’t ever be back to your former strength anyways, while you were here.
>No deal. Your unit can’t handle it right now. Wish Maenesko luck, and say the UGZ at least will be well protected.
>They’re heading west to Sosaldt? What if they could be guided with no trouble at all? You couldn’t do it in an official capacity, but if your mission was to indirectly weaken the region…though they’d have to wait until after you dealt with Bertram, you could try and meet them today, at least.
>Other?
>>
>>4288576
>>Sure, if it’s a favor for Maenesko and the UGZ. You’ll take that up, no matter if you could be in better shape. You probably wouldn’t ever be back to your former strength anyways, while you were here.
Good for giving the new Ellowian platoon some combat experience before the big thing.
>>
>>4288576
>Sure, if it’s a favor for Maenesko and the UGZ. You’ll take that up, no matter if you could be in better shape. You probably wouldn’t ever be back to your former strength anyways, while you were here.
Also how many more days are there until the next round of RP spending?
>>
>>4288596
>Also how many more days are there until the next round of RP spending?
After your duel.
>>
>>4288576
>They’re heading west to Sosaldt? What if they could be guided with no trouble at all? You couldn’t do it in an official capacity, but if your mission was to indirectly weaken the region…though they’d have to wait until after you dealt with Bertram, you could try and meet them today, at least.
>>
>>4288576
>Sure, if it’s a favor for Maenesko and the UGZ. You’ll take that up, no matter if you could be in better shape. You probably wouldn’t ever be back to your former strength anyways, while you were here.
>>
>>4288576
>>Sure, if it’s a favor for Maenesko and the UGZ. You’ll take that up, no matter if you could be in better shape. You probably wouldn’t ever be back to your former strength anyways, while you were here.
They need the exposure to combat, helps the UGZ and since we're coming back, would be nice to have some allies in the region.
Also steering them would be nice, but we're already on their Penal shit list and nothing short of bribing them or giving them a juicy target will convince them.
>>
>>4288576
>Sure, if it’s a favor for Maenesko and the UGZ. You’ll take that up, no matter if you could be in better shape. You probably wouldn’t ever be back to your former strength anyways, while you were here.
We will feast on combat to feed our Valor!
>>
>>4288587
>>4288596
>>4288615
>>4288717
>>4288747
Get those boys some meat in their diet.

>>4288603
Hey I'm going to the Spout Market too.

Looks like they're going to hell, though, if things go your way. Writing.
>>
“…Sure. If it’s a favor to Maenesko and the UGZ.” Also a favor to the Ellowians, with Alpha Two approaching. “We could be in better shape, but we’ll probably never return to our former strength anyways. It’ll help cut the new Ellowian Platoons’ teeth…” Maenesko had never wronged you either, and was sympathetic to the Ellowians, and seemingly dismissive and disrespectful of the Netillian government as it stood. You wouldn’t have ever asked and compromised him, but you couldn’t help but wonder if he had made secret alliances to the insurgencies himself.

“Alright then,” Krause clapped his hands together and rubbed them, “Gonna rouse the troops, I take it? Most of the troops are in the UGZ, after all. The Netillian portion’s still making what rounds they can around the sector, but you have the Lowlanders in mind anyways.”

“…Yeah. I’ll get the details from Maenesko, as well. We won’t fight these deserters and mercenaries unprepared…”

“Alright then,” Krause tossed the rest of his cigarette away and beckoned, “I’ll guide you to the gate, then. Thanks for the chat.”

-----

Maenesko’s office was like it ever was, at first glance. At second glance, the paperwork stacks weren’t quite as high as they once were. Others were more neatly arranged. Some space must have cleared up on the desk, because new clutter that there couldn’t have been room for now appeared as new sights.

“Coordinator,” Maenesko said, level and monotone, “You’ve heard my request?”

“…I’m here to accept it…”

“Ah, good.” Maenesko thumbed a folder on top of a paper stack, examined it briefly, and handed it to you. “It would have been rather awkward if you refused. I had gone to the trouble of making sure you were well equipped with information, after all. In that folder there if a brief overview of matters. I’ll go over it with you, to ensure mutual understanding.”

The first section included a map. Rough- mostly woods, thick, with two angles too dense to reasonably approach with mechanized troops, and the other two lightly wooded. An old path strayed near.

“As you might be able to tell, they’ve made their current hideout in some woods. Deep enough to not easily be accessible, but also deep enough that they may not notice an attack coming until it is too late, should you strike with enough speed and force. Not enough, and they may dare to bring the battle to you.”

“…How many of them are there..?” Maenesko made a motion to turn pages, and you did-there it was.
>>
“Approximately one platoon of deserting Penal Soldiers, half of that of Sosaldtian mercenary infantry, as well as mechanized assets they took with them when they left. Said assets are a pair of model NfK-7t tanks, and a pair of model PA-E5 armored cars. I trust their capabilities are known to you?”

The PA-E5, yes. Such armored cars were a part of Edelschwert’s unit, armed with a short 3.7 cm cannon and a machine gun. The other…slipped your mind. “…The latter, yes, the former, no…”

“A rather ugly thing. The hull of a normal, beetle-like NfK-7,” Ah, you knew that one, also in Edelschwert’s group. “The hull is built up enough to place a turret on top, with the same armament. I’m a navy man, I can’t tell you the logic behind it other than it having a turret, but otherwise, you could say its general capabilities are similar in potential to its turretless ancestor- though with the flexibility of a turret.”

A question on the mind, but you flipped to the next page for the answer. “…So this penal platoon, approximately forty men, and twenty mercenaries on foot.” On the surface, if you brought all three Ellowian platoons, you’d have more than a three to one advantage. “You say here they’re all respectably experienced, though.”

“Penal troops tend to be, yes. They aren’t the best equipped, but they’re capable fighters. Same with the mercenaries. If you look on the other side- aerial photographs, taken of the compound. They haven’t fortified it much, and haven’t had access to mines, or the like. They’re certainly intending on moving, soon, at least. It isn’t known. However…there has been a pair of troublesome developments. The flight that took those photos, and found the base- the other craft in that mission was shot down by ground fire, forced to land near that hideout. We can assume that the crew has been captured if they survived.”

“…So they have hostages…”

“Not just those, either. A rural village north of here reported to the Representatives that, when the mercenaries passed by, on their way to join the deserters, they intimidated the families there into giving up their women under the age of thirty, above fourteen. They gained four more hostages that way.”

“…Damn. No choice but to use particular discretion, then…”
>>
“I’m sure all involved would appreciate it if you did that,” Maenesko said with dull sarcasm, “Though. You should have it reiterated to you, that these are Penal deserters. Desertion can place one in a Penal Legion, but most of these people have been charged for political crimes. Some of them have family and friends held in camps as collateral. Deserting from a Penal Soldier sentence has only one punishment, and that is death. They’re all aware of that, as well.”

“…No surrender, then…” you finished for Maenesko, and he nodded slowly.

“Mercenaries aren’t often the sort to fight to the death when cornered, but you can assume these deserters absolutely will. They can hope for nothing if they surrender and are taken prisoner again. Even if any were to surrender, you would do them no favors by handing them over to the higher command here to be processed. An unfortunate state of affairs, but it’s how it is and it’s the choice they’ve made here.” He idly knit his hands in front of his chin, “If you noticed from those photographs, they’re stockpiling things. They have a few trucks, crates. Most likely they’re taking goods with them to the Sprout Market as capital. No doubt the women they kidnapped are also part of that, while the Autogyro crew can be insurance against any attacking them. I’ll trust you to deal with this mess, though. At the very least, if you scatter them and naught else, they won’t be as great a threat.”

You flipped through the relevant papers another time. This wasn’t shaping up to be a walk in the park- at least, if you intended to do it perfectly.

>Prepare assets for the operation. Who are you taking along? Besides, presumably, every Ellowian Platoon, 4th-6th. Tanks, support, the like.
>Potentially request Edelschwert’s help?
>Ask Maenesko anything else?
>Other?

Your company assets are here- >>4277786 and here- >>4277103
Map is in progress. I won't ask for maneuver plans until the vote after this.
>>
>>4289172
>Prepare assets for the operation
All the tanks. We have just enough people to crew them all if we use the remains of the mercs (by the way I think we should give them a bonust regardless of who pays them. They have saved our asses on their own initiative, displaying courage and resoluteness in the process.
T-16 has its gun damaged but can still be used as a mobile MG bunker and for intimidation.
All munition caster teams. Take Anya's caster as well.
All the Ellowians + the 2nd Platoon
The best scouts from all the platoons.

>Ask Maenesko anything else?
What does he know about the Penals' armament? Do they have machineguns?

>Other?
I wonder whether we could contact the rebel mercs and buy them off.
>>
>>4289172
All the Ellowians (with MGs and casters, 4th with stormtrooper gear)
Krause,Richter, Metzeler in the X-20 X-51 X-52
All the combat cars we captured from the Twayrians
Mortar team
>Ask Maenesko anything else?
Any other AT equipment besides the vehicles?
>>
>>4289226
Honestly I think we have a good chance of negotiating with both. After all we're not Netillian and neither are the guys we're sending.
>>
>>4289369
>Mortar team
Oh yes, the precision weapon for freeing hostages.
>>
>>4289411
They can fire other rounds besides HE you know. Like smoke? Also they'll be good for dealing with any stragglers who try to break out of the wood
>>
>>4289172
>>Ask Maenesko anything else?
Does he know which Kommissar was paying the mercenaries originally? (not so much to ask the guy about it, more to know how he treated them and for reference)
So the deserters have family as collateral right? Meaning now that they've deserted they've doomed their families? If so then we aren't going to ever be able to negotiate with them.
Maybe when we talk to our Mercs about their bonus we can ask them what the going rate is for a merc of grey gunners this size and ways to talk with them.
>>
>>4289466
Depends though. If they're so desperate as to desert even with their families as collateral if we give them a way out they might be amenable.
>>
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Well this wasn't supposed to take this long to come out, but I sat down elsewhere, then cats sat down on me, and now it's next morning.
Anyways, the AO map, here. The terrain is a generalization- even what seems sparsely wooded won't have visibility on anything more than a hundred meters away or so. Thickly wooded areas are treacherous for vehicles to pass through.
The Autogyro unit marking is the crash site, not necessarily where the crew is.

To save on some time I'll address things that would be said in the files, or implied:

>>4289226
>What does he know about the Penals' armament? Do they have machineguns?
They would have light machine guns as required by Netillian squad structure. Nothing better than you have, though, and they certainly don't have the new model machine guns some of your units have. Besides that, they just have plain rifles.
If you had picked the Penals as your unit at the start of this arc you'd discover that their assault units make do with sawn off old hunting shotguns

>>4289369
>Any other AT equipment besides the vehicles?
None whatsoever, besides maybe improvised bundled charges made from grenades.

>>4289466
>Does he know which Kommissar was paying the mercenaries originally? (not so much to ask the guy about it, more to know how he treated them and for reference)
They were under Captain of State Security, Kommissar Vanberg. Funnily enough, this isn't the first time you've shot at this bunch, if you remember.

>So the deserters have family as collateral right? Meaning now that they've deserted they've doomed their families? If so then we aren't going to ever be able to negotiate with them.
While they don't necessarily all have such applied to them, and it isn't necessarily a case of "your family is executed" so much as "your family never leaves the camps except as penal workers", they probably understand the repercussions of their decisions, yes.
>>
>>4289740
It's certainly not much to base a plan on, so my proposal is simple:

>Assault and support groups sneak up to the camp from wherever the thick woods come the closest, led by our best infiltrators
>Assault group grabs the civvies
>Support group shoots the not civvies
>Use tear gas and smoke with abandon
>Prepare snipers to take out anyone trying to threaten a civvie
>Ambush squads are sitting on the other three sides of the camp to cut off enemy retreat
>The tanks with a bit of infantry support are in reserve to be used against enemy armor when it's located. No blindly advancing into the hundred meter visibility woods.
>>
>>4289740
Voting seems to be slow for this one. Just to check which side of the map are we deploying from?
>>
>>4290618
>Just to check which side of the map are we deploying from?

Any angle you want. This is behind your lines after all.
Voting being slow is fine. Usually today I don't get to do much writing because of ttrpg sessions, today's an odd one out because the dm isn't feeling good.
>>
>>4289740
>They were under Captain of State Security, Kommissar Vanberg.
Ooooh. No, no I don't think we're gonna be able to negotiate with them either after blowing up that flamethrower tank.

>>4289226
I mostly support this except for asking there was a particular reason for adding 2nd Platoon? The Nets have been pretty well devastated and might react poorly to get called up again when the Ellowians are untouched.

That and each tank costs 1 fuel right? I think we should get three full operable tanks and have 1 ration just in case for later.

>Plans?
Well, just going in there guns blazing will probably succeed but might get some civvies killed.
The only thing I could think of besides flood it with gas (which we should do during the main assault anyway) is try to lure some of them away from the compound by sending the 5th Platoon to "investigate" the crash site and pounce on them if they take the bait. Either way it should get their attention in one direction for a bit.
This plan all hinges on the Mercs assuming the Autogyros didn't see much and underestimate our response though.

5th as bait because they are least experienced and only have to hold their ground, 5th to rush support because they are at least trained soldiers and 4th with a tank to actually assault.
---
tanq, would Richter believe that the 3.7 cm cannon could pierce the T-16s armor? If not then maybe it would be worth bringing it for mobile cover.
>>
>>4291177
>tanq, would Richter believe that the 3.7 cm cannon could pierce the T-16s armor? If not then maybe it would be worth bringing it for mobile cover.

His experience with the T-16s is enough to know. As far as he's seen or heard, the T-16 is impervious to 3.7 cm fire from the front, at least from any normal armor piercing rounds.
>>
As for plans IMO we should hit them on all sides simultaneously. Send in the stormtroopers to grab the hostages while we pour gas into the area. Basically hit them with everything before they can get organized and man their tanks. Going to be pretty hard to fire back when you're affected by tear gas.
>>
>>4291177
>a particular reason for adding 2nd Platoon
They have assault gear and new MGs, and they are regular. I wouldn't send them in as an assault element, but I believe we need more regulars to support the tanks. There's no time to train the Ellowians in that.
>>
>>4291183
For the camp are the grey lines supposed to be trenches or is it like a palisade/wall?
>>
Well maneuver plans have been provided so I guess I can make up for stalling here by...well, at first I thought to stitch them together, but I'll just provide what's been presented in short form next.

>>4289226
All Ellowians Dragging Anya out of bed, all tanks. 2nd can come alone too. Every noob tube.
Whatever scouts you can grab, I suppose.

>>4291177
As above; no 2nd platoon or fourth tank.

>>4289369
Every single one of those lowland fucks. Three tanks- the combat cars, mortars. Notable exception of 2nd platoon.

I think smashing these all together would give All Ellowians, No Mortar, three tanks, as many munitions casters as possible. The concern here - >>4291270 with utilizing the armor and such will be noted. Equipment can be traded around if a unit isn't present at the scene.

As for what to do, to be finalized next, in hopefully shorter order-

>>4289811
Hit from one side, cut off from all others, dump all the gas and smoke in. Careful armor advance to support where needed.
>>4291177
Draw them out. Hit them hard, attack with most experienced element. Gas.
>>4291208
Attack from all sides- aggressive breach with the 4th with gear, presumably. Gas, gas, gas.

Good thing there isn't any foreign controversy to be had when you're using chemical weapons on deserters and mercenaries. Writing.

>>4292617
Very rough digging of foxholes, some improvised barricades. Not really anything significant enough to be called proper fortifications and more what they could assemble in a few hours and change.
>>
“…I’ll get to it right away,” you told Maenesko, folding the files back up and tucking the lot into your jacket, “Would the penal troops truly sacrifice those being held as collateral for their freedom, though..?”

Maenesko shok his head. “They may have one justification or another. Maybe they believe they’re being fooled, or tricked by the state. Maybe they’re trusting that they’ll escape, or have escaped, and are sick of being used. Perhaps they think that rebelling is more important now. The Defense Party, the Military Council, the Kommissariat, they are quite unpopular inventions, Coordinator.” The Sublieutenant put his chin on the back of his hands, “The people are able to forget and forgive to some degree when victory and profit blind them to what was before, but there are always those who keep the motivation they had before. Regardless of their grievances, however,” Maenesko lifted his head again, slightly, “They have made their choice. Now we make ours.”

You left Maenesko with what he had said on the mind. You’d gotten the indication that he was dissatisfied with Netilland’s current rulers, but worked under them nevertheless. Now you wondered- did he work against them, as well? He was in close contact with the representatives of the UGZ, who most certainly had contact with the NLF. With the Netillian garrison largely replaced by your own Ellowian troops, that had freed things up greatly, but how much was prompted by the lowly Sublieutenant, placed in charge of this place to get him out of anybody’s way? Maybe you could ask him, but such was an extremely dangerous question for either of you.

It was a little heartening at least to suspect that maybe you had more allies in more ways than you thought.

UGZ-09 was practically emptied of its garrison and equipment as you had 4th, 5th, and 6th platoons assemble outside whilst the other platoons gave over pieces of equipment. In the end, every platoon had a munitions caster team and the new model machine guns from the other platoons, 4th platoon was given an extra munitions caster as Anya’s was appropriated (it had better not be lost, you warned- she’d carved her initials into the stock, even) as well as the body armor of the Stormtrooper spec squad. They didn’t take the submachineguns, though. The Twaryians submachineguns were far better favored, even if they’d likely expend all the ammo they had for them in the course of the coming battle. Tear Gas shells for the munitions casters had also been stockpiled. Von Metzeler was found, roused, as well as Krause. The Netillian platoon lieutenants would take charge of the camp and UGZ perimeter whilst the others were away, and they certainly appeared thankful for, for once, not being involved in yet another battle.

-----
>>
When you had gone to the mercenaries to round out Von Metzeler’s crew, you’d asked the remaining Iron Hogs about something that had been on your mind, approaching them as they squatted in a circle around a low table playing what looked to be…some sort of tile game, with four walls and a center pile?

“…Excuse me,” you addressed the Iron Hogs, “I wanted to thank you again, for saving us. I wouldn’t have expected such from mercenaries…”

“Huh?” One of them looked up, bandages stuck on his face and neck, “Oh, yeah, sure. It’s why Hell Gitt’s Iron Hogs have their rep, y’know.”

“Hey, Vazci, that’s his nephew you’re talkin’ to, see?” Another, older one hissed.

“No shit?” the crewman looked back to you, “Never saw the guy in person myself, see.”

Back to the topic at hand, though. “…In honor of you and your leaders’ sacrifices, I want to give you all some compensation. I might not be the one handling the money, but I’ll certainly send a missive about that, if I can’t scrounge something up myself…”

“Poor Eakova, this was her first outing,” One of the crew sighed, “Still betting that fuckin Cockroach is just pretending like always. Last time I bet on him dying I lost a month’s pay when he stumbled back. If he doesn’t come back now he’ll really have fucked me.” Was it really appropriate to bet money on whether one of your comrades was dead? It seemed cavalier to you, but it was probably just how they coped with loss.

“Does the bonus have to be money?” the eldest one asked, a glint in his eye.

“…I suppose not…”

“Go and screw Anya silly, that’ll be good.” The eldest chortled, and you were terrifying unsure how much was in jest, “Half of us sticking out was because she was there, after all. Always have to look out for our own.”

“Stuff the puff!” another crewman shouted gleefully, “Stuff! The! Puff!”

A roll of your eyes. “…Monetary compensation only…”

“Just spread the word, really,” another crewman said, “That’s what helps us the best.” He drew a tile, and dealt another. A strange, foreign character was on it. “…Not just here for bonuses, right?”

“…Yes. I need two of you to round out a crew. We’re heading out on a mission…”

“Well, Hraes isn’t playing,” the eldest pointed to the one squatting behind him, who shrugged and stood up, “So what’s it gonna be? Next winner goes, or who’s lowest on points?”

“Winner,” one said, “Hurry up and deal, I have to leave quick.”

“Cocky shithead.” A tile placed down, then the cocky shithead knocked down his line of tiles. “Oh, go fuck yourself.”

“Count up the points for me while I’m gone,” the winner stood up to join you, “You all better pay up when I’m back.”

-----
>>
Everything had been prepared- the last steps before embarking were those done in the new command tent.

Lieutenant Wielzci of 4th Platoon was as hard edged as ever, but Representative Rumell appeared distinctly uncomfortable. He wasn’t an officer in the army, but an elected official of the volunteers that had assembled to produce 5th Platoon, which until now had but served in the capacity as a police force and watch for the UGZ. They had done drills, but 5th platoon had not one man who had ever fired a shot in anger. They’d have to learn, though, if the Ellowians’ desire to fight for their country was to be effectively utilized by the insurgency in the future. 6th Platoon under Lieutenant Rybak had a different air than 5th. The same uncertainty, but with the apprehension of adventure. 6th platoon had been provided by higher command, and was ostensibly lined up to join Wladysaw’s gendarmes after they received a trial by fire with your unit. They had the properly monarchist inclinations, you’d heard- or at least, they showed it well enough to fool anybody watching.

For the armor’s part, gaps in the Strossvalder crew were patched with mercenaries, and you placed Von Metzeler and Krause in the X-51 and X-52, while having you and your crew in the X-20. It was an ugly vehicle, but when it did have the chance to serve, it hadn’t failed to do well. It would mean that you would have to trust Von Metzeler and Krause to eliminate the actual enemy tanks, since the X-20’s rapid fire cannons were means for unarmored or very lightly armored targets.

All involved officers were gathered, with their NCOs, to attend the main briefing. A mock-up of the aerial photographs you’d been given was drawn on a large slate, which you pointed to with a stick as you laid out the situation….

>Attack from all sides as quickly and suddenly as possible. Evenly disperse your armor support, aim to keep up pressure while 4th platoon makes the primary assault. (State what angles of approach and whose tank is with who)
>Lay a trap. Count on the enemy being overconfident- draw them out with one platoon, and once they’ve been lured out of their camp, assault with 4th platoon and back up the bait with the rest of your forces. (Also keeping it to one of your tanks for each platoon)
>Keep the armor in reserve and make a more conservative attack- ensure everybody’s in position, cut off angles of retreat and deal with threats as they appear, 4th platoon making the assault after everybody’s in place.
>Other?

Of course, all plans involve copius amounts of smoke and gas. Your platoons are properly equipped to not be vulnerable to their own chemical weaponry.
Map is here, for quick re-reference->>4289740
>>
>>4294251
>Keep the armor in reserve and make a more conservative attack- ensure everybody’s in position, cut off angles of retreat and deal with threats as they appear, 4th platoon making the assault after everybody’s in place.
>>
>>4294251
>>Attack from all sides as quickly and suddenly as possible. Evenly disperse your armor support, aim to keep up pressure while 4th platoon makes the primary assault. (State what angles of approach and whose tank is with who)
Split 4th between northeast and east entrances, 5th takes the west, 6th the south. Krause and Rondo with 4th us with 5th.
>>
>>4294251
>Other
Attack from all sides but keep the armour in reserve.
>>
>>4294331
This.
>>
>>4294251
>>Lay a trap. Count on the enemy being overconfident- draw them out with one platoon, and once they’ve been lured out of their camp, assault with 4th platoon and back up the bait with the rest of your forces. (Also keeping it to one of your tanks for each platoon)
>>
>>4294251
>Lay a trap. Count on the enemy being overconfident- draw them out with one platoon, and once they’ve been lured out of their camp, assault with 4th platoon and back up the bait with the rest of your forces. (Also keeping it to one of your tanks for each platoon)
>>
>>4294251
>Lay a trap. Count on the enemy being overconfident- draw them out with one platoon, and once they’ve been lured out of their camp, assault with 4th platoon and back up the bait with the rest of your forces.
Keep the tanks hidden or they might not take the bait.
Attacking from all sides with inexperienced troops will lead to friendly fire for sure. And a conservative attack sounds too slow, not what we need when there are hostages to consider.
>>
>>4294251
Aslo I think Richter knows, but still, we have to provide our troops with identifying marks because the penals assumedly have the same uniform.
>>
>>4294296
Running down the road trying to lighten the load

>>4294274
Take it easy, take it easy

>>4294331
>>4294371
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

>>4294613
>>4294698
>>4294875
Don't even try to understand, Just find a place to make your stand.

Writing.

>>4294878
Funnily enough, while Penal Troops have the same uniform as Netillian Troops, Ellowian Combined Infantry have different uniforms to normal Netillians, and a broad grey identifying stripe on normally black helmets. It might have been troublesome with particular inclusion of Netillians a few of which I forgot to mention might be along with the inclusion of scouts but a few are easier than many.
>>
>>4294889
By the way, I think we should directly lead the 5th Platoon. They're in the biggest need of strong leadership.
>>
“…This is how we are going to approach the situation,” you said, after laying out the initial conditions- who you were fighting, their expected numbers and equipment, their activities, the presence of potential noncombatants, “It’s doubtful that this bunch will do aught but fight us from behind fortifications and stay on the defensive, or try and flee, unless they can win the fight. That’s why we need the initial platoon to act as bait. Our armor will be holding back initially, to try and draw them in- they won’t try and initiate a fight if they see how much we truly have.” You pointed to the northeast part of the map, a section of thick woods, too thick for panzers to properly maneuver or even traverse safely. 5th and 6th would be coming from the south and west, roughly. “Once they come out in force, 4th platoon, with the support of my tank, will storm the base. We’ll secure the hostages…and afterwards, clean up what’s left. If the armor comes for you, the tanks will advance to deal with them…”

Representative Rumell had tightened into himself and scratched his wrists- he very much had the demeanor of somebody blindsided by actually having to do something, and not something they expected. “You want us to play as bait to tanks?” He coughed out in a nervous sputter.

“…Yes…” you said patiently, “The terrain isn’t good for tanks without infantry support. Visibility is poor. So long as you keep in cover, they won’t be able to engage you effectively, at least, not before my own tanks come to reinforce you, as well as 6th platoon…”

“Why the cowering attitude?” Rybak spat accusatorily at Rumell, “What are they to us? Don’t you trust the rest of us?”

“If you’re so eager,” Rumell said back defensively, “Then why don’t you volunteer to be tank bait?”

Rybak blanched some at that, but bit it down. “Fine! Coordinator, I volunteer that 6th platoon takes the position planned for 5th, this operation.”

You fought back the temptation to sigh. It didn’t actually matter who was the “bait,” just that somebody was. If he wanted to volunteer… “…Then you may. Sure. Are there any other objections? Questions..?”

Wielzci just spoke his mind, rather than raising his hand or anything. “The enemy has armor superiority. Are you sure you don’t want to bring all the tanks?”

“…The one remaining required repairs to its armament,” you said, “I do not want to spend fuel reserves on a vehicle that cannot fight properly. In this close terrain, munitions casters should be very effective against the armor, besides…the tear gas is able to get into the air systems of the tanks, and potentially incapacitate the crew, not to mention the effects of explosive shells upon the light armored cars…”
>>
“I noticed also,” Wielzci continued, “That you’ve graced us with the presence of a few Netillians from the patrols?”

“…Right, yes,” you forgot about them, and appreciated the reminder, “The people from the UGZ and from urban Ellowie might not have the knowledge of forested terrain that the Netillians in the unit do. I thought they would appreciate the help…”

Wielzci nodded, leaned over towards Rumell, “That’s why, Representative.”

“Hmph.” Rumell withdrew into himself more and shifted uncomfortably, “Don’t trust ‘em.”

“…Well, don’t shoot them, they’re there to help you. Tie white bandages around their arms so you can tell them apart, or something…” Another look about, for more questions. None. “Alright. Have your men ready in twenty minutes. We leave at the turn of the hour…”

-----

“Back in the saddle, commander?” Stein asked as you assumed your place at the commander’s seat, “Good to have you back.”

“Thaetye’d leevas,” Jorgen added half-coherently, “Waed’ve to geddesed te gerlstenk.”

“…Sure,” you agreed to…something, as you hooked yourself into the tank intercom. “Hans, get us on platoon net…Von Metzeler and Krause are going to be our links to the other platoons.” The best communication technology platoons had were field telephones at best, and you weren’t bringing them this time. They’d be communicating with designated runners. Coordination would be a combination of them and the radio network that linked your tanks. “Tell Krause to tell Wielzci lead us off. The tanks will be in the rear. We’ll split when we’re a klick and a half away if there’s no signs of patrols past that…”

“Roger that, boss,” Hans’s voice came back over the intercom, “Hey, I think Mal has a little bit left of that stuff from last night. Want to hit that? You were a bucket of fun while on that shit.”

“…I’m not touching whatever that was ever again,” you declared in a stubborn scowl, “Get that command out. We’ll have plenty of time to chatter on the road…”

Talk veered into drugging you without your knowledge, and speculation on the rash of abductions of red headed women, before you thought better of unguided chatter. There was plenty on your mind, and eventually you set down your headset and listened to the wind outside the tank, leaning over the edge of the cupola. What did you have to clear up before tomorrow? You’d win- you had to, even if it meant calling in an invaluable, irreplaceable favor, and in a way making, say a final letter to your fiancée, felt like admitting defeat.
>>
You hadn’t received one letter from Maddalyn, though you doubted that this was for any reason but that the Intelligence Office blocked any contact into their operations. What a relief it would be to be loose of their grip for just a little while, to join with the Silver Lances. Though, that was yet more time away, and time you’d potentially be separated from your comrades. Would Von Metzeler be too wounded to be allowed? Had he been extended the same offer by the Major, and refused? What about Krause? What about Anya, who had told you that as long as she deemed you needing of protection, she refused to leave your side? She could get better before Alpha Two, you supposed, and it was your right as a noble to bring your retinue wherever you went, but…

Maddalyn hated Anya. Would she tolerate her continued presence near you? She certainly wouldn’t tolerate the baseless rumors. Maybe it was for the best that Anya would wander off after you weren’t in danger anymore- when you were out of any situation you wanted to keep Maddalyn far away from.

Maybe after Alpha Two the Intelligence Office would give you a nice, long break. You could visit Von Metzeler, meet his fiancée that he’d picked up, Krause as well. Do your best to get the first of what you intended to be many new members of your family out of Maddalyn. Try to help your parents put Hilda on her feet. Maybe she could continue to inhabit the house and stay in your room. It would put a bad taste in your mouth to let her go off into the world on her own, and also a single mother.

Should a dead man be making such elaborate plans for the future?

Well, you weren’t dead yet.

-----
>>
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“We’re at the breakoff point, boss,” Hans said to you over the headset, placed back on again when you entered the forests some ways back. “The old spring, or whatever it was.”

“…Alright. Driver, keep us going north…”

The woods began to properly thicken, and the pace slowed even though the ground was mercifully even. A section of the infantry was eventually tasked with finding a path ahead of time so you could keep pace with the march, and the other tanks reported a slow in pace as well.

Finally, a patch of forest where the infantry reported to you that you wouldn’t be able to follow. A decent landmark. You were at the planned position. The tank was turned towards the southwest, and you waited. The X series tanks were very quiet, but not so quiet that they weren’t still tanks. You hoped you were far away enough that no patrols, or the camp, might hear.

A report from Krause. Apparently, 6th platoon’s Netillian help had spotted the wreck of the crashed Autogyro. They hadn’t strayed close, but had observed that footprints led to and from it. So far, so good. You were in position, and lucky enough not to have any patrols stumble into you. If any patrols were being kept up. Though you couldn’t help but wonder about how quiet the woods were. Penal troops weren’t the best disciplined troops, you’d heard, to say nothing of rowdy Sosaldtian mercenaries. An ear had been asked to be kept out for vehicle audio, and none was reported so far. Were the vehicles off? Or were they not present at all?

Regardless, the next stage of the plan was to begin. 6th platoon’s vital luring of the enemy. They were to…

>Make a ruckus of searching the crash site. Somebody would come around and investigate with enough noise.
>Bumble forward until they met opposition, then retreat. They’d pretend to be caught unawares- and unprepared.
>Provoke a response by sending limited teams up to take potshots at the enemy base. In initiating the lure, they’d make themselves appear weaker than they were to draw more out.
>Other? (Including any preparatory movements)
>>
>>4295006
>Make a ruckus of searching the crash site. Somebody would come around and investigate with enough noise.
I'm afraid that green troops would bungle the retreat.
>>
>>4295006
>Provoke a response by sending limited teams up to take potshots at the enemy base. In initiating the lure, they’d make themselves appear weaker than they were to draw more out.
I think if we went with the ruckus option, they'd send out a scout rather than the tanks. We need them to send out the heavy stuff first if we want to ambush it.

Alternatively, we could blow up the auto gyro, that might get a heightened response as well
>>
>>4295044
Our primary goal is to save the hostages, not to destroy the tanks. As soon as the hostages are safe, the rest should be trivial.
>>
>>4295046
Still, the more they send out to deal with the diversion the easier it will be to secure the hostages
>>
>>4295044
+1
>>
>>4295044
This, get 5th and 6th to find themselves good cover for the ambush
>>
>>4295044
This. If they can see if they can snipe any of their commanders. Losing their leader may make them more eager to rush out.
>>
>>4295106
Most people, when under sniper fire and without leadership, hide in any hole they can find and hope someone else deals with it. Unless they're crazy berserker fanatics, killing the leader will pin them in place.
>>
>>4295044
This works, do both since we want to make noise and it will work better to catch their attention as they don't seem to have any patrols wandering around.

I am worried that if they are keeping quiet then instead they are preparing to break out instead of stay and fight. Or their vehicles really aren't there and we are too late.
>>
Rolled 4, 7 = 11 (2d8)

>>4295020
>>4295039
Be loud and disorderly neighbors.

>>4295044
>>4295053
>>4295060
>>4295106
>>4295194
Send a few guys to shoot the place up and run back. Also blow up that plane thing too, why not.

Writing soon. Roll is for totally insignificant things. But each is a cardinal direction, north is 1, east is 3, south is 5, and so on.
>>
Rolled 92 (1d100)

The plan of operation was one that guaranteed a response. Waltzing straight up to the first thing that looked like the current enemy, and taking shots at them, with a small portion of the platoon, no more than a squad. Either there’d be a violent response, or they’d be pushed out of their base by a foe that they outnumbered potentially five to one. At best, the resultant retreat of the weaker side would draw a confident enemy out. Were they supposed to let a scouting force report back with information about their position? Of course not. The worst they could do was remain where they were, sensing a trap, but that felt unlikely. This lot lacked the discipline, in general.

There was also the extra step of setting alight, if not blowing up, the Autogyro wreck. There hadn’t been an explicit order for such- apparently Netilland didn’t consider the designs for such to be something kept particularly secret, or perhaps its recapture was anticipated, but it was a step you’d have taken regardless.

“…Turn the engine off…” you said over the intercom. It wasn’t like you’d be doing maneuvering soon, and even a quiet tank engine was one still potentially to be heard by patrols. Best to keep as quiet as possible- to possibly hear any enemy before they heard you, even.

Waiting. Watching 5th platoon gradually leave your sight, to take up a position on line with 6th platoon. Then, cracks to the north. Immediate pops and cracks in response. 6th Platoon’s lure, getting on with their provocation. Ideally they’d have picked targets well, but with the combination of the enemy here being a band of deserters that weren’t necessarily distinctively marked and Sosaldtian mercenaries, who saw adhering to uniformity as an offense against their character, as well as 6th platoon being more or less raw recruits who would have difficulty with particular marksmanship, you’d be thankful if they just did their job.

…My, that was a lot of fire coming back their way. Enough that despite being a few hundred meters away, you were getting nervous. Itchy. Short of breath. Maybe you should have accepted some cigarettes from Krause after all. For now, you kept it together, but when it came time for you to advance…

6th Platoon’s advance party had certainly succeeded in stirring the hornet’s nest, but from your position back in the forest, you were blind to the situation as far as frontline developments went. Surely a runner would come if the 5th ahead encountered trouble.

POHM. K-POHM, POHM. There went the Autogyro, from the sound of it, though it didn’t sound exceptionally outstanding from the current skirmish brewing up. The smoke was certainly visible, however.

>Rolling for 6th's forward section's fortune. Every degree of ten above 30, they take a hit as they get the enemy back towards them.
>>
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The fight’s intensity steadily grew, but you weren’t sure how, as you unconsciously huddled lower in the turret. Was the enemy reaching fifth platoon? It didn’t sound like there was as much fire as there should have been.

As if to respond to your thoughts, a runner came breathlessly sprinting from the front. “Uh!” he panted as he came up to the front of the tank, “There’s trouble!”

“…Trouble..?” you craned your neck out of the cupola.

“We didn’t get word from the other platoon they were heading forward. We thought we were waiting! Now their people are between us and the enemy that came up! It’s the penal troops, coordinator!”

A pause, then on the platoon net, you inquired, “…Krause, did your people tell you they were heading forward..?”

“They went forward?” Krause snapped back, surprised, “Damn them, that’s the opposite of what I told them to do.”

That answered that. 4th platoon would be heading forward towards the base as soon as this level of battle was to break out- you had to hold this enemy here now. That said, Rumell was clearly not acting on his own initiative, waiting to be told exactly what to do by somebody higher up the moment something required him to go forward rather than hold back and wait for it. Were you able to, you’d go out and take command yourself, but…you couldn’t. The thought terrified you. What if you were shot again? Here in the tank, you were safe. Secure. Well protected and armed, surrounded by your crew. Out there, you were naught, weren’t you?

>Tell the runner to tell 5th platoon to step up and fight. You’d be hanging back until you were sure the enemy was sending their vehicles.
>Take your tank and Krause’s into the fight, or at least, into positions to try and support it. They needed the backing at a time like this.
>Get out and try and take the lead yourself. The tanks could only be brought out at the right moment and you needed to make sure people were moving. (Will require a resolve roll)
>Other?
>>
>>4296373
>>Tell the runner to tell 5th platoon to step up and fight. You’d be hanging back until you were sure the enemy was sending their vehicles.
>>
>>4296373
>Get out and try and take the lead yourself. The tanks could only be brought out at the right moment and you needed to make sure people were moving. (Will require a resolve roll)
Just telling the 5th to step up will never work. They're undertrained, have poor leadership, and didn't sign up for this.
>>
>>4296373
Get out and try and take the lead yourself. The tanks could only be brought out at the right moment and you needed to make sure people were moving. (Will require a resolve roll)
>>
>>4296373
>>Get out and try and take the lead yourself. The tanks could only be brought out at the right moment and you needed to make sure people were moving. (Will require a resolve roll)
>>
>>4296376
Get your acts together.

>>4296383
>>4296390
>>4296398
Get your act together.

Diving headlong into combat is different from diving in between your fiancee's thighs, despite it being a resolve roll. You've got 4 Valor, so you need to roll under a 40. Best of 3.

Give me those 3 sets of 1d100.
>>
Rolled 72 (1d100)

>>4296416
Critfail now
>>
Rolled 10 (1d100)

>>4296416
>>
>>4296423
Thank you anon!
>>
Rolled 74 (1d100)

>>4296416
couldnt hurt
>>
>10- Success

No, you wouldn’t be as naught. Struggle as you might to motivate yourself, this wouldn’t be the first time you got out of the tank to do what needed to be done. All you had to do was remember that.
“…Don’t go anywhere,” you muttered over the intercom to your crew, “I’ll be right back…”

Yes, just think about how you did it all before, as you tore off your headset, slung the submachinegun over your body, and clumsily clambered out the top of the turret. You slipped embarrassingly off and landed hard on your bad leg, but if you stopped for a moment you’d remember that you had no faith that you could do this. Just keep moving, just keep moving.

“Er, Coordinator?” the runner gulped as you half jogged, half limped by him.

“…Follow me, Judge above,” you coughed, “I’m going up there myself to get you lot forward, just tell everybody to follow my lead…”

Not a lead scrambling into a hole and cowering there at the first shot fired at you, hopefully.

Roughly a hundred and fifty meters was awfully far with a limp, even going as fast as you could, and though a few of 5th platoon was taking potshots up front, most had taken cover, dumbfounded, awaiting the results of a plan that was not about to come about now.

“…M-move…” you sputtered as you marched up past, “Move!” Far more certain, “Follow me..!”

You really hoped that they’d stop staring at you as you hobbled and looped up beyond the lot, and actually do as you said, otherwise your blatant disregard for your mind and body’s attempts to pull you into the dirt would prove to be the last stupid decision you’d ever make.

Up ahead, despite more fire being traded with the rest of 6th platoon now, you spotted the now frightened and huddling forward section, pinned down by what sparse fire was being sent their way. How could they? When you were coming up front now? There was no way the terror in their hearts matched yours, every step feeling like it was in wet sand, every report of a gun like a slap to the head, dizziness near overwhelming as you stumbled forward on naught but inertia. That your cheeks felt wet and cold was but one of many indications that your spirit was in a state of denial as you forced it forth.
>>
Doing nothing but trudging forward and hoping, blinking the blurriness from your eyes, wasn’t good. Not good at all. You must have seemed resigned, suicidal. Let that…not be what you inspired, you thought as you leveled the submachinegun, made damn sure that the safety was off, and held the trigger down.

“Waaauughh!” you shouted incoherently as the gun jumped about in your gloves, emptying itself out and trailing steam along the length of the barrel far faster than you thought it would before ducking back behind a tree and pawing about the harness on your chest for the spare magazine case. “Fffff-ffight!”you lashed in a hoarse voice at the cowards standing about you, drawing your sidearm, Signy’s automatic, from your hip and firing it at the blurred shapes in the distance. They were but demons, demons, you thought as the pistol too went dry, and you were forced to reveal to all watching your incompetence as you would struggle to reload the submachinegun…

Only, eyes weren’t on you anymore.

5th Platoon’s wayward fighters had finally come up from behind, and in what must have been imitation of you, were letting loose with all they had. The cacophony from forward and backward was deafening, but no matter how your knees trembled, you refused to show this rabble that the last Von Tracht was a weakling. A munitions caster made its familiar BCHOOMP sound to your side, and you scrambled to put on your gas mask as the possibility of tear gas floating by became a certainty.

>The battle is on! Roll 3 sets of 1d100. First is for 6th platoon’s first battle phase, second two are for 6th and 5th respectively. Their combat skill, from all bonus sources, is 45, versus 50 from the penal platoon. The Penals’ damage will be reduced from fighting on two sides. In the meantime, 4th platoon will be advancing.
>>
Rolled 60 (1d100)

>>4296501
May the spirit of Waaaaagh help us because the 5th shoots worse than Orks
>>
Rolled 38 (1d100)

>>4296501
>>
Rolled 52 (1d100)

>>4296501
>>
Rolled 22 (1d100)

>>4296501
Munitions casters are absolutely based
>>
Rolled 98, 3, 43 = 144 (3d100)

Update won't be for a few hours or so, but getting opposition and resolution rolls this couple of rounds out.

Enemy rolls reduced by 10 for the second due to influence of tear gas without proper protection.
>>
Rolled 8, 5, 2 = 15 (3d8)

>>4296812
105-148- four degrees loss
83-43- three degrees success
97-83- one degree success

Casualties inflicted by enemy in second round firing is reduced by half for each, rounded down.
>>
>>4296818
Good bye 6th Platoon
>>
>>4296818
Hey tanq isn't the 2nd result exactly 4 degrees of success?
>>
>>4296972
Yeah, sorry. I adjusted for gas after and forgot to change the result.
>>
>>4296889
We basically traded even this round
12-4
1-9
1-3
Sure 6th is battered but they're not out of it yet.
>>
Here now, far more than a few hours later, update soon.
>>
>>4297415
>soon
>>
>>4297415
>soon
>>
>>4297415
>soon
>>
There was no way to tell what was happening for certain. When you finally put the second magazine in the submachinegun, whose name you’d long forgotten, it was dumped out at the unseen but plenty heard foe near as quickly as last time, leaving you with but one stick of bullets to defend your life with. Every moment you spend stood up against that tree was like you were slowly being hung from it, and even the bravado you had earlier was fading quickly. Without anywhere to march, it was all you could do to stand as the fighting continued.

Still, the line held, even though it wasn’t possible to tell for sure. The fear of the Netillians charging up and overwhelming the lot of you never came, even if the shooting made your mind scream at you that they were just a few steps in front and reaching for your throat.

“Eahboss!” you heard a gravelly northern voice call to you in the storm, and from the back you spotted your loader, smoothly creeping through the thick underbrush, the chaos that would have stuck any tank fast, navigated like placid water. “Gaet bakhaer!” He reached out with a wrenching grasp on your arm, and caring not for how stuck fast you were to your cover, pulled you on back.

“…St-stop, stop,” you objected with a stammer, “I need to-to be at the front..!”

“Weh naed yeaou inthea tehnk!” Jorgen countered sharply, pointing off to…the east? “Aermehrcaers, two ehnetsweh!”

Oh. You were needed back. You started to hobble back after Jorgen, but he had grown weary already that you hadn’t been moving already. Disregarding the cracking of bullets to the left and right, he hauled you over his back and carried you bodily to the rear, no mind paid to anything else on the way back besides returning, not even when a young tree’s branches slapped you across the face and knocked off your hat. At least it didn’t knock off your eyepatch, as you reached above your cheek in alarm.
>>
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The Fear didn’t allow you to feel indignity from being carried by a stouter man back to the ugly shape of the X-20. No thanks was given or requested, you just tumbled back in one after the other. It was closer than it had been, and the engine was rumbling. With the din of battle you couldn’t blame your crew for feeling it prudent to move the thing up as best they could through the woods while Jorgen was fetching you.

“You know, when you ran off like that without letting anybody get a word in,” Stein said critically as you assumed your seat again, “I thought you’d come back in a coffin.” A moment as an unheard intercom joke made Stein roll his eyes. “Shut up, Hans.”

That was your cue to hook back in. “…What’d I…what’d I miss…” you asked, breathless despite having not run the way back.

“Tanks are moving forward. The 4th is right up at the edge of the place, but they haven’t picked a fight yet, Stache said to haul everybody forward.” Jorgen made a barely coherent report. “Alright, northman, I’ll report that too. What’re we doin’, boss?”

>You still didn’t know where those tanks were. You didn’t want to engage without getting the first strike on those- approach, but hold back from engaging.
>Go full tilt in. Those armored cars wouldn’t be able to hurt the X-20 badly, and it would turn the tide of what had been a draw when you left, as well as potentially drawing away enemies from the 4th.
>Make a wide maneuver around. Two platoons could handle a pair of armored cars for a little bit. The concentrated might would be more helpful helping the 4th.
>Other?

>>4297590
>>4297799
>>4297812
I plead the fifth. My usb drives stopped responding so I sat down to read while my computer restarted, and I fell asleep.
>>
>>4297840
>Go full tilt in. Those armored cars wouldn’t be able to hurt the X-20 badly, and it would turn the tide of what had been a draw when you left, as well as potentially drawing away enemies from the 4th.
>Get Krause to cover us
I very much doubt that 6th and 5th can hold against tanks.
>>
>>4297840
>Go full tilt in. Those armored cars wouldn’t be able to hurt the X-20 badly, and it would turn the tide of what had been a draw when you left, as well as potentially drawing away enemies from the 4th.
>>
>>4297840
>>Go full tilt in. Those armored cars wouldn’t be able to hurt the X-20 badly, and it would turn the tide of what had been a draw when you left, as well as potentially drawing away enemies from the 4th.
>>
>>4297840
>Go full tilt in. Those armored cars wouldn’t be able to hurt the X-20 badly, and it would turn the tide of what had been a draw when you left, as well as potentially drawing away enemies from the 4th.
Get Krause to advance with us
>>
>>4297840
>Go full tilt in. Those armored cars wouldn’t be able to hurt the X-20 badly, and it would turn the tide of what had been a draw when you left, as well as potentially drawing away enemies from the 4th.
>>
>>4297840
>Go full tilt in. Those armored cars wouldn’t be able to hurt the X-20 badly, and it would turn the tide of what had been a draw when you left, as well as potentially drawing away enemies from the 4th
>>
>>4297847
>>4297870
>>4297941
>>4297947
>>4298004
>>4298204
Jam yourself in. Also the other tank on your side.

Writing.
>>
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“…” You choked on your words for a moment, but got out your intent just fine. “Take us forward…support out platoons in those woods, north…”

A string of babble. “Mal says it’s gonna be real hard to get back out of those woods once we get in, and we aren’t going to get too far even if we don’t get stuck. You sure?”

“…Do it. And tell Krause to bring his tank as far forward as he can, too. I’ll try and help navigate from up here…”

Once you hit the thick part of the woods, it was clear the tank was struggling, but it was the only way you’d get close enough for you to provide effective fire support in this terrain. As soon as you found a small section of 5th platoon fore of you, that was deemed far enough. A tank could flatten the underbrush to some degree, but you had very nearly gotten stuck because of a bush entangling itself in the running gear that still wasn’t out, so you had to take what you could get.

“Update from Five Fingers,” Hans told you as the tank was making its way forward, “4th Platoon’s ready to get in. They’ll move as soon as the tanks on the north of the base come around south.”

So that was where they were. “…Affirmative. Stein, can you see any targets..?”

“It’s real, real hard, commander,” Stein complained, “I’ll need a lot of help. Even on no magnification it’s hard to get anything but trees. If you can guide me on to anything…”

A ping as a stray bullet clanged off the turret, and you sank back into the cupola like a tortoise into its shell in disproportionate alarm. “…I’ll try…”

“Tanks’re moving south,” Hans reported next. “Five Fingers ain’t in position to take ‘em on, he’s coming as fast as he can.”

That meant 4th platoon was about ready to storm the base, and potentially then take the enemy from behind. It would be a rout- if your people held out for it. There was the troublesome fact that the PAE-5s were just well armored enough to resist the explosive-incendiary rounds of your machine, designed to rip apart unarmored aircraft. Even the splinters from armor piercing rounds could do damage to infantry, you supposed, but to hurt the armored cars you’d need to keep a special eye out for them and only them. It’d be a case of prioritizing which was a greater threat.

>Prioritize trying to find and eliminate the armored cars. The troops could stand on equal footing with their opposing infantry, but who could say how well you could find them.
>Load high explosive incendiary and focus on crushing the Penal troops. Krause could handle any armor…hopefully. His visibility was just as poor as yours.
>Take a risk and advance forward further to engage a certain target. (Which? Will guarantee effective fire on target, but also guarantees getting stuck in the terrain)
>Other?
>>
>>4298389
>>Load high explosive incendiary and focus on crushing the Penal troops. Krause could handle any armor…hopefully. His visibility was just as poor as yours.
If we can't see them it also means they can't see us. Also if we take out their infantry that means it frees our guys to do the scouting.
>>
>>4298389
>Load high explosive incendiary and focus on crushing the Penal troops. Krause could handle any armor…hopefully. His visibility was just as poor as yours.
>>
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>>4298389
>>Load high explosive incendiary and focus on crushing the Penal troops. Krause could handle any armor…hopefully. His visibility was just as poor as yours.
Rip up that tree line
>>
>>4298403
>>4298444
>>4298486
Light them up like they're in the sky- they'll be up there soon anyways.

Give me 4 rolls of 1d100. First two for your own and Krause. Latter two for 5th and 6th platoon combat. You and Krause have a DC of 70 and 40 rolling under, aiming at different sorts of targets with different weapons, and all. Combat skill and roll stuff remains the same for the infantry.
>>
Rolled 27 (1d100)

>>4298520
>>
Rolled 63 (1d100)

>>4298520
>>
Rolled 62 (1d100)

>>4298520
>>
Rolled 50 (1d100)

>>4298520
>>
Rolled 31, 88, 77 = 196 (3d100)

>>4298545
>>4298549
Succfail

>>4298550
>>4298561
As for these two, they're average.

First two are enemy platoons. Bonus of 10 to their 40 (initially reduced by gas) because of car. The third is a surprise from the other car, DC 25.
>>
>>4298622
Dice gods really seem to hate 6th
>>
Rolled 5, 7 = 12 (2d8)

>>4298622
108-81: 2 Degrees Success
107-138: 3 Degrees Loss

Rolling for 5th platoon, then 6th platoon damages.
X-20's firing means 5th platoon does double damage plus three for degrees of success on hit.

>>4298629
If they roll another 8, certainly.
>>
>>4298664
>7
you were saying?
>>
>>4298667
Not an eight!
>>
>>4298669
Additionally, when fighting two on one, their damage is halved, so it's not as bad as it may seem.
>>
>>4298682
True, forgot about that. As for damage is it split between the two platoons or still all of it onto the Penals?
>>
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“…There!” you shouted with a start to your gunner, noticing a concentration of penals through binoculars. Almost too lucky- and very unlucky for them. “To the…” you took control of the turret and turned it to the spotted target, “Ahead..!”

“Sighted!” Stein relayed, as he made adjustments, “Firing!”

RAKAKAKAKAPRACK. The twinned 2 cm guns hammered out a deafening cry, and you saw the woods around the target, already hazy from teargas, dissolve into further black and white smoke and clouds of snow kicked about by the many bursting shells. The sound of another pair of magazines of shells being loaded into each gun with a click, then a further denouncement by the cannons, this time with you remembering to cover your ears.

KR-KRANG! A loud metallic strike rang the turret like a bell, but there was no damage. It did send you back into the turret with a fright, though. One of the armored cars? At this range, were it one of the tanks, it surely would have struck through.

“Sorry, commander!” Krause’s voice came over the platoon net, “I can’t find either of those buggers through all this!”

No harm done yet, but if the tanks were on the way, you’d rather not be found by one of those. With a glance about, you still couldn’t find where the shot had come from.

“…Commander.” Von Metzeler’s voice, “The enemy have abandoned the defenses to go to the south. 4th platoon is storming the base, and I am approaching to aid…”

Less action than the veteran platoon should have been seeing maybe, but it did mean that the objectives of this operation would be in hand in short order.

“Coordinator!” a nervous voice from outside again, “The enemy…they’re pulling back, but there’s reinforcements, and the tanks are coming forward, the Representative wants to know what to do?”

>You had to hold here for 4th platoon to have the best advantage. Remain in place.
>Draw back. You’d be at a disadvantage staying if you remained.
>Have the infantry stay in place. The armor has to reposition. (How?)
>Other?
>>
>>4298919
>>You had to hold here for 4th platoon to have the best advantage. Remain in place.
>>
>>4298919
>You had to hold here for 4th platoon to have the best advantage. Remain in place.
Get von Metzeler to cut through the base and pincer them.
>>
>>4298919
>>Have the infantry stay in place. The armor has to reposition. (How?)
If we've been spotted by the cars then tanks won't have much more trouble, move the X-20 East so we don't get stuck on terrain to maybe strafe the Mercs infantry later.

If anything have the 5th hold until the 6th can fall back closer towards Krause and line up with 5th. I don't think the 6th can hold against tanks on it's own. Hopefully this way the enemy tanks will take longer to engage while also giving the 4th more time to reach us.
>>
>>4298948
I'll change to this, get a runner to 6th to tell them to link back up with 5th.
>>
>>4298948
+1
>>
>>4298942
Hold in place and get five fingers to stick all five in

>>4298948
>>4298963
>>4298964
Move back out, consolidate line.
Writing.
>>
Rolled 77 (1d100)

“…Stay in place, hold your ground,” you told the runner, “Go to 6th platoon next and have them get on line with you. Form a straight front…” That would make it much simpler for Krause to actually support them.

“Er, yes, Coordinator,” the militiaman turned soldier stammered, and went running on back.

“…Take us east,” you said over the intercom, “Our position here isn’t good, and I don’t want to get stuck in this if tanks are on their way…”

“Ayekommandehhrrr.” Malachi responded, and the tank began to edge its way back.

As you were maneuvered back out to go to the east, you received a message from Von Metzeler. “…The base has been stormed…” he relayed, “4th Platoon reports securing the hostages and the captured crew. They’re taking them back as we speak, while the rest of the unit continues. They haven’t encountered leadership- their prisoners were merely restrained, rather than guarded, when they were found…”

Excellent. “…You can collapse upon their rear soon..?”

“…I am already on my way…”

Little more had to be said. Save for some critical failure at the last moment, you would be golden here. Though the amount of stops and slows you had to take even in the sparser woods was frustrating. Were all the enemies accounted for, you thought suddenly- surely they’d return to the base when a threat like this was underway? Or would they flee?

>Enemy rolling- DC 60 roll under
>>
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Snap.

Somebody stepped on a very loud branch behind the tank while you were turning, near stopped, at one point, and you snapped around in alarm. You’d left 5th platoon behind, had one of them come up-

No. When you looked back, you saw a scruffy band of what were undoubtedly mercenaries, spread over the woods, with the clumsy one looking shamed indeed. They were led by…a woman? With long black hair, and a ruddy beret and black jacket with white trim.

“Hey, you!” As it turned out, yes. A woman. Pointing one of Netilland’s scrappy submachinegun models at you. “Don’t you move a muscle, or I’ll shoot you dead. We’ve got you.”

Bad humor, clearly. You were low in the turret, and could get down in no time at all. They did have you from behind, though. The concern was more if you could deal with them yourself, not if you could avoid being shot immediately.

>Duck in, make it a fight. You could buy time if you slung enough grenades while the turret turned.
>Feign surrender. You had to parley- you certainly had more to use in a negotiation than them.
>Who exactly did they think they were? Demand their surrender. They’d be treated leniently if they laid down their arms.
>Other?
>>
>>4299100
>>Duck in, make it a fight. You could buy time if you slung enough grenades while the turret turned.
Tell Malachi to drive forward simultaneously
>>
>>4299100
>Duck in, make it a fight. You could buy time if you slung enough grenades while the turret turned.
>>
>>4299100
>>Feign surrender. You had to parley- you certainly had more to use in a negotiation than them.
>>
>>4299107
Supporting, hopefully the sound the grenades will get some infantry running over.
If we try and parley her Mercs will get their shots lined up or start swarming up the tank.
>>
>>4299107
>>4299110
>>4299135
Freak out at having a gun pointed at you by a woman. Again.

>>4299123
So, uh, you come around here often?

Writing.
>>
There wasn’t any negotiation to be had here. Maybe if they had managed to creep up and stick the barrel of a gun into the nape of your neck, but from a good ten meters away? They could get stuffed, and even in your state you realized that. You slipped forward and let gravity do the work of putting you within the X-20’s protection.

“Shit!” An exclamation from outside that this wouldn’t be as easy as they thought.

“…Mal! Forward..!” you shot to your driver before fumbling dangerously with a grenade picked off the wall. The cord was yanked, and you tossed it out without care for where it landed as the tank surged forward. No matter where it burst, the most important thing to get was distance; at least enough that you couldn’t be crawled all over at a moment’s notice. Before you even heard the first grenade blow up, you were preparing a second, and tossed it inexpertly over. It would land just at the flank of the vehicle.

Could you peek, you thought as the tank foundered in a shallow pit for an agonizing moment. No, more grenades. Another was tossed out, but when you grabbed for another, Stein stopped your arm.

“Judge above, Commander, don’t run us out when I’m already turning round!”

“…Right, right…” you acquiesced as you now peeked over. You hadn’t even noticed the turret was turning…but you saw naught. No furious pursuers nor closing foes from the flanks. If that stray patrol had given chase, they were nowhere in sight. So long as you didn’t get hung up again, that wouldn’t happen. You were on guard, now.

The battle hadn’t ceased in your absence- though the rifle fire had reduced, it was not joined by what was clearly cannons. At this range, tanks would practically be knife fighting- your armor’s superior weapons were of little advantage. You had to hope that the two pronged attack would deal with the foe before bad luck would strike either of your commanders…

>Rolling for infantry to speed this along. Roll 2 sets of d100 for your tanks, DC 40. Infantry rolls are in this order- 4th, then 5th, then 6th. 4th has a combat skill of 65 to add to their roll rather than the other units' 45. Enemy rolls will be taken after the tank rolls.
>>
Rolled 67 (1d100)

>>4299183
>>
Rolled 30 (1d100)

>>4299183
>>
Rolled 30, 53, 3, 55, 61, 28 = 230 (6d100)

>>4299184
>>4299186
Naturally I forgot to re enter the rolls for the infantry. Also the order was Krause then Von Metzeler in a section that got wiped by backspace navigating back. Oh well, just rolling for them all, friendlies first then enemy, plus one for the unstruck tank. DC 35 roll under for that, while the enemies both have 50, Penals from getting car help.
>>
>>4299190
>these rolls
dice really hates us huh
>>
Rolled 6, 4, 3 = 13 (3d6)

>>4299190
It's a good thing that 4th doesn't get counterattacked with a garbage roll like that, huh.
Anyways,
75-105: three degrees of loss
98-111: one degree of loss
68-50 (basic combat skill for purposes of being whacked right in the back while engaged.): one degree of success, no enemy attacks back for 4th platoon.

Damage application a go. This round's potential is reduced because they're not close to each other no more.
>>
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“…Status report..?” You asked uncertainly over the platoon network.

“…The enemy is attempting to withdraw,” Von Metzeler reported, “I have knocked out one of their tanks, but the other managed to disable Frederick’s tank. He said he was bailing out, that its armament had been disabled by a blow to the turret rim, but neither he nor his crew are not mortally wounded. I know naught of the status of 5th and 4th platoons. Do we want to prosecute this battle further..?”

If Krause’s tank had been knocked out, that meant the south was without armor support, as you had left to try and find a soft spot. Yet, if you retrieved the prisoners, and the enemy was withdrawing, was it necessary that you pursued them? Surely you’d wrought terrible damage upon them. Was it necessary to completely annihilate them with their current status?

>Driving them off at this stage was plenty enough. The green units had been rather severely tested as is.
>If you let any escape, they’d reform and come after somebody else. Unacceptable. Continue the fight.
>The infantry could be let go. Their armor could not. Continue to engage the remaining tank!
>Other?
>>
>>4299202
>>Driving them off at this stage was plenty enough. The green units had been rather severely tested as is.
Well this is definitely a Pyrrhic victory if anything. Let them leave but send a message to the adjacent sectors just to let them know. Also loot everything they left behind, hopefully we can get something useful out of this.
>>
>>4299202
Out objective is not to take some spot in the middle of the woods, it's to destroy the deserters' ability to cause trouble
>The infantry could be let go. Their armor could not. Continue to engage the remaining tank!
>>
>>4299202
>>Other
>Let the armour go but run down their infantry
Honestly without their foot guys they're not going to be able to take more hostages that easily. We can get other units like Edelswchert's to deal with the vehicles.
>>
>>4299217
Supporting

Tanks without infantry are easily dealt with and hard to maintain anyway
>>
>>4299217
This
>>
>>4299202
>>The infantry could be let go. Their armor could not. Continue to engage the remaining tank!
>>
>>4299202
>If you let any escape, they’d reform and come after somebody else. Unacceptable. Continue the fight.
Eh, I'm seeing a lot of target one or the other. Just see which ones we can find.

They were heading for the Market, and for that they need plunder. Let's deny them that. Incidentally if we ever want to go there we did just 'acquire' some rather high quality silk underwear with no home. I gather it'd be worth at least 1 airplane or 3 tanks.
>>
>>4299202
>>The infantry could be let go. Their armor could not. Continue to engage the remaining tank!
>>
>>4299217
I'll switch to this. For those people wanting to target the tank with Krause out only Metzeler has a gun capable of taking on that TD and I'd rather not send him in alone.
>>
>>4299208
>>4299245
>>4299405
Highlander Highlander

>>4299388
Shoot them until they go away.

>>4299217
>>4299240
>>4299235
>>4299442
Shoot the soft targets more.

I don't quite understand this one's procedure but I suppose it's intentionally evading the remaining tank if it comes up and engaging the infantry?

Writing.
>>
>>4299724
They're trying to flee west right? I was thinking since the NfK-7 was at the front of their formation let it go on it's way while we focus on harassing the guys in the rear
>>
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The remaining tank was the biggest threat to you and Von Metzeler, but was it actually the most important target? A single tank, a pair of armored cars- they could do damage, but when not actively crewed they were harmless, they were restrained by fuel, and if they broke down, they were helpless. No, removing as much of their infantry as possible was the answer. It would be like knocking the foundation out from under a home and running water beneath it- it might stand in the moment, but for how much longer?

“…Prioritize engaging the remaining infantry. Their vehicles can leave, but they’ll have as few friends as possible after this…”

“…Affirmative. Out…”

With that decided, you certainly weren’t staying where you were. From the sound of things, the green platoons were keeping up the pressure- you simply had to add yourself to said pressure once more. As well as shield yourself with infantry again. Getting caught by that stray patrol again would simply not do- you barely got away unscathed the first time, you had the feeling. West-northwest again, you had the tank driven, until you were among 5th platoon once again.

Immediately, a runner came up, breathless as normal. “Coordinator, you’re back..!”

“…Have everybody go forward,” you relayed your will, “Avoid engaging the armored vehicles. Attack what remains of their infantry…”

As that proceeded and you searched for targets for Stein to engage, Von Metzeler’s voice crackled over the net again. “…4th platoon is having their engagement obstructed by interference from the armored cars…It appears the mercenaries are attempting to prioritize escorting their own…”

“…They’re hardly to be made exempt,” you said to that, “Destroy them…”

>Same verse as before. Give those 2d100 for the tank shots, DC 70 and 40 roll under

This really wasn't supposed to take nearly this long but other things got in the way
>>
Rolled 74, 24, 57 = 155 (3d100)

>>4299821
Infantry rolls, of course, how silly of me. Again.
4th, 5th, 6th. 45, 45, 65
>>
Rolled 79 (1d100)

>>4299821
>>
Rolled 98 (1d100)

>>4299821
>>
Rolled 48, 90 = 138 (2d100)

>>4299829
>>4299832
Don't worry, engaging infantry in heavy cover is difficult for myriad reasons.
Enemy infantry rolls. Tear gas has been lobbed on the mercs too- armored cars are helping them now. Merc first, then penals, 50 and 40.
>>
>>4299836
>>4299822 should be 65,45,45 no?
>>
Rolled 2, 4, 2 = 8 (3d6)

>>4299838
Yes.
Dameg.
139-40: Nine degrees of Success
69-88: One degree of failure
102-130: Two degrees of failure
Enemy is split up between firing, halving their damage. Conversely, 4th platoon is shooting at an enemy focused on retreat, so their damage is also halved, though they take naught in return.
>>
>>4299836
If you experience your tanks jobbing for more than four rounds, please consult a physician.
>>
>>4299836
>>4299843
Not gonna lie, our consistently shit rolls infantry wise is pretty frustrating considering there's only a 5 DC difference between our green guys and theirs.
>>
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“…Stein..?” you asked warily as you scanned the woods, just barely over the lip of the cupola, and heard plenty, but saw nothing.

“I don’t see anything, commander. Should I just…shoot and hope for the best?”

“…Fire at will…” The cannon belched, but you knew it was striking at precisely nothing. From the lack of cannon fire from the X-51, Von Metzeler wasn’t having much luck either. As soon as they thought they couldn’t win, these foes had made themselves that much harder to even strike at. Would they slip out of your grasp so easily? Preposterous.

There was no movement on the main line either. Trading of shots- no swinging one way or the other. Was fear giving way to frustration? Or was the irritation at your head being reduced to a state of swimming in fog for so long? You felt blind, and numb, and you didn’t know how much longer you could stand it. Who cared if these Penal Soldiers had accepted a fight to the death? Couldn’t they just surrender? Shoot themselves, if they thought that was futile?

“…Von Tracht…” Von Metzeler’s voice again. Good news, you hoped. It wasn’t. “The mercenaries are retreating northwest, 4th platoon reports- if we do not give chase, they may slip away in the cover of these woods…”

>So be it. You trapped the deserting penal soldiers. They’d be ground into dust easily enough. You had the base and the hostages, to hell with runaway sellswords.
>That would be unacceptable. You’d destroy the mercenaries too out of spit- 4th platoon and Von Metzeler had to chase them down.
>The Penal troops had to realize they were doomed, and had been abandoned. Maybe you could offer a ceasefire? Their clear alternative was death…
>Other?
>>
>>4299866
>>That would be unacceptable. You’d destroy the mercenaries too out of spite- 4th platoon and Von Metzeler had to chase them down.
>>
>>4299866
>That would be unacceptable. You’d destroy the mercenaries too out of spit- 4th platoon and Von Metzeler had to chase them down.
>>
>>4299866
>>So be it. You trapped the deserting penal soldiers. They’d be ground into dust easily enough. You had the base and the hostages, to hell with runaway sellswords.
>>
>>4299866
>So be it. You trapped the deserting penal soldiers. They’d be ground into dust easily enough. You had the base and the hostages, to hell with runaway sellswords.
>>
>>4299866
>So be it. You trapped the deserting penal soldiers. They’d be ground into dust easily enough. You had the base and the hostages, to hell with runaway sellswords.
>>
>>4299866
>>So be it. You trapped the deserting penal soldiers. They’d be ground into dust easily enough. You had the base and the hostages, to hell with runaway sellswords.

I don't think the Mercs will return and the Penals would rather die than go back.
>>
>>4299866
If we're letting the mercs go tell Metzeler and 4th to join up with us and make sure we've got the Penals completely surrounded.
>>
>>4299877
>>4299900
Man I hate Sosaldtians. Especially when I look at their uniform and don't know what to feel.

>>4299903
>>4299944
>>4299991
>>4299993
Penal torture ensues.

>>4299999
Coordinate not getting the 43 get.

Writing.
>>
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“…So be it…” you accepted this half victory. “Bring your own up to complete the envelopment. We’ll finish off the penal troops, the mercenaries won’t come back…”

“…Affirmative…”

The tank rumbled forward, and you scanned solemnly as before. With the cover of infantry and with the mercenaries abandoning their erstwhile allies, and half a company of troops, a pair of tanks, it wouldn’t last long. Not without the other armor. Though they wouldn’t surrender, and they’d already fought brutally.

It was sad, you thought for an instant, before a spray of bullets cracked over top and any shred of pity vanished. Whoever tried to kill you would die, then you could feel sorry for them.

-----

It took another twenty minutes of intermittent shooting, both the pops of rifles and the rattling of machine guns, and though the enemy resisted with all their might, they were worn down before their allies left, and they collapsed in short order- most of what remained after the back of the enemy was broken was individual holdouts, meticulously expunged from the forests. It was bloody work, you could tell- and you were thankful you didn’t have to do it, and more so when it was done.

6th Platoon had suffered terribly in the operation- they had taken twenty seven casualties, and there had been no hint of mercy as the Penal soldiers were cleared out by every Ellowian involved. Any hint of resistance, or even enemy presence, was drowned with bursts of small arms fire and munitions caster thumping. You could trust that they told the truth when runners came back to report that there was “nothing left.” 5th platoon had taken about half of the losses that 6th did, and 4th, the most veteran of the units, had taken no serious injuries or deaths whatsoever.

All gathered in two places- the new troops around Krause’s knocked out tank, being worked on by its evacuated occupants to be readied to move back to base. Krause and his turret crew had been moderately wounded, but checking on them revealed nothing life threatening, much to Von Metzeler’s relief, and yours, though Krause’s loader had taken a serious arm wound that would keep him out of action for the forseeable future of the operation. Though the X-52’s main armament had been rendered inoperable by the strike. The other gathering place was the base of the rogue band, where the abducted women and the Autogyro crew had been kept, as well as the ill-gotten goods that had been stolen in preparation for their journey. A fuel truck, three cargo trucks, one stuffed with goods of some sort. Supplies? Ammunition? For the disappointments this operation brought, the thought of loot quenched some of your weariness, both in the truck and around the base.
>x1 Fuel Truck, x3 Medium Trucks obtained
>>
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After the last shots had been fired and your senses cooled, you felt…different. The Fear’s grasp lacked its chill out of battle, to a new degree. Could you call it a hopeful development? Even if you felt the same, still lacked what you lost, maybe you could hope to be normal again…
>A Valor point has been gained from battle. With Five Valor, the Fear has become the Shadow, and it afflicts your out-of-battle senses significantly less.

“What is the status of the prisoners?” You asked Von Metzeler, after reviewing the initial aftermath. No prisoners, of course.

Von Metzeler gave you an odd stare. “…Your speech…”

“What about it?”

“…It is different…” Von Metzeler said, in lamentation, “I should offer my congratulations…”

It felt odd to be praised for not stuttering, stammering, and hanging on speech, but Von Metzeler must have seen hope- a sign of where he would be, not so distant a time from now. Improvement. Inspiration. “Thank you. But, what is the status of the prisoners? They were abducted, and they were young women, and all…”

“…The abducted villagers are healthy and hale. They claim they were left alone, besides uninvited touching…concerns about preservation of merchandise…”

Such had been a concern of yours when Maddalyn had been abducted. It was only that she was worth more money left alone that she hadn’t been savaged, you knew. An eye had still been cut from her as a punishment, but the Death Heads had refused more than such a comparatively decorative mutilation.

“And the Gyro crew?”

“…The pilot was seriously wounded in the crash, the observer, mildly. The pilot should be spirited to the hospital. I’ve arranged for his transport already, with the rest of our wounded…”

You hooked your hands in your pockets. “That’s good, then.” A moment. “This wasn’t a good first battle for the 5th or 6th.”

“…Perhaps not, but, greater trauma may be better to inoculate them against battle…”

Did the same apply to your conditions? You doubted it, though on the other hand, maybe the Fear treated all battle equally traumatically. Or was it a different motivation besides that? You didn’t know, and you set aside any further theorizing for later as you moved with Von Metzeler to examine what you’d captured from these people, what they might have hoped to bring with them to the Spout Market to start a new life with…

>Roll 3 sets of d100 to determine loot
>1-10: Contraband (Currency)
>11-30: Standard Infantry Equipment (Platoon-Netillian)
>31-50: Contraband (Drugs)
>51-65: Elite Infantry Equipment (Platoon-Netillian)
>66-80: Kommissariat Documents and Information (Sensitive Data Contraband)
>80-90: Tank Augmentation Equipment (Good for one “Use” to upgrade a tank)
>91-100: Contraband (Jewelry)
Also-
>You have one day remaining before you go out next morning for your duel. Do you have final preparations or things you want to do?
>>
Rolled 30 (1d100)

>>4300168
>>
Rolled 67 (1d100)

>>4300168
>>
>>4300168
>>You have one day remaining before you go out next morning for your duel. Do you have final preparations or things you want to do?
Do some shooting now that the Fear's gone down, see if we can aim better now
>>
>>4300167
Also tanq you have 5th and 6th's casualties mixed up
>>
>>4300177
I do, appreciated.
>>
Rolled 54 (1d100)

>>4300168
>>
>>4300170
>>4300172
>>4300181
Some very good loot from this battle at least. Not sure whether it'll be in the next post but take a look at those Kommissirat documents, see if there's anything interesting for us/the IO to know.
>>
>>4300168
>>You have one day remaining before you go out next morning for your duel. Do you have final preparations or things you want to do?

Last minute shooting, write those letters
>>
>>4300215
>write those letters
Be more specific, please!
>>
>>4300224
Hey tanq does Metzeler also gain Valor points in the background when he goes into combat even when we're not playing as him? What's his current count?
>>
>>4300226
>does Metzeler also gain Valor points in the background when he goes into combat even when we're not playing as him?
He does, yes.
>What's his current count?
He's only one behind Richter at 4.
>>
>>4300224
The one to Maddalyn and Hilda
>>
>>4300228
We already wrote those didn't we?
>>
>>4300168
>You have one day remaining before you go out next morning for your duel. Do you have final preparations or things you want to do?
Do some shooting, check on Anya, see if we can find where the hell Emma is with our intelligence, and check in on Anya's kids.
That should be more than enough to fill a day.
>>
>>4300168
>>4300293, and also conduct a proper debrief for the 5th and the 6th. It's essential for making proper soldiers out of them.
>>
>>4300168
>the Fear has become the Shadow, and it afflicts your out-of-battle senses significantly less.
Nice, at this rate hopefully we'll be back to normal by the time we're done fighting with the Silver Lances.
>Do you have final preparations or things you want to do?
Are we going to get a chance to talk to Emma before the duel? If not we should go find her now.
>>
>>4300293
Didn't the Ashes go along with the NLF? We should probably arrange a proper meeting again after the duel to coordinate stuff about Alpha Two.
>>
>>4300582
A ton of them did, but we had a whole arrangement where we gave the NLF guns so they wouldn't actively use the kids they have or try and recruit more.
There's still a handful of them that may or may not even still be there. We haven't check in a few days (in game time).
>>
>>4300170
>>4300172
>>4300181
Normal infantry equipment, top of the line stuff, and stuff the Kommissariat doesn't want most to know.

>>4300174
>>4300215
Give that trigger finger a workout, write words on paper even without a personal delivery service. Just in case.

>>4300342
Talk to your newbies

>>4300582
Talk to the Nerdy Ladies Fellowship

>>4300293
Go see Anya. Then go see you and Anya's kids. Wow, that escalated quickly. Are they adopted?

Writing.
>>
Most of what was found was arms, equipment, weapons. The first cases investigated were all basic weaponry like was standard issue for your platoon. The second was more interesting- weapons and equipment, yes, but a higher grade sort, the kind one normally saw supplied to more elite unites unless one got special delivery for them. The main difference, for one whom half of whose knowledge of the world fell out of his head one day like yourself, was that the basic equipment was made up of bolt-action 8mm rifles, typical for most armies. The better weapons were newer, shinier automatic rifles, imported submachineguns, and the new model machine guns many of your platoons had been reequipped with, as well as an entire platoon’s worth of body armor, enough even for large units like what made up 5th Battalion 1st company’s platoons. Any platoon would look incredibly intimidating with this amount of equipment…
>x1 Infantry Equipment Seized
>x1 Elite Infantry Equipment Seized- Free Upgrades of Self Loading Rifles and New Model Machine Guns, as well as a special upgrade to a completely body-armored platoon

The last thing found was more…esoteric. Puzzling, even. Was this taken by the Penal Troops, or the Mercenaries? It could have been either, but in a way, it explained further why these deserters had not been pursued. Kommissariat seals, neatly typed papers, scrawled notes in margins and in sections; it didn’t take a genius to realize that these papers were never meant to stray into the hands of people like yourself. Somebody had suffered great personal risk to get these- enough, maybe, that such was why they fled, condemning themselves, potentially their friends and family. Or maybe it was not so important, and was merely leverage against a local authority? In any case, you had to peruse it here.

Proposal for UGZ-07 Quarantine Establishment- Predicted Outbreak Containment and Treatment Procedure Plan 12 B1

Very plain at first glance. An entirely reasonable thing. What was so important that it had been swiped? Was it the methodology, maybe? Unlikely. The Penal Soldiers were allowed to abuse the UGZ denizens in enough ways that hardly anything could be shocking there. Even so, the plan seemed quite generous, secure, until you reached a section with a letter attached, with a Kommissariat seal, elaborate gold and green ink, meticulously detailed…

Will this really be enough?, it queried of the neat, sterile type, If N32 slips out from a contained environment into greater Ellowie, let alone into Netillian cities, the results could be catastrophic. Regardless of whether or not it becomes necessary to prepare for that precise pathogen, the most extreme measures ought to be explicitly prepared for, and not simply discussed as potential. We will certainly not be told immediately should N32 become a factor, after all.
>>
…Huh? You read it again. What in the world was N32? There was something disturbing being implied here, but there was more, more in these papers retrieved from a black briefcase in the back of a truck.

Proposal for Long Term Control of Ubergangszentrum: Plan 12 A2

A memorandum upon UGZ uprisings, and the inability of some units to contain outbreaks of rebellion. UGZ-07 was mentioned, but others were as well. Given the limitations of the Border Zone, increased garrisons were floated as an idea- militia as well, but such was also discarded. A proposal to use a low level illness in the water supplies was underlined, circled- some mild form of some flu or other unlikely to cause lasting harm, but enough to reduce the average level of health in a UGZ to a point where the populace lacked the energy and will to rise up. Immediately followed by a note, an addendum by somebody else, noting that biological warfare was explicitly banned between Ellowie and Netilland some twenty five years back.

A curious addendum further, by another person. Chemical weapons were also banned against military targets by the same treaty. Yet these were civilians in Netillian territory, were they not, and Tear Gas was used against rebellious citizens? Naught further.

…This, you realized slowly, was something that could be a colossal scandal. No names were named, but the seal was there, and it was near impossible to duplicate. No action had been decided upon, but did official decisions matter so much more than the implication that something might happen?

Yet, this might be dangerous to show. Dangerous to hold. Who knew about this, and how interested were they in keeping it secret? Did they know that this clutch of documents had been leaked? By who?

No others were apprised of the contents of the pages. They were simply placed back in the (rather empty otherwise) briefcase, and stored in the X-20. You’d think of something to do with it.
The wounded were given priority in the newly acquired truck transports, with everything else made ready to either carry or transport out later. The enemy dead were left where they lay- a work crew would be assigned soon to clean up the bodies and collect equipment that could be salvaged. For your part, you were glad to be out of those woods and back for the UGZ. The residents there would be greeting a rather chewed up force- you informed the leaders yourself there would be a debriefing in the evening. Before that, you’d have to run down the many more things you intended to do on this final “free” day.

-----
>>
Maenesko’s office was strode into with an air of tired confidence. You had, after all, won- in a sense of the word. Krause was presently delivering Anya’s clothes bag to her, and Von Metzeler had volunteered to arrange everything into its proper place as you reported to the UGZ’s supervisor. The blonde Netillian former naval officer raised an eyebrow as you came in.

“So. How did it go? Good news?”

“Yes, actually,” you said, leaning forward on the desk Maenesko sat at and resting your weight on it, “We occupied the base, rescued the hostages, and the autogyro crew. The mercenaries and most of their vehicles got away, but the Penal deserters were wiped out. All the ill-gotten gains that they left behind were repossessed.”

“Your speech,” Maenesko noted, “Are you over an illness?”

“Of sorts.” You said with little mind towards explaining even a mote further.

Maenesko frowned, still. “Not the most preferable outcome. I would have rather all threats be destroyed, as would the representatives, but this shall do. Reduced in number and driven off as they were, the remaining mercenaries will probably make their way west as fast as they can, unless they have a death wish. They’ll realize just to what degree they’re being hunted, or perish.” He laid his palms on the table with a sigh, “You have my thanks for the current resolution, however, ideal or no, and the representatives will be thankful as well. Since you took your 5th platoon- what they call their police force- out, I suppose I should inform you that the Council has agreed to provide further volunteers as replenishment for any casualties, free of obligations from you.”

“Mm. I understand.”

“Frankly, Coordinator, that about wraps up any concerns I had for this UGZ,” Maenesko said, dismantling a stack of files to his flank to look for one in particular, no longer having his eyes on you, “From here on, I hope to have time to…build, perhaps. Focus on comfort. Or maybe just stamping out any last scourges of dependency upon prostitution and black market trade. I won’t be asking for any help with that.” A final opening of a file. “I’m sure you have plenty to do.”

A nod, a salute. Then a turn out the door to follow the unsaid command to give Maenesko some peace and quiet.

-----

Next was visiting Anya.

She wouldn’t be much better, you presumed, but that she was in her current state at all was a blessing. She’d had broken bones, teeth knocked out and cracked. You were afraid she might die from how badly she was beaten, but there was something to that claimed indestructibility she took so much pride in.
>>
When you came in to see her, though, she had a morose look on her face. A mess kit had been laid at the foot of the bed. With Anya’s appetite, you would have expected it to have been licked clean, but she’d barely touched the generous helping of sausage and potato stew before setting it aside, leaning against the wall with a daze in her normally sharp green eyes, like she refused to lay down.

“Hey.” She said without meeting your eyes, “Heard you had fun last night.”

“I’m not sure I’d call it fun.”

“Drove around stealing shit with your guys, I’d say that ought to be tons of fun.” Anya blinked. “Hey, you don’t talk retarded anymore. As retarded, I mean.” You shrugged. “Well, that’s a relief,” the spunk in her tone was there, but the energy wasn’t in her voice. “I was afraid that you’d have to wring me out like a towel whenever I didn’t want to wait for you to stutter your way through a basic friggin’ good morning.”

“A relief for both of us,” you said roughly, “Are you feeling better? I had Krause get your clothes and uniforms from the old camp. They didn’t wreck the underground parts as bad, so they were still around.” No need for her to know about Gerovic’s particular larceny.

“Yeah. I noticed.” Anya glanced at a black kitbag, “’Course, I’m still too fucking…fucked up to put my uniform back on instead of this crap,” she looked down again at the long white shirt she had been dressed in by the hospital, “I want one of my real tops instead of this bedsheet. I want to have my boots back on. I swear, every moment I’m in this my body refuses to get back in the game. It just wants to sit around and do nothing, and wait for me to stick my thumb up my ass or my hand down my shorts. I hate this.” Her spite curdled further with every word, and she huddled into herself. “I try and pull things off or on and it hurts, I can’t do things I should be able to for no reason.” She seemed to forget that she had an arm in a sling, apparently. “Whatever. If I’m not up by tomorrow, and don’t need help to walk to the damn shitter, I’ll beat myself until I stand up instead of being some bedridden piece of useless shit.”

“Please don’t do that.”
>>
“I’m kidding,” Anya spat, “Judge Above, the only way I can blow off steam is by running my mouth, let me do that.”

“When aren’t you doing that?” you wondered aloud.

“Shaddup.” Anya threw her head to one side indignantly, “…Stache said you got back from something. He got a little hurt, but it didn’t look bad. You hiding any wounds yourself?”

“Thankfully, no.”

“Good.” Anya put one eye on you still. “…Are you hiding anything from me?” A glint of suspicion. From what? Was she told something? Or did she just have some feeling?

>Tell Anya you were going to duel for your life tomorrow. You’re sorry you didn’t tell her, but since there’s no chance of her leaving that bed in the next couple of days, you felt safe in letting her know.
>Admit that you stole her underwear. Again. (Probably not what she’s suspicious of)
>Nothing that she should want to know about. Or worry about. She should focus on getting better.
>Other?
>>
>>4301202
>>Tell Anya you were going to duel for your life tomorrow. You’re sorry you didn’t tell her, but since there’s no chance of her leaving that bed in the next couple of days, you felt safe in letting her know.

Importantly tell her we're not stupid enough to even consider fighting fairly for this; we're going to be rigging it in our favour as much as possible. Going across the border to grab Gerovic was probably just as risky anyway.

>Other stuff
Ask her about the Ashes.
Also those Kommissariat papers whew. If possible hand it over to the IO today as well, those are definitely things we don't want to be keeping around.
>>
>>4301212
Also give the Elite Equipment to 4th Platoon; the standard equipment can be given to the NLF/ERA later.
>>
>>4301202
>>Tell Anya you were going to duel for your life tomorrow. You’re sorry you didn’t tell her, but since there’s no chance of her leaving that bed in the next couple of days, you felt safe in letting her know.

Boy is she gonna be even more pissed at herself
>>
>>4301202
>Tell Anya you were going to duel for your life tomorrow. You’re sorry you didn’t tell her, but since there’s no chance of her leaving that bed in the next couple of days, you felt safe in letting her know.
Better now than never.

Also what bonus does the body armour upgrade give? Same as the Stormtrooper equipment?
>>
>>4301235
>Also what bonus does the body armour upgrade give? Same as the Stormtrooper equipment?

Better. Stormtrooper only gives it to one squad, after all.
>>
>>4301202
>Tell Anya you were going to duel for your life tomorrow. You’re sorry you didn’t tell her, but since there’s no chance of her leaving that bed in the next couple of days, you felt safe in letting her know.

When she inevitably becomes angry why we didn't say so, tell her that she should imagine someone as capable as Hilda targeting her friends and ask if she would have not agreed to a duel to prevent that.

>Komm Bommshell
You know who might be interested in those? The King. Now this of course only if we actually wanted him to help with Alpha Two, then showing these to him would be a fantastic way to prove that Ellowie will suffer greatly if he stays under the Netillians.

Whether or not we want him on our team, or if he would even be worth the trouble, or if the Ellowian Republic would even accept him post-war, or if we believe he's secretly ruthless enough to accept these casualties for power are important questions to decide first.

But I think we should consider all our opportunities, even giving it to the NLF so they smear Netilland internationally is another alternative.
>>
>>4301283
The King would be an interesting option if it weren't for the fact that most Ellowians hate his guts as seen by 4th Platoon. IMO if Alpha Two succeeds its back to exile for him unless the Republicans manage to get their hands on him.

As for the NLF and smearing Netilland internationally frankly the Archduchy can do that to a much greater extent that they can.
>>
>>4301202
>>Nothing that she should want to know about. Or worry about. She should focus on getting better.
I'm still afraid she'll do something stupid if she hears what's happening, especially since she can't know about our ghost plan which is essentially the only reason this isn't pure suicide.
>>
>>4301295
I guess what I only mean is that if we give this to the IO, we lose all control of it. And everyone knows that the goals of the IO don't necessarily always line up with the Archduchy.

Even just flashing a few papers at Maenesko might secure his support, even if we risk exposing what we know to more and more people. I'd say lets first ask the Major if she's heard anything about 12-B1 and 12-A2 and what it could mean if the IO had direct proof. Maybe frame it as that we've heard a rumor about it and we wanted to see if it would be worth pursuing.
>>
>>4301624
In the end we're gonna have to give it to someone, and more importantly IMO it's better to get this info off Richter before the Kommissariat realizes the possibility that this might have fallen into our unit's hands and starts snooping around. We don't need the unwanted attention so close to the end of our mission.

The only other party I can think of that has the capability of using this info somewhat trust-worthily is like maybe Loch but who knows his ultimate agenda is, much less when we'll meet again. Or we could hold on to it until we meet the Lances but I'd bet the IO will definitely get informed if it goes up the chain of command.
>>
>>4301212
>>4301230
>>4301235
>>4301283
I'm gonna go to a duel for the death, against somebody I'm horribly outmatched against. It'll be fine
Please don't kill me before I can die.

>>4301477
Don't worry about it.

Bridge with intel leak will be crossed in time, but options noted- the King, the NLF, the IO, et cetera.

Writing.
>>
Anya wasn’t going to take this well. Not well at all. Even though you’d done your best to take steps so that dueling Bertram was less suicidal than it might be otherwise, they were methods Anya wouldn’t understand. Yet. She did deserve to know- you had been afraid that she might do something brash should you tell her, but in her current state, you couldn’t be concerned about that anymore.

Maybe you should have even told her earlier. To hell with it.

“…Yeah, I have been hiding something. For your own good. I’m going to duel for my life tomorrow.” Anya blinked at you, utterly dumbstruck. “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you right away, but-“
“Stop.” Anya cut you off sharply, “Shut up. When did you arrange this…this retarded shit? You can’t fight. You can’t stab, shoot, cut, fucking kick your way out of a piss soaked paper bag. How long have you been fucking hiding this? From me?

“A week, around,” you said, deflated but not discouraged, “The man I’m going to duel attacked me in the night, and-“

“Fucking knew it. Knew the Junior Lieutenant wouldn’t hurt you like that.” Anya was gritting her teeth, her words clipped with more care- her eyes perfectly reflected what she was actually holding back. “You fucking…you piece of…complete pile of fucking…”

“He’s…as skilled as Hilda, in shooting. I didn’t want to involve-“

“I don’t give a shit,” Anya snapped, “What the fuck is the matter with you?”

“Let me finish what I’m saying, you stupid-“ your patience ran out and your voice rose, but Anya wouldn’t be talked down. She just raised her own voice over yours.

SHUT THE FUCK UP!” She screamed, her eyes wild, “You waited until now to say it? Why? Fucking why? When I’m like this?! I could’ve, I would’ve,” Anya threw a hand into her face and dug her fingers into her scalp, her breath quickened, face red, “You complete-“

“Can I talk, goddamnit?!” you shouted back, “Knock it off with-“

“Shut the fuck up, and get the fuck out of my room!” Anya gesticulated towards the door furiously, “You selfish, moronic piece of trash! Go to hell! Don’t come here to tell me you’re off to fucking die! Get out!

I’m not going anywhere!” you got in her face, “Especially not to die!
>>
Anya snatched your collar with the hand of her good arm and wrenched you roughly down. “Fuck you! Who the hell do you think you are, you think you can just do anything and smile through it? Fuck you, fuck you, what makes you think that’ll work this time?! God damn it, I can’t stand the sight of your face!”

Anya thrust her head down, and best as she tried to hide it, you couldn’t help but notice how she was trying to conceal her eyes, the tilt of her grimace, the shudder of her breath as her shoulders rose and fell. You wanted to call her ugly names, got awfully close, but that was just what she wanted. Not something you wanted to give.

“…I promise that I’ll be fine. That I’ll win.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Anya said, biting down on the end of every word. “I don’t care how tough they are, how mean they are, don’t we stick up for each other? If somebody guns for my friends, it’s not right to just let them, that goes both ways, you get it!?” Her voice was growing hoarse, thin, but her grip on your shirt was as taut as it had been; a vice just under your throat.

“I don’t know what the hell you want. I don’t want any of my friends getting hurt because of this thing that’s my responsibility. I’m not going to argue that any further. What do you want me to say?”

“Say you’re sorry.”

“I did, you idiot,” you said heatedly, “I am.”

“Say it like you mean it,” Anya muttered, "Or I'm not letting you go. I'll wrench you down to the floor and wait for that fucker to come here himself."

>?
>>
>>4302173
I'm sorry, I really am. (Anons with better write-ins feel free)

Also we should probably inform Metzeler and Krause as well come to think of it.
>>
>>4302173
Apologize again, and tell her that it was selfish of us to not involve a comrade like this, and that we should have trusted her with the information, but ask that she at least understand how we feel and why we made the decision, especially considering that she refused to let us help her deal with a similar personal problem, which is what landed her in her current condition.
>>
>>4302173
Honestly I think at this point Richter would start genuinely apologizing for a great number of things. Guilt is probably eating at him.
"I'm sorry for not telling you, I'm sorry for not trusting you. For you getting hurt, for Hilda getting hurt, for Von Metzeler and Krause. I'm sorry it for all this pain my decisions have caused."

"You once said that if there was something that only you can do, you have to do it. Especially when an enemy threatens those closest to you in your place."
>>
>>4302200
+1
>>4302226
Hilda's situation is definitely on anons but not sure why the rest of them should be particularly attributed to Richter. Anya was the one to punch that Duchess in the first place after all.
>>
>>4302173
"I'm sorry for not trusting you. For not believing in you enough. I was so angry. At Bertram and his threats, but also at my own incompetence. I honestly thought that maybe, I'd be able to handle this mess I've created on my own. That I deserved to handle this all on my own for how much I've fucked up. I wanted to keep you all out of the way of undue harm, but I also had to prove to myself that I could do this. I'm a selfish prideful fool for that, but I refuse to call myself a deadman. I'll make it through this. And when I get back, and you're all better you can kick me around all you want for being stubborn."
>>
>>4302173
>>4302304
This is fine.
It's not good to try and make excuses when apologizing. Tell her what we did wrong and tell her that we're sorry. That's all there needs to be.
>>
>>4302185
Von Metzeler and Krause are already appraised,as it were. Krause helped cover for you when it initially occured, Von Metzeler tried to get Yva to help you, with little success.

>>4302200
>>4302226
>>4302240
>>4302304
>>4302345
An apology, but also a reaffirmation- you're going, because it's what you have to do. Among other things.

Writing.
>>
>>4302882
Sorry if I was unclear, I meant informing them that we're specifically going out to duel tomorrow.
>>
A stare between you and Anya, but it didn’t take long to know what to say. “…I’m sorry for not telling you,” you said, not fighting against her grip on your jacket anymore, “I’m sorry for not trusting you, for not believing in you. It was selfish, but…I honestly thought that I could do this on my own, that I wasn’t so weak as to drag those that matter to me into this mess I’ve created- that’s mine and mine alone.” In a way, dragging your friends, your comrades into this, felt unjust. Sharing of punishment, of judgment. “I’m being a pain in the ass, a selfish, prideful fool…but I’m not dead yet. If you can live through being held up and beaten into a pulp by a pack of thugs and their horrible bitch paymaster, then the least I can do is live through one person out for my head.” A hand reached up to try and brush Anya’s hand off, “And the least you can do is to let me do that. I’m sorry, but when I come back, and you’re better, you can kick me around however much I deserve it for being stubborn. But I have to do this, without dragging you all in, and you know why.”

Anya held tight onto your collar for a few more seconds, silent, then slowly let you go, but her eyes didn’t leave yours. “I’ll hold you to that.”

The grip on you now absent, you slowly stood straight. “Thank you. I will survive this. I do have a plan, and I’m…mostly sure it will work. It’ll be alright. I promise.”

“You’d better not be lying again.” You shook your head. “…Fine.” Anya leaned back against the wall again, her whole body in a slump, “Don’t make me regret trusting you.”

No further words. Just a nod from you, and the feeling of knives sticking in you as you left. Any statement of farewell would be an admission that you’d break your word.

-----

There was plenty of time to mull over what had happened between you and Anya as you were driven out to the forest near the Ashes’ hideout by your crew in the Twaryian Combat Car that you took out last night. Some new scars and holes had appeared in it- already beaten up like everybody in the unit. It was faster than waiting for Kamienisty to deploy an escort for you, and you trusted your men and the heavily armed car better anyways, if there were actual threats.

Your tribute of a pair of heavy haversacks stuffed with canned soup and bundles of fuel tabs was on your back as you lumbered away from the crew, sprawled all over and around the car. Despite the apparent high alert, they were rather relaxed. When you got to the Ashes’ camp, recognizable by the old tank hull rusting out in the midst of the woods, you’d leave the supplies, and properly check on the children for once. Maybe they could guide you to the NLF for a proper meeting with them, too. The former would recognize you easily at least. The friend of the guardian they admired so much.
>>
It was doubtful that you were in any danger as you wandered down the trail, accompanied only by hanging lights in the air, presence particles and low level spiritual life, or something, but you kept an eye out for any observers regardless. It helped keep the Fear away- you hoped. Or were you so eager to snap your head back and forth because of it?

The place was found easily enough, despite you not being back there in a while. You’d always been good at land navigation, path finding- getting your conditioning removed had hardly obliterated everything, but until you got the reassurance of actually doing it, you felt ever unsure. Yet when you looked about, whistled, coughed, not nearly as many came out to greet you as you thought. They were there, but they stood back, all younger sorts from what you could see. The only one who came forward…was decidedly not a child. A man, with a lit cigarette and a long, dark brown coat, a cloth bandanna tied about his head and a nose that looked like it had been broken a long time ago and never set right.

“You are not Nowicki,” the man said coolly, his accent obviously local. “I was expecting her for some days now. Where has she gone?”

“Who the hell are you?” you asked sharply, lowering the bags of supplies onto the ground.

“A man of the Liberation,” the coated man wasn’t bothered by your tone, “Are you replacing her? I can’t say I’d mind, with her attitude.”

“She’s coalescing,” you said, guarded, “She’ll be better soon. The Liberation? Like the NLF?”
>>
“Exactly that,” the man smirked, “Quite honestly, I don’t know if you’ve been good or bad for us at this point. I suppose you couldn’t just let that band of Revolutionary League fighters just traipse over the border, but it would have been appreciated if you hadn’t eviscerated them so thoroughly.”

“I would have appreciated you saying it was part of your plans,” you shot back, unrepentant, not even tempted to apologize whatsoever for that. “Haven’t you gotten plenty from us? Arms? Volunteers from the UGZ, complete with their own flow of gear? We’ve even secured more to provide. Did you really need to seek the help of Utopianists?

“Liberation always requires more, more, especially with the foe we have to fight. Can you blame us for wanting all we can get?”

“I can blame you for acting rashly. What’s the big hurry?” You knew what it was, but you wanted to see if you’d be told.

A smile, very slight, but genuine. “Every day under a foreign conqueror is too long, isn’t it?”

So be it. If he wanted to play games, then you could be the deciding factor in revealing you both knew the bigger picture.

>Anything you want to plan/discuss with the NLF?
Also
>Tell this blowhard to cut the crap. You know about Alpha Two. Just because you had to pretend to be on different sides elsewhere didn’t mean you had to keep it up here.
>Keep it down about Alpha Two. Best to not reveal you knew too much.
>Other?
>>
>>4303124
>Tell this blowhard to cut the crap. You know about Alpha Two. Just because you had to pretend to be on different sides elsewhere didn’t mean you had to keep it up here.

>Anything you want to plan/discuss with the NLF?
Ask to meet Drachen in a couple of days to coordinate the uprising in this sector before we leave. Now that the UGZ is Ellowian-garrisoned there should be fine though other locations are acceptable. Should probably start considering letting Wielzci in on the plan as well.

Basically just bypass this little shit and talk with his actual bosses.
>>
>>4303124
>>Anything you want to plan/discuss with the NLF?
Maybe mention how well the aid of the Revolutionary Vitelians went for Halmeggia, ending up with a dictatorship seizing power and becoming more or less occupied by the Reich. Sound familiar here in the Border Zone? Are they really willing to trade Netilland for Twaryi?
((Only use this if Richter heard anything about international happenings, I have no idea if he does or not.))

At the very least we should warn the NLF that the Rev League are so in bed with and puppeted by the Twaryians they might as well be speaking...Twaryian. To the point where they are considered a state sanctioned milita.

>Other?
It'd be nice to get the kids back and in the UGZ but his price is probably too high, so instead let's setup a more reliable communication line to the NLF. There aren't many more obstacles in this sector at least, we need greater coordination so they stop getting their idiots killed here.

>Tell this blowhard to cut the crap. You know about Alpha Two. Just because you had to pretend to be on different sides elsewhere didn’t mean you had to keep it up here.

Just don't get the kids hopes up accidentally. They should just focus on surviving.
>>
>>4303124
>>Tell this blowhard to cut the crap. You know about Alpha Two. Just because you had to pretend to be on different sides elsewhere didn’t mean you had to keep it up here.

>Anything you want to plan/discuss with the NLF?
Ask about the ERA. Are they going to be helping or are they sitting this one out?
>>
>>4303120
Hey tanq as a side note is this ass the same guy who met up with Gerovic?
>>
>>4303206
You have no way of knowing that. Memories do not travel through alternative perspectives. It isn't.
>>
>>4303124
>Anything you want to plan/discuss with the NLF?
Having a way to talk to the NLF without coming out here would be nice as >>4303181 has said.
Also
>>Tell this blowhard to cut the crap. You know about Alpha Two. Just because you had to pretend to be on different sides elsewhere didn’t mean you had to keep it up here.
>>
>>4303124
>Keep it down about Alpha Two. Best to not reveal you knew too much.
>>
>>4303124
>Insinuate that we know what is going to happen, but don't name names. Try to suss out what does he know.
Since the NLF was meeting with Gerovic and accepting RL help, maybe it's not Alpha Two he's referring to. Maybe it's a Twaryian operation that's coincidentally slated to begin in the same timeframe.
And if it is Alpha Two, we need to determine what their Twaryian contacts know about it.
>>
>>4303124
>>4303400
This.
>>
>>4303124
>>Keep it down about Alpha Two. Best to not reveal you knew too much.
I'd think Richter would care about OpSec, not disclose it to some random enforcer babysitting kids. He might even be mad he has to babysit kids.

Our experience with the double agents during the Gerovic heist should make us wary sharing information willynilly, especially in earshot of a bunch of kids. Which like most kids, would probably be prone to talking.
>>
>>4303124
>>Keep it down about Alpha Two. Best to not reveal you knew too much.
>>
>>4303124
>>Keep it down about Alpha Two. Best to not reveal you knew too much.
>>
I am finally up.

>>4303199
>>4303283
Reveal how high up you know it goes

>>4303400
>>4303441
Feel things out- claim knowledge of something.

>>4303447
>>4303588
>>4304075
Keep your secrets close to your chest. You can exert pressure without them.

Writing.
>>
>>4304110
Correction.
>>4303143
>>4303181
I missed these two in quoting. Sorry to anybody I spooked with that.
>>
>>4303181
>Maybe mention how well the aid of the Revolutionary Vitelians went for Halmeggia, ending up with a dictatorship seizing power and becoming more or less occupied by the Reich. Sound familiar here in the Border Zone? Are they really willing to trade Netilland for Twaryi? ((Only use this if Richter heard anything about international happenings, I have no idea if he does or not.))

Richter isn't really the sort of person who keeps up with the political side of things; he was more concerned about the action on the ground than the political underpinnings and such with concerns to Halmeggia. He'd have heard of what happened, if you will, but wouldn't be too concerned about who ended up in power for what reason in the end in what he likely saw as a Reich affiliate in the first place.
Though trading Netilland fr Twaryi is plenty a salient point anyways.
>>
>>4304132
Technically Alpha Two is only targeting the Netillian occupied zone right? Or was it for the entire country?
>>
>>4304162
I don't think you've been told that directly, but one of the primary goals of it after all was to have a one front fight instead of two, and Sosaldt lacks much a border with Twaryi, after all.
>>
Who even was this random, smug idiot? You’d never seen them before, and to hell with them acting self-important like they were keeping you in the dark, like you were a useful idiot. It was enough that the Intelligence Office treated you like that, you weren’t going to let this creepy weirdo suspiciously hanging around children try and act like he was the representative, the go-between.

There was caution in the mind. Questioning. What if you didn’t know, after all? What if it was something to do with the Revolutionary League, that they were now dealing with? Since you didn’t know this person, maybe you should be careful? Such thoughts were run over by irritation, impatience.

“Oh, cut the crap, you blowhard,” you scowled at the man whose name you didn’t even know, “Who do you think you are? I know what’s going on, in a couple of weeks, at best.” Maybe it was best to not be so loose lipped, but a day away from potential death made a man daring that way. “When can I talk with Drachen, or somebody that matters, instead of whatever you are? The assistant latrine digger?”

The NLF man narrowed his eyes, and held his cigarette loosely between his ring and middle finger. “You’re as pleasant to deal with as your associate, it seems.”
“I don’t plan to be here much longer. Anything we have left to do, I want to plan out as soon as possible. If you can’t arrange a meeting for me in two days, I don’t care about you.”

“Why two days? Why not now?”

“So that I’m not distracted.” You said, not answering with the truth, “The UGZ-09 has been made into a safe place for your sort. It’s garrisoned by Ellowians, and supervised by somebody sympathetic to you. My unit is practically in complete control of it. If Drachen doesn’t want to meet there, tell me where I can find your people so I can go to him.”

“You assume much.”

“I assume,” you doubled down, “That I have Ellowie’s interests more in mind than this Revolutionary League. I’ve been over the border- the Revolutionary League might be against Netilland, but are they for Ellowie, or for Twaryi? You do know that they’re a state sanctioned militia on the other side of the border? That they even wear Twaryian uniforms? They’re puppets.”

“Maybe. Yet a puppet can just as easily be manipulated by a different puppeteer, can they not?” The man extinguished his cigarette against a tree and put it in his pocket, “I did not come here to debate. A messenger can be dispatched to you with information on where to go…should Drachen accept that proposal. As for what I originally intended to say to your associate, Nowicki, while infusions of arms and personnel are appreciated, and thus I won’t be forced to recruit the remainder here, we would need much more for it to be considered that we let go of any of our valuable fighters.”
>>
A look skyward. “The Eastern Resistance Army is stuffed full of child soldiers if you desire them so much. You intend to have the help of the Revolutionary League- why not the Eastern Resistance?”

“Surely you know the answer to that, he who shares his woman with the King of Weasels-“

“Shut your mouth,” you cut off the man with a snapped interjection, “Call the High Protector whatever name you like, but Anya has done nothing but her best to help you. You can’t insult her like that.” Let him misinterpret that sympathy if he liked. A noble who didn’t stand up for their retinue in the face of an accusation such as that from a person like this, was lower than garbage.

It clearly amused this NLF correspondent, but he didn’t say any further insults. “Fine, then. Regardless, you ought to know that the Netillian-supported throne supports the Netillians over the Twaryians. Are they for Ellowie? Or for a mockery of Ellowie, led by a throwback to a kingdom that was ousted? It is not their time, suffice it to say.”

“What if that was not so much the case?” you asked, “If the Liberation hungers for allies, would not even a false king be a powerful one? As far as they are concerned, you even said, they believe to be fighting for Ellowie, not for Netilland. If this is a matter of taking down one enemy before the other…”
The man shrugged. “Take such up with Drachen, not I. I’m simply telling you how it is.”

So be it. “Besides planning a proper meeting, and the concerns with the ERA, I don’t have anything else I want to ask. Besides the matter of the children here. The Ashes.”

“Oh?” The man looked around to a few of the curious youngsters.

“With the UGZ-09 in a state of improvement, I was going to try and take them there. Overcrowded as it is, it’s better shelter than these woods. There’s at least sufficient food and water to go around.”

“I have no influence over these children,” the man smirked, “I was under the impression they lived out here to avoid the UGZs, but if you claim they have become better, then I can’t tell you how to take care of your charges. If you meant those that came to join the NLF…they are firmly with us, now.”

“We’ll see about that.”

“Ha. Well,” the man turned to leave, “I suppose we’ll see each other again. The day you meet with Drachen, I suppose.”
>>
You said naught when he left, but a few of the Ashes walked up to you nervously.

“Mister,” a young boy, about ten years old. “You said Big Sis was…co-a-lessing?” A nod to him. “What does that mean?”

“She got into a fight, and was hurt badly. She’s getting better. She’ll be alright.”

“Who hurt her?” Another young man, about the same age, “Are you gonna get them back?”

Explaining all the pieces of it would take forever, and it was better that these youngsters stay out of it anyways. Maybe they knew that, and that was why they asked if you would do anything. The only reply was a long sigh. “Somehow. I’ll do it somehow.”

-----

The Ashes wouldn’t be taken back yet. You’d need more than a combat car and your crew to do that, especially if you intended any subtlety. No, what you needed to do now, was debrief the participants of the last battle in…the first debriefing you’d ever actually have done. Huh. Normally you just left it up to the others. Good thing to get practiced at, at least. From there, you’d clear your mind the rest of the way, writing preparatory letters, then preparing the best you could for personal conflict. The range at the old camp might not be usable anymore, but Kamienisty still had its own. You could even stay another night over, to be ready the next morning for…the duel. Hopefully Emma would find you again the same night.

Lieutenants Wielzci and Rybak were assembled, as was Krause. Von Metzeler wasn’t plucked away from Yva: as far as you were concerned, the more he tied up Yva keeping her at home, however that was done, the more free you were to keep Emma around without concern for her being hunted down. Representative Rumell had come dressed casually; you couldn’t blame him, being a political figure, not a military one, but something might have to change about that.

“So,” you addressed those assembled, around a table top simulacrum of the battle- exactly what Strossvald’s higher officers assembled in their wargames. It was far cheaper to have mass maneuvers and exercises in miniature than to deploy significant portions of its army to play pretend, after all, save for very significant events. “How this morning went. We’re here to discuss what happened, and how to better do it next time.”
>>
Wielzci was hardly paying attention. Fair- his unit had only done what it was meant to, successfully, and he likely had much more experience under his belt than you. Rybak was attentive, but you could see the sweat forming on his amphibian-like face; he anticipated a dressing down, severe criticism, perhaps more than verbal reprimand. Rumell looked indignant, of all things. You could see it by the way he sat, the tilt of his brow. An expression of why am I even here? I’m not a part of whatever this is.

“Things began here,” you pointed a stick to the assembly point of 5th and 6th platoons, along with you and Von Metzeler’s tanks, “6th platoon sent a small party forward to draw the enemy forth. This was done, but 6th platoon…” you moved them forward, “advanced, rather than waiting for the enemy to fall into the kill box.”
“Sorry, sir,” Rybak said quickly, “We just wanted to get into it, and we were worried about our boys, and-“

“And you engaged them away from us,” Rumell said sorely, arms crossed tightly, then flicked a spiteful glare at you. “Then the Coordinator got out of his tank for some reason and drove my men forward like a madman. Why couldn’t you trust me with that? I would have done it. You made me look yellow in my first engagement.”

>Because you knew he would be timid. There was plenty to criticize about 6th platoon rushing forward, but it was better to be aggressive than passive.
>You’d apologize for making it seem that way- he only did as he was told. It was more important to do that than brashly rush forth.
>Maintain that both units were equally at fault- they didn’t work together as much as they should have, and that was why they’d taken the losses they had.
>Other?
And
>Any further praise or criticism?
>>
>>4304529
>>Maintain that both units were equally at fault- they didn’t work together as much as they should have, and that was why they’d taken the losses they had.

Stress this-poor coordination costs lives.Remind them both that whenever they're making decisions their men's lives are in their hands.

>Any further praise or criticism?
Tell Rumell if he has the energy to bitch at us now for wounding his ego then in the next engagement he'd better show it. At least Rybak realises he clearly screwed up while he's sitting here blaming everyone but himself.
>>
>>4304529
>Do NOT assign blame
This is not the purpose of a debriefing. It would only make people bitter.
>State that the units didn’t work together as much as they should have, and that was why they’d taken the losses they had.
State it as a fact, not an accusation.
>Outline ways to prevent this in the future.
But do not antagonize.

>Ask the commanders what else they think they did right, and what they did wrong.
The point is to make them think about it themselves. Ask Wielzci too, to show that it's a standard procedure (because it should be)

>Praise the 6th for courage and the 5th for discipline
Don't limit the deriefing to criticizing

>Take Rumell aside and tell him that we've been a bit apprehensive of how the 5th Platoon abd Rumell personally will behave under fire, but they have made a good show of themselves for their first real fight. Say that we expect Rumell to become a good commander.
Rumell isn't really worried about our trust. He's worried his subordinates see him as a coward, so that's what we should alleviate.
>>
>>4304565
Supporting
>>
>>4304565
Supporting this
>>
>>4304565
This works, I'm only concerned about Rumell seeing this politically. If he puts his reputation and career ahead of commanding then he is going to cause problems in the future. Depending on how he reacts to the debriefing we may want a replacement.
>>
>>4304693
It may be a bit too late for a replacement at this point.
>>
>>4304693
>>4304695
Also Rumell is appointed by the UGZ Council so I don't think we can remove him that easily compared to the rest of the platoon commanders. I suppose we could discuss this with NLF next time,see if they have any ex-army personnel that can slot in his position.
>>
>>4304557
Coordination is key- and shut up Rummy

>>4304565
>>4304650
>>4304691
>>4304693
Lay out what was done well- prompt introspection. Give Rumell a private talk, and lay encouragement about.

Writing.
>>
>>4304527
>You’d need more than a combat car and your crew to do that, especially if you intended any subtlety.
>not riding around in an armored car filled to bursting with orphans
missed opportunity imo
>>
“That is not the case, Mister Rumell, I assure you,” you told the representative, “Our losses can be blamed on us not being as unified as we should have been, not on anybody’s flaws in talent or command. A lack of coordination- by all of us. If we trust one another better and keep ever inquisitive about our intentions, we’ll know each other that much better for next time. As for what was done well, better than expected,” You looked towards Wielzci, “4th platoon did very well in infiltrating the base and extracting all of the hostages, and capturing the base from under the enemy’s nose. We gained much, in that, not to mention the gratitude of those captured for such neat work.” Then, a look towards Rumell, “5th platoon’s first foray into proper combat went much better than I thought. You and your men held their ground and did not falter- not all units can claim to be so steel-willed in their first engagement. I have no doubts that your leadership influenced their discipline.”

Rumell loosened a bit. “Well. I did tell them the importance of making a good first impression…”

“Continuing on good first impressions, while 6th platoon may have taken the brunt of the enemy’s fire, they also, did not falter.” Eyes on Rybak, now. “Enthusiasm and bravery are not to be condemned, but admired. Temper it like hot iron, and forge an unbreakable blade.” An excerpt from Southern Campaigns. Who could say if Rybak was studied enough to know it, though.

“Yes, sir!” Enthusiasm renewed.

“Though, we’re not here for me to talk at you,” you led off next, for a short time, “I want to ask each of you, in turn, to say what you think you could have done better. Lieutenant Wielzci?” The first in order of number, but also an ideal example. As an experienced officer, Wielzci surely knew the benefit of setting the example.

“Well,” the lieutenant wasn’t as clean cut as either of his fellow Ellowians, with hair long enough to tie back and a shadow across his jaw from not shaving. You had to wonder, considering Edelschwert, if growing one’s hair out was an Ellowian knightly tradition, passed down to their tanker corps like Strossvald’s own noble inspirations for their armor. “We kept awful cautious, and that meant we were slow. Considering that they started running once they got engaged from behind, we could have run up and blasted them right off the bat. We were loaded for bear, and there wasn’t any chance that lousy mercs could have matched us.”
>>
Wielzci nodded towards Rumell, who stayed quiet for a moment, then in a tone of admission, said, “I…could have had more faith in my people. I didn’t want to test them too much, on their first outing. They were unproven, as was I. Now that I know I could have kept more faith in them, as well as my other allies, I think we’ll do better.”

“I didn’t have faith in you either!” Rybak said without prompting, and Rumell flinched, “But I’m glad I was wrong. I wanted us to charge forward because I thought it would have to be up to us, since you were so hesitant before.” He stood up, and bowed to Rumell, “My apologies for doubting you, my fellow in force!”

“…Er, yes.” Rumell replied awkwardly, Wielzci somewhere between chuckling and rolling his eyes in mockery.

The rest of the debrief went on with little more said from you or Krause, as Wielzci seemed to take the reins for the next hour and a half. When it was all through, you called Rumell aside, and took him from the rest. You did have particular concern for him- mostly that he might not consider himself a fighter- his worry that his subordinates saw him as a coward, and what that might implicate for his future. Best to relieve that in a more genuine place than a group session.

“Coordinator?” Rumell asked gingerly, away from the rest, “What is it?”

“I just wanted to tell you again,” you said, “That you made a god show of yourselves. You’ve the stuff to become a good commander, even though I was apprehensive of how you and your platoon would fare. It wasn’t my intention to make you look feeble- I had to prove myself as much as you might have to prove yourself to me.”

“…Yeah.” Rumell shrugged, “I guess. It wasn’t what any of us thought we’d be doing, is all. We’re expected to do things, sure, but I didn’t figure like that.”

“Hopefully not much more like that, per se.” A small twist in truth. Should they be involved in Alpha Two, they could count on a lot worse. “Pass on the praise to your men. They deserve it.”

“Coordinator.” Rumell addressed you simple- a small bow instead of a salute. Habits that weren’t taught to them, you supposed, and he departed.

Well. That went better than expected. The Ellowian platoons were already showing some sort of camaraderie, and you had to thank Wielzci for spurring it on. You could relax there, you thought as you went to go back to where a new office had been set up for you, and get to the final actual business. Writing your letters. There wasn’t a deal between you and mayor Rosenhal; your link to the outside world had been severed when Gespie had decided it prudent to disappear in the wake of being ousted.
>>
…Judge above, there was hardly anything in this office tent. Not even a typewriter. A few disposable pens, and a stack of paper. A beaten up set of cabinets that had only a few folders in them when inspected. Another, smaller price of letting Gerovic have your way with your camp. At least he had been taken in, for all the damage he’d caused. You hoped he was really worth so much to the IO- if you had known the breadth of what he had done, how much he had hurt those close to you, you might have killed him there.

No, let the anger go. You were writing to your fiancée. And Hilda.

…Best not to put them in the wrong envelopes.

For Maddalyn:
>Make it dirty.
>Make it sappy.
>Make it reassuring.
>Other?
For Hilda:
>Tell her to take care of herself.
>Tell her that it’s not her fault if something happens to you.
>Tell her that you’re sorry, but you have to kill her brother.
>Other?
>>
>>4305204
>Make it dirty.
This might make it more reassuring than trying to make it reassuring.

For Hilda... I don't know. I don't see a good choice.
>>
>>4305204
>Make it sappy.
>Make it reassuring.
She's been shown to enjoy these far more than anything lewd. Really put your longing into it, and tell her the thought of her has helped Richter to get better day by day.

>Tell her that you’re sorry, but you have to kill her brother.
>Tell her to take care of herself.
Don't be defeatist. Assume we'll get the job done and give her our condolences.
>>
>>4305204
>Other
IMO shouldn't these letters only be sent if Richter doesn't make it back? Even with a win tomorrow it's not like they'll reach home for a while and it's pretty terrible making people worry all this time.

Thus I'd say make these letters cathartic for Richter I guess. Put to paper all the regrets to both he may have bottled up.Then if we're still around by tomorrow night burn these and write new ones.
>>
>>4305204
Actually I'll switch to >>4305344
>>
>>4305344
>>4305348
We can make two sets, one to be sent either way and then another to be mailed just in case.
That said maybe we shouldn't, it might have a negative effect on Richter's moral to acknowledge he might not make it in such a conceit way. Right now the boy needs all the confidence and determination to survive as possible. Don't wanna trip any death flags by writing his will.
>>
>>4305344
Supporting
>>
>>4305324
Sappy, and fratricide.

>>4305344
>>4305348
>>4305363
Let it all out. You'll come back and write better ones.

Writing, one part out real soon, the actual voting part, later.
>>
Were you really writing letters meant to be sent in the event of your death? You’d made one for Maddalyn already, you were relatively sure, but you couldn’t recall where that went. With your luck it had been destroyed in Gerovic’s attack, but it didn’t matter. You didn’t intend to die, so you’d double down on that intent with letters you couldn’t allow to be sent. That once you’d won, you’d come back and burn, obliterate, to have naught but gladness in them. You couldn’t write those now, but you could vent every bit of regret into these.

Maddalyn first.

Dearest,

I’ve done nothing for you. All you wanted was for me to stay with you, and I didn’t do that. I’ve thrown myself into danger over and over, disregarded this life that is so valuable to you. All I can say is that I’m sorry for it all. All you have given me is your love and joy, and in return, I’ll have ripped your heart out. That will have been my greatest regret of all. Not that we were never married, not that we never made love, not that we never bore children, but that I will have ruined you.

Do not follow me into a fool’s grave, I beg of you. Find a man who deserves you, as I found you, a woman who was ever more than I deserved.


It was left there. Elaborating on your failure was dwelling in a pit when all you wanted to do was see its bottom. You had no time for that, but letting it all our made your eyes blurry, regardless.

The next.

Hilda,

If die I won’t say I didn’t deserve it. Because of me, you’ve been destroyed, and no amount of favors or caretaking will make up for that. I was a fool, and didn’t realize what I did to you, to your heart. I should have known, and I can’t apologize enough for everything that’s happened to you, for the sake of love that would have never been requited, that I lacked the courage to tell you the truth of.

Let me go, forget me utterly. Even if I lived I couldn’t make this up to you.

Your child will have a wonderful mother. I only wish I will not have wronged them as well.


That was it. A pair of wretched, awful letters, full of self-pity and regret. Everything you didn’t want to die with by your side. They were both folded into envelopes, and left in one of the folders. They’d be found if you failed- and you wouldn’t. Not with what was at stake.

To Kamienisty you went, driven there and left. Your only escort tomorrow would be the Major’s spooks, and you had to get what practice you could in shooting for tomorrow.
>>
You weren’t alone at the outdoor range, blanketed with sheet white snow, but the others gave you a wide berth, for whatever reason. Good. Less distractions from your practice. More targets to take for yourself. BANG. BANG. BANG. The bolt worked each time, you didn’t get your targets when a cease of fire was called down the lines. Seeing how badly you were doing would only discourage you, and you had to go all day, all night. Until the rifle was a part of you like it used to be. Until you at least believed you were hitting what you shot at. It was fooling yourself, but you already had to do that to stand a chance. Your only hope, if all the measures you took to protect yourself failed.
BANG. Clack. Ch-clack. BANG.

-----

Strosstadt’s nights were cold, but even in its outskirts, it was hardly ever dark. One could ever see the city center, glowing like an enormous lightning bug, whose brilliance drowned the stars. Even here in the outskirts, where the Von Tracht home sat, space between it and other houses, but not terribly much grander than the other middle class homes about. Taller, broader, but not by much. A courtyard dutifully maintained by the butler, who also had the mantle of groundskeeper, when it was daytime. Atop this house, Hilda Glennzsegler kept watch. She’d recently recovered the strength to climb up there, and she intended to keep a watch out for her murderous sibling. He said he’d go after Richter- but she thought better of that. He was a talented marksman, a huntsman- Bertram would find no easy prey in him. Richter’s parents, however? Hilda had been tempted to pursue her brother, but what if that was what he wanted, and his true target, the senior Von Trachts? She couldn’t allow them to be left vulnerable.

Even if she was disfiguringly injured and near three months pregnant with a dead man’s child.

“Hilda, dear!” Eda Von Tracht’s voice; Richter’s mother. “Are you on the roof again?” Hilda peered down- Lady Von Tracht peered back up at her. “Dinner’s ready, dear, will you come on down?”

Hilda chose to go all the way down to the ground, rather than to the second floor balcony where she had actually climbed up from- she left her gun up top. With a few hangs, clambers, and a final slide down the last section, she landed some paces away from Eda, who jumped a bit when her feet hit the ground.
>>
“Ah! You shouldn’t exert yourself so, dear.” Eda Von Tracht was a neurotic but good natured woman in her rough mid-forties, near a head shorter than Hilda (hardly unusual, considering Hilda’s height), with dark circles under wide eyes and a head of fluffy brown hair that fell to her shoulders. The same sort of hair Richter had- he’d inherited the face, the dark green eyes, from his father, but his mother had passed along a few things too. “Mrs. Lange and I made roast beef and vegetables, there’s plenty to be had, so don’t hesitate to eat for two, yes? It just has to cool for a little bit.”

“Okay.”

“…I thought we might have a little chat in the meantime,” Lady Von Tracht coughed very slightly, “You go up on the roof so much, are you looking for something up there?”

“The stars.” Hilda said flatly. She couldn’t say the real reason. “I thought they might show themselves sometime.”

“Not many of them, I’m afraid,” a small laugh from Eda Von Tracht, “A few, but not all of what is in the night.” A moment passed. “Do you think of him often? The father?”

Hilda didn’t. She did her best not to- to wipe him from her memories forever. She hadn’t hated him, or anything like that, but when she thought back, she could only think then of the same person being asked about by her child- and the impossible question of why he wasn’t there. That she had been complicit in killing him. Yet she only said, as ever, “…No.”

“Hmm,” Eda tilted her head, “Tell me truly, is it Richter?”

Hilda’s heart stopped. “No! No. No.” She felt every muscle in her body lock up and relax one by one, “I…no.”

“I thought not,” Eda didn’t seem relieved or disappointed, to Hilda’s own relief, “The boy isn’t the sort, after all. Geraldt and I were afraid he’d never pursue a woman…hence why we took Lord Von Blum’s offer, see. But when a man and a woman travel together, to strange lands, and the woman comes back expecting a child, as well as,” Eda reached into her jacket pocket and unfolded a piece of paper, “When the lady writes things such as this,”

Hilda had barely recovered from the last shock, and this second one threatened to kill her. The first had been a merely surprising (…if not unpleasant…) implication, but what she had found and shown was embarrassing. She staggered in place, felt her knees turn soft, her breath stuck in her throat and stayed. “That…no…”

“I would not have thought you a poet, Miss Glennzsegler,” Eda tittered as she looked over the messily written letters on that page, “I thought you liked those volumes, but I did not think you were inspired.”
>>
They were crap. Hilda tried to capture a fragment of the beauty of those verses she could hardly read, but understood plenty well when spoken- and in her mind, failed utterly. She’d hidden that page and others like it in frustration. Even more embarrassing than their lack of quality was their subject.

“You write in a very intimate fashion concerning my son, you know,” Eda noted, “Could you blame me for assuming?”

Hilda bowed her head, slumped her shoulders. “I’m sorry.” She couldn’t tell Richter’s parents how she had been tempted to do what she did. How she didn’t deserve their hospitality. “I…forget about that. Just forget it.”

“It’s alright, dear, there are other men out there. You’re allowed to feel that way about somebody. I once thought like you did…of course, I didn’t have the scars like you do, but among those of higher birth…” Hilda thought it funny that Eda could consider her hideous scars and burns to be comparable in affecting desirability to whatever she might mention, but she stayed quiet. “I was once called Von Blutenstein, and our family fell into disgrace. My parents were caught conspiring against a Territorial Lord, and they were blackmailed, for all they owned, then outed regardless. A high house taking pity upon us tookme on as a servant, a maid, but I was a curiosity to them. My name was something to mock, and that I was a servant was humiliation. Yet, when Geraldt Von Tracht visited…” Eda lapsed into some foggy, glad memory with the silly smile she now wore, “He had come about because of something to do with the courts, but he visited…we talked often, he helped with my chores…I knew we felt strongly for one another, but my name was Von Blutenstein. When he confessed, I told him such. When he proposed marriage a week later, I told him the same…were I anybody but that, I would, I said. It hurt, so, so much, to believe that, and deny him. I thought it would be cruel to fool him into courting a woman of a benighted name…”

“You’re married now though.” Hilda pointed out, obviously.

“Well, when I denied his marriage proposal, I was making a bed in the guest room,” Eda told, with some apprehension, “I turned around, tears in my eyes, to go back to work, but then, his hand on my back…he pushed me face-down onto the bed and, er,” Eda looked sideways, “Took me.”
>>
Hilda blinked at that, and Lady Von Tracht went on.

“Of course, he had to go and tell people, make a potential scandal of it for himself, and said that the only just thing for him to do for such a “crime” was to marry me…so he did, and I could no longer deny him for the reasons I had before. I was…so thankful, in the end. I wanted to give him so many children…to have given Richter so many brothers and sisters, but,” Eda’s face fell, then fell further, “I could only give my husband Richter, and he alone. I couldn’t…give any more.” The melancholy hadn’t left her face when she tried to smile and take hold of Hilda’s arm, “So remember that your child is a blessing! So you should take care of both of yourselves. Come in and eat.”

So she did- as ever, even though Eda apologized for not having better, it was tastier than anything Hilda had ever made herself, when she lived alone and sustained herself off the land alone. When she went to bed, she really went to the roof once more, to watch into the night.

Though, her focus was distracted. It will never happen. Not for you. You had your chance, and you squandered it. Rejected it. You have what you deserve. There was a mirror in the bathroom- even before she had been burned terribly, Hilda rarely saw what she looked like, though she knew she looked awful even before. Now she was reminded, often. She couldn’t look past it- if not her, how could anybody?

Richter’s parents were lovely people to her. Yet when she saw Eda Von Tracht’s hair, she was reminded of the smell of Richter’s hair. She saw Geraldt Von Tracht’s face and she thought of the feeling of Richter’s lips, that she had sullied that night out of desperation, greed. She thought she had had no hope then- and now, here she was. She wanted it to stop, yes, she knew she couldn’t have him, had no right to even try, but compared to the thought of having nobody and nothing, it was so much more comforting to have a dream, as beautiful as it was utterly unattainable.

Hilda felt her eyes moisten, tears trying to escape in protest to a life where they were kept in, no matter what.
-----
>>
>>4305590
Did you change Richter's mother's name and maiden name tanq? Can't remember where exactly but IIRC it was mentioned a couple of threads ago and it was different then.
>>
>>4305641
>Did you change Richter's mother's name and maiden name tanq? Can't remember where exactly but IIRC it was mentioned a couple of threads ago and it was different then.

I don't...think so? If so then it's changed to this because it was barely touched upon before anyways.
>>
>>4305667
Went to check the archives, it's in thread #56. Anyway it's alright, was just curious.
>>
>>4305676
Lol. Welp.
This one's better anyways.
>>
>>4305590
If - IF - we ever manage to create a homunculus body for Emma, do you think we could make one for Hilda as well?
>>
>>4305204
I wonder if we'll be fighting alongside Gerovic or if he's just going to be used by the IO for information and/or deepcover spying. It'd be really weird to have to work with mindcontrolled Gerovic during the upcoming battle.
>>
>>4306195
From what the Major said it seems they're dragging him back to Strossvald first. Though it would be ironic if we ran into him again post-Ellowie
>>
You didn’t really get much better at the range, even with all the time you spent. It was to be expected, you supposed, considering all the years of experience you had lost, it would take more than a day’s practice to get close to what you once had. Maybe you could claim it was a crystallization of what skills you had. It wouldn’t be a waste of time later down the line, you thought as you stepped into a cheap hotel room. The same complex the Major used- her men would find you easier, and you’d be right there. The room was as dingy as the Major’s, but empty save for the bed, a table with no chair, and lacking the odd, maybe specially constructed study room. It did have a bathroom, however, a closet with a toilet in it, practically.
It was luxury for a soldier, really.

“Oh, here you are,” you heard Emma from above, and she floated down beside you, reclining and tilting her head further back, her hair falling down off her forehead as she looked at you from your eye level. “I wasn’t sure if you did it, but here you are.”

“Hm.” Again, the air suddenly felt colder, pulling the warmth from you. Even being close to Emma in this form made the breath in your lungs feel icy.

“Hey, don’t give me that,” Emma furrowed her brow crossly and flipped herself about, “I’m glad you’re alright, I would have looked pretty stupid if I spent all that time floating around looking for that guy and you never even made it back.”

“You found him?” you demanded quickly, “You know where he is in that place?”

“Yeah, but,” Emma let her body down, though she kept her head at your height, her posture matching growing discomfort on her face, “He…creeps me out. He saw me. Knew I was there, like he knew what I was. He avoided me. I think I could find him still, but…he scares me, Richter.”

“At least he can’t shoot you.” He couldn’t shoot a ghost. Not without one of those strange gold artifacts that was the core of a Hellfire shot, or however it worked.

“There’s more,” Emma sank to let her feet touch the ground. She wasn’t much taller than Maddalyn was. “Where he is…it’s like that place in the mountains. Not the same, but, it’s like it.”

Like…the place in the mountains? “In East Valsten? The bewitched mountain road covered in fog, that threatened to cast those who traveled upon it into a land lost to time?”
“Not exactly, I mean, it’s similar, not the same. Weaker, I guess? I don’t really know how to put it!” Emma floated up again, bending at the waist to keep her head level with yours once she’d ascended high enough, drifting slightly to the left to your front. “But it’s definitely weird, different.
>>
It was true that a map had not been forthcoming of the area, no matter your efforts earlier in the day, after shooting. There was an uncomfortable amount of not knowing of a forest hill valley, or suggestions that you should stay away from there because of “the locals.” Not the locals who lived there, but because of what rumors were peddled, and the refusal of high command to station units nearby. You had assumed that it was hogwash, honestly, and you weren’t sure why. A hope that the past would stay where it belonged, maybe. It was just the right mix of normal and odd for you to hope it was entirely natural, like the unsettling forests nearby here, that may have held phantasms but little too terribly supernatural.

Bertram had failed to mention any enchantment, as well. Maybe he assumed you weren’t as worldly as he. If Emma could get in and out quickly, and if Bertram felt confident in the same, it couldn’t be that bad.

“You…gonna be ready tomorrow?” Emma asked warily.

“Not as much as I’ll ever want to be,” you answered, “But we’ll have done everything we could.” You knew the countermeasures against Bertram’s eye in the form of the local flora’s traits, and you’d engage in the day where it had far less an advantage than the night. You’d be fighting alongside professional as well as supernatural, aid. All he needed to do was get unlucky once. When you got unlucky, you could call in an unstoppable trump card. “If you don’t mind,” you told Emma, “I’d like you to keep in another room or outside, while I rest here. No offense, but you drain me just by being around.”

“…Yeah, whatever.” Emma said sorely as she floated back for the door, “Sorry. I’ll see you in the morning. If you’re not up in time, I’ll spook you awake.”

-----

”Hey. Wake up, sleepyhead. Wake up!”

“Hey! Get up, already!”


Being spoken to, and hearing it, all while asleep, was a bizarre experience. You weren’t supposed to be aware of the outside world’s existence- there was a moment of extreme confusion before you were roused to consciousness again. You got up- no thoughts of eating, no thoughts of anything but getting dressed and getting out- getting this done. No hunger for aught but the duel today. Though…

“Can you not watch me get dressed?” You snapped at Emma.

“What’s there to be embarrassed about? I’m floating about in a nightgown, in case you didn’t notice.”

You weren’t in the mood for this. Emma would follow you, but you didn’t feel like making small talk to a little girl right now. If she wasn’t telling you where Bertram was so somebody, anybody, could blow his brains out you couldn’t care less. “I’ll have to pretend you’re not here when there’s other people around,” you told her directly, “If you find him, don’t come back towards me. Just be real noticeable near him.”
>>
“Yeah, alright.” Emma said impatiently, noticing how cold you’d gotten. Was getting more so, with her close by. “I’ll just keep out of sight then, whatever.”

As you waited outside, gradually, three others came to meet you- none of them the Major. None of them people you recognized, but they all carried long cases and heavy packs.

“You’re Hound R?” their tall and narrow leader asked, a black scarf hiding his face below the eyes, sunglasses over his eyes themselves. You nodded silently. “Come with us. We’re heading north to the Grove, by truck.”

“Grove?”

“It’s what the locals call it,” the man reiterated, “The Grove of the Circle. There’s a little stream in the valley, doesn’t go anywhere else, apparently, so they think it just goes around itself.”
Only one of them got in the cabin of the waiting ton-and-a-half covered cargo truck- yourself, the leader, and another agent got in the back with all the cargo carried after the driver threw his own load in. The truck hadn’t started yet- wouldn’t until everybody was set.

“Change.” Black Scarf said, pointing to a backpack, “There’s Netillian camo suits in there. One piece mottled winter pattern- used by their best. Take off your jacket and put it over your clothes.” As you did so, introductions came. “I’m called Leader. That man over you is Gunner. The Driver is Driver. Best to keep it simple when we’re doing this.”

Gunner opened the gun cases- inside were carbines of the type the Major had showed you. “Given the proximity of this fight,” the man sounded vaguely northern, “Whisper Carbines are plenty effective. Their ammunition falters in accurate fire at ranges over two hundred meters, but that’s unlikely to be a factor in a wooded valley. Not if you’re keeping in proper cover.”

“You know these guns, yes?” Leader asked you.

“The Major showed me.”

“Good.” He said, brushing aside the stacks of ammunition clips, “We’ll each have twenty rounds of ammunition. This isn’t going to be a pitched firefight. How good a marksman are you?”

“…Not good at all.”

“Don’t take a shot unless you’re absolutely sure you can hit it. Beyond sure. A missed shot just tells an enemy where you are.” Gunner interjected.

You looked at the carbine closer. “Are there scopes?”

“The Major informed us that this person you’ve pissed off was able to defeat counter-snipers in Valsten,” Leader said, “Scopes will avail us little than to potentially reflect sunlight. As said, this isn’t a long ranged engagement. It’s how I’m choosing to do things.” He closed the cases, cracked his neck, his knuckles. “Driver won’t be joining us. Too many people and it’ll be too obvious that there’s too many to take. Might spook him. Anyways, your call on when we head out. Early. Good time for fishing.”

>Final preparations before you depart- rough approximation of surroundings to be provided on arrival.
>>
>>4306050
This practice seems triple verboten. Though you've seen soulbinders like Yva that have replacement body parts and soulbinders like Poltergeist that don't even seem human anymore.

>>4306195
>>4306198
All along you were restocking reserve characters to play as. It's like having extra lives! Not really.
>>
>>4306221
If we choose to do so how do we summon Poltergeist again?
>>
>>4306221
>Psych yourself up for the upcoming fight.
I think it would be a good idea to have Richter remind himself how much of a bastard Bertram is. Remind Richter how Bertram threatened Maddalyn, his family and his crew. Remember that if we don't kill that bastard here, he is very likely to take further "vengeance" upon us by seeking them out, for breaking the rules of engagement.
That fucker needs to die. He deserves to die. Life has thrown some serious lemons our way and it's about damn time Richter got mad and used it for motivation. Tap into that rage and indignation that made us want to duel him to begin with.
>>
>>4306227
You address who you're bound to, then say the magic words.
ie. Poltergeist, I am Lost and you are Bound.
>>
>>4306250
Alright then,other than that let's get this show on the road I guess.
>>
>>4306221
>>Final preparations before you depart
On the way give them a brief description of the supernatural elements at play. The target may be able to know where people are even when he shouldn't be able to see them, but we have something tracking him that will be attempting to distract him and expose his position. So our general tactic should be to avoid exposing ourselves to fire as much as possible until his position is revealed, then acting quickly before he can adjust his plan. Even if they think we're crazy hopefully they'll at least keep what we say in mind.
>>
>>4306221
Aw shit, I thought we were gonna vote on taking the tank/armored car or not. Despite how gimmicky this shit sounds, I couldn't think of a better distraction for these two to use to track Bertram.
Especially if he's luring us into supernatural bullshit, plus traps, plus beasties.
And we all know just how bad a shot Richter is, trusting two redshirts and Emma is a lot to bank on.

In the event we don't bring Richter's preferred choice of weapon of war:
>Final preparations before you depart?
If he can see and has seen Emma then it is especially important that she doesn't hang around Richter or the spooks, get her to roam around and come up with a way for both of them to signal each other. Or if we feel like real bastards, use Emma to lure Bertram towards Gunner/Leader while we sneak up on him
Did we bring the Eyes in the tin can?
Ask Leader what our role would be, should we be bait for them or act as another shitawful gunner?
Armor vests: too bulky for Richter to wear? I know Bertram could easily headshot us but if we wants to play cruelly he might body shot if we make a mistake to toy with us.
Smoke grenade? If we weren't wearing the bark it wouldnt help at all.
Sidearm- Yay or nay?
>>
>>4306246
Get pumped up to murder a bitch.

>>4306442
Ask if the spooks believe in ghost stories.

>>4306619
>Aw shit, I thought we were gonna vote on taking the tank/armored car or not. Despite how gimmicky this shit sounds, I couldn't think of a better distraction for these two to use to track Bertram.
Figured the consensus was more representative of not wanting to involve your crew than the wellbeing of an IO provided piece of equipment, really.
>Did we bring the Eyes in the tin can?
You can have. For what good it'll be. Bertram probably isn't a soulbinder after all.
>Armor vests: too bulky for Richter to wear?
The body armor in use isn't really resistant to rifle rounds, but to pistol caliber shot and fragmentation. Despite the reduction in deaths and injuries from artillery rounds, its lack of resistance against rifles is what prevents most nations from adopting it in a widespread fashion at current time, after all.
>Smoke grenade?
You got it.
>Sidearm
On you at all times unless you're at a private gathering where it probably wouldn't be tolerated.

Loading zone.
>>
>>4306801
Gameplay tip: keep your HP above 0, and reduce your enemies HP to 0.
>>
A quick check of what you’d brought along. Your sidearm, strapped on again after you pulled on the camo suit and its hood. A pair of smoke candles, regardless of if Bertram’s eye could see through it. Finally, the chocolate tin that carried the Hungry Darkness- who could say what use it might have, since you hadn’t needed it to detect anything for a while, but you couldn’t be too careful, could you?

“I have everything I need,” you said. As Leader and Gunner got into their suits, your method of identifying allegiance became clear- you all looked practically identical. Your quarry would not have something specially made for Netilland’s soldiers, though it wouldn’t work as a disguise. Maddalyn could tell you apart from others just fine, usually, and Bertram’s cursed eye had the same sort of spiritual inhabitants Maddalyn’s did. He knew plenty well what you looked like. “Another thing…the place we’re going, I hear it’s very strange, that it’s…disorienting. The Glennzsegler sharpshooter is very strange, too. I’ve heard he knows where people are, even if he shouldn’t be able to see them.”

“We’re well aware to not underestimate this man.” Leader interjected.

It’d be impossible to describe the situation without sounding crazy- you didn’t even try to hide it. “There’s something following him, though. His position will be revealed unintentionally. Eventually. I think you can lay low until then.”

Gunner looked at Leader, and Leader shrugged at him. “…Sure.” The northerner said uneasily. The unasked question must have been something about you, your conditioning, maybe, the sort of thing Weiss and Rot hadn’t bothered to be courteous with. So long as they kept what you said in mind when it was most critical.

“Also, did you have a plan in mind for me?” It was out of curiosity.

“Not really.” Leader said, “If we stay together we reduce the advantage we have. Best to just keep apart. If he finds one of us before we find him, then we’ll have people to rescue us. He’ll have nobody. We do need to disperse to keep that advantage, however.”

“Just one last thing,” You got up, “I have to go to the bathroom.”

“No hurry.”

You left the truck, but weren’t going about for the purpose of relieving yourself. You rounded the corner, and Emma followed you. “Just a few last things,” you told her without looking at her, “A few basic signals. Don’t come near me or the other people, just make signs. Don’t even look at us. Do this-” You demonstrated a wave of your right hand over your head, side to side, “If you found him. Wave both arms if you can’t find him. Just point with your free hand when waving one. Alright?”

“Er,” Emma looked side to side, nervously, “What if…I’m in trouble?”

A confused squint at the blonde phantom. “I thought you said you were tougher than anything you thought you’d face.”
>>
“I mean, yeah, but,” Emma rolled in place, “He saw me, and he didn’t seem all that concerned. I’m worried…”

“Be as brave as you can,” you asked, “But if you’re really in danger, then…run. You can fly away just fine, right?” Emma nodded. “Can you keep up with the truck or do you have to ride inside?”

“I want to be inside with other people,” Emma said sorely.

“…Fine. Just don’t be too close, you weaken us by being close.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Emma crossed her arms and rolled her eyes, “Hey, what happened to Kryz? Is he still over the border?”

“No, we found him and took him to the UGZ-09,” you said, “Along with his mother, after we captured Gerovic.”

“What’d you do with Gerovic?”

You looked warily back towards the truck. “We handed him over to Strossvalder people. I need to get back now, I said I went to relieve myself, I can’t spend all day on retelling what’s gone on the past few days. Come.” You ignored whatever objections Emma had, and got back into the truck. “I’m ready.” You said plainly.

“Driver!” Leader beat on the back of the cabin, “Let’s get a move on.” The truck’s ignition kicked over with a clunk and a rattle, and Emma floated in after, settling down on a seat on your side, but looking out the back. Did she have weight? Or did her ethereal bottom somehow grip the bench? It didn’t matter. As long as the truck moved and she moved with it.

Nothing was said along the way- the IO operatives weren’t conversational, and Emma knew that trying to engage wouldn’t result in any response, so she just watched out the back. All the better. You had to blind yourself, in a way. Most conflict you engaged in had been impersonal- you knew none or very few or your enemies by name, and it was a mutual struggle against one another. Not so now. You were going to kill this man, and what was more, you’d enjoy it. You had to convince yourself of that. Of how he deserved it. If he was left alive, he’d seek vengeance in other ways, you were sure. If he felled you, he could move right along to your friends and family out of sheer spite. He threatened them- he threatened your wife, and that alone was an unconscionable insult.

No, it being an insult wasn’t enough to truly provoke you. The mental image had to be there- of what he threatened to do. What he implied.



“Hey.” Gunner cleared his throat, “What’s up?”

“Nothing.” You said firmly, through grit teeth. They weren’t images you would have wanted to imagine, not sounds you ever wanted to think about hearing. Nothing else would have drawn forth the right feelings. Nothing else would look the Fear, still present if not oppressive, in the eye, and informed it that it was naught compared to the fire inside. Hatred, fear’s most terrible enemy, had to take up residence in your heart.

-----
>>
An odd, familiar mist descended as the truck rattled on, steadily going from paved road, to dirt road, to what only passed for a semblance of a worn and grown-over path long out of use. The mist grew thicker, and the forest quieter. Even the truck’s engine seemed to whisper in reverence, as it had to slow down. White filaments snaked through the air sometimes- you saw Emma reach out to touch them, and they vanished. A harsh glare from you at that, and a defensive one from her.

The truck slowed to a stop, then turned off. As you all got the last of your things ready to move, Driver appeared around back. “We’re here,” he said simply, levelly, “This is the end of what road there is. The Grove’s north of this old village.”

You got out, and looked around. The village was all stone block huts, so old many of them had holes in their roofs, or their roofs had collapsed. Moss, lichen and vines claimed their walls, still green and red in the snow. Out of the corner of your eye, you thought you saw a shadow move. Out of the other corner, some bright flame. No spirits would be eager to show themselves with Emma near, you guessed, who had floated out, and with a gesture north, began to float away.

“We’ll scout out the perimeter of the forest proper, starts near the top of one of the outer hills,” Leader said, “He won’t be there, but might as well check. Once we hit that edge, we split up. Don’t be afraid to sit and wait. Watch. He’ll certainly have been doing that. Look out for any traps, too. Tripwires- even if he has no mines, snares, even noise makers are dangerous.”
An odd confidence. Maybe you couldn’t shoot worth a damn, but the trails, the undergrowth, such never left you. This might have been an odd forest, but it was still a forest.

“Let’s move. No more words after we leave. Only after we eliminate the target.” Leader waved you all along, and you set off into the fog.

As expected, naught was seen from afar, with a telescope. Far away enough that it still had use, the sun ahead still capable of a glint through the fog, though, so it was quickly put away. A nod between you all, and you set off in different directions about the hill. You went between the two agents (though the berth they were given was plenty wide), roughly, eventually to be rounding the slope of the closest hill.
>>
Where the forest thickened, there was…an off sight. Wooden miniature abstract soldier statues, stained and weathered by age, of the sort you’d seen a few times in Ellowie. Yet here, while the idols were old, the incense stick “spears” they carried, the “banners” that were actually, from what you’d seen of traveling mystics, seals scribed with ancient letters- those were relatively new. Somebody felt the need to keep this place well cared for, but not the village nearby? It gave you the creeps. Nearly distracted you from your carefully manufactured murderous intent.
The boughs of the trees; most not Kalamarz, but the pitch black firs were here and there; swayed in the breeze, showers of light snow blowing about in sparkling swirls barely distinguishable from the actual sprites that floated here and there. You kept down and low, making light and careful steps around plants, piles of detritus…looking for a branch to try and hide the tracks you made in the snow on the forest floor. You could start to walk backwards- even animals knew that simple trick, but Bertram was presumably a hunter like Hilda, like you. He’d recognize a trace fast.

Though. Making a false trail and pretending to be prey didn’t suit the mood you wanted to be in. Hatred banished the fear, but the sustenance it demanded was aggression. you had to search, hunt, conquer. You had to be the tiger, not a serpent. Else you feared your energy would flee…

>So be it. Continue as you were- this was a duel and a contest, and the hair of advantage being driven by fury gave might be what you needed.
>No, you had to be clever and subtle. If you had to lose some edge for the sake of safety, that was what mattered more.
>Why waste time? Call upon Poltergeist. You only expected to find a corpse.
>Other?

Map to follow.
>>
>>4307345
>>Why waste time? Call upon Poltergeist. You only expected to find a corpse.
>>
>>4307345
>So be it. Continue as you were- this was a duel and a contest, and the hair of advantage being driven by fury gave might be what you needed.
I believe in the power of Hatred!
>>
>>4307342
Why is Richter suddenly being a bit of a cunt to Emma for the last few posts?

>>4307345
>So be it. Continue as you were- this was a duel and a contest, and the hair of advantage being driven by fury gave might be what you needed.
>>
>>4307345
>So be it. Continue as you were- this was a duel and a contest, and the hair of advantage being driven by fury gave might be what you needed.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

>>4307345
I don't want to waste our Poltergeist request, but I also don't want to die. So why not let the dice gods decide since things will be up to them anyway.
1 for Murderous Intent
2 for Poltergeist
>>
>>4307345
>So be it. Continue as you were- this was a duel and a contest, and the hair of advantage being driven by fury gave might be what you needed.
>Why waste time? Call upon Poltergeist. You only expected to find a corpse.
Having an extra factor for Bertram to handle can't hurt.
>>
>>4307366
>extra factor
Poltergeist is actually the nuclear option.
>>
>>4307371
I doubt tanq is going to make summoning Poltergeist an instant 'I win' option considering the nature of this place.
>>
>>4307345
>>So be it. Continue as you were- this was a duel and a contest, and the hair of advantage being driven by fury gave might be what you needed.
The unfortunate side "benefit" of this approach is Bertram will at least find us faster, hopefully giving the agents the shot they need.

I'd say wait on Polty, we can summon him with the right words and I am very, very against freeing our spirit prisoner and what it would entail maybe for the whole world.

>Other?
Get what Kalamirz bark strapped on you can. It makes the agents more vulnerable but being alive is better.
>>
>>4307345
>>So be it. Continue as you were- this was a duel and a contest, and the hair of advantage being driven by fury gave might be what you needed.
>>4307355
It might just be that I grew used to Richter being really passive but it seems to me like he's been a little more assertive in general than he was originally since he recovered from the fear. Almost as if the recovery made his personality shift a little bit extra far in the opposite direction.
>>
>>4307345
>No, you had to be clever and subtle. If you had to lose some edge for the sake of safety, that was what mattered more.
>>4307638
Maybe it is less of a personality shift, and more that Emma’s soul eating ghostness is more and more off-putting.
>>
Map incoming next update.

>>4307349
>>4307355
>>4307362
>>4307365
>>4307638
Go an kill 'im.

>>4307377
Become the trees

>>4307683
Use some caution.

>>4307346
>>4307366
Call in backup.

Writing.

>>4307355
>Why is Richter suddenly being a bit of a cunt to Emma for the last few posts?
Call it a combination of her new form being of great concern, and having death breathe down his neck making him act very short with her.
>>
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You were no rat, skulking in the undergrowth, you were the hunter, not the hunter. No matter any evidence against that, such an attitude gave you your best chance. Else in not seeking the target of your righteous fury, you’d feel it slip from your grasp. You trudged onwards, around the hill, feeling the mist embrace you, clouds of white running above and below.

The fog thinned some, and from near the crown of the hill, you got a decent, rough view of the valley. The hills were a little steep, but nothing too trying. Certainly all taller and steeper than anything back in your sector of the Border Zone. Staring about, you saw through the trees and the spaces in them a few notable landmarks. The wide stream, running along the bottom, ending in a little pool and coming from…further up. A village of stone huts, undoubtedly abandoned and likely as old as the moss entombed one outside. What looked like a watermill on the stream, but its wheel did not turn. Odd mechanisms stuck out the top, but they were free of snow, unlike the roof. Curious.

The first Kalamarz tree you saw, you tore at, and sought out what branches and leaves you could fix to yourself, whatever presence-disrupting matter you could get at. Its ink-black sap wouldn’t do you any favors for camouflage in the snow, but what mattered more was not glowing to Bertram’s eye. What you managed to get on wasn’t entirely satisfactory, but it was surely better than nothing.

A bell rang a light pitched chime not far from you after you started swiftly moving again, and you snapped up in attention, searching for some line you tripped over. There wasn’t one, you quickly realized, and while you looked around you for some creature that might have run over one, you caught sight of the brass little bells, and realized…they were still ringing, being shaken back and forth violently by nothing at all. The only sounds had been gentle breezes in the valley, no sound of animals whatsoever, so even the small, tinny ringing of this bell had been a shock. Its continued ringing, a danger.

A shadow fell over you, and you jumped in surprise, once again snapping your head about frantically- nothing cast the shadow, though. More shadows, human in shape, approached from all sides- heading towards the sound of the bell and then…standing.

You had to leave.

>Where do you head towards in your hunt? You don’t know where Leader and Gunner are- but they’re probably some distance to the north and southwest.
>>
>>4307915
For all we know Bertram put those bells there to warn him of spookiness.
Or the shadows react to humans, and the bells in turn react to shadows.
We just gotta remember that Bertram probably knows a great deal more than we do. He could even have some nasty supernatural pets.

>Where do you head towards in your hunt?
Northwest to stay in between Gunner/Leader in the likely case we need to react to something they stumble over. Stay away from anything more man-made than those little stone figures.

Habitations seem dangerous, either for traps or for their natural draw for people. Berty probably isn't using them as his hunting perch.
>>
>>4307915
>Where do you head towards in your hunt? You don’t know where Leader and Gunner are- but they’re probably some distance to the north and southwest.
Go north 35-50 meters or so then stay heading northwest, keeping to the thick of the trees where possible, if it means we can avoid crossing exposed clearings.
>>
>>4307915
Follow the ridge to the northwest and then dip into the little valley in that direction. Ideally fuckface will spot us at some point as we head along the ridge but then lose his shot as we drop into the valley and will have to move to get an angle on us in there, thus exposing himself to the others. Just don't linger too long where we're exposed.
>>4307683
I thought I noticed Richter being more assertive with Anya as well.
>>
>>4307915
Were the shadows in the Blumlands dangerous or hostile at all? It's been years and I cant remember.

>Where do you head towards in your hunt? You don’t know where Leader and Gunner are- but they’re probably some distance to the north and southwest.

West, towards the Mill
>>
>>4307940
>>4307946
>>4307970
Northwest, keep moving.

>>4307974
To the weird thing that might be a mill.

Writing.

>>4307974
>Were the shadows in the Blumlands dangerous or hostile at all?
They were completely passive.
>>
Northwest- through the shadows, you went, sticking to wherever the trees were thickest. There wasn’t many placed to go other than down, to the valley, so you let the slop take you down, after you’d tacked north.

Your path led you close to a particularly thick band of fog, that went high, and rippled where it met the trees, so dense that it may as well have been a wall of white. Disturbingly familiar to the colored winds in your sometimes-dreamland, you gave it some distance. It didn’t feel dangerous, but it definitely felt alien. An odd sensation permeated the surroundings, and they were strongest near these bands of cloud.

It was closing- moving closer. Edging towards you, but like a lumbering beast rather than anything resembling a purposeful stride towards you. If you were in its way, it would pass over mindlessly. You could outrun it, yes, but maybe you didn’t? You had time to decide.

Time also to think about how Bertram might track you down. He certainly knew you’d be here today- it was the last day you could have been here. With any luck, though, he’d have been sleeping until recently. Where? The shelter of one of the structures? After all, he likely knew that you wouldn’t come here at night. Any potential advantage of surprise would be utterly canceled out by the fact that you would be blind and he wouldn’t be. He knew for certain you’d arrive in daylight.

What of the bells, then? The shadows? Were they something he knew he could exploit? The bells had been loud, yes, but small. Could they echo through the whole valley? You doubted it. Bertram was spiritually sensitive, probably, like his sister was- and his eye made him even more so. Perhaps he’d watch for where the shadows might be going? In which case, he might be aware of your general direction already. If there were pseudo-alarms set up in several places, he might already know there was more than just you. A scan about the landscape- you certainly couldn’t see any shadows in the misty distance, hadn’t heard other bells. It was so deathly silent besides the wind and the rustling of trees and greenery that if it were close, you were sure you’d have heard it.

Maybe the bells weren’t for you at all, though. Maybe they reacted to some inhabitant of this valley- something you knew nothing about. A supernatural creature that even Bertram feared, when he didn’t fear what Emma had become…
>>
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It would be fine. Emma would be fine. You were overthinking this, and distracting yourself from the goal of putting a hole or several in that son of a bitch and watching him turn the snow crimson.

Where, though. Where was he? You didn’t know, but he was probably coming for you. Your best shot of finding him was to keep being a difficult target- to narrow down where he was by counting on him trying to track you down, refusing to give him a good shot at you- if he didn’t maim you with the first shot, maybe you wanted him to fire. So he had to spot you…or perhaps, knowing that he’d search in the direction of the shadows, you should go up the current? Maybe you could hide in that band of fog as you descended into the valley?

>Keep moving. But where? If you maintain course, it seems as though the fog will move over you- you’ll have to go south some to avoid it.
>>
>>4308103
Continue northwest through the fog
#yolo
>>
>>4308103
>Keep moving. But where?
Unpleasant as it probably will be, our best way of keeping out of the open is to stay under cover of that west-northwestward tail of fog for about 125m until we hit the next large patch of trees, from there we can potentially move in any direction with good tree coverage. Spooky time.
>>
>>4308103
>>4308148
It definitely seems like the fog could be pretty dangerous, but we do have magic super armor, so I think we need to take the risk. We need every advantage we can get.
>>
>>4308103
Northwest. Try to stay as close to the fog as you move around it as possible.
I'd think he'd be using the mill as a sniper tower or something so watch your back as you move.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d3)

>>4308115
>>4308148
>>4308155
Into the fog northwest bb

>>4308213
Try to stay on the edge.

Writing.
>>
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The fog could be dangerous…but it was also in the way of your route down. Thinking about it, you had a protective weave on you, didn’t you? You could be confident that that could at least help. If the fog was just fog, then it would do naught but help you, as well. Your mind was made up- and your course maintained.

The fog swept over you, steadily. At first, you felt no difference- nothing at all. Not even the moisture one would expect from walking through a cloud. As you crept on, the fog became thicker…thicker…until before you realized it, it was so dense that you looked down and couldn’t see your feet. Onwards still you went, more by feeling than sight, and it mercifully cleared once more. Only…you were walking uphill? You were sure you hadn’t changed direction- with a glance towards the subdued shape of the sun above, a check of your watch, you made sure you were going north, northwest, and…it was up a hill. What in the world?

You had to go up to get your bearings, at least, and with a start you realized, looking down east into the valley…you were just south of the old village. Out of the corner of your vision, you saw movement- you jerked the rifle around, then let it fall. Shadows- like before, moving to the southwest in an odd, silent herd. Were you transported here by the fog? That had to be it. A good thing this was a valley with landmarks, else you’d be proper lost now.

Was this a boon, though? You still hadn’t seen Emma, not heard anything but the wind and your own footsteps, your own breaths, Judge Above, your leg was starting to hurt again, and you were starting to drag it. Here, though- maybe you had ended up behind him? Did Bertram know what this fog did? Was he adventurous…maybe stupid enough, to wander into it? Or was it not even predictable? An element of chaos would help you much more than Bertram, you presumed.

The same unknown as before, though. You were just as practically deaf and blind to the enemy’s position. Maybe…you could search for some sign of where he’d been? Some likely shelter? Or maybe follow the Shadows, like he might?

>Still no sight of your foe, nor sound- nor that of your friends. Where to now?
>>
>>4308282
Circle around the village? to its west. See if there are any tracks or signs of Bertram. The way the valley is situated, it seems like it fog funnels us to walk by the river. Maybe if we go as far north as possible then follow the river back down we could get behind Bertram if he expected us to be funneled by the fog.
>>
>>4308310
That works, I'd like to to not actually enter the village if we can but maybe peer inside for any signs of habitation?
Also those shadows might be heading towards the agents. Leader was heading north of us before the fog swallowed that position...
>>
>>4308310
+1
>>
>>4308310
This sounds good
>>
>>4308310
>>4308330
>>4308398
>>4308405
Take a peek at the village- without entering. Circle about, look for tracks.

Writing.
>>
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Hell if you’d actually go into that village- you’d skirt around it on the hill- but you did edge close, to see if anybody had resided in it recently. The only person who may have. Maybe he’d have left tracks, but probably not, unless he was quite confident that you’d never get this far, for whatever reason.

…There were tracks. A closer look- you couldn’t tell at this distance whether they were coming or going, but there was absolutely tracks that came from a rather intact stone hut- then terminated at the stream some distance away. He wasn’t around here, then, it would seem.

As you rounded the village, doing your best to step lightly, each crunched snowflake a little cringe inside, you saw another thing. Not related to Bertram directly, but concerning. Flitting about like she was, you thought she was some Presence creature. She was, but, another sort. You didn’t know Emma could move like that, darting about like a bird flying place to place, but her movement was erratic. She turned her head from side to side in some sort of desperate confusion, and without even looking for you, she whipped down the stream and out of sight. Could she not find him again? Bertram definitely couldn’t outrun her, not with how quick she seemed to be.
Maybe she was just nervous. Just because she didn’t find him where she might have expected, didn’t mean he wasn’t around at all. In fact, this may have been quite good for you. If she couldn’t find him up here, that must mean he was certainly not here, right? With the trail going towards the river- surely he went down it, then back on land elsewhere, to throw off being trailed?

If only you knew where Gunner and Leader were, that you could share such discoveries. None of you had been expecting to communicate in this, or directly work together, but enough time here made anybody feel the threatening atmosphere of being alone and outside of rescue. Only your aggressive path was dissuading that, and for all you knew that might end with the first bullet that flew at you.

>Where to now?
>>
>>4308494
>Get to the hut the tracks are leadin to/from, look inside through a window
If this hut was used by Bertram, maybe he left some traces of his preparations around. Then we could determine what he was preparing for.
>>
>>4308508
+1
>>
>>4308508
>>4308511
Home invasion.

You got it.
>>
If that hut was where Bertram came from…you had to investigate, at least briefly. Especially if he wasn’t even here. Down the hill you crept, towards the village, to the hut where footprints led out of. The village leered at you with all the potential hiding places, shadows, perches, but you had confidence you shouldn’t have had, and righteous anger to buoy it. Whatever clues there were as to how Bertram might have prepared for this day, you’d find them here.

Closer and closer. The footprints were going out, and for a moment you had the apprehension that Bertram was waiting in his hut for the first person to come through, and blast them away, but it would have been the first place Emma checked, on top of such a thing being…well, stupid, as far as giving himself the best chances went. At such a close range, his marksmanship was less a boon, and you could have easily gotten access to fragmentation grenades if you wished it. He would have known that, and encasing himself in a coffin just didn’t seem very him. He had come to you, he hadn’t waited for you somewhere in the Border Zone and shot you in the neck with no warning when you passed on by one day.
Into that dark, dreary space- though not without a look, a feel about for traps. A tripwire here would be as silly as walking in and being shot in the face, which you prepared against anyways as you entered with your handgun drawn.

There was nobody inside, though. Just some lonesome, crumbling furniture, a bedroll, laid out, and in the center, a circle of salt around a single still smoking stick of incense, propped up on a small stone. A pack, that you investigated as the only thing actually around, not that it had much in it. A few tins of what you recognized as…Netillian Army dry ration packs? He must have stolen them. The same held true for the pair of paper wrapped ammunition boxes inside. One was some odd civilian cartridge- 8 millimeter of some sort, but the other was 7.5 millimeter, and was labelled as Netillian Army property. A few sets of bells on bent metal hangar looking apparatuses, as well. Little of this appeared like he had brought it himself, besides a small case of candies. You only recognized them because you knew them in your childhood. Multicolored candy coated lumps of light white marshmallow fluff. Anything truly personal, he must have carried on himself, you thought as you stole the candy and one of the dry rations, in case your refusal to eat breakfast began affecting you.

A trudge back outside, somewhat disappointed, but as you loped around the side of another hut-
>>
BANG!!

A gunshot that temporarily made you take leave of your wits as you hit the ground and stayed there, breathing hard with how damned close that shot had been to you, but a moment after, once the echo of the rifle shot had passed, you heard the jingling of a bell shaking back and forth. You calmed yourself as best you could with the reassurance that there was no way Bertram was here, and you picked up your gun again to head towards the sound of the bell.

It was in a tree, jingling excitedly, but of more importance was the improvised device rigged to it. A wire was connected to the bell, repeatedly tugging on the trigger of what you recognized as a Netillian standard issue bolt action rifle, its end still smoking as it pointed towards…nothing in particular.

Some calm returned as the gun’s autonomous nature was revealed, followed by the wariness that now, Bertram knew somebody was here. Worse- since your companions and you all carried suppressed weaponry, they’d all assume that loud crack was a report of Bertram’s actual weapon. He was assuredly leading them into a trap. Yet what were you to do?

>Run for it as best you can for a wall of fog. You’ll be displaced far from here, and that was what mattered.
>Maybe this had been a trap, but it could also be one you could use- Anticipate Bertram’s return route, and head towards it. This was still a hunt.
>If he came by to investigate, you were doomed. Best to hide in one of the huts and point the gun at the door. No matter what, you’d have the first shot then.
>Other?

Of course, you can assume you're in the village as marked on the map.
>>
>>4308567
>>Maybe this had been a trap, but it could also be one you could use- Anticipate Bertram’s return route, and head towards it. This was still a hunt.
>>
>>4308567
tanq what's causing the bells to chime? Is it the wind?
Or do the the bells react to the presence of humans?
If there's no wind then they react to people, or if there it may not necessarily be Bertram coming back, if it's those Shadows.

>Run for it as best you can for a wall of fog. You’ll be displaced far from here, and that was what mattered.
We're far away from the other two but if we just leave then they'll be the ones caught either by monsters or Bertram.
>Other?
Before we go light a smoke at the base of the tree and run for it. Hopefully the others seeing it will at least be suspicious about something. Wish we had flares.
>>
>>4308567
>Other: Maybe this is a double trap. Anticipate how Bertram would ambush us when we try to ambush him, and ambush that instead.
>>
>>4308572
>tanq what's causing the bells to chime? Is it the wind?
Were that the case, they'd be ringing constantly and not just in reaction, no?
>>
>>4308567
>>4308577
This.
Richter has lost many things, but he still has his wits. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out what Bertram is planning through observation and once we have that we could trap him in his own trap! We might need to use Leader and the crew as bait since we know for sure Bertram would go for them first as an attempt to "cull the herd", but as long as that son of a bitch is dead it should be worth it.
It's all a part of the hunt, studying the animal were chasing, learning it's habits, using them against it.
>>
>>4308567
>>4308631
You know what. On second thought, I have no doubt in my mind that Bertram will be using the Mill as a sniper's nest and has no intention of returning to the village.
The gun shot is a lure, and now he'll stay at the Mill to pick everyone off.
We need to get the fuck outta here and head for the Mill before he can get up there. Once he has the high ground we're fucked.
>>
>>4308783
Imho the mill is too obvious for a sniper nest. If it was on the frontlines, that mill would get obliterated by mortar fire after Bertram's first shot, and he was good enough to survive Valsten front.
>>
>>4308800
Fair enough.
Either way, what we can assume is that he's actively trying to draw people towards the village so he probably has a nest somewhere close enough to take shots.
It's also possible that his nest is in a place where he has eyes on the mill too if it's not the nest itself. So searching the area between them might be the best play.
>>
>>4308567
This seems to confirm that the bells react to nearby people. And if the shadows are attracted to the bells, and there's a group of them headed for the mill...
Try to catch Emma's attention as she's flying around autistically and ask her to check out the mill. If not, try to move south along the western slope of the hill to our west and get eyes on the mill as cautiously as possible.
>>
>>4308567
>>4309016
Supporting.
>>
Today (yesterday) was eventful. I slept twelve hours then got killed in my tabletop game. So that was neat.

>>4308569
Anticipate Return Route

>>4308572
Run for it- and smoke the tree.

>>4308577
5D strip poker.

>>4308783
>>4309016
>>4309532
Miller Time. Between the mill and here, at least. Looking for a nest as you go, the supposed ideal overwatch.

Getting on this again, though it'll be next morning before I get on the one after.
>>
On one hand, yes, Bertram would definitely investigate, but on the other, that was an opportunity, wasn’t it? You had to stay in the frame of the mind of a predator, you told yourself- it was what staved off the anxiety, the terror that would steal your heart and wits if you let it take hold. You had to keep moving- though you had to think of your allies as well. They’d come running to this shot, assuming you or one of them was under attack- there had to be a way to let them onto the deception. Would one of your smoke candles do it, you wondered as you took one out of its belt pouch. Their smoke was dense white- in the snow and through the omnipresent mist, and the bands of fog, there was a good chance it wouldn’t be recognized as a signal at all rather than just a symptom of the local weather, but try you had to regardless.

The pin was pulled on the canister, and it was tossed near the tree, where after a few seconds it flared up and began spewing a dense white cloud. Time to leave- you’d done your best. Quickly too, in case Bertram was closer than you thought. Onwards…onwards. Your leg was really hurting, now. Rest was a more and more tempting option, but you couldn’t and wouldn’t, not while you were hunting. Not whilst you were being hunted. The sooner you hunted down Bertram, the sooner, and longer, you could sit a while.

As you moved south, along the hills’ curves, you saw the fog move again, slowly, ponderously. Ever so slowly, it was beginning to shift again, away from you, north. Emma whipped by again, and this time, you did your best to wave her down…but even though you swore she looked right at you, she didn’t seem to see you. You wanted to call out to her, but thought better of it- she was close enough that she could hear something more subtle, couldn’t she? You knocked on a tree with your rifle, and the clack thankfully didn’t sound out very far- to your relief, Emma seemed to hear it, and drew close, but she had an awfully nervous, fearful expression on her face.

“…Who? What…Where are you?” She stammered, looking to and fro, at the footprints, then where you were standing, “Who’s there? I can’t…”

“It’s me. Richter.”

“I…I can’t see you!” Emma stammered fearfully, “I can’t see him either! I can’t find him! I’ve looked all over, I thought…I don’t…”
>>
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She couldn’t see you? Yet she couldn’t see Bertram either. That…was a problem. “You can still hear, right?” You tried to reassure the frightened ghost, your voice a whisper, “Listen for footsteps, his equipment, his breath…” Actually, that gave you an idea. You blew a long breath, and pointed to the cloud. “Can you see that?”

Emma stopped shaking some, and stared. “…Yes, I can.”

“Alright. I want you to go to that old mill there,” you pointed, “And see if he’s there.”

“He’s not there, I checked.”

“Check again, and listen closely. If you see or hear anything, you know the signal, right?” She nodded. “Good. Just do that and we’ll be fine. Have you seen Leader and Gunner?”

Emma nodded again, more excitedly, and shared their…imprecise positions. Where she’d last seen them. It would have to do.

“But Richter,” she frowned as she rose again, “Shouldn’t you hide? And let them take care of it?”

“I can’t do that,” you said simply, and firmly.

Emma’s shoulders sagged, and without another word, she turned and floated away.

Time for you to move.



Once you’d moved a fair distance away from where Bertram might have seen Emma wander near you to hear your requests of her, you stopped a moment- not long enough for your aching leg to appreciate, only long enough to take a look about…and see naught as you did before. Perhaps Bertram was on the other side of the river? Or were you on top of his vantage point without realizing it? Or was he wandering about lost like you? The apprehension was killing you. Where the hell was he?

>What to do and where to go now? The fogs will move next “turn.”
>>
>>4309632
Stay put. Wandering around aimlessly without any leads isn't how predators do things. Avoid the fog and listen close to the surrounding area.
With Leader in the northeast, Gunner in the southwest, and Richter having done a check of the northwest that we could access it's highly likely that Bertram is either in the fog to the northeast somehow, in the southeast, or very very close by like at the Mill. So the best thing to do now is assume he's close and listen out for him. Pick a tree, put your back on it and face northwest there aren't any vantage points in that direction so if we look out towards that way, we should be able to see him move while also protecting our rear from shots from the Mill and southeast in general if he's coming from that way. And remember, you aren't resting! You're conserving energy and surveying the field. Stay hungry and really focus on listening out! Bertram is sneaky prey and we won't find him rummaging through the forest.
>>
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>>4309632
Follow the trees south-southwest about 100m aiming just west of this spot (not far enough west to be up the hill any, but enough to stay within the treeline), we should have a decent sight on the mill and range to hit it from there and potentially the range to cover/be covered by Gunner too, assuming we notice eachother or one of us exposes himself.
>>
>>4309632
Awww, Emma does care for us after all!

>Follow that group of shades from a distance. Their behavior might be the key to victory.
>>
>>4309632
>>4309663
I think staying put for a bit would be good, as long as we are far enough away from the fog that it won’t envelope Richter when it moves. A concern I have though is the fog bottling us up by the river. If that’s the only way to reliably navigate I worry about Bertram using that to ambush us or our friends.
>>
>>4309663
Second
>>
>>4309663
This works
It'd be strange for him to make the mill where he'd shoot from given it being an obvious feature, but he might have things hidden there.
We also gotta remember the gunshot and either Gunner or Leader might head this way.
>>
>>4309764
One last note is that his tracks lead into the (frozen?) river, so he's using that as his highway. In the event we need to escape and not just dive into the fog we should consider using that as well.
>>
All files have been transferred to my new computer, as I retire my computer of...six? Seven years? I started this quest on it, so I can't help but feel a bit attached for so much time with it, but it was certainly getting on.

I did forget to nab my fonts, but those are easy to get again.

>>4309663
>>4309707
>>4309715
>>4309764
Lurk. Wait. Survey.

>>4309665
Go down to another position.

>>4309666
Satan desires that the shadows be followed.

Writing.
>>
>>4309775
As a side note; the stream isn't frozen, and is flowing, though slowly.
>>
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Stopping for a bit couldn’t hurt. At this point, you were wandering around aimlessly; hardly an effective strategy, you tried to reason with the waning aggression, what predator bumbled about until they ran into something? A few, to be sure, but you weren’t trying to emulate them. You knew the prey was out here, so you’d take the more effective means of locating it. Then things could finally begin, you thought as you settled down into a squat with a soft groan, rubbing the leg that not so long ago had been skewered by a fragmented piece of metal.

You watched Emma float about the mill, finding nothing, from the looks of it, but you appreciated the effort anyways. One less place Bertram might be. Yet…how long could you, the IO agents, and Bertram walk around each other? If he was here at all, the first encounter had to be soon. Either that, or, the possibility presented itself as you watched the coils of fog shift about, the valley’s peculiarities would have you wandering for much longer. What if his strategy was to avoid you all until you were tired? If that was the case, hiding might have been more effective, wouldn’t it?

A look up and down the shallow stream. Despite it looking like something simple to walk across, barely coming above the rocks, it was still dark, liquid, water, and not frozen. You didn’t see where it ran from, and it was implied that the source of the stream was…nowhere. It must have run higher at some point, since currently, the waterwheel of the mill wasn’t even moved by its gentle, slow flow. If it was a mill. The odd mechanisms atop looked nothing like a mill would have any use for.

Still nothing, though. The tracks from the village had gone to the river, and you hadn’t found where they exited. Bertram had gone in, and gone out…somewhere, at some point. He hadn’t come back yet, though. Was he still moving along the river? Lurking in it, maybe? No, in this weather, that was likely an invitation for hypothermia. He was experienced enough to know-

KRACK!

Another gunshot, distinct from the last, startled you so badly you fell down on your side. Panicked breaths once more, until you realized that the shot hadn’t been near you, nor did it sound directed at you. It came from…the east, roughly. Maybe northeast. It echoed, and you felt your saliva thicken in you throat, your mouth. That hadn’t been a fake. Bertram had found somebody.

KRACK!

Somebody putting up more a fight than to only take one shot, you noted as you scrambled to your feet after the second shot. He’d revealed himself- was it time, not? Or would approach be suicide?

>If one of your allies was under attack, you had to get to them as soon as possible. Make a direct line for the area where the shot came from.
>Keep waiting. You had your best chance in your current position.
>Dive into the fog. It might spit you out in a direction that you couldn’t be anticipated from.
>Other?
>>
>>4310065
>Dive into the fog. It might spit you out in a direction that you couldn’t be anticipated from.
If we end up in the east it'll give us high ground over where the shooting is. If we end up south we can use the mill for cover since we know its empty.
>>
>>4310065
Bertram now definitely knows we're not alone, and he has just given himself out. In such cases snipers change posi