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Ready Or Not, Here They Come

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Ready Or Not, Here They Come

Chapter 002

"Khadoran?" Tragger asked as he adjusted the position of his helmet in between barrages. So far there had been 3 of them, each lasting less than 5 minutes with a lull of almost double that time separating them.

“That would be my guess,” Commander Sydney agreed as he leaned against the log they had chosen to shelter behind, his Radcliffe carbine held in his weathered hands. “Counting shells, I’d say that we have at least 3 Destroyers and maybe half a dozen mortars.”

“Stopping to reload the Destroyers between barrages,” Lieutenant Pratt stated. “It adds up. We can’t move because we would be left out in the open if the mortars kept on firing and we can’t stay here because they’ll eventually either blast us out or bring up infantry to root us out.”

“You’re not wrong there,” Tragger acknowledged. “Sir?”

“We move. Pass the word along. When the barrage after next ends, everyone moves as one,” Commander Sydney ordered.

“It’s almost 4 miles back to Greyglen,” Lieutenant Pratt said. “We make for the town?”

“That dried up creek bed about a mile from here,” Commander Sydney directed. “We’ll gather there and dig in.”

"Dig in, sir?" Tragger asked.

"It's the only location of any form of natural cover between here and Greyglen while also keeping us between the town and the Khadorans. We cannot expose the town to their advance," Commander Sydney stated.

"Our men would fight and the walls are sturdy," Tragger argued.

"James, I don't deny any of those points but you yourself know the power that a single warcaster can bring to the battlefield. And not just from the warjacks they can control," Commander Sydney chided his pupil. James Tragger was a good soldier and would be a great warcaster but he was still acclimating to having abilities that others did not. "With one of us there, the town would hold for a short time but it would inevitably fall to the Khadorans. It may even still fall to them with both of us there but we can buy the time necessary to evacuate everyone across the river. And that is the most important part."

"The people," Tragger commented softly.

"Yes, the people," Commander Sydney repeated. "Now, in what condition are your 'jacks?"

"Echo is fine, itching to shoot something. And the Sentinel also good to go. They haven't done anything but walk around," Tragger reported.

"Good, I think he'll get his chance," Commander Sydney said. "I have Smith, a Defender and a Grenadier with me. I want you to take the Grenadier. The men will keep it loaded and firing but you'll be able to boost its range."

"Understood sir," Tragger acknowledged even as he focused on the Grenadier's cortex. He felt Commander Sydney release his control of the 'jack and then he formed the proper patterns in his mind with his will that would allow him to pass through the protective locks on the cortex and grant him control.

"Now I can focus on keeping Smith from trying to prove how tough he is," Commander Sydney said. From nearby, the Ironclad in question stomped his foot; his almost 6.5-ton bulk shaking the ground.

"At least he is better behaved than Ol' Rowdy," Tragger pointed out.

"Isn't that the truth," Commander Sydney agreed with a chuckle. "That 'jack of Stryker's is as stubborn and ornery as they come. But by Morrow it can fight."

"I remember the first time I saw it fight. It was about a month into my journeyman tour and we were, I can't even remember where we were," Tragger lamented as he took off his helmet to wipe his brow. "All I remember is the sight of Lord Commander Stryker, sword in hand, standing his ground against a tide of Flameguard. Behind him, stood Ol' Rowdy, ready to smash anything that came too close."

"An image that many in Cygnar's armies have seen and that none will forget easily," Lieutenant Pratt observed. "I sure wish he was on his way here now."

"As do all who see such times as this," Commander Sydney stated as he heard a sound on the wind. "But he isn’t and so it is left to us to perform our duty. And I would put your helmet back on, James. We have incoming."


"I think we have annoyed them enough Echo, let's go," Tragger directed as he reloaded his hand cannon. Beside him, Echo fired off another pair of rounds from its dual cannon at one of the Man-O-War Shocktroopers that was out of position from his unit; ending his life with a hiss of blood and steam. To their sides several Trenchers had been firing at targets of opportunity; not really expecting to hit very much but that wasn't their purpose.

"Right lads, you heard the Lieutenant," Senior Sergeant Harris announced as he readied a grenade on a tripwire. "Back to the Commander and be quick about it."

"You too Sergeant," Tragger ordered as he sighted on a Winter Guard that was getting too close, ending her life with a steady squeeze of his trigger. As he watched her fall, his empty hand was already reaching for another reload.

"Just as soon as the men are on their way," Harris shot back as he counted heads. Once the last of them had risen from where they had sheltered and began moving back, Harris turned to Tragger. "Time to go Lieutenant."

"Right behind you," Tragger advised even as he took another shot. Unfortunately, he only winged his target. Turning, he saw Harris looking at him. "Go Sergeant.  We'll catch up to you."

"You had better, sir, or the Commander will have my head," Harris said as he took off through the trees after his men.

"Mine too," Tragger commented to himself as he looked through Echo's eyes and sighted in on another Shocktrooper. Focusing, he increased the power of the dual cannon's attack before letting Echo fire. Once again, his 'jack's aim was true and another Khadoran died. "Let's go Echo."

Echo replied with a hiss of steam directed at the Khadoran's before turning to follow Tragger. As they made their way through the trees, Tragger invoked his magic to aid their mobility; his magic searching the ground ahead of them for obstacles to avoid while also unnaturally speeding the movement of their legs.



Author's Notes

Please enjoy Chapter 002. Now back to Heir Apparent for me.