Part 1 of 3 in The Enemy of my Enemy

Chapter One – First Engagement
Time: One Turn prior to the Factorial War

“Warlady, are you ready?” By the Titans, she was. It was time to fly.

“You know I am, Jugemu. The question is, can you keep up?” She smiled at him as she said this, teasing him. They both knew that she was the fastest Skylite around. But he was a close second.

“Hey, Jugemu! Lakitu!” yelled Warlord Peryton from his gwiffon. “Stop bantering and give the order to fly already!” He started grumbling good-naturedly about them being put in charge.

“You’re just jealous, Perry,” called Jugemu, “Because you didn’t have the good fortune to be popped a Skylite.” But he gave the order anyways. “All units, rise! Today we move to search for and destroy a vital Gweenpeace resource, their Woodsy Elf Camp. Without the ability to partially reduce the upkeep of all of their Woodsy Elves, their harassment techniques will begin to falter! Then the city of Esperenza will be ours!” Cheers rang from the troops.

The Skylites rose into the air first, being Flight-Capable Archer Knight units, followed by the Lancer Knights on gwiffonback. Finally, the ponderous bulk of one of the few Jetstream megalogwiffs rose, mounted by three stacks of archers.

Lakitu met with Jugemu and Peryton mid-air. “Okay, boys,” she said, “we have three Warlords, twenty-two Skylites, twenty-three Lancers, twenty-four gwiffons, twenty-four archers, and a megalogwiff. How in the world are we going to pull this off? Our intelligence is basically zero. Yes, we supposedly got some information out of that captured Rainbow Warrior…but it’s likely shoddy. All we can do is to head for the one hex coordinate that we have and hope for the best from there.”

“Way I see it,” replied Jugemu, “Is we have two options. Disperse and hunt for them quickly, or stay together and search slower.”

“Option one, though…isn’t really an option,” said Peryton. “We have nowhere near enough manpower behind this operation. I have no idea what Lord Float was thinking.” Lord Samuel Float had been the ruler of Jetstream for more than five hundred turns. He was more concerned with keeping their lands safe than in expanding their borders… until today.

“C’mon, Perry,” teased Lakitu. “You’re thinking too deep into a shallow lake. We’re here to eliminate an enemy resource, nothing more.”

“An enemy resource with superior woodland capabilities and more archers than us…” grumbled
Peryton, quietly.

“What was that?” asked Jugemu, with a smile. Apparently it hadn’t been quiet enough.

“Nothing,” sighed Peryton. “let’s just get there… Instruct your troops to keep an eye out for anything unusual.”

“Yes, sir, Mister Important Warlord,” replied Jugemu with a mock salute and half smile, flying off.

“Don’t let him get a rise out of you, Peryton… He lives for that.” said Lakitu, smiling, before tending to her own troops.

The rest of the trip passed in uneventful silence. Once they reached the border of the target hex, though, there was a bit of consternation.

“It’s… it’s a grassland hex!” cried Jugemu. “Where the Ark is the forest? No self-respecting Woodsy Namby-Pamby is going to camp out in the open here, where they get no forest bonuses.”

“Well,” mused Lakitu, “perhaps that’s the point. No one would think to look for them in a grassy hex. We still have one move left. I say, at the very least, we should take a look around. Any objections?”

There were none…well, except for a slightly mumbled one from Peryton…and so the force glided into the hex. What they saw there, massing in the center, was certainly not what they expected.

A medium force of infantry, larger than theirs, accompanied by a number of large units that appeared to be Golems, stood in rigid formation, looking at the smoking remains of many units. Latiku counted eight of the large units. They all were bulky, and had strange projections on their shoulders, that seemed vaguely familiar to her, but she couldn’t place.

“Jugemu, Peryton,” she asked. “What should we do now? It doesn’t seem like they’ve noticed us yet…” But, she spoke too soon, as one of the units had pointed them out, and the various units formed stacks of eight… seven units, and one Golem. There were also several more eight stacks of just infantry.

“Well, obviously they saw us,” said Peryton. “Megalogwiff ain’t exactly a Stealthed unit.”

“I say we go down to investigate,” Jugemu mused. “They aren’t Gweenpeace, and they don’t seem to have any archers at all, so we should be safe from attacks. I don’t see a Warlord, but let’s find out.”

“Mega, cover us from above, but don’t fire until I command!” ordered Peryton, “Cumulus, Cirrus, you’re with the Knight Commanders. Nimbus, come with me. Stratus, Alto, stay back and await my signal.

The units moved to their ordered positions, and the Commanders and their escorts swooped down in front of the assembled units. There was no clear commander, but it was clear that was one here, because the units below did not attempt to autoengage.

When they had assembled in parade formation, one of the Golems stepped forwards. To the surprise of all of those there, it began to speak. Or, more accurately, to laugh.

“Oh hohohoh! Hohohoh! Too bad. You missed my demonstration of our forces power!” The voice emitting from the…Golem? managed to sound amused, proud, and condescending all at the same time.

“Who are you?” demanded Jugemu. “And how are you talking? Aren’t you a Golem?”

“Hohohohoho!” laughed the unit. “I am both a Golem and not a Golem. That is how I am talking. And names are not important. But you can call me Ivo. What is important is showcasing my power! Bear witness to it!”

Lights began to flash on the apparatuses on either side of the Golem’s shoulders. As a crackling sound built up, Lakitu suddenly realized where she recognized the projections from. From the cover of Mobius Dick, Hunting the Great Carnymancy Whale. They were Shockmancy Beam Cannons. “Scramb-“

The cannons fired. Two of the knights flying next to Jugemu were no longer there, but instead were falling.

“Oh hohohoho! Marvelous, isn’t it!” Ivo seemed immensely proud of himself.
There was a moment of silence after he finished.

“All units!” called Jugemu, “Engage! Lancers, target the golems first. Archers, move back and thin the infantry. Move!”

He himself launched at Ivo, disregarding his own orders about Archery units moving back. “You will pay for that, Ivo,” he vowed. “I will make sure of it.”

As the Jetstream forces followed their orders, the Golems of the enemy moved without receiving any, charging up their Shockmancy cannons. Firing, they removed eight of the Lancers and their Gwiffons, but the rest safely evaded.

The remaining twenty-three Lancers, and Peryton, crashed into four of the Golems. They took out one, and another looked like it was severely damaged, but then the land units began attacking. In the air, the Jetstream forces had an advantage. But once they descended to within spear reach, it was another story.

“Lancers,” ordered Peryton, “Fall back and prepare to strike.” Lancers only got their bonus upon charging, so it was worth getting out of there and avoiding the fists of the Golems and spears of the Stabbers, of which there were still far too many for comfort. “You too Jugemu!”

“Negative, Perry,” Jugemu responded. “I’ve got this.”

He did too. His final attack caused the Golem to crumple to the ground.

Suddenly, the next nearest Golem turned to him and spoke. “Hohohoho! It will take more than that to defeat…us!” The voice of Ivo practically spat out the last word. “Oh hohoho! Are you fast enough to dodge – this?” At the last word, beams of Shockmancy shot from the projectors, engulfing Jugemu’s shocked face.

“Jugemu!” cried Lakitu. But the body of the Warlord fell to the ground, and simply crushed underfoot of the Golem. “Peryton, I think we’re in trouble.” Even after the Lancer’s second run, there were still four Golems, but only six lancers remained, including Peryton. The Skylites had fared better, only losing three members – the two struck as a demonstration, and Jugemu. The Megalogwiff Platform was still raining down arrows upon the rapidly dwindling supply of enemy troops.

“Wait, what’s happening?” Peryton asked. “Why have they stopped firing?” It was true, they had. But the cannons still seemed to be charging. And then, simultaneously, all eight remaining cannons fired at the exact same spot on the megalogwiff. The poor beast didn’t stand a chance, and neither did anything near it, as bolts arced to a good half-dozen Skylites nearby. But then the whine died down. The lights were no longer flashing on the cannons.

“Could it be?” asked Lakitu hopefully. “Do they need to recharge? Are they out of whatever Juice they might use?”

“It doesn’t matter,” claimed Peryton bleakly. “Look over there,” he said pointing to the south. “A Gweenpeace battleforce. They must have hid when they saw us, waiting for the right time. That’s the only way they could be in this hex now. And that means we now have to deal with an alliance here.”

Lakitu looked to where he was pointing. “Oh, Titans, that is a lot of Woodsy Elves. All with bows.” Looking to Peryton, she said, “If we can’t figure out a way to get this information to Lord Float, they’ll be caught unprepared by this new threat. We need to think of something.”

“Before that,” gulped Peryton, “let’s just avoid travelling to the City of Heroes.”

 

Part 1 of 3 in The Enemy of my Enemy