Somewhere in Africa
Jeremy leaned against the brick and mortar wall pockmarked with bullet holes. Bits of brick would shower down as the continuous assault rifle rounds tore away at the wall. Even in the heavy combat armor, Jeremy didn’t feel safe. In the din of the battle, Jeremy thinks back on the year to the point where his life changed forever. Tempered by Grummish and given purpose by the Maiden, Jeremy was one of the first to join her mercenary company, along with the survivors of the Battle of Nepal, as those orks and trolls of the company refer to it. They helped to save the world. No small feat and something to feel honorable about. Now he wore the badge of the Cursed: a stylized circle for a metahuman head with pointed ears and a dagger pointing downward over the center line of the face. Jeremy peeked around the corner, ducking backward as rounds hit the wall and debris hit his helmet. He clutched his assault rifle tightly.
“Ma’am,” Jeremy yells over the the din, “we can’t stay here! We’re gonna get pinned down!”
The Maiden stood like a statue, unphased by the bullets whistling through the air. A loud explosion on the other side of the crumbling wall threw dirt and debris over them. She wore a helmet of a style from a older era, like a Viking’s, complete with horns, but obviously updated with communication gear and a clear plasteel visor covering her visible face. Her chainmail armor, a complete anachronism, covered most of her body, untarnished in spite of its heavy use. A magical gift from a bygone world continued to serve its purpose even here.
“Patience, captain,” she says evenly, “we need follow plan.” Her halting English has improved over the year, but still gives the impression of someone uneducated and unintelligent. An impression the belies just how experienced and dangerous she is.
Jeremy has no idea what the plan is. He seldom does. The Maiden’s confidence and calm steadies his nerves… and the nerves of everyone else in the company. “Ma’am,” Jeremy shouts, “if you go down, we all go down! Fall back for cover!”
Jeremy sees the smile through the vertical visor slit of her carbon fiber helmet. “That is not my way. Anvil, ready?”
Over the radio another soldier is heard, “Anvil ready!”
The Maiden draws her odd shaped, angular sword and places her gauntlet on Jeremy’s shoulder. “Time to be hammer.” Somehow I knew she was going to say that, Jeremy thinks.
Jeremy turns to the heavily armed men and women entrenched behind him. “First platoon,” he shouts into his radio, “on me!” In a few deft movements, the Maiden clears the top of the ten foot high wall. How does she do that? Jeremy asks himself as the rest of his unit takes the long way around the wall instead of over it.
Beyond the wall, Jeremy sees the Maiden leading the charge into the enemy, who are distracted by the flanking attack of the anvil team. Jeremy follows closely behind with the rest of the unit down the wide street, taking cover in doors ways and abandoned vehicles. Seeing a woman and two small children, Jeremy commands over the radio, “Savage, break off and get those kids off this street!” An armored figure points to two others and the three change direction to cover the civilians, the soldiers using their own bodies as shields if nothing more is available. One of the three takes several shots to the chest and falls, but the other two continue on, leaving their comrade until the civilians enter a building. “Janet’s down,” calls one of them over the radio.
“Stick with her Savage,” Jeremy orders. “Everyone else, let’s move! We’re falling behind!” The Maiden entered hand to hand combat, and even after two shots to her chest, she fights on due to the stout protection her armor affords. Her axe-like blade cleaves through armor, muscle, and bone, dismembering or disemboweling her enemies. No one beats her in hand to hand, Jeremy thinks. No one.
Joining the battle, Jeremy and his soldiers use their ranged weapons and start to chew through the enemy. Knowing they are about to be shattered, the enemy sound a retreat. Even in their heavy armor, it is clear that the anvil team are a group of large trolls all using assault cannons, except for one who uses a bow. The five foot long “arrow” pierces through the chest, armor and all, of one of the enemy and before he has fallen, the bow wielding troll has already prepared another.
“Hold,” the Maiden calls. “Let them go.” She walks over to the troll with the huge bow. Taking her helmet off, the familiar face of Big Girl, the ex-cop turned shadow runner turned mercenary, is seen. The much smaller Maiden reaches up and pats Big Girl’s shoulder. “Thank you for help,” the Maiden says.
“Hey, what about me,” says another of the trolls. Standing with his arms outstretched with his trusty Panther Assault Cannon, his speech is slightly slurred by the plastic straw sticking out of his mouth from under the visor.