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Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-22 05:35:52
Hug'sh waits for the cool/calm/collected professionals to say their piece, but then he can't hold it back any longer. Pushing past the Bashakra'i leadership, Hug'sh quickly gathers as much of 815 as his arms can span into a big hug. Garrett even gets a little tongue to the side of his face.

"You made it!" Hug'sh says. "Welcome back!"
"Hey there," Garrett says. Even Ngawai and Zaef can't help but relax a little. Hale's the only one who managed to be outside the hug.
"I brought spink for the hungry and extra pillows for the tired," Hug'sh comments, then looks to FTE. "And...um...is there a good kind of power? I'll make it happen."
"Maybe after the debrief," Arketta says with a smile, before any one of a couple other teammates says something else less gently.

"Oh, yes, yes, of course," Hug'sh says, releasing the embrace. "There's a lot going on. Let's not delay." He thinks for a moment. "I'll grab the pillows, though. You would not believe how uncomfortable these chairs are. No offense, Brinai."
"None taken," Brinai grunts as best as her voice can, and waits for Hug'sh to hustle back down the corridor towards...wherever his stash of items was left.

Brinai shakes her head. "The changes from when he was human were surprising enough, but now I barely recognize him."
"Fine by me," both Onas and Paul say simultaneously.
Brinai turns back to the away team. "So, what happened?"

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-21 20:32:25
20 Hours Later, Atea, Turai Docks

----

The flight back wasn't any more exciting than the flight out - holos and naps and what little stretches and exercises could be done in a loaded Manta filled the time - but the atmosphere was definitely more somber. Not only was the threat here, on Narsai, but the cost in lives was very definitely made manifest by the excursion. The lack of knowledge of the outside galaxy that comms silence brings also breeds a degree of nervousness about what else is going on while you're running dark.

The Manta docks with Atea without much fanfare, and just a few people are on the other side to meet you - Brinai, naturally, but also Onas, Paul, Hug'sh, and most surprisingly, Samantha Barnes, with her assistant Katelin Brand in her Marine field uniform by her side.

"I see you are not dead," Brinai says, her face all business. "Disappointingly, the Imperials on Narsai are still alive as well. We need to make plans to change that."
"And I am not so sure," Onas says.
Barnes doesn't reply, but her frosty body language says that she's not liking any of what's going on. "What intelligence were you able to gather on the ground? What few sources inside the barriers we have are limited in their ability to send messages - if they're not already captured."

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-21 20:19:46
On the other side of the gateway, the midday heat and humidity hits Hug’sh like an extremely welcome slap to the face. Within seconds, it feels like he’s got to sneeze and spit and also there must be several tons of loose sand in his fur. Rodirr helps him push forward, clearing the gateway for everyone behind them, which is, well, the better part of everyone. The other part of everyone is already here, though. Even the sunsails and security guards and little kitchens added to the gateport proper during Hug’sh’s absence pale in size to the much larger encampment around the gateport. Demobbed warriors, support staff and families have set up shop here, awaiting the moment when they’ll be told it’s all right for them to go home with their loved ones. A happy day, then, for most of them.

”Where are they?” Hug’sh asks, blue creeping through his fur. ”I messaged ahead, I told them to wait here -”
”There’s kind of a lot of ‘here’ here, Chief,” Rodirr says. ”Let’s go towards the village.”
”...yes,” Hug’sh agrees.
But it's just the sweaty crowd and bulk equipment masking their scent, as no sooner does Hug'sh clear the dome's arch that he hears Rhea bark, "Hug'sh!"
Hug’sh’s eyes snap to the source of the sound, the call of his mate cutting through the noise, and then he seems them: Rhea, still panting a bit from the effort of rushing to the gateport when she got Hug’sh’s message, and Torega clinging tightly to her chest, looking oh so much bigger than Hug’sh can remember. ”Rhea!” Hug’sh barks back. It’s the last thing he manages to get out before he lets go of Rodirr and starts running, pushing past the crowds and weaving down the most direct path to his mate. When they meet, their riotous colors merge into a tight embrace. As they hug, Torega climbs over to Hug’sh and digs her little claws into him, squeezing herself against him so close that he can feel her sobs more than he can hear them. He bends his head towards her and grooms her softly.
”Hello, bondmate,” is about all Rhea can get out between grooming Hug’sh.
Hug’sh can’t even manage that much. He just holds onto his family as tight as he can for a minute before a heaving sigh forces its way out. ”Hello,” he chokes out. ”I’m back.”
”We heard the news,” Rhea says. ”Are the others…”
”The warriors are right behind us,” Hug’sh says. ”815 is...still out.” He takes a deep breath. ”Let’s go home.”

”Chief,” Rodirr barks, finally catching up with Hug’sh. ”Excuse me, Chief, but we need to start organizing the post-deployment checks and inspections.”
Walk away. No, walk away. No, think!...walk away. No! Hug’sh just manages to let go of Rhea and then around to look at Rodirr, cradling Torega to his chest. ”You speak with my voice in this, Rodirr,” Hug’sh says, not quite looking at his second in command. Rhea gently elbows him; Hug’sh looks at her.
”What the chief means is that he will be there in a few minutes,” Rhea says, finally wiping her eyes before giving Hug’sh one more lick. ”I can be with you today. I made sure.”
”Yes,” Hug’sh says. ”Go ahead and...and get accountability from all sections. We need to know who’s here before we continue.”
”Yes, Chief,” Rodirr nods and wanders away.
”Don’t think I’m going to let you get away with using our cubs to avoid your duties,” Rhea purrs with a smile.
”Sometimes I wonder if I run this army or if this army runs me,” Hug’sh muses quietly. He grooms Torega again. ”It’s so good to be back with you.”
”I missed you,” Torega whines. She climbs up onto Hug’sh’s shoulders, where she’s just barely light enough to balance on his shoulder but not quite big enough to straddle his neck while sitting on his hump, and leans against Hug’sh’s head.
Hug’sh reaches up to stroke her back, getting a little purr from her. ”I missed you, too,” he says. ”Let’s go help Uncle Rodirr now.” He looks to Rhea. ”And maybe get something to eat.”
Rhea smiles and reaches her arm across to Hug’sh’s other side and pulls him against her. ”Food sounds nice.”

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-21 20:19:19
It takes a special kind of madman to consider an eight-hour ride in the back of a skimmer to be the most expedient transportation, but as the ancestors are his witness, Hug’sh is that madman. He did ask for the absolutely quickest way to do it, after all, and this way there’s no formalities in Kabul, no unloading and loading, no...absolutely no Narsai’i to deal with. Besides, it’s not like the seats in a C-5 are any better for Wherren. Huddled together is just fine for them, and with Rodirr beside him, Hug’sh lets the exhaustion of the last few days wash over him and lull him into an easy half-sleep.

He’s never seen the Bashrakra’i village this busy. It’s good to be there - passed through US airspace, now there really are no more Narsai’i in his path - but with the tiny village having to accommodate masses of returning Bashakra’i warriors, Sheen hardware and well-intentioned but just a bit too big and bulky Wherren, it’s a tight squeeze down at the gateport. Everyone’s got different places to go, the schedulers are losing their hair by the minute and you can’t have this many different warriors all pushing through the same space without some friction, so the Kansatai are getting their workout, too. Hug’sh just keeps his head down and sticks with Rodirr, who reveals his talent at parting crowds with the simplest of gestures. As they pass first past a group of Bashakra’i warriors and then a claw’s worth of Wherren, Hug’sh takes the quiet nods and shoulder claps in the way they are intended. Well-fought, they say. Gallant, a Narsai’i might describe it.

All Hug’sh wants is to be home. On the flight he had Rodirr to literally lean on, his warmth and his musk comforting his every breath. But here it’s loud and cramped and too cool by half. Before he can get into any well-intentioned argument along the line of “I’m not going home before my warriors”, Rodirr drags him along to the front of the line of the Wherren detachment, his colors making it obvious that he’s not going to hear any arguments against it. For their part, the warriors bow their heads and step aside, letting the two of them take their spot up front. Rank hath its privileges.

“Whirr outgoing in zero minus thirty seconds,” an automated voice echoes from every loudspeaker in the gateport hall at once. “All Whirr travelers stand by for departure and await clearance to approach the gateway.”
”Almost there, Chief,” Rodirr says.

Hug’sh feels a shiver run down his back. The damn climate in here. He turns his head to look at the ‘cargo’ line, where heavy equipment has been loaded onto sleds and the loadmasters are doing a final walkaround to make sure everything’s lashed in place. You don’t wanna be the guy who holds up a gateway transfer because your cargo tipped off the sled in the hot zone. As his eyes scan past the equipment crates, he stops at a few rather incongruous forms wrapped in fabric. It takes him a moment to realize - to consciously see - that he’s looking at the fallen, wrapped in field-expedient shrouds, to be delivered to their families for a proper burial. Every one of them puts a separate knot into his gut.

“Whirr outgoing in zero minus ten seconds,” the automated voice cautions. “Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two -”
Hug’sh squeezes Rodirr’s hand.
“Mark,” the automated voice says, and just like that, physics takes another battering. The gateway initializes and flashes open to the Whirr gateport. “Whirr gateway established. Whirr travelers, you are cleared to transit through the gateway.”
”Let’s go,” Hug’sh says.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-21 20:18:41
Hug’sh’s hand hovers over his brow as he tries to watch the final departure of Narsai’i troops. It’s a most unpleasant event to experience, and not just for the sense of finality it imparts on the whole mission; there’s also the dust kicked up by the UH-60 idling on what passes for a helipad, the harsh glare of chemical flares for ground illumination and the high-pitched turbine whine at frequencies that had, mercifully, been long extinguished in Hugh Verrill’s ears. Finally the whirlybird’s engines spool up and the rotor bites into the air, dragging the heavy chassis upwards with it. Hug’sh supposes that its inhabitants are far too preoccupied with other thoughts to properly appreciate the miracle of flight, but from the ground, it seems pretty clear that helicopters were a mistake. Still, Hug’sh watches it rise and then tip forward ever so, setting it on its journey back to Kabul.

“Fitting that we are the last ones out of here,” Iro comments, watching it go through the artificial illumination of his helm.
”Yes,” Hug’sh says.

He turns away from the helicopter and towards the remaining Bashakra’i loading up the skimmers. Between palleted equipment, small Sheen shells - the last left at the FOB - climb over cargo and fold themselves into any nook and cranny that will have them. Away from them, the remaining Wherren troops are sat in a circle around their gear, hands still on their weapons. It’s tactically unsound but Hug’sh feels disinclined to speak up against hunting tradition. What matters is that his warriors all trust each other enough to have their backs turned to each other.

Then their skimmer powers up. How much more graceful it looks in comparison, its impellers offering a soft thrum as it rolls a bit this way, rotates in place to face its rear loading ramp towards the waiting warriors and then sets down gently. Hug’sh gives the sign and his warriors get to their feet, slinging their packs over their humps and filing into the craft. By all rights, he should be angling to be first in there, even if that won’t get him back to Kabul and therefore back to the village and therefore back to Whirr any faster...but dragging his feet isn’t helping either. Still, he gazes out into the desert. The usual second-guessing. What did we do right, what did we do wrong...and where does it leave us. Somewhere beyond sight, there sits the enemy, safe behind their border. But somewhere behind this border there are his friends, too, hopefully figuring out what can be done to counter this latest move. There’ll be politics. Oh ancestors, there will be politics, and a lot of trying to explain things in ways the Narsai’i will understand.

Hug’sh thinks of Rhea’s warm embrace. Her musk in his nostrils as they lie together, her hand on his hump. Torega fast asleep on his chest. What did he do to deserve them? What did he do to deserve not being with them right now?

He sighs, ignoring the dust being blown against his fur the wind. Rodirr taps him on the shoulder.

”We are ready to leave, Chief,” Rodirr says.
”Yes,” Hug’sh says. ”Yes, we are. Let’s go.”

Rodirr gives him a smile and a bit of green and another reassuring clap on the shoulder and bit of grooming, then he leads the way, every bit the second-in-command you could ask for, and Hug’sh slinks behind him, a bit tired, a bit defeated and a bit wiser, too. Hug’sh climbs on and the skimmer lifts off the ground, already gliding forward as Hug’sh finds his seat. He doesn’t look back, though, preparing to look at his warriors and grant them a smile. They smile back for him, despite all.

Behind them, what’s left of the FOB’s joint security area goes up into smoke and fire as the scuttling charges destroy the habs and break the barriers. A final footnote, and nothing beside remains.

Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-21 20:18:21
When even your most basic transports can fly, evacuations can go much quicker than expected. Within an hour of Iro’s order to fall back to Kabul, all the Bashakra’i Turai gear is locked up and secured for transport and in the process of being carried to the skimmer pad while the Narsai’i are still wrapping cables and sorting out hard cases. The Sheen, being Sheen, simply load their shells into crates and jump into the servers, which then walk themselves over to the pad and patiently wait their turn while the guards sit on the walls and roofs of the habs, dendritic solar collectors soaking up the last of the afternoon sun. Sundown brings the first wave of skimmers and helicopters - personnel and equipment for the off-worlders, but the Narsai’i actually bring in more people to help prepare for their convoy - still six hours out. It’s going to be a long night.

And watching over it all, the Wherren. The only good thing about having borrowed, shared and scrounged for their part of the operation is that their logistics tail is, well, what everyone carried into the mission and whatever they’re now carrying out of it. There’s not much packing to do and what there was to do has long been loaded onto the Bashakra’i skimmers. So the Wherren watch. Their patrols showed the flag at the Joint Security Area, but now that that is all but gone, they’re ranging further out again, covering the whole base perimeter. It’s not just that they’re doing everyone else a favor. No, this is Hug’sh’s design. Wherren feet hit the dirt together with the rest of the Alliance here and damn it, they’re going to hold the position until the last flight out of here.

“Hug’sh?” Iro asks, ripping the Wherren general from his very important task of staring towards the distant Chinese border. “I have confirmation from the village. Interceptors on full burn to orbit. Another ten minutes and we’ll have orbital supremacy.”
”Good,” Hug’sh comments. As a Wherren, that should be all that concerns him: an ally helping another ally, with a maneuver that neither affects nor involves his own troops. And yet… ”Thank you,” Hug’sh adds. ”I say it because I am not altogether certain you will hear it from the Narsai’i.”
“Probably because they’re not under our command,” Iro says. “Hunter Brand and Samantha Barnes apparently demanded they be under GRHDI control if they’re operating in Narsai’i space.”
Hug’sh smirks. ”They had no leverage whatsoever to force the issue,” he says. ”And you agreed?”
“It is Narsai’i territory, and they are Narsai’i leadership,” Iro responds. “That’s Brinai’s position, and I agree.”
”It is the kind of courtesy one would extend to a planet’s steward,” Hug’sh agrees. ”Of course there will be voices saying you acceding to the demand so quickly is just further proof that we arranged for all this in order to advance our own agenda.” Orange spreads over his fur. ”But I suppose that is how it is going to be. Any communications from Narsai’s other leaders in advance of our ultimatum?”
“It seems they are too busy worrying about the Imperium appearing on their doorstep,” Iro says. “What will be the Wherren response to all of this? I’m just a lowly Rav-Odun, I don’t speak for the Bashakra’i, but you…”
”The only power we have is words,” Hug’sh says. ”Our government will demand that the Narsai’i immediately vacate China’s seat in the United Nations, freeze all their offshore holdings, seize all civilian traffic outside weapons range and treat any Chinese warship they can hit as a valid target for first strikes. We cannot allow the Imperium to leverage Narsai’s divisions against us...or let anybody else think that they stand to profit from cutting a deal with them.” Hug’sh huffs. ”Not that I expect that our demands will be followed anywhere near this strenuously, but there is something to be said about being the first voice in a conversation.”
“After an appropriate delay to look into what Narsai’i powers and politics are for this, of course,” Iro says.
Hug’sh grumbles. ”At some point we will need to make a show of requesting briefings from a variety of Narsai’i experts,” he says. ”I grow tired of pretending to be ignorant of their many, many problems.”

Iro’s vox pings on his ear, and his hand waggles for a moment. “That was Bello - Paul, Onas, Swims-the-Black and Garrett and Ngawai’s daughter are safely at the village beyond the reach of Narsai’i, and the last wave of equipment just dropped off. We’re going to start getting our people out. We have a couple quads volunteering to stay behind and pull security while we wait for the Narsai’i convoy.”
”It’ll be good to have company,” Hug’sh says. ”But just so you know, we intend to be the last ones out here with the Narsai’i.”
“You’ll have to share space with me and my quads,” Iro says.
“Fuck you guys, we can fly back,” Gunny says from the table, having downsized to a cat-sized shell. “We’re last out.”
Hug’sh looks down at the small shell and smirks. ”How about I arm-wrestle you for it?” he asks.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-21 20:17:49
36 Hours Previously, Afghanistan, Joint Forward Operations Base

----

”Chief!” one of the perimeter guards shouts as Hug’sh goes over the latest updates on a miniature projection of the battle map. Hunched over on a folding stool outside the Joint Security Area’s erstwhile command center, Hug’sh has kept one eye on the movements around him and one eye on the strategic situation for the last half hour. It is easier to stare at the holo than come up with a coherent answer to the evisceration of Russia’s nuclear strike. He would have been inside, but it’s currently being gutted down to the spraycrete walls by Turai and Wherren warriors who are packing every important and sensitive item into skimmers to be hauled over to Kabul and from there to the village and Atea.

Well, no, that’s not quite right. A coherent answer is easy: fuck. The tricky part is developing a useful answer.

”What is it?” Hug’sh replies, a new wave of orange washing over his fur as he watches the newsfeed summary out of the corner of his eye.
”Chief Cooper is at the gate and wants to see you,” the guard says.
Hug’sh nods to that, then catches himself nodding. ”Send him through to me, please,” he says, then dismisses the holo and reaches into his satchel to break out the good old notebook and pen again.
Cooper stomps up to the table, the sun glaring into Hug’sh’s eyes. “’I didn’t take you for someone to abandon your allies,’” he glowers.
Hug’sh sighs and indicates for Cooper to have a seat. He takes the notebook and starts writing, carefully and deliberately. We are not abandoning Narsai. But we need to react to what has happened. This is no longer the mission we set out to do here. Our presence in this desert is no longer useful. He meets Cooper’s eyes for a moment. We are sorry for the lives lost today. As he writes it, a ripple of purple cascades down his chest.
’And we need your support to not lose any more,’” Cooper replies.
Hug’sh nods. You have seen what the Imperial weapons are capable of. We are powerless to breach their line and blind to what they have hidden behind it. He pauses for a moment. Should he tell Cooper? As we speak, the alliance is assembling forces to occupy Narsai’s orbit over China. Their weapons cannot reach us up there, but we can keep them from launching their own craft. If they gain a foothold there Hug’sh’s writing stops abruptly. He just taps his pen on the notepad. The implication is clear.
’And if they decide to take the initiative and push out against our position?’” Cooper counters. “’You’re taking away half our unit strength.’
What would you do in my place? Hug’sh writes. This terrain is ill-suited to a defensive line. It holds little strategic value. We cannot begin to guess the enemy’s strength. He sighs. And none of us believes that they will venture out and fight you here. They had their field test of the Imperial weapons. They are safe from counterattack in their current borders. Again, Hug’sh hesitates before continuing. What do you think will happen next?
’I don’t know, that’s why we need you here,’” Cooper replies, obviously more scared than angry.
Hug’sh stares at Cooper. Are your forces staying here, then?
’No, we are withdrawing further in country just in case they use indirect fire,’” Cooper says.
Hug’sh harrumphs. Rah’pah weapons are direct fire only. You speak of China’s ballistic missiles? Do you think they would use them? After a moment’s thought, he adds If you are going, why should we stay here?
Cooper doesn’t have a good answer to that one right away. He looks at Hug’sh as the wherren can see the gears turning in Cooper’s head.
Hug’sh meets Cooper’s eyes. After a moment, he taps his finger on the Why should we stay here? part of the note.
Cooper opens his mouth, closes it, then tries again. “’Because we need you to cover our backs while we get ready to leave,’” he finally spits out. “’You’ve got half your gear in the air back to Kabul already. We can’t move that fast. If you leave now, that cuts our strength in half.’
Hug’sh nods. We are not leaving now. We are moving heavy equipment and making ready to withdraw the rest of our garrison as soon as it is tactically feasible. That includes making sure we don’t leave you hanging. I assume that is the same thing your people are doing. Another pause. If you need help relocating, ask.

Cooper nods - the answer is reassuring, yet Cooper very definitely does not look reassured. “’Yes, of course, that...that makes sense. Thank you, General.’
Hug’sh looks Cooper over. The man clearly needs a hug and some grooming, but Hug’sh resists the impulse. Instead, he takes a breath and flips the notebook to a new page. You came here to talk to me. So talk to me. I will listen. Your worry is clearly bigger than this base.
Cooper looks around. “’They just shot twenty ICBMs out of the goddamn sky, that’s what worries me,’” Cooper says. “’If they can do that, how the fuck are we going to take the fight to them?’
“You don’t,” Iro mentions from his holo at the other end of the table.
Hug’sh nods. If we had a clever answer to this situation we would have come to you already. Right now our focus is on protecting our people and finding ways to keep the enemy from pressing their advantage. But there is nothing we can do to defeat them right now. Just as there is nothing we can do right now to bring a thousand worlds to their knees or return the soldiers you lost on Botane or free the millions of my people who live in bondage throughout the Imperium. He looks up to Iro. ”Or save Bashakra from the fires.” He turns back to Cooper. I know this pain, Cooper. I know the anger and I know the fear. They will not go away. But we must keep going. We must seek the fights we can win. And we must do it together. If I have been subtle in expressing this, then I apologize.
’Horseshit,’” Cooper says. “’As long as they’re here, they’re a threat - we have to work together to figure out how to take the fight to them, seize the initiative and -’

Iro’s translator must have caught up enough to get to “take the fight to them”, because it’s now that he interrupts. “Vidas fucking Lam, when will you Narsai’i figure it out? You are not the powerful ones anymore. We Bashakra’i survive by hiding and striking from the shadows. The 815 succeed only because they find the few weak points the Imperium have and strike at them before the Imperium can respond. You cannot take your flying craft and your big vehicles and do whatever you please anymore. The Imperium are stronger than all of us. The best we can hope for in direct confrontation is a draw.” He sits back down. “For First’s sake, listen. Before you get yourselves killed.”
Cooper waits for Iro’s outburst to be translated - he turns redder and redder, but doesn’t interrupt. “’Well, that’s a pretty goddamn defeatist attitude if I’ve ever heard one. They let you lead men into battle?’
“It is the perspective of someone who knows when they’ve been beaten, because they’ve experienced it before,” Iro replies. “As far as I can tell, you Narsai’i don’t know what that’s like.”
That, Cooper doesn’t have a response to.
We will be beaten back, Hug’sh writes. We will lose people, we will watch helplessly. We will be lost. And we will bleed and suffer more than we ever imagined we could. Many of us will die. Maybe all of us. But we will not be defeated. His fur flashes red. Replace your pride with true determination. Replace glory with doing what is necessary. Until you do, you will only play at war. And I tire of explaining this to your people. If after all of this you still do not understand, then maybe your leaders should let our ultimatum go unanswered. We have enough problems of our own without the Narsai’i and their self-enforced blindness.
’What they said,’” Gunny says, making Cooper yelp and jump half a foot back. Its shell had been next to Cooper the whole time, but he just hadn’t noticed. “’Shit sucks when you’re not on top of the heap, General. As the great thespian Clint Eastwood once said, a man’s got to know his limitations.’

Iro sighs. “They haven’t pushed out yet because they’re waiting for orbital superiority. That means they don’t have an orbital up yet, which means we have time to contain them. We are working on that now. If we get Interceptors in orbit before the Imperium does, then we are at a draw. There are too many Narsai’i Turai for the Imperium to fight, and they cannot take Narsai without orbit. Their perimeter is too strong for us to breach directly, and too many hostile Narsai’i inside it for a small strike force to win. It is not ideal, but it is our best shot.” He looks over to Cooper. “Does that make sense, Rav-Odun?”
Cooper nods at the translation, slowly. “’Yes. I suppose it does.’
Hug’sh clears his throat. The red in his fur is slowly fading. Then let us get to work. Time is not on our side.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2019-08-21 20:11:32
"But there will be times when we pop spearbombs and light them up without them taking the first shot," Garrett says, leveling a look at Hale. "You have to be ready for that."
"We're not in this to make friends," Ngawai adds. "This is war."
Hale doesn't quite have the same fire as he replies, but he does meet Garrett's eyes. "...yes," he says. "I understand that, I'm not a child."
"It's still hard," Arketta says. "But I think we could use a voice like yours."
Garrett nods, Ngawai just crosses her arms.

Re: Shadow Warriors

Admiral Duck Sauce posted in Shadow Warriors on 2019-08-16 16:18:18
Oh good, this must be new to them, Toshiba thinks wryly. Steel breaks against the yokai, the undying warriors returning to their feet again and again, and Toshiba has a moment where he sees himself rocketing skyward, saving himself, but at what cost? The bitter looks from those he abandoned would be softened in death soon after, and yet he does not leave. For while the yokai is something the Onis before have never witnessed, Toshiba is willing to bet the Thunderer at least is something new as well.

He steels himself, arms the gonne like the armorers showed him back at camp, and shoots the damn yokai.

Re: Shadow Warriors

Gatac posted in Shadow Warriors on 2019-08-05 18:55:26
It's been a while that Toshiba has sat on a horse. How long exactly? Difficult to tell. The Blue Oni has sat on many horses in his lifetime(s), horses big and small, swift and lame, trotting through grasslands just as he has galloped through a lightning storm, where the crashing of ironshod hooves on the kaidō beneath was as loud as the thunder above.

When was the last time he took the armor off?

The question soon becomes moot when he reaches the place where Matsumoto and his retainers have stopped, a little grove along the road with a small stream running past the road. Refreshments are taken, armor is fastened and quick prayers are spoken. The men keep their distance from Toshiba as he trots through them to Matsumoto himself, who's being helped into his armor while his longbow is being tensioned.

"Ah, Oni," he says. "Good to have an immortal on our side. Will you be riding with us into their midst or do you have some trickery up your sleeve?"
Toshiba nods. "We face an inhuman, frightening foe, Lord Matsumoto. It is not in trickery but in the heart of good men and women in which I place my trust this day. To that end..." he looks around at the soldiers who gave him a wide berth into the camp. "Would my presence bolster morale or would trusting to an unseen Oni's subterfuge be the salve your people need?"
Matsumoto ponders the question. "While subterfuge might be your stock in trade, I myself believe in the power of a bold rider in the biggest, brightest armor on the battlefield. If nothing else, my men will appreciate you drawing attention." He smiles. "But! What a picture it would be for you to ride into battle with naught but your knives to hand! Perhaps we might convince you to lend us a hand with something...louder?"
"No convincing needed," Toshiba replies, then pauses. "Wait. Is this something Ueki has constructed?"
"...'tis," Matsumoto admits. "Bring out the thunderer!" he calls to his men, then lowers his voice. "Truth be told, I've no eye for the use of gonnes and their kind...and it seems I lack a man crazy enough to wield such in my stead."
"No longer," Toshiba smiles, shaking his head in a what am I doing fashion. "Let's ride."

---

"NOT MUCH LONGER NOW, PRECIOUS SUMIKO," the foul creature intones, for nobody's benefit. Oh, sure, a crowd of a thousand warriors of bone and darkness marches alongside its twisted shape, but they no longer have the faculties to appreciate their yokai master's imminent triumph. There's just enough 'there' there to follow its commands, maybe raise a weapon to strike. And Ikishi Sumiko could no longer not hear the yokai's slightest thought than she could will her heart to stop beating, though, mercifully, it seems close to winding down on its own. No, the vocalization is pure affectation at this point in time...one might say, a shockingly human one. But the rotbeast has spent much time observing apes, learning their ways and becoming embroiled in their petty squabbles. It could no more return to what it once was than it could embrace the life of a mortal.

Perhaps that is why it hates them so much.

Yet the creature is not wholly removed from this world. Its darkness has shape and substance, enough that it can feel the earth underneath its feet - and that earth is rumbling. The yokai pauses and with it, its army stops. This is not them. This is the earth and its spirits, either. The yokai draws back one of its legs, grasps a branch off a nearby tree and hardly watches as its leaves fall and its bark rots away, revealing an iron-hard sword of pure rot. What could give it pause? Does it know...fear?

Lord Matsumoto's cavalry vanguard rumbles into view, cresting a small ledge ahead. As they come into sight, their war cries sweep towards the silent army of the dead.

---

Toshiba's rethinking this whole riding in their midst idea - not because he shies away from battle, but because the "thunderer" he has been saddled with is a gonne beyond description, more lance than firearm in format. With the bore of a ship's cannon yet with a much thinner barrel, it is as long as he is tall, perhaps longer still. The leather shoulder sling that now holds it in front of his chest seems long enough to hang a brigand from, and the buttstock attached to the back of the weapon inspires little confidence. In fact, Toshiba surmises, this weapon was not meant for a man at all; 'tis made to be planted into the ground, its barrel held aloft by a tripod, to lob its shells over the heads of the defender's lines. If, indeed, it could even do that without exploding.

Yet on a day like this, what can he do but embrace madness?

"Forward!" Matsumoto cries, his harsh voice carrying even over the din of the hooves and the shouts of his men.

Leave it to the old fox to not do things by halves; he is at the very tip of the charge, sword aloft like a banner, and damned if his finest men do not follow him. In an instant, they are upon the unyielding lines of the shadow warriors, riding down all in their path while their weapons scythe a path on either side of them. They plow forward, damn near a hundred shadows shattered in their wake before they are upon the large beast that seems the nexus of this army. Perhaps, Toshiba dares hope, it could all be so simple. Perhaps this really is the last dying gasp of a threat long since defeated, paper tigers in a sense, the dead merely having to be persuaded to lie down. Would that all their worries were for nothing!

And yet, when Matsumoto's blade shatters against the unyielding darkness of the yokai's form, Toshiba can only see that their charge was doomed from the beginning. Thoughts of victory flee his mind as quickly as they came, just as many - not all, but many - of the shadow warriors pull themselves together and rise again, cutting off the vanguard's retreat. Toshiba frowns under his armored helmet. For the first time in what feels like months, there are no helpful memories from the Oni, no flashes of insight, no voice speaking words from beyond. Just him and Yukio's father and a handful of samurai against the hordes of the dead.