|Top of round two!|
At the sound of her master’s call, Deneghra grinned – it was time to stop playing with Victoria Haley, and commit to the matter of her destruction. Closing her eyes for a second, she looked through those of the Deathjack – but this was no such borrowing as she performed upon lesser constructs, nor the sense of size and power that came from helljacks. This was more like riding some vast beast – its strength could be felt, but not controlled, only guided. She drew in her power, and then cast it out again, watching as the Cygnaran troops stumbled, fingers fumbing with catches and rifle-barrels drooping in abruptly weakened hands.
She willed the Deathjack’s metal shell half-in and half-out of the world, and let it loose, due south to where she could see Haley cowering behind the chaingun-wielding warjack at her side.
Alas for both Deneghra and myself, it never quite works out like that; Temporal Barrier meant I couldn’t trample the Rangers to reach Haley and had to be content with trashing the Cyclone instead. At least Robbie looked appropriately shocked when the Deathjack cast Ghost Walk on itself.
On the northern front, since Karchev, the Behemoth and the Destroyer were caught in the Withering too, I figured I’d take a swing. Unfortunately, the Mechanithralls didn’t have the lines of sight required to charge, and I neglected to move Parasite onto the Destroyer before the Combine got stuck into it, and so it was not a Good Round for me.
Haley leapt back from the fifteen-foot cast-iron monstrosity as it tore through her Cyclone – her head throbbed with the effort of bending time around it, slowing it down so that blows meant for her rained down on the ‘jack instead. The giant helljack might even still be seeing her – but the spell wouldn’t last for long. Still, she’d bought herself a few seconds’ grace, and by Morrow, she would use it.
“Sarn’t Furness! Thing with horns! Both rounds rapid!”
Haley being just outside the Deathjack’s melee range was a double-pain here, as it let her sidestep as far as the Withering would allow, and allowed the un-Withered Charger to plug away at it and blow a few chunks of its armour off. She also Arcane Shielded herself, perhaps fearing the worst…
The Lancer, Withered and without focus, could do little to ward off the Bane Thralls, who were closing in now that the fear of Covering Fire was gone. Just on the edge of the picture, if you squint, you might catch sight of a Cygnaran Ranger taking an opportunistic plug at the Siren and missing. The Long Gunners’ performance was rather more up to snuff, with the survivors neatly CRAing one shoulder off the Deathjack.
Fire had claimed one of the Cryxian riders, and the good honest blades of the Menites three more, but one yet remained, leering at them with its fleshless horse’s head. As the zealots closed in on it, their priest uttering cries of appeal to Menoth, Rhupert felt his spirit rise, and he let the stirring of his heart out in song. He piped the oldest song he knew, a hymn that came down the centuries from before the Rebellion, that told of how Menoth first marched out into the wild lands and chased the Devourer Wurm into shadow.
Around him, hulking Exemplar joined the song, raising up their voices as they stamped and beat their way through the undergrowth. The Cryxians’ ploy had failed. Menoth’s vengeance was coming.
While the Flameguard finish off the last Soulhunter, the Zealots fan out, and Rhupert powers the Bastions into the wood. At this rate they might actually get near the battle by turn four!
I feel a bit bad for all the divide-and-conquer stuff I pulled during this game, but only a bit; if Battle for Wesnoth and humilating paintball experiences have taught me anything, it’s that being stuck in the middle is only good for you if you’re a member of Stealer’s Wheel.
As can be seen here, the Menites have a long way to go yet. If only there had been some way for me to blast that Wrack, I’d have happily given the High Reclaimer the souls just to see the look on Neal’s face.
“K’mander! Be’ind ya!”
Reinholdt scampered back behind Karchev’s comforting bulk as the wave of thralls emerged from the trees – alas, the gobber’s retreat came just in time for him to spot three shadowy, kettle-black forms tearing out of the ruins around the Temple, claws flickering in the dying light of the sun.
“I hear you!” Karchev roared, turning slowly – too slowly, his giant armour seeming suddenly sluggish. Was that rust Reinholdt could see on the plating, where no rust had previously been? “Get back!” the iron man yelled. “You will not survive what I am about to do!”
GROUND ZEEEROOOOO! We were debating the usefulness of this move afterwards, but with only three focus left, there wasn’t really masses Alex could do this turn, and it did clear out the Mechanithralls around Karchev and put a bit of hurt on the Combine, and it did mean we got to say GROUND ZEEEEROOOO!
Perhaps sadly, Alex managed more damage on his Destroyer than the Combine did; nevertheless, and Withering aside, the Khadoran ‘jacks managed to bludgeon the Withershadow down. That’s them and the Cankerworm. No stealing shenanigans for me. I was, and am, disappointed; I never get to do any of that fun stuff.
Blasts rained down around them, biting deep into the slimy rock of the temple; stone flew hither and yon, and Deneghra yelped as a goodly chunk caught her across the shoulder.
As the smoke cleared, and the dust fell, though, Asphyxious emerged, unbowed, unblemished.
“Th’art foolish, Greylord. Thine efforts have only sealed thy doom…”