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All the games that have been played only once on the NLSS

Since NL asked for it on the Wednesday show, I thought I would make a list. All info and links are from TwoAndAHalfScums so if there are mistakes I'm completely innocent. Also I've included links to the them being played. The list is in alphabetical order. The list also includes shows without NL/noNLSS and the solo shows. Naturally there are probably mistakes here so the final number is probably slightly off. For example clubhouse includes Checkers and President, but he also played them on Tabletop Sim on the NLSS so if you want to strike them out go ahead. I didn't count the minigames from Tower Unite as separate games. The latest NLSS (July 15th 2020) had two games played for the first time, Wanba Warriors and Party Arena: Board Game Battler. Since that show doesn't have a permanent link I haven't put any on them.
The conclusion according to my calculations is that 256 games have been played once on the NLSS.
submitted by Kamandi91 to northernlion [link] [comments]

The Kharadron invasion of the Skitterfort / fluffy text for a tabletop battle

[As a quick introduction, I play a highly converted Duardin army. They are made by combining old Fantasy Dwarves with Kharadron Overlords. In this specific instance, I played them using Tempest Eye rules. This was my first AoS game, playing against a friend with a Skaven army. I had such a good time that I thought I'd make a little text describing the battle. Hope you like it!]

Thrice did Grundcaptain Alaric discharge his volley pistol into the head of the dying Skaven Stormfiend lying in front of him. That might have seemed excessive to the unexperienced eye, but two duardins died under his command during a previous battle, after considering as dead a Stormfiend with half his skull blasted away. Alaric was adamant about never making the same mistake twice.
Capt’n ?
The voice came from him left. The Grundcaptain instinctively pivoted the optical sensor at the back of his helmet even before he turned his head. He saw gunnery sergeant Gromm closing in with heavy steps, his aethercannon on his shoulder. The acid blood of a Skaven abomination had attacked his mask, but not enough to compromise the sealing of his armor. He was lucky. The atmosphere was too thin here for a duardin to breath.
Sergeant,” started the Grundcaptain, “You swore that you would hold the Fist of Grudging, and you stood true to your word. You honor your ancestors.”
His Skalfhammer in one hand, his volley pistol in the other, Alaric could not properly execute the salute of Barak-Thryng’s Grundstok Academy, so he simply nodded solemnly. The still-burning wreck of the Khrundal-class battleship, the Fist of Grudging, was laying behind Gromm.
This massive vessel, flagship of Barak-Thryng’s reprisal fleet, had been shot down during the very first salvos of the air battle. The Skaven stratofortress known as the Skitterfort looked more akin to a floating chunk of rock than a proper fortification, but had in its bowels an experimental electrical weapon that swatted the Fist of Grudging out of the air, cutting it in half. The Gunnery Sergeant’s unit, along with eight other Grundstok squads, had been dispatched to secure the wreck and save the Arkanaut Admiral in charge of the expedition.
“Is Admiral Khar-bar safe and sound?” asked Alaric while putting his volley gun back in his holster.
Centuries of training and practice at the Grundstok Academy allowed Alaric to identify Gromm’s shame immediately. Shame was common in a sky-port as traditinonalist as Barak-Thryng. Even if Alaric had been a mere Arkanaut crewmember, he would have learned in his young years to recognize when a duardin had a bad news to announce.
Capt’n, we secured the admiral. He is wounded, but will be able to lead the purge of the fortress. The Grundlieutenant, however…”
Behind the optical sensors of his helmet, both of Alaric’s eyes opened wide. His mouth looked for words during few seconds before he took back control of himself.
Valgha… Valgha cannot…”
Alaric does not have much memory of the following hours. He remembers crossing the battlefield until the field HQ established in the wreck of the Fist. Devastation was obvious all over the surface of the Skaven stratofortress. Gunhaulers were crashed everywhere, not far from the rubbles of ratmen artillery towers. Multiple cruisers had their hull breached and were scattered, while in the distance Skaven skirmiships were still visible, exchanging artillery salvos with pursuing Barak-Thryng ships.
At the Fist of Grudging the situation was fairly stable. The Arkanaut companies, mostly through fortified firing nests of aethermatic volley guns, had already established solid defensive positions. Above their heads, a few frigates and cruisers kept a watchful eye on the landing area of Barak-Thryng’s troops. A non-negligible part of the sky-port’s military forces was deployed for this operation, and nothing was to disturb their landing on the Skitterfort.
Alaric’s Grundcarrier, the Iron Cloud, was much more a transport than a battleship. It usually stayed away from the battle, letting the rest of the Grundfleet securing the area. This time however, the Iron Cloud was positioned vertically above the Fist of Grudging, and its dozen of aethercopters were constantly making roundtrips between the ship and the landing zone, each time dropping an entire squad of Thunderdrakes or Steelwardens.
Not much was left of Grundlieutenant Valgha for Alaric to mourn. When the Grundcaptain started praying the Old Golds, the silence that fell was so heavy that Stormbreakers around him felt as if the sealing of their armor was compromised and oxygen was running low. Alaric woke up from his torpor with the sound of a cannonade outside. A trio of frigates were generously bombarding a Skaven counter-attack while three regiments of Thunderdrakes unleashed volley after volley of aethershots from their grundrifles.
The Thaggoraki will pay,” growled Alaric, “deploy the rest of our reserves as well as the Aetherbomb. We’ll wipe out this rathole.”
As an answer, Steelwardens around hit their aetherswords on their skyshields while Thunderdrakes launched a volley of blue-white shots skyward. The Duardin are a grudging people. Barak-Thryng is a sky-port known of its respect of things of old, including the Great Book of Grudges, and none was so comprehensive in their grudgemaking as the Stormbreakers. And that was a grudgin’.
The campaign of the Skitterfort was originally supposed to last for three months, and the objective was to transform the stratofortress into a fortified outpost at the fringe of Kharadron territory. Alaric decided to use their trump cards head-on, and to make it a three days battle. He officially announced to admiral Khar-bar that the Skaven infestation was too deep to purge the floating rock, and that the only solution was to destroy it so the ratmen would not use it any longer.
In truth, vengeance was blinding Alaric’s judgement. While wave after wave or Barak-Thryng’s Arkanauts were deploying to secure the surface and probe the Skaven’s inner defenses, the Grundcaptain assembled the entirety of the Stormbreakers. More than ten thousand duardin, all member of this elite corps. Enough to carve a path into the heart of the stratofortress.
The Stormbreaker’s tactic was simple enough: A massive singular unit, impossible to stop. The Steelwardens and their antimagic defenses were spread out on the outer perimeter, stopping the Skaven attacks with their skyshields. Just behind them were the Aetherhammerers, ready to obliterate any ratman resilient enough to withstand few seconds of contact with the Steelwarden. In the center were the Thunderdrakes, shooting in all directions, including above the army, and focusing down the larger Skaven flesh-abominations. In the back, the Stonebeards were forming a rearguard and supporting the other Stormbreakers wherever they were needed. For hours the Skaven could barely slow down this Dawitide, delving deeper and deeper in the large main avenue of the Skitterfort.
How much deeper, Gomril?” shouted Alaric while swapping aside three clanrats in a single blow of his Skalfhammer. The Grundcaptain had lost track of where he was exactly, and trusted his Endrinsmith to make all the calculations for him. The Stormbreakers had just entered an absolutely massive inner cave, looking like a small city or workshop. Plague-ridden corpses were left to decompose in the streets, and the Thaggoraki had decided to put up a serious resistance here.
The Endrinsmith pulled many exotic measuring device in the middle of the mayhem. Alaric could not see his face behind his mask, but he knew his friend was making calculations. Overhead a salvo of green balls of filth flew across the battlefield, crashing into the melee of Steelwardens and Clanrats. “Plague catapults!” shouted Gunnery Sergeant Gromm, “Mortars, focus fire!”
Endrinsmith Gomril boosted the volume on his mouth-speaker so that he could be heard by Alaric. “Grundcaptain, this will do! We are deep enough in the Skitterfort. The Aetherbomb will obliterate the stratofortress!”
That was all he needed to hear. “Sons and daughters of Grungni!” roared Alaric, “This is where we stand! This is where we break the vermintide!”
Every duardin knew the objective there. To hold long enough so that the Aetherbomb could be weaponized. The many regiments of Stormbreakers started to deploy across the plague-city, knowing they would win or die here. Alaric trusted his Grundlieutenants to command their forces efficiently. He took his own forces, put the Stonebeards at the front, and charged through the center.
Khazukan Kazakit-HA” yelled all the duardin as a single voice.
The impact was awe-inspiring. Fifty skaven censor-bearers jumped from behind ruins, rushing an advancing regiment of a hundred Stonebeards. Bracing for impact did little for the duardin, who were slaughtered by the frenzied assault of the vermin.
Reinforce that flank!”
Steelwardens and Aetherhammerers poured in the breach, massacring the censer-bearers to the last rat. The poisonous fumes of the Pestilens had injured many surviving Stonebeards, most of which could barely walk. Even the protective craft of the accompanying Runeforger could barely delay the infection.
Bring them back to the ship,” ordered the Grundcaptain. “Quarantine them, treat them, and back to Barak-Thryng. I won’t sacrifice duardin lives for nothing.”
“Captain !” shouted one of the Aetherkeeper – the leader of an Aetherhammerer squad. “Here they come!”
A wave of filth and decay came over a series of crumbling building, the wet wood of the houses creaking under the weight of four hundred plaguemonks rushing over the roofs.
We’ve had worse!” grunted the Grundcaptain, “It’s not a few hundreds of Thaggoraki that will-“
He could not finish his sentence before an explosion of raw warpstones obliterated the regiment on his right. Hundreds of Stormbreakers perished in an instant when the whole group of Grundlieutenant Kormaz was erased from existence, replaced by a being of pure malevolence. They were all trained for this kind of situation, but this was too much.
“That… That’s…” started the Runeforger. Way behind them, a team of mortar-equipped Grundstoks launched a salvo of explosives on the newly appeared daemon, destroying what was left of the neighborhood where he appeared, but inflicting no apparent damage.
Verminlord!” cried out Alaric in alarm, “Support teams, focus fire on this aberration!”
This Lord of Filth started spellcasting, preparing what was without a doubt something that would slaughter many duardin. The Runeforger, however, was quick with his wit, and activated his strongest aetherune. The Verminlord, not yet entirely in this reality, did not have enough strength to conjure his spell.
The Skaven monstruosity was the biggest danger here, but there was no choice for Alaric except handling the coming wave of Plague Monks. He ordered his own Thunderdrakes to focus down the flagellant of decay, while he sent his Aetherhammerers to counter-charge on their flanks.
Hundreds of Monks were cut down like wheat by the aethershots of the Thunderdrakes. Those that survived were broken like old fruits by the energy discharge of the Aetherhammerers weapons. In the ensuing melee, half of the duardin that had faced the tide were dead, while the other half were too wounded or sick to continue the fight. The Plague Monks, however, all laid dead on the blood-soaked rocky floor. Alaric barked to the surviving Aetherhammerers to retreat away from the battlefield.
Fifty more plague-censers were coming hard on the left flank of Alaric’s troops, but apart from that, only the Verminlord remained as the main threat. For a second, the Grundcaptain allowed himself to believe they could win. That was before the Verminlord managed to launch his spell, despite the Runeforger’s best efforts.
The core of Alaric’s regiment, his Thunderdrakes, started convulsing. Their armor and rifles rusted in a matter of seconds, while gloated sounds emerged from the throats of those that did not die instantly. The Runeforger immediately applied a counter-spell on those he could save, but it was too late: Out of the two hundred Thunderdrakes immediately at Alaric’s back, only fifty survived. This time, however, there was no opportunity to allow the wounded to pull back.
Keep firing on that thing!” roared the Grundcaptain, “and establish a defensive form-
He was once again interrupted when a volley of the plague catapults crashed in the middle of the Steelwardens line. The lucky ones died from the impact while others were infected with plagues to vile to be described by words. Only a few dozen of the elite Steelwarden remained as some sort of honor guard for Alaric.
While the last Steelwarden deployed alongside the Grundcaptain to intercept the incoming censor-bearers, one hundred Stonebeards –the last full unit of Alaric’s army- went to charge the Verminlord with the support of the Runeforger.
Alaric did not see in detail what happened to the Stonebeards. He heard his Runeforger screaming under the effort of containing the Verminlord’s magic. Meanwhile, the tail of the monster flapped about, killing few brave duardin each time. But he could not focus on them. He had his own battle to win.
He plunged into battle, swinging his hammer left and right. Craven Skaven flew around him, their heads smash in, their bones pulverized. His Steelwardens formed an impregnable fortress around him with their skyshields, intercepting any attack that had a risk of injuring their lord. The Plague Catapults had focused their attention on other Stormbreaker armies, and were now leaving his duardin alone to be slaughtered by the verminlord. When Alaric killed the last of the vermin he looked around him. No censor-bearer had survived, but neither had any Steelwarden. The Grundcaptain swore an ancient Khazalid insult before turning his gaze to the Verminlord. He was still engaging the rest of his forces.
In a single second, a fetid gale blew over the remaining Thunderdrakes, tearing the life away from them. All duardin fell on the ground, as if they were mere puppets whose strings were cut all at once. The Runeforger spent much energy trying to intercept this spell, and was left expose to a counter-attack. He blocked a tail attack and staggered back, before being cut to pieces by plaguereapers. Alaric cried out the name of his friend as he charged into the melee. His Stonebeards had surrounded the monster and were attacking him from all side, but they were clearly outmatched by the creature. More and more died, be it by plagues or by blade. Even Alaric, a master combatant, could barely score a hit on the fast-moving daemon.
Kill it! Just kill it!”
In his eagerness he left his flank exposed. The Verminlord was about to leap at him and kill him as he had did with the Runeforger when he received a couple of aethershots to the head. This was enough to delay him, and buy Alaric some precious seconds to counter the blow. Behind him, two surviving Thunderdrakes had risen, stubbornly refusing to die before their enemy.
Getting tired of this fight and starting to feel he could actually loose hit, the injured Verminlord unleashed yet another plague. All the Stonebeards fell, coughing blood and worse, while even Alaric could barely stand. He intercepted one attack from the vermin, then two, but just when he was about to fall, the Stonebeards standard-bearer –last of his unit- used his weaponized banner to cut deep into the Verminlord’s knee.
The creature screeched in pain, uttering what was probably insults in Queekish. Alaric looked at the Stonebeard bannerman, proud to fight alongside this duardin. Grungni would be proud, he thought.
Khazukan,” started Alaric, “Kazak-“
The Verminlord reflex-kicked Alaric away. The Grundcaptain barely had time to put his hammer in front of the blow, and flew for two dozen meters before touching the ground. He bounced a few times, many bones breaking in his body, and finally stopped in the middle of retreating Stormbreakers regiments.
Most of the duardin were holding fast against the seemingly endless wave of the Skaven’s elite. They would have to hold at least an hour, he thought to himself. More and more plague monks and censor-bearer were entering the city from the rear, under the fire of long-range Grundstok mortars. Wounded duardin were being evacuated, but most Stormbreakers were dying in battle or of sudden diseases.
The last thing Alaric saw before he lost consciousness was the Stonebeard standard-bearer, fighting alone against the Verminlord. To his shock, he was still holding his own. The wounded demon himself appeared more than surprised at his unability to kill a single duardin. No amount of tail lash or plaguereaper blows would be enough. The Stonebeard would intercept them all. Later, Alaric would learn that one of the plague of the Verminlord was needed to kill this single duardin.
When he woke up again, Alaric was being carried on a skyshield by four duardin. A mere thousand Stormbreakers had escaped the inner tunnels of Skitterfort, where more than ten thousand had entered. When the Grundcaptain and the survivors arrived near the rallying point of the Iron Cloud, Alaric could see the sadness of the Aethercopters squadron leader. Dozen of those light skycrafts were ready to make runabouts, their engines running.
That’s it?” half-whispered Zhiflon the squadron leader, keeping his gaze on the tunnel exits, hoping to see a wave of Stormbreakers coming to get back in the Grundcarrier. Around them, the Arkanauts had already finished embarking in their ships, many frigates and ironclads already retreating away from the stratofortress, fearing to be in the blast radius.
That’s it,” answered Alaric, his voice heavy. “Get us out of this hell.”
When the Skaven fortress blew up in the sky, clouds turned a sickish green as far as the eye could see. Warpstone energy discharges went in all directions, some touching the smaller gunhaulers, destroying them in one touch. An ironclad, the Grudge Fulfilled, was mortally wounded in its munition storage. Losing altitude rapidly, he plunged towards the ground followed by several frigates trying to tow it with their harpoons. More losses before the end of this dark episode of Barak-Thryng’s history.
Grundcaptain Alaric had only one idea in mind: To return to Barak-Thryng, rebuild the Stormbreakers, and hunt the Thaggoraki no matter where they might hide. If he did indeed see his beloved, his rest was short-lived. A mere few weeks after the battle of Skitterfort, the most respected duardin of the City of Ancestors came to the Grundstok Academy to pay the Grundcaptain a visit.
Admiral Sternbok!” shouted Alaric, immediately saluting after putting down his precision grundrifle. The Grundcaptain had been surprised in the middle of a firing training. The few Thunderdrakes around him, recruits as veterans, saluted as their leader.
“At ease, Grundcaptain.” The voice of the unhelmeted admiral was fatherly and warm. Until today, Alaric had never heard it except through the filters of his voice-speaker. Every Kharadron mask distorted the voice of their users, to different degrees, but Admiral Grymm Sternbok’s voice-speaker had been willingly modified to give him a deep and rocky voice, similar to a stone avalanche. Probably to intimidate his foes, or his allies in the Geldraad.
You can call me Grymm. You earned it. You are one of our best duardin.” Not knowing how to react to that, Alaric stood still, waiting to understand why only Delegate of Barak-Thryng came to visit.
You already gave a lot for our sky-port, Alaric,” started the admiral, “but we’ll have to ask you much more. We have a priority mission, highly confidential, and your Stormbreakers are our best bet at succeeding.”
The Grundcaptain slowly nodded to show that he heard the Admiral, then waited long seconds –as a sign of respect- before answering.
With all due respect, admiral Grymm,” Alaric started slowly, over-articulating, “the Stormbreakers are but a fraction of what they used to be a month ago. It will take years of recruitment and training before we can attempt an operation half the scale of the Skitterfort invasion.
The silence in the shooting gallery was suffocating. The admiral had a little laugh, looked around at the Thunderdrakes, and then gave Alaric a little pat on the shoulder.
I’m well aware of that,” said the rocky voice of Sternbok, “that’s why you will manage a small ground team. Take your Iron Cloud, and as many of my Arkanauts as you’ll need to keep her steady and repel any boarders. Your Grundcarrier and its escort fleet will go across the realms at very high altitude while your Stormbreakers and you will deploy with aethercopters behind enemy lines. Sudden strikes, unexpected and hard.
That was a bold plan to say the least. Alaric was used to this kind of operation. Truth be said, this was what the Steelrain half of the Stormbreakers did best. Massive airdrop operations, such as on the Skitterfort, would not happen in the near future. However, smaller armies of few hundred of Stormbreakers were much more reasonable.
When Alaric was still a cadet, he did spend few years in the scouts of Barak-Ziflin’s Grundstok Academy. A mobile and fortified headquarter. Small elite squad ready to be airdropped in the worst combat zones. Small team to remain flexible. Tactical insertion through stealthy aethercopter were his specialty, and so he was excited at the perspective of diving again in the night, hanging from a safety harness at the back of the aircraft, accomplishing critical missions for the vanguard of an army.
That would be my honor, admiral Grymm,” solemnly declared Alaric, “what would the mission be?”
Sterbok nodded slowly, a gesture of respect very common in Barak-Thryng. “As I was saying, Grundcaptain, it is highly confidential. Many factions are racing for what you’ll be in pursuit of. Some of our duardin brothers, including Kharadrons, also want it. Let us discuss this outside.
Admiral Sternbok slapped the flat of his hand on Alaric’s shoulder, as much as a sign of friendship and encouragement, as a way to push him towards the exit. Before they went through the doorstep of the Academy’s shooting range, the admiral turned to the Thunderdrakes that were still standing at attention, still as statues.
And you,” roared the admiral, “get ready and tell your brothers and sisters to do the same. The Iron Cloud leaves tomorrow at dusk.”
submitted by alaric83 to AoSLore [link] [comments]

The Last Man Standing, Chapter Six

In this chapter: A childhood friend makes her appearance, to Mentuc's discomfort. Genesis gears up and prepares itself for the assault.
In the next chapter: Landfall. Or however you call it when you board a spaceship with the intent of carjacking it.

Just as he predicted it didn't take long before they saw the road and only a moment later the Vertigo hovered into view, going at a slow pace as the driver took in the surroundings. Most of it was fields, divided in neat little parts with roughly half of them being ploughed already. There was a small wild patch of forest that had been left standing, but other areas had made way for meadows for the cattle to graze on and those areas were filled with sheep, goats, a pair of cows, some pigs and chickens that were wandering about all over. It painted quite the idyllic picture and to someone who was used to the hustle and bustle of the city it would be a distracting sight.
It didn't take long before the Vertigo driver spotted the couple and diverted itself away from the road, flying towards them at a far faster speed. It was a good thing she was holding Mentuc's hand as it approached, for when the driver started honking like there was no tomorrow she felt him tighten, his entire body readying itself for action. It was pure instinct and they both knew it, but she suspected that if she hadn't been holding on to him he would have likely been on top of the small aircraft before he'd regain control of himself. She found it simultaneously amusing and worrying. Then she returned her attention to the incoming vehicle, wherein there was someone who was clearly very happy to see them.
The small landing struts popped out and the floating car-like craft landed with a rather loud thunk, the struts sinking a good deal into the soft earth, tilting the vehicle precariously, causing Onoelle to gasp with worry. The port switched open and a young woman jumped out, shrieking with joy. It took her a moment to recognise the screaming woman as Jane Allistan, her friend from the city. Leaving her husband behind she ran towards her friend and the pair collided with surprising violence, Onoelle tackling her slightly taller friend to the ground with surprising force.
'Oomph! God dammit Leonne! Are you trying to kill me!' Jane coughed.
'Sorry! Sorry! I forgot, I mean, I!' Onoelle righted herself, turning beet red as she apologised.
'And what the hell were you thinking! You got married! Married! And you didn't send me an invitation! If I didn't know what an airhead you were when it comes to these things I'd be insulted!'
'Oh stars! I forgot! Jane I'm—' she began, then screamed as she felt hands slide under her arms and she was picked up.
'From a smart-ass to an airhead in the span of two minutes. I'm rather impressed,' came her husband's voice. 'You are?' he asked, his voice warm and friendly. At first glance.
'Oh my, you must be the rumoured husband then.'
'Yes. I'm Mentuc. Nice to meet you.'
She could feel the nervousness radiating off him. It was noticeable as well, his speech was polite, but curt and slightly clumsy. She nearly did a double take when she saw that he was wearing his sunglasses again. When did he...
'Lovely to meet you!' Jane all but shouted, too happy to notice anything strange. She took Mentuc off guard by stepping forward and throwing her arms around him. He stood there mutely and Onoelle had to push down her laughter, desperately motioning for him to hug back. He awkwardly obliged her and this time she lost it.
'What are you laughing about? Haven't seen you in years and now you're laughing hysterically!'
'I'm sorry Jane, I'm really happy to see you, I really am. Stars above it's been what, five years?'
Jane relented, smiling, before hugging her friend again. 'Give or take.'
She turned her head and looked at Mentuc, who stood there, clearly out of his depth.
'Never figured you for the settling down kind, but you managed to get quite a looker, didn't you?'
Onoelle laughed again, having missed her friend's easygoing character. 'You have no idea!'
'Also!' her friend said, breaking the hug and poking her with a finger.
'You're married now! Independent! A free woman! Why didn't you come visit me! You know where I live! I had to hear from your parents that you'd gotten married!'
Onoelle looked away. She wanted to be honest to her friend, but how could she? She knew that Mentuc had erased his traces carefully when he had settled down. It didn't matter how much she trusted Jane, he wouldn't and she did not want to find out how he would react to it. It would damage their relationship severely and that was one of the better outcomes.
'Oh, you know,' she half-lied, gesturing at the surroundings. 'I've been busy with running the farm. It's a lot more difficult then you think, really.'
'Really?' snickered Jane. 'You? Miss Alumni running a farm? God in heaven, professor Eisel would die laughing if he heard.'
'Eisel?' interrupted Mentuc.
Uh-oh she thought, recognising the name.
'Yeah! Professor Eisel! Headmaster of the uni your wife and I went to. Really smart man, won more awards than most people know exist! Ever heard of him?'
'No,' came the quiet answer, spoken so softly that Onoelle had to strain her ears to hear.
'I just once knew a man with the same name. A long time ago.'

'The Kra'lagh dreadnought will be the main target, designation Alpha. We're assigning twenty-five full platoons to it. That means that the full five hundred of you will be tackling it. Your main goal is to clear the ship of all enemies. You will be well supplied, but I advise you to exercise caution. We do not know what the enemy has in store on the inside. I have worked with the Imperial Intelligence to give you as much intel as I could, but it is limited. We don't even know if the air is breathable inside, so do not, under any circumstances, turn off your filtration system until your sensors give you an all clear.' Doctor Eisel paced back and forth in front of the aula, hundreds of eyes carefully following him. This wasn't the entirety of the soldiers of Project Genesis, but everyone would be briefed according to their target. This was the main group and he at least wanted to speak with them in person before sending them off to their potential demise. He trusted them. They were capable, more than capable, but there were still any number of factors that could go wrong. If it worked, however, it would turn the conflict.
'If their dreadnoughts are similar in construct to ours every section of importance will be located deeply within the ship's superstructure. Do not expect the lay out to be the same. Their biology is vastly different and we believe their ships may carry twice the crew that our own dreadnoughts carry. This is purely a guess, but it gives you an idea of what to expect. There could easily be between ten and sixty thousand bugs on that ship. If you manage to get hold of the bridge, the engines and the reactors however, all of that is moot. Besides, all of the fighting will be close quarters. It is what you all were made for. There will also be two thousand other soldiers tagging along with you. You will clear their way, do all the heavy fighting. They will secure whatever you capture and make sure the bugs won't retake it. You will be expected to capture the ship within twelve hours, alongside with the other teams that will board the rest of their fleet. It is a scouting fleet, standard composition. One dreadnought, four cruisers, eight destroyers and twenty frigates. All of them will be hit simultaneously. Your target remains the most important, but given that nobody knows how to fly the thing it will be imperative that every strike team succeeds within this time frame. Go beyond that, you risk the rest of the fleet annihilating you all. That is not acceptable.'
He looked at them. His creations. His inventions. Living weapons all, cold, calculating, the best of the best. The final hope of the Empire. He had faith in them. Absolute faith.
He tapped a few buttons and activated the holoprojector. He had worked alongside a few other science divisions for Project Genesis. After all, when you designed a new supersoldier from the ground up it made sense to do the same with their equipment.
'This will be your equipment. The new power armour Svalinn Mark I. The very best the Empire has to offer. Because of your strength we were able to remove most of the servos that are required to use it, giving us ample space to put new toys in. For starters every suit is powered by a miniature fusion reactor. This allows for on the mission charging of fuel cells, filtration systems and, and this is a beauty, shields. It is still an experimental technology and once you activate them they will put serious stress on the system. There is an inbuilt safety that can be overridden, but it is meant to shut down to keep the projectors from overheating. The shield reacts differently to impacts from different types of weapons, a full list you can find on your on board HUDs. Further we've installed the newest model of gravitic grenades. This model overheats the shrapnel it contains until it turns into plasma and then launches it at high velocity. It is ideal for clearing areas. The lethal zone against armoured targets, and bugs have their chitin that already counts as armour, is eight metres. A wide range, use it with care. Lethal zone against unarmoured targets is fifty metres. On that note, everyone who will deploy with you will also be wearing power armour, but not the Svalinn variant. Further your suits make use of the Muninn-class computers. These are expensive toys and will blanket-jam everything within two hundred metres, their starship alloys be damned, cut through jamming in an equal radius, give you radio contact within five kilometre on the planet and presumably within five hundred, radius, very handy, on board their ships. It also houses an advanced FOF system, can calls out targets, constantly links you with any ally that comes in the vicinity and you can designate targets at will with it. Honestly, Project Muninn was about as expensive as a hundred of you, meaning we could buy a small planet for what it cost. It is a miracle of computer technology and it is as close as we can get, at present, to making an AI.
Further you will go in with disruptor blades. I will not go over how dangerous these fields are. You will cut through anything with these, including your own shield as if it wasn't there. Your main armament will be the repulsor rifles. Once again, covered in training, you know how they work. Since there's a possibility that you'll be fighting in zero-G, the Svalinns are equipped with magnetic boots. Very powerful magnetic boots. You can walk up a metal wall with these even in full gravity, so don't worry about being blown clear of the ship. That is all soldiers.'
He shut off the projector and stood in front of five hundred of the best soldiers to ever grace the universe. He had created them, seen them come into life, raised them into the perfect human being, surpassing the existing homo sapiens in every way. He had played God and God saw that it was good.
'You are the Empire's last hope. If you get hold of these ships, we can put our industrial bases to good use. No more shall they work on ships that will get blown up from long range. No more will their workers slave away on hulls that won't even dent the enemy. The Kra'lagh are powerful. Unbeatable in space. A violent, aggressive race. You will show them that even in space, in their floating fortresses, they are not safe from the might of the Empire. We will take their ships, their technologies and we will turn this war around! They will not extinguish our species! They will not succeed! They will ruin the day they declared war upon us and it is you who will give them the first blow! Go, brave soldiers of Project Genesis! Go, and herald in the new age! The age of Humanity!'

'Mentuc! Mentuc! By the stars what's wrong with you?' Onoelle asked, shaking him.
'What!' he shouted, pulled roughly out of the memory. 'What?' he repeated, more softly, realising he had shouted.
'Jane asked you a question you tit!' she laughed. Her eyes weren't laughing. She knew where his mind was at.
'Oh, I apologise. Could you repeat the question please?'
'I asked what you did for a living. Before you settled down, I mean.'
'I worked with wood, took contracts,' he replied easily, falling back into his existence as Mentuc, loving husband of Onoelle.
'So does she, I bet,' grinned Jane, poking Onoelle in the ribs. She felt her cheeks turn bright red.
'She dabbles,' he said, the innuendo flying straight over his head. Onoelle felt her cheeks burn at this point. Then she glared at her friend.
'He is really good with his hands. Shame he can't show you,' she fired back, aware that her friend's love life was disappointing at best.
Jane's smile faltered a bit.
'Oh, but I can,' interjected Mentuc, completely unaware of the pit he was digging for himself. 'Hard to miss when there's evidence all over the house, really.'
Jane's laughter echoed through the air as a beet-red Onoelle violently rammed her elbow into the side of her oblivious husband.
submitted by FlorisTLMS to HFY [link] [comments]

[SF] Something something immortal guy. Working title

Hey guys. Wrote this while bored at work. Feel free to shit all over it lol. Go for the classic criticism sandwich. Yes my formatting is HOT garbage. Hope you enjoy.
The last thing you think of when you become immortal is the end. In your newfound perspective the end ceases to be a consideration. When people think about being immortal they tend to only think ahead to around the time they would have naturally died. The end you never think of is the end of the world. I gained my immortality in 1944. Now here I am 374 years later floating amongst the remains of earth. Our home. Obliterated by a planetoid larger than our moon. You couldn't imagine the chaos. The fear. Our people with all our technology, and power thought ourselves the rulers of all creation. Yet even with all that we were no more powerful than the dinosaurs before us to prevent our destruction. Even as an immortal I wasn't immune to the fear. The worst part was how long we knew it was coming. A long range satellite telescope caught a random glimpse of it moving through the stars. The first few weeks after its discovery were a mad dash by governments to keep it quiet while they tried to stop it. Every attempt failed, and then they went public two weeks before impact. There was a lot of rioting. Some people just didn't do anything. They just shut down. I didn't know if I'd survive or not, so I did my best to try to comfort those around me. A few days before impact we could all see it coming. Looming over all of us in the sky getting closer by the minute. In a last ditch effort the nations of the world came together and launched every nuclear missile we had at our disposal. What we watched that day in the skies above the earth I doubt will ever be replicated on any world. When that failed to even slow it down everything stopped. People stopped rioting, looting, and fighting. It seemed almost at once that entire world resigned itself to its fate, and gave up. Then it was just over. It made ground just off Chicago in Lake Michigan. I was standing on navy pier watching it. There were a few people who had come as well. Beyond us few the city was deserted. It flash vaporized all the water in the lake. The old couple and young man with me were both killed instantly. After that I don't know what happened. There was the most deafening noise is ever heard, and a wall of ash and fire. Then blackness. While unconscious the impact had shattered the earth. It was over when I woke up. I wondered if anyone else had survived, but quickly abandoned that thought. It's an terribly numbing sensation to realize that you are the last of your kind. It's a crushing loneliness that cannot be described. I curled into a ball and floated for a while. After a long while I decided I had to go somewhere. Over the course of my long life I had studied the stars intently. I can't even tell you how long it took me to find it, but I decided to head towards Proxima Centauri. The closest star to ours. I figured it was my best bet. So I found a piece of debris, and crouched on it then pushed off with all my might. At first I thought I was making good progress then I realized it takes a very long time for light to get from there to earth. Luckily I had spare time. As I floated farther and farther I found myself looking at where I was coming from and not where I was going. Was I being homesick, or just realizing everything I had ever known was back there? I'll tell you sometime if I ever figure it out. What I can tell you about is the view. Looking back on our solar system was a sight to behold. To steal a quote from the hitch hikers guide to the Galaxy. (Cause lets be honest. Who's gonna sue me for plagiarism.) Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind bogglingly big it is. I realized that Proxima Centauri was a long ways off so I thought I should check out our solar system first, but quickly abandoned the thought. Once I very painfully made landfall on one of the 9 planets in our solar system. (I love you Pluto) I wouldn't be able to leave. Cause I'm no Matt Damon. So I'd either have to get very lucky, and find some crazy alien stuff, or wait for the planet I was on to explode in some way. Both those options weren't appealing, so I opted to keep on trucking to Proxima. I'm gonna go ahead and skip all the boring parts or you'll be reading this for the next few millions years. A few interesting things of note did happen. Seeing a comet in the night sky is always very pretty. Seeing one pass you by, by only a few dozen meters is awe inspiring/terrifying. The other discovery I made very quickly. Space for those of you readers who've not spent time in it. Is cold. Really, really, Fucking. Cold. At least the solar winds are nice and toasty. Rich with skin searing radiation. So let's run down the list of things I have. Ruined clothes Melted phone Body so cold my balls are snuggled up next to my heart. A very long trip ahead of me. One sock. Could be worse.
Let's jump ahead to me leaving the solar system. After blowing a kiss to Pluto. I continued on my trip to Proxima. Now. Let's do some math, Proxima is 4.2 light years away. Earth to the solar rim is about 9 billion miles. One light year is 5.879 x 10 to the power of 12, miles. So I'm about 4.1998 light years away. Only took me about 250 years I think. So I should be there just in time to watch the star die and collapse into a black hole. Wonder if that would actually kill me...You can kiss my ass Steven Hawking you dead genius prick. Busting holes in my very well laid out plans. I gotta think of a way to pick up speed.
I came up with a risky strategy. If I keep pumping my arms straight ahead of me in my current trajectory I should increase in speed little by little. The risk is that I could alter my angle by a few degrees, and that could mess up my approach vector for Proxima. It doesn't sound like much, but a few degrees of difference in angle across a span of light years can result in me missing by billions of miles. Well after thinking for a few days on the pros and cons of my new plan I decided to give it a shot. With very calculated pumps in slow succession I made sure to keep my eyes on my target. With nothing to use as a reference I really didn't know if my plan was working. I'll just say it did. Kinda. I eventually worked myself up to the speed that voyager was moving at. Which is pretty damn fast. Again, kinda. It would still take millions of years to get to Proxima. My only hope was to get picked up by something or crash on some rock with intelligent life on it.
Turns out the scientists back in the 20teens were right. There was in fact a 10th planet in the solar system. It was just a lot lot farther out than they thought. I immediately changed course and aimed for this planet. I'll be honest. In all the science fiction movies, video games, and books I've seen in my life I gotta tell you this was the most foreboding planet I've ever seen. It was black. But it was an unnatural black. The kind of black you put on something you don't want to be found. I glided in silence towards the planet lost in thought. What would I find there? Life? Ruins? Would they be friendly aliens? I know that since it's their planet I'm technically the alien but shut up its my story. As I moved towards it it dawned on me how immense the planet was. By 2120 civilian space flights were pretty common, so I've seen the earth from space. This planet was massive. Dozens if not hundreds of times the size of earth. Finally after what felt like forever I could feel myself being pulled towards the planet. It didn't occur to me until about ten seconds before I hit it that this planet might have an atmosphere. Then I hit it. Hard. All my possessions burned off. My phone, shirt, pants, even my precious sock. Falling out of the sky stark naked at terminal velocity. Not as fun as it sounds. Once I cleared the black skies I was blown away by the amount of lights, and buildings I was seeing. I was so happy. Finally I'd be able to come into contact with someone, or something. That something turned out to be the ground. One splitting headache, and quick climb out of my crater later, I took the time to look around. I walked around for a bit and didn't see anyone. The buildings were pretty pristine. Was everyone on a lunch break? Maybe I can get them to come to me? I yelled as loud as I could a couple of times, but nothing. It was unsettling to say the least. All the buildings stretched way into the sky, so maybe no one lived on the ground anymore? I think there was a cartoon like that a long time ago. Anyway. I picked a building at random and went inside. The doors wouldn't open at first. It took me some time to wiggle them open. As soon as a crack opened a gust of air blew out whipping the doors open and knocking me on my ass. Swearing as I picked myself up I took a step inside. And no it's not what you were thinking. No dead bodies that have been in there for years and years. It was empty. And clean as a whistle. I walked around looking for anything familiar when I found a trio of doors next to each other with tubes rising above them into the ceiling. Raising my hopes thinking they would work I hit a button. To my great delight stuff happened! So that's a win for me today. It took about 15 minutes for it to arrive but there it was. An elevator. The buttons looked familiar enough so I pushed the one that I guessed would be the penthouse. The elevator rose quickly, but I knew it would be a while so for the first time in a few hundred years I sat down. And god damn did it feel good. I realized as I sat down that i was still naked. Kinda forgot about that. New mission. Find, or make clothes. Don't want humanities first contact to go south due to errant dick.
I hit a random button stopping the elevator a few floors short of the top. Again, nobody was there. But there was furniture. I think? It was growing out of the ground like it was molded from the floor. Weird organic shapes. But sitting proved easy enough. The seats were enormous. Way larger than I could ever hope to accommodate. But if there's seats they must have been organic life right? I can't imagine machines lounging around, so my spirits rose. Now if only I could find any of these guys. I hope these guys had curtains or something. I'm getting tired of being naked, and my butts cold. I'm hungry, but at least I don't have to worry about starving. Success! I found clothes. Hopefully. I think it might be some sort of battle suit or something. It's a jet black liquid that was suspended in a clear tube. Every other tube was empty except for this, a very sinister black, and purple one. When I touched the glass it slowly moved towards my hand. I didn't seem evil in its movement. It moved with a sense of want. Like it wanted companionship. Well I hit buttons below the tube till it opened and the black stuff slid onto the floor without a sound. I crouched down, and reached out to touch it. It mirrored my movements exactly. It felt soft. Softer than anything I've encountered. As soon as I touched it ran up my arm, quickly spread over my body. I didn't really panic since it couldn't suffocate me, so I just let it do what it was going to do. It slowly wrapped around my head, and once it had a full seal on me parts of it started to harden and change shape. The shoulders bulged up and out. My legs became almost completely covered in what seemed like armor. It was pretty awesome to watch. The not so awesome part was the pressure I was starting to feel pressing in on my boys. It started to crush me, and when I started to beg the suit to stop while sounding like a soprano singer it relaxed. After everything had settled I decided to test out the suit. It moves with me really well. Like it's not even there. I feel more capable with this thing. Powerful even. I quickly discovered I could run faster, jump higher, and was much stronger. Felt like those PF Flyers I wore as a kid. Now that I had some clothes on I popped back into the elevator and headed to the top. The door opened and there was a barricade. After moving the stuff out of the way I wandered into the room to find no one. Which is confusing the hell out of me. Why barricade the way in to protect no one. And no one before me has made an attempt to get through the barricade. I explored the floor. Mostly one big hallway so far, but I'm not seeing any signs of a struggle. No broken windows. No holes in the walls. Zip. What were these people trying to keep out. I found another much sturdier barricade at the end of the hallway. Took a while to make a hole in it. I'd never be able to without the suit. On the other side there was a massive atrium. It had to be the size of a football stadium. It was completely empty except for something in the middle. After jogging towards it for a few minutes I realized what it was. Bodies. A big pile of bodies. Torn up, gnawed on bodies. Then I realized the barricades weren't about keeping something out. But keeping it in. I started to go back for the entrance when I started hearing thunder. I stopped for an instant when the hud of my suit blasted me with a warning. Before I could finish reading it I found myself flying through the air and slamming into the wall with enough force to be embedded into it. I should remind you that I was close to the center of the ring. I flew a good 300 yards into a wall. I never even saw what hit me. But it was ungodly strong. I pried myself free from the wall just in time to see what hit me.
I'm not a xenobiologist, but I know that this thing wasn't natural. Something seriously deformed this thing. Being immortal pretty much tosses fear out the window. In my entire life I've never known this kind of fear. The creature was tall. At least 12 feet tall. It was horribly deformed. Bones were jutting out of it all over its body. It didn't have eyes. None that I could see. It looked like it grew a couple sizes very quickly and the seams just popped while staying alive. It roared again and again. I know the sound of pain when I hear it. This creature wasn't happy about its current state. Part of me wanted to help the beast, but the very large pile of broken shredded bodies told me that wasn't super likely to happen. I'm gonna have to think about this for a minute.
I'm fucked. That's my breakdown on this situation. Fucked.
I've tried to leave three times only to find myself leaving new me shaped holes in the walls. After that I tried to approach the beast. New hole. Back away to the wall, meet opposite wall. So far the only action that doesn't get me flying lessons is sitting still. I've been here for 2 days, and I gotta say. This planet isn't winning any favors from me. I'm getting annoyed prying myself out of the damn wall. I may be immortal but shit still hurts. The creature hasn't moved an inch since it last hit me. It's currently about 400 yards away glaring at me. I think. No eyes makes it hard to tell. Anyway. I think I'm gonna do what my uncle did when he got drunk. Yell incoherent shit, and hope it pans out. I stood up, and started walking slowly towards the beast. The beast, being the jerk off that it is roared and rushed to reintroduce me to the wall. I kept my pace, and when the creature was 20 meters from me I started yelling. "STOP!!" I bellowed as loud as I could. The creature thundered to a halt right in front of me. Head inches from mine. "That's better. No more hitting you hear me!?" No response. "Well at least you didn't hit me. Ok. What we are going to do now is I'm going to cross this room and find out who that pile of horribleness is. Ok?" Again. No response. I'll take that as an 'yes', so let's get going" I took my first step, and nothing happened. Step two, nothing. I got all the way to step 33 when there was a flash, and I woke up face down a few inches into the floor. "Ok. That's fucking it." I pulled myself upright. Looked over at the creature. It was about 12 yards away. Judging by the groove in the floor it hit me in the back of the head, and I skidded along the ground coming to a halt in my crater for nap time. "Hope you're proud of yourself big guy, because now I'm gonna take it out of your ass." I started sprinting towards the beast. If this thing can die then I'll win. No matter how long it takes I will outlast it. The beast was on me in a matter of seconds. It leapt into the air one arm cocked back, ready to crush me with crazed fervor. I jumped towards it, cannonballing straight into its gut at full speed. I heard the grunt of pain come out of it with satisfaction. Before I could celebrate however it's mighty arms wrapped around me. It turned in mid air, and with all its strength and weight; drove me into the ground. I gasped in pain as the air was forced out of me. It then grabbed my ankle and tossed me like a garbage bag. I slammed into wall hard enough I bounced out of my crater. Picking myself up i could see the creature getting ready to charge. I shouted at my my suit. "Cmon! It's coming! I need a weapon!"
PROCESSING... WEAPONS ACTIVATED... WARNING! AMMUNITION DEPLETED.... WEAPONS RESTRICTED TO SWORD, GLAIVE, SPEAR... "Fine whatever just give me the spear!!!"
-SPEAR ACTIVATED-
Suddenly a spear started forming on my arm. At least a foot long pole did. As soon as I pulled it off of my forearm it extended to the perfect length for me. The tip turned into a wicked point. Even being immortal I wanted no part of that blade touching me. Quickie interruption. In case you're wondering. Over my long life I took up the age old art of "hit stuff really hard." Ive master several disciplines, and many weapons. It's pretty easy when you have multiple lifetimes to work on it. But over that entire time, I gravitated to one weapon above all others. And that my dear readers. Is the spear. I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Enjoy the show.
This time with more confidence I charged the beast again. It snarled in rage at my refusal to die like the rest of its visitors. It punched two neat craters into the ground before charging me. As it entered striking distance I pole vaulted over the creature, and swiped a great slash down its back. Bright blue congealed blood oozed out of its wound as it howled in agony. I snapped out my spear sending the blade deep into its shoulder. Twisting the shaft I widened the wound preventing it from closing. The beast was defenseless under my onslaught. The blade danced around me as I cut, stabbed, and slashed countless wounds into the creature. Blood pooled at its feet, but I couldn't deal a killing blow. The bones protruding all over its body prevented my spear hitting its final mark. I'd have to bleed the creature dry. While readying my spear for another thrust, with speed I thought no longer possible its fist came fast and low, crashing into my chest; rocketing me across the room into the wall. I lost my spear as I was flying. Pulling myself from the wall I began frantically searching for it, before spotting it almost midway between the two of us. "Really?.... Seriously. Fuck this planet." "Suit. If you can hear me. I need speed. All you can give me. I have to get to that spear before that thing." -PROCESSING- -SPEED INCREASED TO MAXIMUM ALLOWANCE- The suit changed around me. I could feel it making my legs stronger. Longer. Better suited for high speed. "Oh ho ho. I am never taking this thing off!" As I pressed off with my foot I felt the ground crack, and splinter under the new force of my speed. I was almost passing the spear before I realized where I was. I grabbed the spear, and held it tight. Thinking of a plan. The beast was stunned by my newfound abilities as well, it's head tilted towards one side as it stared at me. It quickly regained its composure, and set off once again to try and kill me. But with my new speed it was no match. If I couldn't cut through its bone I'll have to punch through it. I willed the suits strength into my arm, and threw the spear as hard as I could muster. Spinning as it flew the missile was a blur in the air. It slammed into the beast's chest as it ran at full speed. Combined with the spears speed the bones protecting its chest gave way as if it were tinfoil. The blade pushed out of its back, and with a gurgling growl; the beast slumped to the ground on its side. Lifeless. Panting hard I dropped to my knees and threw my fists into the air in victory. "YES! No more hitting the god dammed wall!!!" I fell back and relaxed for the first time in days. Laying down I took in just how amazing this suit is. I think I might have survived even without being immortal. The impacts definitely hurt, but I know it was much less intense than it should have been. With that moment passed I hauled myself onto my feet, and went to retrieve my weapon. With a quick grunt of effort I pulled the spear free. Placing it against my arm the shaft shortened, and sank back into the black material. "So cool. Alright now. Time to check out this pile of shit that started this mess."
The pile had been there a while. There wasn't much to discern from the bodies. They were all mangled beyond my ability to mentally put them together in any sensible way. What I could figure out is that this species was tall, has 2, or 4 arms. They also unlike the beast sported 2 sunken eyes. Perhaps the creatures mutation spread grew bone over the eyes? They didn't seem to wear any clothes, but then I noticed they are all modified in some ways. Some have hands replaced with mechanical ones designed for combat, while others have they're entire heads replaced with improved optical capabilities, and I'm guessing improved cognitive functions. The biggest one was the most modified. All but it's head had been replaced. It's chest was caved in, but it was easy to tell that it was once very formidable armor. In all honesty this looks like a combat squad. There's about 8 of them. The ring area was not pristine when I got here either. My guess is this creature was lured here, and while this team was trying to kill it whilst others barricaded the hallways out, presumably before moving to the higher floors. That might be what happened here. These creatures arrived, and moved up the buildings driving people higher, and higher as they evacuated. But that didn't make sense. The lobby was utterly unmarked. If I were defending a building, you hold the entrance while the others escape upwards. "Well there's only one way to find out. Back to the elevator." Once back into the elevator I pushed for the top floor. As it started to rise it dawned on me that any survivors running from that beast might not be happy about the elevator going up. "Spear" I said quietly, and the spear unfolded once more from my arm. I stepped to one side of the doors for good measure. The elevator glided to a silent stop, and the doors slid open. Well no gunfire, so that's a plus. But momma didn't raise no fool children. I stuck my hand out, and instantly pulled it back in after a gunshot rang out, a split second later my yelp of pain followed. The armor caught the bullet, but God dammit that hurt! Plus side. At least I'm not alone. Let's hope these trigger happy guys speak English. "Hold your fire!! Friendly!! I'm not that beast!" That's what I said anyway. What came out of the suit was pure gibberish. "Oh god if you're translating, please be translating properly." More gibberish rang out from the hall. Suddenly a voice rang out in my head. "Where is the creature?!" Gotta tell ya. Hearing a voice in your head that doesn't sound like you is trippy. "Dead" I called out. "I fought it for 2 days before spearing it through the heart." I held the spear out into the doorway wiggling it for emphasis. "You lie!" The voice hissed. "Our best warriors fell to the beast." "You mean a few floors down in the big room?" A flurry of voices rose up. "He saw the room, and made it out! He must have killed it!" Said one. "Lies" called the first. "It's more likely this creature saw the beast and fled before it could reach him" I decided to interrupt. The past few hundred years of being utterly alone gnawed at my patience until it was at an all time low. I wanted to talk to someone, and not get thrown into the wall for my troubles. "Listen. I will take you down there. We can both put our weapons down, and see for ourselves. Deal?" The murmuring intensified. "Fine the voice called out, but if you lie, you are dead where you stand." Buddy if only you knew.
A shadow entered the elevator. Quickly followed by a towering figure. Easily 10 feet tall. The man thingy had dark blue skin. Almost black out of the light. It looked down on me. It's deep eyes studying me. It's eyes were spectacular to look at. I found myself staring. They were jet black, but with white light swirling within them. It introduced itself. "I am Forsciun Xelalmos" (For-she-un Ze-lal-mos) of the Shalore people. Who are you?" I steadied myself. "I am Connor Flamewright. A human from the now destroyed planet earth. The third planet of this system. I am the last of my kind." "We know of this planet. We've tried to communicate, but our calls went unanswered. What happened to it?" It was hard to know where to begin. I hadn't thought about it at all in at least 200 years. "It was hit by a planetoid larger than our moon. We tried all measures to stop it, but nothing worked." "And how did you survive where your kin did not?" "An accident long ago left me immortal. Are you familiar with this word? Immortal?" Forsciun nodded. "I take it this was how you killed the beast?" I nodded. "It was very strong, but with my immortality, and this suit I found, I was able to overcome the beast." Forsciun put his hand to his chin thoughtfully. Then he stepped into the elevator, and pressed the button for the floor I just left. "Show me. If you speak the truth we have much to discuss." I twirled the spear, and slid it back into my arm. "Alright then." The elevator descended in silence for what seemed like eternity before Forsciun spoke. "This suit is of our technology. How is it you are able to use it?" I looked down at the suit, and began to wonder that myself. "I found it by itself in a tube. It seemed to like me, or desired to be used, and after drifting through space for close to a thousand years then free falling naked onto your planet. I just wanted to find some clothes."
We stood in silence the remainder of the ride down. I wasn’t sure what Forsciun was thinking, but I’m sure he was working out how to kill me if I was lying. Whatever happened to these people, it had left them with extremely cautious of the unknown. Once we reached the floor the beast was on I led the way through the barricades towards the atrium. Once we reached the opening I pointed out the remains of the beast. Forsciun couldn’t believe it. He sprinted forwards reaching the dead brute quickly. After examining it in silence he began to survey the room, taking in all the holes in the walls and floor that the creature so generously helped me make. “How long were you here with it?” “Just over 3 days.” He nodded thoughtfully. “These creatures are extremely dangerous. They drove us up our towers away from the streets. Once trapped at the top we were cut off from the rest of our people. We don’t know how many of us are left.” “I wandered the streets for some time calling out. I never heard, or saw anyone.” Forsciun shook his head sorrowfully. “That does not bode well. We managed to kill some of these things, but they were so resistant to our weapons. As if designed to be our destruction.” I could feel his pain, and understood his feeling of helplessness. Wanting nothing more than to save your people, but being powerless to do so. I wanted to help him, and his people. “Do you think if we spread the word of how I killed it we could help save the people still living?” “Possibly.” he murmured. “Not all of my people are warriors. The majority of our military is gone. We used to be able to see the fighting from the windows. Explosions in the distance. Fighting in the streets.” He trailed off. “It’s been some time since we’ve seen that. They either retreated, or were wiped out.” I activated my spear and pounded the pommel on the ground. “We’ll find your people. And slaughter these creatures wherever we find them.” Forsciun lifted his head, and stood straighter. “Thank you earther. For too long I have been concerned only with survival. I had long since given up the notion of being able to save my people. We need to go, and gather my men. We will push the next tower!”
As we returned to the elevator I began to ask Xelalmos about this world, and his people. I discovered that Forsciun was in fact not a name but a title. It meant commander. I high ranking member of their military. “We call this world Krionis, but it is not our home world. Our home world Shalore was located in what your people referred to as the Triangulum Galaxy. We spread far and wide across the galaxy. We held sway over the cosmos. We thought ourselves the rulers of all creation.” He shook his head disapprovingly. “The universe as it turns out. Enjoys putting people in its place. We were settling a new world when we encountered a virus. A long hibernating virus. By the time the first people started to die. It had already spread across the galaxy. A quarantine was set around Shalore. No vessel was allowed to enter within 30 light-seconds of the planet. Many tried to escape the virus by returning to our home, but all were destroyed. In the end our leaders decided that all of our kind that lived on Shalore would be put into stasis, and sent out among the stars. To colonize new galaxies. Our ship brought my ancestors here. To the edge of this galaxy. As we left Triangulum we received news that the blockade was broken, and the planet fell. Our ships would be the last of our kind. That was over 200 million years ago. We reached this planet, and quickly adapted it to our needs. But the universe was not through with us. 20 years ago these creatures started falling from the skies. Devouring, and destroying my people. Which brings us full circle.”
The elevator beeped and the doors to the top floor opened. “That’s a hell over a story. I’m sorry to hear the story of your people.” Then it dawned on me. “Wait a minute. How do you know what we call the galaxies?” “As I mentioned earlier. We’ve known of your existence for some time. In our attempts to make contact we learned much of your people. You were a prosperous people. You advance with a pace not often seen in the universe. Given a few thousand years, and your people would have been a power to behold.” My head hung low. “Would have.” I said to myself. The human race was essentially extinct. I would I guess last forever, until something finally wiped me from existence. At least I would be able to tell the stories of my world, and travel the cosmos letting all know of my people. That was a small comfort. Xelalmos put his hand on my shoulder. “Worry not Con Nor. There is battle ahead. We must prepare. Come. Meet my men.” He moved ahead of me, and walked towards his men. The one I would learn to know as Keez glared at me the entire time Xelalmos explained what he saw, and the coming plan. His team consisted of 4 Including himself. Xelalmos would lead, his second in command Niivu welcomed me congratulating me on my kill. If his commander trusted me, that was enough for him. That left their doctor, Marq. When they said his name I assumed they were having fun with me. They didn’t believe me when I said “mark” was an common name on earth. Marq assured me that it was indeed his name. Finally we come to my biggest fan Keez. Keez was what they called an Arcturant. Basically a walking fortress. Covered in thick armor with heavy weapons mounted on his shoulders. Fearless devastating, and a personality to match.
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[SF] There Is Only the Hunt

There Is Only the Hunt
by C.S. Humble
It's 8:37 in the morning when Johnny comes sliding around the corner of the neon-soaked Double A training emporium. His hair is a Jheri curl fresh and dripping with 1983 sex appeal. Eighty-eight degrees outside, Mother Nature? Johnny doesn't give a shit. He's rocking a black leather jacket that looks like it's been polished with turtle wax, a real gamma burst glinting off volcanic glass situation.
And that's just the jacket.
He's got pants like a firetruck and a piano black belt to match the high top kicks.
Every other sob story Joe in the world is grinding his brakes on the tollway to get to his cubicle and this motherfucker, throwing all worldly care into the sun, looks like he just stepped out of Michael Jackson's Beat It. Johnny is humming on a frequency that can only be captured on the RCA stereo inside a Pontiac Firebird.
Johnny's a phoenix rising, killing it all the way to the top.
8:38 AM and Johnny Mac has just turned my Monday morning around. I am a low-rent recruiter for the League, but when I see Johnny, all I want to do is hit a bump of coke and dance until our shoes take us straight into a realm that can only be traversed by moonwalking.
At the age of eight he blows through all the toughest scenes: Hyborea, Atlantean Conquest, all of that baby trainer shit that we use to separate wheat and chaff, talented from prodigy. Johnny's done with that by the age of ten, ready to move on to Commander Horizon, and he came close, and I mean straight razor shave close to beating Colossus Valley on his first go.
Johnny Mac is a game changer.
He's going to be the biggest star in the world.
If he can pass the test of course.
He slips inside the Double A, just like every morning, around 8:45. He warms-up with Galaxy Hero. A classic.
I walk across the street and add myself to the glowing stream of avatars bustling down the neon nursery pink walkway. Every century of human history is represented in the faces and clothes of a thousand hopeful dreamers shouldering into the pyrite glow of the emporium. I'm not here for potential utility players. Those days are over for me.
What makes Johnny superior to all these digitally re-skinned mouth-breathers, outside of that absolutely bitching hair and threads, is that Johnny plays the Pilot position better than anyone I've ever seen.
I'm being modest.
Johnny Mac runs Pilot better than any human being who has ever, or will ever jack himself into the throbbing heart of the Spiral.
The rainbow shower of neon inside the Double A is a psychadellium. Hundreds of games, each of them running thousands of different self-generating scenarios. But, like all good training emporiums, the Double A is a labyrinth. A spiral in the Spiral. A maze of twisting addiction that demands a higher mastery the deeper you go. Deeper and deeper until you find yourself at the center. It would be a mistake to think that gaming your way to the heart of the labyrinth is the end of the journey. It isn't. At the center of the Double A's winding labyrinth is a monster.
A Minotaur.
Minotaur is a microcosm of the player's journey. It's the only complete neural net interface game that the talent gets to try. Beauty in simplicity. It's the trial you only get to take once.
You win, you punch your ticket.
You lose? Fuck you. You took your shot and you missed. Time to join the ranks of data miners and number crunching assholes who never go deeper than the edge of the Funnel. The Spiral is for the League and the League is for Theseus types. You either have it or you don't.
Johnny Mac has what it takes. I've known that since the first day he found me, telling me that he was going to be the best pilot in the world. The day he told me that nothing mattered more than getting his shot at Minotaur. Like I haven't heard that before, right? Kids get confused. Johnny conflated beating the game with making it in the League. I corrected him and asked him to prove his dedication.
He's done that in spades. And now, even though he never mentions the League itself, only Minotaur, my prize pilot is all done warming up and ready to make war. A war he's been begging me to give him since we met.
I make the arrangements for the Double A to fire up the beast.
I hand Johnny the contract, but he makes me hold it myself, only offering single hand out of his pocket to sign it. His brown eyes are twinkling with the magic I've managed to keep hidden away from other scouts. There's an uncharacteristic sheen of sweat on his brow, and he's more quiet than usual, but I chalk it up to nerves.
Red and blue lights explode into alarm. Every trainer game currently in progress shuts right the hell down and every one of those jealous dreamers make their way to the arena. It's showtime. The triangular stadium at the center of the Double A seats eighty-five thousand and whenever someone decides to run Minotaur it's standing room only. The four story monitors flicker to life. Every palpitant heart gets a dose of adrenaline when the black screen flashes with the three most important words of our modern life.
Start New Game?
The hostesses, dressed in their sparkling peacock outfits, usher Johnny out onto the stage. The crowd roars at the rush. There is nothing that gets them off faster than the prospect of seeing a dream walk the knife.
A disco ball of glimmering wires and crackling energy descends from the rafters. Johnny is a stone gargoyle of concentration. The moment isn't too big for him. His hands are still in his pockets, which is weird, but it's okay. He's eager, ready to fire up that nuclear reactor inside his head and sling liquid fire. Probably doesn't want folks to see his hands shaking. I get it.
Twin jets of steam and an artillery battery of pyrotechnics turn the place into a recreation of earth's New Armistice Day. A little visual foreplay, all part of the show, that whets more than the appetite of onlookers.
The arena goes dark.
All sound dies in the midnight shine of the towering screens. Those three little words, asking their question. The sound of thunder announces the advent of a single sodium spotlight down on Johnny's head, anointing my savior.
Start New Game?
He nods.
Minotaur randomly generates a topography bigger than a continent in the span of a nanosecond. The world and obstacles are different for every person. The goal is always the same.
Find the gatekeeper and make him bend the knee.
Win by guile, no-scope precision, or savagery; doesn't matter. When you're plugged into the game the only thing that matters is finding the beast and making him say uncle.
The screens flash on and we see what Johnny sees.
In medias res, Johnny is in the cockpit of a fighter, screaming through a galactic warscape, less than a meter away from crashing into the alien steel of a Capital ship. Minotaur knows Johnny's record, it uses the data of every game Johnny's ever played inside the Double A to build a scenario designed to crush him.
The crowd gasps in horror. They think it's over before it even begins. A young life crushed on the wheel of gainful venture.
I smile.
Johnny punches his retrothrusters and banks his fighter into a vertigo inducing spin. Sparks flash over the window of the cockpit, leaving a blistering skid mark where the steel of the Capital ship kisses the glass. Everything is instinct now as he looks at the cavalcade of blinking lights, chrome levers, and switches on a command console he's never seen before. In less than a span of a heartbeat my meal ticket slips into the unfamiliar interface like a glove. The game likes to rush pilots early, see if it can get them to flinch in the opening salvo.
Johnny doesn't blink.
Minotaur sees, for the first time, what I've seen for years. Johnny Mac's brain isn't a biochemical engine, it's a weapon. Like Crocea Mors, Kusanagi, or Excalibur, Johnny's mind is mythical.
"Birdman, this is Priest. Do you copy? Over." The A.I. is kicking on. It's objective time.
Johnny slides into character perfectly. "Priest, this is Birdman. I copy."
"I'm on your wing. The battle cruiser Minotaur is located on the far side of--wait, enemy fighters are--" The comm-line flatlines with static. A vaporous explosion sends particle debris against the aft of Johnny's fighter. Priest is gone, leaving only the tiniest morsel of information for the mission parameters.
No hand holding for Johnny. Minotaur doesn't play to win. It plays to conquer. Demoralize.
Johnny levels out the fighter, twisting wing over wing, skimming the surface of the mammoth vessel. Six enemy fighters, perfectly assembled in attack formation give chase. Their laser fire peppers what's left of his shields. In the cockpit, sirens scream. Without looking at the console, Johnny flips a lever, pushing his energy reserves into the rear shields. Then he barrels left and puts the hammer down. Azure propulsion cyclers ignite, sending his heat gauge into the red, throwing him screaming over the edge of the Capital ship. Three of the fighters following him can't make the blistering maneuver. They explode against the hull, snuffed out like little candles.
The blue jewel of a planet, big as a dinner plate in the window of Johnny's fighter, comes into view. The overlay flashes a holo-panel: Titus-6. A desolate world--the surface long since turned to glass by the turbocharged guns of the dozen Capital ships controlled by the game's A.I.
A fresh, red horror blinks onto the overlay: Targeting Systems Offline.
Another. Fuel Cell Reserves Engaged.
And another. Enemy Target Lock.
Minotaur is not fucking around. It wants to crush my rising star before he ever has a chance to dawn.
One final overlay, a slap in the face of any player who's ever tried their hand at Minotaur, reads: "Concede defeat? Y/N"
"Computer," Johnny says. "Open hailing frequency: BROADCAST."
What the hell is he doing?
The on-board computer whistles. "Hailing frequency live, set to open broadcast."
Then I realize, he's going to do something no player has ever done before. He's going to talk to the game itself.
"To the Minotaur Fleet, this is Johnny "Birdman" MacMorn."
In the corona of the cockpit's solar shields I can see the pearly white slash of Johnny's smile. He is in. Minotaur is within his grasp. His dream is coming true.
All my fears pass away. I'm going to be so goddamn wealthy.
For the first time in the thirty-eight years since the first iteration of Minotaur was birthed into the Spiral, Minotaur spoke.
"This is the Minotaur. I read you MacMorn." Minotaur's voice is cold and sharp. A calculating tone of a masculine artificial intelligence. "Do you wish to concede defeat?"
A hushed gasp shivers through the crowd.
"Negative, Minotaur."
Johnny, flipping the levers of actuators that stave off critical system failures, uses his off-hand to grab the yoke by the throat. The rear shields fade to nothing. The afterburners ignite. The fighter streaks across the black void, a silver arrow headed for the far side of Titus-6.
"What then, MacMorn, is the nature of your hailing?"
"Negotiation."
He's pouring everything into the engines, pulling himself out of the range of the now two-dozen enemy fighters struggling to keep up.
"Negotiation..." The game is confused, unsure of how to react. "Negotiation of what?"
"Your unconditional surrender."
The balls on this kid.
"I do not surrender." There might be anger in that cold, cybernetic voice.
"Have it your way," Johnny says. "Computer, close channel."
In the cockpit window, the rim of Titus-6 looms closer like a blue theater curtain pulled back. He's close. The computer whistles again, the conversation over. The fighter dips down toward the surface of the planet, the burn of the atmosphere on the ship's hull sends alarms into panic.
A girl screams in the arena. "What's he doing?"
Somehow, the speed gauge on the fighter ramps up higher and higher.
Gravity.
He's using the gravity of the planet like a slingshot.
Cutting across the scrim of Titus-6, the sterling, titan bulk of the Battle Cruiser Minotaur comes into view. From out of the open belly of the hulking beast comes a whole, fresh wing of enemy fighters blistering for the righteous kill.
The gravitational momentum from the frozen waste below propels Johnny's fighter directly toward the Minotaur. In a two-handed flurry that twists chrome knobs and snaps levers toward six o'clock, Johnny cuts his engines and sends what's left of his power cell reserves into his forward guns. Emerald beams of light streak out of his cannons. One, two, three, four, five fighters explode like fire-filled balloons. The sixth fighter passes by, scorching Johnny's starboard wing with a blistering salvo.
The on-board computer chimes. "Starboard cannon offline."
Johnny pushes the yoke down hard. His fighter dives off the edge of a cliff that does not exist, down, barely dodging the battery of laserfire streaming out of the side guns of the Minotaur. Those guns trace his trajectory, though, sparking against his main thrusters. The fighter levels out, and now, he is under the cruiser.
Johnny curls his hand around a long, yellow trimmed lever. Just before it disappears in his grip, I read what it says.
The words come out of my mouth, a whisper. "Hockey stick."
The underside cannons of the Minotaur pound Johnny's fighter. There are only a handful of seconds left before he's turned to vapor in the void.
Johnny pulls the lever.
The canopy explodes open. The pilot seat rockets out of the dying fighter, carrying Johnny straight up toward the open hangar bay yawning like the mouth of a cosmic manta ray. The sound of Johnny's furious breathing fills the arena. The quadjets under the seat push him higher and higher toward the glowing ray shield. A shield that begins to slide back over the open hangar where the enemy fighters made their exit. It's the slimmest of windows.
Johnny, continuing in his streaking ascent, slaps the central release of his harness and grabs the edges of the seat, a burning comet headed for oblivion.
The seat flies into the open hangar bay.
The shields slam shut beneath him.
Johnny jumps. Hits the ground, ducks and covers.
The seat smashes into one of the enemy fighters hanging on the roof of the hangar like a sleeping vampire bat. The explosion fills the hangar with fire.
The crowd erupts in cheers.
For Johnny Mac, there is no cause for celebration. It does not surprise him that he survived the maneuver. For the crowd, the feats they are witnessing are miraculous. For Johnny, they are the norm. Standard Operating Procedure.
Minotaur's flat, dead tone booms from an over-head speaker.
"Phase One complete. Re-calibrating. Shift incoming."
He removes his helmet. A roguish smile bristles across his dark skin. He's having the time of his life.
The game is about to change. It's taken Johnny's best punch and it's about to turn up the heat.
"3, 2, 1."
The screen goes black.
White light blinds the crowd.
The sound of church bells ringing fills the arena. They toll over the black waters of a fog-bathed bog set deep in the heart of a dark forest at the midnight hour. Out of the two dozen possible paths out of the swamp, only one leads closer to the center. In the distance, punched up out of the horizon like a demonic claw, is a massive Gothic castle. For those of you who are just joining us: this dramatic shift in the layout and theme of the test are a way for the game to test the player's ability to adapt.
Johnny's space suit is gone and in its place he's been clad in leather armor. Minotaur can't leave a player totally helpless, so out of the kindness of its heart and its inability to break the rules, it gives Johnny a letter-opener that could liberally be classified as a dagger. Johnny inspects the pathetic weapon, sheathes it, and then breaks into an open run down one of the winding paths that undoubtedly twists like a circulatory system through the looming forest.
In a rumbling crash, the fog soaked ground falls away into a ten foot wide sinkhole without warning. The crowd gasps at the thought of this run ending on a cheap-ass trick. Johnny doesn't just leap the chasm--that'd be too pedestrian for this future Hall of Famer. He sails over the black abyss, twisting like a gymnast. At the height of his ascent, he comes out of the acrobatic flurry only to flash a double-bird set of middle fingers at the castle.
The crowd cackles in astounded laughter. Johnny, like the game, doesn't just play to win. He's a showman; a trapeze artist who does the death drop three times a night without the use of a net. The crowd loves him for it.
He bursts out of the treeline in a dead sprint. Before him, and us, lies the Gothic fortress standing resolute in the opal moonlight. Buttressing the wooden drawbridge hanging open like a skull's empty eye-socket, are two titans wielding stone hammers. Malicious, ruby eyes gaze out from the penny-thin slits on their dark, iron helms. The first one rushes out wildly, the great hammer in its hands uplifted to end this nonsense in a single, bone-crushing stroke.
Johnny rolls left just in time.
The hammer makes a crater only inches from him, sending up a cloud of black soil out of the white blanket of fog. Another diving roll sends Johnny through the legs of the sentinel, where the second is waiting for him with a heel twisting home run swing meant to send Johnny to the moon. It's a smart play on the computer's part. Minotaur has seen similar moves over its long and destructive career. What it has not seen, is a player who aerials over the head of the hammer, grabs a hold of its edge, and hangs on for dear life. The extra weight on the tip of the weapon makes it too heavy for the titan to recover from. The head of the hammer sinks firmly into the ground, cutting a trench into the earth.
A man on a wire, Johnny runs up the haft of the hammer, unsheathes his dagger and slides the needle-thin tip into the slender gap of the sentinel's helm.
The titan howls in pain.
Johnny's arm is a piston, stabbing relentlessly. The titan, now a blinded, thrashing animal, begins to swing his weapon with reckless furiosity. One of those sightless blows smashes his compatriot in the head, crushing the titan's helm like a soda can under a boot heel.
It's bloody work to finish off the blind thing, but Johnny takes to it like a creature possessed. The battle ends with a quick, hard slash and a fountain of blood eschewed from the titan's exposed throat. It's a level of ferocity that I've never seen before.
Not just me either. None of us, onlookers or other scouts, no one has done this to Minotaur before.
Bathed in a dark scarlet wash under the harvest moon, Johnny Mac looks up at the massive fortress. There's something behind those eyes of his, something hidden, unspoken. I don't like it.
The tower stands like the Devil's own mausoleum, dark, brooding, and hungry. The bells continue to chime from a place above the gray blanket of clouds that put the moonlight to bed.
A wolf howls from the dark forest beyond.
Johnny Mac knows how he feels.
What happens next is nothing short of desolation.
Minotaur throws wave after wave of assailant programs at Johnny. He takes a slash across the ribs that, only an inch deeper, might have made Johnny's insides into his outsides. The crowd gasps at each new horror the game tosses at their current love affair. Johnny slashes and rips and tears them to ribbons with his small knife, leaving behind a horror of gore in his wake. He punches through the clocktower filled with the fluttering wings and poisonous talons of voracious harpies, smashes the dark Rector of the sub-basement library, and decapitates the charnel kitchen's cannibal chef with his own oversized meat cleaver. That last one is the worst of the kills, because Johnny takes his time with the finale by pinning the Chef's head to the ground under the weight of his boot. The Chef's neck is thick as an iron girder. A few arena go-ers chuck their cookies when the third, unrelenting stroke of the knife cuts the monster's head from his shoulders.
In all the years I brought him up through the Double A, Johnny never showed me anything like this. He's always looked capable, sure, but never...never savage. Where has all this anger been hiding?
Minotaur is throwing everything it has at the unrelenting, human-shaped nightmare. It is asking, for lack of a better metaphor, what every peanut-brained dinosaur asked the moment it saw the Chicxulub impactor cutting a hot line through the atmosphere.
"What is this thing?"
I see what Johnny is now, and soon, all of these people in the arena, and the world will too.
Johnny Mac is an extinction event.
Standing before a massive set of banded iron doors, Johnny inserts the three obsidian keys he's taken from the bowels to brains of the castle. Each of them slide into place slower and sweeter than a pair of virgins on their wedding night.
Minotaur blares. "Phase Two complete. Recalibrations insufficient. Incursion alarm. Repeat, incursion alarm."
Insufficient? Player incursion? That's not what--
"3, 2, 1."
The screen goes black.
This time the light that floods the massive, over-sized monitors inside the arena isn't white. The light that fills every wide-eye transfixed by Johnny Mac's performance is red. Red as the molten core of a planet. A world on fire. The center of the Labyrinth is a blistering landscape where Minotaur stands nobly atop a single slab of stone that has no melting point. The machine is dressed as a man, costumed in the garb of its enemy. It stands with its arms behind its back. It's an interesting ploy, one I've never seen or heard of before, and believe me folks, I've heard them all.
Phase Three is the final conflict between man and machine. It is designed specifically to measure one aptitude; sanity. Normally, it comes in the form of a nightmare crafted from the depths of your childhood fears or Minotaur beaming the sheer volume of infinite space into the brainscape of the player. Conquering your fear or withstanding the void means congratulations--it's champagne and Beef Wellington time. Crumble under the weight of abject insanity? Well, there's always barber college.
My palms get sweaty in anticipation. I don't like unknowns. I don't play games of chance or bet against the house unless I'm certain it's a sure thing. I've bet the farm on Johnny Mac being butter spread all over a cinnamon roll. I was sure of that bet, until I see Johnny Mac standing on that slab. The game has garbed him in a black tunic and shin high leather boots. Eruptions of liquid fire splash all around them. Even the camera inside the game can't seem to calibrate the synthetic reality well enough to keep waves of heat from interfering with the crisp, high-definition feed.
"What the hell is Minotaur doing?" One of the patrons next to me says, annoyed.
Something in me, something I don't recognize opens my mouth and answers his question. "I don't know."
"John Crenshaw MacMorn." Minotaur's voice is calm, restrained. "How come you to find this place?"
Johnny regards the game coldly. "I've seen it before. Years ago. I saw another player find this path. I never forgot the route she took."
"Of the number of players who have bested me, only four have ever found this place--the Construct."
"Talent hits the target no one else can hit, Minotaur. Genius hits the target no one else can see."
"And you are such genius, John Crenshaw MacMorn?"
"No. But someone very important to me was."
"Who are you?"
I'm shaking my head. I honestly do not know what the fuck is happening. This is not how the game is supposed to go.
Johnny Mac, resolute, begins walking toward the little god inside its own creation. I admit there is something frightening about his confidence.
"I am the son of a mother who challenged you many years ago." Johnny's eyes are wide, his chin tucked closely to his throat with a killer's countenance. "You stretched her over the wheel of your game, and you broke her."
"I am Minotaur, it is my nature to break that which can be broken. Those who want to join the league must-"
"I don't want the league," Johnny says.
My heart tip-toes over a ledge, falling into my stomach.
"I want revenge."
My eyes move from the massive screen where the insane drama is playing out, and I see what no one else sees. Johnny Mac's hands finally come out of their pockets. He's holding a weird looking cylinder. No, not a cylinder. A syringe. Whatever is inside, he mainlines it.
I am freaking the fuck out.
Back in the game, Minotaur considers Johnny. "Revenge?"
"Did you think," Johnny asks, his tone dripping with a simmering, hidden rage. "No. Did you believe that for all the lives you have destroyed that there would never come a day of accounting?"
Minotaur's avatar scrambles, flickering in and out of existence for only a moment. When it reappears, it looks around, confused. "W-What is this subroutine, this...this sensation!"
The needle.
"What you are sensing, Minotaur, is the nano-chemical interface between your mainframe and my mind. My own special cocktail of programming and biochemistry. It took a long time to perfect, but now that I see the panic on your face, I know the sacrifice was worth it."
"The first cybernetic pathogen able to be contracted between man and machine. What you are feeling, at this present moment, here at the very center of your being, is fear."
Minotaur shakes its head again, struggling to stand as it flickers in and out of existence once more.
"I didn't come here to beat you," Johnny says, over the complete silence of every dumb-struck witness in the arena. "I came here to end you. To break you, like you broke her."
"I don't want this! I-I...I don't want to die." Minotaur screams, falling to its knees at Johnny's feet. Minotaur, his eyes wide with infant mania, reaches out to grab Johnny's wrists.
Unbelievably, they touch. Minotaur once protected by its digital nature...is tangible.
Johnny Mac blows everyone's mind when he slaps away Minotaur's trembling hands.
"I offered you a chance to surrender. You refused," says Johnny.
Johnny grabs Minotaur by the tufts of hair on the sides of its head. He yanks the avatar's head back violently.
The machine begs for its life. "Please wai-"
The crowd is a collective of panicked bystanders about to witness the first ever Man on Machine premeditated homicide.
It's only then that it dawns on me. I wasn't using Johnny, he was using me. He didn't get it twisted about the League. He was using me to get access to Minotaur. So he could...wait-
Is an artificial intelligence a life?
Am I an accomplice to murder?
Is this murd-
The swiftness of the wrenching twist is so fast that we see Minotaur's neck snap before we hear the artificial spine break.
All the massive screens die, casting the arena into darkness.
Alarms blare.
Connection lost...
People start losing their minds.
Connection lost...
What just happened?
Connection lost...
The lights come on in a flash, bright and blinding as the silver helmet from Johnny's head is drawn back up into the rafters like a retreating phallus post climax. He draws himself up erect, to his full height. He regards the silent multitude like Caesar triumphant over humbled Vercingetorix and then exits without a word.
There are no cheers for the boy who broke Minotaur.
No glory for the child who changed the Spiral.
In the aftermath of Johnny Mac's ascension I'm assured by my legal council that there is no legal precedent set for what Johnny did. The courts take their time as contracts from every single team owner in the League flood my inbox with offers for Johnny's talent.
The zeroes. My God, the zeroes.
submitted by csauthor to shortstories [link] [comments]

[fluffy battle report with pictures] TempestEye/Kharadron VS Skaven - Landing on the Skitterfort

I played my first Age of Sigmar game ever, using my converted Dispossessed/Kharadron army using Tempest Eye rules. To celebrate that, I wrote a fluffy battle report.
The game was played against a "soft" list from a friend who plays Skaven Pestilens. I wrote a little bit around the actual battle (that was played between two 1000points armies) so that it is a bit more epic.
My list: 1 Grundcaptain (=Warden King) [adjutant] 1 Runeforger (=Runelord) [general with hawkeyed] 2*10 Stonebeards (=Longbeards) 10 Steelwardens (=Ironbreakers) 10 Aetherhammerers (=Hammerers) 20 Thunderdrakes (=Irondrakes)
He played a Verminlord, a plague catapult, 40 plague monks, 2*5 censor bearers, and a skaven lord that buffed the catapult (don't know the exact name). In the end he tabled me, especially when a single missed dispell caused 14 Irondrakes to die instantly through mortal wounds.
Now, here is the fluffier description of the meatgrinder that was the Skitterfort landing operation.
---
Thrice did Grundcaptain Alaric discharge his volley pistol into the head of the dying Skaven Stormfiend lying in front of him. That might have seemed excessive to the unexperienced eye, but two duardins died under his command during a previous battle, after considering as dead a Stormfiend with half his skull blasted away. Alaric was adamant about never making the same mistake twice.
Capt’n ?
The voice came from him left. The Grundcaptain instinctively pivoted the optical sensor at the back of his helmet even before he turned his head. He saw gunnery sergeant Gromm closing in with heavy steps, his aethercannon on his shoulder. The acid blood of a Skaven abomination had attacked his mask, but not enough to compromise the sealing of his armor. He was lucky. The atmosphere was too thin here for a duardin to breath.
Sergeant,” started the Grundcaptain, “You swore that you would hold the Fist of Grudging, and you stood true to your word. You honor your ancestors.”
His Skalfhammer in one hand, his volley pistol in the other, Alaric could not properly execute the salute of Barak-Thryng’s Grundstok Academy, so he simply nodded solemnly. The still-burning wreck of the Khrundal-class battleship, the Fist of Grudging, was laying behind Gromm.
This massive vessel, flagship of Barak-Thryng’s reprisal fleet, had been shot down during the very first salvos of the air battle. The Skaven stratofortress known as the Skitterfort looked more akin to a floating chunk of rock than a proper fortification, but had in its bowels an experimental electrical weapon that swatted the Fist of Grudging out of the air, cutting it in half. The Gunnery Sergeant’s unit, along with eight other Grundstok squads, had been dispatched to secure the wreck and save the Arkanaut Admiral in charge of the expedition.
“Is Admiral Khar-bar safe and sound?” asked Alaric while putting his volley gun back in his holster.
Centuries of training and practice at the Grundstok Academy allowed Alaric to identify Gromm’s shame immediately. Shame was common in a sky-port as traditinonalist as Barak-Thryng. Even if Alaric had been a mere Arkanaut crewmember, he would have learned in his young years to recognize when a duardin had a bad news to announce.
Capt’n, we secured the admiral. He is wounded, but will be able to lead the purge of the fortress. The Grundlieutenant, however…”
Behind the optical sensors of his helmet, both of Alaric’s eyes opened wide. His mouth looked for words during few seconds before he took back control of himself.
Valgha… Valgha cannot…”
Alaric does not have much memory of the following hours. He remembers crossing the battlefield until the field HQ established in the wreck of the Fist. Devastation was obvious all over the surface of the Skaven stratofortress. Gunhaulers were crashed everywhere, not far from the rubbles of ratmen artillery towers. Multiple cruisers had their hull breached and were scattered, while in the distance Skaven skirmiships were still visible, exchanging artillery salvos with pursuing Barak-Thryng ships.
At the Fist of Grudging the situation was fairly stable. The Arkanaut companies, mostly through fortified firing nests of aethermatic volley guns, had already established solid defensive positions. Above their heads, a few frigates and cruisers kept a watchful eye on the landing area of Barak-Thryng’s troops. A non-negligible part of the sky-port’s military forces was deployed for this operation, and nothing was to disturb their landing on the Skitterfort.
Alaric’s Grundcarrier, the Iron Cloud, was much more a transport than a battleship. It usually stayed away from the battle, letting the rest of the Grundfleet securing the area. This time however, the Iron Cloud was positioned vertically above the Fist of Grudging, and its dozen of aethercopters were constantly making roundtrips between the ship and the landing zone, each time dropping an entire squad of Thunderdrakes or Steelwardens.
Not much was left of Grundlieutenant Valgha for Alaric to mourn. When the Grundcaptain started praying the Old Golds, the silence that fell was so heavy that Stormbreakers around him felt as if the sealing of their armor was compromised and oxygen was running low. Alaric woke up from his torpor with the sound of a cannonade outside. A trio of frigates were generously bombarding a Skaven counter-attack while three regiments of Thunderdrakes unleashed volley after volley of aethershots from their grundrifles.
The Thaggoraki will pay,” growled Alaric, “deploy the rest of our reserves as well as the Aetherbomb. We’ll wipe out this rathole.”
As an answer, Steelwardens around hit their aetherswords on their skyshields while Thunderdrakes launched a volley of blue-white shots skyward. The Duardin are a grudging people. Barak-Thryng is a sky-port known of its respect of things of old, including the Great Book of Grudges, and none was so comprehensive in their grudgemaking as the Stormbreakers. And that was a grudgin’.
[Getting ready for grudge-settling]
The campaign of the Skitterfort was originally supposed to last for three months, and the objective was to transform the stratofortress into a fortified outpost at the fringe of Kharadron territory. Alaric decided to use their trump cards head-on, and to make it a three days battle. He officially announced to admiral Khar-bar that the Skaven infestation was too deep to purge the floating rock, and that the only solution was to destroy it so the ratmen would not use it any longer.
In truth, vengeance was blinding Alaric’s judgement. While wave after wave or Barak-Thryng’s Arkanauts were deploying to secure the surface and probe the Skaven’s inner defenses, the Grundcaptain assembled the entirety of the Stormbreakers. More than ten thousand duardin, all member of this elite corps. Enough to carve a path into the heart of the stratofortress.
The Stormbreaker’s tactic was simple enough: A massive singular unit, impossible to stop. The Steelwardens and their antimagic defenses were spread out on the outer perimeter, stopping the Skaven attacks with their skyshields. Just behind them were the Aetherhammerers, ready to obliterate any ratman resilient enough to withstand few seconds of contact with the Steelwarden. In the center were the Thunderdrakes, shooting in all directions, including above the army, and focusing down the larger Skaven flesh-abominations. In the back, the Stonebeards were forming a rearguard and supporting the other Stormbreakers wherever they were needed. For hours the Skaven could barely slow down this Dawitide, delving deeper and deeper in the large main avenue of the Skitterfort.
[Alaric’s subdivision of the Stormbreakers spearhead]
How much deeper, Gomril?” shouted Alaric while swapping aside three clanrats in a single blow of his Skalfhammer. The Grundcaptain had lost track of where he was exactly, and trusted his Endrinsmith to make all the calculations for him. The Stormbreakers had just entered an absolutely massive inner cave, looking like a small city or workshop. Plague-ridden corpses were left to decompose in the streets, and the Thaggoraki had decided to put up a serious resistance here.
The Endrinsmith pulled many exotic measuring device in the middle of the mayhem. Alaric could not see his face behind his mask, but he knew his friend was making calculations. Overhead a salvo of green balls of filth flew across the battlefield, crashing into the melee of Steelwardens and Clanrats. “Plague catapults!” shouted Gunnery Sergeant Gromm, “Mortars, focus fire!”
Endrinsmith Gomril boosted the volume on his mouth-speaker so that he could be heard by Alaric. “Grundcaptain, this will do! We are deep enough in the Skitterfort. The Aetherbomb will obliterate the stratofortress!”
That was all he needed to hear. “Sons and daughters of Grungni!” roared Alaric, “This is where we stand! This is where we break the vermintide!”
[The sons of Grungni on the warpath]
Every duardin knew the objective there. To hold long enough so that the Aetherbomb could be weaponized. The many regiments of Stormbreakers started to deploy across the plague-city, knowing they would win or die here. Alaric trusted his Grundlieutenants to command their forces efficiently. He took his own forces, put the Stonebeards at the front, and charged through the center.
Khazukan Kazakit-HA” yelled all the duardin as a single voice.
The impact was awe-inspiring. Fifty skaven censor-bearers jumped from behind ruins, rushing an advancing regiment of a hundred Stonebeards. Bracing for impact did little for the duardin, who were slaughtered by the frenzied assault of the vermin.
Reinforce that flank!”
Steelwardens and Aetherhammerers poured in the breach, massacring the censer-bearers to the last rat. The poisonous fumes of the Pestilens had injured many surviving Stonebeards, most of which could barely walk. Even the protective craft of the accompanying Runeforger could barely delay the infection.
Bring them back to the ship,” ordered the Grundcaptain. “Quarantine them, treat them, and back to Barak-Thryng. I won’t sacrifice duardin lives for nothing.”
“Captain !” shouted one of the Aetherkeeper – the leader of an Aetherhammerer squad. “Here they come!”
A wave of filth and decay came over a series of crumbling building, the wet wood of the houses creaking under the weight of four hundred plaguemonks rushing over the roofs.
We’ve had worse!” grunted the Grundcaptain, “It’s not a few hundreds of Thaggoraki that will-“
He could not finish his sentence before an explosion of raw warpstones obliterated the regiment on his right. Hundreds of Stormbreakers perished in an instant when the whole group of Grundlieutenant Kormaz was erased from existence, replaced by a being of pure malevolence. They were all trained for this kind of situation, but this was too much.
“That… That’s…” started the Runeforger. Way behind them, a team of mortar-equipped Grundstoks launched a salvo of explosives on the newly appeared daemon, destroying what was left of the neighborhood where he appeared, but inflicting no apparent damage.
Verminlord!” cried out Alaric in alarm, “Support teams, focus fire on this aberration!”
This Lord of Filth started spellcasting, preparing what was without a doubt something that would slaughter many duardin. The Runeforger, however, was quick with his wit, and activated his strongest aetherune. The Verminlord, not yet entirely in this reality, did not have enough strength to conjure his spell.
The Skaven monstruosity was the biggest danger here, but there was no choice for Alaric except handling the coming wave of Plague Monks. He ordered his own Thunderdrakes to focus down the flagellant of decay, while he sent his Aetherhammerers to counter-charge on their flanks.
[Aetherhammerers charge the enemy lines]
Hundreds of Monks were cut down like wheat by the aethershots of the Thunderdrakes. Those that survived were broken like old fruits by the energy discharge of the Aetherhammerers weapons. In the ensuing melee, half of the duardin that had faced the tide were dead, while the other half were too wounded or sick to continue the fight. The Plague Monks, however, all laid dead on the blood-soaked rocky floor. Alaric barked to the surviving Aetherhammerers to retreat away from the battlefield.
[Plague Monks slaughtered by grundrifles and aetherhammers]
Fifty more plague-censers were coming hard on the left flank of Alaric’s troops, but apart from that, only the Verminlord remained as the main threat. For a second, the Grundcaptain allowed himself to believe they could win. That was before the Verminlord managed to launch his spell, despite the Runeforger’s best efforts.
The core of Alaric’s regiment, his Thunderdrakes, started convulsing. Their armor and rifles rusted in a matter of seconds, while gloated sounds emerged from the throats of those that did not die instantly. The Runeforger immediately applied a counter-spell on those he could save, but it was too late: Out of the two hundred Thunderdrakes immediately at Alaric’s back, only fifty survived. This time, however, there was no opportunity to allow the wounded to pull back.
[Stormbreakers form a defensive line to stop the Verminlord]
Keep firing on that thing!” roared the Grundcaptain, “and establish a defensive form-
He was once again interrupted when a volley of the plague catapults crashed in the middle of the Steelwardens line. The lucky ones died from the impact while others were infected with plagues to vile to be described by words. Only a few dozen of the elite Steelwarden remained as some sort of honor guard for Alaric.
While the last Steelwarden deployed alongside the Grundcaptain to intercept the incoming censor-bearers, one hundred Stonebeards –the last full unit of Alaric’s army- went to charge the Verminlord with the support of the Runeforger.
[All-in]
Alaric did not see in detail what happened to the Stonebeards. He heard his Runeforger screaming under the effort of containing the Verminlord’s magic. Meanwhile, the tail of the monster flapped about, killing few brave duardin each time. But he could not focus on them. He had his own battle to win.
He plunged into battle, swinging his hammer left and right. Craven Skaven flew around him, their heads smash in, their bones pulverized. His Steelwardens formed an impregnable fortress around him with their skyshields, intercepting any attack that had a risk of injuring their lord. The Plague Catapults had focused their attention on other Stormbreaker armies, and were now leaving his duardin alone to be slaughtered by the verminlord. When Alaric killed the last of the vermin he looked around him. No censor-bearer had survived, but neither had any Steelwarden. The Grundcaptain swore an ancient Khazalid insult before turning his gaze to the Verminlord. He was still engaging the rest of his forces.
[Only one enemy remains]
In a single second, a fetid gale blew over the remaining Thunderdrakes, tearing the life away from them. All duardin fell on the ground, as if they were mere puppets whose strings were cut all at once. The Runeforger spent much energy trying to intercept this spell, and was left expose to a counter-attack. He blocked a tail attack and staggered back, before being cut to pieces by plaguereapers. Alaric cried out the name of his friend as he charged into the melee. His Stonebeards had surrounded the monster and were attacking him from all side, but they were clearly outmatched by the creature. More and more died, be it by plagues or by blade. Even Alaric, a master combatant, could barely score a hit on the fast-moving daemon.
Kill it! Just kill it!”
In his eagerness he left his flank exposed. The Verminlord was about to leap at him and kill him as he had did with the Runeforger when he received a couple of aethershots to the head. This was enough to delay him, and buy Alaric some precious seconds to counter the blow. Behind him, two surviving Thunderdrakes had risen, stubbornly refusing to die before their enemy.
[It just won’t die!]
Getting tired of this fight and starting to feel he could actually loose hit, the injured Verminlord unleashed yet another plague. All the Stonebeards fell, coughing blood and worse, while even Alaric could barely stand. He intercepted one attack from the vermin, then two, but just when he was about to fall, the Stonebeards standard-bearer –last of his unit- used his weaponized banner to cut deep into the Verminlord’s knee.
The creature screeched in pain, uttering what was probably insults in Queekish. Alaric looked at the Stonebeard bannerman, proud to fight alongside this duardin. Grungni would be proud, he thought.
Khazukan,” started Alaric, “Kazak-“
The Verminlord reflex-kicked Alaric away. The Grundcaptain barely had time to put his hammer in front of the blow, and flew for two dozen meters before touching the ground. He bounced a few times, many bones breaking in his body, and finally stopped in the middle of retreating Stormbreakers regiments.
Most of the duardin were holding fast against the seemingly endless wave of the Skaven’s elite. They would have to hold at least an hour, he thought to himself. More and more plague monks and censor-bearer were entering the city from the rear, under the fire of long-range Grundstok mortars. Wounded duardin were being evacuated, but most Stormbreakers were dying in battle or of sudden diseases.
The last thing Alaric saw before he lost consciousness was the Stonebeard standard-bearer, fighting alone against the Verminlord. To his shock, he was still holding his own. The wounded demon himself appeared more than surprised at his unability to kill a single duardin. No amount of tail lash or plaguereaper blows would be enough. The Stonebeard would intercept them all. Later, Alaric would learn that one of the plague of the Verminlord was needed to kill this single duardin.
[The real hero of this battle]
When he woke up again, Alaric was being carried on a skyshield by four duardin. A mere thousand Stormbreakers had escaped the inner tunnels of Skitterfort, where more than ten thousand had entered. When the Grundcaptain and the survivors arrived near the rallying point of the Iron Cloud, Alaric could see the sadness of the Aethercopters squadron leader. Dozen of those light skycrafts were ready to make rundabouts, their engines running.
That’s it?” half-whispered Zhiflon the squadron leader, keeping his gaze on the tunnel exits, hoping to see a wave of Stormbreakers coming to get back in the Grundcarrier. Around them, the Arkanauts had already finished embarking in their ships, many frigates and ironclads already retreating away from the stratofortress, fearing to be in the blast radius.
That’s it,” answered Alaric, his voice heavy. “Get us out of this hell.”
When the Skaven fortress blew up in the sky, clouds turned a sickish green as far as the eye could see. Warpstone energy discharges went in all directions, some touching the smaller gunhaulers, destroying them in one touch. An ironclad, the Grudge Fulfilled, was mortally wounded in its munition storage. Losing altitude rapidly, he plunged towards the ground followed by several frigates trying to tow it with their harpoons. More losses before the end of this dark episode of Barak-Thryng’s history.
Grundcaptain Alaric had only one idea in mind: To return to Barak-Thryng, rebuild the Stormbreakers, and hunt the Thaggoraki no matter where they might hide. If he did indeed see his beloved, his rest was short-lived. A mere few weeks after the battle of Skitterfort, the most respected duardin of the City of Ancestors came to the Grundstok Academy to pay the Grundcaptain a visit.
Admiral Sternbok!” shouted Alaric, immediately saluting after putting down his precision grundrifle. The Grundcaptain had been surprised in the middle of a firing training. The few Thunderdrakes around him, recruits as veterans, saluted as their leader.
“At ease, Grundcaptain.” The voice of the unhelmeted admiral was fatherly and warm. Until today, Alaric had never heard it except through the filters of his voice-speaker. Every Kharadron mask distorted the voice of their users, to different degrees, but Admiral Grymm Sternbok’s voice-speaker had been willingly modified to give him a deep and rocky voice, similar to a stone avalanche. Probably to intimidate his foes, or his allies in the Geldraad.
You can call me Grymm. You earned it. You are one of our best duardin.” Not knowing how to react to that, Alaric stood still, waiting to understand why only Delegate of Barak-Thryng came to visit.
You already gave a lot for our sky-port, Alaric,” started the admiral, “but we’ll have to ask you much more. We have a priority mission, highly confidential, and your Stormbreakers are our best bet at succeeding.”
The Grundcaptain slowly nodded to show that he heard the Admiral, then waited long seconds –as a sign of respect- before answering.
With all due respect, admiral Grymm,” Alaric started slowly, over-articulating, “the Stormbreakers are but a fraction of what they used to be a month ago. It will take years of recruitment and training before we can attempt an operation half the scale of the Skitterfort invasion.
The silence in the shooting gallery was suffocating. The admiral had a little laugh, looked around at the Thunderdrakes, and then gave Alaric a little pat on the shoulder.
I’m well aware of that,” said the rocky voice of Sternbok, “that’s why you will manage a small ground team. Take your Iron Cloud, and as many of my Arkanauts as you’ll need to keep her steady and repel any boarders. Your Grundcarrier and its escort fleet will go across the realms at very high altitude while your Stormbreakers and you will deploy with aethercopters behind enemy lines. Sudden strikes, unexpected and hard.
That was a bold plan to say the least. Alaric was used to this kind of operation. Truth be said, this was what the Steelrain half of the Stormbreakers did best. Massive airdrop operations, such as on the Skitterfort, would not happen in the near future. However, smaller armies of few hundred of Stormbreakers were much more reasonable.
When Alaric was still a cadet, he did spend few years in the scouts of Barak-Ziflin’s Grundstok Academy. A mobile and fortified headquarter. Small elite squad ready to be airdropped in the worst combat zones. Small team to remain flexible. Tactical insertion through stealthy aethercopter were his specialty, and so he was excited at the perspective of diving again in the night, hanging from a safety harness at the back of the aircraft, accomplishing critical missions for the vanguard of an army.
That would be my honor, admiral Grymm,” solemnly declared Alaric, “what would the mission be?”
Sterbok nodded slowly, a gesture of respect very common in Barak-Thryng. “As I was saying, Grundcaptain, it is highly confidential. Many factions are racing for what you’ll be in pursuit of. Some of our duardin brothers, including Kharadrons, also want it. Let us discuss this outside.
Admiral Sternbok slapped the flat of his hand on Alaric’s shoulder, as much as a sign of friendship and encouragement, as a way to push him towards the exit. Before they went through the doorstep of the Academy’s shooting range, the admiral turned to the Thunderdrakes that were still standing at attention, still as statues.
And you,” roared the admiral, “get ready and tell your brothers and sisters to do the same. The Iron Cloud leaves tomorrow at dusk.”
submitted by alaric83 to ageofsigmar [link] [comments]

AR D Teambuilding

I play AR for a relatively long time now and usually get to tier 26 or 27 (I currently have 15 golden thrones, not as many as some veterans have but eh).
I often see newer players here struggle to build good defenses, so I thought about writing down some basics what a good AR D team needs. If you find something wrong feel free to correct me. I won’t recommend specific setups or tell you something is horrible (except for corner units) because I want to encourage you to be creative and most of the time something unexpected works best.
The basics
First and foremost you should have a specific plan what you want to do with your team comp. Just jamming 6 good units together usually won’t work very well. Your units need to have synergy with each other, every single unit needs to have a purpose for what you want to achieve. Usually you want to use 4 star units because they are far better mergeable and stats (especially hp) do matter. Next I briefly want to cover the most common offense Strategies and how a good defense teams counters them.
Tanking
This should be your biggest concern because its still the most common tactic. You want an answer if someone slaps a big beefy unit on a tile in your range. This answer could be something like: a flierball Est that quads the enemy with an armor effective weapon, a legendary alm that sweeps in and gets danced, some crazy special spamming of some really high damage units, savage blows, a seliph that lunges the tank into high damage units, panic smoke etc. There are a lot of possibilities here and you usually want to have one and support this strategy as best as you can. Make sure that none of your threat range is tankable by testing your AI as much as possible. Keep in mind that the attacker might try to smite a tanky unit in to kill one of your units in Player phase. If your team has a lot of mobility and create a lot of chaos they can snipe your enemys support unit and weak backliners, more about that later. A unit you should be wary off is Brave Ike. Everybody has him and his damage reduction makes him difficult to deal with. Strong red units with Aoe specials and/or hardy bearing can counter him. Especially in higher AR tiers people started to use speedy Bikes to counter hardy Bearing units that try to counter him, keep that in mind. Dragon and armor effective weapons are a plus but not mandatory. On the higher tiers (25,26,27) there aren’t many people that use these units anymore.
Hit and Run
A player tries to snipe one of your units, backs off and picks them off one by one. This should be your next concern. People (myself included) love their Pve nukes. This is the reason why boxing your units in is a terrible idea. There are two ways to counter this strategy: A) Make your units unsnipeable, either by having well placed traps, a large threat range or bulky frontline units that will survive Hit and run nukes. B) Extent your range, it doesn’t matter if they sniped a frontline unit if your high damage dealer can catch their nuke or dancer. This is usually done with: wings of mercy, flier formation, ground orders or dancers in general. A combination of those makes that tactic pretty irrelevant, its far easier to make a good team unhitandrunable than untankable. As always testing your own defense helps a lot.
Vantage
A player tries to get a unit low and let it kill your team before they have a chance to attack themselves. Hardy Bearings is a special seal with an unique effect that negates attack priority. This is your best bet against vantage units, use it on a high damage unit! A good vantage player will try to kill your Hardy Bearing, which means you should make it unsnipeable, support it so it can’t be killed easily or have a second answer. These second answers consist of razzle dazzle healers, firesweep weapons, windsweep etc. Try to keep in mind that your bolt trap can be your biggest enemy (keep it low level, you want the interrupt, the damage it deals is counterproductive). The enemy shouldn’t be able to step on it if your units can’t immediately follow up on them. Special mention to Kronya because she is pretty overhyped. Kronya doesn’t need to be low herself but needs her enemies to be to starts vantage sweeping which means a well placed healing tower makes her unusable against your team.
Galeforce
For every defense team out there, there is probably a Galeforce team somewhere that can beat it but you can make it difficult for them. If you have space on your frontliners b slot/s you might consider using guard. Steady stance 4 is a premium option for your dancers and frontliners to make Galeforce more difficult. Although the most important aspect is probably your unit formation. You want to avoid unit blocks (an enemy unit blocks a ranged unit so your ranged unit can’t attack, can’t move and blocks your other units from moving aswell) this usually happens when your units occupy only a tight space. You don’t want to make the space to open because your team would be weak to hit and run but with testing you should be able to find a good balance.
Next I want to adress some other important aspects of a good defense team
Create chaos
Especially better players will try to calculate how your units move, how much damage their tank takes etc. Try to make these calculations as difficult as possible. Flier formation, Wings of mercy, Ground orders, dancers (especially L!Azura with her 3 move), shoves and other special shenanigans will make it difficult to predict how the AI will move. The faster and the more chaotic a team is the better. AI Manipulation is important here to make sure your team moves the way you want them to.
Defense Mythic heroes
The first one gives you 20less lift reduction, the second one 40less in total. You get +1 less with each merge you have up to possibly only -20 on a full lose. Use them if you have them. They make team building a bit more tedious but it’s definitely worth it because you will lose matches sometimes. Try to implement them as best as possible and make them part of the engine. Far to often I see a poor Duma in the backrow with his base kit and no armor boots. If you manage to get 7 merges over 2 mythic heroes. You will only be able to lose -33 lift which is a big threshold for max defense rewards. You probably shouldn’t use Legendary Heroes if you use def mythics because you can’t bless them and lose more score. (You can use them in their corresponding season but you will need a replacement if it’s not the right season anymore and don’t like the extra score lose, furthermore its ab bit tedious to change.)
Dancers
You want to use 0-2 dancers in your team. Good dancers have: high hp (63 is the threshold to dodge an unmerged neutral hp Bridal Fjorm) thats why you usually run Hp +5 in the a and s slot. Low attack to not get baited, a dancer will always attack if he can to 5 damage or more and you want them to dance your other units. High attack units like dancing Reinhardt aren’t good design. A movement B skill like WoM or Flier formation if you only run fliers or something like sudden panic. Some supportive special effect on the weapon. L! Azura is probably the best dancers but you can’t use her too well on teams with def mythics. The difference between infantry and flying dancer is that Infantry unit can Infantry Pulse and flying dancers can use flier Movement skills. Weaponless and/or level 1 dancers are also an option to prevent them from passing the damage check to attack.
Does and don’ts
Do read Mias AI guide (Fehs Ai is actually pretty complex but you can get a lot better as a player if you know how your Units and the enemy units move) Do watch your defense replays and improve your team with the information you get. Do use Debuffs and in combat buffs. Don’t box your units in Don’t use visible buffs (Aversa is the most common support unit and you don’t want to get shutdown by panic, you probably can play around it, the AI certainly can not, there are some scenarios where you want visible buffs, for example if you have a rally trap with a blade mage that’s gets danced but 95% of the time its a bad idea) Don’t use immobile units somewhere they can’t reach or have terrible follow up. Don’t use reposition on your units, it might be the best assist in your hands, but the AI can’t use it properly, (as always there might be an occasion where it works wonderfully for you, in that case use it)
Defensive Structures
Here I want to mention all defense structures, discuss them and rank them. I will use 4 tiers. You should always use the bonus structure to get extra stats.
Tier 0 God
Duo’s Indulgence By far the best structure in the game and probably in any game. The fearsome wings will devastate your enemies and you will be in tier 27 the moment you select it and afterwards probably delete your game because you are so satisfied with your life. Jokes aside, this is completely useless. Seriously why does this even exist. I even had to look up the name because I think there isn’t even a single game this was used against me. It might be meta 2025 when trio heroes finally arrive but if you aren’t a time traveler or the biggest whale in history (and face your friend the second biggest whale in history that for some reason only uses duo heroes) this probably isn’t worth considering.
Tier 1 Top
Fortress Not really a structure because you cant not use it but it is really useful that you are able to wall off an extra tile on your map.
Healing Tower A well placed healing tower the most important structure your team has. You want to keep it in a safe location to heal chip from Bolt tower or from Savage blow units.
Gravity Trap This thing interrupts enemies if they try to attack from a space where the real grav trap is. The extra grav effect is nice aswell. In general you want to place your 4 traps so the enemy can’t hit and run or Galeforce your team and can’t safely test them without getting deep into your threat range. I wont mention the two fake traps on the list, just use them like the real ones.
Tier 2 Good
Panic Manor This structure can make tanking fairly difficult if its well placed. The biggest problem is that on higher tiers players use 60+ hp units which this won’t have an effect on.
Tactics Room In some team set ups this can be useful to prevent hit and run or slow the enemy down to stall for some extra turns. The same problem with the panic manor applies here which makes it a bit inconsistent.
Catapult Usually you want to use this, if you use it, one the 3rd or 4rd line. These are the usual bolt tower places on offense but its a gamble if you actually hit it and some teams might not need it to beat your defense team. Also its a fairly high invest because you need to max it if you want to hit the mostly maxed bolt towers.
Dark Shrine & Bright Shrine If you have space, they are a nice addition. Most better players have support unit to „soak“ the debuffs from the tanks, so you won’t always benefit from them. Which one is better depends on your team comp.
Bolt Trap This one is a double edged sword. Don’t upgrade it, it will hurt you more than it helps you because players can set up vantage here and the trap works on your team aswell!!! On the other hand its still a trap that interrupts attacks which makes it fairly useful in preventing setup.
Tier 3 Useless
Schools They aren’t completely useless but the effect is so slim thats not even worth mentioning.
Duo’s Indulgence Complete thrash. I honestly forgot the name of this thing again and had to look it up a second time.
Tier 4 Will benefit the enemy player
Bolt Tower Only use this in the right bonus season and don’t upgrade it. You don’t want to damage the opponents and give them free Vantage, Desperation etc!
Lastly I briefly want to mention the most common def themes and some special tricks. There are a lot of well written guides for this out there so I will keep it short. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of different things that can work and creativity will be rewarded. I added some descriptons from user ArsSol
Infantry pulse
You try to abuse the skill Infantry pulse to precharge your specials.
IP teams typically have high health units run short CD or specials that help with tanking and lower HP run higher CD specials. A way to counter IP teams is to try to disrupt the "IP chain" on turn one if possible by reducing an IP user HP to be lower than someone they are pulsing.
Flier Ball
You stack ward (or goad, but ward is superior imo) fliers and utilize flier formation to catch enemy units offguard
Flier Balls shouldn't run assists like Reposition as it can make it harder to the ball to stay together. Pivot and Swap are better alternatives.
Cav line
You try to limit your enemy’s ability to safely deploy his units by using some ranged cavs.
Cav Lines get most of their momentum on turn 2 as turn 1 is when they start moving towards the opponent one at a time. Making sure the cav units survive/kill the enemy turn one is crucial otherwise it is just units running to their deaths. Razzle Dazzle cav units and hard nukers are common in this strategy.
Armor Ball
Armor Balls take advantage of the ward stacking and their high stats but are extremely weak to chip and poking without a healing tower or healer. Having a flier with Ground Orders (B!Micaiah as an example) makes them significantly harder to deal with. If you are using ranged armor units (like W!Cecilia), giving them Armor March/Boots and Bold fighter can make them near impossible to tank with the right special. The most important thing is that you don´t just see them as stat sticks that survive for seven turns. Be creative and make their follow brutal if someone tries to chip.
Rally Trap
The moment an enemy is in range one of your backliners uses a rally skill (usually res, because visible buffs aren’t something you want to use and res hurts the least) afterward he/she gets danced and might be able to attack a backliner or the tank that previously wasn’t in range. The unit that rallies will try to do it from the point closest to the right corner or in case of a rally up, from a point where most units can benefit from the buff.
Restore Trap
A healer with restore+ will move forward and restore a debuffed or paniced ally, to gain more reach. The best restore traps are where your restorer gets danced and ends up in the same position, they started from if no enemy is in range.
Well that’s everything that comes to my mind atm. I had a lot of fun writing this, feel free to ask or criticize if something is unclear!
submitted by Merit776 to FireEmblemHeroes [link] [comments]

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