Ramos leaned forward, picking and choosing from the papers strewn across his desk. He pushed one towards his guest - a map. "This is the area you will need to secure. Without a proper route across the river, we risk compromising several mining operations in the area with...inefficient transport options."
"Inefficient? Hey, who would have thought giant metal spider-bots weren't subtle?" Mei Feng lifted the map and flicked over it for a moment. "So, get here, throw down some tracks, get out? What an exciting job." She yawned, an exaggerated motion. "I can see why no-one else could possibly do it."
Unperturbed, the elderly Arcanist leader pushed yet another piece of paper across the desk. "Members of the 10 Thunders crime syndicate have been seen in the area. Consider this a opportunity to demonstrate your skills. I'll be interested to see how you handle this."
He waved a hand, dismissing Mei, then turned back to his reading. Mei narrowed her eyes for a moment, then stalked out of the office. <Someone thinks they're being clever,> she thought. <I hate that.>
Welcome to another Vassal battle report! This was a 30SS scrap between the Arcanists and the 10 Thunders, led by Mei Feng (my opponent) and Yan Lo (myself) respectively. Our strategy ended up being Shared Slaughter, which was bound to be fun. Crews were as follows:
Arcanists: Mei Feng, Emberling, Kaeris, Kang, Rail Golem, Rail Worker
-Schemes: Alternate Route, Bodyguard (Kaeris)
10 Thunders: Yan Lo, Soul Porter, Izamu, Chiaki, 3 Ashigaru
-Schemes: Save Face, Eye for an Eye
-3 SS went into Chi, achieving Lvl 2 of the Ash path
We deployed diagonally, and you can see how we ended up in the screenshot below (Click for larger images):
Mei won the first initiative flip, and we were off!
Turn One: Mei Feng initiative
Both crews closed with each other. Kang and the Rail Worker dashed forward, laying down sections of track with practiced ease before moving into the cover of nearby stones and crates. Meanwhile, Chiaki's gentle flute music washed over the three Ashigaru, guiding and coaxing them into motion towards the river. Yan Lo traced a sign across Izamu's armour, rendering the massive Ancestor incorporeal, and the Soul Porter directed the armour forward into the crew's vanguard.
Mei Feng's firey Emberling companion used Mei's own powerful earth techniques to move both the Master and the massive Rail Golem forwards, before summoning itself to her side. Mei demonstrated her own skill at the technique, pushing the Golem forward once again before leaping through the air to join it. She moved close to the 10 Thunders crew and shrouded herself in steam.
Izamu, seeing the lithe Master moving forward, roared a challenge and strode into the steam cloud, his Dadao lashing out. Mei deflected most of the blow's force, taking only the weakest of hits from the vicious blade.
Kaeris spread her wings and soared upwards, rapidly reaching and landing near the centre of the battlefield. However, standing knee-deep in water, she was unable to summon the force to call up her walls of flame. As the Rail Golem moved up to support Mei, stoking its supply of burning fuel, the three Ashigaru spread themselves into a perimeter around Yan Lo and his niece.
[A fairly standard first turn, mostly movement. Izamu was able to take advantage of being a spirit to move through some terrain and land a melee expert strike on Mei, but this was the only real action of the turn. Below is the battlefield at the end of turn one.]
Yan Lo frowned, gazing over the forming battle lines. A member of the clan, attacking him? Insolence! As if being bound to serve was not insult enough. Still,it was clear the child was not acting entirely of her own volition. His eyes went to the winged woman. Coercion, infiltration...concerns of the flesh, but such could not be ignored. So be it, then. Perhaps the child may even prove strong enough to send him on a new Path. He nodded to Chiaki - no holding back.
Turn Two: Mei Feng initiative
As the steam dispersed around her, Mei leapt forward, lashing out with both feet and landing a hard strike against the armour's shoulder joint. A dent scored the metal as Mei landed behind the suit, perfectly posed to defend herself. A second leap sent the Master hurtling like a comet into the nearby Ashigaru, the impact of the hammer-like kick shattering the core of the skeletal warrior and leaving it lifeless once again. She rose from the wreckage, turning towards a second Ashigaru and triggered the release of fuel from one clawed gauntlet, generating a spark from the other. A fierce breath sent flames rushing over the skeleton, charring its armour and spreading superhot steam across the battle. Both the Ashigaru and Izamu's armour began to glow red from the heat.
His target lost, Izamu fixated on the massive Rail Golem filling his vision and charged, swinging with vicious force. The Golem's attempts to block were slow, and a pair of attacks opened gaping rents in its casing. A lust for battle filled the animated armour, invigorating him. The Rail Golem, battered but not broken, struck back - a weak blow, but enough to buy itself time to drive a section of rail home beneath it. Massive internal engines fired, seeking to burn off excess fuel to repower the Golem for further mayhem, but overheated, failing to work. As the Rail Worker took advantage of the Golem's work and connected another section of track, Chiaki moved up to support Izamu, ready to channel the spiritual force of his kills to her uncle.
The burned Ashigaru and Mei's Emberling battered at each other, but though both tried with everything they had, neither made an impact. Kaeris flew up onto the bridge, calling up a wall of flames in her wake to lock the two Masters away from the rest of the battle. An effort of will called the Porter back to Yan's side, and it lashed out at Kaeris with magical power, but failed to overcome the winged warrior's willpower. Yan, knowing more power would be needed to overcome Mei Feng, stepped into the cooling steam and directed his power at the Emberling. The power seemed to disperse around the elemental spirit, dealing only minimal damage.
Kang, focused on the task at hand, laid down the Arcanist rail route further and began moving up the field towards the various conflicts. The final Ashigaru charged in to support Izamu, but was outclassed by the giant Golem, its spear thrust caught with one massive hand.
[Things started to heat up a bit here. The poor Rail Golem flipped the Black Joker while trying to reactivate - not only did this really put him on the back foot against Izamu, but seemed to start some kind of curse. That Joker just kept coming up at critical moments during this whole encounter. The battlefield at the end of turn two can be seen below.]
Turn Three: Yan Lo initiative
Seeking to seize the advantage, Yan Lo signaled to Chiaki and the Soul Porter. Chiaki softly stepped between Mei and the Rail Golem and released a wave of power, washing away at the strength of the Emberling and Rail Golem and seeking to slow their responses. Both stood firm against the tides of force, and Chiaki turned a helpless gaze to Yan. A gesture and a word from the old man set the Soul Porter against the Emberling, but again the attack had no effect.
If you want something done, Yan mused, it would appear it is necessary to do it for yourself. He murmered quietly to Mei. "Remain still, child. It will be far easier this way."
Yan called up his memories of life after life, hammering the Emberling with the weight of ages. As it fell, Yan drew in the pure chi, shaping it into a spell to lock the joints of an enemy. An effort of will directed the spell at Mei - and watched in shock as it failed. A second, more forceful cast was likewise nullified by the Arcanist leader, who smiled as she watched the calm expression fade from Yan Lo's face.
As the Rail Golem swung once more at Izamu, the mighty armour heard his Master's urgent mental summons. A flick of his blade knocked the Golem's blade aside and cleaved through its engine, and as the massive construct fell Izamu charged towards Mei Feng. But too late. The Dadao swing clipped Mei's leg, then bit the earth where she had stood a second before, and Yan Lo blinked at a sudden impact.
"I'm not a child, old man," Mei whispered fiercely. "And I've never been any good at staying still." She and Yan looked down at the clawed arm buried into and through the 10 Thunders Master's chest. "Maybe you should try it, though."
As Yan Lo clung to life on his last few wounds, Mei stepped back slightly and marked a new section of route on the ground they stood on, then signaled for the Rail Worker to come closer. An Ashigaru, too far away to help Yan, moved to intercept but failed to even strike the Worker. As the last Ashigaru moved to block off Kang from approaching, Kaeris swept in to finish off the wounded Yan Lo. Even gravely wounded, the old man's instincts were strong, and he managed to slip around the flaming attacks.
Kang and the Rail Worker assaulted their opposing Ashigaru, Kang opening with a vicious shovel swing that sent the Ashigaru flying backwards. As the burly man rapidly set up another section of rail, the Rail Worker decapitated his opponent in a swift motion before laying a track of his own.
[Well. This did not go well for me. My opponent burned some high cards resisting Yan's spells, and I foolishly assumed this was the best he had. Unfortunately, he soon proved me wrong by managing to get a straight flip for damage from Mei, then cheating in the Red Joker. Eight wounds in one strike - ouch! On the plus side, the Rail Golem flipped the Black Joker again for its attack, allowing me to Riposte and kill it, but Izamu couldn't manage to hit Mei. The battlefield at the end of turn three is below.]
Turn Four: Mei Feng initiative
Mei lashed out at Yan, aiming to finish him off, but Yan slid away from her blows. Frustrated, Mei filled the area with a massive breath of fire, engulfing Yan and the Soul Porter. As Yan lost his grip on his body, the Porter faded away.
Prevented by the terrain from reaching Mei and exacting vengeance, Izamu sought new opponents and found one in the hulking form of Kang. A charging strike opened a savage wound in the big man, Izamu drawing vitality from the severity of the combat. Not one to step away from a fight, Kang quickly finished off the Ashigaru that had been trying to delay him, then turned to face Izamu. Fending off the armour with a precise jab of his shovel blade, Kang laid in more of the route and straightened, giving Izamu his full attention.
Chiaki, trying to salvage as much as possible of her family's honour, danced in, slashing Kang lightly with her ritual knife. As the Rail Worker moved to join the fight, laying more of the route as he went, Kaeris swept back towards the river, adding her own section to the nearly completed route.
[There wasn't much chance of saving Yan here. I was hoping for iniative to at least give it a shot, but ah well. Kang is a beast - Izamu hit him hard, but at the start of the next turn he healed to close to full health! That, combined with slow to die, meant that with my remaining two models I'd have to work hard to get back in this game. As you probably guessed, the battlefield at the end of turn 4 is below.]
Turn 5: Yan Lo initiative
Izamu fought mightily to bring down Kang, driving him to the last of his endurance. But the People's Champion would not fall. Two almost effortless swings of his weapon sent Chiaki sprawling to the earth, broken. As both the Rail Worker and Kaeris tried and failed to bring down the living armour, Mei raced towards the fight, shrouding herself in steam as she went.
[Quick turn here:-) My opponent basically had this match won - if he'd backed off with Kaeris and Mei, I would have had no chance at all to win. Being the sportsmanlike guy that he is (and, in my opinion, sticking very much to Mei's character), he chose to keep the fight going and engaged me. Made for a much more interesting finale! Corpse-littered battlefield at the end of turn five is below.]
Turn 6: Mei Feng initiative
Mei hammered into Izamu with feet and claws, dents and rents tearing across the armour. Recognising the new enemy as his Master's killer, Izamu let out a wordless cry of rage, spinning the Dadao in a blur. The blow lifted Mei off her feet, leaving her apparently lifeless at Izamu's feet. Holwing in triumph, Izamu swept into a backhanded blow, eviscirating the Rail Worker and wounding Kang. Kang and Kaeris peppered Izamu with attacks, with none doing more than scratching the surface.
[back in the game! Killing off Mei and the Rail Worker evened out our scores a lot. Plus, Izamy got the Red Joker on his healing flip from killing the Worker, so was still good to go another round. Sadly, this is where the game ended. The final score was as follows:
Arcanists: 3 for strategy, 4 for schemes: 7
10 Thunders: 2 for strategy, 4 for schemes: 6
A well deserved Arcanist victory! Final battlefield is below.]
Mei gasped and blinked frantically, trying to shield her eyes against the sun. Everything hurt. She squinted up and made out the figure of Kaeris, leaning over her.
"You took a nasty hit from that thing before it gave up the ghost," the Arcanist said. Her tone was conversational, not at all concerned. "I wasn't sure if you were going to make it, but I guess you're tougher than you look." She straightened up, wings flaring out. "I'm off back to the City - I'll let Ramos know this was a success. You can make it back, right?"
Without waiting for an answer, she launched skyward in a cloud of dust. Coughing, every breath another stab of pain, Mei pulled herself up to lean on her elbows, looking over the ruined river crossing. Gave up the ghost, huh? Not a chance in hell of that happening. "I hate you, old man," she spat out. "I hope you know that."
Footsteps approached, and Kang appeared in her field of vision, carrying the body of Yan Lo. The wound in his chest was sealing, and as Mei watched, he turned his head to look at her. "Such emotion, child? Wasteful. I would do you no favours by holding back, after all." He lowered himself to the ground, and nodded at Kang. "You and your followers continue to improve. And you appear to have earned at least some degree of trust from your watchers. The Clan will be pleased"
As he turned away and walked toward Chiaki's fallen form, Mei made a rude gesture at his back, then signalled Kang to accompany her back towards Malifaux City. As she did, a voice called from behind her.
"One more thing, child - I expect you to replace my robe."