Union HQ, mid morning
“Say again?” asked the Captain.
“Intercept shows the attack on Builder as a no-go, same as Owner. Asset could not find target.”
The Captain pursed his lips, furrowed his brow. He’d been prepared for success, expected it. He’d been dreading a possible failure, scaring himself by imagining ways that their preparations might have been insufficient.
“Any elaboration on that?” he asks the SPARTACUS system. “Did the insurgents’ command network ask for any further details?”
“Negative,” comes the smooth, electronic voice. “All information has been conveyed.”
He chewed his lip for a moment.
There could be a hundred innocent explanations, a thousand. The bungling of their local partners was a constant thorn in his side, and the Lair was probably the most hostile operating theatre in the world.
“System, get me authorization on an immediate ping on our intel networks, get the spooks to cooperate if possible. I want to know why those two didn’t get hit, and what’s going on today.”
“Processing…” said the computer.
The Captain sat in silence, resigned to the time required. He’d spent influence making that call, resources and collateral that a man in his station accumulated over time. The intelligence branch would want their own favors in return, and he would have to grant them.
But he hadn’t made his rank by ignoring his hunches, and something about this stunk. Blender was a creature of habit. Her minions should have been in place this morning for the attack. One might have deviated, but both was a stretch too far. Something was going on.
He just had to find out what.
Ar Harbour, late afternoon
“You couldn’t stop them?” asked King Arthur.
The Union soldier shook her head, unshed tears shading her eyes.
“By the time we realized they were on the move it was too late. They could get here any second.”
The sound of flesh striking flesh echoed in the room like a gunshot.
Arthur regretted the slap the instant she carried it out, but she’d never been able to fully control her temper.
“Damn it!” she hissed, “You promised me an intercept! I wanted to evacuate weeks ago, but you swore that we’d be good through one more cycle.”
The operative slowly turned her head back to face her assailant straight on.
“I have relayed the instructions of my superiors. If you’d like to continue wasting time with me I don’t have any objections, but I think we both know that there’s something else you could be doing.”
Arthur gave a muffled curse and bolted out of the room, already calling for her guards.
“Get her up!” she shouted back over her shoulder, “I don’t care what you have to pump into her. Get her up and in this fight or we are fucked!”
Ar Harbour, Dusk
“That’s it, that’s all, you are the last,” she said, slumping down upon the bench.
The Retinue didn’t cheer or chant, simply stood before their leader, every soul raising a hand in salute.
She barely acknowledged it, weariness bone deep showing in every gesture.
“There comes a time,” she said, her voice diminished by the afternoon’s expenditures, “For every nation, every country, every city. There comes a time when fascists try and take over and kill everyone. That’s today for us. If we don’t win, our children will become slaves, and we will become cold bodies.”
They rushed off, brave men and women, their forms swollen with power to match the greatness of their spirit by her own gift, now utterly exhausted.
“It looks like you’ll have the numerical edge,” said the outsider, who had stood idly by during her efforts.
“No thanks to your masters,” said Arthur, bitterness curdling her tone. “But I suppose I shouldn’t blame you for that. Thanks for everything you’ve done up till now.”
The girl from the Union shook her head, mask swaying back and forth. “Up till now? We aren’t going anywhere.”
“Your bosses aren’t cutting us lose?” asked Arthur. “We didn’t get either of those Ultras that they care about, and they made it plain that…”
A raised hand shushed her.
“They are here. Ten to one, more. My boss activated some of our own assets, and they can’t be found back in the city. The targets will be on the field, and we’ll be sweeping them up.”
Arthur didn’t think anyone could possibly be dumb enough to deploy those 2 to a hot zone, but didn’t bother to argue the point. Arguing the Union out of lending her aid in her time of need would be just about the worst blunder imaginable.
“Just thank your lucky stars,” the squad leader said. “You’ve got a Union team backing you up. You just might win this.”
Dusk, Front Truck
Blender peered through the windshield, glaring at the makeshift barricades ahead.
Would Prevailer mind that the downtown had been hastily walled off? She shouldn’t right? Fuck.
No one moved inside any of the windows, no one breathed in the streets they’d crashed through. Give King Arthur this. Given the choice, the woman had cleared the civilians out of the way.
Blender was profoundly grateful. Their fate if caught in the midst of an Ultra conflict would have been grisly in the extreme. It had been a narrow contest between the thought of reenacting the massacre of her home village, this time in the heavy’s role, and the thought of perishing in a Union drone strike which had been the more terrifying.
But neither had occurred. Maybe her worries had been overblown. Maybe they’d caught their enemies napping. Either way, she’d delivered her whole force to the enemies door. It only remained to kick it in.
She looked back at the In Your Face squad, at Smasher. This was the time when a war movie would have a big speech or something.
Mia doubted She would tolerate that.
“Force rules the world!” she said. “Let’s kill them.”
Blender is in Truck #1 along with Second Squad.
Smasher is in Truck #2 along with First Squad.
Fourth Squad are in Truck #3.
Third Squad, Blender and Owner are in Truck #4.
The trucks are currently idling in a column, 1 2 3 4. In front of Truck #1 is a section of road that has been hastily blocked off, telephone poles and piles of rubble thrown across it.
In her opinion the Trucks could drive right through.
No one is visible in the road behind the barrier, but there are large intact commercial buildings on either side of the road, which are very likely to hold enemies.
The section of Ar Harbour that Prevailer is concerned with are the 3 blocks immediately behind this barrier, conspicuous and easily discernable by their basically repaired nature.
The area behind/around the trucks is urban wilderness, decayed buildings and such. Blender is pretty sure she saw someone ducking back into a window just a second ago, so it is possible that there are enemy immediately around you, lurking inside of ruined structures.
Night is just falling, and the only lights currently on are the 4 truck’s headlights. Vision isn’t a huge problem now, but as time goes on it might start to be.
- All 4 squads will turn on their truck’s smoke machine and then disembark.
- Third squad will spread out to all 4 trucks and man the giant rifles and lasers, firing at anyone who comes into line of sight and isn’t in one of the protected buildings.
- Smasher disembarks along side squads 1,2 and 4. Owner and Builder hang out in Truck Four, with Builder peering out the front window in the hopes of seeing the enemy’s rumored Union Tank and using her gift on it.
- When the enemy sends troops at us we will fight them, with Smasher & Blender taking on enemy champions, Third squad going after any ghosts and fourth squad staying at range.
Worries that Blender has at this time
- Line of sight from the back 3 trucks isn’t great, will get a bit worse once we start spraying haze around. Most important (and worst of all) is the line of sight from the back truck, where Builder is.
- Prevailer is probably anxious to get the fighting started. I don’t know if I can afford to wait for them to approach.
- Don’t know where enemy’s main concentration is. Almost certainly some in target buildings ahead, some in ruined buildings around, but hard to know which side has the most.
- Still don’t know if invisible enemies are a thing in this fight. Nerve wracking.
- The darkness could be more of a concern as we go along.
For this week’s contribution please indicate any changes that you want to make to the plan, or vote for letting it continue unaltered. Please note that changes to Blender’s actions are free, but if you want any other party to act in a different way from the plan you have to include how Blender tells them their new orders.
I can follow plans of a pretty arbitrary complexity, and I’ll use the character’s established personality to fill in any gaps, so feel free to use as many forks and branches as you like in telling me what she’ll do. I’ll ask you if anything is unclear.