Friday, February 12, 2010

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part 21: A knife fight in the dark

In an urban combat environment any basement or bombed out lobby can become a command center. Partially collapsed buildings transform to become barricades and churches become medical centers. Everything is in flux and everything is in transit as the liquid of battle redrafts the landscape. Armies make their will upon the remains of what once was a city. Obris had made the burnt out remains of a kitchen his temporary command post about six hours ago. Large tables were arranged about the room. They once had been used to prepair the most lavish dishes and now they were covered in the ingrediance to prepair for war. Vid screens and data lines were strewn about and the occasonal ladel that had'nt been cast aside gave the appearance of a kitchen still in use. Groups of Firewarriors were moving about the room checking information that came in through dataports and making sure the information was conveyed correctly. A sync drone hovered above all the screens and monitors coordinating a the stream of information and acting as a mobile field computer. Thin holo sheens also hung down from the base of the drone like tenrils on a mechanical jellyfish projecing reports from the field. Parts of the strange floating object glowed like phosperessence. A couple of Fire Warriors were working on establishing a backup sync drone.

Obris watched on the screen the advance of a large force of human soldiers. Mostly on foot, the human column approached his position moving from building to building. Several walkers and mobile artillery peices supported the column of soldiers. The images and movement came from a team of Pathfinders. They were hidden in the the ruins about ten blocks away. They had been advancing ahead of his main column to detect this very thing. He turned as one of his friends walked in. The Tau that approached was much smaller than Obris. Even without Obris' Crisis Suit, Maturim, the approaching Tau, was small. He was a member of the Tau Water Caste and so he stood almost a head smaller, and much more slight in frame, than the bulk of any from the Fire Caste. Obris made sure that in every Pathfinder team he worked with as assigned a member of the Water Caste. While they couldn't shoot for shit the Water Caste's skill in cunning and manipulation was renound. He wanted smart Pathfinders, not just scouts. Maturm was this but was also his friend. They greeted eachother with a traditional head bow. Though they could never be bonded by rite, and though many frownded on the kinship, their friendship was great. It was forged from dozens of battles and long hours spent on either side of a Ness games in transit to war zones.

"The human column is moving into the last of the unoccupied parts of the city. By nightfall they will be within striking distance." said the small figure as they both turned to the screen.

"I don't enjoy the prospect of hitting them in the dark. I would prefer a straight up fight" said Obris.

"I don't doubt it my friend, but their eyes see the darkness too. We will each be at an equal disadvantage".

"Small comfort" Obris grimmased. He touched an icon on the screen, directing his Crisis Suits to take to the air. The sound of their jets starting up could be herd from beyond the door. "These hab blocks will be our objective I think. It'll be a ground game, take as many buildings as possible and force them back" He paused, considering the screen. "Building by building."

Maturm nodded "My preference is a knife fight in the dark".

"With only one knife~ in your hand" Obris chimed in turnning with a grin toward his cunning friend.

"All the better". They were quiet again watching the humans pick their way along the streets. The video feed looked grainey as the last of the light left the sky and the night vison feature kicked in.

"Take your team to this location" he pointed to a map on a secondary screen. "I'm going to lead the main advance, along here" he moved his finger along the screen. "If we can capture this, we should be able to halt their advance." They were distracted for a moment as the second drone came online, it whirled out of the hands of the Fire Warrior who had been working on it, lights flickering on. Obris snapped orders to the warriors in the room "Get this cleaned up. Send the drones to secure location 72A and get to your transports, we'll be in grips with the Imperials within the hour". The warriors started disconnecting the drones and gathering their gear. Obris nodded to his friend as they both started toward the door. Obris' suit stood ready outside. The Fire Warriors abandoned most of the gear, they took the drones but left all the cables and screens. From here they would have to rely on the two sync drones exclusively.

In the street outside darkness had fallen and the broken shapes of the surrounding city began to loom in the darkness like horrible husks. The occasional flash from a distant battle could be seen, quickly followed by the rumble of a far off explosion. The warriors paid no heed. Several Devilfish transports were either preparing for lift off or pulling away from the ground like large flying beetles lifting from the ground. Obris turned to his suit, the font open, ready to recieve him. As he approached the suit, sencing him, crouched down and extended its arm. He pulled himself up and the suit automatically began to close.

Maturim called from the ground "Keep your head down". Obris didn't respond but instread fixed a confident and stern eye on his friend as the suit sealed itself. Maturn turned toward the rest of his team. The four of them, lightly armed, began jogging off together in a seemingly opposite direction than the rest of the force. Their forms melting into the night. Maturm flicked on his marker light. Its green light shot like a knife into the dark night.

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