[Taocow PBEM] Chapter XVII - On The Border Of Doom

Aaron Clausen mightymartianca at gmail.com
Tue Oct 7 22:41:30 BST 2008

> > > > [Amanda Connors]
> > > > "He's back at the boat." Amanda says.  "So, are we going to head out
> > > > without Osiris and that girl?"
> > > > [/Amanda Connors]

> > > [Ted]
> > > "We might as well. Louissa can keep him company and it will provide
> > > good motivation for Talas to come back."
> > > [/Ted]

> > [Amanda Connors]
> > "I'm just not sure Osiris would ever forgive us for leaving him." Amanda
> > says.
> > [/Amanda Connors]

> > > [Owen]
> > > "I may be able to help the injured a little, if you show me the way."
> > > [/Owen]

> [Sia]
> "While I appreciate your offer, no time," she replies to Owen.  "If we
> decide to bring Osiris along, you can attempt treatment while we drive to
> the last bridge."
> [/Sia]

> > [Amanda Connors]
> > "What do you think?" Amanda says to the others.  "But if we go back,
> > we're either going to have to take that crazy girl with us, or knock her
> > on the head so she can't follow."
> > [/Amanda Connors]

> [Ted]
> "Easier said than done." The lizard man repeated, "I say we leave her with
> Osiris. Louissa is not a combatant. Taking her along only creates a
> liability for the rest of us."
> [/Ted]

[Amanda Connors]
"I'm leaning that way, too." Amanda says.  "I don't know this area, or at
least I don't know it the way it is now, but she's still young, and it seems
she has some duties here.  To take a kid who has, I'll bet, never seen a
battle would be pretty damned irresponsible."
[/Amanda Connors]

> [Sia]
> "What if..." Sialillion muses to herself.  "Under normal circumstances,
> I'd say we should leave Osiris to heal, as carting around a comatose
> Cyberknight can only slow us down.  And that girl, Louissa... while I
> admire her spirit, she has little business accompanying us to Rath-Iren. 
> But these are far from normal circumstances, and there seem to be strange
> tendrils of fate and prophecy guiding us on our way.  How else can one
> explain the ley lines bending?  What if whatever happened to Osiris back
> at that tomb might prove to be important in defeating the Reaver?  And
> what if Louissa was somehow meant to be with us while we cross the last
> bridge?"
> Her brow is furled in deep thought.
> "I think we may need to bring Osiris along.  The girl as far as I know is
> simply lovestruck, chasing my Kindred like a loyal puppy," she says with a
> wry smile towards Talas.  "If she had seen one of these depressingly
> common 'visions' I might think otherwise, but she's a liability.  No need
> for subterfuge.  We get Osiris, explain to her she can't accompany us, and
> I'll have the guards here detain her if necessary."
> She meets eyes with each member of the party. "I am but one voice amongst
> many," she says with a shrug.  "What do you all think?"
> [/Sia]

"The more the merrier." Alister says.  "I wish I had a girlfriend to bring

> [Talas]
> Talas gives a small smirk in reply to the comments about the girl. Then
> replies "I have to agree with Lady Sialillion, We can ill afford to leave
> behind anyone who has been chosen for this quest. One should never mess
> with prophesy."
> Talas then gives a small sigh of exasperation and continues, "And I have
> come across many young ladies such as Lady Louissa in my travels. Only
> thoughs of us who have been chosen by 'She' should go any further. But
> with an invasion force on its way here. Leaving Lady Louissa in the care
> of the local garrison my be detrimental to both Lady Louissa and the
> garrison once the invaders arrive."
> Talas posses in thought for a minute and then in a more serious tone,
> begins speaking again "Whether Lady Louissa stays here or comes with us,
> she will be in harms way. If left here she will be uncooperative,
> rebellious and difficult to control. If she comes with us she will be more
> cooperative and it my be easier to keep her controlled... It is my opinion
> that it my be safer for Lady Louissa to come with us at this time."
> [/Talas]

> [Alex]
> "Who is she and why has she chosen me," comes out in a teasing voice.
> "Somehow, I dodn't think you are talking about the Virgin."
> [/Alex]

Amanda laughs.  "Oh come now, Alex, you and I are as pure as the driven

> [Sia]
> At Talas's remark, Sialillion rolls her eyes, but says nothing.
> "I disagree with taking Louissa any further.  I fear that as we continue,
> the dangers will only increase.  Leaving her behind with the garrison may
> be an act of mercy compared to what we will encounter ahead.  The young
> girl is resourceful and she has command of the boat.  Let her sail back to
> Poughkeepsie.  She will be no safer with us."
> [/Sia]

> [Ted]
> "I agree. Osiris can always take her back to her father when he feels up
> to it. We have to return to Poughkeepsie when we finish anyway. She and
> Talas will just have to look forward to a blessed reunion together."
> [/Ted]

> [Koba]
> "Well, it is a hard thing to deal with those who don't know how to go
> along with the team, but in this case we can not leave them here. Leaving
> the young lady alone with an invasion force is not what I would consider
> to be chivilarous, nor would leaving Osiris here either. I say we should
> take them with us. There is room for Osiris in our truck.  Lets gather as
> many supplies we can get from the boat before we head out and get across
> that bridge as soon as we can."
> Koba looks over at Owen, "If you can help the poor man, please do. He is
> struggling, but has no wounds I can see."
> Koba will head out to the boat to salvage what he can before they head
> out.
> [/Koba]

> [Talas]
> Talas looks at Sia and in Elvin says "You are right my kindred. But the
> girl has already proven that she is determined to follow after us. Or
> perhaps it would be better to say me. But I ask you Lady Stallion which
> would be safer. Having her traveling with us? Or having her chasing after
> us? Besides once both the demon and I are dead, shy will be more than
> willing to go home."
> [Talas]

> [Sia]
> Sialillion's expression darkens.  She replies in Elven, "I see... you do
> not intend to survive the final battle..." She looks at the rest of the
> party, as if for the first time considering that this trip to Rath-Iren
> may be a one-way journey for everyone.  She then approaches Talas, places
> a hand on his shoulder, and continues in Elven.  "Even if that is the
> case, swear to me that you will not take stupid risks, that you will keep
> fighting until there is truly no more fighting to be done.  You do no good
> to anyone a corpse." Her words come out angry and forceful, but her
> expression betrays a soft mournfulness.  She keeps her eyes fixed on
> Talas's for a time, then looks away.  "I will honor your wishes in regards
> to the girl." She says finally, also in Elven.
> "Talas is right, we shouldn't burden the garrison with the girl," she says
> in American to the rest of the party finally.  "But Talas, you take
> responsibility for her.  If she becomes a liability, you have to do what
> needs to be done for the sake of the party.  The fate of the world hangs
> in the balance, and I will not have our quest undone by a stupid, spoiled
> girl.  Now we've stood here running our mouths long enough.  Let's go get
> Osiris and Louissa and get out of here before the Last Bridge crumbes from
> our inaction."
> [/Sia]

> [Alex]
> "Well, she has some useful skills at least," Alex adds. "None of us could
> pilot a boat."
> [/Alex]

> [Talas]
> When Sia finished talking, but before she can turn away, Talas puts his
> hand on her shoulder, gives her a solemn look and in Elvin replies "When A
> demon Queller Dies he takes 10,000 demons to the grave with him. So
> whether I live or die, this demon, that we go to fight, is doomed ether
> way." Then Talas gives Sia a big goofy smile and continues "As for giving
> up. I a have only seen 36 seasons. There are still too many songs to sing,
> Dances to dance and good company to enjoy. Besides I still have a good
> 500+ years in me. And I intend to live them all."
> [/Talas]

> [Carlos]
> Carlos examins his skycycle and the remainder of the vehicles to make sure
> they are travel-worthy. "You guys can discuss this stowaway all you want,
> but we've got a deadline." He examines the vehicles to try and figure out
> which vehicle would be best to hold Osiris. He'll share that information
> with the group, then jump on his skycycle and ascend into the sky.
> [/Carlos]

> [Owen]
> "If I am coming with y'all, we better move now. Standing around will gain
> us nothing."
> He will gather his equipment, and move his motorcycle to the elevator to
> ascend to the outdoors.
> [/Owen]

[GM] The soldier shrugs and bows to Lady Sia.  "I'll pass the word along
that you're crossing the Last Bridge, m'lady." he says.  "May the better
gods be with you."

 	The vote appears to be bring Louissa and Osiris along.  Wow!  What a
 	lot of posts!  Took me fifteen minutes just to assemble them all.

 	I'm going to move ahead here at a quick pace.

In short order the company is on their way back to the village.  The scene
is even more chaotic than when they left.  People are packing up whatever
belongings they had left from the tidal wave and putting them on vehicles,
horses, oxen, carts, and even their backs.  Word has clearly reached them
that there is some sort of invasion underway.

Lady Louissa is still at the boat, sitting with Osiris, who still lies

"We're leaving the boat, girl." Amanda says rather abruptly.  "My comrades
in arms have decided to take you and Osiris along, so pack your gear and get
on one of those vehicles."

The young woman gives Amanda a quick angry glare, but seems to realize that
her coming along is hardly a unanimous decision, and complies.

 	Here's an updated list of whose on what.
           Wastelander - Owen
 	  Skycycle - Carlos Amanda Connor/Lady Frost's ATV - Lady Frost,
 	    Talas, Alex, Alister, Lady Louissa
 	  Ted's ATV - Ted, Sia, Koba, Osiris

 	Osiris, being unconscious, is going to have to lay down, hence
 	Amanda's ATV is going to be a bit more crowded.

 	You guys can decide who goes first, though I would think that
 	Carlos's Skycycle is a natural forward scout, while Owen's
 	Wastelander might either be a foward, or stay behind to keep an eye
 	on the company's rear.  Up to you guys, however.

The small caravan begins its journey, first heading back past the fortified
bunker, with no sign of any guard now, and up on to the road that the
soldier recommended.  Even in ATVs, the road is slow going at points.  It
appears to have been infrequently repaired, and at a few points seems to
have turned into a bed for a seasonal creek.

Carlos is able to keep an eye on things above, and within about twenty
minutes sights what must be the last bridge, an ancient steel bridge,
frequently repaired, with fortifications on either side and a make-shift
steel tower with a large megadamage gate in the middle.  It's a full twenty
more minutes before the rest of the company, coming around a corner and
leaving the woods, sees it.

By the looks of it, the bridge is guarded by a fairly large garrison; at
least two hundred men, several tanks, including hovertanks, a couple of
Titan bots and even a few reconditioned SAMAS and several smaller military
vehicles with mounted energy cannons, rail guns, missile launchers and
lasers.  Overhead a number of small aircraft, about ten, can be seen flying
in.  Lady Sialillion recognizes this as about 90% of the kingdom's

Across the river, the Hudson Valley continues southward on its journey to
the ocean.  The land here is overgrown by centuries of forests which have
swallowed up what was once one of the most populous places in the old
American Empire.

Amanda sighs.  "Poor Bongo.  He would have loved this."

The vehicles' radios are alive with chatter, much of it encoded, though
other than Owen's Wastelander, the other vehicles are set up to decode it.

"Scouts reporting large force approaching for southeast...  Scouts say looks
like a mix of Mercs, Orcs, Trolls, and some pretty freaky D-Bees."

"Roger that.  Getting reports that it's low-tech, high-tech and everything
in between.  It's a kitchen sink kind of army!"

"We're seeing something overhead over Alpha Base.  Looks like some sort of
pterodactyl.  Make that at least three, and maybe one of 'em is some sort of
goddamned black dragon."

"Delta Base reports forwards have made contact... Repeat, Delta Base has
reported forward forces have made contact."

"Copy that.  Orders from HQ are harass but do not fully engage. Repeat, do
not fully engage.  We're blowing the bridge in two hours... repeat...
blowing the bridge in two hours."

The company's caravan drives down to the bridge.  The soldiers look ready to
jump on everyone's head when they see Lady Sialillion.  Instead, with a sad
shake of the head, they're flagged across the bridge.

On the face of it, it's hard to believe the radio chatter.  The forest looks
peaceful, blanketed in snow, like some picturesque Hudson Valley in Winter
painting.  It's then that the company spots, far above, a black shape
circling.  The creature makes no move to come lower, but it clearly is
scouting.  As the company drives down the road, it seems to follow directly
over head for a minute or two before suddenly flying even higher and heading
southeast before disappearing completely.

The road the company is following bends to the southwest before disappearing
into the forest.  The road is filled with soldiers; some on transports other
hiking out on foot.  The column must hold about six or seven hundred men,
for a kingdom the size of Poughskeepsie, this constitutes a major force. 
Clearly the kingdom is recalling much of its military strength.

The road now enters the forest, and within moments the company finds
themselves within a thick wood of oaks, willows, ashwoods and beech trees,
all bare in the cold winter.  The sun shines weak but bright overhead, and
it seems a perfect winter day.  The forest reveals itself to have grown up
around the ruins of an ancient town, with foundation walls and the odd wall
cropping up through the forest floor.  These ruins become even more frequent
as the road leads southward, bending more and more to the east.

The number of soldiers retreating to the bridge is now decreasing to a few
companies, many on horseback who have the look of Wilderness Scouts about
them.  Some look in disbelief on the company as it makes its way directly
to wherever they're fleeing from.

It's about 11:30 in the morning when the last retreating soldiers are left
behind.  A half an hour later, at exactly noon, there's a series of distant
explosions from the north that echo through the forest.  Everyone realizes
they are well and truly on their own.

A few minutes later, Carlos, up above, sees what looks like a line of
soldiers, mostly mercenaries by the looks of them.  The company is maybe ten
minutes from driving right into the middle of their column!

Amanda opens up a secure channel with everyone else.  "Alright people, I
don't think we want to get into a fight with an army.  I think we need to
leave the road, and then find somewhere to hole up.  Driving in the day time
seems a recipe from being discovered.  Besides, I'm exhausted."  She waits
for any advice from the others.

Just then Carlos spies the black pterodactyl creature again, circling high

Aaron Clausen mightymartianca at gmail.com

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