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Eye of the storm

“Run, just run, one foot in front of the other” the sound of his own lungs panting hard filled his ears “Next metre, and the next , don’t stop moving” harder still the panting as the echoes of his foot falls rebounded around him “Can’t stop moving”. He ran on and on, each foot fall sounding like an explosion in the darkness but he had no time to spare for silence now, no time for the artful approach of the boundsmen, just the single notion of movement and the ever creeping feeling of exhaustion starting to set in as each cut and Knick stung  where an arm or leg had caught on something as he kept pushing on through the darkness, chasing the faintly fading embers of light that was the other families. Coming to the corner of an alley way he skidded in something trying to take the corner , almost slipping over as he shot an arm out to steady himself but only succeeding in crashing into the wall corner opposite with a solid thud of his own body impacting the ancient brickwork. “Feck it” he swore as he got up,  checking himself over for anything broken and finding two fingers were definitely not pointing in the direction they should be, cursing himself he pulled a strip of material out of his pocket and wrapped the two fingers together, gritting his teeth as he bound them straight before looking around him to see if he was still being followed, nothing moved and no sound but that of silence twisted its way through the ruins behind him. He paused for a second as a wave of tired lapped around him as his body began to register just how little sleep he’d had in the last 3 days and now an unending list of small cuts, bruises and two broken fingers added to the list. Tal caught a shaky reflection of himself in the liquid he had slipped in in his haste to keep moving, he had expected the face of a young boundsmen clad proudly in his families colours to smirk back at him, sword hanging at his hip under the patchwork poncho his aunt had given him when he came of age, instead a wracked wretch of a lad stared back at him, blood running down the side of his head over smears of dirt and other less mentionable things that covered his skin now. His clothes were a tattered mass of ripped fabrics and dented armour plates where he could see them, underneath them he could make out the bandages he still wore when he had been told to link up with the walking wounded 3 days ago as the army began to evacuate. Something had clearly gone wrong but he didn’t know what for the army to be retreating at the speed it was, whispers filled the army that the Vas-shah had disappeared and his own family had left the paths to attempt to track him down, in his place the various families of the last voice had come together to keep the campaign to take this place from the vile mutant kind going but to no avail as more and more mutant spawn awakened and thrust like a poisoned blade into the gut of the lost who made war here. Tal knew he’d been lucky when a howler had slashed through his padded armour and opened his chest to the ruins, he’d managed to avoid the infection spreading still through the wounded being carried out, but this still put him out of the fight in an ever growing list of dead and dying. He stood quiet for a moment thinking of all the others who had passed their final days in this place before a sound shook him from his revy, ducking quickly into the alley way he pressed himself up against the wall and slowed his breath to lessen his sound as he looked. Nothing moved for a moment, then a shadow twisted out from a grate into the form of a six limbed creature, red hooded eyes glinting in the darkness as its scales glistened, some form of liquid dripping from its maw filled with too many teeth, “Stalker” Tal thought to himself, closing his eyes he though of his mother never knowing how he had passed, his younger brother crying at the lack of his presence when the nights drew in and his Solemn aunt, fury slipping into solace and finally despair at another loss to the ruins she could never have prevented. He breathed out and drew his sword thinking to himself that at least he would die a true son of the Bedyin and die facing what had killed him with fire in his eyes as he swung out to face his last moments, something strange seemed to happen though as he opened them again. The stalkers maw grew wide in a shrill hiss as it spotted him as the air stood still, the sounds of something like electricity running through the air catching at his ears as the stalkers mid-rift exploded in a storm of ichor, meat and chitinous scales. The creature bent over and roared in pain as another round punctured the side of its head and detonated, showering the surrounding area in what had been its brain matter and bits of blood, for some reason part of the air appeared covered in it as Tal lowered his blade in confusion, the air vibrated slightly as something appeared clad in black clothing and accompanied by another, both carrying rifles of some kind as Tal watched. The pair turned as they noticed him, one simply nodding, a non verbal question as one tapped a medical pouch “you okay?”, Tal stood still in surprise for a moment before nodding and bowing in thanks to his strange saviours, “Who?” he got out before the other of the pair put a finger to their lips and pointed at the path ahead of them “Clear now, go, catch your kind” it said in a strangely accented voice as the two turned and disappeared in to the shadows of the ruins from where they had seemingly came. Tal looked down the pathway and back to where the strangers had been but they were gone before he could offer his thanks, re-sheathing his sword he began to jog and then run once more as the sound of his foot steps caught in his ears once again, his breathing and lungs beginning to pound and his body ache as he spotted the lights of the last voice making their way away from this place. Soon he would be home, his wounds would heal and in time he would forget about the two strangers in black with their green scrubbed cloaks as the last voice licked its horrendous wounds, looking to the east for the first time and hoping its silence would not match the kind they had found here...  

Military Campaign Progress Edit

Luck, the ever intangible corner stone of the meteoric rise and catastrophic fall of individuals, cultures and entire civilisations, sit at the heart of every person. When the universe sees fit to bestow a people with a gift that will go onto define who they are with each passing generation, it will be the luck of finding that solitary origin point that they will point too when others luck on greedily and with envy at all they have accomplished. The same can be said for when one single misstep causes a stumble that ripples across the fabric of a peoples history and sees them fall far and hard before they can stop the cascade of tragedy that falls upon them, the cry of abandonment ringing out as the luck that had allowed them to slip by unnoticed to the whirlwinds of fate finally falling away leaving them to their ultimate destiny as the course of history defines it. This single fickle thread ever makes its presence noticed whether it is wanted or not by the recipient like a crow perched in an otherwise peaceful garden, its cry marking its entry and passing with but a single utterance that none can pass without its shadow marking them in some way. For the Lost this luck had run its course through the days of the fall and into the split beyond that saw them march in a great wave behind the great nomad to their place of safety and solitude away from the prying eyes of this new reality, allowing them to grow and venture forth a new as a new culture born of this world, inheritors to a new destiny for a part of mankind. But just as this luck saved so many when pushed too far it snaps and leaves those that grasped on to it to slip away into the either with nought but a whisper and a dark lock at those that would place all they have upon its back.

As the first few days of the new cycle crept in the last voice found itself looking in the eyes of the same misery that had befallen them in the cycle previously, with each passing day the army would clash on a minor scale across the width and breadth of the territory for control of vital locations against an ever increasingly awake swarm. The first few clashes that escalated went the way of the lost in slim margins  leaving numerous packs of mutant kind slain in the concrete dust and ruins of the various warehouses and ancient storage barns of the industrial parks that littered the zone. By the dawn of the second week the army would find this progress slipping away once again into the form of a stalemate as they attempt to not only handle the new awaken packs but also the increasingly sick amongst the army from the wounded as the wounds they carried festered and disease began to grip the army in a choke hold.  This would continue for days on end as the normally amiable camp of the last voice became in increasingly sombre and silent place, the only sounds being of the cries of the wounded and the increasing stench of the dying amongst the various families making up the army.  For those clashing with the mutant kind they would soon find the faces they were so used to battling alongside becoming replaced by those of strangers as family groups of boundsmen began to be merged to keep numbers in grouping up as well as attempt to combat the new packs with fully supplied groups of boundsmen whilst the elders consulted the Vas-shah on what to do next as the final strands of any form of advance fell away to leave the last voice holding a tidal wave at bay that grew in strength ever day whilst theirs was sapped away. Unfortunately for the Last voice the elders would here their voices unanswered as shortly before the close of the first month a boundsmen carrying messages to the Vas-shahs family tent founds it silent and empty, whilst the shelters themselves remained where they have been raised an sign of the family as a whole was gone, as if swallowed by the night and the ruins.

The following few days after the discovery of the disappearance of the Vas-shah slipped past in solemn quiet and mild panic amongst some of the families who took the disappearance of the army’s general as an ill omen, their elders during meetings calling to be allowed to leave this haunted place. Some call the land tainted and that the army should never had trod here, foul luck springing its malicious trap as surely as a hunter from the old brothers at the sight of one of the travelling families on the path. In the end the elders come to a decision, calling together every elder from every surviving family they draw up a plan amongst themselves over the course of a week. Talking with the healers amongst the last voice and those of the most military experience they pass down that the army will evacuate in the coming days from this accursed land, the first to leave will be fast runners to scout a clear way back to where they first entered this place and await there, sending signal once in place. After this the most critically wounded who could be moved would be carried out by convoy of bands of boundsmen with the walking wounded following afterwards to group up and push for home and the refuge. All able bodied fighters be they boundsmens or Tradesmen would set themselves to the task of disengaging and delaying the mutant swarm at the heals of the wounded before on the night of the 3rd of the evacuation breaking contact and pulling back with all haste to get clear of the territory as a whole, leaving only traps in their wake to slow any pursuers.

And so as the third week of the second month of the cycle came to pass the Last voice set itself to the task laid before it, the most able bodied of the Boundsmen and Tradesmen clashing with the mutant kind that slithered and wormed its way forward into the cracks in their lines as the scouts formed into war-bands before making their way back through the territory gained over the last 7 and a half months heading for the connecting tunnels and pathways leading into the territory, skittering any sign of mutant activity whilst clearing an small packs they came across at the cost of the new casualties it would add to the list of wounded to be carried from this place and back to the refuge. The next few days would see procession after procession of wounded being carried on makeshift stretchers and small wheel carts being led away from the camp by stern faced boundsmen, each unknown sounds causing them to twitch and snap round as they made their hap hazard way back down the paths left for them by the scout groups the previous days . For the most part these initial convoys of wounded made their way clear of the territory from the signals from the scouts, suffering little from the predations of the mutant kinds as the swarm consciousness seemed to concentrate on the still fighting war-bands on the front line keepings the mutants attention for the time being.

The coming of the third month would pass in a silence that would mark the closing days of the last voices presence within the industrial zone that had claimed so many lives, the last elements of the walking wounded would make their way into the joining tunnels whilst the last few bands of scouts would wait for the remaining parts of the army to pass before they would close their eyes to this place. 3 days after this the ragged and bleeding last bands of Lost would arrive and mark their thanks to the scout families for playing their part before silently heading into the tunnels and path ways themselves, most carrying scars that would remain for the rest of their days in the form of missing limbs or lacerations that would mark them for survivors of this place for all to see as the days would turn to weeks, then months and finally years as time passed onwards on its slow march into eternity. In all the plan had worked to evacuate fully from the territory that had cost them so much but even with this and the diseases running through the army the total cost would see one thousand and ten lost in all dead for 8 months fighting  to the mutants potential eight hundred and fifty slain creatures, some whisper quietly amongst themselves that if the fighting had continued on for another cycle the last voice would have been be no more  whilst others look to the south in concerned looks, non verbal questions of another foe that was once friend rising like a storm to come as the army attempted to begin its process of regrouping and refilling its ranks from the scatter families of the lost.  For some these questions would consume them in the days to come like a plague wrapping itself around the necks of all that had experienced the ‘war of the sleepers’ as the elders would dub it in the weeks to come.

One ray of light thought through all the darkness would catch in the last couple of weeks of the third month as those scout bands that had left at the beginning of the plan had made themselves useful by returning to the refuge and grabbing a few days rest before then heading to the old path ways in the east leading away from the refuge. Reports from the families visiting the green places told a silent forest of solemn towers, a potential new start for the last voice if they were to occupy it and settle whilst their wounds healed. In this upon returning to the refuge themselves and sitting with the First and Refuge families, the elders of the Last voice would sanction a large force of scouts families and Boundsmen war-bands to further reinforce these initial impetuous scouts  and just perhaps provide a slim ray of hope to the storm of darkness that had befallen the lost of late. No word would be heard for several days as the scouts moved fast and quiet towards the silent zone, their experience in the war of the sleepers had taught the survivors and valuable lesson, that for all their pride in their martial abilities they were no the disciplined iron of the Hive sec or the frenzied blood of the Cellborn, they were the silent blade of the lost and caution would be the cloak they know wore. When new did arrive back in the form of a small group of scouts at the gate to the refuge they would walk to the tent of the elders meet, waiting a day for the necessary families elders to gather before speaking. ’The Forest is silent, it is clear, we have a chance’ is all they say as the elders look onto the words of these scouts with new hope dawning in their eyes...  

Summary:

The last voice has successfully disengage and evacuated from the Secondus class Industrial zone they were in, no signs of the mutant swarm having taken interested in pursuit have been seen as the army takes tally of their total losses from their campaign. In all 1010 lost have fallen in just under 9 months of total conflict between the lost and the mutant swarm encountered, whilst mutant loses are estimated at around 850 in total. Territorial wise due to disengaging all land held in the zone has been lost to the swarm once more, whilst the lands found to the east have been preliminary occupied. The new territory zone will require further scouting and exploring by the army and scouts to fully define.

Eye of the Storm Edit

With the retreat and evacuation of the Last voice from the war to the south of the refuge, the various families of the Lost find themselves in a situation they were not expecting. In terms of facing starvation they are well clear of this threat thanks to the now sole remaining food node still in their possession after ceding the other in battle against the cellborn, hoping to placate the enraged former friends to the far south. Some families argue the validity of the tactic whilst others point to past actions as a precedent as a way of judging the clans of the cellborn’s next actions. In the end of the circular arguments are quashed by the elders of the refuge family as they waste nothing but time and air as the other families look on in solemn silence. Survival has been a corner stone of the lost for centuries and as such they know the mutant kind and their old brothers actions, they know how to scavenge and pick the ruins clean to enable them to continue their existence, the problem is know not a lack of supply that threats them but an entirely different matter, that of word of mouth one elder points out. Reputation when dealing with outsiders precedes all else , and if that reputation is poor then you will receive nought but mockery and derision from those around you. This comment catches with the families present as the meaning is clear, If they are to survive the coming of the Cellborn after such a costly war with the mutant kind then they must fight as lost do and repair what damages have been done, or at least find some way of brokering a truce. On this the Refuge families and the First sit in silence, their faces saying more than they ever could….

Summary:

1) With the Last voice badly damaged and wounded the lost must find a way to ensure their survival, the Elders of the refuge seek any family with medical to spend time with the army to tend to the wounded as the lack of medical supplies bites hard.

2) As the situation with the cellborn further develops the Elders of the families seek one to take position as Envoy to the cellborn in hopes of stopping the war to come before it is too late. As such a Tradesmen from the families present in the refuge will be arriving to speak with those Lost present in the green places during the course of Saturday. 

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