Post by kharakian on Jul 8, 2013 0:05:21 GMT
Location: Faloran Republic Frigate Dauntless, 20 klicks west off the coast of the Faloran Isle.
Ensign Taniel Corso stood on the fore deck of the Dauntless, feeling the spray of the ocean on his face and the harsh breeze tugging away the heat of his body. He tugged his black great coat a bit tighter around himself as he watched the horizon for enemy sails. Technically it was the job of the Sailor in the crow's nest, but there was nothing wrong with an extra set of eyes.
FRS Dauntless was his first assignment after graduating from the Naval academy. Taniel was determined to do his absolute best to be the model junior officer. He had made a few mistakes so far. To err was human after all. Still, the crew was a bit abuzz with rumors about their current mission. Dauntless was one of the fleet's newest ships and the Captain hadn't said a word about their orders besides giving a heading. A few of the Senior crew Chiefs had pressured Taniel about the mission, assuming that because of his father he would know. His answer was always the same. "Despite who my father is, I don't know anymore than you do. Not even Commander Russel seems to know. I am just an Ensign following orders like the rest of you." That conversation had been barely happened an hour ago and it still echoed in his mind.
Even now, after graduating on his own. Earning top marks at the academy, he couldn't escape his father's shadow. He was only 19 years old, yet he felt he had lived a lifetime in the shadow of the great Samuel Corso. Hero of too many battles to count. The first Fleet Admiral the Senate had ever appointed. By the Pit, they had practically made the rank just for him. Taniel knew he would have to join the Navy. There was no question about it. He barely saw his father while he was growing up and all of his governesses stressed how important he was to the Republic. The fleet was its wooden walls on the ocean against Dominion aggression and his father was the man in charge of the fleet. He barely remembered his mother. Just a voice and a soft touch.
Taniel shook his head and took a deep breath of the cold air to clear his head. He was wool gathering when he should be watching for enemy sails. Which was yet another lie. He was technically off duty. But if he had managed to get the general crew to leave him alone, the other Ensigns in their shared quarters wouldn't give up so easily. He had chosen for now to simply avoid the issue.
The slight creak of the deck planks warned him someone was coming. Without even stopping to think, Taniel was reaching into his coat for the familiar grip of the pistol he kept hanging off his belt as he turned around to face whoever was coming up behind him. He stopped and blushed slightly in embarrassment when he saw it was just Leftenant Levi. "Sorry sir, just a bit jumpy tonight." He said, tucking the pistol back into its holster. Before coming to attention in the presence of a superior officer.
Levi just chuckled. "And here I thought I was being quiet. I am surprised you heard me coming Ensign Taniel." The older officer said gently. He waved for Taniel to relax and joined him at the rail. He leaned forward and stared at the horizon in silence.
Taniel relaxed slightly and stood beside Levi. He didn't say anything as he went back to scanning the horizon. The silence stretched out for another few minutes as the two stood and watched the slowly setting sun on the horizon.
Post by Timeon on Jul 8, 2013 17:17:06 GMT
"You've got one thing in common with your father." Levi said, finally turning his head halfway towards Taniel. Upon hearing mention of Samuel, Taniel's grip on the rails tightened ever so slightly. He was used to his equals taking jealous jabs about his father's position, and what supposed advantages it lent to Taniel's career, but every time an officer made such a comment it bit all the more deep.
"What would that be, Leftenant?"
"You don't know how to relax, Taniel." Levi said, dropping the formalities of rank for the first time between them. The older officer produced a pipe from his coat and lit it up, continuing to stare across the waters. As the sun was starting to weigh down on the horizon, Taniel felt that Levi was offering him a challenge. The officer knew his weaknesses, and being ordered to relax made it that much harder to.
"Sailing relaxes me, sir."
As if ignoring his answer, Levi went on to ask another question.
"Do you have any friends aboard this ship, Taniel?"
Taniel struggled to answer with a yes, because to him friendship meant something very specific.
"That's Leftenant to you, boy." Levi snapped back, giving Taniel a few seconds to wonder if the man was having fun at his expense. "Look, Ensign. In a week we will be in the Aras Isles. It is probable that we will be forced to fight, and to kill. You're going to want to have people at your back who like you. They'll guard you all the more fiercely if they give a damn about you. That's my first bit of advice. Have you ever killed before?"
Once again, when Taniel tried to speak, Levi overrode him with another addition to his speech.
"And I'm not talking about sinking some Dominion galley. I'm talking about stabbing a man to death."
"No, sir. I haven't killed before. Not like that."
Leftenant Levi pushed a pistol into Taniel's hands. It was a wheellock, one of the most modern new weapon designs from Jovinium.
"Then you hold on to this. It'll be your new best friend. And if you lose your nerve, it is easier to pull a trigger than it is to gut a man with a bayonet. It's a wheellock, too. Uou don't want your weapon to misfire in the middle of a battle, either."
Taniel thanked him with a slightly bow, unsure of what else to say.
"You are not the son of Admiral Samuel Corso. You are Taniel Corso, your own man. You'll have your chance to get that point across when we reinforce Senusa and the Isles next week."
With a wink, Leftenant Levi wheeled off, ever the eccentric old man. Taniel was left with the wheellock pistol, and thoughts about the rest of the crew.
"What in the abyss did he mean by hinting that I've got no friends?"
Next he thought of Senusa. That city had been bombarded into oblivion by his father, and captured by the Faloran navy ten years ago. It was for that outstanding achievement that Samuel had become Admiral, because ever since the Battle of Shatterbridge, the Falorans had pursued defensive strategies, and that tradition had been broken with the taking of Senusa.
Of course, the Dominion had reacted violently. Senusa was now a battleground, and Taniel Corso was about to get sucked into that maelstrom. With any luck, he would get out of it with his life, and some distinctions.
Post by kharakian on Jul 9, 2013 0:07:10 GMT
Taniel pulls out the pistol he kept loaded in his belt and examined it against the one Levi had just given him. "Identical. Likely bought from the same store." Taniel said quietly to himself before chuckling slightly. He tucked his first one away back under his coat. He checked the other one and found it was unloaded. He tucked it away under his coat as well. One of the few things he had treated himself to with his father's spending allowance was a good pistol and officer's sword. Neither were flashy, he had gotten his Mentor at the Academy to help him pick them out. They were both simple instruments of killing.
Relaxing, Taniel watched the stars come out for a bit longer, finding their heading after a moment of thought based on the stars. "Still almost due west." He said quietly. Then he glanced back at where Leftenant Levi had gone to. "Wait, how does he know where we are heading if even the Commander doesn't?"
Shaking his head, Taniel decided it was better to just not think about it right now. He headed back for the room he shared with the other Ensigns. It wasn't much to look at it, just a door and then hanging hammocks for the 8 junior officers to sleep in. Still, it was a lot better than the accommodations the general Sailor got. At least here they had some privacy.
He wasn't in the room 10 seconds before Ensign Wilson was crowding into his personal space. "Taniel! Come on man, you have to be in the know. Tell us where were headed!" The young man said excitedly. The other Ensigns were looking at him expectantly as well.
Taniel sighed and exhaled. This is what he didn't want to deal with. Except now he did know where they were going. And he still wasn't going to tell them. If he did, the word would be all over the ship by morning. "Sorry guys, like I told the crew chiefs earlier, I don't know where we are going." He said, lying with a smoothness that came with too much practice.
The other Ensigns snorted in disbelief. "Come on Taniel, you really don't expect us to buy that do you?" Ensign Carter said. "Your father would have told you what your first assignment was going to involve." Carter was an older boy and his promotion prospects did not look good at all. He had been an Ensign for 5 years now. If you didn't make Leftenant within 4 years, you probably never would.
Taniel felt the familiar surge of anger rising as he was treated differently because of his father. "Frankly I don't care if you do or don't Carter. I am saying I don't know. So just accept it." He said, his voice tight with barely controlled anger.
Carter rolled out of his hammock, the older boy had a few inches and lot of pounds on Taniel. "Last time I checked, you don't order me around." Carter said glaring down at Taniel was he stalked towards him.
Taniel glanced around at the other boys. They were all looking away. Carter was the Senior Ensign here. None of them would help him in this. And frankly Taniel was tired of Carter bullying him. Taniel stared back at Carter. "Let me rephrase, I don't know and I wouldn't say even if I did." Taniel said, his fists tightening as he watched Carter carefully.
It was a court martial offence to strike a fellow officer. Taniel had no intention of throwing the first punch, but self defense was not covered under the same offense.
Post by Timeon on Jul 9, 2013 0:38:51 GMT
The largest of the Aras Isles was the southernmost one. The namesake of the Isles was the town of Aras. It was situated on the coast, and from the side of the ship, Taniel could see that it was an impoverished place. Rickety buildings of old wood and reeds made up most of the town, but in the very middle, there was typical Faloran stone architecture. That was the hard thing about fighting a war against the Dominion - it was brother against brother, and sister against sister. Varantium was full of spirit-loving Falorans who hated the Republic. Perhaps they deserved to die for refusing to switch sides during the revolution.
A party of marines was gearing up on the deck, being ordered ashore for a foraging trip. In minutes the Lance of eight marines was ready, and the Lancer led them over the side of a ship into a rowing boat. They promised to be back within the hour.
But they did not return. One hour stretched to two, and it was decided that they had probably run into trouble.
"Bloody spirits." Ensign Carter could be heard muttering as a commotion erupted on deck.
Surely enough, Leftenant Levi made his presence felt.
"Alright boys, truth is, if a Lance of marines got themselves into trouble, the sorry lot of you is not going to fare any better. But we've got an ace up our sleeve."
Out stepped a man that Taniel had never seen before. Or had he? He could not place the face... how had a stranger managed to live on board without Taniel seeing him? Leftenant Levi caught Taniel's gaze and smiled.
"This is Magister Nito, a binder from the Magical Academy. He knows our boys would not run into any trouble against peasants, so it must be spirits."
Taniel was not sure if the disgusted intake of breath the crew experienced was a result of being in the presence of a magic-wielder, or if it was just the mention of spirits. Either way, Taniel felt profoundly uncomfortable himself. Probably not as uncomfortable as Ensign Carter over there, but no patriot liked magic. Not even binder magic.
Leftenant Levi pointed at Taniel first.
"You're coming with me." Next he picked out another five sailors. "We're going to rescue that sorry Lance. For the Republic."
There was a muted cheer, and Leftenant Levi spat and cursed.
"I said for the Republic, you sorry bastards!"
Then he commandeered the next row boat, and Taniel hesitated only a moment before following him in.
Post by kharakian on Jul 9, 2013 1:36:32 GMT
Taniel perched towards the front of the lead longboat. They had two, one Marine Lance to each boat being rowed to shore. Dauntless herself was anchored far enough out into the bay to be out of reach of any sorcery. Or that was the hope. You could never be sure with that infernal stuff.
Speaking of which... Taniel glanced over the other boat where Levi was speaking quietly to the Magister. Just being able to see him had Taniel on edge. That man tampered with things man was not meant to know. Magic wasn't natural in the world and like any power it corrupted. He reached into his coat and once again held the firm and reassuring grip of his pistols tucked into his belt. He had two of them, both loaded and ready to fire. Plus his short officer rapier. If there truly was a spirit on the island, he planned to introduce it to the gift of gunpowder at the end of one of his pistol barrels.
Before too much longer, the boats hit the shore line and were quickly pulled up onto the beach by the marines. The first boat that the foraging Lance had left was still on the beach too.
Levi was conferring with the two Marine Lancers and the Magister. The Marines themselves were gripping their bayoneted rifles and eyeing the treeline distrustfully. The Marines were dressed in their usual outfits. Dark Blue pants and tunics with a layer of chainmail over top, finished with a short black leather jacket. Every Marine armed with one of the new wheellock rifles. They would only get one shot, but that shot would be accurate.
Without anything going on, Taniel walked over to the abandoned boat and examined it. No sign of struggle. No blood on the sand or powder burns. To be expected, the watch on the ship would likely have noticed anything too blatant happening right on the shore. Taniel was about to head back to the others when he paused as something caught his eye in the sand. He knelt down and one hand came out to gently brush some sand away from what appeared to be a paw print of some kind. It was buried in the middle of one of the footprints he assumed the Marines left. It was somewhat large and definitely feline. He traced the tracks through and frowned as he noticed something else. The tracks were inconsistent. Like whatever was walking was not there all the time.
"You see something Ensign?" Taniel jerked around and had his sword halfway out of the scabbard before he saw it was Levi. He took a deep breath and tried to relax as his heart did its best to beat its way out of his chest.
Taniel forced himself to breath normally and shoved his sword back into its scabbard. "Something came out to the boat here Sir." He points at the tracks he spotted. "It walked out, sniffed around the boat and then followed the Marines into the woods." He explains.
Leftenant Levi raised an eyebrow and looked it over. "And how do you know it came after they had gone?" He asked offhandedly, doubt somewhat evident in his voice.
Taniel took a breath and straightened to attention, just like how he was taught to act back at the Academy. "Sir, the strange tracks overlap the Marine prints. That to me says it came after the men had already gone into the jungle." He said.
Levi nodded at Taniel approvingly and then glanced at the Magister. He looked at the tracks and then nodded. "Looks like a familiar from the tracks." He said after a moment. "Probably tracking our marines for its Pact Holder." The Magister took a breath and pointed at the tracks. "We may as well follow them."
Levi nodded and glanced at the two Lancers. "Even spread, 8 men in front and 8 men in the back. Officers in the middle. Keep your eyes peeled and don't touch anything." He ordered firmly. The Marines all nodded. None willing to gainsay the superior officer in obviously hostile territory. Levi nodded and then waited for the men to form up as they headed into the jungle.
Two hours Taniel thought bitterly as he wiped more sweat off his forehead before it dripped into his eyes. They had been marching for two hours straight in this steaming hot jungle. For once he was starting to hate his black great coat. While it was doing an excellent job of keeping the prickly plants and sharp sticks from taking chunks out of him, it was hot as the Pit in here! Still, the Marines they were tracking had come this way. The path was quite obvious.
Working his way closer to Levi, Taniel spoke up. "Sir, why would the Marines come so far in a straight line?" He asked quietly, not wanting to get the attentions of the Magister who was lagging behind a bit. "They were a foraging party. They normally stay close to the shore and do a sweep." He glanced ahead of them again. "This feels like they were going somewhere."
Levi nodded and grunted slightly as he took a swig from his water bottle. "Yes, it is odd. Something happened here. These men were driven. The tracks make it clear they were marching with a purpose. But to what?" He said quietly.
Suddenly the column halted when the Marine on point stopped and held his fist up. He pointed to his ear and then pointed deeper into the jungle to their left. Taniel slowly drew his sword and walked behind Levi as the two made their way to the front of the formation. Levi peered through the thick jungle, trying to make out what had the Marine spooked. Taniel closed his eyes and listened intently. "Sir, I hear drums and chanting. From over there." He pointed roughly in the same direction the marine had.
Post by Timeon on Jul 9, 2013 14:32:33 GMT
A shout came from up ahead, alerting Taniel that the first of the marines had entered the clearing. Soon Taniel was with them, a pistol in hand. The clearing was not what he had expected it would be. He had perhaps expected to find a grisly scene of ritual sacrifice, or eight marines strung up dead. Instead, he saw a couple of Falorans, beating drums beside a camp fire. A pot of gruel was boiling over the fire. There were massive grins on their faces, stretching their skin in an almost skeletal fashion. The most disturbing part was their expressions. There was no mirth in those faces to mirror the smiles.
"Never seen anything like this before." Levi muttered, pointing a pistol at one of them. Then he said aloud. "We are here to find our comrades. Where are they?"
One of the grinning cultists looked to his friend, and a cry of distress bubbled from his throat. Magister Nito stepped forward, placing a hand on the man's forehead. Seconds later, the man's face collapsed into a sag, the grin finally fading.
"Oh no, oh no." the man was sobbing. "He is here. He is here."
"Who is here?" Magister Nito asked. "What spirit haunts you?"
Something thudded into the clearing. An arrow. Then another, and in the back, somebody yelled in pain. Panic set in, and the marines fired into the trees. Leftenant Levi grabbed Taniel by the shoulder.
"Help me get these bastards into line! Or we're all dead!"
"They'll have taken your row boats by now." the Faloran peasant said amidst tears. Beside him, his friends continued to grin like tortured madmen. "He mocks us. He mocks us all. You are all going to die."
Post by kharakian on Jul 10, 2013 1:29:39 GMT
Taniel glared at the Marines as he started barking out orders, the infamous Corso bark coming into play. Leftenant Levi hid a smirk as he watched the Junior Officer order men nearly a decade his senior into line.
"Hold your fire until you have target!" Taniel barked at the Marines who were still looking into the woods with nervous expressions. The arrow fire coming from the woods was sporadic and inaccurate. "FORM RANKS!" Taniel ordered harshly to the two Marine Lancers.
Levi went over to the Magister and exchanged quiet words with the magically inclined man, who was pale and shaking. "Pull yourself together, we need you." Levi snapped out harshly. The Magister nodded in reflex and straightened up, his eyes on the woods.
Taniel had the surviving Marines in two ranks. The first kneeling and the second standing behind them. Facing the direction the arrow fire was coming from. "Hold." Taniel said, watching the woods intently. "Fire only on my order." He snapped to the two Lancers. The two Marine officers nodded as the arrow fire slackened to nothing.
Suddenly there was a cry and the sound of pounding feet could be heard. They could barely make out the insane laughter. Then the maddened men charged through the tree line right at the Marine formation. There had to be at least 40 of them.
"FIRE!" Taniel shouted pointing his sword at the approaching men. With the crack of thunder and the smell of brimstone, 18 rifles fired at once into the charging men. The front wave just collapsed under the fire, men dead before they even realized they had been shot.
The entire formation was momentarily blinded by the cloud of gunsmoke. "CHARGE!" Taniel shouted as he leaped through the cloud to take advantage of the surprise they had. He barely ducked in time to avoid taking an axe to the skull. The man holding it was still grinning and laughing as he brought his arm around to swing again. "To the Pit with you!" Taniel said as he thrust his rapier into the man's stomach. The man just gurgled, still trying to laugh as he started coughing up blood.
He tried to raise his axe again. Taniel pulled his sword out and punched him in the jaw. He wanted to throw up, he had to pause and fight the nausea that was coming over him. He looked up to see a swirling melee going on. The Republic Marines using their bayoneted rifles as spears and clubs as they fought with the mad men. Taniel shook his head and quickly threw himself into the fray, moving around he stabbed men in the back as they were distracted fighting the marines. The superior training started to tell and quickly the last man was on the ground. Three Marines shoving their bayonets into his body to make sure he stayed that way. They had taken a lot of losses overall. Only 6 of the marines were still standing.
Taniel looked around, not seeing Levi or the Magister anywhere. "The Hells did they go?" He asked quietly. The Marines were all looking at him, the two Lancers were among the casualties. "Form up men. Check the dead and take any extra ammo you need. We may need it before we get out of here." Taniel managed to say, only the slightest quaver in his voice. He still felt sick, but his pride kept him appearing weak in front of the Marines.
"An impressive fight, but ultimately futile." A voice suddenly announced. Taniel felt his blood run cold as he turned to look behind him. There was a well dressed figure standing there at the tree line. He wore a metal breastplate over his fine clothes and had a long straight sword in his right hand. A large black cat sitting at his feet, its paws on the body of the Magister. "Your... 'Mage' ultimately thought he could catch me off guard while the battle happened." The man was holding a sword, which he had at Levi's throat who was on his knees beside him. "Then this one tried to stab me in the back." He wagged his free finger at him. "Not very honorable."
Levi just spat at his feet and didn't say anything. But he was bleeding in several places and was tied up as well.
The man smiled as he looked at Taniel and the Marines. "And now you will try to kill me." He seemed genuinely amused. He raised his sword up and kicked Levi onto his side. "Well come on then!" He laughed and charged towards them.
The six remaining Marines charged towards the man, crying out as they attempted to fight him. But they forgot about the large black cat which was suddenly among them, biting at thighs and clawing at exposed flesh. The man was like smoke as he slashed his way through the Marines.
Taniel shook out of his pause and yelled out as he too joined the fight. By the time he got there, the last Marine had fallen to the ground. Most of them didn't seem to be dead, but injured to the point of not being able to move. The cat was toying with them as the man turned to engage Taniel with his sword. "Oh, the young pup wants to play. How amusing!" He laughed as Taniel traded sword blows with him.
Unfortunately, while Taniel knew how to use a sword. He was not anywhere near in the same league as the laughing man. The ring of steel on steel punctuated the clearing as Taniel was driven back towards the fire. The only reason he wasn't dead was because he was being toyed with. "The Pit take you bastard!" Taniel yelled out as he tried a high slash. The man simply flicked his wrist and his sword sent Taniel's sword flying out of his hand to embed itself in a tree. Suddenly disarmed, Taniel dropped onto his back to dodge the sword thrust aimed at his chest.
Taniel drew both his pistols and cocked them as the man was trying to follow through and impale him. "Well fuck you then!" Taniel screamed as he fired. The range was close and the laughing man was cocky. The two rounds took him in the chest, punching through the breastplate he wore like it wasn't even there.
The man stopped and looked down at himself, he stumbled back a step and then looked up at Taniel. "That's not funny..." He gurgled out before falling over, blood pouring out of the wounds.
Taniel gasped for breath as he lay frozen on the ground, two smoking pistols in his hands. He had just killed a Spirit Pacter. He didn't know what to think at the moment. He looked over at Leftenant Levi. "KID WATCH OUT!" Levi screamed at him.
Taniel looked over at the Black Cat, the one thing he had forgotten and rolled as the cat pounced on where his head had just been. He scrambled to his feet and tossed his empty pistols aside as he kept his eyes on the cat. There was a Marine rifle on the ground right beside him. The cat was hissing and growling at him as it got ready to leap at him. Time felt like it was at a standstill for Taniel, the cat was starting its leap as his hands went for the rifle. He grabbed the rifle and brought it up, bayonet pointing towards the cat which promptly impaled itself leaping towards him.
It hissed and growled, still alive even with a solid foot of steel through its chest. "You will die human." The cat managed to hiss out, its claws still slashing at Taniel's face. "If not today, then by the strength of another." It coughed a bit and its slashing got weaker.
Taniel just snarled and cocked the rifle. The Marine had likely been trying to reload it when he got killed. "Enjoy the Pit abomination." Taniel snarled as he pulled the trigger on the rifle. The gun barked once and blew a fist sized hole out the cat's back. That did make it stop moving as Taniel pushed the gun to the side. He collapsed flat onto his back and concentrated on taking deep breaths.
Post by Timeon on Jul 10, 2013 22:39:03 GMT
As Taniel lay panting, he heard some shuffling drawing towards him, and a fevered moan. He stretched in time to see two of the cultists they had found in the clearing inching closer and closer, gigantic grins still on their faces. Taniel was exhausted. He reached for his pistols, but it was too late. The freaks were on him, beating him frantically and despairingly, their knuckles smacking his bruised flesh.
A shot fired. Then another. The cultists dropped, and Taniel expected Levi to have been his saviour. Instead, it was the man that Magister Nito had rescued, the man whose grin had faded.
"By the last emperor." the free man swore, holding a rifle he had pulled from the cold dead hands of a marine. "Never thought I'd save a Republican."
Taniel rushed over to Levi and helped the old man to his feet. The two of them were left facing the man who had just shot his countrymen.
"That was an impressive thing you did, boy." the man said, staring out through the trees. "Wish I could have been the one to shoot that bastard to hell."
His tears had long since dried up, the shock of his possession by spirit magic gone.
"We have to get to our ships." Taniel Corso pointed out. "What can you tell us about what's between us and safety?"
"A few months ago, a spirit came to us. A powerful spirit. Said he would offer our islands sanctuary from the war. All we had to do was accept his spark. It drove us mad. He settled in, a corruption. Turned the islands into the headquarters for his lunatic cult. We were doomed."
"Spirit-lovers, you get what you deserve." Taniel Corso spat, his temper flaring, forgetting for a moment that they might need the man's help. "You call yourselves Falorans? You speak Faloran? But you fight the Republic. You've earned this. The filthy lot of you."
"My name is Mercus Vitina. I was captain of the guard. You killed my sons today. And I'm glad you did. Take me with you to the Republic. I'll earn my passage by helping you get to your ship."
Then they heard it. The sound of cannon fire. Dauntless was in trouble.
"The quickest way, I'm afraid, would be through the town. If you ditch your weapons and uniforms, and put on a smile, then we're all Falorans. Then we might just get through there alive. Or else we take the long route, and your ship may be gone by the time you get there."
By the look on Levi's face, he was not sure he trusted the man yet either.
Post by kharakian on Jul 10, 2013 23:41:39 GMT
Taniel glared at the man a bit more before he bent down and picked up one his pistols. He started the lengthy process of reloading it. "I think we should go along with his plan Leftenant. But I plan on saving one shot in case he decides his loyalties lie elsewhere." He finishes reloading the gun and lightly runs his hands over the barrel. "If you betray us, my only purpose will be to kill you. Understand?" Taniel says quietly, his eyes half hidden behind his sweat soaked hair as he watched Mercus.
Leftenant Levi nodded and began taking his coat off. "What can we wear then?" He asks as he tosses the blood stained great coat onto the ground. Taniel was somewhat surprised he was going along with his lead by his expression.
Post by Timeon on Jul 11, 2013 0:31:44 GMT
They were heading for the town of Aras. They had landed their row boats just outside of it, and by the sound of cannon fire, either the villagers had turned the row boats against the ship, or they were using their own. Taniel hoped it was the latter, or else they were either going to have to swim or improvise.
Mercus Vitina led them to the outskirts of Aras, presenting them with a view of the thatched hovels, and further in, the marble and stone Faloran structures.
"Where are your boats?" Mercus hissed back at them.
Taniel and Levi pointed west, towards the beach just beside Aras. Another cannon fired, causing Mercus to jump.
"Bloody guns." he grunted, fumbling with the rifle.
They managed to sneak past the village towards the beach, but surely enough, their row boats were gone. They could see the Dauntless. A whole cluster of row boats and fishing vessels had been smashed to pieces by its canons, but a few had made it up to the side of the ship, and cultists were clambering onto the deck. The distant sound of rifle and pistol fire brought a sick feeling to Taniel's stomach.
"There may be a few ships left in the town itself." Mercus said. "So we're going to have to act like cultists."
"Like I said." Taniel swore, his chest tight with fear. "I've got a bullet reserved for you if you rat us out, Mercus."
"I want to get out of here even more than you do, boy. Believe me. If we get caught, I'll at least pretend you're my prisoners if all else fails."
They followed the beach, until the first thatched huts came up before them. There was no sign of cultists yet - the commotion with the Dauntless must have drawn them like flies to honey.
That emboldened them, and grinning like idiots, they walked through the streets of Aras. It stank of death and madness, and up until that day, Taniel had not known what madness smelled like. It smelled like shit.
The trio ran into their first couple of cultists, staring out to sea at the battle unfolding aboard the Dauntless. Without their uniforms, Taniel and Levi could have been any other Faloran, maybe even an Aras islander. But when the villagers looked to them, there was no mistaking that the stupid grins that Taniel and Levi wore were not convincing. But Taniel was better than that - he did not panic. He kept the grin up, painfully aware that there was a rowing boat not too far up ahead by the docks.
"Mercus." one of them said, with dead eyes and face twisted. "Mercus. Who are they? Mercus. Mercus?"
"They're my prisoners!" Mercus said brilliantly. But Mercus was no longer smiling, and the cultists had caught on.
Taniel realised that he was only up against two cultists, and the boats were in sight. His pistol was too loud. He whipped his dagger out and leapt forward, stabbing towards the nearest of the duo. The cultist saw him coming and side-stepped, trying to grab Taniel as he did so. Taniel stabbed him before he could follow through, and the cultist shouted in pain, trying to land a punch. It went wide, and Levi stepped in to finish the miserable creature off.
By then, the other cultist had started running. Mercus intercepted him, dropping him to the ground. Levi slit the bastard's throat and actually looked to Taniel for direction.
Taniel decided to do what came naturally to him - he grabbed a torch planted in the ground, and ran it along the nearest thatched house. He proceeded to spread the fire along another couple of houses, before running off towards the rowing boat, followed by Mercus and Levi. Together, they began to heave towards the Dauntless.
As they got nearer, they saw that the fighting had ended. The cultists had lost their fight for the ship, and the water around it splashed with corpses. Levi waved his shirt through the air to get the attention of the crew and show them that they were not more cultists arriving.
Ensign Carter was the man to help Taniel aboard, his face smeared with blood. There was a dour look to him.
"Where are the others?"
"All gone, son." Levi said, reaching into his coat pocket for his pipe. He produced it, lit it, and took a puff. Behind him, Aras was in flames thanks to Taniel's pyromaniac tendencies. "A job bloody well done, though. Taniel here took out a dirty pacter. About that, Taniel. Next time, kill the familiar first. When you kill a pacter, his power returns to the familiar, and the familiar thus becomes a dire threat. If you kill the familiar first, you rob the pacter of his power."
Taniel was speechless.
"So, who is left?" Levi asked, looking around the deck.
Post by kharakian on Jul 12, 2013 1:13:49 GMT
Taniel is quick to get to his feet and points to two of the marines on the deck. "Arrest this man." He says gesturing to Mercus. "Put him in chains and take him to the Brig."
Mercus' eyes widen. "But I helped you escape!" He protests as the two marines dutifully follow Taniel's orders and grab him.
Taniel nods agreeably. "Yes you did. You are still suspicious and a citizen of an enemy nation. When we return to Faloran, ONI can deal with you." Taniel said folding his hands behind his back, watching as Mercus was led below.
He heard Levi clearing his throat from behind him. "Are we perhaps acting over our rank Ensign?" Levi asked with a hint of amusement.
Taniel coughed awkwardly. "Apologies Sir. I just thought it would be best not to let him be on the ship... freely." He explained, standing at attention.
Levi held the stern gaze for a moment longer before he grinned at the Ensign. "It is all good Ensign. I was just making sure you keep aware that other officers may not treat it so... casually." He said patting his shoulder. "Let's go help get this mess sorted out and hopefully we get under sail and away from this thrice damned island."
With a fair amount of losses, Dauntless got under way again. Her Marine detachment was extremely depleted and there were worries about potential boarding actions. Crew morale was a little down due to the casualties but they had survived. When rumor got around that the young Taniel Corso had killed a Pacter and his familiar, he found himself suddenly the talk of the ship.
Taniel didn't want the attention yet he also relished it. For once, he wasn't being talked about as the son of Fleet Admiral Corso, but just Taniel Corso.
The ship sailed along, their ultimate destination still lay ahead.
Post by Timeon on Jul 12, 2013 16:13:51 GMT
Spring 2480 AS
Off the coast of Senusa
Ten years since the capture of Senusa by the Faloran Republic. Ten years of constant skirmishes, of Dominion armies squeezing through the bottleneck mountain passes of Abissus, dying in their thousands against the Faloran cannons and rifles. The futile quest to retake Senusa had culminated in the Radiant Lord calling in his allies from Kutanda, and the Faloran Republic was painfully aware of the efficacy of the Burning Man's pyromancers against the Faloran navy.
It was to be a climatic battle, to determine the outcome of Faloran expansionism. If the Falorans were pushed back from Senusa, it would be a painful setback, and a decade of fighting would have been in vain. Fleet Admiral Samuel Corso's official hope was that if Senusa could be secured, it could be a staging ground to someday reclaim the rest of Varantium.
It was on that note that the Dauntless entered into the Bay of Senusa, to find a small fleet had docked there already. Taniel Corso recognized his father's flagship at the heart of the wooden wall. His mouth curled with distaste.
"Are you going to come ashore with us, Taniel?" Ensign Wilson asked, slapping Taniel on the back.
"What?" Taniel said in a daze.
"I asked if you'll be joining Carter and I. We're going into Senusa for the afternoon." When Taniel did not seem convinced, Wilson elbowed him harder. "I hear your brother is in charge there. He can set us up comfortably, don't you think?"
"I'd rather not."
Somebody slapped him on the other shoulder, giving him a fright. It was Leftenant Levi, remarkably silent on his approach for an old man.
"Let's go, Ensign. Besides, we have to report what you saw to the Lord Magister. He'll want to hear about what occurred in Aras. On that note... Ensign Wilson? Bring us Mercus Vitina. He's a witness."
Post by kharakian on Jul 13, 2013 6:54:01 GMT
Taniel frowns at Levi but he quickly schools his features back to calmness. "Of course Sir." He says moving with the others to the long boats.
Quickly the long boats are deployed and they start rowing towards the docks.
Levi, Taniel and Carter along with the prisoner and his two Marine escorts marched into the temporary Governor's Mansion. The Original Governor's Mansion had been burned to the ground recently. The new one was squat and made almost entirely of stone to make it less flammable. It also had narrow windows perfect for musket armed men to fire from without exposing themselves to fire. It was quite clearly setup as a last hold position.
Levi was marching in the front, Taniel and Carter flanking him with Mercus right behind them, the two Marines marching right behind him. Levi pauses at a large set of oak paneled doors, guarded by two Soldiers in full dress uniform. "Party from the Dauntless to the see the Governor." Levi says, presenting a piece of paper to the two guards. "Along with prisoner for questioning."
The two guards look over the paper for a moment before inspecting the group. They had a tight professional grip on their bayoneted muskets. After a moment they nod and both take a step back to open the door. "Party from Dauntless arriving!" They announced to the room once the doors are fully open.
Levi marches in, Taniel and Carter quickly following him. There were only three people in the room, all bent over a table showing a strategic map of the area with troop dispositions on it. "We have to reinforce the pass, but we can't ignore our flanks. I think the troops we have there right now is enough to hold it. If we keep the reserve here..." The voice trails off when the guards announce them.
The three men all look up to watch the Dauntless party enter. "Little brother!" Comes the cry from the man dressed in the uniform of a General of the Faloran army. Mathias Corso comes over and immediately sweeps Taniel into a hug which Taniel reluctantly returns.
"Mathias, place and time." Taniel whispers in his ear, trying to avoid looking at anyone else in the room.
Mathias coughs and releases Taniel, straightening and adjusting his uniform. "Apologies." He says to the others in the room. "Family business must ever come after professional." While Taniel was tall and slender, taking more after his father, Mathias was a bit shorter and much more solidly built. Taniel and his father had joined the Navy, he had joined the Army. Enjoying a rapid rise in rank as he demonstrated his skills as a commander. Now he was a General of the Army and the current temporary Governor of Senusa.
The other man, dressed in the professional looking robes of a Lord Magister clears his throat. "Is this the Prisoner from the Island?" He asks moving up to examine him without waiting for an answer.
Levi, Taniel and Carter all take a few steps back, not wanting to get any closer to the Magister than they absolutely had to. The third man in the room was looking at Mathias expectantly. "Ah yes, let us make introduction. I am General Mathias. This is Colonel Jackson, my second in command." He says gesturing to Jackson, who nods to them politely.
Levi speaks up. "Leftenant Levi, Ensigns Taniel and Carter." Levi explains, gesturing to each man in turn. "Though I am sure you are already familiar with Ensign Taniel." Levi had a fair amount of amusement evident in his eyes that never touched his voice as he spoke.
Mathias grinned, amused and willing to show it. "Indeed I am." He glances at Taniel for a moment. "The Admiral will be joining us shortly. He only recently arrived himself aboard the Victory." Mathias explains moving over to a small bar tucked against the wall. He pours out a glass of wine for himself. "Would you care for some refreshment while you wait?"
Everyone in the room was pointedly ignoring the Lord Magister as he questioned Mercus, he had the poor man in a corner and was talking to him a low whisper.
Post by Timeon on Jul 15, 2013 14:35:46 GMT
When the Lord Magister finished speaking with Mercus, he strode to his fellow officials, arms folded behind his back.
"I believe that despite the... disturbing nature of the occurrences on the Aras Isles, they are nothing out of the ordinary. That's the Dominion for you, gentlemen. The reason we fight. They are sick and twisted people, like the spirits they serve..."
"Thank you for your time, Lord Magister Nikodimus." Mathias said with a half-bow. "We are grateful for the College's expertise, as always."
"I remind you that any more encounters with cults and spirits should be deferred to my attention." the Lord Magister said rather pointedly. "It is important that we are able to neutralize the evils of the Dominion. And for that, information is one of our greatest weapons."
After the Lord Magister excused himself, Levi guided Mercus back into their midst.
"So what do you have to say about the Lord Magister, Mercus? Do you believe his assessment was accurate?"
Mercus blinked sadly, a deep feeling of loss bleeding from his eyes and face.
"There was a time when I would have thought the Republic preached madness, racism and genocide. But after seeing what happened to my home, and my sons. Well, maybe I was the one who was deceived."
Levi nodded to Ensign Carter.
"Leave him with the Colonel."
Ensign Carter left with Mercus, giving Taniel some time to catch up with Mathias before their father arrived. Half an hour of awkward conversation passed, where despite the enthusiasm on Mathias' part, Taniel found he had very little to add to the conversation. Mathias talked about offensives into the foothills, raiding Dominion encampments and pushing back offensives from Abissus.
"... I'm telling you, Taniel. I'd never been in a situation like it. My men and I were stuck in the mountain pass, Dominion soldiers marching down from one end, and our only escape guarded by pacters and their spirits."
"So how'd you get out?" Taniel asked, almost envious.
"We climbed out. Straight out. Not all of us made it." Mathias said sadly. "But most of us did. We climbed over and out, and let the soldiers shout up at us in frustration."
Just then, the doors opened, and Samuel Corso strode in, wearing the heavy uniform of Fleet Admiral. Mathias sped hastily to attention, while Taniel was caught halfway between formality and informality.
"We've got a week." was the first thing Samuel Corso said. "Then we're going to be under siege. The Kutandans are heading down the three main passes from Abissus. And there's a surprise, too. A Dominion strike-force, hitting us by sea. It was hiding near Celia in the west, sheltered by the island in the bay. I've got reason to believe Kutandan pyromancers will be aboard."
"Sir, I'll deal with the mountain passes. Leave the defence of Senusa to me."
"You." Samuel said, turning his steely gaze upon Taniel. "Ensign, I've heard about your successes on the Aras Isles. I'll be promoting you to Leftenant. And you, Leftenant Levi. For keeping my boy safe, you'll be raised to Commander."
Taniel's temper was boiling over. For if there was one thing he was suspicious of, it was that despite his father's favouritism for Mathias, Taniel was at this present moment being promoted to Leftenant not on merit, but because his father had found an excuse to promote his own blood.
Post by kharakian on Jul 17, 2013 2:38:44 GMT
Taniel managed to keep from growling at his father, barely. He swept his hand up to a somewhat rough salute. "Sir." He said through clenched teeth.
He turned and walked out of the room, angry beyond the capacity for coherent sentences. Mathias raised his hand to say something but then stopped, turning to face his father with a frown. Levi coughed awkwardly. "I suppose I will be reassigned to a different ship then? Dauntless already has a Commander." He asked politely.
The Fleet Admiral shook his head. "No, Dauntless' Commander is being sent home with the next rotation. Promoted to Captain and given his own ship." Samuel explained crossing his arms behind his back. "We will be needing a lot more Captains soon." He half lidded his eyes to look at Levi. "But you already know that, don't you?"
Levi suddenly looked extremely awkward. "I didn't think the Admiral... was aware of such things." He said glancing at Mathias.
Samuel just grinned. "It is my job to know such things commander." He said amused with a smile that somehow never touched his eyes. Levi was nearly breaking out into sweats now.
Mathias just looked between the two men. "Okay... I don't know what you two are talking about anymore." He said slightly annoyed. "Aren't we supposed to be conferring about the current attack?"
Samuel flicked his eyes to his son. "Indeed Mathias. Just... Navy Politics." He looked back at Levi. "Take care of my boy. Make sure he gets back to the Dauntless and stays aboard her during the coming battle." He ordered Levi.
Levi nervously saluted and left the room. He roughly heard something about favoritism being said by Mathias before the door was closed behind him. He hurried after Taniel, not wanting to look back.
Taniel was pacing the halls, trying to keep from kicking something. He took a deep breath and tried to relax. This was conduct unbecoming of an officer. He rubbed his face went back to walking down the halls. He needed to unwind. Levi caught up to him and patted his shoulder. "Come on Kid. We can go blow off some steam at the shooting range. They have one for practicing." He said, before heading towards the door.
Frowning for a moment, Taniel never the less followed him.