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1002615 No. 1002615 ID: e30795

Your name is BAN. You're a warrior.

The attack's been underway for a couple hours, now. Air support's getting shot out of the sky left and right, but they're still getting the job done. You've gotten this far without detection, but now you've reached an impasse.

Sergeant Dane leaps into cover behind you. MUDA and VARGA fall in close behind. You've lost sight of JOAN, WEIS and ORI. They might still be hiding in the last piece of cover.

>"Fucking hell, LT," Dane hisses. He adjusts his helmet nervously. "Fucking hell, that tank's like 30 yards away. I saw a couple foxholes, too. What the hell can we do now?!"

"Cool it," you chide. "We've got this."

The rest of your platoon is spread out in the ruins across this small area. What's left of your company is a small distance behind, waiting for you to find a point in the Canardi defense line to pierce through. If the sounds from the city are any indication, you've got thirty minutes at most to succeed before this flanking maneuver blows up in the entire Advance Team's face.

If you had a mouth, you'd be grinning from ear to ear. God, you love your job. In seconds, you've already put together a few ideas...
88 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
No. 1009148 ID: fb071e

High value targets are the tower and ammo/supply crates. I see minimal cover and no protected escape routes. If you can mark the commanding officers, terminate them if possible.
No. 1009178 ID: 88966b
File 163046264569.jpg - (569.00KB , 1491x800 , cop229.jpg )

You quickly lay out your plans. CORVO's platoon pulls back and starts moving a number of blocks to your left. They'll go down and attack from the side while your men catch anyone attempting to pull back. You feel very, very good about this setup--the Canardi definitely haven't prepared for something like this, you can tell just by looking at them.

Your platoon fans out along the nearby houses. THOMPSON's squad is spread out to your left, while you and KAVE's squads try to cover as much ground to the right as you can. At your signal, you'll all move forward and turn this part of the enemy's line into a shooting gallery.

>"I'm gonna kill fifty of those fuckers," Dane murmurs. You can see that he's trying to work himself up more before the fighting starts. "And I'll stick ten more up close, as payback..."

>"You'd better," JOAN says from his hiding place a few townhouses over. "Each of us'll have to plug that many if we want to get out of this on top. Our positioning's great, but the odds are still fucked!"

You stand, hefting the launcher that CONN had been carrying. "Let's fix that," you say, advancing slowly.

The rest of your men follow suit. Your battle line creeps past the edge of the houses, onto grass and pavement, right up onto the crest of the hill. Jesus christ, that is a lot of soldiers... Being this far out reveals even more to the enemy headquarters, and a number of reserve squads running ammunition and gear to the artillery. Much to your dismay, you catch sight of a few policemen scattered throughout the reserve ranks as well.

An ammo loader glances up from his duties near one of the headquarters's tents, and locks eyes with you. You watch as he processes what he's seeing, widens his eyes and opens his mouth to scream.

You score a direct hit on their ammunition stores.
No. 1009179 ID: 88966b
File 163046319530.jpg - (862.91KB , 2125x900 , cop230.jpg )

The blast is huge, much larger than you'd expected. You and your men hit the dirt as a number of smaller explosions follow it. The strike cuts a giant swath in the back row of soldiers, and their field headquarters is decimated in an instant. Small fires spring up, fueled by Canardi fortifications and bodies. The enemy's thrown into disarray, with men diving for cover anywhere they can. Twelve back-line soldiers who missed the explosion turn and try clambering further up the hill, but THOMPSON's machine gun mows them down quickly.

VARGA's launcher reduces the closest sentry tower to a pile of splinters and limbs. Gunfire's opened up already--or is that the ammo stores, still? You don't have time to know for sure. You rise into a kneeling position and start laying into the enemy below you with everything you've got.

Your platoon keeps the Canardi trapped in the depths of hell for what feels like an eternity. KAVE and his subordinates manage to get their mortar set up and dial in on the enemy's positions with great accuracy. Dane, JOAN and VARGA get several grenade throws in, doing a number on several of the nearest howitzer crews. Your squad picks their targets well--anyone who looks like they're rallying troops gets dropped, and the Canardi are left without potential leaders for several grueling minutes. It's a genuine surprise to you when return fire finally comes your way. Any smugness at the success of the attack gets dispelled when one of THOMPSON's men starts calling for a medic, though...

They've finally figured out where the attack is coming from. The surviving Canardi soldiers vault over their fortifications and try to reverse their lines to face you. At this steep angle of attack, though, it's no use--they're still completely exposed. Men from further up the defense line sprint to reinforce them, and the battle starts getting rougher. You notice that no new soldiers are coming in from the left of your position--CORVO's platoon must be pulling their weight, on the side.

>"LT!" ORI scrambles for you and Dane's position, pistol in one hand and transmitter in the other. An unlucky Canardi shot pings harmlessly off of his radio backpack. "ZAN and YUDI are through the marketplace, they should be here s--!!"

ORI lets out a cry and falls face-first into the grass a few yards away from you. He tries to keep moving, but flinches and starts clutching at his side. Red is already seeping through his fingers...!

Dane tries to move toward the fallen soldier, but small arms fire peppers the ground around you. The two of you stay prone as more wild fire lands near your position.

>"Fuck!! Fucking christ!!" Dane's getting ready to try to make a break for ORI again. He's about to spring to his feet when something catches his eye. "Oh, shit...!! BAN!!!"

The sergeant urgently points to your right. Further down the enemy line, a large group of soldiers have crowded around the ninth howitzer. Slowly but surely, they're trying to rotate it toward your position...!!
No. 1009193 ID: 3ed3c3

I was afraid they'd try to pull that, but I was hoping they'd be unwilling to turn their attention from the front, let alone fire into their own territory with one of those monsters.
Do we have any launcher ammo left? We need to take out the crew on that thing before they can spin it around.
No. 1009200 ID: df76b1

Several minutes later? Where the fuck is our tank?
We have time for maybe one launcher shot before we need to fall back and scatter.

Ideally, CONVO will advance, but we don't have enough time to give him that order.
No. 1009538 ID: e30795
File 163088172626.jpg - (368.46KB , 1402x850 , cop231.jpg )

Shit, you'd hoped they wouldn't resort to this...! Every second feels like an hour as the howitzer continues to slowly turn away from the front. "We need another launcher," you yell over the noise.

>"We don't fucking have another one! Dammit!!" Dane ducks his head angrily as another rescue attempt is cut short by incoming fire. "We'd need one of THOMPSON's!!"

Where the fuck is your tank?! You squash a creeping feeling of panic as you take stock of the situation again. Ideally, CORVO will be pushing forward by now, but you don't have time to check in with him or give orders. ORI's still writhing in the grass where he's fallen... With your platoon's current spread, the closest usable rocket launcher can't be less than 50 or 60 yards away. Could you retrieve it in time and get a shot off? Or should you preemptively fall back and scatter?

>The sergeant punches you in the chest again. Tears are welling up in his eyes as he unsuccessfully tries to shield both you and ORI with his body. Dirt is being kicked up by stray bullets just a few inches short of your position. "Jesus!! C'mon LT, not now! Fucking tell me what to do!! Fucking say something!!!"

...Wait, what?

Your eyes widen in shock. You involuntarily try to stand, but Dane drags you back down quickly.

In an instant, the howitzer's rotated many more degrees. It's almost halfway dialed in on your position, already. KAVE's mortar team has started firing at the artillerymen, but they haven't scored a substantial hit yet. Somewhere behind you, the rumble of your tank is getting closer and closer. When the hell did they...?

>"You shithead!!" Dane socks you in the gut. Even with your armor, the hit takes your breath for a moment. He scrubs at his eyes with a dirty arm and turns his full attention to shielding ORI. "You're awake again, huh?! I got ORI, now what the fuck do we do?!!"
No. 1009539 ID: 3ed3c3

Fall back and scatter. Get to cover while the tank rolls up, then provide suppression fire while they deal with the artillery pieces.
No. 1009665 ID: df76b1

I don't have any major refinements. Let's try to get ORI out where his wounds his wounds can be assessed.
No. 1010321 ID: e30795
File 163145669254.jpg - (416.15KB , 1104x950 , cop232.jpg )

You don't have time to dwell on how confused you are. Ignoring the oncoming fire, you shoulder ORI and get moving. "We're falling back," you roar. "Pull back and scatter!!" You're relieved to hear the order getting repeated down both sides of your line. You dash back toward the edge of the suburb with Dane close behind.

You pass through the first row of houses and stop for a moment. Off to either side, you can hear your men shouting, trying to make sure that everyone retreated. You catch sight of VARGA in a nearby lawn, and wave him over to you.

>"You guys alright?" VARGA asks as he approaches. He winces when he sees ORI laid out next to you. "Is he...?"

>"No," ORI groans, shooting a glare at his squadmate. "He isn't..."

You check on the radioman's injuries as best as you can. It looks like the bullet entered right at the bottom of his vest. No exit wound that you can easily see. He's still bleeding, and you don't know what kinds of internal damage there may be, but for now he seems to be keeping it together. "You'll make it," you say, "but we'll need to get DIN working on this soon."

>VARGA looks relieved, but his face quickly darkens again. "I ran into THOMPSON on the way back," he reports. "ERD is dead, so is VILLIS. He says the rest of his men are alright."

>"That cannon's gonna be on us any minute now," Dane says urgently. "What's next?"

A few streets over, the tank rolls past you and continues toward the front. You grab the transmitter off of ORI's backpack. "ZAN, YUDI, are you getting this?"

>The transmitter's speaker is a little busted up, but you can make out a response. "LT! Hang on, we're coming in hot!"

"Engage the artillery immediately, start with that one on the right end! We'll cover you!"

>"We've got it!"
No. 1010322 ID: e30795
File 163145700357.jpg - (520.78KB , 1643x800 , cop233.jpg )

Your orders are relayed along the line quickly. VARGA hangs back to stabilize ORI while the platoon charges back onto the crest of the hill. Your tank maneuvers onto the road a few yards from you and takes aim.

The Canardi still haven't managed to rally. When you and your men begin firing again, half of them seem to be facing off to the left--they must have been trying to prepare a defense against CORVO's platoon. There's a new desperation to the enemy's shooting that concerns you--cornered animals fight the hardest.

>"Fuck...!! Hurry up, you fuckers!! Hurry!!!" Dane's screaming at the tank as he fires into a collection of soldiers below you. "Do it!!!"

You're staring down the barrel of the ninth howitzer, now. You watch as one of their artillerymen points toward you. Another soldier grips the gun's lanyard and moves to pull it...!

An HE shell erases the crew surrounding the howitzer. Moments later, a second shot sends the artillery piece careening downhill.

Whatever cohesion the defending Canardi had left falls apart. Men are scrambling in all directions, now. Some are still trying to return fire, others are feebly attempting to gather around another howitzer, many more are just trying to escape in any direction. Anyone stupid enough to run uphill is cut down, and anyone who strays too far to the left of your position gets picked off by CORVO's men. Eventually the surviving Canardi rout completely, jumping the road barrier and fleeing down toward the ruins. There's a feeling of grim satisfaction as you watch many of the enemy lose their footing, tumbling uncontrollably down the hill's steep slope.

Your men smell blood in the water. Without waiting for your call, most of your platoon charges down onto the abandoned defense line. A few go even further downhill as they try to pick off more retreating soldiers.

>"LT!!" Sergeant THOMPSON's approaching you with a hungry look in his eyes. "Their whole line's broken, they're bailing toward the front! Should we run 'em down?!"
No. 1010332 ID: cd79f5

Nope. Fortify this position. Most of us are tired and we have wounded. I'll tell command and wait for orders and reinforcement
No. 1010333 ID: 3ed3c3

Tempting, but no. The objective is secure, and the enemy is routed. We should mop up the remaining ordnance, then prepare to pull out.
No. 1010335 ID: a2493c

Get back in FUCKING FORMATION, soldiers.
No. 1010336 ID: df76b1

It's entirely possible that when they hit the main line, they'll send a detachment to retake these heights.

That's unlikely to happen, but we also have to make sure it doesn't.
No. 1011024 ID: e30795
File 163207943648.jpg - (525.99KB , 1036x850 , cop234.jpg )

"Get those motherfuckers back in formation," you bark, pointing at the soldiers who are standing beyond the road barrier. "We're fortifying this position."

>THOMPSON looks disappointed, but he nods and starts down the hill. "Yes, sir!!"

Your platoon falls back in quickly and starts claiming the abandoned fortifications as their own. Debris from the explosions gets moved out of the way, and hastily-repositioned sandbags are moved to face the front again. Frustrated by the sudden end to the fighting, some of your soldiers vent by slinging Canardi bodies downhill. They have a lot of ammunition to work with...

CORVO's platoon has reconnected with you, joining in on occupying the defenses and tossing corpses. A couple men from each squad climb the remaining sentry towers, as well. The medics get to work on each group's wounded, starting with ORI.

>CORVO walks up to you, followed by his radioman. He doesn't look happy. "These fucking meatbags killed four of my guys, BAN." The lieutenant watches as one of his men heaves another Canardi body into the air. "Those guys were worth a hundred of these small fry, each."

"We lost two as well," you say grimly.

>The radioman raises a hand. "Lieutenants, I've gotten through to Big Man on the command frequency."

>CORVO takes the transmitter, then hands it to you. "This was your plan," he says. "You do the honors..."

You nod and key the radio. It takes you a second to remember your platoon's callsign. "Big Man, this is Genius," you report. "The objective is secure, and the enemy's routed. Six of ours dead, several more wounded."

>"Great work!!" the captain yells. The sounds of the combat going on down there are bleeding through the speakers. "All companies, hear this: their artillery is neutralized, and we've secured a position within their first line of defense! Prepare to advance!!"

>"What?!! Big Man, I told you to--!!" A familiar voice has cut in. Lieutenant Durst sounds pissed. "This is Boss! Genius, how many men did you kill?!"

You look at CORVO. He starts looking up and down the road, trying to estimate how many men you were up against. "Boss, why do you--"

>"How many?!!!"

CORVO gives you a number with his hands. "No less than 80 men," you relay, "probably many more."

>"And you said six of you, on top of that?! Big Man, what about you?!" A large explosion cuts the audio for a moment. "Stop playing games over here and rush the cathedral, immediately!"

Something in his voice is triggering your stubborn streak. This is just another lieutenant shouting orders at you, not your captain. "They may send a detachment to retake this position," you reply tersely. "We can't let that happen. We'll remain here until we receive proper orders."

>"Proper--?!! You get your asses moving right now, or else--"

>"Boss, remember who is in charge of this operation," another voice interrupts harshly. It sounds like Captain WOLFE, of 10th Company. "Stop cluttering up this channel. All companies, we'll attack on my signal. Genius, await further instruction. Excellent work, Big Man."

The line is taken over by platoon leaders reporting their positions as the other companies start to rally. You hand the transmitter back to the radioman. "Sounds like we'll be here for a minute."

>"Yeah." CORVO looks down at the front line uneasily. "This had better have been the right move, BAN. My gut doesn't feel right..."

The two of you stare at the battlefield a moment longer. "Get some rest," you finally say, walking back toward your men.
No. 1011025 ID: e30795
File 163208053512.jpg - (344.11KB , 1017x850 , cop235.jpg )

Checking over your platoon is a sobering experience. Morale is still high, but you can tell that your losses are starting to weigh on everyone. There's only five men in THOMPSON's squad now, including him. KAVE's hasn't had any casualties in this battle yet, but with ZAN and YUDI manning the tank his squad still numbers only four. It hurts to remember a time when each squad leader was heading a full team of eight...

You turn your attention to your own squad. Both ORI and CONN are still with the medics, getting worked on. There are really only five of you left in fighting shape... JOAN and VARGA have climbed one of the sentry towers to watch the battlefield. WEISS is taking a nap, wrapped up in the recently-captured Canardi colors. Dane's leaning on the road barrier next to one of the abandoned howitzers.

>The sergeant fiddles with the edge of his helmet when he sees you approaching. "What's the word, LT?" he asks.

"Waiting for orders," you reply, leaning against the howitzer. "Be ready to pull out, but we're staying here for now."

>"Right..." Dane stares out at nothing for a long while. Eventually, he looks over at you again. "So what's going on?"

You blink. "What do you--"

>"If you play dumb with me, I swear to christ...!" Dane turns to face you full-on. "This shit's happened three times, now. This time, we almost got iced because of it. I really thought we were gonna die right there, BAN! What a way that'd be to go out too, just sitting on your ass, looking like you're off on fucking Mars...!!"

>The sergeant takes a second to calm down. He pulls the brim of his helmet lower over his eyes and searches for words. "Listen... I don't give a shit if you keep whatever this is a secret from everyone else. But I'm your buddy, and I can't keep both of us alive if I don't know what the fuck is happening. So what is it, BAN? Are you hurt? Did you hit your head, somewhere?" The sergeant hesitates. "Is it PTSD...?"
No. 1011032 ID: df76b1

I don't know. It comes and goes. But It's like I'm somewhere else.

And If I saw someone I could be reassigned, and that could have got us all killed today, or tomorrow.
No. 1011048 ID: 094652

You just... keep thinking you're someone else. Somewhere else. You may need to get a neurosurgeon when this war is finally over.
No. 1011097 ID: 3ed3c3

Honestly? Undiagnosed. Could be anything.
No. 1011151 ID: cd79f5

The police station rang my bells harder than usual. Might be a concussion.
No. 1011680 ID: 88966b
File 163270361409.jpg - (459.03KB , 1991x650 , cop236.jpg )

You swallow hard. If only you knew, for sure. You haven't felt entirely on your game since that fight in the police station...

>"That's the look, again! Right there!" Dane points at your face, distressed. "Talk to me man, what is that?"

You prop yourself up on the barrier beside the sergeant. "I don't know," you say honestly.

>Dane studies your face. "Like hell, you don't know. What does it feel like?"

The longer you discuss this, the more pressure seems to be building up in your head... You try your best to force the words out. "I just... It's like I'm someone else, or somewhere different. It comes and goes..." You watch a few of your soldiers as they pick out places to rest. "Maybe it's a concussion. Undiagnosed, it could be anything. But if I saw someone about it, I could've been reassigned, and that could've gotten us all killed today."

>"Fuck." The sergeant tugs at his helmet again. There's no way he can see, with it that low... He chooses his words carefully. "Here's the plan, LT. I'll stay on your six, for now. I keep you from zoning out for too long, and you keep trying to get this outfit out of here in one piece. Honestly, I don't like it, but we can't do much else until this fight's over."

Where would you be without your NCOs, you wonder to yourself. Probably long dead, by now. "Thanks, Dane."

>Dane scoffs. "Don't thank me, dickhead. You're gonna owe me big time once we're out of here."

Below you, the battlefield erupts into action. It sounds like every surviving Canardi is firing a weapon at something simultaneously. The Advance Team must be hitting the front line with everything they've got. Tracing the placement of various explosions, you think you can track their progress--they'll be in close quarters with the Canardi before too long.

>Dane shakes his head sadly. "Damn, we can't catch a break. That shit will make its way up here, soon enough." The sergeant sighs turns back toward the road. "None of us are getting out of this in one piece, are we?" he asks the sky.

An absolutely deafening sound splits the air.

Your platoon is back on their feet instantly. You quickly turn toward the front line again, scanning for trouble. What the fuck was that? Too loud to be thunder, and the skies are still clear... More artillery? A bomb?

>"H-hey...!" Dane taps your shoulder. He lifts a shaking hand and points upward. You follow his gaze...
No. 1011681 ID: 88966b
File 163270366350.jpg - (562.11KB , 1536x1200 , cop237.jpg )

Your blood freezes.
No. 1011682 ID: 88966b
File 163270396228.jpg - (508.65KB , 1420x800 , cop238.jpg )

A flash of white.

An entire section of CORVO's platoon are blown to bits. Several demons and two of the leftmost howitzers are thrown out into the air like toys. Your head's ringing from the sound of the impact--it doesn't sound like any ordnance you've ever heard. It's all happened in an instant, a real one this time--Dane's horrified face mirrors your own. You--!!!

Your vision disappears for a moment, and you're suddenly being battered by dirt and shrapnel. It feels like someone's smashed you in the head with a brick. The shockwave almost lifts you off of your feet. Dane staggers back, smashes into a nearby howitzer and falls, a large splinter of wood jutting out of his leg. You dive to shield him. Jesus christ, the sentry tower was completely vaporized. VARGA and JOAN are dead, they have to be... Cries for medics are going up all across the line. Someone's calling for you, but you can't tell where it's coming from.

>"You fucking see that?!!" Dane screams from underneath you. He buries his head in his hands. "God, did you fucking see that?!!! You see the halo?!!!!"

"I can't see shit," you yell back as another blast decimates a stretch of road nearby. You duck your head as more shrapnel rains down.

>You can feel the sergeant starting to hyperventilate. "Oh, god...!!! We're fucked, BAN!! We're so fucked!!! Jesus, I never even got baptised...!!!"

Dane starts desperately clawing at the asphalt, trying to wriggle out from under you. Shit, he's snapped...!!
No. 1011683 ID: 3ed3c3

Okay! So!
The Canardi have a what? An angel or something?
It would have been nice to have been briefed about that!
Slap some sense into Dane, gather whatever forces you have left, and find a place to hide. I would suggest running, but I think it might spot anyone making a run for it.
What else can you do? Fight a giant angel monster?
If there are any cannons left, you could try to turn them on it, but I doubt that would do anything other than draw its attention.
No. 1011685 ID: a2493c

oh fuck, this must be what was going on in the church

fuck fuck fuck that is NOT good.
No. 1011693 ID: eceb99

>VARGA and JOAN are dead, they have to be.
We have finally reached the checkpoint.

Get Dane to cover, order everyone else to do the same.
We need to get our bearings! Now!
No. 1011694 ID: df76b1

We take who we can, beat a steady retreat, and call for air support.

We can't do shit. A couple 10k lb bombs might have a shot.
No. 1012329 ID: 88966b
File 163330407543.jpg - (649.66KB , 1197x900 , cop239.jpg )

You slap Dane in the back of the head. He flinches and stops thrashing. "Get a hold of yourself!" you snap. You quickly get off of him and lift him onto your back.

>"LT!!! LT!!!!" ORI's staggering toward you, looking ready to fall under the weight of his radio. "CORVO's dead! What the fuck is this?!!"

"We--!!" another blast almost knocks you over again. You desperately raise your voice. "We need to get our bearings! Everyone, get to cover!!"

No one confirms that they've heard you. You look around frantically for survivors. It's all happening too fast--you only catch a glimpse of THOMPSON and a few men to your right, and a number of CORVO's men to your left. Then another crater is shot out of the hillside, and you have to hunker down near the closest howitzer again.

>ORI's made it to your position. "Jesus christ!!" He clutches his side and grimaces. "We're gonna lose everyone at this rate! What do we do?!"

"We take who we can and we retreat," you say quickly. What else can you do? Terror is gripping you like you've never felt before... "We can't touch that thing, but our air support might have a chance."

>"Retreat?!!" Dane's recovered from the blow. He holds onto your shoulder plates tightly. "Retreat where, BAN?! Where the fuck can we go?!!"

You glance up at the approaching giant. As soon as you lay eyes on it again, another wave of fear washes over you. It feels like your heart will stop if you look at it for too long... You look down again and think quickly. Where could you run to? Where could you hide? If you stay here, you're dead in minutes. Going downhill you might be able to hide in the ruins, but you might also draw this thing's fire toward the rest of the Advance Team. Going uphill seems suicidal, but maybe you could try to take cover within the housing area, or get past it and flee further into the city.

>"Oh, fuck...! Up there!!!" Dane draws your attention to seven stark white objects in the sky. Their movement makes you shudder... Flapping in slow motion, they smoothly float out of formation around the monster's head and begin steadily approaching the road.

You're so scared that you feel numb. You've finally reached the end, you think grimly. Whatever option you pick, you'll certainly face death. The only real question is where...
No. 1012334 ID: 3ed3c3

At this point, all I can suggest is playing dead.
If they think they've already got you, what would be the point of continuing the attack? They have no reason to attack the same place twice.
No. 1012337 ID: 094652

You know what? They've won. Good show.
Run downhill. Sound an evacuation. And trade your gun for a camera. Record every instance of these angels killing those who surrender or pray as you run. Let the world see their victory, coated in the blood of heretics, and let the world decide if it wants to give in to a vindication of true faith, or rebel against a dawning realization of cosmic horror.
No. 1012420 ID: 3328c7

Uphill and unto glory! Chaaaarge!
No. 1012433 ID: df76b1

As long as the radio works, uphill it is. That thing's gonna curbstomp whichever way it goes, but by splitting forces we buy time.

we move, dig in, and politely call in as many airstrikes as our lungs will allow for.
No. 1013030 ID: 88966b
File 163443503503.jpg - (904.38KB , 1000x1002 , cop240.jpg )

A wave of despair washes over you. All you can think about is playing dead, or retreating downhill. They've won, you think to yourself. All that's left to do is lie down, pray and let the world decide who was in the right....


THOMPSON and several of his men are approaching, yelling your name. Another blast rocks the left flank, and through the smoke and debris emerges the survivors of CORVO's platoon.

Your soldiers' desperate faces clear your head of those dark thoughts. As long as they're breathing, you still have a job to do...! "Everyone, we're going uphill!" you bellow. "We'll buy the main force some time! ORI, call in air support!!"

>"Jesus! Fuck it...!!" Dane pounds on your armor and yells wordlessly. "Fuck it!!! Let's fucking go!!!"

Your shotgun is still nearby, half-buried in debris. You dig it out and rush for the crest of the hill. Your men let out an unearthly battle cry and follow suit.
No. 1013031 ID: 88966b
File 163443508877.jpg - (205.73KB , 1046x901 , cop241.jpg )

No. 1013033 ID: 88966b
File 163443553822.jpg - (690.89KB , 1123x1000 , cop242.jpg )

What happened next, Lieutenant?

You cough up blood. You're staring at the sky. Fighter jets tear by, pursued by formless streaks of white. You hear ordnance and gunfire, but you can't see where it's coming from. The air's gotten a lot colder.

>"Still with me?" Dane rasps. "Good..."

You try to speak, but all that comes out is pained sputtering. You glance down at yourself, and sorely wish that you hadn't...

>"Yeah," the sergeant says. "I'm not much better... They finally killed us, BAN."

You look around as much as you can without making the pain even worse. You can't see that thing anywhere. ORI's lying dead in the ruins of a nearby house, still clutching the radio transmitter. You don't know where the rest of the platoon is.

See, he doesn't know anything.

Give him another dose, there has to be more.

Lieutenant, where did the Canardi weapon go?

>"You heavy bastard... My ribs are somewhere they shouldn't be," Dane says. He laughs weakly. "At least we can go out together, huh? The other guys weren't that lucky..."

What did the Advance Team do next? Do you know?

>"Fuck me, nobody's left to tell Anna that I died...urrghhh!!" Dane hurls up blood. It's hot against the back of your neck. He grips your armor as tightly as his mangled hands will allow. "Fuck. She's gonna be pissed when she finds out..."

A fighter is sent spiraling out of the sky. It smashes into the earth and explodes nearby, covering the two of you in a fresh layer of dirt and gore. You wonder where ORI is...

>Dane retches again. He takes a second to gather his breath before trying to talk. "Hey, BAN... If that was an angel, maybe you really are a demon, huh...?"

How did you survive Canardi captivity, as an anomaly?

"I'm not," you choke out sarcastically, "I'm just...a capybara..."

>"Fuck, I never figured... You guys... You all look funny, but you're more or less human, really..." Dane's hold starts to loosen. "But if it's true.....you owe me drinks when we get down there...."

Sergeant Dane goes silent. Someone's shouting in Canardi nearby. You screw your eyes shut. Ironic as it may be, you still find yourself starting to pray. Damn it all, this is really it...

You realize your watch must be broken. You wonder what time it is......

Any more and we'll cause permanent damage. This has to be enough proof.

Fine. Put him under again.

He's cleared to work, then.

For now.
No. 1013035 ID: 88966b
File 163443570771.jpg - (331.41KB , 895x980 , cop243.jpg )

Your name is BAN. You're a cop.

You wake up with a splitting headache. You instinctively shift to check underneath yourself, but you're met with nothing but a dirty hardwood floor. Dammit, more nightmares... You feel like you've been hit by a truck. You close your eyes and try to remember what the dream was about, this time.

>"Finally, jesus." STEVE is sitting across the room, staring at you. "Did you know that you snore?"

You shoot the captain a murderous look. Your dreams have already escaped you, now... You check your watch--it's 2:15 AM. "Where are we?"

>"You tell me." STEVE crosses his arms. "I can't remember anything past those assholes snatching us up on Fourth Ave, and my arm's bandaged up. They drugged us."

Your brain feels like it's filled to the brim. You stand up and try to clear some of the mental fog before figuring out your next move....
No. 1013043 ID: 094652

"We've. Been. Played.
They were brainwashing me to spill the location of that superweapon the Canardis launched on us before the war ended. They knew that anyone who saw that bright-ass horror would know what the cult was up to, and they pretended to care about shutting down a multi-billionaire's evil schemes just to draw me and the other witnesses out.
We have to break out. They don't care about the cult, they care about finding and controlling Her."
No. 1013046 ID: 3ed3c3

>in holding
>the feds
After they nabbed you, they dragged you back here, then interrogated you while you were under the influence of whatever they dosed you with. The same goes for STEVE.
All you can really do now is wait for them to come to you. This is their ballgame now, for better and for worse. We knew this kind of shit was coming the instant we decided to get them involved.
No. 1013054 ID: ce39da

"Seems like this was a good opportunity for them to pry something dangerous out of me. Nothing seems to have come of it, though, just "proof" of something bad someone was doing, so... eh. I'm pissed, but it ain't hot, just... the usual bullshit I should have seen coming the moment I decided to bring the feds into this."
No. 1013056 ID: c50e45

Check the room and look out the window.
No. 1015141 ID: 88966b
File 163691809070.jpg - (274.92KB , 883x700 , cop244.jpg )

You examine the makeshift holding room. The small space's floor is covered in a thick layer of dust. Off in one corner, a number of scuff marks suggest the recent presence of two chairs. There's nothing else of note that you can immediately see.

>STEVE's started rooting around the room, too. "The fucking SIG, huh," he mutters, shooting you a dark look. "How long have you been courting those snakes? I should've known something was up when I saw you had a special agent in your precinct."

"We've been played," you reply bitterly. "Seems like this was a good opportunity for them to get something out of me..."

>Your rival waves his arm at you pointedly. "Out of us. Both of us got stuck. Goddammit, what did they make us say...?!"

You're about to reply when you hesitate. You realize that you have no clue what they might have been asking you about, other than details about the case or your status as a veteran. Trying to recall specifics about the interrogation yields nothing but a worsened headache....

You walk over to the window to get some fresh air. Geeze, you're pretty high up... From the surrounding buildings you can tell that you're still in Wartown--it looks like you're at the edge of the abandoned industrial district, on the west side. Somewhere far away, you can spot flashes from emergency vehicle lights, and spotlights from a number of helicopters...

>STEVE makes an annoyed sound and comes over to join you. "Dammit, there's nothing in here to work with... Maybe we could just bust the door down."

You've already contemplated a breakout as well, but you've ultimately decided against it. You shake your head. "I knew that this kind of shit would be coming as soon as I decided to get them involved," you say as you watch the distant lights. "For better or for worse, this is their ballgame now... We'll have to wait for them to come to us."

>STEVE doesn't look convinced. "Right, and how long will that be? They could just leave us here until we starve--!"
No. 1015142 ID: 88966b
File 163691830444.jpg - (282.47KB , 1200x666 , cop245.jpg )

A loud clang turns your attention back toward the door. It slowly swings open, and HALE enters. STEVE starts toward her angrily, but thinks better of it when PAZ and OLLIE also come into view.

>"Captains, sorry for the wait. I have good news," HALE says cheerfully. "We've finished running our usual background checks on the two of you. Both of you are cleared to continue working with us as we take over the investigation."

>"Don't insult us with your usual routine, agent." STEVE makes the rank sound like a curse. "What did you drug us with, and why?!"

>"I'm sorry, what?" HALE stares at STEVE. Her eyes are exuding the same pressure that you felt back in your office... "We just brought you here as a precaution while we ran our checks. We wouldn't drug our allies."

>"Horseshit!!" The captain points at his freshly-bandaged arm. "How do you explain this?! Why can't we remember the past several hours?!!"

>"How do I explain basic first aid...? You were both in a shootout, don't you remember? Do you suffer from the same condition as Captain BAN?" Those eyes pierce through STEVE's with enough force to make him take a step backward. "I assure you, captain. You won't find any trace of drugs in your system, no matter what test you use."

You hear another curse catch in STEVE's throat. He takes another step backward, coming shoulder-to-shoulder with you. A quick shared look tells you that the man is ready to do something stupid, if he gets cornered any further.

>OLLIE jams his hands in his pockets awkwardly. "Listen, I have to apologize for the bad first impression. It seems like I've made you two paranoid..."

>"Their concern is understandable, OLLIE, especially if they're currently struggling with memory loss." That unnerving stare falls on you, now. "But you do believe me, don't you?" It didn't sound like a real question, but HALE is looking at you expectantly all the same...
No. 1015150 ID: df76b1

Deflect. We could question each others methods all day. And it doesn't change anything really.

If that's the good news, what's the bad?
No. 1015156 ID: 3ed3c3

"I believe we're wasting time. The case is still open, so unless there's a very good reason for just standing around and chatting, I'd suggest we get back to work."
No. 1015232 ID: a2493c

No. We owe steve for not listening to him back in the war, we stand by him now.

"Not drugs, then, but I'm not stupid either. Surely when you were poking around in there you saw that much.

I won't press you on the how or why, but don't you dare try to imply this man is insane for seeing through you.

Now, to business. What's the situation?"
No. 1015443 ID: b688b3

We both recall someone asking us questions while we were drugged. If not you, then who did?
No. 1016142 ID: e30795
File 163787191021.jpg - (207.23KB , 1120x600 , cop246.jpg )

You come to the grim realization that butting heads further won't change anything about your position. You want to press more about their questioning, but maybe your best strategy is deflection... "I believe that we're wasting time," you say tactfully. "The case is still open--if we're cleared to work, let's work. What's the situation?"

>HALE gives a small nod. She seems pleased by the response... "It's a circus out there," she says frankly. "We'll have to catch you up on the way to the First Precinct."

>OLLIE half-leads, half-shoves a bewildered-looking STEVE toward the door. "This way, gentlemen. We've got cars ready, downstairs."

>PAZ, OLLIE and STEVE exit the room. As she makes for the door, HALE glances back at you and makes a face that raises your hackles. "Are you having another episode, captain?" she asks. "Come along, now."

Your temper flashes. In an almost knee-jerk reaction, you place a hand on HALE's shoulder and turn her back around.

>Her eyes widen slightly as your grip on her arm continues to tighten. "What are you--"

"So I can't prove it was drugs," you growl lowly. "But I'm not stupid, either. Surely when you were poking around in our heads you saw that much. I'm not pressing you on what you did, or why, so the least you can do is give us a little respect and drop this fucking act. STEVE's not insane for seeing through you, and neither am I. We all know this. All this song and dance does is waste more of our valuable time."

>You let go of the agent as PAZ sticks his head back into the room. "Boss...?" he asks warily.

>If HALE's shaken at all, she isn't giving it away. She straightens her collar and immediately starts walking again. "We're right behind you, PAZ," she says. "Let's go..."
No. 1016143 ID: e30795
File 163787264998.jpg - (787.92KB , 1561x850 , cop247.jpg )

The agents lead you down several flights of stairs. Eventually, you're let out into a run-down parking lot. An unmarked police SUV is parked a short distance away, and beside it is the black SUV that picked you up earlier. HALE climbs into the driver's seat of the police vehicle, and motions for you and STEVE to follow.

>"Damn it all," STEVE hisses under his breath. He shoots a quick look at you before approaching the car. You follow suit.

The ride through Wartown is tense. STEVE's sulking in the back seat. He still looks ready to snap, but you're thankful that he's holding it in for now...

>HALE's eyes dart over to you, then back to the road. She makes a small adjustment to where her seatbelt rests across her shoulder. "I, ah... I apologize if our methods are disagreeable to you, captains," she says. "But we did have an agreement. Since this is now our case, we'll be handling it our way, just like you said we could. What we did here was an important step in assuring ourselves that our operation would be airtight from here on out."

>She doesn't seem fazed by the lack of a response. "Now, regardless of the methods used, you have passed our tests. Going forward, the two of you will be given the same level of authority as the other special agents under my command," HALE continues. "When we get to the precinct, we'll meet to debrief the night's events and rework our strategy. We may have ERIK already, but our work on this case is far from over."

The bridge to Shiptown comes into view. HALE falls silent again as she turns onto it. You share another look with STEVE.

It's going to be a long day....


**** DEBRIEFING ****



AT 013-C 1P FORCES: 21
AT 013-C 1P KIA: 20

AT 013-C 2P FORCES: 20
AT 013-C 2P KIA: 20

AT 013-C 3P FORCES: 18
AT 013-C 3P KIA: 18

AT 013-C 4P FORCES: 22
AT 013-C 4P KIA: 22

AT 013-C 5P FORCES: 10
AT 013-C 5P KIA: 10


??????: 100%


**** IT WAS ALL A DREAM 1 - Woke up from your nightmares...
**** DEAL WITH THE DEMON 3 - Cleared the SIG's ""background checks."" Welcome to the team...
No. 1016145 ID: 6e4236

Thank you for the interactive flashback. Loving the story!
No. 1016155 ID: df76b1

Good stuff, our BAN was a good guy who tried to make the right decisions, even if it didn't always pan out.
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