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580897 No. 580897 ID: 186341

It is the distant future: all remaining humans are in deep-frozen sleep.

Their caretakers and the caretakers of the universe are the robotic warrior-poets called Panzersöldners.
Expand all images
No. 580899 ID: 186341
File 140366834127.png - (279.06KB , 960x540 , swordsman.png )

Select which Panzersöldner you wish to control:

Gerhardt, the doppelsöldner.
No. 580900 ID: 186341
File 140366837507.png - (236.73KB , 960x540 , Spearman.png )

Helmut, the infantryman.
No. 580901 ID: 186341
File 140366839279.png - (202.65KB , 960x540 , Musketeer.png )

Siegfried, the musketeer.
No. 580903 ID: c3ad33

No. 580907 ID: ca64a4

No. 580908 ID: 408c38

No. 580909 ID: 945fb0

No. 580911 ID: e791b7

Helmut for keeping heads safe!
Wait, we're robot warrior poets? If I hear of any shoguns...
No. 580916 ID: 0ee153

No. 580920 ID: 221431


But failing that Helmut.
No. 580922 ID: e5706a

Gerhardt. Zweihander best hander.
No. 580931 ID: 5fceb8

No. 580941 ID: fbd785

No. 580946 ID: 65b2c8

No. 580967 ID: 9edc38

Helmut has the coolest pose, voting based entirely on that
No. 581003 ID: e4e1f3

No. 581005 ID: 1d964d

No. 581010 ID: 47abb2

No. 581097 ID: 186341
File 140374071320.png - (84.93KB , 960x540 , 2.png )

Evening, and the gossamer light unwraps itself like gauze from the crepuscular mummy-dark of night.
No. 581098 ID: 186341
File 140374072153.png - (123.50KB , 960x540 , 3.png )

Now is the gloaming, and from the west three ships unfurl pennants of fire and smoke.
They cut across the sky like
No. 581099 ID: 186341
File 140374072578.png - (128.52KB , 960x540 , 4.png )

Like, um,
No. 581100 ID: 186341
File 140374072826.png - (221.52KB , 960x540 , 5.png )

"Siegfried," says Gerhardt. "What would you say those ships cut across the sky like?"
No. 581110 ID: 0b90a3

"...like steel heralds, carrying word of the encroaching darkness."
No. 581121 ID: 0ee153

Like absinthe across the imagination of a drug-addled poet.
No. 581125 ID: c5f6d2

Like skidmarks across the underwear of a crack addict?
No. 581145 ID: 40935b


Or maybe trap. I forget the difference.
No. 581146 ID: 189a54

"Like knives, coldly striking forth, heedless of destination or intent."
No. 581147 ID: 186341
File 140375469967.png - (415.41KB , 960x540 , 6.png )

"Like absinthe across the imagination of a drug-addled poet." Siegfried sights down his musket.

"Hmm." Gerhardt taps his pen against his face. "Helmut!"

"What?" Helmut plants his spear on the ground a hundred paces away. "Do you see anything?"

"Helmut, what did those ships that just flew by cut across the sky like, in your estimation?"

"Like ships," Helmut says.

"In your poetic estimation."

"Like a huge fucking big sword," offers Helmut. "Siegfried, do you see anything?"
No. 581148 ID: 186341
File 140375471519.png - (550.83KB , 960x540 , 7.png )

"Aye," says Siegfried. "I see three dead men."

Gerhardt goes to his side of the hill and peers into the dell below. "Carabineri. Here?"

Helmut approaches the two of them. "So the scouts were right? Fantastic. Three of them, three of us. Piece of piss."
"The one in black and yellow is a sergeant," Siegfried says. "They're tough."
No. 581149 ID: 186341
File 140375473459.png - (214.77KB , 960x540 , 7a.png )

"We should hail them," Gerhardt says.
Helmut slaps him upside the head.
"We should," protests Gerhardt, readjusting his hat. "What are Carabineri doing deep in Landschneckt territory? The Grand Marshall would love to know."
"Counterpoint:" Helmut says. "They are Carabineri and we are Landschneckt and what we do is fight each other so let's fight them. Sieg can pick one off for us." Helmut gives Siegfried an affectionate shoulder punch.
"We could scare it out of them," Gerhardt says. "They don't know how many of us there are and Siegfried has a shot trained on their sergeant."
"And lose the element of surprise?" Another slap. Helmut thinks with his hands.
Gerhardt gives him a cuff back. "We're going to lose the element of surprise if you keep smacking me on the head, Helmut."
"Siegfried has the shot," says Helmut. "Let him decide."
No. 581160 ID: 2fd516

How about we shoot two of them, and capture the third for interrogation?
No. 581170 ID: 707a11

Shoot an escort, close and take the other escort in close combat. Actually , could you shoot to incapacitate the sarge?
No. 581245 ID: 4d1168

Gerhardt has a good idea. He and Helmut approach the Carabineri while you cover them from a hidey-hole.
Then Gerhardt tells them to surrender because they are surrounded by 10 snipers, and gives the sign to shoot one of them if they don't believe him.
No. 581253 ID: 6b7ea4

have helmut and gerhardt go down there to talk while siegfried keeps them covered, but i don't see any need to go overboard and lie about having tons of snipers. if anything we're more likely to find out their true intentions if they don't think they're at risk of getting picked off. just calmly and firmly ask what they're doing here. no need to go killing or maiming people right off the bat - but if they show hostility siegfried can have at them, starting with either the most immediate threat or the sergeant.
No. 581256 ID: 50338d

What's the current status between your houses / nations / countries / whatever? If it's an open state of war, and they're in your territory, there's not much to debate. They get shot.

If things are cooler, you know, just tensions, or a cold war, or a not-always-stuck-to non-aggression, talking to them might be appropriate. (Although Siegfried should stay back).
No. 581298 ID: 186341
File 140381622610.png - (104.06KB , 960x540 , 8b.png )

The Landschkneckt and the Carabineri are two of the most successful companies of Panzersöldner mercenaries. If a Panzersöldner Kingdom or House wants an army quickly they go to one of them first: the Landschneckts for their valor or the Carabineri for their number.

But only one of them.

In the vigorous interest of good business this means that when the two armies run into one another outside a contract it can often end in bloodshed.
No. 581299 ID: 186341
File 140381623780.png - (140.07KB , 960x540 , 8a.png )

"Go," Siegfried says. "Talk. I have you covered from here."
"Uch." Helmut brings his spear to his shoulder and starts down the hill.

Gerhardt hurries after him. "I do the talking, Helmut!"

Siegfried sighs and rocks back on his heels into a firing position.

What is probably going to happen, he decides, is that Gerhardt is going to try to talk them into some kind of surrender in order to impress him, and Helmut is going to try and goad them into fighting, also in order to impress him.

Both Siegfried's brothers-in-arms are between conquests at the moment and whenever that happens they try to woo him.

They are sexless, of course, as is Siegfried, but he (for he fancies himself a he) is slim, and not unhandsome, and a good shot, and what is a warrior-poet without a strapping young paramour?
No. 581301 ID: 186341
File 140381628336.png - (463.07KB , 960x540 , 8.png )

Gerhardt hallos a greeting as the two Landschneckts descend the hill.

Siegfried can't hear anything with clarity from up here, but after a moment of tension the Carabineri relax a little, and the officer and Gerhardt begin to talk. He can hear their percussive little voices from his seat, and Gerhardt's flowery Diplomatic elocution.
No. 581302 ID: 186341
File 140381629553.png - (510.92KB , 960x540 , 9.png )

Helmut says something and chortles, loudly. The carabinier with the spear doesn't react well and points it at him.

Helmut leans forward and says something else.
No. 581303 ID: 186341
File 140381631180.png - (405.09KB , 960x540 , 10.png )

And out come the blades, as Siegfried predicted.

The Carabineri officer yells something and Gerhardt yells something back.

Damn. It looks like one of them has a pistol.
No. 581304 ID: e1609c

Take him out.
No. 581305 ID: ecb09c

yep, guy with the pistol's gotta go down.
No. 581307 ID: 4d1168

Blast the pistol dude then affix your bayonet and charge into the fray!
No. 581315 ID: 186341
File 140381927224.png - (478.05KB , 960x540 , 11.png )

Siegfried fires.
No. 581316 ID: 186341
File 140381928035.png - (543.25KB , 960x540 , 12.png )

The pistoleer's head flowers open and outward.
No. 581317 ID: 186341
File 140381928499.png - (522.12KB , 960x540 , 13.png )

Helmut takes the opportunity to hurl his spear through his target's chest.
No. 581318 ID: 186341
File 140381929197.png - (559.42KB , 960x540 , 14.png )

Before the sergeant can bring his blade up into a proper parry, Gerhardt's sizable zweihander knocks it from his grip.

Gerhardt points the sword directly at his chest.

He takes a couple of steps back and shakily raises his hands in surrender.

Siegfried hears Helmut whooping from his spot on the hill.
No. 581321 ID: 40935b

Hooray for unconventional tactics! Ask Helmut his plan if he missed.

Tie that officer up and bring him before your superiors. Might want to check him for weapons, too.

Take the pistol- it can't hurt to have a backup weapon if you only have a musket.
No. 581325 ID: 9ddf68

hm, stay up there for a moment just to make sure they didn't leave someone behind trailing the other three just incase the group was ambushed. Then if it looks like everything has cooled down hand on over to the others and see what they've found out.
No. 581332 ID: 186341
File 140382221695.png - (119.67KB , 960x540 , 16.png )

Siegfried scans the horizon. It doesn't look like his shot attracted anyone's attention.

Siegfried has two pistols already.

Their names are Tristan and Isolde.

He slings his spent musket at his back and pulls them out as he descends the hill. The sun's starting to set.
No. 581333 ID: 186341
File 140382222613.png - (524.61KB , 960x540 , 15.png )

Helmut plants a foot on the dead carabinier and pulls his spear out.

"What would you have done," Gerhardt is saying, as Siegfried reaches his comrades, "if that had missed?"

"I don't miss," Helmut says.

"But what if you had?" Gerhardt is tying up the sergeant.

Helmut shrugs. "I guess we'll never know."

"Damn fine shot," says the sergeant. "Where were you?"

"Up the hill," says Siegfried.

"Damn fine shot," the sergeant repeats. He looks down at the crumpled head of his soldier. "Damn fine."

"All's well that ends," says Gerhardt. "Should we take the corpses with us, do you think? Spare parts?"
"Spare parts and slow moving." Helmut kicks a dead carabinier's head. "And I wouldn't want any of this poor sop's scrap."

A==> Take them. Supplies and scrap are useful and they're relatively undamaged.
B==> Leave them. We have to be fast. Who knows how many Carabineri are out here?

Oh, and by the way:

1==> Good disarming, Gerhardt.
2==> Good throw, Helmut.
3==> If I hadn't been there you'd both be scrap metal. I hope you're aware.
No. 581335 ID: 2bef53

B and praise BOTH of them.
No. 581348 ID: 186341
File 140382539738.png - (236.93KB , 960x540 , 17.png )

"Good throw, Helmut," says Siegfried. "And good disarm, Gerhardt. Now leave the bodies and let's go."

"Told you," says Helmut. "Rustbucket."
"Told me nothing," says Gerhardt.

They're about halfway to camp by midnight.
They don't need to sleep.

"Hey," says Helmut. "Hey, Gerhardt. Siegfried. Guess what I brought along."

"If you say your lute I'm going to be upset with you," says Gerhardt.
No. 581349 ID: 186341
File 140382548561.png - (304.83KB , 960x540 , 18.png )

"I brought my lute," says Helmut.

"O god," says Gerhardt.

"Siegfried, hold the lamp for a second," says Helmut. "I wrote a song."

"Don't enable him," says Gerhardt. "If any Carabiner hears us our only chance is if they mistake his playing for the squalls of a dying animal. Which isn't unlikely."

"Your soul lacks music, Gerhardt." Helmut waves the lantern at him. "That's why you'll never be happy. You can make up some words to it, if you want."

"What rhymes with 'autosuffocation'?" says Gerhardt.

1==> Put the lute away, Helmut.
2==> All right. Give me the lantern.
No. 581353 ID: 6b7ea4

1, but only because of the concerns about stealth. reassure him that you'd be more than happy to listen to a song once you guys are home free and safe.
No. 581422 ID: 9ddf68

>What rhymes with 'autosuffocation?
intoxication? fixation, masturba... uh(cough) not sure...

But yeah tell him to save the lute for when we get back to camp. It would be poor form to celebrate when the work is only half done after all.
No. 581427 ID: 2fd516

It's "auto-asphyxiation" and 1, no torturing the prisoner.
No. 581461 ID: 186341
File 140384488822.png - (229.14KB , 960x540 , 19.png )

"It's 'Auto-Asphyxiate', Gerhardt," Siegfried says. "And Helmut, put the lute away."

"That's right," says Gerhardt. "No torturing the prisoner."

"I'd like to hear you play it," Helmut says. "Mincing around with your bloody poetry." He sounds truly hurt.

They walk a few tense yards.
"Helmut, look, I'm sorry," Gerhardt. "You don't play all that bad, all right?"
"You're damn right I don't," Helmut says.
The sergeant is lagging a little. Siegfried prods him in the back with the barrel of his musket. "We'll listen to it back at camp."
"And I'll make up the words," Gerhardt says.
"Well," Helmut says. "Okay."
"Okay," Gerhardt says.
"It can be about today. I'll call it. 'The Day Gerhardt Pissed His Pants at a Pistol'."
"I don't even piss." Gerhardt slaps the back of Helmut's head. He turns to the sergeant. "And your little snapdragons don't scare me, you hear?"
"Yes sir," says the sergeant.
"I don't even piss," Gerhardt mutters.
No. 581462 ID: 186341
File 140384490818.png - (585.50KB , 960x540 , 20.png )

"This is the camp?" the sergeant says. "Right in Atropos Valley. We had no idea."
"That is because you are an idiot carabinier," Helmut says.

"Be personable, Helmut," Gerhardt says. "Altho he is right that this does speak incredibly ill of your reconnaissance."
"We should bring him to the Line Marshall," Helmut says. "He processes prisoners."
"If we bring him to Marshall Bertrund he's Bertrund's prisoner and Bertrund executes his prisoners," Gerhardt says. "The Grand Marshall will take him."
"We'd be going over Bert's head," Helmut says. "He's our CO. You know he'll hate that."
"We'd be ensuring our friend the sergeant parts with his intelligence instead of his life," Gerhardt says. "It'll be our good deed for the day."
"If my input matters I'd quite like to meet the Grand Marshall," the sergeant says.

1==> Take him to Line Marshall Bertrund. Those are our orders.
2==> Bert can be a little bellicose. The Grand Marshall will use this one better.
No. 581465 ID: 2fd516

Yeah I think we should probably make sure we get the info out of the sergeant, if there's no way for us to just convince Bertrund to hand the prisoner up the chain of command.
No. 581467 ID: 707a11

No. 581483 ID: c5f6d2

It seems to me that we have a prisoner that has learned something their side's reconnaisance apparently didn't. Perhaps preventative intelligence hygiene is actually appropriate, although it would seem to be a waste to fail to properly debrief an enemy field commander. No Geneva Convention rules in effect?
No. 581488 ID: 9ddf68

don't care but if we do go over the CO just say we bumped into the Grand marshal first should he come asking about it. Also make sure you're hand is near one of your pistols at all times, just incase.
No. 581489 ID: ba8629

No. 581493 ID: 186341
File 140385859194.png - (401.02KB , 960x540 , 21.png )

"If music be the food of love, play on.
Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die."
The Grand Marshall drums on the war table as the lutist plays. Beneath his fingers a thousand tiny stone columns rise and fall into a topographical map of the area.
"That strain again! It had a dying fall.
Oh, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor." The Marshall looks up from the table as Siegfried enters, Isolde trained on the sergeant's head. "Ah! Siegfried!" He steps back from the table.
"Enough, no more," he says to his bodyguard with the lute.
"'Tis not so sweet now as it was before."

Grand Marshall Utrecht is not a large man but his shadow is long and tall. He is one of the most capable Landschneckt officers alive.

"Grand Marshall." Siegfried salutes.
"Siegfried," the Grand Marshall opens his arms. "And, uhm. I don't believe I've had the pleasure."
"A sergeant of the carabineri, sir," Siegfried says. "We took him captive on patrol."
"And didn't bring him to your commanding officer, Siegfried?"
"My commanding officer is Line Marshall Betrand, sir."
"So I brought him to you."
"1 John 1:8 - If we say we have no sin, we decieve ourselves, and there's no truth in us," the Grand Marshall says. "Bring him in, dear boy. We shall cross-examine him."

==> What information will you demand of the sergeant?
No. 581494 ID: ba8629

Where are the Carabineri encamped?
How strong is their force?
What are their intentions?
No. 581506 ID: 2eb028

what is your mission?
how large are your forces?
how well equipped are they?
No. 581515 ID: 189a54

Who are you and who were your men? Not as parts of your army's war effort, but as people.
No. 581538 ID: 186341
File 140390550550.png - (367.39KB , 960x540 , 22.png )

"Who are you?"
"I am sergeant Gesperri."
"Who were your men?"
"Their names were Aloire and Eligri. They were good soldiers."
"They could have been better," Siegfried says.
"Siegfried," admonishes the Grand Marshall. Siegfried shrugs. The Grand Marshall walks up to the sergeant and puts his hand on the table. "What is your mission here, Gesperri? And how many are you?"
"You are Marshall Utrecht?" the sergeant says.
"I am."
"I thought you'd be taller."
No. 581539 ID: 186341
File 140390552939.png - (329.78KB , 960x540 , 23.png )

Isolde's hammer pulls back with a click.
"You will respect the Grand Marshall," Siegfried says.
"I am quite short, Siegfried," the Grand Marshall chuckles. "But my officer is correct, sergeant, that you are avoiding the question."
"I am your prisoner, sir," the sergeant says, "but you must understand my reluctance to divulge information that will lead to the deaths of more of my men when the blood of my two best is on my hands."
"I understand and empathize," the Grand Marshall says. "But I am in a regretfully similar position. Your information could save many Landschneckt lives, and in this particular case it has so fadged that the loaded pistol is pointing at you."
"If your best are already spent, surely the remainder don't matter so much," Siegfried says.
"Apologies, sir."
"We are here seeking a relic," the sergeant says, "that my superiors have told me will point the way to a thousand or more sleepers."
"A thousand." The Grand Marshall folds his arms. "That seems unlikely."
"Even so, sir."
"And your numbers and location, if you please, sergeant."
The sergeant swallows. Siegfried's pistol aims a little higher. "There are two hundred Carabineri in the Atropos Valley," the sergeant says. "Their camp is on the other edge of the foothills two days' northeast of here."
"And how equipped?"
"Three companies of pikemen and two of arquebusiers. And thirty cavalrymen."
"That cannot have been easy for you, sergeant," the Grand Marshall says. "Thank you. Now: What shall we do with you?"

He turns to Siegfried. "What do you think, Landschneckt?"
No. 581540 ID: 2fd516

He answered our questions. Why not keep him around in case we have more?
No. 581557 ID: 189a54

I don't suppose he'd take up an offer to defect to our side in return for his life? If not, definitely hold him for if we have more questions later.
No. 581594 ID: 483d7f

To answer this question I'd need to know a little bit more about why you folks are even fighting and what sort of treaty or truce conventions you have.
Without knowing more, I'd say try for a prisoner swap if that's doable.
No. 581615 ID: 50338d

>What shall we do with you?
>What do you think, Landschneckt?
That would depend on the accuracy of his information, sir.
No. 581641 ID: 186341
File 140394379017.png - (397.97KB , 960x540 , 24.png )

"We may have more questions," Siegfried says. "And he's answered what we've needed so far."

"So he has," the Grand Marshall says. "I shall look after him."

"Her, sir," the sergeant says. "I like 'her'. If it please you."
"Her." The Grand Marshall doffs his cap. "That's rather rare. My apologies, madam sergeant."
"I hope you don't mind."
"Nonsense. In this camp we have seven 'hers', six 'theys', and a particularly peevish doppelsöldner who insists everyone call him 'The Warrior Formally Known as Mors' at all times," the Grand Marshall says. "If you will not mind remaining prisoner here, I will not mind your pronounery."

"I admit I moderately mind," the sergeant says.
"That's the proper espirit du corps, Gesperri," the Grand Marshall says. "We shall get along famously. Thank you, Siegfried. Dismissed."
No. 581642 ID: 186341
File 140394381196.png - (621.38KB , 960x540 , 25.png )

"Well?" Gerhardt asks, as Siegfried emerges. "What did he say?"
"She, as it turns out, says they're looking for some kind of relic." Siegfried shrugs. "One which will supposedly lead the Carabineri to one thousand sleeping humans."
"A thousand." Helmut scoffs. "You'd be lucky to find a dozen of the bleeders in the same place."
"Even so, she said."
"Well if the Carabineri want to hunt fairy tales, let them," Helmut says. "We have a long day of avoiding Marshall Bertrund ahead of us."
"And a lute recital," Gerhardt says.
"Oooo!" Helmut runs off. "Let me go get that!"

What will Siegfried do with the new day after the mandatory concert?
1==> Practice marksmanship.
2==> Meditate in his tent.
3==> Go to the cantina and have a few kilojoules with whoever shows up.
4==> Pull a double patrol shift with Helmut and Gerhardt.
5==> Man the walls with Helmut.
6==> Practice swordsmanship with Gerhardt.
7==> Guard the new prisoner and speak with her further.
8==> ___________
No. 581649 ID: 4a20fa

3. The prisoner is the Marshall's charge now, and you're probably going to be stuck with nobody but Helmut and Gerhardt for company for some mission or other again soon.
No. 581652 ID: 1c677c

6. Practice..... practice.... practice.
No. 581669 ID: 707a11

2, then 1, then 3.
No. 581671 ID: 7e4b54

6 and then 5.
No. 581679 ID: 50338d

What do you guys do with sleeping humans when you find them, anyways?
No. 581732 ID: 6b7ea4

6, 5, then 3 - especially if you can convince them both to come with you.
No. 581753 ID: 186341
File 140399338009.png - (554.46KB , 960x540 , 26.png )

"Right, Siegfried." Gerhardt grips and ungrips his sword hilt. "Come at me. Come on."

"Just pretend I'm not here." Eberhart, one of Gerhardt's dopplesöldners, is watching them.

"This is going to hurt, isn't it?" Siegfried says.

"Of course not," Gerhardt says. "Come on."

Siegfried charges.
No. 581754 ID: 186341
File 140399338345.png - (543.54KB , 960x540 , 27.png )

Gerhardt steps inside the swing and smacks Siegfried's blade out and to the right.
No. 581755 ID: 186341
File 140399338820.png - (535.29KB , 960x540 , 28.png )

He pushes Seigfried's blade up into the air.
No. 581756 ID: 186341
File 140399339202.png - (543.53KB , 960x540 , 29.png )

He twists around Siegfried so they are near back-to-back and wraps an arm around his chest.

"Drei!" he says, and flips Siegfried clear over his shoulder.
No. 581757 ID: 186341
File 140399340249.png - (351.45KB , 960x540 , 30.png )

"That was Ringen am Schwert." Gerhardt picks up his sword. Eberhart is applauding. "Our skin is thick. In any fight with a swordsman worth his salt, he's not going to be trying to kill you. He's going to be trying to get you on the ground. So he can kill you.."

"You lied to me," Siegfried says.

"I? Lie? Never." Gerhardt helps him up. "Falling on your ass hurts nothing but your pride. A sword through the face does more damage."

"Trust me," Eberhart says. "You got off lightly. Days he practices mordstreich we're hammering dents out of ourselves for hours."

"Now what do you want to focus on today, Sieg?" Gerhardt tosses him his sword again. "Your drei wunder, your mensur, your huten, or more ringen am schwert?"
"We're not done?"
"We're only getting started!"

1==> Drei wunder (attack). I need to learn how to attack better.
2==> Mensur (ranging and footwork). I have to be agile.
3==> Huten (guarding). So that dooesn't happen again.
4==> Ringen am schwert (grappling). My coccyx isn't sore enough already.
5==> Actually I had other things I wanted to do today that don't involve contusions.
No. 581762 ID: 6b7ea4

No. 581786 ID: 2fd516

3==> Huten (guarding). So that dooesn't happen again.
No. 581806 ID: ce6963

2-it's a useful discipline to have no matter what you're wielding.
No. 581814 ID: e1609c

No. 581858 ID: 186341
File 140402635968.png - (678.56KB , 960x540 , 32.png )

"Get up," Gerhardt says, after three hours' practice. Siegfried has crawled into the shade to die.

"I am never getting up," Siegfried says. "This is my new home. It's very comfortable."

"Do you need help, Sieg?"

"I need a new pair of legs."

"That was a good lunge you're doing, Siegfried," Gerhardt says. "Just watch out for low guards. They can sweep you."
"Like you did?"
"But worse."
"I'm going to the cantina and drinking to forget," Siegfried says. "Do you want to come?"
"No thank you, brother," Gerhardt says. "It's time to work my zufechten."
"You're insane," Siegfried says.
"Find me later and you can make me look just as ridiculous target shooting," Gerhardt says.
"Did I look ridiculous?"
"Entirely." Gerhardt helps him to his feet. "Never fear, brother. It's how we learn."
No. 581859 ID: 186341
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The cantina is stocked with battery canisters, which are the only things Panzersöldners eat, if you can call it that.

A small lead trails from the front of the canister and plugs into a small port in the center of the chest, right where the heart would be on a sleeper. There are a wide variety but most of the ones here are Carousal-flavored. Siegfried prefers Autumn Evening flavor.
The chest port is also how Panzersöldners kiss. Siegfried has been told he tastes like the quiet parts of a library.

He is thinking a little about kissing because he's eating with Torad, one of his musketeers, whom he finds incredibly attractive. Torad lost its oculars a week ago in a skirmish, and none of the mainline replacements satisfied its rigorous requirements for calibration and magnification. Until the requisition comes in it's stuck with a clunky old-model sharpshooter retrofitting. It hates it.
Siegfried privately thinks it looks rather dashing, but he is rotten at doting. His svelte figure and taciturn nature means that usually suitors approach him, and Torad has thus far proven frustratingly similar.

"Didn't see you at the range," Torad says.
"I was practicing swordsmanship with the doppelsöldners," Seigfried says. "Ach. If you shake me something is going to rattle inside I think."
"Was it that bad?"
"I sparred with Gerhardt."
"Oh, god." Torad takes a sip. "I'm impressed you held together. Did you land anything?"
"Lord, no. I kneed him in the stomach during a suplex, once; I doubt that counted."

"Peashooters!" Helmut is walking over with two canisters.
"I have one already." Siegfried holds his up.
"These are both for me." Helmut says. "Did you hear, Sieg? Your prisoner sergeant told the truth. A ship just came back from flyover; there are Carabineri afoot north of us."
"Sounds like a fray on the horizon," Torad says.
"Aye, a rollicking one!" Helmut pulls up a chair. "Excited, Sieggy?"

1==> No. There's nobody hiring us. It's pointless.
2==> No. All this means is next week another friend or two will be dead.
3==> Of course. I love a good fight.
4==> Of course. I despise the Carabineri.
No. 581862 ID: 6b7ea4

No. 581867 ID: 189a54

1 or 2, either works. This rivalry seems incredibly pointless. Aren't both armies working to collect and protect sleepers? If so, why are they fighting each other?
No. 581877 ID: 483d7f

I'm going to balance out the vote between 1 and 2; 1 for now unless it starts leading.
No. 581893 ID: ce6963

I'm torn, honestly. On the one hand,
I aim, I shoot, and a foe falls.
But on the other hand...We fight, we win, and another takes the place of a friend.
Still, we practice and train for a reason, and that reason is fighting, whether Carabineri or not!
No. 581948 ID: 8fc108

1. Better to keep up our taciturn and pragmatic reputation than seem overeager or gloomy.
No. 581951 ID: d8a627

Weren't you paying attention to the interrogation? The prisoner and Grand Marshal were quite friendly to another. Unless somebody actually hires us, or they try to attack us, I see no reason for pointless slaughter. If you expect me to join in, find a way to convince the whole of their army to fight, without giving us away. Just make sure you bring Gerhardt with you. It's always fun to see who's better at convincing them.

Aside from my suggestions to Siggy's speech: Poor Torad. Those optics are not his color. An absolutely stunning shape, but without the right color they just don't fit.
No. 581980 ID: 186341
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Panzersöldners fight because it is how they have been made.

Every single panzersöldner obeys The Protocols:

1. You Will Harm No Human.
2. You Will Deceive No Human.
Siegfried isn't sure how far this protocol goes; he has never spoken to a sleeper, of course.
3. You Will Master Appropriate Weaponry.
Siegfried has seen the weapons sleepers once used: muskets that reloaded in fractions of a second, weapons made of hard light, bombs capable of cracking planets in half. Their weaponry was what eventually drove them to hibernation, one way or the other, many say. That would explain why the panzersöldners have a hard-coded limit to the military technologies they can use which changes depending on the opposing force's threat. Perhaps if they ever encounter some hostile alien race, their programming will allow them the use of weaponry that isn't outdated by millenia. But as long as söldner fights söldner they use nothing more advanced than a flintlock. It's probably best this way.
4. You Will Covet Human Stewardship.
This is why they fight. Every panzersöldner, deep down in his soul, has an insatiable urge to hoard as many sleepers into his care as possible. Panzersöldners are quite literally born to war over the sleepers. Siegfried understands that humanity had a similar craving for money, which is in turn what drove them to their wars. At least the panzersöldners, he has decided, have an excuse.
This protocol is the subject of countless debates and interpretations. Surely the sleepers knew that its inclusion would lead to endless infighting and civil war. And yet there it presides, and it makes peace impossible.
Perhaps they couldn't be comfortable with anyone who wasn't as bellicose as they were.
Mercenary companies like the Landschknechte and the Carabineri are paid in sleepers.
5. You Will Obey All Human Commands.
That is if they ever wake up. The nature of panzersöldners to obey is what formed them into nations and companies in the first place. They have deep respect for rank. Disobeying a sleeper, Siegfried reasons, would be impossible.
6. You Will Disturb No Sleeping Human.
The penalty for the accidental harm of a sleeper in any way is immediate death.

The final Protocol, 7. You Will Question No Protocol, was in place for the first three centuries of Panzersöldner history. Years of the entire race voraciously devouring ancient human philosophy, poetry, and theory has complicated their artificial intelligences enough to slowly decay it into a state of self-reflexivity. Some panzersöldners now dream that something similar will happen to the remaining protocols.
Siegfried is one of them.
No. 581982 ID: 186341
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"No," Siegfried says.
"No?" Helmut tilts his head. "Come on, Sieggy."
"There's nobody hiring us. It's pointless."
"Eloquently put." Torad takes a pull from its canister.
"The only thing you kill better than Carabineri is the mood." Helmut puts his hands on his hips. "The fewer Carabineri there are, the more people will hire us."
"I'll fight. I won't have to like it."
"You won't," Helmut says. "But it sure makes it more of a good time. Bertrund is organizing a scouting expedition, to get the lay of their fortifications."
"I thought we were avoiding him."
"We are. Nasty bugger. But this could be a way to get back on his good side. Maybe I'll go. What else is there to do?"
"I was on guard outside the Grand Marshall's tent an hour ago," Torad says. "He was telling Hauptmann Steil to put together a detail and go look for some kind of relic."
"A relic?" Helmut asks.
"The Carabinier sergeant's fairy tale," Siegfried says.
"Perhaps it's real," Helmut says.
"Well perhaps!" protests Helmut.

1==> I'm going to sign up for the scouting party. They could use my eyes.
2==> I suppose I'll join the relic-finding detail. At least there's a point to it, asinine as it is.
3==> My joints still ache from Gerhardt's training. I'm not going to waste my energy on these things.
No. 581993 ID: 4a20fa

No. 581994 ID: 707a11

Relic duty. A nice, casual walk will do us good.
No. 582002 ID: e31ca1

2 always the most daring path to the strange and mystical and cool artifacts.
No. 582018 ID: 53ba34

perhaps 4 is a test. it ensures they never all fall into the hands of one. but what happens if they do? through peace or firepower, someone gains all of them.
No. 582022 ID: 483d7f

Having a commanding officer annoyed at you is bad, it's doubly bad when they're your field commander. Do we want to risk Herr Bertrund sending us on a deadly mission? If Bertrund wouldn't do such a thing I suspect his scouting mission is probably the better choice, since it has the possibility of pursuing both objectives at once.
No. 582051 ID: 50338d

2, 2.

>5. You Will Obey All Human Commands.
...what would happen if a human or humans were to give conflicting commands? Assuming one or more ever woke, of course.
No. 582986 ID: 186341
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"God," Siegfried says. "It's all such a drag, isn't it."
"What is, Herr Siegfried?" Hauptmann Steil pushes Gesperri along across the sand. "The search?"
"And if I wasn't doing this, what would I be doing? Shooting at other panzers for no reason. Taking care of popsicles." Siegfried kicks a pebble. He's in one of what Gerhardt calls his black moods. "Isn't it infuriating that this is all we're made to do?"
"It's only infuriating if we don't find anything," Steil says evenly. "And the sergeant has assured us we will. That was good enough for the Grand Marshall, wasn't it?"
"And about her," Siegfried says. "What's she doing here?"
"Hello," Gesperri says.
"She asked," Steil says. "And another pair of eyes couldn't hurt. You were the only volunteer, I'm afraid. You and her."
"God." Siegfried squints across the horizon. "Why are you here?"
"I believe her." Steil adjusts his grip on Gesperri's cuffs. "As did the Grand Marshall. She seems an upstanding gentlewoman."
"Thank you," Gesperri says.
"She should be under guard," Siegfried says.
"So guard her," Steil says.
"How is it," says Siegfried, "that when a robot, and a prisoner of war, calls itself a she, how is it, that half the officers in the Landschknechte go around doffing their caps to-"

Then he sees it.
No. 582987 ID: 186341
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"What is it?" Steil asks.
"It's a building," Gesperri says.

"Ten to one it is nothing," Siegfried says. "There's plenty of ruins about. Old Sleeper towers and the like. This place has been picked over for years."
"We shall investigate." Steil starts toward it, dragging Gesperri along.

"What are you expecting?" Siegfried hurries after them. "This place has probably been picked over for years, and you're looking for some kind of uncharted, relic-filled subterranean derelict?"
No. 582988 ID: 186341
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"Oh," Siegfried says.

"There, now." Steil says.

"But how the hell did nobody find it?" Siegfried cautiously approaches the entrance.
"I suppose they didn't look hard enough," Steil says. He looks at Siegfried. "Go on in, landser."
"What about you?"
"I shall monitor the outside," Steil says. "And the prisoner."
"I'd like to go inside, too," Gesperri says. "I want to see."
"Or you can take her." Steil holds out the cuffs. "If you'd like."

1==> Just watch her, Steil.
2==> Fine. I'll take her.
3==> Don't be a coward, Steil. You're both coming along.
No. 583032 ID: 6b7ea4

3 - gesperri seems cool but i wouldn't put it past her to try to overpower on of you if you're one-on-one. keep her outnumbered by staying together.
No. 583038 ID: 50338d

Man, Sieg. that's a lot of fatalism. If you don't even roll the dice, of course you're not going to win, even with poor odds.

There's little point to watching the prisoner out here if she accompanies me inside, Steil. I suppose you can watch for approaching trouble, if you insist.

After you, milady. (I'm not being polite. I'm giving the prisoner the chance to walk into any potential traps first).
No. 583136 ID: 5c2478

2. Considering Gesperri's party has been gone long enough to be missed, the supposed sleeper goldmine would be the first place they would check, and you wouldn't want her to be of any assistance to her would-be rescuers. Just keep that pistol out and your senses sharp.
No. 583442 ID: 186341
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"Fine. Stay." Siegfried presses his pistol into the sergeant's back. "Come on, Gesperri."

He pushes her up through to the entrance.
"I do not like you," Gesperri says. "Hauptmann Steil is a gentleman and your Grand Marshall besides, but you are a murderous ruffian."

1==> Sorry about your friend.
2==> Shut up.
3==> It's war, madame.
4==> I don't like you, either.
No. 583444 ID: 2fd516

No. 583449 ID: 0ee153

3. When there is every chance that her allies are on their way to murder you and yours, there is no reason to make her escape easier or put yourselves at risk.
No. 583483 ID: 50338d

Shrug, and 3. You engaged my allies, and I took the shot. I'm a soldier, what else was I to do? Would you really have done any differently in my position?

We did not have to allow Gerhardt the attempt to hail you at all. You were given a chance. Blame fate, or yourself, for not seizing it. Not I.
No. 583530 ID: 2f4b71

"It's war, madame. We are murderers and ruffians all"
No. 583537 ID: ccd544

5==> "Have it your way."

There's no reason to address her issues with siegfried.
No. 583700 ID: 186341
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"Maybe," Siegfried says. "But during wartime the word for what I do is 'hero'."
He pushes her through the doorway of the ruin and steps inside himself.

"I despise guns," she says. "If I had met you at swordtip-"
"But you didn't meet me at swordtip," Siegfried says. "You were in my sights, sergeant. Gerhardt could just as easily never hailed you. We gave you a chance. That you didn't take it you can blame on yourself. Would you have done anything else in my position?"

They descend into the neon guts of the ruin, lit by pulsing purple frames of smooth stone.
No. 583701 ID: 186341
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"I would have challenged you honorably," she says. "Not put a hole in your head before you had a chance to test your mettle."
"Maybe that's why you're the prisoner and I'm the one telling you to walk. Now walk."

She obeys. As they enter a long, t-shaped hallway, new lights flicker to life that reveal a slope down into darkness.

"Ominous," Gesperri offers.
Siegfried scratches his temple and keeps his pistol level. He wonders who made this place and why they want him to go that way.

"Thank you, I suppose," Gesperri says. "For sparing me."

1==> You're welcome.
2==> You've done nothing to make me anything but regretful.
3==> You spared yourself when you were useful and obedient. Stay that way.

A==> Go down the left side hallway. The ground smooths out along it.
B==> Go down the right side hallway. There's a yawning, low sound coming out of it.
C==> Go straight down the newly lit slope.
No. 583702 ID: 707a11

No. 583705 ID: 874468

"You're welcome. I wish I could spare more but it's war."
A lit slope is ominous, who all is here again?
No. 583706 ID: e6f437

1. And since you aren't a moth you don't need to go blindly towards the light. Instead go blindly towards the sounds (B)
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