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  1. Paint it Pink

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    Recent Entries

    Well, it's a new year, a new site, let's get a blog started.

    That's always the plan right? Fresh start. Resolutions. Follow through...Wait, what's follow through?

    Last year, 2013, I had the lofty goal of getting all of my Wyrd models painted before Gencon. Although I have a lot of models (understatement), it was something I could have attained. Sit down, watch some television (marathon a show, ya mean), and paint up a slew of models. How hard could it possibly be?

    I did get a good start, courtesy of watching all five seasons of Babylon 5. I worked through a lot of the Ten Thunders and associated models (McCabe, Mei Feng, Misaki, Lynch), and even some Rezzers (Seamus and Molly with the Belles), but I was working assembly line style and eventually the whole thing came crashing to a halt. [M2E, I choose you...Then along came Summer and I started grinding away at Mechwarrior Online, instead.] All of the fire just went out of my painting, replaced by discussions of each week's rules updates...But that's all over now. One less excuse. Heck, my den is fairly organized, and I can actually sit down at my painting station to paint (at the cost of burying my prep station, but I can dig it out for messy work like basing if I need to).

    As it's three in the morning, eastern standard time, I think that this is as good as it gets for an introduction. WIPs to follow, eventually...

    P.s. Some quick notes:

    My name is Johnny.

    I live in the Akron, Ohio, area.

    I assemble the models for most of my friends.

    Our usual game day is on Sunday.

    I have a 4 x 4 table that we tend to play three or four player games on.

    Usual terrain is usually either Terraclips (Streets and Buildings x2 each with which to use) or Heroscape terrain (plus other odds and ends like a whole forest worth of pine trees I picked up from Dollar Tree around the holidays).

    If you really wanna speed up a game, measure by Heroscape hexes instead of inches. It's great for quick demos.

    1546112_10151854168776540_1930276389_n.jpg

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  2. Wyrdsmyth

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    Recent Entries

    I'm lucky in many ways. Very lucky. The story of how I got together with my now-fiancée is strange and hinged a lot on luck. I think I drew a red joker with her! It would have been very easy for us to never have gotten together, but fate was on my side. Either that Or I spent all my soulstones to cheat fate.

    Anyway, she's awesome because she's a geek like me. She plays more xbox than me, takes over my PC and steals Skyrim for weeks on end and now she's showing an interest in cosplaying.

    She automatically defaulted to 'Anya Stroud' and 'Femshep' but I keep trying to navigate her towards Malifaux characters as I believe their designs and aesthetics are better than most other things out there. It's a hard sell though, as miniatures are the one thing she hasn't gotten into - yet! She even plays Magic: The Gathering with me for gods sake and has her own deck.

    But she loves strong female characters and Mallifaux has a lot of them.

    So, any suggestions? What would people like to see me attempt to transform my fiancée into? She might just tell me to get lost because she's gonna be an Elder Scrolls Elf but you nover know!

    We need to win her over to the miniature side!

  3. Not a Real Tale of a Malifaux Blogger Month 2, post 2 (Finally a Game!)

    For more information on Tale of a Malifaux Blogger (ToMB) event see: http://taleofmalifau...blogspot.co.uk/

    So, as noted in my previous blogs for ToMB, I've been pretty busy and unable to make much progress in assembly, painting and getting games in. All that has changed ever so slightly. I finally got in a game! Yay me!.

    My daughter was home for Spring Break, back from college for a week, and she had previously promised to play a game with me as her Father's Day present. At the beginning of Spring Break she was busy with her friends and such and I was still pretty busy with work, so the big game kept getting postponed. Finally, however, on this past Saturday, her last night before heading back to college she came up to me and said she had time.

    I quickly grabbed my game table, a folding 3' x 3' table, my terrain (old cardboard ruins from Mordheim), my models and various gaming stuff (arsenal decks, measuring tape, fate decks, and tokens).

    I set up the board as a ruined town, with a two story building in the center and the other buildings of various levels surrounding it. This left various alleyways as firing lanes, but plenty of buildings to attempt to hiding behind as we advanced across the table.

    As this was going to be my daughter's first M2E game (4th or 5th Malifaux game overall), and this was a ToMB game, I thought it would make sense to essentially play a 26 soulstone starter box game. I also decided to skip upgrades and schemes for this game, so we only flipped for the shared strategy.

    We ended up with standard deployment and Turf War as the strategy. This meant we would be fighting over the central two story building mentioned above, which seems like a good fluffy way to start. Perhaps there were barrels of very good scotch laced with powdered soulstone.

    My crew was:

    Somer Teeth

    2 Skeeters

    4 Bayou Gremlins

    Warpig

    +1 Soulstone in Cache (5 total)

    My daughter has used Rasputina in all her games (selected initially by looking at all the old metal boxes I had side by side and picking the prettiest picture), so her crew was:

    Rasputina

    Wendigo

    Ice Golem

    3 Ice Gamin

    +1 Soulstone in Cache (4 total)

    As noted above, no Upgrades for either of us and no Schemes.

    We both deployed in cover, behind ruined buildings. My forces were deployed with Somer and the Warpig in the center, with groups of two bayou gremlins and skeeters to the left and right of Somer. My daughter deployed her forces in the following order (from my left to right): Rasputina, 3 ice gamin in a line, Wendigo and Ice Golem.

    Turn 1, I won initiative and walked a Gremlin up twice towards the center building. My daughter countered by moving up the Wendigo and using magical extension to fire off a December's curse at the foolhardy Gremlin (I hadn't thought about the ranges involved and had left him in the open thinking I was far enough away, whoops). She won the duel barely, then flipped two Moderates on the negative damage flip. 4 Damage and first blood to my daughter.

    I spent my next two activations attempting to exact revenge (and remove the scary Devour ability), by moving up two more gremlins and taking pot shots. Unfortunately, my daughter had moved the Wendigo into cover of ruins before shooting my gremlin, so my negative flip shots missed. I then moved my Warpig up next to the center building, in cover, but not noticing the open door on the other side of the ruin. My daughter then moved up an Ice Gamin to gain line of sight, and on her next activation Rasputina moved up and launched a few December's curses through the open door and over the ruined cover into my Warpig. She managed only one hit, but flipped two severe damage flips on the negative damage flip. The double blasts were just long enough to get to the 2 gremlins that had shot at her Wendigo, and now I was down 3 Bayou Gremlins, had 5 wounds down on my Warpig and had done nothing to my opponent's force.

    Somer and the Skeeters had not activated yet, so Somer moved up and shot a Ice Gamin, I triggered Thinking Luck on the shot, got a moderate (so 4 + 1 blast) and put 3 damage on two separate Gamin. The Skeeters then both did double flight-enhanced walks and moved into melee with two of the gamin and the wendigo.

    Turn 2.

    I don't remember who won initiative here, or exact actions, but the following happened.

    The Skeeters failed to do any damage, but the one tying up the Gamin closest to Rasputina remained in combat so Rasputina could shoot the Warpig again. The other Skeeter survived two devour attempts only to be punched in the face by an Ice Gamin who scored a moderate damage result and killed it. The Gamin Somer shot was able to charge Somer and put a few wounds on Somer. The Warpig then ate that Ice Gamin (who blew up putting more wounds on Somer, but fed the Warpig, who healed up completely*. Somer shot the Ice Golem 3 times, putting the Golem on 1-2 wounds, and the Ice Golem walked around the intervening building and punched Somer in the face (taking him down to 4 wounds).

    We both had 2+ non-peon's within 6" of the Turf War marker and scored 1 vp.

    *We played that the Warpig ate his fill to heal completely, then the Gamin exploded to cause 2 wounds to the Warpig. Not sure if that was the correct order, but it never mattered this game.

    Turn 3.

    I won initiative, and with an Ice Golem in Somer's face (and enough melee power to kill both Somer and the Warpig, I think), I went first, with the Warpig. Sadly at this point I realized that the Warpig only had a 1" melee range, while the Ice Golem had a 2" melee range, so I needed to walk then attack, rather than Charge. I did so and managed to hit at kill the Golem. The Warpig healed to full again, but Somer took the explosion to the face and was down to 1 wound. My daughter then charged Somer with a nearby Ice Gamin. I had been using soulstones for earlier damage prevention, so I had only one left at this point. I probably should have used it for the defense flip, but I saved it for damage prevention, figuring on my higher Df saving me. My daughter promptly flipped the Red Joker on the attack and I therefore couldn't cheat the defense flip up. On the resulting straight damage flip, Somer took severe damage and therefore needed a Red Joker on the damage prevention to survive. He didn't flip the red and died...

    On the left side of the board, my Skeeter still had the Gamin tied up in combat (both sides failing to do much) and the Wendigo charged over from the right side to help, but failed to get a crow on either devour attempt. Having nothing to use for Ice Mirrors, and not wanting to shoot into combat, my Daughter moved Rasputina up closer to the fight, where she didn't need the Ice Mirrors, but was fairly safe from retaliation (a ruin building with a window). I had a gremlin on that side of the board, which tried firing into the Skeeter+Gamin+Wendigo combat, but failed to hit anything.

    We both had 2+ non-peon's within 6" of the Turf War marker and scored 1 vp.

    Turn 4.

    The Wendigo finally ate the Skeeter.

    The Warpig ate the Gamin that killed Somer

    Raspy attempted to Curse my last gremlin, getting only 1 weak damage hit in and leaving the Gremlin alive, but unable to reckless.

    The gremlin shot at the wendigo, failing.

    The Gamin charged the gremlin, killing it.

    I no longer had 2 models, much less 2 models in range of the Turf War marker, while my daughter did, so she went up 3vp to 2vp.

    Turn 5.

    The warpig walked around the corner and pigcharged the Wendigo, getting both it at the last Ice Gamin in melee. I managed one severe damage on the Wendigo, eating it whole. I think I might have forgotten the automatic trigger on it's attack this time (each previous time I had either the heal or slow triggers, so never stampeded). At this point it would not have made a difference as I was down 1vp and could not score anymore.

    The Gamin attempted to kill the Warpig in melee and failed and Rasputina's shots into the melee all missed their mark.

    The flip to continue playing was a 3, so the game ended. As noted above, I couldn't score anymore, so an extra turn would have been meaningless.

    Lessons learned:

    1) I should have moved the Skeeter's up sooner to tie up my opponent's shooting. They eventually went down, but I could have save two of my Gremlins from an early death by doing this.

    2) Choosing to shoot at an already activated model, rather than deal with pending threats was also a mistake and is related to the above. If I had tied up his remaining shooters (Ice Mirrors) earlier, I could have safely shot at the Wendigo later in the turn.

    3) I didn't start making use of Bayou Two card until a few turns into the game. I'll need to work on remembering it. It did help keep my last Gremlin alive longer than expected and almost helped Somer survive a few really bad hands. There was enough cover (creating negative attack flips) that it wasn't able to help with shooting or damage much (I rarely managed a straight flip on damage), but on occasion it did.

    4) Without upgrades the Skeeters couldn't do much, especially with the very early death of 3 gremlins. Somer's support abilities were also lost with their early loss. I still think I could have used those abilities (the automatic suit ability and the no triggers) much more effectively. I only ended up using the automatic suit ability to give Somer automatic Rams and automatic Thinking Luck, but it might have helped to have other triggers in effect for my Gremlins.

    5) With the above in mind, I typically activated Somer last, as I might for another master, who wants his crew to set up the enemy for him (like Pandora waiting to activate until after the Sorrors are in place, or Rasputina waiting to activate until after the Ice Mirrors are in place and the Bite of Winter buff is up). Given that Somer supports his crew, I probably should have activated Somer first so he could buff the later activations of my Gremlins.

    6) Hide from December's Curse, it's nasty. Moderate flips on negative damage flips happen more often than you might think...

    Side note, my daughter didn't use Bite of Winter and could have made better use of Focussing/Soulstones. I could have also used focussing and soulstones better.

    All in all, though, we both had fun. My daughter enjoyed the game and will be back for more. She does want to see me paint the models so that they are more pretty however, and also wondering if anyone would know what she was talking about if she asked random people on the street about Malifaux.

    Well, that's it for my second Month 2 blog. Hopefully next time there will be another game and/or some progress on assembly and painting.

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  4. We pick up with Captain Vivian Griswalde as she prepares her recruits for their upcoming assignment when an urgent message comes through ushering them out the doors sooner than she expected. What emergency could be happening to pull her and her squad out on such short notice?

    I give you Chapter 3

    Let me know what you think in the comments or on the forum under the Case Files of Captain Griswalde.

    This chapter has a player submitted Character in it. Submitted by Brewmaster.

    Intriguing idea:

    Thaddeus "Bill" Compton

    Male Outcast

    A gunfighter with a thick mustache who's just a couple years out of his prime, but doesn't want to admit it. He went to Malifaux to relive his glory years, to prove to others (but mainly to himself) that he's still a skilled gun.

    If you want to see a character of your creation in an upcoming chapter feel free to either send me a pm or put up a post in the forum post for the Case Files like Brewmaster did.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter 3: Not what she was Expecting

    Her new recruits had done well, not a single one had needed to be deemed unfit for duty, which had surprised her; there was usually one in every batch sent Malside that didn’t make the cut. To be honest she wasn’t that shocked, Dashel did not let failure through the program, he either trained or beat it out of you in a very efficient manner and she applauded him for it. Some of the instructors were content with letting sub-par recruits through, attesting to their bravery and courage in simulated exercise. A lot of good that bravery did them when confronted with a bull Nephalim, or a wave of psychotic green pygmies running at you through the swamplands, let alone a walking corpse or amalgamation thereof. She didn’t entirely understand it; it had always been different for her. It never mattered to her if it walked, talked, or looked like an innocent human being. She had a set of rules she lived by, a code that had kept her alive when so many did not; they were easy to follow, easy to enforce, and efficient.

    She had brought her new recruits to an ante chamber from the main room where she had conducted her first examination of them, leaving the conscripts of the Guild to clean up the mess and dispose of the refuse laying on the raised dais. The room was smaller than the other, but large enough to fit them all with space to be comfortable. The walls here were covered by racks and shelves and contained every piece of standard issue weaponry that the Guild provided for the Patrol units. She waited for them all to enter the room before addressing them.

    “This is the guardsmen armory; it houses all of the weapons and equipment that the basic Guild officer will need to perform his duties. Who among you are the best shots?”

    Three of the recruits slowly raised their hands and she nodded towards them to come forward. She went over to a rack standing at the side of the room where a line of rifles stood stacked. She took three of them one at a time and gave each of the three recruits one taking their colliers in exchange.

    “You three will be our long range support, keep those rifles clean and in working order for when you are gone from this world those rifles will be collected and brought back to this room, repaired and restocked. I expect that before that happens you will pay their weight in scrip in our enemy’s blood and add to the notch count on each stock.”

    She pointed to each stock near the butt, each had a score of small notches carved into them in small groups.

    “Each count on each rifle has been noted and tagged with the corresponding guardsman to wield it. If I pry this weapon from your cold, lifeless or perhaps dismembered hand and find that the count has not increased I will personally find some gutter Resurrectionist and have them animate your useless corpse so that I may send you back to hell myself for failing me. Then I will kill said Resurrectionist with your rifle and add a notch for you out of pity.”

    She waved the three off and waited for them to file back into formation. She folded her arms behind her back and paced slowly in front of them.

    “Before we go out on our first patrol I will explain to you what I like to call ‘Captain Griswalde’s five condensed rules of how not to fail Captain Griswalde’. They are very simple rules and I expect you each to follow them without question. Follow them and they may keep you alive, disobey them and the very karma of disobedience will most likely bring about your very swift and most likely painful demise. These will be the condensed rules as most of you will not live long enough to waste the time explaining the full list to you.”

    She stopped at the end of her stride and brought her hand up motioning the number five with her fingers.

    “Captain Griswalde’s rule number five: Never miss a chance to shoot an enemy. This rule is very simple and also an easy way to determine the difference between those I respect and those I do not. Stay alert, keep your eyes open and your ears to the wind. The most disrespectful thing you can do while under my charge is to die with a fully loaded firearm, because that you were not prepared enough to notice the enemy before they left you a bloody mess in the dirt at their feet. Do not misjudge the effectiveness of your fiream however, for not everything we will encounter will die that easily, but at least you will have done your duty and issued some Guild sanctioned reparation into whoever or whatever decided to end your existence.”

    “Captain Griswalde’s rule number four: Shoot first, let the corpse provide the answer. Do not hesitate out in the field. If it walks, talks, flies, shambles or does not have on a Guild issued uniform you can safely assume that it is out to kill you. There was a report that during a fire a small child appeared and was approached by a crowd. Reports are hazy on what happened next but most of the people that were said to be present are not alive today. You could see things out there that you do not understand, or things that you would not believe to be a threat, but is it worth risking the safety of the populace and more importantly the Guild that your evaluation of a threat be wrong and cause the deaths of many?

    “Captain Griswalde’s rule number three: Never trust anything that is not an Order. People will say anything out there, for any reason, be it to save their own skin, to hide their true intentions, or to purposely deceive. Do not take anything at face value until you have investigated and double checked the information and verified it. Civilians will sometimes try to explain things for you but what do they know? Whatever they know the Guild knows and the Guild has better information.”

    “Captain Griswalde’s rule number two: Victors write the history the losers get to read about. The Guild knows what is right and will make sure that this place survives and that evil is kept in check. If we fail, and the darkness overtakes us then the future of Malifaux, and potentially Earth as well, will devolve into a chaos that will destroy everything we strive to accomplish. If there are history books in that hellish world they may describe what we are doing here as evil, as corrupt and not for the good of all. They would write us as an oppressive force with no regard for the safety and well-being of the populace and its beliefs.

    She stopped pacing and turned to look straight at the recruits.

    “And the most important rule of all, Captain Griswalde’s and the Guild’s rule number one: The Guild always turns a profit. Above all the mission will succeed, we will succeed. Make no mistake, if anyone, including any of you get in the way of the mission or are found to be obstructing the mission in any way you can be sure that you will be removed with extreme prejudice without question or concern. Do. You. Get me?”

    Yes sir, Captain Griswalde!” the recruits all shouted in unison.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    She had originally wanted to dismiss the recruits and make her way back to her office, back to whatever bottle she could find and get some sleep before tomorrow’s patrol but it seemed fate did not have the same plans for her tonight. Right as she was about to give the order a messenger had come into the room with an executive order. Reports had come in that Resurrectionist activity of a serious nature had been spotted by civilians in the slums near the quarantine zone and her unit was to report immediately to identify and quell the disturbance. After a brief trip to the armory to load up on the supplies that they would most likely need they were soon off and in the direction of the slums following the directions detailed in the reports that were coming in.

    The slums. It was like stepping into a whole different world. Everything here was in stark contrast to the city they had just left behind. Broken cobblestones and dirt were what made up the meager excuse of the road they were walking down, with dirty water and unknown refuse running like a river down each side of the street overflowing from the various gutters and sewers drains. The first thing you noticed was the ever present smell that seemed to permeate the air like a thick fog, the smell of offal mixed with soot and garbage. She had always thought she had smelled the worst of it; dead bodies, rotting corpses, the sweat and blood of miners coming from a shift in the mines, even some of the smells she had encountered but cared not to identify during the raids on the Gremlin camps. The slums seemed to collect and amplify these smells and the twisted smoke coming from the many chimneys that seemed to sprout out of the shanties in every direction gave everything a burnt smell. She didn’t like it, not because of how it assaulted the nose and eyes, you could get used to it, but more of how it confused things. Did that alley smell like a bloated corpse because something had died there weeks ago or was some monstrous thing lurk there waiting to add the stench of your rotting corpse to the ever present aroma that hung like a cloud and never seemed to wash away.

    They marched as a unit down the center of the road, hands on their weapons and eyes on every dark corner and rooftop that came into view. They should be getting near to the place now. The reports that had first came in were gathered from two beggars that had come screaming out of the slums and into the checkpoint between it and the city of Malifaux. The guards stationed there originally passed it off as normal for the area and thought nothing of it until the two bedraggled men came closer. Their clothes were covered in blood and both had various cuts and scrapes over their bodies. The faster of the two beggars was shot dead before he came within ten yards of the checkpoint. The other beggar did not make the same mistake and stopped moving where he stood with his hands in the air. After some incoherent rambling the man was finally able to answer the guards questions and he told them of an attack on one of the warehouses that still stood deep in the slums that bordered the quarantine zone. It had housed all manner of despots and thieves, beggars and those who had nowhere else to go. This type of thing would usually not warrant her unit’s specific attention but when the man described the attackers as a group of Nephalim and that after the initial onslaught the Nephalim began to capture, bind and carry off their victims without harming them it was decided that Vivian take her new recruits in to figure out why this roving band of Nephalim were so eager to take live prisoners whereas before they had never shown such restraint or preference for prisoners.

    They had finally come to the warehouse and after a brief inspection of the building from outside of the front they made their way slowly inside. The first thing that caught Vivan off guard was the lack of bodies. There were a few in various stages of dismemberment that looked like the normal aftermath of a Neverborn attack, but beyond those few there was nothing. No blood, no gore, nothing. There were definite signs of a struggle, what she thought were too be make shift shelters and living spaces were torn through and shredded, various furrows in the damp earth that made up most of the floor space showed signs of Nephalim passing, at least half a dozen if not more. Some of the prints in the floor were sized about the same as a full grown human but ended in pointed tip from claws and talons, there were a few smaller tracks zig zagging to and fro that she assumed to be from the hell spawn younger Nephalim; small purple skinned monsters the size of children but full of an adult sized malice and hatred. The marks that caught her attention most of all were the larger set of prints that seemed to trample everything in their path, and worse still there seemed to be at least two separate paths of that size cutting through the warehouse. It seemed that all of the tracks converged from a large hole in one of the rear walls and Vivian led them through it to follow the tracks.

    They were crossing into the quarantine zone now, making the going slow and arduous. The rubble from the collapsed buildings made every foot step hazardous and the slightest misstep caused loose debris to tumble free and the noise it created gave them all pause as they held their collective breath awaiting an ambush that never came. Finally after a time they came to a hill and the noises from the other side told them that they had found the Nephalim they had been hunting. She took them partly around and up the side of the hill and they ducked into a half destroyed building just as the sun began its slow descent in the sky. It would be night soon and Vivian knew that they had to end this know lest they be caught out in the openness of the Quarantine zone blind with a pack of Nephalim about them. They fanned out and crept up to the windows that overlooked the basin below, the glass long since shattered and trampled underfoot to mix with the dust and grime. Vivian dared a peak up over the windowsill to look out over the clearing in front of them and although she had seen much in her years in Malifaux the sight playing out before her was one that was new and caught her off guard.

    There in the clearing the Nephalim stood scattered throughout the rubble, the young sat perched on various outcroppings flapping their wings and screeching to each other as they flitted about. They hurled curses at each other and she saw two of them tugging at either end of some unfortunate soul that wasn’t lucky enough to be taken prisoner, both eagerly tearing and biting at whatever they could find purchase on. The hostages were there as well, grouped together on the far side of the clearing. They were all bound and gagged and the “tots” as they had been called were swarming about them, jeering and poking them with jagged claws that they wore on their hands. Her attention did not linger on the younger ones, nor the tots prodding the prisoners, but the two large bull Nephalim that stood in the center. Their chests were protruded and their large wings were ruffling up a small cloud of dust behind them. It seemed as if they were having a heated discussion over something but with both of their backs turned it combined with the distance it made it hard to discern what their tiff was about.

    Then, one of the bull Nephalim stepped aside and she was able to make out a singular form standing in front of the two Nephalim who seemed to be arguing with them. It was all very strange for her, as humans and the Neverborn did not usually associate this peacefully with one another. The man, who was wearing a varied assortment of garments that were stained and dirty was gesturing to the group of humans that were tied and bound then making gestures off and to the side of the clearing that was empty of the Nephalim and was seemingly only filled with broken piles of rubble, though in the shadows of the setting sun it was hard to make out anything else. That is until one of the supposed piles of rubble began to shamble towards the man, then another and another. It was then Vivian realized that the piles of rubble she thought she saw were actually mindless zombies that had remained still at their master’s orders until they were called to move. With a quick head count Vivian counted a dozen of the walking corpses and at least that number of Nephalim on the other side. The man who she knew now was a Ressurrectionist held out a large sack to one of the Nephalim with both hands who took it in one large taloned fist then the man began to move towards the assembled humans it seemed he just purchased.

    Vivian gave the silent order for her recruits to begin to slowly creep closer to the assembled mass before them. A few disbelieving looks were shot her way when she gave the order but when her hand slid down to the hilt of her axe and she shot a promising glare of punishment they all moved as one out of the building and slowly down through the rubble towards the clearing. It seemed as if their progress was going unnoticed as all of those in the clearing were either on the humans as the mindless zombies began to approach them with arms outstretched or on the two bull Nephalim as they argued over the contents of the bag one of them now held. She thought she had caught a glimpse of movement out beyond the clearing to the south, in between the rubble but it was too shadowed for her to tell.

    She gave the order to move closer once more and they all got up out of their concealed positions between the groupings of rubble and began to move to the next spot they could find cover. As they moved her eyes were moving between the Resurrectionist and the two arguing bull Nephalim. She was watching and expecting at any moment for one of them to turn their heads and spot them but so far they appeared not to notice the approaching Guild force. What she didn’t expect was the resounding crack of rifle fire and for the head of the bull Nephalim standing on the left to explode as a bullet tore its way through its skull spraying black blood and gore into the dust behind it.

    The world seemed to slow down in that instant. The bull Nephalim, now sans head, slumped to its knees, and although a small part of her brain had begun to trace the sound and flash of the shot to an upper story window of a ruined building on the south side of the clearing she was keenly more aware of the Nephalim, and the Ressurrectionist as they, in similar surprise, began to turn and scan the area around them searching for where the shot came from. It most likely did not occur to them to try and source where the shot came from as they easily spotted Vivian’s exposed force moving up behind them.

    In that moment, even before the natural fight or flight response kicked in, Vivan only had the time to mutter one word.

    “Shit.”

    The only order in a battle is the initial moves one makes before the fighting begins. After that initial action everything else is chaos, training will try to take over, but lines will break, formations will falter and the best laid plans will often go awry, so the best one could do was make use of that initial moment of clarity when you still had control over what was happening. Not one to waste words when actions spoke louder Vivian didn’t bother to yell charge or give orders, she simply unholstered her collier, leveled it at the nearest young nephalim and squeezed the trigger. As her bullet tore through its eye socket and sprayed outward from the back of its head her guardsmen drew their sabers and colliers and ran forward to meet the onrushing force of Nephalim.

    After her initial shot she turned and took a quick stock of the situation. Her riflemen had taken to a small rise of rubble and began to fire shots into the Nephalim taking at least one young and two tots out of commission. Her remaining guardsmen had rushed in, loosed shots with their colliers then engaged separately with whatever enemy presented itself. The young had taken flight and began to dive onto the guardsmen, tearing into them with their claws and talons, while the tots darted and skipped through the battle ripping and slicing any exposed body parts they could get close enough to sink their blades into. One of the guardsmen managed to skewer the flying young that was clawing at him on his saber but even as it fell from the air the tots leapt up and brought the man down where they tore him to pieces in quick succession. She knew what was coming next and knew she needed to end this quickly as one of the tots began to grow and expand into a fresh young Nephalim. She refocused on her own predicament, as it wouldn’t do anyone any good if she was taken down breaking her own rules of not paying attention.

    She ducked a lunging talon from a flying young and came face to face with a screaming tot bearing down on her with his gleaming blades. He lashed out with her boot and caught the squealing thing right below the ribcage. So light was the tot and forceful was her kick that the force lifted it into the air directly in front of her, and with a quick and heavy slice of her axe two halves of the tot fell to the dirt in a shower of sizzling black blood. She attempted to shield herself from most of it but it still burned her as it found its way past her defenses and onto her skin. She registered what she thought sounded like a crack of a rifle that matched the initial shot that started all of this but did not have the time to try and trace its origin or intended target. She knew what she had to be worried about and turned her head back and forth trying to locate the remaining bull Nephalim. She didn’t see it at first but felt a gust of dry air press against her from the left and as she turned she saw two of her guardsmen fall near her as they were blown off of their feet by the mighty flap of its wings. It bent back and let loose a bellowing roar that shook the battlefield. She leveled her collier at its exposed midsection when it lunged at her and with a large swipe knocked her backwards into a large boulder that proceeded to knock the wind from her lungs. It growled and strode towards her, stomping on one of her fallen guardsmen, while grabbing the other by the head and squeezing its hand until a small popping sound and a stream of blood escaped its fist before tossing the man away into the distance.

    She pushed herself away from the rock and finding her collier missing she gripped her axe with both hands and let out a roar of her own in defiance and ran headlong at it. It almost seemed as if the bull Nephalim was going to laugh at her and stood its ground with outstretched arms when another crack of the rifle sounded and a bullet ripped past one of the bull’s eyes close enough to draw a stream of red and black goo. The bull Nephalim howled in pain and brought its hands up to its face clamping its hands over its now useless eye. With its one good eye left it saw too late that it had let its guard down just as Vivian had reached it and clumsily tried to put one arm out to stop her advance. She sidestepped the hand and spinning past it she was able to quickly lunge past the beast to its right; as she ran past she slashed at the side of its knee deep enough to drop it to its knees. She continued past it, turned and stepped up onto a piece of rubble behind it and leapt up into the air bringing her axe high and behind her own head. Once she felt her descent begin she brought her axe down with all of the strength she had left in her aching body, the bull Nephalim looked up just in time to see her axe burry itself deep into its face.

    It twitched for a moment, then slumped back onto its hind legs, sitting with its head lifted to the sky, one lifeless hand clamped over one side of its face, a large axe sticking out of the other side. She was breathing heavy, her hands still gripping her axe handle. Her ribs hurt and she guessed that she must’ve bruised or possibly broken one or more after being slammed into the boulder. She caught her breath and took stock of the battles happening around her. It looked as if she had lost four of her guardsmen and one of her riflemen. Most of the Nephalim had been slain, some by her guardsmen, while some were picked off by the riflemen that were still perched upon the rock ledge they first set up on. It seemed as if the rest had fled the area back to whatever holes they had climbed out of. As she surveyed the battlefield she was surprised that more of the zombies had not joined the fray; she finally found what was left of the zombies and spotted the Resurrectionist lying on the ground with a very large hole in his head, a look of surprise still on his face. Her guardsmen were focusing on them now and as she watched the last of them were shot in the head and put down for good. It appeared as if when the fighting began and the Resurrectionist was taken out the zombies reverted to basic instincts and attacked the closest source of food available. Fortunately for Vivian and her company that meant that they were too busy to join the fight and tip the scales, unfortunately that meant that when it all began and the zombies were grabbing the prisoners to transport them was when they reverted and they had spent most of the battle devouring the humans who were easy targets being bound and gagged. She looked down and saw her collier lying in the dirt. She picked it up, dusted it off, and holstered the weapon. She went and with a little effort was able to pull her axe free from the beast’s face and after a healthy dose of dirt and brushing it off on the creature’s fur she was able to get most of the blackish blood from its blade.

    She had her back turned to the south as she holstered her axe and heard someone approaching from behind her. In one movement she un-holstered her collier and turned around leveling it at the man now approaching them from the building where the shots originated from. He was slowly clapping as he strode forward slowly towards her. She guessed he was smiling, though it was hard to tell as the man’s bushy and heavily waxed mustache obscured a clear look at the bottom of his face. His hair was black with grey beginning to creep into place around his ears and mustache. He wore a long duster that flowed freely around his form, the leather worn and cracked with the age of many years. All in all the man’s face and jacket had that in common. His saunter as he approached boasted one of confidence and experience born from a lifetime of living by the gun and carving out a name for himself as a gun for hire but that was before her time and last she had heard he had retired lest his aged reaction speed be the reason for a permanent retirement he would inevitably find. His voice was a gravelly mix of baritones as he chuckled to himself before coughing up and spitting out a wad of phlegm into the dust. He stopped in front of her and gave her a slight bow and tipped his hat to her while winking with his one good eye.

    She didn’t lower her gun as she spoke. The guardsmen that she had left had approached her side and had also trained their guns on the man and she could guess that her riflemen had their weapons on him as well.

    “Thaddeus Compton” She said his name slowly, with a bit of surprise, “I thought you were out of the game, something about being too old for all this now?”

    He smiled at her, raising a hand to roll one corner of his mustache between his fingers before speaking, “This ol’ dog still has enough left to run with the young pups, and call me Bill, all the lady-folk do.”

    “What are you doing out here interfering with a Guild investigation Mr. Compton?” She asked keeping her hand steady as she stared down the barrel into his eyes.

    He guffawed once and as he spoke he gestured his arms out at the surrounding carnage before pointing at the large bull Nephalim, first the one with the missing head and then the one kneeling over to the side. “From the looks of it you needed all of the interference you could handle, taking such a small force against a band like this. You are lucky I was already tracking this group and decided to step in to help. The Guild can thank me if it likes, I accept all forms of scrip and the occasional stay at one of the many brothels the Guild oversees.”

    She could feel the blood begin to boil inside of her veins. She knew he was partially right. His help had saved her from losing any more guardsmen, but she would’ve rather faced her luck without his help against the creatures even if her losses were to have greater.

    “Your help was unrequested and unauthorized. Your actions also hastened the death of my men whereas we may have lost less if our initial surprise attack would have gone unnoticed. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t throw you in the dungeon for interfering with an official Guild investigation, and for operating within the restricted Quarantine zone?”

    He smiled again. That smile. That bushy squirrel of a coffee strainer. “You might want to take a look in the bag this Resser runt was trying to buy off his materials with.” He kicked the bag over and it tumbled to her feet.

    She expected gold, meat, or some other relic that the Nephalim might’ve fancied. So when she crouched down, keeping her gun trained on him, reached her hand into the bag and pulled out a stack of parchment the last thing she was expecting were the architectural drawings for the Guild building she was stationed out of. She flipped through the pages quickly and saw that it was an entire layout of the complex, complete with sewer access notes, floor count and occupancy estimates. From their age they must’ve been very old because although the layout wasn’t exactly the same it was the same building. With documents like these the Nephalim and their kin would easily be able to find their way into the Guild Complex and by the time they were noticed it would almost be too late. She lowered her collier and replaced it back into her holster before looking up to him as he smiled and spoke.

    “Not what you were expecting I take it?”

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    sp89fairy
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