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War IS The Answer!

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Glad that the Norkotians didn’t seem to mind their bickering, Clive and Zack trudged off with the soldiers. Zacks eyes darted every which way out of sheer paranoia as they passed by several buildings that had clearly been in the middle of a gun fight. Corpses dotted the ground every now then, seeming to be the unfortunate result of shelling. The ones that weren’t too torn up by the explosions that had destroyed their homes bore civilian clothing. His eyes hung on the dead and charred body of a woman over an infant that hadn’t fared any better. His paranoia gave way to a festering, concentrated anger that didn’t sit well in his gut. It clawed at him from the inside, like an animal desperate to escape it's cage.

Clive limped alongside him, beginning to seriously wonder if his gonads had actually busted. As he perused the war-torn ruins for an alcohol refinery that hadn’t been shot up or blown to bits, he entertained his mind with ways he’d kill Zack if he found out that permanent damage had been done to his testicles. He too noticed the bodies, but he lumped all the horrible sights in with his predetermined notion of war. War was ugly, and one tends to avoid looking at something ugly as much as they can if they don’t have to.

The more bodies they passed by, the more Zack’s eyes would occasionally dart over to the soldiers they were following, taking note of their size and how well they were armed. He’d sneaked through a perimeter they had set up outside the city, so this wasn’t a case of self defense. These men were invading this city. They appeared to be taking prisoners, but only if they surrendered. Regardless, he couldn’t think up any reason that would justify the Norkotians actions. His mind kept coming up with reasons associated with national pride, and it made him even angrier. He’d heard of someone defending themselves, but never offending themselves. It didn’t even sound right.

“So,” whispered Clive quietly enough so that the soldiers couldn’t hear them. “How you feel about goin’ along for the payout?”

Zack’s head panned to the right to give the cowboy a disgusted, angry, look.

“...What?!” Zack whispered back harshly.

“I ain’t plannin’ on killin’ anybody.” said Clive before Zack could give him an earful. “I was thinkin’ we could do this the non-lethal way. Disarm em’ and all that. That way we ain’t really doin’ anything wrong. I mean, looks ta’ me like this city’s just about taken. We might not even see any real combat.”

“Clive…” said Zack as he massaged his face. “I barely know where I am, I still got several broken bones, my shield and equipment are back with the Air Jockey’s, I got no plan, not enough info to make one, and I’m bound by cuffs I’m nowhere near strong enough to break.”


“You wanna go get yourself killed? Fine.” said Zack as he looked around him for some form of transportation. “I’m not gonna be any part of this stupid war.”

On 9/30/2019 at 11:57 AM, Tyler said:

"Wait, we're shooting prisoners now?"


Zack’s eyes perked up when he heard what the soldier said and turned to see that they were walking passed what appeared to be a prisoner holding camp. His eyes met the eyes of the prisoners as they walked past. The ones that weren’t grieving or catatonic looked scared, holding on those closest to them as if they’d disappear the moment they let go. A child looked up at Zack and he stared back woefully, not sure what to do. Part of him wanted to free them, but he knew that was both wrong and stupid. The resulting chaos would incite the Norkotians to start shooting at him and them.

Zack grew antsy as he listened to the soldiers talk about taking no more prisoners. This was wrong and unfair to the people living here, but what could he do? He was no miracle worker. And wars weren’t as cut and dry as he’d have liked them to be. Although Norkotia was clearly in the wrong, he couldn’t just brand every soldier as a bad person. Some of them appeared to be just as a afraid as the imprisoned citizens, likely just following the orders of some patriotic zealot further up in command. War was complicated, but always in a bad way. The best way to deal with it was to just not have one in the first place, but people could be complicated too. Can't expect a perfect world as long as complicated people exist.

Zack nudged Clive when he spotted what he was looking for.

“Jeep.” he said quietly, nodding his head to the unmanned vehicle parked far down the road they were passing. There appeared to be no one around it either. It’d probably been driven there by the medics he saw back at the prisoner encampment. “Last call. You want a ride?”

Tch.” sneered Clive with a shake of his head. “Git’cher yellow-bellied a** outta here, punk.”

Happy to.” remarked Zack before walking away towards the jeep. Clive glared at him as he left.

Hmph.” shrugged Clive stubbornly before carrying on with the squad.



Once Zack was inside the jeep, he noticed that the keys were still in the ignition. Reasonably pleased that life had decided to cut him a break, he turned the key and the vehicle sputtered to life. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. Quickly unraveling it, he scanned the map of Forthshaven. He looked around to see if there were any landmarks or signs mentioning what street he was on, and that’s when saw a man emerge from an alley up ahead. A man wearing a black cloak. A black cloak with the Tin Man’s emblem on it.

Zacks eyes dilated as his expression formed into one similar to an extremely irate lion. Maybe scarier. The man with the cloak noticed this.

“F***ing kidding me!?” cried the man before turning on a heel and sprinting back into the alley. He turned to enter through a door in the alley, but a pair of cuffed hands smashed through the window next to the door and grabbed hold of his cloak.

“AGH!” choked the man as he was yanked through the window and slammed into the wall on the opposite building. Although he was now seeing double from the concussion, he quickly parted his cloak in front of him and rose his gloved hands in an attempt to beg for his life.

“STOP! STOP!” shouted the man, the intense amount of fear on his face hidden by his gas mask. “PUNKIT’SME!

“Me who?” said Zack darkly as he stood over the man, his vise-like hands open and ready break something important. The man quickly reached up with fidgety hands to remove his gas mask. Zack raised an eyebrow when he saw the face of a balding man with buck teeth and a lazy eye.

“You workin’ for the Tin Man now, PJ?” said Zack through gritted teeth as he inched closer.

“NO!” shouted PJ quickly as he waved his hands in denial. “I heard he was hirin’ a small army to help sack this place. I joined up cause I knew I’d be able to scrounge around for some loot, that’s all!”

Zack’s eyes narrowed.



“Well…there’s always a bunch of sweet loot left unsupervised whenever a battle’s goin’-”

“NO!” shouted Zack before grabbing PJ up by the collar and slamming him against the wall. “The Tin Man! He’s HERE!?”


Agh, y-yeah!” nodded the thief. “It was my only angle into this joint. He’s hired a small army, man! Please, I ain’t even armed!”

“Why’s he here PJ!? said Zack as he anxiously shook the older man.

“He’s lookin’ for that Ace thing!” said PJ, still trembling. “I overheard a few guys talkin’ about it while we were flyin’ over. I think he thinks the mayor of this place knows sumthin’ about it. Word is that he’s sendin’ his elites to fetch her. I don’t even know what it is man, I swear.”

“I can’t believe this.” breathed Zack before letting PJ fall to the ground. He chastised himself for not figuring this out earlier. The Air Jockey’s and the Tin Man were known rivals, always gunning for each other and racing to get to something before the other. When he’d been tortured and asked about the Ace back on the Air Jockey’s airship, he should’ve figured the Tin Man was after it too. And if he was, this Ace had to be a big deal.

“C-can I go now?” asked PJ as he hesitantly shuffled away. Zack took a few deep breaths and stared up into the smoky sky. He knew the Tin Man couldn't be after the Ace for money since he’d likely blown tons of it to hire an army and that usually wasn’t his MO. He and the Jockey’s were after it for some other reason, and Zack didn’t want either of them to have it. Especially the Tin Man. He wanted to believe that someone else would come along and prevent the Tin Man from getting what he wanted, but the counter thought to that was always the same. He was someone. It seemed that he was about to get involved in this mess or he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.

He hated the Tin Man anyway. Perhaps more than any living, thinking, thing should.

“Hold on.” Zack exhaled, shaking his head. “I got a map back in that jeep. I-”

“Jeep?” said PJ, looking confused. “What’s that?”

Zack gave him a bewildered look before remembering that the car brand likely didn’t exist here.

“The car back there.” said Zack pointing out of the alley. “There’s a map in it. I’m gonna need you to tell me to the best of your ability where the assaults are taking place and anything else you know. I especially need to know about these elites.”

“I…I guess I could do that.” shrugged PJ.

“And I’m gonna need your equipment.” Zack added. “And your clothes.”

“...W-what?” stammered PJ. “Even my cloak?”

“Especially the cloak.”

“But…this is my favorite cloak.”

“You could always buy another cloak.” said Zack before kneeling down and placing a hand on the shivering man’s shoulder. “But I doubt you’re rich enough to buy new bones. Know what I mean?


PJ swallowed and nodded his head.





While the mercenaries Skull had sent ahead of him mindlessly continued towards city hall, the executor decided to turn eastward to secure the sheriff’s office. Apparently he thought that it was an essential priority since the mayor could retreat there. Skull wasn’t sure how the mayor would be able to get passed the assault that he could hear taking place at city hall, but following orders was what he was getting paid for. So he heeded the executors decision and went along, his mini-gun rev’d and ready to handle any resistance they’d no doubt run into.

While the battle outside city hall was raging on however, the cloaked Elites the Tin Man was giving direct orders to were making their way into the building. None of the defenders would even be able to see them, the cloaking devices on their backs being some of the Tin Man’s best work. They were invisible to the naked eye, and they moved with such precise efficiency that none of the defenders would even be aware of their presence. The small arcane inhibitors they wore on their belts kept them from setting off any magical alarms triggered by crossing through magical barriers the defenders might’ve set up inside the building. And even if their cloaks were somehow disengaged, they wouldn’t be identifiable with the Tin Man. They didn’t bear his emblem.

Once they approached the mayors office, they kicked the door open and filed into the room quickly, seamlessly disengaging their cloaking devices. Like the outside, no guards appeared to be posted inside the room. The only person inside was Cordoza, and she was staring out of a window overlooking her conquered achievement as if in deep thought. Possibly regret.

Once they were certain that the room was secure, one of the elites took a small, circular object off of his belt and slung it towards the ground. The disc slid across the roof within a few yards of Cordoza before a light atop it began to glow. From said light came a projection. A shimmerting hologram of the Tin Man, sitting back in a chair with a beer in one hand.


(Just the beginning part really)


“The Ace…in the Hole.” said the Tin Man before taking a sip from his bottle. “That’s the term most give it. An extraordinarily powerful relic that sources reveal to be in this area. Legends say that it was buried in some underground tomb somewhere in the wasteland, but I’m guessin’ that’s wrong. See, I know this city’s been around for a while. And I’m bettin’ someone in it knows where it is. I’m bettin’…that someone is you.”

The haggard mercenary took another swig of his bottle, finishing it before placing it down somewhere below his chair and out of the hologram’s view. He then leaned forward and sat up, clearing his throat and staring at the mayor intently.

“I’m also bettin’…that you don’t know how to harness it’s power. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in this scenario. Hell, your ancestors probably told you to never use it for the people’s safety. And you’d be smart not to considerin' the possible backlash. But see…I know how to harness it. I know how to control it. If you were to tell me where it is, I could do just that. You could take this city back and then some. It’d be a piece of cake. But first…I gotta know where it is.”

He leaned back into his chair, briefly looking to his left before focusing his unnaturally vile gaze back on the mayor.

“I estimate about six and a half minutes before the Norkotians reach this floor. You got till’ then to make a choice, miss. I may be a mercenary, and I may not give a s*** about you or this city, but I am a man of my word. It’s how I make my money. You help me? I help you. Like all things in life, it’s a gamble, but it’s your choice chance it. Maybe the last one you’ll ever get.”

The Tin Man reached down out of the Hologram and grabbed another bottle from somewhere before popping the cap off with his finger. He smirked and raised his bottle at her before taking another swig.

“S’not too late for your people.” he said with a pleased exhale. “And it’d be a real shame if…say the Norkotians were able to get their hands on it. You’ve seen what they’ve done today. Imagine what they’d do if they had that Ace in their pocket. They could do whatever they wanted with your people then. There’d be no hope. But that’s all hypothetical.” he looked up at her from his bottle. "...Right?"



Edited by zackrobbman

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The foray into the lower city had ended in absolute disaster, but luckily it had not been a large commitment of troops. Most of the paratrooper units held their positions outside the city limits, keeping anyone from attempting to flee. For now, the lower city would be free of further conflict, though who know how long that would last...

* * *

Up above, the ramp had been secured, and about fifteen minutes after that, the experimental armored division reached the lifts. Elements of Tynes's column would link up with them shortly, but the bulk of his forces had turned toward the sheriff's office and were now besieging it. Tynes figured Kreiger would be able to handle the assault on the city hall, though he still wished to link up as soon as possible. Capturing Cordoza would end the war, and the end couldn't come too soon. Admittedly, there was a thrill to battle command that Tynes did not realize he would enjoy, but even so, he knew better than to get wrapped up in it. He wanted Forsthaven secured quickly and with minimal further damage. That meant they had to get to mayor, wherever she was...

* * *

What Tynes did not anticipate, nor, for that matter, had Cordoza, one of the major participants in this battle was about to throw a major wrench into the expected end results. The mayor was initially surprised by the Tin Man's appearance and even more by his knowledge of something that he had no business knowing about. It was a closely guarded secret, one that few outside of the mayor and a select few members of the city government even had the vaguest hints about. How he learned of it, she couldn't be sure, but he knew enough that know that it was there.

"And if I refuse, what then? You would simply give up and leave it be?" she asked after a moment, "No, I highly doubt that. You'd end up blasting through whoever else got in your way until you've found it, be it my people or the Norkotians."

She turned her back on him once again, looking out the window over the courtyard below. Grey-uniformed soldiers were swarming across the grounds like ants, while the gaggle of militia and local security defending the hall were beginning to dwindle. Smoke was even beginning to cloud her view from the window, as smaller explosives were being used by the attackers to try and clear out enemies on the ground level. It would only be a few minutes before the Norkotians arrived, maybe even less than the Tin Man's estimate. If they captured her, that meant Tynes will have won, and the entire plateau would be under his fist. But he was not aware of the vessel, which meant that he wouldn't be looking for it. 

Even so, once the Tin Man and his men started probing around the city for it, it would put Tynes's men on the trail. Before long, the mercenaries and Norkotians would be tearing the city apart in an effort to find the artifact before the other. Even if they never did find it, they might very well level whatever was left of the city in the process. More lives would be lost, and for what? They might just manage to find it anyway, and all would be lost. That was her choice, to sacrifice even more lives in a possibly vain hope that the vessel would be kept secret, or attempt to bargain a means of cooperating with the mercenary so that the city could be saved further destruction and conquest. This mercenary could be lying... no, undoubtedly he was lying... and he would betray her and Forsthaven the moment he had what he wanted. But if he could be prevented from having it fully, if she could limit his access so that he needed to go through her in order to get what he wanted out of it... then maybe, just maybe, this could work out. But if she failed, she risked loosing an artifact capable of potentially causing even more damage to her city than Tynes could have ever managed. It was a poor choice either way. But there was one factor that she could not discount...

She really wanted to stick it to Joseph Tynes.

"You were smart to wait until the Norkotians were on my doorstep, mercenary. You understand leverage too well, but that does not mean I no longer have any. I will lead you to what you seek, but only five or less of your people will be allowed to accompany me. And anything you seek to do with the artifact will be done under the supervision of me and my people. But first you will have to get me, get us, out of here."

She crossed her arms and stared him down with an expression that still bore a grim confidence, or perhaps arrogance.

"Now it's your turn to act quickly. My offer expires the moment my defenders are overrun."

* * *

They were across the courtyard. Thanks to their superior snipers and the heavy weapons mounted on their tanks, the Norkotians finally cracked the tough shell that surrounded the old city hall. Kreiger's armor now moved to surround the building, as infantry moved in closer in preparation for the breach. Men with submachineguns and shotguns would act as the vanguard, as several squads gathered near the entrances. This included the platoon tied in with Naherin and her friends, as well as Clive. They were located near the south entrance, which was a smaller door compared to the main entrance; which faced west. 

"Ready boys!?" the sergeant from Clive's squad barked.

"Where'd your friend go?" the soldier who had found Clive and Zack talking wondered, noticing the young of the two was now gone, but having not seen when he left.

By the time Clive answered though, the order was given, and a breach charge was placed on the door and detonated. The door swung open and several soldiers hurled grenades inside, waiting for the detonation before whirling around the corners and bursting in. The first man through was downed immediately, though the second managed to dive to cover.

"Let's go! Let's go!" the young lieutenant in charge of the platoon urged.

@zackrobbman @Thotification

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Somewhere in the courtyard, Naherin's mercenaries are all lounging about waiting for the direct order from their superiors.

The fight, as they found it, was mostly uneventful. Perhaps it is due to the Norkotians' ability that winning is no longer a possiblity but an inevitability. Now they have reached the climax of this battle. Only a few more encounters and the city is theirs. Soon. Soon they will get paid.

As the troop blasted the doors, the ranks of soldiers soon entered the place in an orderly rush. Naherin and her troops waited for the others to go in before entering themselves. Better safe than sorry. 

"Go go go!" Naherin barked as she led her ladies into the fray. Giggling, her soldiers followed her lead, securing one section after another. 

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The Tin Man stared at her for a moment, his snide grin not faltering in the slightest. Even in the blue, flickering hologram, Cordoza would be able to see the animosity in his eyes. They practically glowed with a festering, barely restrained hunger for suffering and genocide, as if he were a scion of the evilest being she knew. But that was nonsense right? He appeared to be just a man, no different than any other mercenary with a thirst for violence and blood. She'd likely seen scarier people than the Tin Man through the years.

“Not a problem, ma'am.” he shrugged before leaning back in his chair and snapping his fingers. The moment he did so, the air behind the mayor shimmered and warped as another elite materialized behind her. Before she’d be able to react, she’d feel something get slapped onto the back of her neck. If she went to feel what was there, she’d feel something cold, metal and circular, like a thick disc. Seconds later, she’d feel the passive magical energy in her body briefly flare up into the device on her neck. It wouldn’t be painful, but she’d definitely notice it.

“Remote controlled cloaking device.” said the Tin Man before reaching out of the hologram to retrieve a small rectangular device. After pushing the button on top of it, Cordoza’s body would begin to shimmer and tingle as the arcane energy coursing through her was redirected to the device and then extroverted to render herself completely invisible.

“As long as that’s connected and I don’t press this button, you’ll remain undetectable by the naked eye. Me and my elites will be able to see you of course, so don’t get any ideas. What we’re doin’ here is plan C. I expected plan B, and you don’t want plan B.”

The room shook and rumbled a bit when an explosion went off on the bottom floor of the building. Intrigued, the Tin Man raised his wrist to inspect the watch on it.

“They’re early.” he chuckled. “They either got some real good aim or your boys can’t aim for s***. Guess we’d better get goin’. Elites P-40 through forty five, escape route 3, but don’t use the door. Exit via the blown wall in the reception office. Make sure you keep her close and make your way to G-2. Once there, she will lead you. P-46, you stay behind and set up. Move out.”

The hologram vanished with a flash and the elite closest to Cordoza picked the disc off the floor before placing it in one of the pockets on his vest. The elites were all wearing high-tech, optical masks, so Cordoza wouldn’t be able to see their lifeless, void expressions. They all moved the same, their movements being succinct and purposeful as they all activated their cloaking devices and escorted Cordoza out of the room.

* * *

Clive didn’t encounter any resistance on the way to the capitol building, likely because the battle was nearing it’s end and the enemy was hunkering down and consolidating their forces to make a last stand. It was a predictable scenario with an equally predictable outcome, one Clive didn’t want to think too much about. Despite his guilty pleasures, genocide still bothered him a little. Especially when he wasn’t sure whether or not the victims deserved to be victims.

On the way there, he saw a few familiar faces. Ones he wasn’t sure he was glad to see. Members of the Blackspear cartel seemed to be everywhere nowadays where violence, peril, and death were a factor. He was honestly a little impressed, seeing as no one had killed them all yet. He wondered if they were just unusually lucky, or just really cunning. He could remember Zack mentioning them before, saying how he couldn’t take any job without them getting involved and causing problems. Then again, Zack thought the same about him and most people in the profession. Clive thought it was quite the opposite.

"Ready boys!?" the sergeant from Clive's squad barked.


"Where'd your friend go?" the soldier who had found Clive and Zack talking wondered, noticing the young of the two was now gone, but having not seen when he left.

“He flaked.” Clive answered simply. He was about to add on a derogatory description of his former partner when the order to breach cut him off. He stood back and to the side of the door, taking a slow, steady breath as he wiggled his fingers around the grip of his revolver. He was pretty sure that the defenders were expecting them. When the charge detonated, the Norkotians wasted no time in tossing in a bundle of grenades. He heard a few shouts and rapid shuffling from inside the building before the grenades went off. He felt the bones in his haggard body rattle with the boom and a soldier whirled around to sprint through the door. Clive watched him get lit up like a Christmas tree and shook his head as the over-zealous Norkie’ fell to the ground in a lifeless, bloody, heap.

“Too eager, bo’ah.” Clive shook his head as another soldier dashed into the building to take cover.


"Let's go! Let's go!" the young lieutenant in charge of the platoon urged.

“Aight.” Clive nodded before taking cover by the door and listening closely to the sounds inside as the Norkotians rushed in. The defenders were going all out, putting down as much suppression fire as they could to buy as much time as possible for re-positioning. Once the fire halted, he twisted around the corner and dashed inside with a palm hovering over the hammer of his peacekeeper. The room they were in was spacious and overlooked by balconies on either side with stairs leading up to them. The Nork’s had already killed a fair number of them, and Clive’s rapid advancement drew the remaining ones out of cover. Time seemed to slow as Clive watched four of them leave cover to take aim. He smirked.



The shots went off so quickly it’d almost sounded like one. Hard light rounds connected with each of the defenders weapons, effectively disarming them before they’d even get a chance to fire. One of such defenders was directly in front of him, still recovering from the shock of what had happened. Clive clocked him up side the head with the butt of his gun before vaulting over a reception desk to clock another one who was reaching for his knife. Both were knocked unconscious, but Clive wasn’t sure if that was good enough for the Nork’s, given their new orders.

The other two that he’d disarmed were on the balcony’s, one on each side. One was young and immediately took off running. The other reached for his side arm.

“DAGH!” shouted the defender after the pistol was blasted out of his hand.

“Don’t be stupid, now.” said Clive, still aiming his smoking peacekeeper at the remaining defender. “I don’t really wanna’ kill ye’.”

Clive kept his gun aimed at the remaining defender as he turned to look at the map posted onto the wall behind the reception desk. Whether or not the Nork’s would shoot the remaining defender as ordered or realize that it was inhumane was up to them. Whatever they did wasn’t his business, and he couldn’t let it be.

“Bingo.” he said with a snap, setting his eyes on the location of the mayors office.

* * *

Getting to the mayors office wouldn’t be too much of a chore given the backup the Norkotian’s had. The Ex-Blackspears would undoubtedly be a big help in close quarters and Clive would have a field day with the scared, cornered, defenders that remained in the building. He avoided killing any of them, something that was made even easier given how few of them there were. It seemed that the mayor’s subjects weren’t as loyal to her as she’d hoped. Not that it’d matter in the next few minutes.

Clive let the lieutenant lead the way to the mayors office, keeping any eye out for any defenders hiding behind corners or furniture. The building was just as regal on the outside as it was on the inside, the hallways being wide and imposing. The pictures and relief decorations on the walls and supporting columns seemed to be easily over a hundred years old. Broken glass, debris and the occasional dead sniper littered the marble floor. Aside from that, the halls seemed to be immaculate, free of dirt and grime. He wasn’t sure if it was just because of magic or someone putting in the work to keep the place clean.

It was quiet as they approached the ancient double doors to Cordoza’s office. Other than the fighting outside and their footsteps, it was dead silent. It made Clive uneasy. This feeling reached a crescendo when he started to hear the beeping. His blood ran cold when the beeping suddenly became rapid.

SONUF'A B****!” shouted Clive before yanking the nearby lieutenant to the ground and diving to the floor. Not a second later, an explosion from within the mayors office lit up the hallway and blew the doors out in a mess of marble, wood and metal. Any too slow to get down would be skewered by shrapnel. Clive rolled to the side and a large slab of marble that had been blown up from the door shattered against the floor where his head had been with a humbling crash.

Clive’s eyes were ringing and he could feel a stinging pain in his right shoulder, but he quickly got to his feet with his gun at the ready. He scanned both ends of the hallway, but no enemy combatants appeared to be on the way. He looked back towards the mayors office, a confused look on his face as he watched the smoke clear. There was barely anything left of the office, Clive being able to see right through the remains of the room to the outside.

“Wha-…suicide?” he said, his confusion growing. “Why the hell would she do that?”


@Tyler @Thotification

* * *

The elites were able to make it out of the building with minimal resistance. They encountered a few Norkotians on the way out, but they were dealt with rather swiftly and permanently, leaving no witnesses and doing so without anyone knowing what was going on. They were outside the building and sneaking through the offensive line when the charges P-46 has set went off. If Cordoza had bothered to look behind her, she’d see a large, flaming, crumbling hole where her office used to be.

Once they were through the line, they took to the alley’s and buildings to further decrease the chances of them being seen. They bobbed and weaved to avoid any troops rushing to the capitol building, including the Tin Man’s own. They couldn’t risk being recognized as allies to the merc’s helping destroy her city. She likely wouldn’t be fooled for long, but the Tin Man didn’t need long.

They eventually entered a small park located near one of the city’s many bazaar’s. Due to it’s strategically unsound terrain and lack of cover, there was little reason for any fighting to be done there. In fact, there were barely any body’s there at all. Well, none except for three of the Tin Man’s hired killers. All three had been beaten within an inch of their lives and thrown into a bush far out of the sight of the Elite’s with some of their equipment missing.

The elites continued through the park at a rushed pace, not taking note of how wet the dirt path was under their feet or the impressions their boots made in it. They all wore the same equipment, so their boots all left the same patterned impressions. Cordoza’s foot prints would be the only ones that were different.

They were passing under a large tree when it happened. An un-pinned smoke grenade fell from the foliage above almost smack dab in the middle of their group. It had already been cooked just right, so it went off mid-air just as two of the Elite’s saw it falling. As if sharing a hive mind, all of them immediately aimed their guns up and fired into the tree as the smoke rapidly began to obscure their vision. Their bullets tore into the foliage, splintering wood and sparking off of…aluminum?

A thick liquid splattered all over the tree and fell on the elites, covering them and Cordoza in a heavy layer of bright pink house paint. The water-based paint drooped down their optical masks, making it even harder to see and revealing their cloaked forms.

The one holding onto Cordoza let go of her to wipe the paint off his visor, and that was when she was grabbed up hard by a shorter man wearing a black cloak and a banged up gas mask.

“ONYOURSIDE!” muffled the shorter man through his mask in fearful tone as he took off with her over his shoulder. He was sprinting unusually fast, as if Cordoza weighed next to nothing. They were rapidly approaching one of the fences that enclosed the park. The man briefly turned his head to look behind him and saw that the Elites had already managed to exit the gas cloud and wipe the paint away from their visors. They were now sprinting after him, neglecting to shoot at him just as he'd planned. He also knew that getting away from them wouldn't be as easy as he wished. They were clearly not human, sprinting as fast or perhaps even faster than him while brandishing and activating vibro-blades.  Losing them was not going to be a cake walk. Hell, none of this was going to be a cake walk.

"They catch us, we're dead!" shouted the man as he jumped over the picketed, metal, fence onto a neighboring street. "Where can I lose these guys!?"


* * *


 "Son of a b****." said the Tin Man in a monotone as he slowly shook his head in exasperation. He'd been watching the elites via one of the cloaked drones he had hovering above the city and had witnessed the entire thing. "Figures." he mumbled as he rose out of his seat, finishing his bottle of beer before slinging it to the side and shattering it against a wall. He then turned and made his way toward the back of the ship as he dialed a few buttons on his watch to consolidate the frequencies of the pivotal merc's he had in the city.

“Elite B! Heavies! Korzuc!” shouted the Tin Man as he approached a large metal capsule at the back of the ship that was almost twice his height and width. “An enemy wearing our uniform just nabbed Cordoza from Elite A. He’s wearing a cloak and seems to be heading towards quadrant G-2. Target is very fast and might be a meta. Get there NOW. Do NOT shoot unless you have a CLEAR shot. We need Cordoza alive.”

* * *

"Got it." said Till, turning to look at the other heavy that was walking with him. He didn't know the name of the merc' that was inside, but he seemed capable enough. He wasn't tripping over anything and he seemed to be aware of his surroundings. There was blood all over it  from when he had to cut Gill's body apart and take the pieces out to make room, but aside from that and the gaping hole in the midsection, the armor looked fine. He'd just have to avoid any gut shots.

"You get that?" Till asked. The other heavy gave him a thumbs up. "Good."

They'd separated from the other merc's to ensure they'd be spared from any idiocy they enacted. Till didn't want to end up like Gill because of someone else's mistake. They eventually started hearing gunfire and shouts in the distance, slowing down and moving quietly so as not to be heard. They were approaching the end of an alley when they heard voices up ahead.


"Sorry kid," The Seeker growled roughly and leveled his gun again at the young soldier, apologizing before pulling the trigger one more time.

Till held up a fist and carefully peeked around the corner of the alley, spotting a group of combatants that definitely weren't friendly's if the dead Norkotian soldiers at their feet were anything to go by. Till quickly receded his head and nodded to the other heavy, who nodded back. Till did a finger count of three before bounding out of the alley, spinning up his mini-gun and taking aim at the Seekers. The other heavy came out right behind him and did the same, the two of them opening fire without a word.


Edited by zackrobbman

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The Norkotian forces quickly moved through the city hall, clearing room-by-room of hostiles, though after a while the defenders started surrendering directly. Only a handful of soldiers followed Krieger's orders at this juncture, owing to the fact that most of the defenders were just done with this whole mess and wanted to be out of the fight, and that the battle was nearly over anyway. Of course, this decision had turned deadly for one group of soldiers, who took a couple of prisoners in the basement level, one of which was hiding a grenade on his person...

But the upper levels provided minimal resistance, as many had already fled, been killed, or surrendered immediately. When the forward squads reached the office of the mayor, the mercenary Clive was allowed to go for the door first. It was lucky, as the drunken gunslinger had good enough awareness to recognize the sound of a bomb about to detonate, and managed to save himself and the lieutenant. A couple men were not fast enough, however; and were shredded by chunks of wood, brick and stone. Even those who had gotten down were forced to endure some injuries to their backs or hands. 

As cries of "MEDIC!" rang down the stairs as the rear members of the squad tried to tend to the wounded, the lieutenant, Clive and a couple of soldiers near the front of the squad proceeded into the destroyed office. The explosion had been remarkably thorough, almost as though the explosives were military grade. 

"If she wanted to commit suicide, this is overkill," the lieutenant remarked.

"Was it a tank shell?" one of the soldiers asked, worried that the armor below was shelling the building for some reason.

"No, we were supposed to take her alive and force her to surrender. This was an inside job," the lieutenant shook his head.

"Bitch prolly juss' wanted to make it look like we killed 'er, so she could look like a martyr," the other soldier spat.

"Spread out and look for a body, or any parts of one," the lieutenant sighed, "If there is anything left, command is going to want to see it to confirm her death."

A quick search of the office revealed no sign of any bloody, bone or human debris, though based on how powerful the explosion had been, it was unlikely there would have been anything left anyway. Or if there was, her body might well have been blown clear out of the building. It was a disheartening disappointment for everyone involved, given how much they'd gone through to get here.

"Someone get a radio up here so I can contact the captain. I need to confirm what the hell just went on down there," the young officer barked after a minute, "This is bull shit."

* * *

Meanwhile, Cordoza had been ferried out of the building and onto the streets, unseen and unknown to soldiers flooding the building. She wanted to protest being brought alone, since it left her at the mercy of Tin Man's mercs. As it was, she thought she implied well enough that she wanted some of her own people kept alive to help look after her and Forsthaven's interests, but she was given little time or opportunity to try and say so. She hoped that somewhere along the way, they might come across a group of defenders who were still holding out, then she demand the elites help relieve them so they could be brought with. But the territory they were moving through was either already cleared of combatants, or never had any there to begin with.

Then, all at once, a lone man intervened, cleverly using paint as a means of both distracting the elites and making them visible, before sweeping up the mayor and making a run for it with her. She couldn't help but feel relieved at being removed from the presence of the robotic killers, but at the same time, they were supposed to be the ones to help her reclaim the city. And she had no idea who this guy was anyway...

"I don't even know who you are!" she snapped at the "rescuer", "Why should I trust you?"

With the elites hot on their tail, the rescuer (okay, we all know it is Zack, sheesh) needed to be very convincing in a very short amount of time, if he hoped to persuade her to help him navigate the town before they were caught.

* * *

On the ground level outside the hall, Colonel Krieger was observing the proceedings through his binoculars, from his perch atop his tank. Everything was proceeding according to plan, and he had even spotted Cordoza viewing the battlefield from a window overlooking the square from the upper level of the hall. Indeed, Krieger had been keeping an eye on the window of the mayor's office, and had ordered his snipers to avoid firing there. Capturing Cordoza was what the Executor wanted, as it was the most effective way to end the war quickly and efficiently, and though Krieger was a who lived for the glory of battle, and who wouldn't mind it if the conflict continued a bit longer than necessary, he was still duty-bound to follow his superior's orders.

Somewhere along the way, Cordoza had stepped away from the window, and while he could just barely see her while she was seated at her desk, she was completely out of view when she got up to address the Tin Man. Several minutes went by, and he did not see her again, until suddenly the window erupted in a sea of flame. 

"What?" he hissed, lowering his binoculars to get a full view as smoke and debris shot out of the side of the building, followed a few seconds later by the delayed sound of a booming report.

The veteran soldier's face twisted into a furious scowl, as he turned and looked at his other tank commanders and officers, some gathered around his command tank and observing the battle and relaying commands from a distance. They looked as confused as he was, but that didn't stop him from shouting angrily at them.

"Was that one of our tanks? If so, I want the commander to report to me AT ONCE!" he roared.

"Sir, none of our guns have discharged since you gave the cease-fire order!" one of his subordinates responded after a moment, "That wasn't us!"

Krieger's head whipped back toward the building, as his binoculars were brought up again to look at the damage. After several minutes of seeing nothing but smoke, he finally spotted several soldiers and mercenaries in the now exposed cavity that had once been the mayor's office. They were searching around for something, likely Cordoza's body, but their presence left Krieger to then suspect they had been the cause of the explosion.

"Sir, I have a Lieutenant Keffler on the line," the tank's radioman called up from below, handing up a radio receiver, "He says he's in the mayor's office."

Krieger took it without question.

"Colonel Krieger here. Report lieutenant!" he barked.

"Sir, we've reached the office, but there was an explosion. There is no sign of Cordoza, but it's likely she was incinerated in the blast. We think she blew herself up, but there's nothing left here to tell for sure. Did any of our tanks fire on this location?"

"Negative, lieutenant! Our guns were silent," Krieger growled, "Do you have any indication that Cordoza was still in her office when it exploded?"

"Uh, well no sir..." the lieutenant answered, "The place blew before we could open the doors."

"This is potentially a diversion, then," Krieger concluded, refusing to discount the possibility that Cordoza and her men were not done resisting yet, "Scour that office for any hidden exits and stay on alert! She may have slipped past you."

"Yes sir, will do!"

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After dispatching the Norkortian troops the OFM hit squad took a moment to regroup. They scavenged anything worthy of note, Norkortian technology as per their instructions, to take back and study. The current progress of the battle meant that it was time to pull out and escape, and they sent a coded message to the other team within the city.

As it happened, the other team was almost in the middle of executing some enemy soldiery. This was the team that was almost successfully ambushed by Till. Luckily for them, Seekers worked in groups of four. Their dedicated marksman stayed back to act as a lookout. She saw Till and the other and shouted a warning over their comms just before it was too late.

"Hit the deck!"

All three of them did without question. They were well-drilled and veterans themselves, and would not be so easily to take down. A storm of bullets pinned them down however, and a few shots winged one of them who had a large repeater crossbow. That one grimaced, but gave a thumbs up to his squad leader. He was still alive, but seemed to be hurt too badly to be going on the counterattack.

"We're pinned V4, over"

"I see that V1. Three o'clock. Two ground-pounders with heavy armor and arms. Go when I say so" the marksman reported. She leaned out of her alcove overwatching her teammates and took aim at both Till and his partner with a nasty looking bow. She selected a pair of arrows with steel-colored spike heads, armor piercing, and targeted their hands and heavy weapons. Drawing back the bow for full power, only the slightest glint of light off the arrowheads might give away her position before the expert archer fires two powerful shots, one at either soldier. 

Once they were distracted, two of them that were pinned would split up in opposite directions and run off to seek fresh shelter.

Edited by Fierach

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