Chapter 4: Brave Knight On A Tall White…Medivac?
The Medivacs fleet flew south. Ashur didn't really know about the outlay of the various sovereign states, kingdoms, and empires in the northland, but it didn't matter. There were rumors that the various Empire had managed domesticated a number of lesser Fiends capable of flight, forming their own airborne regiment, but he was certain that his Banshee were more than a match for any of them.
On Earth, helicopters were used even into twenty-first century because of their versatility and mobility. Banshees were the helicopter's Terran cousins from the future. Twin turbine wings allowed the banshees to hover or moved in any direction. The propulsion system allowed a maximum speed of five thousand miles per hour and their Sonic Canceller technology neutralized those pesky shockwaves they generated when they breached the sound barrier. The Banshee's armaments consisted of twin Backlash Missiles Launcher converted Quantum Energy into homing missiles and fired them six at a time at not only ground targets like in the game but also air targets.
A fleet of five hundreds could exterminate most armies on Devin while staying out of harm's way. With them by his side, the sky of Devin was his domain.
From the data Ashur managed to gather from Cameron's oh-so-short battle with a Master-class warrior, it would take fifty of him to match a Banshee's firepower. Of course, matching a Banshee's power and matching its speed were two entirely different things. It would take a Zerg, and Ashur really hoped that there weren't any of those around. The only thing on Devin that Ashur had encountered that could match a Banshee's speed was a Medivac.
The Terran Medivac, twenty yards in length and fifteen yards in width, also with a maximum speed of five thousand miles per hour, a large carrier fully equip with medical and mechanical equipment to repair or heal, as needed.
The fleet flew over four hours, traversing a distance of twenty-two thousand miles by Ashur's calculation, before the golden sands came into view. Considering the fact that the distance from pole to pole on Earth was just a little under twelve and a half thousand miles, Devin must be a considerably bigger. From the curvature of the horizons, Ashur calculated that Devin was about 62.7 times bigger than Earth. It was a considerable bigger playground than Earth but that only meant that there were more players on the board.
For the next few hours, the fleet flew around the desert. While the Golden Scar was extremely inhospitable, it didn't mean that it was untouched by humans. The Golden Scar was said to be the ultimate battlefield of the ancient god war. As such there were many legends of ruins in the sands, remnants of the gods' battlements filled with great power and knowledge, guarded by monstrosities left behind from the war.
There were also tales of artifacts, leftovers of weapons from the gods' divine armies, relics of great power beneath the burning sunlight, highly sought after my kings and nobles. The promises of wealth and power drew countless people into the desert. There were tales of success, gossips traded in the taverns beneath a haze of alcohol, but for every artifact discovered, there were thousands consumed by the sands, forgotten by time.
These adventurers would most likely discover his tower in time. Ashur wanted to delay this as much as possible. As such, he ordered his fleet into the deep desert, to a place farthest from any settlements that bordered the Golden Scar, human's or beastman's.
He found a place twelve thousand miles from the eastern coast. Within a week, a thousand tower rose from the sand, over ninety-five percents of them were Command Tower, the rest were Barracks, Factories, and Starports. Intermittently between the various towers, Ashur ordered the construction of hundreds of Turrets to defend his desert city.
The Turrets were one of the Terran's defensive structures. In the game, Turrets were designed for air defense, automatically firing a pair of longbolt missiles at any hostile targets in range. Ashur's Turret, on the other hand, was a rotating, four-barrel Quantum Chain Gun, with an extremely high rate of fire and bullets velocity capable of decimating air and ground targets.
The other defensive structure of the Terran was the Bunker, but Ashur did not order any built. The Bunker design of Ashur's Terran contained living quarter and a small medical and repair bay underground, beneath the above-ground bunker chamber. The Bunker could also produce Nutrient Gel. Whoever designed the Bunker seemed to have geared it for human's occupation. As things stood, his troops were best use to response to threats that a static defense could not cover and augment the defense as needed. It was more cost effective to just house them within the Towers.
With everything set, Ashur headed back on a Medivac with ten Marines, five Marauders, and five Firebats along with an escort of four Banshees. As always, Cameron was by his side. The Quantum Avatar was dedicated if nothing else.
As they were leaving the desert, the first snow of winter began to fall. From his analysis of the atmosphere, Ashur detected a massive winter storm. If they were still in the little shack in Vina, they would be in for a bit of trouble but now that his family was living in the Tower, it shouldn't be a problem. Every Terran structure was designed for the most extreme of condition. Short of living directly on the surface of the sun, they should be immune to any weather condition.
On their way back, Ashur decided to take a detour to the Lake of the Wild Embrace. Ashur had heard about the lake when he visited a tavern in Havus, the major city closest to Vina. Of course, closest meant a little over four hundred miles. Havus were where the people of Vina went to sell their kills, those they didn't keep for themselves, and buy supplies. Ashur had visited a few of the taverns there on his trips to the city. He liked taverns, not for the drinks though he imbibed alcohol like all hunter. What most attracted him to the taverns were the stories.
One of the stories was of a lake in the southeastern edge of the kingdom. The lake was famous among hunters because of the Lamving, a silver fish that could only be found in the lake. The fishes were said to be extremely delicious and was so sought after by the nobles of Devin that they were worth their weight in gold. Problem was, the Lake of the Wild Embrace was deep in the Haldus Forest, the largest forest in three kingdoms, spanning over fifteen hundred miles. To get to the lake, one would have to wade through hundreds of miles of forest swarming with Fiends.
Fortunately, this was not a concern for Ashur. Flight was a considerable advantage, allowing him to bypass the vast majority of Fiends. The rest could easily be taken care of by the Banshees.
They arrived at the lake with little trouble. The few flying Fiends they ran into had been swiftly neutralized. From above, Ashur could see where the lake got its namesake from. It was nestled against the base of a small mountain. From either side of the mountain, a chain of tall hills ran around the edge of the lake as though the mountain was reaching out with its arms to hold the body of water. By the time they reached the lake, the forest was white with snow.
The Medivac landed on the eastern edge of the lake and Ashur disembarked. Cameron, leading the remaining troops, quickly followed and took a defensive position around the spot. The primary directive of every machine in the Terran collective was to defend the Supreme Commander. As such, unless otherwise ordered, they would always form a defensive perimeter around him.
Ashur left them be. They were deep in Fiends territory; a defensive perimeter might not be a bad idea.
He held out his hand and the nanites inside him formed into threads. Extending from his fingers, they plunged into the lake and began searching like living creatures. The threads swam through the water, and wrapped themselves around three Lamving fishes, each weighing over ten pounds.
Just as the threads pulled the fishes out of the water, there was a rustling in the bushes. Ashur's infantries reacted immediately. They closed rank around him and leveled their weapons in the direction of the noise, forming a protective of steel and guns.
"Hold," Ashur ordered when three people burst out of the trees.
Leading the little group was a young woman, as old as Ashur, maybe even younger, with long blond hair. She was quite beautiful, possessing a feature as appealing as any movie star. She wore a light green dress that matched her eyes made of some very fine fabric. Ashur's nanite-enhanced sight revealed a very high thread count. On Devin, that meant a magically woven fabric, which meant a very powerful and wealthy noble family.
Flanking her was a man and a woman, both in their late twenties. The man was six feet two with broad shoulders and shoulder-length dark hair, wearing gleaming armors and wielding a sword almost as long as he was tall. The woman was considerably more slender with long dark hair, wearing a bright red robe. From the staff in her right hand, Ashur identified her as a wielder of magic.
From the levels of power Ashur was detecting, the woman's energy level was equal to that of the Master Warrior that led the Blood Talon. A Master Sorceress was a noble of considerable worth, even among the empires. For a kingdom like Devin, she wouldn't even have to bow to the king. As for the man, armors and sword suggested a warrior, which might make his status lower than the Sorceress but his energy level was higher. Problem was, his energy was fluctuating wildly. Ashur was a little surprise that he could still stand.
The three newcomers froze when they saw Ashur and his contingent. They all looked exhausted, and he could detect several injuries on each of them.
"I would advise against any sudden movement," Ashur said. He indicated the mechanized troops around him. "They're a bit sensitive when it comes to my safety."
He spoke the truth. At that moment, all the computer chips inside the androids were running full blast, processing every piece of data they could gather, analyzing the threat level of the new newcomers and the surrounding environment. The attack command was on stand-by, ready to trigger at the first sign of threat. If a machine were capable of being nervous, Ashur would say that they were nervous. Even Cameron had actually edged closer to him. It was actually kind of nice to be care for so much, even by machines that were programmed to.
The three hesitated, quickly trading hushed whispers. Ashur didn't make the effort to listen in but he caught a word. The older woman had called the younger one "Highness", which suggested that the young woman was royalty. In any case, they seemed unable to reach a decision.
The blond woman stepped forward, seemingly at the protest of the other two. "Who are you?"
"I am Ashur, Supreme Commander of the Terran."
"Terran?" the woman said.
Ashur indicated the metallic sentinels around him. "Them. And you are?"
Before the young woman could answer, the Sorceress cut in front of her, both physically and verbally. "Who hold your allegiance?"
"I don't know. My family?" Ashur said.
The Sorceress shook her head. "No, I meant to what kingdom do you swear your fealty?"
"None," Ashur said. "The Terran is a civilization in our own right. Upon this world, we stand independent."
The Sorceress glanced at the younger woman. Before either of them could ask another question, the bushes behind them rustled. The three froze. They turned to look into the trees and immediately moving away from their position, making a point to keep their distance from Ashur.
Around him, the Terran forces moved accordingly, half moved their weapons in tandem with the three's movements, keeping them targeted; the other half trained their weapons in the direction of the new disturbance.
From the trees, a group of nearly twenty men emerged, quickly surrounding all of them. The newcomers were a mixture of Warriors and Wizards. From their energy level, four them them were Master-class, one Wizard and three Warriors.
Ashur was a bit curious. From his understanding, a Master was a high-end power for a monarchy. To the various kingdoms of Devin, they were akin to battle carriers on Earth, and yet in the space of half an hour, he had seen six Masters. Was Fate running a special? Nine dollars for half a dozen?
"Well, well, little princess," one of the men said, stepping forward. He was young, about Ashur's age. He was not the most powerful of the group and yet there was a note of arrogance in his voice that grated on Ashur's nerve. "You gave us quite a runaround. Now be a good little girl and come with us. If you behave, maybe I won't give you to my soldiers."
"Wow," Ashur said. "He's not pleasant at all, is he?"
The Sorceress quickly muttered a spell and a shimmering dome encased her group along with Ashur's. Ashur's nanite sight recorded the syllable of the spell along with the corresponding reactions of the ambience energy around them and immediately began analyzing it. Shielding technologies wouldn't be available until stage two. Magic might proved to be a shortcut. Unfortunately, to make it efficient enough to be viable, he would need a lot more information.
The opposing group was not so concerned about such thing. The moment the barrier went up, they attacked. Weapons, gleaming with Radiance, hammered away at the barrier. A barrage of spells like fireworks washed over the dome, leaving multiples ripples upon the shimmering surface. Ashur recorded it all, Radiance and Magic alike, analyzing the two forces upon which civilizations of this planet was build.
"I formally request your assistance," the young woman said to Ashur.
"You're a princess," Ashur said.
"Uh…yes," she said.
"Of what kingdom are you a princess of?"
"Lira," she said.
"What?" she said.
"My mother and I had a very bad experience with one of your dukes. It didn't leave us much love for the ruling class of Lira."
"Will you help us then?"
"At the moment, I'm debating whether or not to kill you myself."
The Warrior immediately pulled the princess and the Sorceress away from Ashur's and his group, leveling his weapon at them. The moments seemed to have aggravated the fluctuation of his energy, and he tethered on his feet.
"Calm down," Ashur said. "It's simply a passing fancy. I will render assistance, or you could take your chance with them if you prefer." He gestured at the men attacking the barrier.
The three hesitated.
"You should decide quickly. By my calculation, the barrier has about thirty seconds at best." It wasn't until he finished his statement that he realized that the people of Devin probably didn't know what a 'second' was.
A few more moment of hesitations and whispered discussion before the three went to Ashur. The soldiers around him parted slightly to allow them passage, closing ranks around them afterward. They stood still, weapon raised, as the barrier weakened and began to waver. The moment the magical barrier vanished, the Terran opened fire.
The Terran's Gauss Rifles were not as loud as the guns of Earth. There was only a soft rhythmic popping as a hail of invisible energy bullets tore through the air and slammed into the attackers, tearing them apart before most of them could react.
Those fell by the marines had a few moments to be surprised as their lives faded. Those fired upon by the Marauders were not so fortunate. In the game, Marauders' armament consisted of Quad K12 "Punisher" Grenade Launchers. Ashur's Marauders, on the other hand, were equipped with a pair of Quantum Pulse Cannons on their arms. Whereas the rapid-fire Gauss Rifles seemed to be designed for fighting multiple targets, like say Zerglings, the Quantum Pulse Cannons seemed to be signed for battle against a single larger target. By Ashur's estimation, a single shot from the Pulse Cannon should be able to blast a panzer tank clear in two, a 'tank-buster' in every sense of the word. Against the attackers, a shot from the Pulse Cannon left nothing behind.
The battle lasted all of five seconds. Even Ashur was a tad surprised at how quickly the men were cut down. When faced with Master-class and below, it would seemed that the efficiency of a small battalions of Marines and Marauders far exceed even that of a Quantum Avatar.
While Ashur was a bit surprised, the three were beyond stunned.
"By the gods," the Sorceress whispered.
Ashur sighed. "All I wanted was some fish." When they stared at him in shock, he shrugged and turned. "Come on. This way," he said and began to lead them away.
The three did not follow him.
Ashur stopped after a few steps and turned to them. "The closest human settlement is at least a day travel from here, and that is under normal circumstances. This storm is going to get a lot worse. Admittedly, the Sorceress is powerful so you two may be able to survive the storm and the Fiend. He won't."
As though on cue, the man toppled and hit the snow covered ground with such force that even Ashur winced a little.
"By my analysis, he has about three hours. His only chance is with me, but do whatever you want."
"How do we know that you won't kill us in our sleep?" the Sorceress asked.
Ashur laughed once. "I'll give you the same terms that the immortal Captain Malcolm Reynolds would; if I do decide to kill you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing me, and you'll be armed."
He saw the women paling slightly and it was very difficult for him to stop smiling. Whatever else he was, the good Captain Reynolds does have some of the best one-liners.
There was another few moments of indecision before the princess said, "We'll go with you."
Ashur shrugged. "Whatever. Honestly, part of me was hoping you would take your chance with the storm; it would be a lot less trouble for me, but I suppose we are living in your kingdom so I do owe you something."
He gestured at the fallen Warrior and two Marines stepped forward after attaching their weapons to a couple of latches that formed on the backs of their suits. They stopped when the Sorceress raised her staff defensively.
"Do you prefer to carry him?" Ashur said.
A moment passed and the Sorceress lowered her staff. The Marines stepped forward and picked up the Warrior.
"What are your names anyway?" Ashur asked as he led them into the trees.
"I am Mina Avara, Eldest Princess of Lira. This is Lady Viana Kantesh and Lord Fenir Odia." She indicated first the Sorceress then the Warrior.
Ashur nodded in acknowledgement and led them toward his Medivac.
Author's Notes: There had been repeated suggestion about me getting a beta reader, and I have tried. Unfortunately, the few I managed to contact through the site's beta reader list had been unwilling to take on an additional project so I thought I would ask you guys. If anyone is interested in becoming the beta reader for 'The Terran Legion' please contact me, and please keep in mind that grammar has always been my weak point.