5471/The Lost Battalion

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The Lost Battalion
Date of Scene: 06 September 2017
Location: The Tapestry
Synopsis: A unit belonging to the former Franz Republic has set up in the Argonne, and local Imperial forces have been unable to push them out. It's time for Major Degurechaff to round up some volunteers to resolve the problem.
Cast of Characters: Tanya Degurechaff, Captain Flint, 1132, 1108, 1129, Staren

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Welcome to the former Franz Republic. Some might recognize it as France. Hills and hedgerows are just starting to recover after the conclusion of a decade-long war, though the trenches and tracks of long-passed heavy armor can still be seen in the fields. In this part of the country, where rendesvous was declared, is an encampment set up in the fields of an empty farm. A squadron of rustic tanks sits on standby, engines off, and Imperial soldiers in combat gear mill about the perimeter while the inner parts of the tent-town are more relaxed.

    The minor Major herself is already present, clad in her combat coverall and already equipped with her flight unit. Out of habit, she inspects the mechanical parts of her rifle, working the bolt slide back and forth. Once satisfied, she slots in a magazine.

    In the distance is the edge of a densely packed forest, tall oaks and other deciduous trees just starting to turn with the coming autumn. A pair of men rest against the trees, one observing the camp through binoculars while the other speaks quietly into a radio handset, "Position Baker... We just saw her arrive, that little devil..!"

    And deeper in the forest, a haggard officer in a mud-stained blue uniform lets out a tense grunt. Standing over a makeshift map spread out over the stones in front of him, he mutters, "The Devil of the Rhine... We need to move. The coast and the Unified Kingdoms are our only hope now." Snapping a glance aside, he shouts, "Radio, boost your signal as much as possible! We're preparing for evacuation as of right now-- and we'll need a ship to cross the Channel."

Captain Flint has posed:
Within the forest, a chorus of crunching leaves heralds several new arrivals. They have the look of guerilla fighters, only six in number, wearing dirty hand-me-downs and carrying rugged assault rifles scavenged from various different modern worlds. Bringing up the front is the man who seems to be their leader--a man with short red-brown hair tied back to keep it from his eyes. His stern, frowning mouth is surrounded by a trimmed goatee. His eyes search the densely wooded surroundings for the source of the shouting.

     Standing at the edge of the Republic camp, in plain view of any guards that might be posted, Captain Flint raises a hand, his small squad of pirates stopping at his silent command. Between this, and their lack of any effort to conceal the sounds of their approach from the Republic forces, he hopes their intentions will be plain. "I'm called Flint. My men and I heard you have an Imperial problem," he says, not bothering to hide his English accent. "We're prepared to assist--and we've a ship."

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    Information spreads. People talk. Words flow away from one world and into a hundred more, and when the curiosity or other drives are high enough, feet track back the path. "There's an opportunity here," someone, somewhere, on a BBS said. "Someone should check it out."
    "You going?"
    "Can't. Not anytime soon, at least."
    "They'll run out of time."
    "I can't go, either, but I'll compensate anyone who does. Call it a courier job, or an info reward."
    "Got it. En route," came the eventual reply, and somewhere a universe away, a small figure stood, closed up the bullet-scarred machine, and made her way out.
    Alpha-39 arrives not long before Flint, settles herself down a distance from the camp, pulls the brush back over her, and waits. "Making contact" might be in the list of objectives, but she can gather information from here before making that decision. She can also see a fair distance, if not have much chance of spotting anyone using the brush as well as she can.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    he last person to joint he rebel camp isn't exactly the shinobi she got her full-body cloak from, but dramatically appearing from out of rustic, overgrown woods filled with signs of old battle is something she happens to be good at. She had her druthers of how to show up, after all, with all these old-timey radio signals.

    "If you boost it any higher, they'll know where you immediately. You know that, right?" comes the tired, distinctively burnt-out voice from the camp perimeter. "If they're really looking for you, that is." A black gloved(?) finger slides under her black hood, probably to press to a radio earpiece of her own, followed by a long minute of silence while she listens. Only the bottom half of her face is visible, and her mouth remains set in an impassive line.

    "Do you intend to be found? So you can die heroically here while the others escape? You decided to run from the start, didn't you. Why don't you do that. Getting caught and killed here wouldn't be noble." Then she just starts walking towards the edge of the trees, in the direction of the spotter team, keying in her radio locally. "Devil of the Rhine? Is that something I'm supposed to know?"

Miari (1129) has posed:
A call to tamp down on a possible Rebellion? Not entirely Miari's sort of specialty or main interest on the surface... but it's an opportunity to secure more allies, learn more about her companions, and win favors. And thus, she seems to all but appear like a phantom at the meeting place's outskirts before closing in at a swift but dignified clip, her footsteps crunch-crunch-ing the forest floor with perfect rhythm.

    "I understand the situation as, we need to neutralize a military holdout following a regime change. In the event they can be brought to heel without bloodshed, what then?"

Staren has posed:
    Staren heard of the plight of the Empire. A small, progressive nation, attacked by the surrounding nations and forced to defend itself. Now it's allied with the Concord.

    It seems the Empire isn't doing entirely poorly, if it was able to take some territory... But now, there are some holdouts. Admittedly, war is complex. Perhaps they care less about opressing the Empire, and just wish to protect their home. Hopefully they'll see reason and surrender. When the war is over, maybe the territory can return to normal... or maybe life will be better under the Empire!

    Anyway, hopefully this doesn't have to end tragically...

    As he sympathizes with the Empire's plight, Staren is here. In armor, as usual. For a war he'd normally bring the mecha, but... they don't want to destroy the forest, so...

    At Miari's question, he looks at Tanya questioningly.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    When a band of unknown troops approaches the Republic camp, several uniformed men on guard intercept, rifles raised at the ready. Every man here looks worn, tired, like they've been stretched thin by their situation which has doubtless gone on far longer than it should have. However, when Flint introduces himself the men hesitate, and finally lower their rifles when the officer speaks up, "Let them through."

    The soldiers step aside. One leans on his rifle, the same way a spearman would rest against his pike.

    "Marshall DeRaisse," the officer returns Flint's introduction with his own, "And if you're offering a ship--" A2 materializes with robot ninja surprise and he jumps. Resting troops go for their rifles, even DeRaisse goes for his pistol, though intentions are made clear quickly enough and no actual threatening takes place. He lets out a sigh, rubbing his eyes with thumb and forefinger, "It had crossed my mind. It was a decision made to reach ships in the channel. But if mister Flint here already answered, we've no need to use the radio. I've no intention of sacrificing my men for nothing, miss."

    "The Devil of the Rhine," another soldier speaks up. Seated a few paces away, he rocks slightly where he sits, leaning on his rifle, "...She's an Imperial mage. But she's not human. No human fights like that. She's a demon. I saw her at Bastogne. I'll never forget it. The fire, the blood, that /face/... When she comes, death follows. We can only run."

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    "Miari, Staren," Tanya greets the arrivals in the Imperial camp curtly, "This should be enough, from what I've read of your capabilities." Closing her eyes as she speaks, she affixes a pair of plunger grenades to her vest, "The enemy has no mage and no air power. They can only rely on the forest for protection from the air. I suspect they'll either fight or flee for the coastline."

    She pauses, in the middle of slotting a spare magazine, "Hm?" Eyes lifting, she peers up at Miari, "You mean if they surrender?"

    Returning to what she was doing, the young girl calmly admits, "All embers of hatred must be stamped out, or they will flare up into new wars and cause even more suffering. I have no intention of taking prisoners. However, I am also not technically a commanding officer over either of you."

Captain Flint has posed:
Flint gives A2 a discerning glance--indeed, if she'd wanted to cause trouble, her talents would've already allowed her to do so in spades. His eyes turn to the men around the camp. He's seen the look in their eyes before--once, in a different life, he served aboard a ship becalmed, locked in place miles away from civilization with dwindling food and water. The faces on these rebels are like the faces of the men aboard that ship; hungry, tired, worry gnawing at them too consistently for any meaningful sort of rest.

     The captain frowns, banishing those dark memories and focusing instead on the map laid out over the stones. He kneels and studies it, attempting to find the best place to have the Walrus pick up the rebels--as well as searching for the most difficult route to flee. "Do you and your men come from here, Marshall?"

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    A2 has made contact. A-39, therefore, sees less need to. A position is safest when the fewest people know of it. Besides, she's still watching Flint's crew. Who are these guys? They're not with the Watch, at least, so far as she can tell. Not that she'd tell people outside it that she was, either. But they don't look native. She listens in.
    'Mage?' It'd be useful to know how a mage of this world fights. Very useful. But maybe not quite useful enough to break cover. Not when she has an alternative way of finding out.
    Leaving the conversation behind, she works her way in the same direction A2 went, more slowly, eyes out for a new sniper's perch.

Staren has posed:
    Staren looks at Tanya. "That's right. You're not. This is a Concord operation, and we'll do it our way: Leading through our superior capabilities."

    He looks towards the forest. "They have no mages. Normal bullets can't hurt this armor. They don't stand a chance. Killing them is unnecessary." He looks at Miari. "What do you think?"

Miari (1129) has posed:
A few moments to think over Tanya's input on the matter is all Miari needs. Her reply to Staren is simple and to the point. "I'll see how they behave and respond accordingly." Well that's... vague. But also, in a way, informative.

    All she has to do is neutralize them, after all, and a sorceress has many ways to do that.

    "Usually I try to solve problems without lethal outcomes. We'll see if it can be done or not. Don't forget the all-important goal though. If there's a rebellion, it must be extinguished!"

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Tanya's gaze remains fixed on Staren for a long, eerie moment. The way that was worded rubbed her the wrong way, that much is obvious, though she can't really speak out against him agreeing to something she had just admitted to. Her eyes close and she straightens, shouldering her rifle. The indicator on her flight unit starts to glow, "Do as you wish and so will I." The Concord really isn't a military outfit, is it?

    How irritating.

    Tanya's legs bend slightly, and she kicks up some sand while hurling herself into the sky. Under her breath, she mutters, "Time to earn that paycheck. But co-workers like these... I doubt we'll see eye to eye on this... Jeez, a salaryman's life can sure be rough..."

Staren has posed:
    "Sounds reasonable." Staren replies to Tanya's comment, and then he starts heading into the forest. Let the flyer attract attention...

    As he sets out, he deploys drones -- little hand-size quadrotors that spread out to get him eyes on more of the forest. They stay below the treeline for now, though.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    Scrambling for guns is a reaction A2 had expected was likely. It's one she's seen a lot of times before. These men, in their stained and ragged uniforms, looking tired, harried, grim and haunted, fewer in number each day, and with little to keep close to them but half-empty guns; the smell of their sweat and blood is all that differentiates them from countless identical scenes she had seen time and time again.

    Just looking at the Marshall and that same exact way he rubs his eyes when he knows very well he has no good options, assails her with a vivid flash of recollection dredged from her memory banks; the image of a weathered, broad-shouldered, bearded man superimposed over the present, massaging his eyes in eerie unison, and holding his obsolete headset to one ear. He says "It's still nothing but static. On that channel too. We have to face facts. We-"

    He disappears when A2 blinks. The absence leaves her feeling sick to her stomach, but as always, she closes her eyes and wills the feeling away. A few moments later, the forest around her once again belongs to the early twentieth century of some far flung world she's never heard of. A different place and time, where there still remains something she can do.

    "If you want to run, then run. Go home. You still have one, don't you?" A2 says, pausing briefly beside the terrified soldier. "Nobody should be forced to fight. Fighting the way you are now will just get you killed. If you can't win, then there's no point in dying." Something about the way she says it makes it impossible to mistake for an insult. That tone of resignation couldn't possibly be one meant to question someone's bravery.

    Sooner or later, she ends up at the spot the observers either are using, or were previously using, depending on how quick they are to fall back once Flint has a plan drawn up. She looks out from the tries to the Imperial camp ahead, not so much as shielding her eyes from the sun as she cranes her neck to follow the dot of Tanya rising into the sky. "Alpha Thirty-Nine. Can you shoot that one down? I assume that has to be their mage." Regardless of her answer, though, A2 preempts the need for Staren's drones by walking right out into the open. Albeit, she's just some distant figure in an incredibly generic black cloak, probably just fine for forest ops. She isn't even armed. Plausibly a surrender, though, there's no white flag. A negotiator?

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    "I am," DeRaisse admits, "And several others in the company as well. The Argonne follows the old border to here." Leaning, he points, "We've been slowly working our way north as it is, evading search companies or engaging them in running battles until they broke off, but with that Mage present, we've got no choice." With a sigh, he admits, "We'll have to cross the hedgerows in one go, or that mage will eradicate the entire formation. We aren't equipped for that kind of fight."

    Crouching down as well, he cradles his chin in one hand, "Our path is going to depend on where your ship is anchored. There's only sixty-five of us left so space is not likely an issue for a sufficiently sized vessel, reaching it is the challenge..."

    At the observation post, the two soldiers glance back when A2 approaches them. The one with binoculars quickly returns to his duty while the second simply greets her. After all, she would've killed them already if she wanted to. He just accepts that she's not hostile on that fact alone, "Ma'am."

    "J-Jaques..!" Binoculars drops his lenses and points, "She's taken off! Alert the Marshal..!"

    While Jaques spins up his radio, A2 just straight up walks past him, and as a result the first word that the main camp's radioman hears is "--Shit, lady, get back here..!" before he recovers, "The Devil's airborne, stay in cover!"

Miari (1129) has posed:
Miari remains quiet about Staren's earlier outburst as her attention focuses on the forest... the forest she begins to trek through. She cannot hope much for stealth but she does hyper-focus her attention. She needs to find these soldiers before she can DO anything about them!

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    "Flying" seems like a pretty good indicator of combat magic, and that's a pretty good reason for soldiers to call someone a "mage." A-39 wasn't watching the air, so she only spots Tanya after A2 calls attention to her. Immediately, the grounded soldier drops through the brush, bringing her AMR up in the same motion. Her mask stays off, but she doesn't need it with light and a good scope, and she has both, at least when looking above the canopy.
    There might have been a long moment of tension after this. A waiting for orders, clarification, or identification. In other hands, that may have been true. A-39 thinks through the immediate objectives, assigns priorities, intuitively understands the results without subvocalizing her reasoning, and fires before A2 has finished speaking.
    Tanya's getting two tankbuster rounds popped off at her from below, the second chambered and fired just after adjusting aim, before the sniper picks up and tears through the forest, camo melting in, taking no chances. It's loud.

Captain Flint has posed:
Flint listens to DeRaisse's assessment, looking over his shoulder and nodding before following the Marshall's finger across the map. His mind begins working the details over. They'll have to make a run for it in the least advantageous way possible--but there's still something that can be done. He rises, only for his meditation to be broken by the sounds of panic.

     Acting quickly, he places a hand on DeRaisse's shoulder, fingers gripping tightly and attempting to force the Marshall to turn and face him. "My ship is anchored on the outskirts of the swamp. She's a square-rigger, impossible to miss." Square-rigger as in... sailing ship, yes.

     Despite this seemingly absurd revelation, Flint's face retains its grave expression. His grip tightens, and his intense gaze is levelled wholly upon DeRaisse, jaw settling with determination. "Fighting them directly is impossible, but I can slow them down. I need all of your ammo, every shoelace in this camp, and every canned meal, full or empty, you can find, right here." He points demonstratively to the ground. "Then, I want you and your men to run like Hell and don't look back. My men, and presumably our friends, will cover you."

     With that, Flint releases his hold on the Marshall and wheels around to face A2, observing. He calls out to her. "If they're spying on us, in any way, I implore you to frustrate their efforts!"

Staren has posed:
    Staren sees a figure in a black cloak come out of the forest. Well then. "You there. This is the Concord. We are more inclined to accept surrender than the so-called 'Devil'. Stand down and accept that this is now Imperial territory. There doesn't need to be any blood shed today."

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Tanya ascends in an arc that pulls her towards the edge of the Argonne, unslinging her rifle. With her other hand, she touches her communicator to her throat, relaying some answers to questions posed via radio. The flash down below. Immediatley, Tanya arrests her motion as the first anti-material round slams into a mystical blue barrier surrounding her. The second hits in almost the same place, punching through with a sound like shattering glass and exploding above her-- highlighting that side of the bubble when shrapnel rains down.

    With a tense frown, she skims the treeline for movement. Seeing no immediate follow-up shot, Tanya's eyes narrow.

    "Believers, have faith in the Lord's blessings. For the Lord will not abandon us." Bracing, she lifts her rifle, while the visible holes in her Barrier begin to close. Sighting down her rifle, she continues, "Give me the power to smite the Fatherland's enemies." Her eyes widen, flashing from blue to gold. In that instant, she fires a single round.

    It impacts amidst the trees with the explosive force of an artillery shell, in roughly the place she'd been shot from. Eyes dart through the woods, and when she spots unusual movement, she adjusts and fires a second round into the trees.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    When grabbed, Marshal DeRaisse pauses, staring at Flint's face when he's given a basic plan. From the sound of it, 'Give me the supplies I need, we will hold them off' is what the officer interprets from the command given. The fact that the boat is an older style sailing ship isn't lost on him-- but he's not about to turn it down, either. A ship like that would be the only thing that could even get this far inland, and it's just what's needed in an emergency. After this moment of thought, the Marshall nods, "Right." His own hand claps down on Flint's, briefly, "And thank you, Sir."

    The explosion of Tanya's shell is uncomfortably close, causing many soldiers to flinch and then look skyward in unease. It's DeRaisse who rounds up their courage, "Men, we're moving northeast to the border marsh! Drop everything that will slow you down! Ammunition, provisions, even bootlaces, drop it here and move! We are leaving!"

    That lights a fire under the assembled troops, who begin filing past Flint, dropping... well, more than just bullets, canned goods, and shoelaces. There's backpacks, cooking pans, and a few other things there too. None discards his weapon, though.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    A2 lifts a hand to wave vaguely in Flint's direction as she leaves. "Don't worry about it. We have it in hand. Whoever you are, you're doing good work." A few seconds later, she disappears into the brush, her radio activates, and the Flint is answered by the sound of double gunshots from afar. Stepping over the underbrush, it kind of looks like she had been wearing high heels.

    Swapping perspective back to the present, A2 stops in the barren fields of the abandoned farmland, just close enough to count tanks, and verify they aren't ready to run. A cursory examination of the manpower and materiel loitering at the camp confirms to her that they had expected this 'Devil' to do all the heavy lifting in the first place. A few thoughts strike her, piling up on each other in steady succession whilst she has their attention, but it's Staren's voice that causes her fingers to clench into a creaking fist.

    "You again." declares A2. She throws her hood back. There's no point in hiding it. Silver hair falls down her back, and lavender eyes with translucent pupils lock on to the powered suit. "This is a relief." she says, in the least relieved tone imaginable. "If you're the enemy, that means I must be doing the right thing."

    "It also means that if you're here help the Devil kill everyone she finds, you shouldn't have any problem with me killing everyone I find as well. I wonder how she'd feel to come running back and find out all her comrades are dead, after she was so eager to do the same to someone else. Do you think she'd see it as an even trade? Do you think she wouldn't care at all? Do you think she'd recognize what kind of misery it is?"

    The black cape dissolves into a cloud of gold particles. An electric hum and an amber glow coalesces into a sword sized for chopping tanks in A2's hands. The Android charges head on into the camp, splintering the fences in her way, and dives recklessly into the perimeter.

Staren has posed:
    HER again. "Oh my fuckin' god." Staren starts shooting the beam cannons at A2 as soon as she reveals herself. He takes to the air, flying over her, but he knows his weapons aren't much good. "Shut up. Don't pretend you care about lives!" He may not be able to effectively HURT her, but maybe he can keep her attention while Miari or Tanya does something.

    "RUN!" he shouts to the imperial camp.

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    A-39 had planned to stop on getting a certain distance away, moving even further from the Republic camp, but when something like an artillery strike goes off behind her, she flattens with a tree between her and the flash of light and fire. There'll surely be movement somewhere in the forest after that. Unfortunately, for Tanya, it won't be from the girl who fired at her.
    Two rounds. Both hit. Defense harder than a tank. If it were A-39 who took that attack, she'd have her entrails scattered over an acre of treetops by now. Soft targets that let everyone within three kilometers see them don't tend to live long enough to get fancy equipment, in her experience, so seeing this one fly up so easily was enough to rouse suspicion that she might be a hardened target. Even with an ambush, two rounds is all she'd take time for, because this soldier has lived a long while, and she's done that by rationing risk.
    Without an ambush, one round. Somewhere, something moves. Tanya turns and makes that place explode. The moment she's turned, A-39's rifle fires. She doesn't even recover from the recoil before she's moving again, even further from the fleeing soldiers. She expects the third artillery strike will be a swifter one, if her opponent's wit is quick enough to find a sniper after a single shot.
    You don't live long if you ever bet otherwise.

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    With the Elenium Type 95 in full power mode, the third Anti-Material round to slam into Tanya's barrier only manages to crack it. The first two had punched holes through it. The impact, however, does cause the girl to flinch while ejecting her rifle's spent cartridge. A harassment tactic. Golden glowing eyes narrow. They're baiting her. Leading her away from something. Either the enemy soldiers or, perhaps, the android Staren just reported attacking the Imperial encampment.

    With a 'tch' sound, Tanya bends her knees, then ascends again. She turns as she rises, throwing her free hand out in an arc. In its wake, various green-tinted indicators appear, projected from the Type 95 concealed inside her battle suit. The central image scatters white points, which all converge on a single place and zoom in, providing a zoomed image of A2 tearing into the soldiers at the Imperial camp.

    Her rifle is raised. At this altitude, she should be safer from ground fire... and a single round is let loose. This round travels long range, a laser-like bolt of bright blue magic. A sniping spell.

    At the camp itself, soldiers on guard open fire, while those who weren't ready for combat scatter. Some rush for the tanks, and one of the armored vehicles' engines rumbles to life. It starts backing out of the parked formation while the turret swings around. But it's technology from World War 1 facing off against a super-advanced combat android from the far future. They probably won't get much done without help.

Captain Flint has posed:
Flint raises a hand to shield his eyes as clumps of moist earth and singed leaves shoot up in an almost pyroclastic display. This, from one woman? No wonder the men are scared--but sophisticated weaponry on its own doesn't win wars. He barks orders to his men. "Mr. Barrows, Mr. Hanlon, escort DeRaisse's men! Howell, Mose, Briggs, gather up the supplies and do exactly as I say!"

     Two of his squad, both armed with Kalashkinov-inspired assault rifles, break into a jog, their weapons at the ready as they escort DeRaisse and his troops.

     The captain and the other three begin making use of the requested supplies with the limited time they have. A2's distraction will hopefully buy some extra time, but even so, it's not the advance notice he usually likes to have.

     The cans are emptied out, the lids bent to create a flexible, convex surface. Handfuls of live ammunition are hurriedly placed upside down into the cans. Shoelaces are tied around the lids, with the plastic-covered endpoint resting inside the can, pressed precariously against the primer pocket of the center bullet. Any pressure on the can will bend the lid and hopefully drive the plastic-covered endpoint through the center bullet. It's not perfect, or guaranteed to work, but if even one goes off it could buy precious time.

     As he works, the sharp edge of a can's lid nicks his hurried finger. "Shit." He wrings his hand for just a few seconds, finishing up the last one. "How many do we have?"

     "Not many," says Howell with a grim frown. His precise fingers make a good match for this work, but it's clear he doesn't care for it. "They've been fighting on the run for some time."

     "Spread them out. Harry their pursuit." Flint says. "Lid facing down--GENTLY. Handfuls of leaves on top, and stay out of their sight if you can. Make the best of what you have, then join the others." The mayhem going on around him doesn't seem to bother the captain at all--this is his element, at sea or otherwise.

     Flint and his men spread the makeshift landmines through the forest, each one concealed with a handful or two of fallen leaves, each man careful not to block his own path back to the fleeing rebels. In time, and provided there are no attempts to halt them, the four of them turn a small swath of the forest into a minefield, littered with improvised explosive devices.

Miari (1129) has posed:
It is probably a VERY good thing that Miari hasn't strayed TOO FAR from Staren... because she hears the yelling from half a clearing away... and decides to respond quickly. Crimson winds whip up around her body and hoist her straight off the ground. She's soon ROCKETING over the distance on a mobile whirlwind...

    And still manages to hear the banter being thrown around.

    "Scrambling awfully hard to find a reason to be lethal, aren't you?!"

    Staren asked for 'magical flying fire swords' and, oddly enough, this is EXACTLY what he gets as Miari touches down and gestures broadly at A2.

    And a handful of swords, spears, axes, spikes, claws, knives, and chunks of other bladed weapons - all formed out of pure fire - appears from NOWHERE around A2 and whips past her and into the ground. The flaming weapons have no real substance... it's just fire. But the fiery WHOOOOOSH is enough to knock people off feet and scorch at once. Miari's holding back with a warning shot, it seems!

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    Not too long ago, a number of people responded to a call for monster extermination in a ruined Japan, not too far from here, by Multiversal measurements. They defeated a hideously deformed and gigantic bird that spewed corrosive toxins from all over its body. The one who hired them said that the flesh could be used for certain medicines, and parts of it could even be eaten, if you knew how.

    No return fire. Withdrew to greater range. Did she lose her? The possibility moves over into the 'reasonable risk' column of A-39's mental model. The effect of her shot is less promising. Defenses improved past original specs. Either an active combat mode or influenced by awareness. Additional measures will be needed.
    Maintaining her current position, eyeballing her risen target without the scope, A-39 reloads, then lets her rifle drops on its sling. She pulls a syringe out of one of her multitude of pouches. There's a pink-red hue that can confirm little but that it isn't just blood, before she pulls aside cloth and injects her arm with practiced ease. The fluid is drained away, the syringe tossed back into the pouch to avoid littering.
    Pupils dilate, blood pounds, breath deepens, and muscles contract. It takes a moment to settle, and then hands move with unerring accuracy, swift and reliable as any assembly line robot. The rifle is raised, eye to the scope, range still what the Alpha unit would call "short," and the first round fired. Shell ejected, corrected in the same motion, fired before the barrel comes to a stop. Ejection, correction, fire. It all happens in less time than the two rounds at the beginning, target tracked continuously. Only then does she again begin to move.
    Tanya was half-right. Distraction is an objective, but only a secondary one. There's not even that much of a reason for it, except that it's obvious that the most effective, reliable means of letting the Republic get away is for the devil to become a casualty of war.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    "Drop dead! There's almost a hundred lives depending on me right now, and if it's fine with you they go up in flames, I'll cut down ten million like you without a second thought!"

    This time, A2 is ready for the beam cannons. Already knowing where they are, Staren's armoured wrists lining up with her trips her ballistic warning systems, which preemptively paints her vision with per-calculated firing trajectories, and pushes her cognitive processing into a heightened combat state, subjectively slowing down time. Rather than being blasted straight through the chest like last time, the Attacker model suddenly begins rapidly weaving through Staren's frantic beam fire with TAS-esque confidence, taking the path that opens up beneath him when he gets airborne and then suddenly diving under the first barrage of gunfire from the startled guards as if she had seen it coming.

    At top speed, she slides fluidly under the hull of the active tank, disappearing from sight for an instant, before bracing her shoulders against the dirt and kicking it with both legs from below, flipping it into the air. Before it even hits the ground, she sets into the firing line without a moment's hesitation. A single swing of her sword covers an arc wide enough for fifteen men to stand inside, and when she releases her grip on it, the holographic rings that take the hilt, guided by the motions of her hands, turn that arc into an outwardly expanding double spiral fit for fifty more. A weapon built for Goliath-class Machine Lifeforms is overkill, but that hardly seems to be relevant.

    A2 has placed humans at her back, and thus to her degrading ethical software limiters, all the ones in front are just squishier YoRHa androids. It's not the first, or the tenth, or the hundredth time, she's ended up splattered in red blood.

    The barrage of flying magical weapons causes her to temporarily break off the attack, if only to see where it came from, and if only briefly. Since none of them come close to hitting her, none of them trip emergency evasive protocols, and so A2 reflexively tries to avoid none of them. She steps off an idle tank and leaping over them, landing and pivoting on her heel with her giant sword twirling back to her, locking eyes with Miari. "You think you're being funny?" she says, firelight blotting out any expressiveness to be found on her face.

    Stopping was a mistake. From out of the blue, a thin ray of blue light streaks towards her center of mass at incredibly high speed, and A2's sensor range is only so long. By the time she catches it, she has just enough time to turn her side, already uncannily quick to those watching, and then the sniping spell punches through the exposed black underlayer over her 'ribs' on one side and blasts out the exposed and crumbling sub-dermal armour of her midriff on the other, spilling her own blood onto the grass. The Android is thrown off her feet, tumbling through the mud and hay, and then staggers back upright with the assistance of an abandoned machine gun stand, glowering daggers at Miari. It looks like pretty severe damage, but A2 rapidly starts to regain her legs, as plentiful armour fragments and spent brass dissolve into pixels of white light and are pulled into her wounds.

Staren has posed:
    Staren glares at A2 briefly at her words. He's so tempted to respond...

    No. It's a waste of time. She's probably choosing words calculated to distract him. If she cared about lives... He could understand rejecting the Warp Iris as a monster, but the people of OMNI's city?

    Wordlessly, he turns and leaves, flying out over the forest. The others can handle her (He hopes... Miari seems like she can take care of herself, right?)

    The drones rise just above the treeline. The next sniper shot at Tanya /or/ himself will be tracked and traced to its source.

    Staren pulls the JA-12 laser rifle from his back, ready to to send a concentrated beam of light that can punch through buildings, let alone trees, wherever the tacnet tells him to aim...

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Tanya lowers her rifle, squinting at the magical display showing the result of her long range precision spell. That'll have to do for now, because her initial problem is still present. She can't see the shooter in the trees, but she knows the sniper is still around, an assumption that is proven when another anti-tank round strikes her shell. Immediately, the White Silver drops altitude, the second of swiftly fired shells impacting the same place and sending cracks throughout. The third, however, glances off and explodes somewhere above her.

    With a frown, she twists around and ascends again. And this time, it's not a leisurely rise in altitude. She rockets up into the sky, rapidly approaching and then passing the cloud layer. After a few moments, she drops back down into view beneath the clouds, and here the girl adjusts her radio into a wide-band broadcast.

    "This is the Empire's land!" she declares, pushing one hand to one side, "This is the Empire's sky!" Her other hand, holding her rifle, pushes the other direction, and she 'stands' in midair like that, "The war has ended and your country has surrendered! Your resistance proves nothing other than your hate for peace! Submit to the terms of surrender agreed upon by the former Franz Republic or be pursued until destroyed! This is your only option!"

    At the Imperial camp, the tank that had started up takes advantage of A2's surprise damage, opening fire on her where she's landed.

    However, it seems like A2's action has halted any attempt at pursuit. And Captain Flint's ingeniuity is no doubt going to hinder the Empire when they ARE able to pursue. Has the Lost Battalion been rescued with no further casualties?

Miari (1129) has posed:
Miari would frown at being so underestimated, but a battlefield is no place to show her true feelings. So she maintains a mild smirk instead... one that only flinches a bit as a horribly potent snipe smashes into A2.

    "Negotiating with some sensible soldiers was my goal, but if I have to crack through a bloodthirsty guardian... or wait, don't tell me the whole resistance movement is this feisty?"

    With a sigh, the greenette gestures...

    And A2 will find a force plowing into her, scooping her up as though a mighty hand seeks to simply sweep her off the field of battle.

    Yeah, Miari's trying to Mind-Hand FLING her out of the picture... but it's a decisively reserved manuever.

Captain Flint has posed:
"That's all of them," Howell says, having planted the last improvised landmine and buried it under a few handfuls of leaves.

     From a radio in one of the discarded backpacks comes Tanya's ultimatum, muffled by a layer or two of cloth.

     "The Devil of the Rhine," Flint mutters, hand stroking his goatee. He turns his attention back to his waiting men, weighing his options. While their stolen weapons and Flint's guerilla tactics might work on the Empire's footsoldiers, he doesn't like the odds with the air support they seem to have. A2 and her friend seem better equipped for fighting them directly, anyway.

     "Let's rejoin with the others. Keep moving and don't run in a straight line." The four men make a break for it, each one moving erratically between trees on the off chance they're being followed or trailed by an enemy marksman. The goal is to catch up with the fleeing rebels at the Walrus, anchored just outside of the waterlogged swamp town.

Kyoko Takada (1132) has posed:
    A-39 can't see Staren's drones, assuming they're that low and not near her. She can't see Staren, either, if he's not bothering to fly up to get an easier look at her position. As for Tanya...
    With a click of her tongue, A-39 keys her radio. "Target withdrew to extreme range. Short of emptying a magazine on one spot... can't take her without return fire." She pauses, sighting up through her scope to where she can still see the mage, then lowering it and scanning the visible skyline, what there is of it. It's still tempting, but her third shot was glancing. At this range, it'll be difficult enough just to hit half a dozen times, even if the lack of return fire is encouraging. "Status?" Another pause. "Got it. Pulling back to check the prime objective."
    Without firing another shot, but with the drugs still keeping to a wholly uncomfortable level of hyperalertness, she moves back through the brush at an angle, intersecting with where she expects Flint has been herding the soldiers. With no way to radio securely to them, nor Flint, she'll need to actually see the evacuation before she can update A2 on their job here being done.

A2 (1108) has posed:
    The distinctly aliased white lights gather together in gradually greater density around A2, glowing lines of the same faintly flickering up her body as if displayed on a cycling monitor. Miari wouldn't be able to see the emptied part of the integrity gauge in A2's HUD filling up with a steadily growing white bar section, but the regenerative effect is obvious from the way that her bleeding very quickly stops, and the Android pushes herself up back into a fighting stance. Her sword, left embedded in the ground, dissolves into humming amber fireflies, and reforms in her hand. One is apparently enough to keep the massive thing raised and pointed at Miari.

    "'Sensible' and 'soldier' are a contradiction. Nobody fights by taking orders unless they've already given up on doing the sensible thing. When they're forced to do the smart thing again, they stop being soldiers. They're 'insurgents' or 'guerillas' or 'rebels' or 'traitors', and then they get hunted like rabbits. How about you ask your 'Devil of the Rhine' about bloodthirst, huh?"

    'Decisively reserved' is a poor use of a good choice of method. The invisible force catches A2 completely unawares and unimpeded, but the high heels are apparently misleading; she weighs many times what she actually should by any canny assessment. She goes up, off the ground, and back, toward the barn, but very quickly thumps back to earth like a lead weight, rather than sailing elegantly away like a paper plane. A grain crate smashes under her when she abruptly comes back down, finding her feet all too quickly before landing. It's a soft-handed miscalculation that could get very ugly.

    At the time, though, Flint has just finished covering the retreat, the men have a significant head start, A-39 has indicated her disengagement from Tanya and advised withdrawal from the field, and the Empire forces (sans Tanya herself) aren't in a position to chase. A2 only remains fixed on Miari for a little while longer, before her intense attention to the radio buzzing in her ear gives her reason to pause. A split-second motion of her eyes, glancing to Miari's left, is all precedes her leaping from her feet, where an elaborate series of light and dark ripples converge from all around and accelerate her into a high speed, gravity-'skating' dash towards the sorceress.

    Should Miari make no move to get in the way, A2 will actually shoot just past her, and immediately down the hill and into the tree line, leaving a wake of shockwave-flattened stalks behind her. Getting in the way entails taking said shockwaves head on; relatively dangerous, and hard to remain in the way for long.

Staren has posed:
    Staren floats over the treeline. Trying to bait out the sniper, perhaps, but no attack comes.

    The idea that they'd have placed landmines doesn't occur to him. Someone may die because of that. As soon as he learns of it though, there will certainly be golem and robot minesweepers on the case.

    He came to resolve this with minimal death. It seems to have worked out that way, but not in the way he hoped.

    That combat android is clearly set in some insane view of the world, if she actually believes it and isn't just messing witrh him. It's clear she's going to be a thorn in the side of more reasonable folk in the future... but what is he going to do about it?

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    At the edge of the Argonne, Marshall DeRaisse and his men finally catch sight of the Walrus, floating in a deeper part of the bog. The relief passes through those sixty-five men like a tangible wave. Not one casualty, with that Imperial Mage on the case? The officer turns towards the pirates escorting his unit, nodding briefly, "You have no idea how grateful I am for what you and your captain has done for these men today. I'll be sure to forward your captain's name to the Queen in the Unified Kingdoms for this."

Tanya Degurechaff has posed:
    Nothing from the ground. Tanya frowns. After a few moments with no response, the girl's outline flickers, then disperses completely. The actual Tanya descends from the clouds on a course for the flames of the encampment at the farmhouse. Reaching up, she presses her communicator against her throat with thumb and forefinger, "Search and seizure is called off. We'll need to approach this when our own base is more secure. The enemy battalion has most likely escaped to the north during this elite intervention. All units rendesvous at base camp for recovery and triage."

    That intense frown is cast in the direction A2 fled in. This woman cost her men, material, and time. None of which are going to look good on her report to Strategic Command. Tanya's eyes roll upward in thought.

    Then again, the force encountered was substantially stronger than intelligence indicated, so maybe she could squeak by without losing too much credibility...

Captain Flint has posed:
At the Walrus, Morley and Turk help the soldiers onto the ship. None of the rest of the crew bothered to go local, and the rebels are treated to a uniquely Multiversal sight. An 18th century sailing ship, with a crew of burly, dirty pirates in period attire... her hull outfitted with space age armored panels and her cannons clearly factory-made works of precision.

     "Don't thank me," scoffs Turk as the soldiers file on. "Vote to help you buggers barely passed." He is repaid with a slap on the back of the head from Morley as Flint and the rest of the squad arrive.

     The captain himself has his ship sailing the men towards safety 'handsomely,' as he puts it, giving a series of orders to get the Walrus underway as quickly as possible. They've won the day today, but the very nature of being rebels means that lasting victory will likely be an uphill battle for these men. No casualties, on the Republic side, or among Flint's men, something both groups will likely celebrate later. "Steady as she goes, Mr. DeGroot."

     Sometimes, one simply takes a moment to appreciate a clean haul.