Staring at the remains of what was once Gamaro base, a several mile long husk of a long dead tortoise now split into several pieces by the combined attacks and sabotage of the IEN, Korgesh unconsciously tightened the leather straps on his gauntlets. It had been only a month since the pair of armada and fleet of man-o-war's had attacked, but due to his natural aptitude for command, the black furred scro had already begin to plan a strike. What remained of his fleet still surrounded him, a dozen scorpion ships, a nautiloid, a score of goblin arrow fighter craft, and the pride of his black heart—six deadly metal mantis ships.
Several stirge ships were due back any day, having been contacted via magic before they had left the sphere, as was a pair of ogre mammoths, having been sent almost immediately to a nearby mining asteroid to procure more ogres. There had been many ogres onboard gamaro base, but when push came to shove and it had been apparent the base would fall, Korgesh's grand captain of the guard evacuated the base, starting with the most important residents of course—the scro. Already the stirge ships had been assigned new missions, the small ships returning to salvage what they could from the debris so that the engineers on board—some of the finest in the entire armed forces, by the light of Dukagsh—could take enough supplies to build several outposts deep in enemy territory. The stirge had a decent amount of firepower, and an incredible amount of room inside for such a small vessel, but efficient in more ways than one each crewmember shared his bunk with two others, a hot bunk approach, with onboard warpriests using magic to refresh the air, providing enough scro for their missions.
Unfortunately, as his Battlewagon had finally been fully repaired, Korgesh would not be able to personally salute each and every marine going on the missions, something he prided himself on doing not only for morale, but so that he if no one else may remember their sacrifice should they die. Only just recovered from his injuries himself—or more specifically from the painful and unholy way his kindred/master Targis had returned him to life—Korgesh could not afford any extra time to satisfy his whims. The elves had believed their armada, The Way, provided them with not only a means of escape but an incredible advantage over the scro, the mythal on board the gigantic ship opening a door into the astral plane to allow quick travel back whence they came, but in fact this had proved a great error on part of the elves—one planned by the scro.
It had taken some of the best warpriests within the fleet, several of which had to be sacrificed to the greater cause in distractions, to make the elves believe their other armada—The Fate—had been destroyed. In actuality, almost two dozen warpriests and crimson blades, the mightiest of scro assassins, had teleported on board and cause the ship to drift out of the battle. It took almost 50 scro warpriests to work in unison to cast the illusion, or place the appropriate darkness spells on the enemies ships that were not heavily engaged in combat. From many of the elven man-o-war's it simply appeared that space blackened, a darkness their pathetic infravision could not penetrate, while from others, and the other elven armada, it appeared as if The Fate itself exploded in a gigantic fireball. All of it had been planning within only ten minutes, as soon as Korgesh had been brought back from the dead he commanded from a bed almost too weak to talk, but it worked, and the spies Korgesh had been able to place aboard The Way as it left the ruins of Gamaro base had magically reported back that the elves thought the ship lost.
Of course, it wasn't really.
The lie had been further perpetrated, of course, by the common scro tactic of either teleporting or boating across a ton of smokepowder just to see the explosion, but more-so by the way in which the warpriests who had gone aboard The Fate went about their grizzly business. They had attacked sporadically, making it look like there were only a handful or more of them aboard, just enough for the battlewizard of the armada to notify The Way that they had intruders on board. Most of the work would have been done by the crimson blades—if enough warpriests had been seen together in one place by accident it would have spoiled the ruse—and Korgesh already regretted letting Captain Vashen lead his force of killers aboard, his abilities would be greatly missed.
The fate that Vashen would have shared with the crew of the armada was a ghastly one, but it had been necessary sacrifice, as only the warpriests that Vashen's forces kept concealed once aboard would have been able to safely teleport several of the destructive Witchlight Marauders on board.
Korgesh wished wildspace was not quite so empty, so at least some of the screams of the elves might have echoed to his ears, but those same screams would have echoed in the pointy ears of those tricked by the magic in the first place.
"Let us hope that at least there were a couple of worthy warriors amongst their crew, dear Velnik, that they may have actually survived long enough for us to have some sport when we get there—although you don't particularly like the sport, do you Velnik. It reminds you too much of your youth perhaps? Or is it that you do not get to taste of the elven flesh? Answer truthfully, and I may even grant you a boon next time". The little goblin polishing Korgesh's breastplate continued his work while he listened, it had taken a long time for him to be trained to do two things at once. His head tilted when he considered his own response, his hands still busily shining the black iron armour of his lord.
"The flesh lord, the flesh it is divine".
Korgesh smiled at the little goblin, an aide he had put much work into to bring up to the grade of the scro aides back on the homeworld, and decided that if the little green imp managed to stay alive long enough, he may even grant that boon yet.
Three score scro warriors slammed their fists to their chests simulataneously as Korgesh entered the room, the slap of leather echoing in the deep hall. An altar to Dukagsh at one end, and a huge war table in the middle, Korgesh mentally reminded himself to suggest to the other admirals they modify their own Battlewagons similarly, it made for such a perfect war room, and truly reminded the younger warriors what they were fighting for. The warpriests bowed to him, although somewhat hesitantly as always, and he made another mental note to keep one of them behind and kill them in the name of Dukagsh, for not respecting the scros only rule over warpriests that the admirals such as he receive appropriate respect.
Velnik took his place on the little stool by the door, Korgesh's black cloak folded carefully in his lap. The thick material although folded came up almost to the goblins chin, but yet as was his duty he pulled out a small flute, made out of bone, and began to play the notes he knew so well. The large doors were pulled closed by the scro guards outside, the small hole in the wall by the goblins head the only contact now with the outside as Korgesh began to inspect his troops. He made a point of looking over each one in great detail, looking straight into their eyes giving them the respect they deserved, but not budging and inch of his strict disciplinary rule. When a breastplate was even one quarter of an inch out of place, he slugged them in the stomach, and if a bootstrap was not secured fast he did almost the same—but instead of the ring of metal upon metal left them with a very sore and broken jaw.
Of course it would heal quickly, as each jaw no doubt had a dozen times since each joined the military. Korgesh had always kept a record of his own injuries, something he truly considered trophies, and had broken his own jaw thirty six times. He was as untainted as any of these scro before him, being a puritan like his father before him and several other admirals in the fleet, who despised the thought of even ogre blood in a true scro warriors veins—a scro did not need strength by mixed blood, not when their hearts and bodies were as they were now.
That and the impurities of orcs came back into the bloodlines easily with such mixings, and no scro, puritan or not, could stand the thought of such.
Moving from warrior to warrior, taking as always the same amount of time as his aide did between signal notes on his pipe, Korgesh eventually came halfway through, several of the warriors on the ground clutching their abdomens weakly but otherwise a good inspection. Something he had not expected until much later in the meeting grabbed his attention, as Velnik played the note that signaled he had an important message. Ordering a captain to continue the inspection, Korgesh turned and made for the aide, returning after a brief talk to his inspection of the remaining warriors, passing several gritting their teeth in new pain.
Velnik passed a note back through the hole in the wall—as none in the chamber were allowed to speak unless given appropriate permission—signaling the guards to let the new-comers in. The doors swung open within a moment, and two dozen more scro stomped into the room, soft leather boots and armour in contrast to the hard, blackened studded leather most in the room wore, and lined up opposing the three units already inside. All of them saluted Korgesh in unison, and dropped to one knee, the two sergeants and captain several feet in front of their marines. The strange designs on the unit emblems no doubt gave several of the warpriests questions they would not ask, but not a single of the warriors in the room so much as breathed any different, as was befitting.
"Captain Lekahn, of the 22nd unit, stand, and for these warpriests who do not know you introduce your unit." Korgesh said with a wry smile, folding his large arms across his chest in the typical superior pose he took when demanding respect.
"Admiral Korgesh, I thank you for this honour, as you well know it has been almost 10 standard months since my unit bore a name and insignia to be seen, and by Dukagsh it is an honour to finally reveal it. I am Captain Lekahn, son of Captain Velarr, son of Captain Arekkh. Rise Sergeant Char, and Sergeant Korre, and rise members of the 22nd Winged Death squad." Came the reply. One of the warpriests who before bowed with little haste seemed about to speak, but remembered himself and his location, although he gave a concerned look to the archmagi of the group.
"Tell us, Captain Lekahn, you are early, I take it things are going as expected, or better?"
"My Admiral, things are going so well that surely Dukagsh himself has his tusk inside our hearts, and his hatred within our eyes. The training is completed, and the exercises against the hobgoblin and bugbears were a complete success, not a single casualty on our part. All that needs be done now is to take appropriate measurements and introduce the warpriests to the wyverns so tha-"
Suddenly the captain was cut off, as the insolent warpriest of before stepped forward in an outrage. "Admiral Korgesh, are we to understand this 'captain', and I use the term loosely, and his unit are riders of wyverns? Those foul beasts infest out homeworld's moon, and have a voracious appetite for anything not of their own kind, and often care little enough for that rule. They are psychotic by all means of the word, they cannot possibly be trained, even from birth warpriests have been trying for almost several hundred years with the aid of magic no less and are unable. By Dukagsh there is no way in all the spheres that this soft leathered fool could do it!".
Korgesh, as usual very calm and very logic, merely turned to the warpriest. "Captain, what was the mortality rate of the seven scorpions we used for your test runs?"
"96% sir, it seems the breeding program has strengthened the effectiveness of the wyverns poison as planned, more so than the 85% mortality rate predicted. For those here who are not aware, normal wyvern poison has but a 65% mortality rate amongst the same subjects we used for experimentation. We even made sure the bugbears and hobgoblins were of the same breeding, to ensure no random luck, and the insectare priests aiding us assu-"
Again the captain was cut off, the warpriest, whom Korgesh remembered was named Blahk, stormed forward stopping but half a foot from the captain, and bellowed at him. "Insectare? How dare you insult the holy of Dukagsh by involving lesser faiths, let alone such a scheming bunch of bugs as the insectare?" The warpriest spun on his heel and stalked similarly to Korgesh, remembering at the last minute to stop at a respectful distance, but rallied his courage and spoke in almost the same tone and volume. "You knew of this? You allowed members of a race not to be trusted in the slightest know of a plan that you seem to have hidden from even Dukagsh's own warpriests? What impudence is this 'Admiral', that would have you lord over our rights as warpriests!"
"Your rights as warpriests", Korgesh replied, "have very little to do with any of this. The insectare clerics of Klikral know a great deal more about poison than you, or any of your fellow warpriests, and also they know better than you could comprehend the ideal of chain of command, and of secrecy. Had you known, for instance, I swear by Dukagsh you would have run blabbing to the archmage, let alone a dozen other warpriests within minutes. Do not call my actions impudent, priest, lest I show you how truly impudent and disrespectful I can be to the faithful of Dukagsh, and cause myself the pain of a dozen lashings."
The wrathful warpriest backed off slightly, glaring at the captain and refusing to meet the gaze of Korgesh. The sergeants of the unit were having a hard time of not grinning broadly, both knowing that the warpriest had likely sealed his fate, but Lekahn glared back at the warpriest, his eyes glowing the phosphorescent green of hatred so common to scro, especially when their honour and achievements were in question, let alone outright ridiculed. He straightened his uniform slightly, the dark brown leather not unlike that of his units' mounts quite on purpose, and stood again in silent anger.
"Captains Chajak, Fahar, Onor, step forward" ordered Korgesh, "You three and your units will be escorting the 22nd on its mission. All marines apart from the 22nd will be outfitted with second class magical equipment, including double normal healing potions, and an extra special bonus. So rarely have the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd units been to be sent on a mission together, that not only do I want to make it a certainty that you shall return—I wish to express my own esteem for the four units standing in this room, and each warrior will be bestowed with a greater heroism potion, the same as my own grand guard's carry around their necks. Practice the maneuver of drinking them profusely on the way to your objective, grabbing a vial on a chain at your neck and smashing it in your fist, and then drinking the contents without spilling a drop nor ingesting too much glass is a skilled art."
"Said objective is also a very special target, one that will be spoken of in tales of our victory over the elves for hundreds of years to come. What we are about to take, honoured of Dukagsh, is a target of almost unlimited strategic import to us. Where you are about to go will make you the envy of ever marine in all of time, as you strike not the first blow to the elves hearts, but drive an iron steak deep into that heart, shake it around while looking deep into the elves' eyes, raise it to your muzzle and savour both the smells and flavour within, all without the elves' knowing until their corpses lie on the ground, lifeless pale husks."
"You are to take the elven armada The Fate from the witchlight marauders we stowed aboard it while we made it appear to be destroyed. With this armada we will have control of a mythal of the elves own creations, one which will grant us the ability to cloak almost a hundred warships constantly."
"Would but I was stronger I myself would lead you to battle in the name of Dukagsh. I shall be content from watching from my Battlewagon, through a scrying device. Of course, if there are any elven survivors, my right as Admiral gives me first choice."
The room was dead silent, the warpriests in the room shocked with disbelief, the warriors elated with the bloodlust their leader's words placed in their hearts. The only sound to be heard by any in the room, excluding the goblin who had long since lost the use of his hearing to the available range, the timed noted of the signal flute giving the status of the ship.
His bearing strong, the pride showing in his face, and his own remarkably youthful eagerness for the coming mission, Korgesh turned and walked to the end of the room. Kneeling before the statue of Dukagsh, saluting it and bowing his head, he worked a secret set of buttons at its base, opening a cache holding a large steel chest. Pulling the chest out, he picked it up, almost groaning from something he still was not truly strong enough for, and walked it to the large table. He pulled a large key from one of two chains at his neck, and unlocked the lid, throwing it back with an incredibly loud thump against the thick wooden table. As he began calling his warriors, starting alphabetically through the entire four units without any sort of discrimination for rank, he recalled the first time a band of scro had charged aboard an elven armada during this war, almost four years ago in the sphere of frontier when he himself had been but a general.
Saluting each and every soldier, calling them by their full birthright name as he did so, he remembered the first time he had truly felt regret, wishing he had found a way to take the armada fully with such a small force, instead of detonating it with all the smoke powder he and his small crew had snuck aboard. Most of the smile on his tusky muzzle as he saluted Captain Lekahn and handed him the potion and black iron chain was truly his pride in the moments to come, but also in memory of Captain Lekahn helping him when he found the large, solid piece of decking floating amongst that first armada's debris, which now served as his war table. Grown from the largest trees in the known spheres, and placed within the starfly most likely fifteen hundred years past, the foot thick wood had come up perfectly under the saw and polish, more artful than either scro could have imagined. It had taken the two of them two years, between missions, promotions, and demotions due to Lekahn's miserable failure in the aquaspace incident—but it had been well worth it. Lekahn bowed his head as Korgesh placed the chain around his long-time friends neck, and saluted stronger than he ever had, the looking in each scro's eyes speaking more than could ever be known.
Once the last of the warriors had been outfitted with their equipment, the potions being the first and most honourable item to be bestowed with, made with the blood of Korgesh himself. Armour, weaponry, and even wands for the captains and sergeants followed, the latter items set in gauntlets to keep them on hand, and prevent them being wrenched away in combat like the scro had done to many an elven battlewizard. Finally the defensive brooch's and rings were distributed to the captains, as were the magical starwheel pistols of which only a dozen were given to each fleet. While each captain now wore a wand in the back of their left gauntlet, something not likely to be disrupted by any opposition, the pistols carried the same power, but with an extra enchantment that if need be they could be used in a captain's off hand, allowing him freedom of movement and action in time when normally the wand would need all his concentration.
A salute went around the room as Korgesh dismissed the warpriests, refusing to answer their silent questions. He and every marine in the room watched the haughty warpriests leave, but none but he expected him to call to one of them by name, the insolent warpriest of earlier turning hearing the call.
With a loud wet thunk Korgesh's hand axe buried itself in the warpriests' chest, and the metal of its blade could be heard to hit the ground as the corpse fell on its back. Without turning the archmagi of the warpriests waved a hand ordering the two guards from outside to remove the body, and he and his compatriots walked away from the room without a second thought.
Lekahn, meanwhile, silently praised Dukagsh that at least this archmage and his underlings, who Korgesh had assigned to the mission before distributing the starwheels, seemed to understand a little better than the now dead Blahk.
"Admiral, we have entered orbit around the body. It's size C, a fireworld, and we have taken up a position approximately twenty thousand miles from its orbital ring, also fire. Detectors are showing no other signs of spelljamming craft, and lookouts report all seems quiet on the decks of the armada. Mantis ships Herald and Claimant are on approach, their salvage and docking gear in order. The Herald reports a couple of the kobold lookouts have become uncontrollable and had to be put down, but the charm spells are keeping the rest in line. Helmsman reports there is mild debris in the area, nothing significant, but do you wish the debris signal sounded?"
Korgesh turned to the Grand Guard and captain of his battlewagon. "No, light debris is nothing any good marine cant handle, and shouldn't get used to. Check with the lookouts on the 22nd, I want to know how the wyverns are handling the heat—they are without the magical protection we have here, at least for the moment. Oh, and one other thing, have cook prepare a nice meal of venison tonight, I feel like dining over victory."
With a salute the Grand Guard Captain spun on his heels and left the bridge of the large boar-like ship, passing several rooms down the corridor and then leaning into one to give orders to the helmsman. Korgesh had moved the helm, another self-deduced enhancement to the battlewagons design, so that he did not have to put up with war priests when he did not want to, and also to make it a bit harder to target the command of the ship at once. Standing near the large window he looked casually at the large painting on the wall, a level that would drop an inch thick of iron across the doors and windows at a moments notice if the need arose, concealed behind a painting of several elven women being raped by scro. A burning village in the background added to the scene, the Grand Guard Captain was certainly showing talent.
Several minutes passed and word came back that the wyverns were faring quite well, and seemed to be enjoying the heat immensely. It gave Korgesh ideas, and he had Velnik take down some notes on the idea of crossing a firedrake with a wyvern—their pleasure at the heat could be a sign their bodies would tolerate the firedrakes exquisitely flammable blood. While the goblin scribbled away in the small notebook Korgesh paced, and watched the wyverns as little more than specks against the fiery backdrop of the planet below. He saw the glow as the warpriests cast their mana sail spells, incredible magic they had stolen from that armada in frontier that allowed the elves to conjure temporary magical sails. The scro high command, and the Chosen of Dukagsh himself did not like mana sails in the least, there were too many things that could go wrong, but in this instance they had approved the use of the spells, as all it basically did was speed up the wyverns to true tactical spelljamming speed.
Right about now, if things were going by plan as they typically did, the pilot and two weaponeers on each wyvern would be hearing the warpriests prayer spells to Dukagsh, while said weaponeers loaded their metallic ballistae, small on board a ship but known collectively as maulers due to their immense size amongst troops. Another note came into Korgesh's head, and he had Velnik write another side note regarding the use of metal weaponry in such cases near fire bodies. If the metal became to hot without adequate protection, it could easily start a fire in a small air envelope such as the wyvern's, but it seemed Dukagsh was with them this day because the armada was drifting with its upper half away from the fire planet. It made Korgesh think of a big beaten butterfly, floating over a flame, about to have its wings singed and then its body burst into flames. Not this butterfly though, if all went to standard plan they could have the armada cleared and ready for helm insertion within sixteen hours. The larger helm they had bought from the spheres Arcane reperesentative had better prove worth the immense amount of gold.
But with gamaro base gone, there had been little place to store it.
Lekahn watched as his sergeants, one forward to his right, the other in a similar position on the left, signaled back their wish to approach. He nodded to his pilot, Corporal Bagsh, who signaled back with the basic hand code they had improvised months earlier. Lekahn, not unlike Korgesh in many ways, preferred not to pilot the wyvern himself. Korgesh had not touched the wheel of a ship other than his boarding boat for several years now, planetside or not, and Lekahn missed the days of sailing during their academy years. It would be breathtaking to fly, one each upon a wyvern, out here with his Admiral and fellow Captains, but he knew that with rising rank came the loss of the simple pleasures, such as piloting duty, or even the cooking of meals.
Of course, it was different if one was cooking an elf.
The two wyverns ahead slowly rotated to match the armada, which was moving very little in of itself. The other two, at orders relayed again through Bagsh, took up orbiting positions. Their warpriests each removed a spyglass and began studying the deck and body of the armada not only for signs of the witchlight marauders, but for elves, any damage, and landing positions. Lekahn's wyvern, however, simply slowly cruised a tactical arm—the term commonly used to refer to a distance of 500 yards—behind the two sergeant's. After the sergeants relayed the cleanliness of the air envelope, and the all-clear came from all four scouts, Lekahn sent the order for Sergeant Char to take a position on the lower gravity plane, orbiting slightly outside the air envelope, while Korre was to do similar on the upper gravity plane. The warpriest on the back of Lekahn's wyvern, the same archmagi he had first met but a week before, relayed a magical message from the sixth and seventh wyvern, too far distant to be seen. While four of the wyverns orbited the armada, and Lekahn's own began its approach and descent, two more kept wider orbits some four tactical arms out, just in case the fire planet should hold any nasty surprises.
The freshness of the air hit Lekahn making his muzzle wrinkle in slight disgust. These elven ships always smelled so florally, why could the accursed ones not be content with bushes, shrubs, or even small trees in their space-borne gardens, insisting instead to fill them with roses, and hajkalls, and all manner of putrid smelling plants. Lekahn knew without a doubt that would have to be taken care of as soon as possible, the smell would have entrenched itself into the walls and decking of the armada, it might take months to work out.
"Land there Corporal, archmagi Durren and myself shall dismount first, incase of heavy magical attacks or traps, you will stay with the wyvern, while private Gahn will come with us. Keep in contact with the sergeants, and make sure you get my attention if anything happens."
With a "Yes sir" the scro at the front of the four, seated in the complex harness on the back of the wyvern pulled several of the reins in the descent order. The wyvern took a careful spiral down, its own nostrils flaring no doubt at the smell of elven blood left by the marauders, and carefully landed lightly upon the decking. It never ceased to amaze Lekahn that what had been a bunch of blundering, over-sized and clumsy bat winged creatures was now a graceful, and more importantly, silent insertion vehicle. He patted the thick hided beast on the side, and leapt down, his longsword in one hand, starwheel in the other. Checking several nearby doors, his movements mirrored by Private Gahn across the wyvern, he kept his starwheel raised and ready for action until he heard Durren's feet lightly touch the ground, the fool wasting magical energy on a levitation spell.
Such a waste cost approximately 15 gold, in itself not an incredible fortune, but should the other warpriests see Durren's actions they would no doubt mirror them, and as it was the fleet's expenditure on Mana Crystals, used to cast all magic save but that of the elves and a few other races, was rather high of late.
Holstering the starwheel, but keeping his longsword unsheathed, Lekahn signaled Gahn to open one of the doors, taking the other side. The archmage, again likely wasting energy on what would likely be a high end protection spell, simply stood twenty feet in front of the door, casually as if uncaring even should a tarrasque run through. Lekahn had always despised warpriests, they had a tendency to loose sight of the big picture, but this one was really starting to make his teeth itch.
Gahn peered into the gloom inside, and then moved in, a battle axe in his right hand, a lit torch in his left. Following, Lekahn saw a very trashed room, likely used for greeting dignitaries and other visitors to the armada, chairs and tables now in pieces, several torn pieces of chainmail (something the marauders could not digest) upon the floor. As the archmagi followed them in, Lekahn's suspicions were confirmed by a check if the inside of the door—light scratch marks from light elven fingernails painted a scene of being trapped inside in a panic, with a slavering and hungry marauder in pursuit. Lekahn smiled at the thought of some pathetic elven noble or captain screaming for help, screaming in his gods' name for the door to open, even though not a single flitter was docked on the decking outside, and escape would still not have come.
Passing the signal back to Bagsh that they were descending, Lekahn took the lead, and the private's torch, and descended a short flight of stairs. The silver-gilded railing was twisted, and melted in places, likely from magic thrown at pursuing marauders, while crunched and mangled from the same beasts' bites in others. Several doors in the large chamber led to small rooms off to the side, likely state rooms for visitors, and guard posts showed no signs of life but more scraps of chainmail, and the occasional light-elven sword. No marauder droppings were to be seen, which Lekahn noted almost immediately, so likely they had a trap set much further down, if they were not all dead already.
Passing down another set of stairs, they entered what had likely been The Fate's arboretum, large crystal walls running all the way around the eight pointed star- shaped room, almost 15 feet high. Several stumps of what may have been large fruit trees remained in very torn and abused soil, likely more food for the marauders. On large section of the crystal was cracked, Durren explaining the scorch marks as a lightning bolt, but the spiral staircase in the middle of the room was relatively untouched. Marauders had no intelligence, that had been established long ago shortly after their creation, but they had the instincts of a dragon, and knew that leaving the stairs alone would lead people further below. Lekahn signaled to Gahn that they were likely on the deck below, possibly clinging to the room where the gravity plane would now lie. A large piece of ballast had broken away from the bottom of the armada, and whereas the split in the ships gravity, where down became up and vice versa, would have been several decks lower, it was probably the next deck now.
Rolling up onto the next deck, the archmagi still standing on the other side of the gravity plane, upside down to them now, the two froze, weapons at the ready, expecting a fight. If the marauders had set a trap, there would likely only be three at most, they typically ate each other until the numbers were as low as that, small enough to be inconspicuous, but large enough to attack and survive. There was no activity, however, and Durren stepped through a dimension door spell (another waste of magic!) and now stood the 'right' way up. He made his way around the room, much smaller in comparison to the one above it, walking on what was meant to be the ceiling. This deck was much smaller, possibly only one quarter the diameter of the deck now below them, and had the same crystalline windows as the arboretum. Instead of the remains of trees and flowers, however, this room held a bar of sorts in one corner, and likely served the officers as their lounge in off-duty time. Elves had a nasty habit of putting themselves above others, including their own kind, and it was likely no one but officers and dignitaries had ever stepped foot into the room until this point.
Except for the witchlight marauders, who were clearly not here.
While the 'roof' of the room was fairly much designated, the elves had prepared for the worst for a change, and the staircase here was double sided, for such a gravitational emergency. Ascending further, Gahn in the lead, the three scro came up onto another deck, this time a grand hallway separating two halves of a deck a little bigger than the arboretum. From the size of the corridors and rooms, one side was obviously crews quarters, galley, and mess hall, while the other seemed to be officers quarters and storage. Within several minutes Lekahn had led his companions throughout the entire deck, encountering three stairwells further up, and eight weapons platforms, each set into one of the eight points of the star. Three ballistae and three catapults were in various states of dismemberment, as was one of those other new weapons—speed cannons or some such, the translation had given. One of the strange mechanisms that fired ceramic plates, sped through magic not unlike an accelerator, still had its gunner slumped over it, his face drawn, and armor in tact. If there were marauders here, maybe they had simply skipped him, or perhaps had become preoccupied with self annihilation before they noticed he was here—obviously he had died of starvation.
Lekahn would have preffered a death in space, than starvation. In place of the gunner, who had a mana crystal attatched to a leather thong around his neck, the scro Captain would have leapt from the alcove, attempting to reach the gravity plane and escape, or drift out into space to suffocate faster than starve. At least that way, ones enemies gained no information from ones death, but this elf had showed no such wisdom, no such thought. Imperial Navy indeed, more like a loose bunch of far too many chaotic scum elves.
The weapon, upon inspection by Durren, was salvageable, and Lekahn left a small red flag pinned to the door to catch the attention of anyone on salvage duty, and then pulled it closed as he found it. There was point to coming back for the gun, from the archmagis words of their power, they could melt a hole straight through a mantis' armour—something they would do twice if not three times as easily upon the starfly plants the elves made their ships from. The mount the weapon was held in, as well, was intriguing—it was a large group of concentric iron bands, allowing it to rotate in several different angles. Likely it normally did it by magic, but in this instance the gravity change had caused it to move.
Checking a couple of final spots on the deck, the three came into the officers mess hall, tables and chairs strewn about what should have been the roof, and spotted another exit downwards. Unlike the previous three, which had been blocked either by furniture or great damage to the armada, this was cleared, and obviously the last way to continue. By the looks of the strange wheel contraption in the wall this was the point where the gravity was meant to change, many humans and elves could not bring themselves to swing up on the ram rings like normal spacefarers, and so had created large wooden wheels that they could rotate through the gravity plane upon. Now the wheel stood still, its wood cracked and charred in spots, a railing around the stairwell, hanging from what to Lekahn's perspective was the roof, provided an ascending passage to the next deck.
As Lekahn was about to ascend, he heard a noise behind him. Spinning, his longsword up in an instant, he barely blocked the arm blade of a marauder as it leaped at him. The thing was as wide as an ogre, but only as tall as the scro himself, and had no head to speak of. A carapace covered its body, obviously thick from the few cuts and chunks taken out of it, and from this carapace, at the end of each of its arms, protruded three foot long bone blades, looking as sharp as any steel Lekahn had ever wielded. Within seconds another dropped from the room above, sending the captain sprawling through debris, and a third leaped out of a cupboard and landed on top Gahn. Durren's mana crystal flashed brightly as the arcane syllables flowed from his muzzle, and a barrage of magic missiles stung into the carapace of Gahn's attacker, barely distracting it.
Lekahn, on the other hand, had regained his footing. He took quick appraisal of the situation, and threw out his wand gauntlet, shouting the command word. With a visible and violent shimmering in the air, the marauder on Gahn was thrown across the room back into the cupboard it had hidden within, smashing it into so much tinder. At the same time, the two marauders left standing rushed forward, swinging their blade arms at Durren, who did not even flinch at their approach.
Maybe it had not been such a waste of magic for the archmagi to cast a protective spell.
Durren threw his hands out again, this time a ball of light forming between them and flashing out in an instant. It slammed a marauder in the chest, and instantly the beast turned into a pillar of stone. The terrifying instinct of the other marauder tipped it off to Durren's magical protection, and so instead of continuing to hack uselessly at him it leapt into the air, doing a somersault, and landing on top of the mage, slamming him winded on his back. Lekahn dared not use his gauntlet again, to risk a spell on a marine was one thing, but never upon an archmage, and ran up, shouldering into the marauder. He felt his shoulder dislocate on one of the slightly jagged protrusions of the beasts chitinous hide, but was rewarded when he and the beast rolled off the archmage and tumbled through debris. His head slammed into an iron pot, sending a ringing through the room and his head, and for seconds all he could do was hold his sword out as he lay on the ground, unable to see, too stunned to act. His eyes and his head snapping back together he saw the marauder standing over him, and bellowed a feral roar, lancing his longsword up into its stomach as it would bring its blade down upon him.
His blade hit it at the wrong, and deflected, his doom seemed imminent.
Until he realized the beast was not moving.
Pushing backwards he stood to see Durren place his mana crystal on the chain around his neck back under his robe, the warpriest pleased that he had stoned the last marauder. Lekahn walked over to the other beast in the cupboard ruins, finding it utterly motionless, a large and very jaggedly snapped wooden bulkhead growing out of its chest. Unfortunately, Gahn was as still as fungus, and Lekahn's ungauntleted hand felt for a pulse but found none. Shaking his head at Durren, the archmage simply turned and seemed not to care, approaching once more the stairwell up.
Korgesh sat at a table, this made of the carapace of an elven spirit warrior, eating a dinner of venison with the rich black gravy only his cook seemed to be able to achieve. His hands held the large knife and fork gently, and the whole scene would make any elf commander laugh heartily at first sight, but watching the scro gently carve the meat and sip his wine and the intense look on his face as he watched the circling wyverns out the window would quickly change their mind. Thumbing the dent in the side of his goblet, caused when most of the roof of his inner sanctum aboard gamaro base had been destroyed by a crashing man-o-war, he smiled at the thought of Lekahn finding several nice elven commanders, and perhaps even a few of those battlewizard bitches.
A small speck on the gravity plane of the armada, some thousand yards away, caught his attention. Lowering his meat-laden fork and goblet, he wiped his muzzle on a nearby towel and strode to the window. Raising the gold gilded spyglass from his belt, he slowly homed in on the object, his muzzle twisting in a snarl. The body of the archmagi Durren was bobbing up and down in the gravity, drifting leaving a trail of blood behind it. This meant two things—firstly, there were elves left aboard of sufficient power to take out the warpriest, and secondly, that they had the staunch to taunt him by throwing the body outside, hence the blood trail behind it instead of away. Having cut the throats of many elven commanders and thrown them overboard, Korgesh knew for a fact that the blood and lighter fluids always seemed to drift out faster, and had Durren simply fallen accidentally, or even pushed Lekahn far enough for the captain to kill him, the trail would not be as it was.
Then with an even harder snarl, he noticed the other object. Calling upon the magic within the spyglass, as it was too small to determine specifics without it, Korgesh took in the sight of his captain, and friend's head, floating decapitated shortly behind the archmagi.
With a roar the spyglass flew across the room, smashing glass and twisted metal all that remained as it dropped to the floor.
The scro stormed out of the room, barking orders to the scampering goblin aide following. The captains of the other three units aboard the battlewagon snapped to attention, leaping back from the table they were studying the armada's refit plans upon. "Lekahn and Durren are dead. There are elves, possibly many, get your men together at once, the missions objective has been superceded by that of intense, violent bloodshed. No Quarter!"
The three saluting in unison and shouting the pledge long ago begun by Dukagsh, they spun and stalked from the room not unlike Korgesh, the only difference their quiet commands to their sergeants who sat playing cards at a table in the room outside. Within but a quarter of an hour the unit was primed and ready for boarding, their engineers equipment replaced with that of war—axes, swords, and spears. Their black studded leathers showed signs of great care as the three units lined up in front of the docking boats in the battlewagons hold, their sergeants preparing the boats for launch while the captains went over the plan with Korgesh.
"Attention" came the cry from one of the warriors, as the four commanding scro stormed into the room. Each warrior could almost feel the rage and anger coming from their Admiral, and all knew that the captain and he had been long standing friends. The long depth of their relationship was not known, but that they sparred together on several occasions was more than enough to show Korgesh's respect for his friend. His now dead friend.
Korgesh himself stalked straight to one of the boarding boats, snapping his fingers and bringing his goblin aide scurrying out of the shadows of the room to follow. The three captains stopped in front of the group of warriors and ordered each unit to take another craft, the 001st to split itself half between Korgesh's vessel and the one normally allocated to them. No questions were asked, and no answers were given, but like a machine the three units moved, boots stamping in unison, grabbing weapons from the nearby readied racks that had earlier held tools. Weapons of destruction in favour of tools of construction, it took but five minutes for the craft to be loaded and ready for takeoff. The 002nd and 003rd left first, heading out along a wide trajectory, their sails and rudders locked into positions while magic items within placed globes of darkness around them to conceal their prescence. Korgesh, piloting his own craft he had fashioned himself, saw the stars flicker as the two now cloaked units made their approach, and sent his own craft, following the other in front, toward the armada.
Standard procedure has dictated the landing of the 001st's second craft before Korgeshs, to prevent suicide attacks against an officer of his standing, but both craft landed without incident, and the scro poured out. Crossbows in hand, the warriors and sergeants swarmed over the landing deck. No sign could be seen of the wyvern now, the elves apparently using their own illusions to make it appear all was well on the deck from afar, which warned Korgesh and the 001st's captain Chajak that not only were the elves attempting to conceal their numbers and abilities, but that they had studied scro signals long enough to fake the replies the corporal left with the beast would have made. After a standard search of the decking was complete, the unit descended into the armada, passing through room after room, the arboreum, and the room where a battle with three marauders had been fought. One scro lay dead here, but it was obvious any battle enough to fell Durren and Lekahn would have left much more devastation, and so as they had already passed the gravity plane the only action left was to go up.
But the elves would be expecting that.
Korgesh signaled with his hands, sending several warriors to fetch a wide but short cupboard in an area of the room that had taken little damage. With as little noise as possible they hoisted it onto their shoulders and ran it across the room stopping below the stairs above, where they braced one end against a crack in the floor that had been the roof. They lifted the other end of the cupboard, which was some 20 feet long in width, back upon their shoulders, several of them kneeling and others stretching their arms to the full extent, and with another hand signal half of the 001st scrambled up the makeshift ramp into the room above.
It took but seconds for the scro to run up, and for several seconds no sound could be heard after their footsteps ceased. About to signal for a flare to be thrown up, Korgesh froze in mid-signal, as almost a dozen scro heads rolled down the ramp, some making it to the end to pile at the feet of the warriors guarding there, others rolling off the edge before hand and settling in the ruins of the room. Quickly making the hand signal for magic enemies, Korgesh backed off slightly as did his warriors. At yet another signal two of the warriors came forward the kneel near the severed heads, ignoring them completely, while one lit a fuse and the other removed his backpack. Stuffing one end of the fuse in the pack, one of them yelled "Fire in the Hole!" as he threw the backpack, and leaped over debris to take cover. An enormous explosion rocked the deck above, and for several seconds all was quiet, until the second fuse burnt through the small hole into the backup charge, wrapped to protect itself from going off in the initial detonation, yet exploding with more destruction than the first.
The silver-armoured body of an IEN officer, this a female elf with long platinum hair, rolled down the ramp, most of hear head and back ruined from the second charge. As was typical for the elves, they had underestimated the scro and come out from their cover, expecting there would be but one explosion. Korgesh lead the group with a warcry as he ran up the ramp into the room above, his hate-filled eyes taking in the four more dead elves who had moved forward—one in the robes of a battle-wizard. With a pause of thought to take in the field of battle, but no loss of stride, he faced the elven cleric thirty feet in front of him, whose face was burnt and singed from the fireball, and more than a little stunned. An elven warrior on each side of the cleric slipped with agility in front, an axe soon planting itself in each of their chests as Korgesh threw them from almost fifteen feet away. The cleric's face still showed a look of shock and disbelief as Korgesh flew feet first at him, a hairy and clawed scro foot breaking his neck, sending him flying backwards near the bodies of his protectors, almost another ten feet down the corridor.
Sounds of magic from behind, the admiral picked himself back up and ran for his axes, lifting them and the elven bodies still attatched, the latter being flung off with a flick of each of his powerful wrists. Spinning he saw the walls on either side of the passage had disappeared, revealing roughly half a dozen elven bladesingers who now battled the marines following his charge. Passwall, he thought, a clever idea, but we Scro know how to get through walls as well. Backing up slightly to the nearby wall, he charged for a section of wood already damaged by the satchel explosion, and broke straight through it, surprising the elves inside the room. An elven wizard stood not five feet away, preparing to cast a lightning bolt out into the marines. He now turned on Korgesh, who stood between the elven mage and the bladesingers, and threw his hands out to strike the scro with the spell, only to find at the last second the admiral dove out of the way further into the room—leaving the lightning bolt to burst through several bladesingers, felling one of them. As Korgesh sprang back up he backhanded the mage into one wall, continuing to spin and then planting an axe square into the elf's stomach—killing him in one massive blow that nearly tore him in half, and destroying the magic of one of the passwall spells.
The scro marines barely flinched when the wall came back into view, now supporting half a scro sticking out on their side, and the other bladesingers arms and swords. From Korgesh's side, the scro was plainly dead, his head in the wall itself and likely destroyed, yet one of the bladesingers screamed in agony, trying to wrench his shoulder and left leg out of the wall. With another mighty swing of an axe, the elf felt silent, his head rolling onto the floor.
With that room emptied, the admiral stepped through his self-made door back into the hall, finding all the marines there on the ground, mostly dead, and an elven battlepoet—their highest ranking wizard/clerics—standing in their midst. The cuts and slashes on their bodies denoted a blade barrier spell, although how it could have done the damage so instantly was beyond Korgesh, and the elf was surrounded by the glows of various protective magics. The two smiled at each other, the elf having decimated half a dozen scro with one spell and without weakening himself at all, Korgesh at the sudden thought in his head.
With a stamp of his foot on one end of a dislodged floorboard, the scro sent the impudent elf straight into the air, with such force as to break the wood of the decking above, the mage trapped at his neck, legs flailing wildly. The board fell back into place as several missiles came streaking from past the battle- poet, slamming Korgesh in the chest hard. Spying a trio of bladesingers at the other end of the hall, near the ramp he had come up, Korgesh grinned and charged, slamming the spike on top of his right-hand axe into the groin of the trapped elf, without loosing a stride.
Korgesh had fought bladesingers before, and knew their markings well to guess their ranks. Unfortunately, he had picked the wrong passwall to destroy, considering here was the leader of what was obviously the armada's 'singers, and two of his most apt pupils. A tattoo of a wolf could be seen on the upper blade-arm of each, no armour covering an area they could defend with their sword quite well, causing a slight smirk to overcome the admirals face as he stood in battle stance before them. Blade's whistling in the air, slight confusion came over their face as he spoke, perfectly fluently of course, in elven.
"In the wild of my homeland scum, the wolf is a powerful creature, second yet to one other."
The elves refused to banter, sliding forward to bring their blades to bear. The two pupils struck first, a blade coming at Korgesh from either side which he easily parried with his axes, then the masters blade swinging close to the scro's stomach. Spinning on his foot Korgesh sent a round house kick straight into the elf's breastplate, sending the master skittering away down the ramp. His pupils clearly afraid, one cast a protective spell on himself, while his companion attempted to plant a spell into Korgesh's chest.
The scro's last trump card worked, the concussive force of the lance of disruption turned back upon its caster and his friend, reflected by the enchantment cast by a warpriest back aboard the battlewagon but little time ago. The caster of the lance took the brunt of the damage, which was severe indeed, caving in his metal breastplate and sending him flying back onto a piece of sharp decking pointing up from the hull—impaling him through the neck and then ripping the flesh away as the body continued to fall. The elf on the other side, however, took but a small amount of the spell, and with one hand bracing himself against the wall only inches away from the protruding hand of a dead bladesinger, pushed himself back into a fighting position, both hands now grasping his blade defensively.
"Tell me before I kill you, pig orc, what beast rules your wolf" said the elf in ragged breaths, blood collecting at the corner of his mouth. His reply was a massive swipe from one of Korgesh's axes, collecting the sword and ripping it from his hands, while the butt of another axe slammed into his face to drop him to the ground, the scro spitting "I am not an ORC!"
The elf was not dead, but his nose was broken, and one of his eyes was shut in pain. Blood began to spread from behind his head as he lay on the floor, likely from some debris cutting him, and Korgesh turned to grab the elf's blade from where it had fallen. "Tell me" came the hoarse whisper from behind, underneath the sound the slight noise of the elf reaching for something, and as Korgesh turned back and speared the elf in the stomach with his own sword, the elf's lightning bolt went off right on the admirals chest, sending electricity surging through his body. Some magical backlash from the elf's protective spell also struck him, fire burning back up the arm that had thrown the spear, singing his thick hide as he fell to his back upon the ground.
Slowing his breath to better control himself, the scro stood once more, pulling a healing potion from his belt to pour upon his wounds from the spells. Clenching the teeth in his muzzle, a sneer of pain as the magic worked in his body showing his tusks, he closed his eyes and laughed internally at the joke, opening them to look down upon his freshly healed arm and the dead elf, replying but two words.
Having roused and, with potions, healed the five scro left alive from the battle, Korgesh sent a scout down the end of the hall, and then one either way to further explore the area. One returned dragging a cowering, babbling elven woman, yet another battle- wizard, and obviously the one who had cast the other passwall spell—as it still remained. Obviously she had fled when the battle had turned, or even perhaps at the beginning, who could tell with the spineless elves? The marine quickly bound her hands behind her back and gagged her, claiming his right to be the first to have her once they returned to the battlewagon, Korgesh nodding his approval. All of this, of course, was said in elven, and she thrashed wildly and had to be knocked out after hearing it.
Assuming the fight was over—the elves to arrogant and thinking they would not loose to have left behind saboteurs, Korgesh ordered his marines back to the battlewagon, himself trailing behind as something pulled at his memory. Many things about the battle flower through his mind—including the reasoning that the battle-poet he had given a pretty decking gorget had cast something akin to a time stop, one of the archmagi warpriests' favourite spells, and then thrown up a blade barrier with dimensions just right to decapitate and scare the scro. The passwalls had been an interesting tactic as well, yet he thought there should have been more of a fight from the bladesingers, and still felt he was missing something. By the time this thought crossed his fatigued mind, he was just exiting a large room, his marines and the captive elf in the halfway in front.
As such, he was not surprised, but angered, by the elven word "Die" being uttered behind him. All five of the marines and the elf dropped to the ground (the elf already unconscious) immediately, yet the admiral felt the spell had not caught him within its radius, and turned to see its caster.
The master bladesinger elf, the one element Korgesh had forgotten about stood there, a scroll slowly disintegrating from his hand. His other hand held his sword low, point resting on the ground, and he had discarded some of his armour for pure elven chainmal—likely magical.
Scro and elf stared into each others eyes, hatred from both, yet a logical summing up of the opponent occurring in each's mind. "My wife", commented the elf, earning a tilted head from Korgesh, "Better she die now than after the torture given her by your people".
A raised eyebrow from Korgesh was the only reply for moments, and then "You have strength elf, a shame I must take that away from you with your life. How shall we do this? Here? By sword? By fist?". The question hung in the air for moments, and slowly the elf's hand uncurled from the hilt of his blade, letting it clang to the floor.
A broad grin came over Korgesh's muzzle, as he began to remove his gauntlets, dropping them by his axes which he had leant against the wall. The elf began to remove his chainmail tunic, and so Korgesh removed his armour also, both soon stripped almost naked—one to his long elven underpants, the other to the shorts he wore under the padding for his armour. The two faced off, approaching to about ten feet apart, each picking that the other had received martial arts training of a sort—although where the scro received his from the elf did not know.
Slowly they circled, eyes locked together, muzzle in and mouth each in a snarl. The elf was the first to move, feigning a punch to Korgesh's muzzle, and then driving his other fist home into the scro's stomach. To the admirals surprise the punch bent him over slightly, the elf explaining between gritted teeth "My father was a sylvan elf" as his other hand uppercut the scro under the muzzle and sent him sprawling backward.
Rolling onto his stomach and pushing himself up quickly with his powerful arms, Korgesh spun and backhanded the elf in the face, feeling satisfaction as he felt bone crunch. He then continued his movement, catching the elf partially turned from the strength of the blow with a heavy kick to his back, sending him flying through the air to slam into the nearby wall. The elf, however, did not fall, and rolled his shoulders along the wall to face the scro again. Wiping blood from his mouth, several teeth coming out, neither opponent blinked as they glared at each other again, the elf remarkably steady on his feet for such a blow.
"You fight well elf, perhaps too well. Show your true form, prove my theory that you are more than you seem" said Korgesh, standing roughly fifteen feet away in the center of the room. A look of surprise slowly came over his face as the shadow made by the elf elongated and his opponent blocked the window and the sun, expanding into an eight foot tall insectoid, a large gem in its forehead, spines and claws protruding from its arms, knees, hands and feet.
"Bionoid" stated Korgesh.
The elves voice came out as the insectoid mouth moved, replying "yes, the one reason my wife and I never conceived. In forty years of marriage, we never made love once, for fear of begetting another like me. My shame will now take you to your death scro, and then I will use it to slay every last one of your crew until I cease to breathe".
He came at Korgesh in a rush, his clawed right hand clenching for a punch that sent the admiral flying as the elf had done when kicked, expect almost thrice the distance, but still into a wall. Korgesh slid to the floor, only one foot flat, the other leg concealing his hand as he reached below himself, breathing heavily while saying "all bets are off" in scro. The bionoid meanwhile took it as some sort of a prayer or curse, not understanding the foreign language, and advanced towards the admiral again.
Korgesh spun up, pain shooting through the shoulder he had impacted the wall with as a staff he had found upon the floor. A heavy fist likely mean for his torso or head slammed into it, the wood buckling but not breaking under the powerful force. The bionoid reacted quickly, bringing a sharp-pointed knee up to try and gorge the scro's stomach out, but Korgesh also reacted quickly, pushing on the wall behind him and flipping over the bionoid, continuing the movement and using the inertia of the binoids kick to then flip the large insect several feat away—this time the staff breaking from the strain. Korgesh flew with a snarl at his enemy, who quickly leapt to his feet, the scro blocking a slash from large spines on the creatures elbows with a shard length of staff in either hand, his foot kicking the beast in the chin and dazing it for a moment while he leapt aside. Having moved around the room enough his hands found his axes and he grasped their handles as he rolled past, most of his weight on his good shoulder, and came to a crouch again. He soon found himself leaping aside as with one hand the bionoid threw the shaft halves like spears at him, and then again as a fireball leapt out of a cavity in its chest, the two plates covering its pectoral muscles having swung open like a door.
Fireballs Korgesh could accept, a bionoid he could not. Rolling but five feet forward to escape the center of the spell he flung his axes at the beast as the spell detonated scorching his back. An elven scream of pain mixed with that of a dying beast filled the air, the blast throwing the scro onto the beast's chest and knocking them onto the ground. Realizing its death was imminent, the axes having pierced its one weak point, the beast began to choke Korgesh, whom luckily also responded quickly and slowly brought the iron-grip of the claws away from his neck. The scro's feet holding the spikes of each of the creatures knee's from moving, and his hands both taken up holding its death grip at bay, he had but one option left, and began headbutting the insects face. Chitin bent and gave way, sending green blood spurting across each opponents face, mixed with the red blood of Korgesh as he cut himself while smashing. Over and over the scro headbutted the bionoid, the creature drawing some strength from the hope it would kill him before it died itself, and slowly pushing its claws back in. With one heavy thwack from a headbutt Korgesh smashed one of his tusks on the gem on the creatures forehead, breaking off the upper part of the tooth, yet almost immediately knocking the creature into unconsciousness.
With a heave the admiral rolled himself off the beast, moving his hand to wipe the green blood and remove the chitin shards from his face and muzzle, but wincing in pain and lowering it again. For a minute or two he sat motionless except for his breathing, no healing potions left to close his wounds, yet unwilling to risk any more damage to his already burning shoulder, likely dislocated or worse. Eventually, with the effort he saw as his duty, he slid himself over to his armour and gear, pulling a flare pistol from the belt, firing it with his good arm out the window of the armada, to signal the all clear. The pistol dropped from his weak hand as he felt his shoulder, wincing in pain as he touched it all over. For the most part it seemed more muscle damage than anything, yet it was dislocated, and he wrapped his hand in a careful position to push it back into place, so the marines no doubt about to enter the atmosphere would not hear his roar.