Surgical Strike (Skarre2 and Stalker)
Here’s a blog post I wrote for Lost Hemisphere’s BFF’s series. I decided to write a bit of fiction as I hadn’t used Skarre2 on the battlefield and Theorymachine always seems a little hollow.
Moonless nights and drifting fog made for the best hunting. The damp air drifted against Skarre’s skin as the black ogrun rhythmically rowed towards the Cygnar Royal Navy vessel Heartsease. Her prey was anchored in this small still bay with its main engines silenced. Widower was deathly patient, waiting just around the headland with all of her starboard cannons primed. Skarre’s small assassination force made good speed with only the whisper of the oars breaking the silence. Her boarding party consisted of half a dozen ogrun, a handful of Satyxis raiders with their sea witch, a Skarlock thrall and a pair of Stalkers. The bonejacks’ shadowy hulls made them almost invisible in the dense fog, the perfect weapons for the surgical mission Terminus ordered. Skarre did not know who Captain Bray was and nor did she particularly care. It was rare to command so small a force on such a precise mission and she relished the challenge.
As the rowboat drew close to the Heartsease, the groaning of its rigging could be heard, but other than that the vessel was silent. It was the middle of the night and the bulk of the disciplined Cygnaran crew should be sleeping with only a few sentries and a small guard force prepared to fight. Thankfully the fog continued to mask their approach as they came alongside the hulking stern of their quarry. The ogrun had to pull their oars in as their vessel just fit between the stern of the Heartsease and its massive steam-driven paddle. Skarre silently signaled to the Satyxis sea witch to have her raiders climb aboard. Almost as one they fluidly sprang from the small boat and climbed first the paddle and then the back of the massive ironhull. Their role was to secure the quarterdeck, swiftly clearing any Cygnaran crew in that area.
The Skarlock drew on Skarre’s arcane powers to enhance the fortitude of the ogrun as all bar two prepared to fire their harpoons through the large glass windows at the rear of the Heartsease. Skarre infused one of the Stalkers with the ability to deftly evade its enemy. As the Satyxis cleared the rail onto the top deck she knew the moment she longed for was near. She closed her eyes and reached out with her senses. She could feel the preparedness of the Stalkers; their eyes focussed on the windows and their legs ready to spring into action. She drew in a cool breath and opened her eyes. She could feel her lips curling to a grin as she uttered the command, “Now”. The silence exploded as the harpoons smashed through glass and lodged into the ceiling inside. The ogrun began to climb the attached ropes as the Stalkers simultaneously leapt from the rowboat and bounded through the destroyed windows.
Skarre rapidly surveyed the Captain’s quarters through a Stalker’s eyes as it arrived in the room, but Captain Bray wasn’t in his bunk. At that moment the quarterdeck erupted with the unexpected crackle of electrical weapons. She heard Satyxis shriek and feared this assassination may not be as surgical as originally planned. She began to climb one of the ropes as she impelled the Stalker to smash through the cabin’s door. She sent the other back through the windows to climb to assist the Satyxis. The ogrun arrived in the quarters and pulled her quickly into the room as the Stalker tore the door down. As it stepped through the door frame onto the deck she saw the danger too late; a huge blade, almost as large as the Stalker, arced through the air towards it. The bonejack deftly leapt back from what surely would have been a crippling blow and the blade of the enemy warjack lodged into the thick beam of the door frame filling the air with the stench of ozone. Past the hulking frame of the Stormclad she saw a Stormblade officer barking orders as a man in full naval regalia was escorted along the deck towards the bow of the ship. Obviously the Cygnarans were not all tucked up in their hammocks as she’d hoped. Through the other Stalker’s eyes she glimpsed the Satyxis and their enemy, more Stormblades. Several combatants had fallen on both sides, but the raiders were severely outnumbered and would not endure for long.
Skarre knew the opportunity, if it existed at all, was now. Summoning all of the power of her blood magic she manipulated the fate and chances of her ‘jacks, herself and several of the enemy, including the Stormclad and the Stormblade officer. She broke into a full sprint and urged the Stalkers to do the same. The bonejack with her in the cabin dodged past the Stormclad just ahead of her as they ran through the doorway. The enemy warjack swung with both blade and fist, but they didn’t connect as Skarre and her ‘jack sped past towards their prey. The ogrun began to hammer against the Stormclad, but their blows barely dented its formidable armour. When her magics wore off it would not take long for it to dispatch them. The Stalker on the quarterdeck ran through a dozen Stormblades and again their weapons failed to connect as it anticipated every swing.
As Skarre ran along the deck the Stormblade officer attempted to strike her with his storm glaive, but she guided the keen edge of Takkaryx between the soldier’s armour, easily felling him. Captain Bray was still some distance away and she feared reinforcements would soon emerge from below decks. Again she focussed her will, this time sending a bolt of arcane energy towards him. It struck him squarely on the shoulder and he staggered. The Stalker beside her accelerated forward and was practically on top of him as he stumbled to the deck. It sunk its Eviscerator into his chest just as Skarre slid to a halt beside them. She panted and looked upon him as the last of his life energies departed. “There must be something very interesting in that head of yours”, she said kneeling beside him and cleanly removing it from his body. Several shots deflected off her power field as a number of gun mages loosed shots at her and the Stalker. She sent the bonejack towards them as she turned to quickly return to the rowboat.
Even without its controller the Stormclad had finished off the orgun and she guided the other Stalker to engage and harass it. Stormblade infantry piled down the steps from the quarterdeck; the Satyxis must all be dead. She sent a rain of caustic blood magic towards them and continued her run towards the cabin door, where the Stormclad swung ineffectively towards the Stalker. Stormblades on the stairs began to succumb to the corrosive effects of her magic, but the doorway was now completely blocked by the Cygnaran ‘jack. With a good deal of her focus she guided the Stalker fighting it to strike rapidly. The Stormclad turned slightly to bring its buckler up to deflect the blows presenting the narrowest of openings to her. She dove past the fighting machines through the doorway and slid along the floor of the Captain’s quarters, all the while clutching its former occupants head.
As she came to the window she tossed the prize down to the awaiting ogrun and then rapidly repelled down one of the ropes dangling there. “Go”, she ordered and the ogrun pushed off. The Skarlock again drew on her magics to protect them as Skarre sat down and took up oars in her hands. As she began to row she looked through the eyes of her Stalkers. The one engaged with the Stormclad was now badly damaged, obviously having taken a hit from the enemy ‘jack. The other had sliced through several gunners, but the Stormblades now closed rapidly on it. They had fought effectively, allowing her to secure what Terminus sought. As they rowed away from the embattled vessel the Widower emerged from behind the headland and Skarre heard the distinctive and comforting report of her guns just as the cannon balls flew overhead. Again she allowed herself to look through the eyes of the last remaining Stalker as the projectiles smashed into the enemy vessel, wreaking havoc. She realised she was grinning again.