Other Quests: http://pastebin.com/63p3zFCc
Stat Sheet: http://pastebin.com/P6dzEhGN
You are ROY POWERS, a Vertical Tank Commander!
"Sir, you called for us?" You ask as you and Tarin arrive in Sawyer's command tent.
"Ah, Roy, just the tanker I needed." Sawyer nods. Alongside him are Bannon and Parker, as usual. "I assume Egan has already showed you the Badger?"
"Yes sir." You nod. "It's a pretty amazing vertical tank."
"That she is." Sawyer nods in agreement. "And we're going to need her. I've just got word back from Command. Reikland has refused to capitulate or even agree to negotiations. That means we have no choice but to make the final push into their capital and MAKE them surrender."
"So we're going in." Tarin observes.
"That's right." Sawyer nods. "Now, you've got one of the few heavy tanks we have. Some of the other units have Badgers, too, but we don't have nearly enough. That means your deployment will be critical.
Sawyer points down to a diagram of Reikland's capital.
"To the North, we have the headquarters for the Reiksguard, Reikland's most elite military unit, being led by an hold friend of yours, Gregor. Now, they're bound to be equipped with Reikland's latest Tigers and Panthers, meaning bottling them up, bogging them down, or preferably eliminating them will be critical. To the east, our scouts have spotted a massive quadruped Vertical Tank, configured to be a heavy artillery platform. We figure it's one of the machines they managed to evacuate from the Iron Foundry. To the west, Egan managed to pinpoint the location of a massive signal transmitter, no doubt to control what's left of their undead forces. Finally, to the south, there's a highway that leads straight to the center of the city. However, that road is sure to be heavily defended. But if we can break through, the rest of their lines will collapse and victory is assured."
>Attack the Reiksguard.
>Attack the superheavy VT
>Attack the transmitter.
>Attack the highway.
Hmmm, welp, it looks like we got a tie between the superheavy VT and the highway, so we'll just have to narrow down the choices!
"Honestly sir, if we have as few Badgers as we say, it makes sense that we concentrate on one front and push it as hard as possible." You point out. "That highway is large enough for heavy VTs to safely maneuver through. We can just power our way through."
"Hmmmm, that's bold but also dangerous." Sawyer frowns. "If we want to break the highway we need to go all out. That would leave our flanks vulnerable to counterattack."
"But don't we have the Bretons backing us up?" Bannon points out. "Can't they relieve some of the slack?"
"They could, but their numbers aren't what they used to be, due to a combination of combat losses and leaving behind garrison forces, there's only one position they can reliably assault." Sawyer points out.
"Hmmm, so the question is where to deploy the Bretons..." Parker nods.
>Back up the highway assault.
>Attack the Superheavy VT
>Attack the transmitter
>Attack the Reiksguard
"I think they'd do best taking out that transmitter." You suggest. "Without their undead support, the Reiks would just be left with their smaller core forces."
"That's true. The Reiks typically employ them to blunt potential losses." Parker agrees. "If we eliminate that strategic option, that may discourage the Reiks from committing to a counterattack."
"It'll have to do." Sawyer grunts. "That just means we'll have to deal with the Reiksguard and that superheavy VT's artillery fire the best we can. Also, Roy, I understand the Badger has space for a 3rd crew. Do you have any suggestions?
You pause to think. Any one of your platoon members could work, as you knew they were experienced and knew how to work together with you. But then that would mean having to sacrifice one of your Wolverines, as they couldn't be piloted by one person. The two other possible candidates were Willem and Hess. Willem was dependable, but you knew he wasn't experienced in Tilean tactics and doctrine. Hess on the other hand was supremely well versed and experienced, but you felt she had a certain "over-eagerness" that could get you into trouble...
>Select a platoon member
>Just 2 man it
"I think Hess would be the optimal crew member." You say. "She's got experience, and she seems willing help us, or me, at least. Plus, she'd probably have a better lay of the land than any of us."
"Hmmmm, that's risky, but I suppose it's better than letter her wander around the base." Sawyer sighs. "Bannon, Parker, either you have objections to this?"
"None at all!" Parker grins.
Bannon just silently shakes his head.
"All right, we'll let it go for now." Sawyer grunts. "Anyways, we need to attack as soon as possible before they can reinforce their defenses further. Get your affairs in order, everybody. This is going to be a big one."
>Do you want to talk to anyone or do anything in particular before leaving for battle?
Go tell Hess that she is in position to not only minimize the damage to the capital. But how to end the fight with minimal casualties on both sides, thus leading to a easier occupation and eventual release by our nation.
The next couple of days kind of fly by as preparations for the attack are hastily made. Egan manages to build up just over a dozen Badgers ready for combat, and they are sprinkled among the various units, mostly as platoon lead VTs and other specialist roles.
You sit in the commander's seat of your new Badger, still getting used the similar yet still alien control scheme. Tarin does the same, carefully examining her console. Neither of you had become... well... "close" like you did in Clementine a few days back. The constant work and preparations you all had to do had seen to that. You were also waiting for Hess to be transferred from the lab to your Badger to crew it, as she was not allowed to be moved without a guard detail. That was going to take a while.
"Something wrong, Roy?" Tarin turns to you.
>Tell her not to worry about Hess.
>Talk to her about what you both will do after this war.
>Ask her if she's scared.
>Talk about Clementine.
"Hey, Tarin." You speak up. "You don't have to-"
"Worry about Hess, I know." Tarin finishes for you. "I know she likes you, but I also know you like me more than her."
Huh... that was scarily on point.
"Besides, if there are problems, well, there are ways to solve them." Tarin shrugs casually.
The way she stays vague kind of scares you, as well.
"Um, all right." You nod, deciding to change the subject. "What about Clementine? What do you think is going to happen to her?"
"Hmmm, well, since she's no longer in use, I suppose she'll be sent to the depot as a reserve unit." Tarin frowns. "I mean, it was nice of Sawyer to even hold her back in the first place, considering how we need every VT we can get on the front. As for after the war? Best case, she'd stay in the depot. Worst case, she gets scrapped and sold as war surplus."
"Yeah..." You sigh.
>Suggest you let go of Clementine so she can be of use in the battle.
>Have fate decide what happens to Clementine.
>Resolve to find a way to keep her after the war.
>>Resolve to find a way to keep her after the war.
Welp, Roy loves VTs, it was even explicitly chosen as the very first choice at the beginning of the entire quest, so I can't really see him just letting go of the one that he spent so much time and attention on so easily.
"We've been through far too much to let her rot in a depot or get torn apart in the scrapyard." You shake your head vehemently. "There's no way we're leaving without Clementine."
"Well, I suppose we can pull some strings. Sawyer is rather indebted to us." Tarin nods.
"There's uh, also what we'll do after this war." You note. "You should know that any soldier that serves in combat can opt for discharge after the cessation of hostilities. That means, if... when we survive this, we can go home."
"If that's what you want." Tarin says simply.
>Is... is that all you're going to say?
>I'm kinda thinking about going home.
>I'm kinda thinking about staying in the army for the long haul.
>Is... is that all you're going to say?
>I'm thinking about traveling the world, seeing new places while I'm not getting shot at
>Maybe go home to clear out the bandits, but then settle down somewhere new, have a few kids, try out being domestic
"Is... is that all you're going to say?" You blink.
"Well, what do you want me to say?" Tarin frowns confusion.
"Come on, Tarin, all we've been doing so far is doing what I want." You sigh. "But for once, can we do something that YOU want?"
The inside of the VT is extremely quiet for a few long seconds, before Tarin finally speaks up.
"I... I kind of miss home. The forest, the mountains." Tarin shakes her head. "But maybe... maybe it's just because everything beyond that kind of makes me nervous. To me, that's all unknown territory out there..."
>If you want to go home, that's what we'll do.
>Come on, the outside world isn't THAT bad.
"If you want to go home, that's what well do." You smile as you kiss her on the forehead. "I was kinda missing it, as well."
Suddenly, you hear the latch on your hatch being unsealed and you and Tarin quickly return to your original positions as Hess drops in from the hatch, settling into the gunner's seat.
"Ah! Roy, Tarin! It looks like ve vill finally ride into battle together!" Hess says cheerfully, her voice ringing throughout the inside of the crew compartment. "Let us ride forth!"
>Say something to Hess? (specify)
>Proceed with the battle.
>Say something to Hess? (specify)
>Talk out any issues she might have about fighting against the Reiks
>Ask her what she sees herself doing after the war
>Go to the lavatory and subtly leave Tarin and Hess alone in the tank for a womanly chat
"Hey Hess, before we go," You ask with concern, "Don't you have any reservations fighting your own countrymen?"
"Dohohoho! The opposite, in fact!" Hess gives you a predatory grin as her one good eye flashes in the darkness. "Reiklanders are the most fearsome of vertical tankers! It would be an honor to battle them in genuine combat!"
"R-really? No issues at all?!" You blink.
"If they were afraid of dying, they wouldn't have stepped on the battlefield in the first place!" Hess says proudly.
You quietly glance at Tarin, who just shrugs.
"Okay, so... what do you plan to do after this war? Assuming Tilea wins, of course."
"Hmmmm, I suppose I'd go back home, hone my skills further. I'm sure our country will pick a fight with another weaker nation in order to restore some pride!" Hess smiles. "And if Reikland wins, well, I can take both of you as my servants!"
>Um, I'd rather not.
>Um, I guess it's not the WORST outcome...
>>Um, I guess it's not the WORST outcome...
Does Tarin get a cool maid outfit?
Not in any place where dogfighting's illegal.
Seriously, I've seen a bitch have her eye ripped out in a fight between her and another bitch because the other bitch smelled the sire on the first one, flipped the fuck out, and jumped the fence between them to attack her. All because the second bitch had chosen the sire as 'hers', and the first had dared to breed with him.
I know that doesn't apply exactly to humans, but it's something to keep in mind here.
That's something a lot of people don't understand; in almost every pack, the lowest female is above the highest male in the hierarchy (save, sometimes, the head bitch's chosen mate). Males are more likely to shoulder off and get into spats, but females are far FAR more likely to literally go for the throat, especially in a fight with another female. There are entire breeds (like the Tibetan Spaniel) where having two intact females share a yard almost guarantees that one is going to be dead or crippled in under a week.
Tibetan Spaniels, incidentally, are incredibly calm and passive around their friends, but standoffish and alert around anyone unfamiliar, as well as being rather individualistic and incredibly loyal. They were bred in the mountains as lookouts for the Tibetan monasteries
(Spaniel sitting on their little platform on the monastery roof sees/smells something unfamiliar and starts barking their head off, calling the Tibetan Mastiffs to come out and rip the intruders' arms off).
Do those traits maybe sound like anyone we know?
You have to admit, you briefly fantasize about Tarin dressed in a maid outfit when you think about the possibility.
"Um, I guess it's not the WORST outcome..." You admit.
Tarin just glances at you curiously before returning to the controls.
"All right, everybody!" Bannon's voice calls out on the radio. "Order's been given! We're moving out!"
The ground thunders as hundreds of VTs march in formation, heading to the massive mountain of concrete and glass that was Reikland's capital. Already, you could see the outskirts of the massive city lined with defensive guns and positions, ready to repel any attack.
"All right, this is it, everybody." Sawyer grunts from his own command Badger, leading the Tilean formation. "Remember, we focus on one point in the line and break through. Those defenses look scary but they're a non-issue once we get past them."
To the west, you can see a distant dust cloud as the Bretons charge the western sector, making their way straight to the transmitter controlling what was left of Reikland's undead army. Meanwhile, on your front, the armored formation was already being bombarded by sporadic artillery fire. You knew that they were just ranging their shots now, and the real bombardment would be sure to come when you close the distance.
Meanwhile, the Tilean mobile artillery units respond with their own fire, some of it being counterbattery to suppress the Reikland cannons while the other half drops shells directly onto the defense line in an effort to disrupt them.
>Have the Badgers lead the way. Their heavy armor will absorb the brunt of the attacks.
>Have lighter units lead the way. The Badgers are too valuable to risk right now.
"All right, third and fourth companies forward! Draw their fire!" Sawyer barks.
With that, several dozen Wolverines charge forward, cannons blazing. There was no way they could accurately hit with that sort of movement, but they were more to distract and suppress any defenses in front of them. It seems to be working too, as the defensive cannons begin turning to focus on them. The artillery starts to fall in increasing density as well, though no signs of any shells from the superheavy yet...
"Come on! Let's charge straight in!" Axel barks as he pulls at the chain. "There's no way they can use our artillery against us up close!"
"I dunno, that's a lot of cannons blocking the road, not to mention the infantry..." Rock says cautiously.
>Make a blitz for city to reduce the effectiveness of their artillery.
>Move forward slowly and surely and open up a hole in the defenses before advancing.
>Move forward slowly and surely and open up a hole in the defenses before advancing.
We aren't the only ones here, and opening a hole will make the city all the harder to defend even with the artillery blasting.
"Tarin, keep us moving, but slowly." You say. "Hess, you have the cannon?"
"Of course!" Hess says happily, as she sights in. "I can bullseye a fly at 2000 yards!"
"Okay, but I'm keeping the trigger locked to my controls." You say warily. "You know how it works."
"If you say." Hess sighs.
"All right, moving at quarter speed." Train says.
Already, you can hear the odd shell or two impacting against the Badger's front glacis, though none penetrate. You peek out of your hatch to spot targets for Hess.
"Gun position, six degrees left." You announce.
"I see it." Hess responds. "Targeted!"
"Firing!" You exclaim as you hit the trigger.
The Badger's 90mm cannon roars, nearly overwhelming your earmuffs and rattling your bones as it fires. You see the heavy shell lance into targeted gun, engulfing it in fire and shrapnel.
"Good hit!" You grin. "Next target!"
>"Gun position, six degrees left." You announce.
>"I see it." Hess responds. "Targeted!"
>"Firing!" You exclaim as you hit the trigger.
The gunner lays the gun but only the commander can fire? What is this next level tank design?
Remember how the Badger can work with two people? I'm betting both the gunner and commander can fire, like how the Wolverine has the commander be the gunner, and Roy's keeping the trigger of Hess's station locked.
>Roy's keeping the trigger of Hess's station locked.
Goddammit Roy, why must you persist in being the most retarded tank commander in your unit?
Do you suppose Roy is still the loader in addition to the commander and secondary(?) gunner? It clearly isn't Hess, since her station is designed to be redundant for some reason.
Suddenly, Tarin's ears seem to perk up.
"Incoming!' Tarin snaps as she suddenly throttles forward.
That's when you hear it. A low rumbling in the distance, as if there was a freight train coming in. That is, if a freight train was flying and dropping down right on top of you.
"All units go evasive!" You yell in the radio as Tarin accelerates the Badger. You duck back down into the hatch and button it up.
And just in time, too, as a massive artillery shell that may well have been a freight train practically lands behind you, showering the Badger with dirt and rock. Even the shockwave causes the entire vehicle to rattle like it ran into a brick wall. Almost immediately, the radio is flooded with panicked cries.
"KEEP IT TOGETHER!" Sawyer bellows. "That cannon takes at least a minute to reload! Keep pushing!"
"Haha, I told him that." Hess smiles. "Little Gustav is powerful, but her ammunition is exceptionally heavy, even with the most advanced moving equipment!"
"Right, right." You say. "Keep pace!"
"All right Bannon, your platoon is going to be the spearhead!" Sawyer barks. "Open a breach and press ahead!"
>Have you Badger take the lead.
>Have the platoon take the lead.
Then why put her in the tank in the first place instead of just taking Willem? There's no reason she can't juke the gun every time Roy fires to spoil the shot if she wants to.
Keeping her trigger locked all the time as opposed to (for instance) just when there's allies in the gun arc is losing precious time you could have spent firing to paranoia.
Ah, just imagine in a decade or so when we're back home with Tarin and Clementine...
>Giving the kids a tour of Clementine
>*holding the two year old while the six and four year olds climb around* "...and the captain's chair is where you were conceived!"
>"All three of us?"
"Everyone, let us take the lead!" You announce as the Badger lumbers forward, finally reaching the city limits. You see a large barricade erected across the highway, bristling with heavily armed infantry and a few AT guns.
"Targeted!" Hess says confidently. At this range at a target like that, there was no way she could really miss.
"Firing!" You nod as you hit the trigger. The Badger's cannon roars again and you see almost half of the barricade evaporate in fire, flinging, bodies and debris in all directions.
"Watch out Roy, you got infantry trying to climb on!" Axel warns. "Hold still for a sec!"
You hear a sound like raindrops impacting the hull of your Badger. No doubt your platoon "scratching your back" by raking your tank with MG fire. Your tank won't be harmed, but any infantry in the way certainly would be.
"Tarin, keep moving forward!" You order.
"This is Pathfinder One!" One of the scouts warns over the radio. "We have visual on the Reiksguard!"
"Where are they headed?" You ask, your eyes darting around.
"They're heading straight for you, head on!" Pathfinder One explains. "I count six Panthers and one Tiger! Looks like a customized variant!"
"Sounds like Gregor." Hess smiles eagerly. "Ohhhh, it would be wonderful to do battle against him!"
"We cannot afford to have the Reiksguard block the highway!" Sawyer barks. "Do whatever it takes to get them off!"
Suddenly, there's a large explosion to the left, and you see what looks to be a large radio tower teeter precariously before finally toppling over like a stack of cards.
"Looks like the Bretons completed their objective." Parker observes. "Maybe we can try and lead the Reiksguard into them?"
"But who?" Rock asks cautiously.
>Have the platoon lead them away they're fast enough to.
>You should lead them away. They'll consider you the bigger threat.
>You don't have time for this. Just hit them head on.
Early question because I gotta conk out;
Have you ever considered doing another Magical Girl quest Merc? MGH is easily my favourite quest of yours but it's really short and nobody seems to remember it.
Even if it's not a sequel I'd love to see something like that again (With maybe a cameo from Alice?)
"All right, you guys continue to press the highway." You say to the platoon. "Gregor's got a score to settle with me, so he'll definitely chase me if he has the chance."
"Are you sure about this?" Bannon asks nervously. "That's a lot of armor they got..."
"Do not worry! I know all of the Panther's weaknesses!" Hess says confidently. "Gregor's Tiger is a whole different matter, but I think we can figure something out!"
"Says the enemy prisoner." Axel groans.
"Y-you really shouldn't be going alone!" Alfie says with concern.
>Bring Bannon and Parker
>Bring Axel and Alfie
>Bring Rock and Alex
"We can do this alone. You all worry about opening that highway." You say as Tarin veers the Badger off the main road. "Don't worry about us. We'll be fine!"
"G-good luck." Alfie stammers in response.
"All right everyone, let's go!" Bannon says as his VT strides forward. "We got people counting on us! Remember to watch out for that superheavy artillery!"
"Be careful out there, kid." Rock says in parting.
Once you feel you're far enough away from the main highway, you key your radio to an open channel.
"Hey, Gregor. Looks like we're fated to meet again!" You call out in your most smug and confident tone you can manage. "You feel up to losing to me again?"
"Roy Powers." You hear Gregor's carefully clipped and refined voice respond, barely managing to suppress his frustration. "This will be your grave. I will make sure of it."
"If you can catch me, that is!" You laugh. You leave your radio transmitting, as to allow Gregor to triangulate your signal. You WANTED him to find you, after all.
"Eheheh, that man is so amusing when he gets angry!" Hess chuckles.
"I don't see that as a laughing matter." Tarin grunts.
>Engage Gregor head on. You need to tie down the Reiksguard as long as possible.
>Try to lure Gregor into the Bretons. It'll be a more even fight that way.
Rolled 9, 5, 2 = 16 (3d20)
"Hess, you said you know the the layout of this city?" You ask her.
"Of course!" Hess says proudly. "I can drive around here like it was on the back of my hand! Of course, Gregor would know how to navigate the city too..."
"Can you get us to the transmitter?" You ask Tarin. "Quick enough to keep us ahead of Gregor, but slow enough to keep him chasing us?"
"I can try." Tarin shrugs.
"Ah, then we have a plan, then!" Hess claps her hands together happily.
With Hess' directions, Tarin is able to maneuver even the large and unwieldy Badger through the city's narrow streets almost effortlessly. All the while, you catch glimpses of the all back VTs of the Reiksguard. Just enough to confirm their sighting, but not long enough that either of you can get an accurate bead on each other for a shot. The game of cat and mouse continues right up until you see a platoon of silver plated VTs, bearing brightly colored banners and freshly loaded contact lances.
"Halt!" You Willem command.
"Willem!" You grin at the coincidence.
"Roy?" Willem pauses. "It appears you've changed your steed! It looks rather nice!"
"Yeah, that's nice, but we need your help." You say. "We're being chased by the Reiksguard. We were hoping you could provide some extra muscle."
"You mean Reikland's best warriors?" Willem's voice perks up. "We will gladly do battle!"
"Where's the rest of your forces?" You ask.
"Catching up." Willem explains. "We are just the forward scout element!"
Damn. That meant you only had four Breton VTs, including Willem, backing you up against whatever Gregor was bringing. Maybe that would be enough.
>Counterattack while you still have the initiative.
>Wait for the rest of the Bretons to arrive.
"All right, here's how it'll work." You lay it out. "I'll go ahead and draw their attention. You and your men will go around and try to hit them on the flank. We want to try and keep the here until the rest of your force arrives."
"Or, we could destroy them all by ourselves and gain even more glory!" One of the Bretons remarks.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves." Willem cautions. "We have yet to actually clash with the enemy."
"You will soon." Tarin notes. "You feel that? They're coming."
Sure enough, you can hear and almost feel the rhythmic rumble of VT legs. The Reiksguard were coming.
"Willem, go!" You hiss. "Tarin, move forward!"
"Roger." Tarin nods.
"Oh boy, it's happening!" Hess smiles with glee.
"Settle down." You warn.
>Come out shooting. Do as much damage as you can.
>Try and talk. Distract them as long as possible.
Rolled 6, 20, 5 = 31 (3d20)
"All right, Hess, I'm trusting you with trigger control here. We need your reflexes." You say.
"Why, thank you!" Hess says happily.
"Tarin, full speed forward!" You bark.
"Acknowledged." Tarin nods as she pushes the throttle forward.
The Badger leaps out of cover, and you immediately see Gregor's Tiger, with both of his flanks covered by three Panthers each. Taken by surprise, the Panthers fire their cannons wildly, with most of the shots missing or deflecting off the front glacis of the Badger.
However, Gregor's shot is more accurate, drilling a 88mm shell directly into your Badger's front right leg, causing the entire vehicle to shudder.
"Right leg disabled"! Tarin scowls.
Damn. The Badger was designed to be able to move with just three legs as a form of redundancy, but that didn't mean its performance wouldn't be hobbled.
"Firing!" Hess says, not even phased. Instead of firing at Gregor's Tiger, she instead singles out one of the Panthers, drilling a 90mm shell right into the spot under its turret, where its ammunition was stored, causing to explode brilliantly, leaving two smoking legs. She probably figured Gregor's armor was too thick at the front and went for the sure kill instead.
You just needed a few more seconds until Willem was in position...
>Try and fall back.
>Stand and fight.
Rolled 15, 6, 20 = 41 (3d20)
Almost immediately, Tarin pulls the Badger back a bit behind a corner, angling the hull in a way to deflect any more additional incoming shots and hiding your remaining good front leg. Two of the Panthers slip away behind the buildings, no doubt in an attempt to try and flank you while the rest get ready to fire again.
It'd make sense considering quests are a rather recent adition to the board and before hand it'd be things with more modest audiences than the 30-50 people can do a quest.
And what else explains abnormal tendencies to get the same number multiple times and a seemingly higher chance of extremes (1s and 20s)
Hess fires again, this time going for Gregor. She lands a solid hit on the turret, but it doesn't penetrate. Instead, it appears as if she was aiming for the gunner's sight. She probably figured she couldn't penetrate Gregor's Tiger head on, even with the 90mm.
Gregor also seemed to have similar ideas. Instead of aiming for your Badger's frontal armor, he fires a round straight through the building you were hiding behind and striking your undamaged front left leg.
"Damnit!" Tarin seethes.
"How's the leg!?" You ask in concern.
"Operational, but only barely." She remarks. I might need to field repair it."
"SONS OF BRETON! CHAAAARGE!" You hear Willem bellow. You see the Bretons charge in from the flank, destroying the remaining Panthers will well placed lance hits, breaching the VTs like balloons. You see Willem try to strike at Gregor, but the man manages to swing his turret around, striking Willem's VT in the side with his extended cannon and causing his lance to hit at an oblique angle, wasting most of its energy and only scorching the Tiger's side.
"Damn old man still has quick reflexes." Hess grumbles as the next shell loads.
>Help the Bretons against Gregor.
>Keep an eye out for the two missing Panthers.
"Damn." You just had to trust that Willem and his buddies could handle Gregor. Currently, there were two Panthers trying to flank you, and you needed to be ready for them. You pop out of your hatch to get maximum visibility.
"Tarin, can you get into cover? Our position is compromised."
You hear the Badger's legs whine in protest as Tarin attempts to move them.
"Hydraulics appear to be damaged." Tarin announces. "I need to patch at least one of the legs, but I need to do it outside the VT."
>Stay in the VT
"Do it." You say. "Make it fast."
"Of course." Tarin nods as she grabs a repair kit, clambers out of the belly hatch, and begins her work on the legs.
"Hess, keep an eye out for those Panthers. Be ready to fire on a moment's notice. We're sitting ducks in this position." You warn.
"What about Gre-"
"The Bretons can handle him. I hope." You mutter. You can't afford to look back as you scan the various streets and alleys carefully for any signs of movement.
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you fail to spot the Panther in time. You see the pair round a corner, their canons raised and ready to fire.
>Trust in Hess and the Badger
Time seems to slow down. You can hear Hess curse something in her native language as she fires. The Badger's cannon roars once more as it demolishes one of the Panthers, lancing straight through it. However, the second Panther remains, and manages to get a shot off, slamming a shell into the side of the Badger at close range. The sudden impact shakes you, slamming your head against the open hatch and making stars explode in your eyes. You then hear a muffled voice from down below.
"Roy! ROY!" Tarin yells, her voice sounding distant and weak.
"I'm... I'm up." You groan. "Hess, are you okay?"
You don't get any answer. You look down and see the compartment below completely filled with smoke. Something was burning, but you weren't sure what. Maybe it was just an electrical panel shorting out, or maybe the ammo was about to cook off. You couldn't know for sure.
But what you could see was the dull glow of the cannon indicator, shining a bright green signifying it was ready to fire.
>One last shot.
>Get Hess out.
Your first focus is getting Hess out. Knowing that you only have a few seconds to react before it can load a fresh shell, you quickly duck in. Despite the smoke stinging your eyes and choking your lungs, you had already committed the layout of the Badger to memory for moments such as this. You manage to feel Hess' body, pull her out of her seat, and drag her to the belly escape hatch.
"TARIN!" You yell out of opening. "CATCH!"
You drop Hess' limp body out of match, and are glad to see Tarin already down there to catch her. You then drop down. A quick check over your shoulder confirms that the Panther is taking aim at the Badger, no doubt to confirm that it's eliminated.
Thankfully, that means the Panther completely ignores you, Hess,and Tarin as you flee for cover, though a loud explosion followed a a series of smaller ones is all the indication you need that your Badger is gone.
"Are you okay?" Tarin asks as she carries Hess.
"Yeah, just hit my head, it's nothing serious." You assure her.
"Ah, it appears you are doing no better than I." Willem grins weakly. He's covered in ash and soot and blood. You look to see all of the Breton VTs and Gregor's Tiger were down. Of Gregor, you saw no sign, though Willem's bloodied sword seemed to answer that question.
"Looks like you had a tough fight." You sigh.
"Verily." Willem nods. "If we live through this, I'm sure to get a knighthood."
You feel the ground rumble as the final Panther approaches. It seems to glance at you for a moment before readying it's cannon...
Only to explode by a precision shot from a Wolverine that had appeared behind it.
"I expect a drink for this, kid." Rock says happily.
"Looks like we came at the nick of time!" Parker says cheerfully.
"A-are you all all right?" Alfie asks.
"What the hell are you guys doing here?" You blink.
"Well, we couldn't very well just leave you out here all alone." Bannon grunts. "So we cleared that highway and headed over here the first chance we could get."
"He was very insistent about it." Parker coos.
"Quiet, Parker." Bannon grunts.
"So I guess it really is over." Tarin mumbles as she takes a seat next to. More Tilean VTs and infantry continue to flow in. It had only been a few hours since Sawyer's unit managed to seize the Capitol and transmit a demand to surrender. With their city and shambles and the defenses in disarray, Reikland positions were falling or surrendering one by one.
"Looks like it." You nod as you watch a platoon of Wolverines trot past. The rest of your platoon had decided to press ahead, while you, Tarin, Hess, and Willem were evacuated to the rear. Hess and Willem were already in the infirmary getting patched up, leaving you with just Tarin once again.
"Maybe we should celebrate." Tarin says simply
"But the others aren't back yet." You frown.
"I meant a private celebration." Tarin clarifies.
"Oh... OH." You look around. "I don't think there's anywhere we can get much privacy..."
"We still have Clementine."
"Tarin, you're a goddamn genius." You laugh.
>Well, that's the end of Vertical Tanks! Apologies if things got a little rushed at the end there, but I felt at this point there just wasn't going to be enough material for another full thread.
>Anyways, stay tuned for epilogues if you still want to read them!
The end of the most recent Tilea/Reikland war ended in a decisive, yet costly victory for Tilea. While Tilean forces were able to successfully push into the heart of Reikland's capital, they suffered heavy losses to the heavily entrenched defenses, as well as from punishing artillery fire from Reikland's Gustav superheavy artillery VT. However, analysts do point out that if not for the early destruction of the undead control transmitter, as well as the Reiksguard being led out of position, the assault would have been far bloodier, it not impossible.
Meanwhile, the Bretons, acting in support of the Tilean assault, suffered relatively less severe casualties than the Tileans, However, they weren't able to push far into the city, due to their tendency to get easily distracted by the prospect of a good VT duel, which was a source of great frustration for Tileans counting on their assistance.
With their capital in enemy hands and their army in tatters, Reikland finally swallowed its pride and capitulated to Tilea and Breton. As per the peace treaty, in lieu of reparation payments, both Tilea and Breton instead opted to annex various territories that had been continuously disputed. In particular, Breton seized about a quarter of Reikland's pre-war territory in order to reward the lords and knights who supported the war effort. Tilea meanwhile pushed the entire border several kilometers in, annexing several border towns and expanding the buffer zone between the two nations. Reikland itself, still reeling from the loss, eventually reverts back to its isolationist polices again, retreating behind high walls of concrete and steel, undoubtedly preparing aggressively for some future conflict. Whether it be against Tilea or another neighbor, nobody can say for sure...
Well that ended...limp.
Suppose not every quest can end with nat 20 diplomacy on an aerial fortress with our waifu or a final battle with our waifu using plastic models.
Having a waifu as the main enemy always leads to interesting things in merc quests, I've now realized.
THE ARTOIS CLAN
With the victory over Reikland, Lord Artois returns to Breton a hero. In recognition, many of his knights are promoted to full fledged Lords and granted new holdings in freshly annexed Reikland territories. Rumors abound that due to this success, Artois is sure to be named next in line to inherit the position of King of Breton.
In recognition of his numerous feats of valor as well as his victory over Gregor of the Reiksguard, Willem is granted the title of knight by Lord Artois. However, instead of accepting a plot of land, Willem instead volunteers to act as an ambassador to Tilea in order to strengthen the new alliance between the two nations. Lord Artois sensed ulterior motives for Willem's actions, but saw no reason to block the decision.
Despite leading Tilea to victory over Reikland, Sawyer had never quite gotten over the guilt he felt for the heavy losses his forces suffered in the final assault on the capital. Even though he was promoted to a General afterwards, Sawyer voluntarily moved to a desk position and never commanded a frontline unit again. However, he is still held in high esteem by those that served under him.
Naturally, Egan stayed with the Army in order to study all of the exotic technologies recovered from Reikland. In particular, she's rather excited at the prospect of taking apart Little Gustav, the largest Vertical Tank built on record. Perhaps Tilea could make use of whatever secrets could be learned from its construction...
BANNON AND PARKER
After the war, Bannon, still feeling he is unfit for command due to constantly having Parker or Roy make the critical unit decisions for him, opts to retire from the Army. Despite this, he feels he still served with distinction, and lives a quiet life taking care of his mother. He's currently writing a book on his experiences, hoping that it will be a bestseller.
Parker, meanwhile stays in the army, but without Bannon, sees no need to stay in the Armored Corps. Instead, she transfers to the Intelligence Division
ROCK AND ALEX
Wanderlust seemed to be something that remained strong in both Rock and Alex, as both of them opted to leave the army at the end of the war. Rock felt that it was time to go track down his old mercenary buddies and see what they were up to, or at least confirm whether they were dead or not. Alex, meanwhile, decided to continue traveling the world, to take the paths less taken and explore the hidden corners of the earth.
And no. Nobody ever really figured out Alex's true gender.
AXEL AND ALFIE
Unlike their fellow ex-platoon mates, Axel and Alfie both decided to stick with the army. In fact, they now lead their own platoon, which still patrols the newly established border between Tilea and Reikland. While things seem to be going well, Axel always wonders why Alfie keeps taking trips to the local Breton consulate.
There's a reason why nobody considers Axel the smart twin.
After the war, Hess was repatriated back to Reikland as part of the peace agreement. However, after having gotten a taste of the outside world, Hess began to find herself outside of Reikland's increasingly fortified borders more and more. Also, the fact that she openly and gladly admits to assisting the Tileans and killing her fellow countrymen with her own hands had made her something of a social pariah in Reikland, for obvious reasons. However, Hess remains cheerful as ever, always looking for the next exciting adventure to ease her boredom.
ROY AND TARIN
As they promised to each other, Roy and Tarin left the army at the end of the war. However, thanks to a few favors called in to key figures, they managed to legally retain Clementine as a "home defense asset'. With Clementine, they returned their home on the mountains, where they plan to make a few expansions...
>With Clementine, [...] they plan to make a few expansions...
LONG LIVE BELKA
"So.... I'm thinking we should knock down this wall and add in another bedroom or two." You say as you survey your old cabin from a distance. It honestly didn't even change at all despite your long absence. Mom and Dad sure took good care of it.
"I think we're better off just building a new one from scratch." Tarin suggests, her breath visible in the cold morning air. "Sudden remodels are always a bit hazardous. Plus we're going to need to add in a shelter for Clementine. No way we're leaving her out to rust in the snow."
"Hmmmm, that's a good point." You nod in agreement. "I guess we could be able to fund construction with all the back pay we're owed."
"Dohohohohohoho!" A very familiar and concerning laugh has your hairs stand on end.
"Hess?!" You cry as you spin around. "What the hell are you doing here?!"
And there indeed is Hess, standing there in a thick winter coat. Behind her looks to be a small army of movers and construction workers. How the hell did she get all of them up here?
"Ah, well, you see..." Hess smiles brightly. "I was kind of looking for a place to build a new summer home, and, well, I remember how you described these mountains as being absolutely beautiful, so I decided to build it here! Isn't it great? The both of you can even live with me as caretakers!"
"Pass." Tarin says a little too quickly.
"Oh, come on! It's a the perfect arrangement!" Hess whines. "There's no possible downside!"
"Pass." Tarin repeats herself.
"You're no fun." Hess pouts as she turns to you, a pleading look in her one eye. "How about you, Roy? The pay is good, you won't have to pay rent, and you'll get to spend all your time with me!"
It's at this point you realize that Hess has wrapped herself around one of your arms while Tarin defensively grips the other.
"Well, how about it?" Hess smiles.
"Yes, what is your decision?" Tarin gives you a piercing stare.
Dear god what have you gotten into...
And that's it for Vertical Tanks! I know it's had its issues and probably isn't quite as popular as my past quests, but I had fun running it and I hope you had fun playing along!
Anyways, we'll be starting up a new quest on Saturdays, so please keep an eye out for it, and don't forget KanColle on Fridays!