My "Glory to Helmawr" Spyrer hunt engaged Ben Monroe's "Emperor's Witnesses" Cawdor gang following the "Fritch" storyline. What I didn't know going into the game was that Ben had a twelve-member gang! I managed to kill off his hired scum and gang leader, but at the loss of my Orrus and one of my Malcadon spyrers. With 10 more Cawdors closing in quickly, the Spyrers ran for the asbestos hills. Here's what happened next ...
Paham Griem blinked his eyes repeatedly as he struggled to lift his head from the hive floor. "I can't see," he complained, "where am I?" The sight of the heavily armoured and muscled Spyrer flailing helplessly like a blindfish out of the hivepond was almost comical; his questionable status as a continued member of the team made it less so.
"You were flashed square between the eyes by a Cawdor parishioner seeking donations for the Emperor's peasant fund," laughed Ahlan. His laughter was cut short by the pain it caused in his ribs - bruised by the hired scum the Cawdor had brought with them to the encounter.
"What!? That's impossible! Lasgun fire can't penetrate my armour! I never saw any Cawdor, just that scum you were tossing with."
"That Cawdor dropped you like a sack of nails," Shellian Ko'Iron sneered from her resting place in the courtyard. The woman was the smallest, lightest member of the team, likely half Paham's size, but she carried herself as if she were bigger and tougher than all of them put together.
Paham turned at the sound of her voice and blinked furiously. "What about my force field? It didn't engage? I paid a year's worth in creds for this gear; if it doesn't work I'll make that trader pay it back in blood. No, I'll -"
"Relax Griem, it's not as if you paid for that thing with your own money," Relis Ty mocked.
"Ehlict, you seem conspicuously quiet. Not going to protect your little friend?" Ahlan smiled coyly at his brother. Ehlict was perched atop his usual spot on the brick pile, methodically cleaning his web-spinners as he did after each and every battle.
"Paham's a big boy, I'm sure he can protect himself. If I were you I'd clean out your web-spinner hoses. They'll clog if you're not careful."
"Oh thank you, most wise and beneficent brother, for showing concern for my welfare."
Ehlict did not rise to the bait. He continued brushing at the webspinner nozzles on his carapace, removing hardened remnants of chemical residue. "Up to you, really. I suppose that just because Paham's force field failed and a lasgun shot penetrated armour that should have been thick enough by a factor of three doesn't mean anything will go wrong with your gear."
Ahlan looked at his web-spinner hoses suspiciously, as if noticing them for the first time. He flexed a hose bundle experimentally, and not detecting any immediate problems, glared back up at his brother, trying a new tack.
"It seems reliable enough, unlike your leadership in battle. You ended it earlier than I would have, we had only just begun the fight when you ordered the retreat."
"He's right, Ehlict," Relis stepped forward, "you called the retreat far too soon for my liking. If I had been leading the group we would have shown those Emperor's lapdogs some real teeth. You had us running with our tails between our legs."
"If you had been leading the group, we would have been bowing and scraping until you had the chance to stab them in the back," cracked Shellian. She had drawn her sword and was using it like a paring knife to shave the corners off a brick. The edge of the blade was a single molecule thick and divided the ceramite without resistence. One slip of the deadly blade and she could lose a finger, yet she cut unerringly and small, smooth ceramite chips littered the ground around her.
"If I recall correctly, you were far too busy clutching your sides and rolling around on the floor to be of any further use, dear brother. And as for you, Relis, you cannot lead from the rear. You seemed to time your attack just perfectly; that is to say, after I had taken out the Cawdor leader. You didn't show any teeth at all."
Ehlict inspected the edges of his fighting claws in the dim light of the courtyard, looking for any nicks that needed removing. The Cawdor leader had been relatively easy to dispatch, but he had used a chainsword which might have damaged the claws.
Relis seethed; he was not used to being mocked. "I was caught out of position. When Paham dropped at the first sign of battle and Ahlan was taken out by that scum, our flank was exposed."
"Hey! I took that scum out first! He just got a lucky swipe in!"
Paham rolled to a sitting position and addressed Relis, squinting severely, "I still don't see how that beggar could have possibly hit me. I'll rip his neck off next time."
Relis stalked off, outnumbered and friendless.
Ehlict stopped inspecting his claws and addressed them all. "The odds were stacked against us from the start. Those dirty-kneed Cawdor had more crew than I ever expected. Using hired scum on top of that seems like killing a skipbug with a grenade-launcher. They weren't better fighters than us, they just had superior numbers. If we'd stayed in that fight any longer we all would have gotten taken out. We've only got each other to rely on and can't afford to get taken by surprise like that, there's just too few of us."
"That scavyy!" Relis exclaimed, turning back to the group.
"What?" Ehlict looked at Relis with genuine puzzlement.
"You know, that scavvy that wandered down here! He mentioned something about the guilders having a scanner. We could sneak into their warehouse and do a bit of plundering during lights out. A scanner would give us an advantage against numbers."
"Hmm. That scavvy looked pretty deranged, I think he was probably full of it," said Ahlan in a rare moment of serious consideration.
"Guilders? Aren't those just weedy little merchants? We don't have anything to fear from them," Paham said with confidence as he finally reached his feet. The Orrus Spyrer had only just awakened from the previous battle and already seemed willing for more; mentally that is. Physically, he was weaving back and forth like a drunk at the far end of an epic drinking bout.
"You're so stupid you wouldn't realize it when you were afraid. I say we do it; take this place by surprise and really scare the snot out of these scrods. Spyrers running away doesn't exactly inspire fear in the locals, and fear should be one of our best weapons," said Shellian emphatically. She stood and slashed at the bricks with her sword enthusiastically. The bricks parted smoothly and slid down the pile.
"Very well. A scanner will give us a distinct tactical advantage in future battles. I don't remember anything about hunting teams infiltrating guilder holds from the Ran Lo archives, so we may be the first. Just remember, the key to this battle is stealth; no beserker charges into any guards ... Ahlan." Ehlict fixed his brother with a steady gaze. "Paham, are you going to be alright?"
"I'll be fine. Just point me at 'em." The spyrer weaved too far to one side and caught himself just before becoming overbalanced.
"Just make sure to stay quiet. Don't use those bolt launchers unless they've raised the alarm."
Paham winked to indicate he knew the drill and got caught up in another blinking match to clear his vision.
"Right. Shellian, your sword should be able to get us in there undetected. Ahlan and I should be able to take out any guards while you three search for the scanner. Let's do it."
[Order of Battle]
© 1999 Dan Roberts
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