Blades of Chaos

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Then the big elf's attention was drawn away from the fallen beast by a quiet exclamation of surprise from one of his fellow elves.

"Curious," the big creature said out loud.

"What's curious, sergeant?" Kelly asked, drawing the elf's gaze to him.

"It's the Primiad rebels sir." He turned and pointed to a growing commotion in the left half of the forward company.

"It looks like they're trying to withdraw in order and regroup!"

Kelly frowned as he followed the sergeant's pointing finger to a cluster of Primiad soldiers that were gathering there. Thanks to his genetically enhanced vision, he could see even at this distance that while this small group was battered and bloody as they continued to engage the soldiers around them, they remained resolute. Each sold their lives dearly, often taking a half dozen loyalists with them as they fell, leaving the survivors to furiously fight on.

While there was no denying they fought with skill and determination, there was something else at work there. Something Kelly could sense but not identify. Then, as he watched the rebel formation tighten in a manner he had seen Protectorate soldiers do, ones that ironically enough had been fighting these very same Primiad troops only a few short months ago, it hit him.

Van Joss.

Despite himself, Kelly found a grin twisting his lips upward as he remembered. The wily human operative had taken charge of a company of Pantor at the gates of their capital that fateful day, and had led them through a series of defensive maneuvers that had left the Primiad they faced stymied and confused. That, in turn, had bought the city's inhabitants, including Kelly, Longspear and the Primiad refugee Salina, time enough to escape.

As they ran from the city's rear gates to safety, the big elf had looked over his shoulder just long enough for him to see van Joss execute that same formation shuffle as the rebels just did. It could only mean van Joss was down there, in the middle of that chaos, directing traffic.

How didn't really matter, nor did the why. The human agent had his own reasons for doing things that weren't always clear while they were happening, but were by the end. He would certainly concede that if it was van Joss that was responsible for the rebel attack, it was a maneuver that was very well timed, and worthy of the master spy. 'I only hope you can get out of there alive, van Joss,' he thought, eyes narrowed as he watched the rebels continue to pull out of their entangled positions with a great deal of success.

- South forces, slide along the catapult line as you withdraw, - van Joss silently directed from where he now stood on Ran's raised platform. - Grab torches as you do and set fire to the catapults. Then continue on to the rendezvous point as I've indicated on your maps.-

He should've anticipated that the arrival on the battlefield by the Gideon military would've spurred the Primiad monarch into seeking a direct confrontation with his perceived nemesis. By the time he had managed to work his way to the platform, Ran was gone. Infuriated by the failure of his siege beasts, the Primiad emperor had gathered up the majority of his personal guard and charged to the north where his shattered flank was being awkwardly pressed by the humans' fumbling charge.

Left without a quarry, van Joss did the next best thing to hurt the Primiad forces. He organized the rebels into a cohesive force and began pulling them out. Not only would Ran suffer a loss of manpower, but there was now a veteran group of rebel soldiers that could be used to harry the enemy at every opportunity. As long as he could keep the alliance from killing them, that is.

He nodded in satisfaction as the line of catapults, brought along in the supply train disassembled and put together on the battlefield, went up in flames near the back of the formation. They would've been put to use in short order, now that the siege beasts had more or less fallen.

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