Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Episode 21: Stealth and Tactics

EPISODE 21: Stealth and Tactics

            By the time the two travelers got back to Reid’s house, it was early afternoon. As soon as they entered the door, the others came bustling with news.
            “Did you guys hear?!” Dyl shouted before they could get their bearing. However, they did not have to answer as Emily revealed what they were talking about.
            “The governor has disappeared.”
            “What? Did she do another show?”
            “Nope. She just ran off. The media is having a blast, but no one knows what happened,” Reid said.
            “It could be because Zack has connected her to the Daelians,” Nathan proposed.
            “But she’s skillful enough to manipulate the details of something like that,” Dyl chimed in. “It’s more likely they are in the final stages of their scheme, and she doesn’t care about the office anymore.”
            “Did you retrieve the sword?” Reid asked, changing focus.
            “Yeah, even got a little rest at the village,” Jenny answered.
            “Oh! So you’re in condition to partake in our plans,” Nathan piqued up. 
            “Can you guys please slow down on the barrage? What are these plans?” the dreamer spoke as one could expect.
            They all took a deep breath and Nathan began.
            “Okay. While you were gone, we started rounding up the Nellenion Army we have been forming. We’ve made arrangements to meet at Fort Tempest in two days.”
            “So Sunday,” David nodded.
            “Yeah,” the army child continued. “Since we have these next two days to do any final preparation, we decided it be best to see how much you have improved.”
            “I think I catch your grip. You mean for each of you to challenge me in a one-on-one duel.”
“Yeah, wasn’t how I was going to phrase it, but that’s the gist of it. We’ve even procured the battlefield for today.”
            “Wait! I have to fight all three of you today?!” he moaned.
“No, don’t worry.” Reid reassured him. “The plan is you fight us tomorrow. Nathan in the morning, Dyl in the afternoon, and me last.”
“You don’t give me much time to get battle-ready.”
“Better to be battle-ready for the final battle than a skirmish,” his old friend retorted.
David sighed. “At least it’s tomorrow.”
“Yeah, but then get ready to get messy. After all this, we’re going to have some fun.”
They used the rest of the day to relax and prepare for their trip on Sunday. The next morning, they arrived at an outdoor paintball site. There were quite a few people there actually, but all adults. Anticipating David’s concern, Nathan began to explain.
“Don’t fret. Everything here is okay. This place is run by a friend who happens to be in our Nellenion Army. So for today and tomorrow, he closed off this place to the public so we can practice. Some of our soldiers are here as well to train.”
Before David could respond, the owner came by and greeted them.
“Hello everyone!” he welcomed in a strong voice. “I am former lieutenant Sanger. As you can see, we have been training for our attack on Sunday. I think you troops have gathered a fine army, and this is just part of it. We have young veterans as well as civilians, who still have a strong morale. Though I’m a little surprised to see some girls with you.” 
            “Yes, and they will be critical to our operation,” Reid stated with no hesitation.
            “No problem here,” Sanger responded. “You kids have taught me that being a strong Neostriker doesn’t matter with age or battlefield experience, why should gender be a problem? I’ve met some strong women in my time with the armed forces. I look forward to serving with you all and hopefully we can put an end to this Daelian threat.”
            “Do you have an area for us?” Nathan asked, feeling finished with all this talk.
            “Yes, this way,” the lieutenant led them to a one of the paintball arenas. This one was primarily hills. There were a few trees and bunkers to take cover behind.
            “Some of the men are looking forward to see your battles. In fact, only some of the vets can match with this young man’s accuracy,” he said, patting Nathan on the back.
            “Too bad it doesn’t carry over to paintball,” Nathan said modestly.
            “Well, I look forward to beating you in both,” David started the banter.
            “If it’s like the chess game we played the other day, I’ve already won.”
            “Too bad it isn’t.” David smirked with confidence.
            They entered forms and called a Nellenion field. Then, they decided to play it like paintball and give each other time to get ready on different sides of the field. After a minute to allow them to find a good spot, Sanger fired a signal for them to begin. Both of them took cover.
            “Shoot! I just remember Cepos has camouflage,” David thought to himself, but still careful not to speak aloud.
            “Yeah, it certainly gives him the advantage,” Zel pointed out.
            “I know, I know. You don’t need to be captain obvious,” the youth muttered. Just then, a shot nearly hit his location. “Did he find me already?!” David grumbled going for cover.
            “It might have been a scouting shot,” Zel insinuated.
            “That’s a sound possibility, but I don’t know if I should risk it. If he has found me, then I should move somewhere else. Can you tell me where the shot came from?”
            “From where you are facing, 5 o’clock, from the hill,” the Asen informed him.
             “Remind me for paintball to not start on the lower ground.”
            Another shot fired and nearly hit him. Zel reported that it came from the 3 to 4 o’clock direction this time. Realizing that if Cepos is as accurate as Sanger claimed, he should have been hit. Basing his logic off that, Cyonex decided that they were shots to lure him out. Helping cement his reasoning, He saw another shot fired at a different location further away. This time, he spied the bushes where it came from.
            He moved from his cover behind the tree and took a side route that kept him hidden from the sniper’s angle. He made sure not to make any obvious sound, but when he got around the bend, another shot nearly hit him.
            “That wasn’t a guess, he actually saw me,” the dreamer realized. “But how? From where he was, he couldn’t see me move. And that shot was fired as soon as it could. That means he was waiting for me to come around that bend. Wait, Zel. Is it just me or was that shot a little slower than we’ve seen in training?”
            “It’s no mistake, that was slower,” the Asen confirmed.
            “Alright. I think I get the idea of what’s he doing. Do you remember if he has a remote turret?”
            “He didn’t use one in our training sessions. Is that what you think he’s using?”
            “Yeah,” the Guardian affirmed. “That probably means he’s hiding in a good spot for scouting. Like that big tree!”
            Sure enough, the sniper was there, not with a gun in hand, but just watching over the area. The branches did a good job of covering him while providing an outlet to watch Cyonex’s movements.
            “I probably never would have thought to look in the trees,” David confided in his Asen.
            “With him using remote gun at ground level to cover his tracks, you wouldn’t be blamed for not thinking it.”
            “Alright, so assuming that the turret is not as accurate as his rifle, but also how close that shot was, he probably has to put all his focus in it to operate. That means, when he fires it, he’s not scouting from the tree.”
            “If you can reach the tree without revealing you know he’s there, then you can get in a few extra blows,” Zel recommended.
            Cyonex took a peek past the wall to see if the gun was still there. A shot was fired to confirm his suspicion. It hit him, but he had a saiber armor to absorb the blow for him.
            “Okay, so I can’t blow up that turret if I want to use it for my advantage. Zel, can you give a map layout of the playing field?”
            “Certainly. I was a little surprised you didn’t ask for it sooner,” the Asen quipped while bringing up the map display on David’s visor.
            The dreamer took a look at the map starting plotting. He did not have much more time, however, as a grenade rolled to his side of the wall. He dove out of the way and then proceeded to make for the tree by a different route.
            When he got there, he tossed an ultra bomb and knocked Cepos down from where he was perched. Taking the opportunity, he dealt another strike using his sonic sword. He attempted another, but the sniper got up and dashed out of range by using his Elite Stone of Speed. However, the momentum never left Cyonex’s side from that point and he was able to emerge victorious.
            “Man, David, I thought my plan was going to get you,” Nathan commented after the match. “I even just picked up that turret neocard.”
            “Was your plan to fire so many shots on the ground so I never would have expected you were in the tree?” David asked and Nathan nodded affirmatively.
            “Alright, so now it’s my turn!” Dyl said psyched up.
            “Well, your turn will have to wait,” Emily soured his mood. “David has to wait a while before he can enter forms again.”
            “You had to say it,” Dyl retorted. “Oh well, we can at least do paintball or get lunch until then. It’s only 10:30. You think an hour and a half will give you enough rest?”
            “I have no quarrels with that,” David said, though he was a little worn out by the mental game Nathan had prepared for him.
            When the time came, the warriors were prepared. They decided on a flat and fairly empty zone. There were two long buildings along the side of the arena, but otherwise it was empty. In the center, the two warriors stood facing each other, like cowboys ready to draw. No banter, just a battle of silence.
           The Nellenion field came up and both sides continued their stare down, waiting for the other to make a move. This seemed to go on for so long that Emily shouted, “Hurry up and start or your faces will stay that way!”
             With that cue, they did begin. In classic fashion, they fired their first shots while jumping out of the way. Both missed, but they didn’t stop. Instead, they took up dual swords and started swinging. Clash after clash, no strikes penetrated.
They break apart and Cyonex switches one of his blades with his favored sonic sword. He performed his one-two slash but Knaidow was able to dodge both waves. He returned fire with his own sonic sword, but David was able to withstand it thanks to his saiber armor neocard.
            Returning to close-combat, they crossed blades, but this time, David was able stab Dyl with his shock sword. This stunned the Thief of the Night long enough for the Guardian to follow through with the mega sword neocard combo.
            In hopes to make up for that combo, Dyl jumped back and pulled his cloak over to disappear. Everyone outside was watching, but they were a little confused to hear Reid ridicule the move aloud, “Foolish move, Dyl.” They would have questioned the outburst had they not seen what he meant.
            In response to Knaidow’s tactic, Cyonex activated his smoke screen. The next thing they saw was a bomb explosion inside the field.
            “I see!” Jenny exclaimed. “David negated Dyl’s cloaking advantage by effectively mimicking it. Since Dyl, can’t see him either, it was just a wasted move.”
            “Yeah,” Nathan agreed. “And since Dyl used Elite Night to pull off his trick, he wasted a valuable asset. David used two neocards, but that’s nothing compared to the Elite Stones.”
            “You’re both right,” the stalwart Reid approved. “Also, his cloak ability is more for escape than attack. As soon as he attacks, he becomes visible again. It would have been better if he just waited and used it for an Elite Slash. The only chance he has to pull that off is if he can have David waste his or stall long enough to recharge. It’s more likely he has to defeat David before he gets his slash ready.” 
            After the smoke cleared, both parties were visible again. They returned to swords, but Dyl knew he could not keep at it for long. While he wasn’t bad with the blade, he had watched Cyonex practice with Shatl and also the match against Crawn. He knew that Cyonex was superior.
            Sensing the disadvantage in close-range, Dyl leapt back and took to the air. His cloak transformed into the shape of a kite, carrying him up like a shinobi. From there, he proceeded to throw ninja stars. They curved to home in, but David was still able to avoid them.
            The dreamer returned the favors with shots, but they missed. The ones that would have hit were blocked by Knaidow’s barrier neocards. Deciding to accept the supposed challenge, Cyonex jumped onto one of the roofs and from there made a leap toward Knaidow with Sudron drawn.
            They proceeded to cross swords in mid-air, with Cyonex using his jetpack and a booster to stay afloat. His time in the air was still short, though, and he had to land before he could deal any blows. However, after he landed, he fired a boomer shot that was able to cut the kite, forcing his foe to land.
            Dyl alighted on top of one of the roofs and proceeded to run down it while throwing ninja stars. The stars did not hit, but that was part of the plan. What did work were a couple of the bombs he threw in addition to the throwing stars. However, by then, he was out of space to run.
            Cyonex jumped on top of the roof and charged at Knaidow. He saw him wave his cloack again, but Dyl didn’t appear to vanish this time. The shadow warrior stood still but when Sudron was swung, he phased out only to reappear with his legendary sword attacking from behind. Yet, it appeared the Warrior of Fire anticipated this as he spun with his swing to block the sneak attack.
            The clash of steel continued upon the rooftop with no side yielding. It went on for a moment until Cyonex overpowered Knaidow with a sudden burst of strength thanks to Power Mode. After shoving him back, the Guardian then unleashed a streak of lightning that paralyzed the agile Neostriker. With a Full Power slash, the match was over.

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