Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Widowmakers" Episode 1: Likely Route of Passage

“Widowmakers” is set of “serial” installments of tales of a group of four Khadorian Widowmakers and their many exploits. Join Cera, Alexi and their comrades and face the innumerable dangers of sharpshooters at the front!

Likely Route of Passage
"Widowmakers": Episode 1
All she really could sense was her trigger finger against the cold firing mechanism of her hunting rifle, the brush of an occasional fallen leaf grazing her face in the slight autumn wind, and the sound of a scuttling squirrel that darted up and down a nearby tree. She wasn’t sure how long she and her three comrades had lied prone in this position…all that mattered is that the targets had not yet presented themselves. Her eye was glued to her scope which revealed little more than the endless sea of trees that was the southern Thornwood. Back at headquarters, three days earlier, when Cera Jovnik and her three men were briefed on the operation, they were excited to ‘get to it’ and go into the field. However, though they were patient professionals, missions like this became exercises in patience, even for the likes of the Widowmakers.

The briefing, given by none other than Kommandant Irusk himself, had revealed the critical nature of their latest assignment. Intelligence reports from the front spoke of missing frontier pickets and messengers well behind the lines, all having vanished without even a trace of struggle or bloodshed. It was likely that the Cygnarian devils were trying to intercept and interfere with communiqués at the front. Irusk presented two possibilities: this was either the work of a local insurgency supported by the Cygnarians across the border, or, more ominously, the handiwork of the Black 13th. In either event, headquarters had plotted a scatter chart of the disappearances and had pinpointed their current location as a likely route of passage for the enemy and their captives. So here they were.

Cera looked over to her second, Sergeant Alexi Novnin, who gestured by tracing a line across his mouth with a finger: a sign that he wanted to speak; she subtly nodded. “Perhaps they were wrong back at H.Q. and we should redeploy a little more to the east” Alexi whispered, his voice barely audible except to the well-disciplined ears of a sharpshooter. “Agreed” Cera responded with some reluctance, their investment of time in this spot having come to nothing. Yet, as the four began to rise and shed their sheathing of fallen leaves, they heard voices coming their way. “Back down!” she commanded to her comrades with a more brisk yet still muffled voice. She accentuated the urgency of her command by pointing firmly at the ground.

They had originally sounded like they were right upon them but it took two minutes for the enemy sortie to come into sight. “Not Black 13th.” was Cera’s first thought, and she lamented not having the opportunity to dispense with the troublesome, if not elusive, special operatives of the enemy. Instead, through her scope she looked upon four Cygnarian commandoes dressed in their bronze and leather panoply of armor and long grey overcoats. They were in standard dress except for their usual blue pauldrons which appeared to be painted over in brown. With these regulars was a non-descript man wearing the garb of a local huntsman and, most importantly, a soldier in Winterguard uniform who was gagged, bound, and tethered to one of the Cygnarians. Cera gestured the plan with the silent precision of crisp hand signals and Alexi relayed the exact same series of gestures to the two other men down the line. She pulled the butt of her rifle in a little closer to her shoulder and inhaled…

[to be continued]

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