Author Topic: The Epic Tale of Andrakuz, our savior during our darkest hour... Watch it here!  (Read 2908 times)

Offline Atruejedi

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Artistic Rendering of Andrakuz
(Photographs of deities are banned by The Council)

This is the story of Andrakuz, a neophyte from the Netherlands who, upon joining the Chaos Skirmish this past weekend, rescued his team in their time of need and led them to a crushing victory over their enemies. The entire story was chronicled by Lysanya in video form and is available for viewing at the below link. I've cued up the video to begin at the moment Andrakuz was anointed our pilot at 1 hour, 45 minutes and 20 seconds into the video. I've typed up a dramatic retelling of his experience below. I encourage you to read the text below first and then watch the video. Pay special attention to the match's text chat to get the full experience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEn6fdblHpY&feature=youtu.be&t=1h45m20s

If you did not participate on Saturday night, SPOILERS FOLLOW:

Introduction

Every once in a while, a combination of circumstance, fate, and chance producer a HERO FOR THE AGES... Our first hero was Tachy (#PraiseTachy! Read his story here) and he has served the Random Gods well as their champion on this earth, fighting against injustice with courage and valor. But battling the hordes of novices and stackers can fatigue even the strongest of warriors, and the Gods demand balance. On Saturday, October 29, 2016, at approximately 11:20 PM EDT... the Gods gave us our latest righteous warrior, Andrakuz...

Prologue

War wasn't brewing. It was simmering. The heat was always on and the borders were always on high alert, with mistreated crews of opposing squadrons watching each other diligently across the vast deserts and tundras and other sorts of wastelands. A crew can get bored staring at all that sand and ice... life on an airship can be pretty rough. Corporal punishment. No entertainment beyond booze and brawling. Swabbing the poop deck. You know, if you take a moment to think about it, the swabbie of one faction seems to have more in common with his enemy swabbie than with his own captain. And, hey, what exactly are we fighting over if everything is simply a waste? You know what? We're going to start a movement! Swabbies of the World, uni--

"BLAAAARE!"

...What was I...? Oh. Yes. High Command doesn't give you time to think; the pot has to be stirred until the sauce is ready. Sometimes a ship strays off course and into enemy territory, even though there are no discernible borders. Sometimes trade negotiations go sour and the diplomats challenge each other to a duel with Javelin Harpoons at 500 meters (with no Lesmok!). Sometimes we organize a blood sport in which teams of ships ferry a buoy back and forth between two sides of a territory for hours until one side finally surrenders. But, more often than not, when the ingredients in the recipe for perpetual conflict need to be adjusted to make sure we all take our medicine, the Council just begs that crazy old oracle M'Kaw to interpret the will of the Gods. And nearly every time she declares that the Gods want Chaos, so she chooses a site for battle and both sides, desperate to keep order in their lands, agree to her absurd rules.

Chapter 1

Through M'Kaw, Paritan was chosen as the site. Through M'Kaw, the orders of battle were determined. Through M'Kaw, High Tide was chosen as our pilot, but he refused to follow the Gods' "mischievous wishes."

"A Squid equipped with all Mine Launchers!? I will not accept my station! This shan't be my lot! I will not bow to these demands! Either the Gods are unreasonable or M'Kaw is a charlatan! My lack of skill will surely damn my compatriots to defeat and embarrassment! Or, worse... death!"

"You must follow their rules!" I cried. "This is their vision, and it must be realized! High Command and the Council trust the oracle, as does our enemy. The impending battle must be fought with only mine launchers because that is what Those Who Rule the Skies want! If we are to die, at least we will die with honor! We will receive our just reward. We all have our part to play in the skies... O! My Captain, won't you reconsider?"

High Tide paused. His face was stone, staring into a far-off abyss. "No," he finally said, firmly, defeated. Perhaps he saw in his mind's eye the charred corpses of his crew scattered among the shattered glass and concrete of the urban husk called Paritan. High Command knew a momentous battle was imminent and the scenarios had been playing through everyone's heads, from the lowliest swabbie to the Fleet Admiral himself. "I cannot do this. I will not. It is suicide. I would rather lose my honor than lose my life and yours." Without turning, without saying goodbye, without apologizing, he walked calmly down the gangplank. We later learned he had immediately resigned his commission and was banished by the Council, which branded him an apostate for disobeying the will of the Gods.

"Heretic," Lexy muttered as High Tide took his final step off the plank. She wasn't exactly a zealot, but something about her...

That's when I saw him. No, not High Tide. Him. His brown skin was tanned from both the sun and the heat of the barrels he unloaded upon hits targets as a gunner. His rakish tricorn sat neatly upon his tight curls. He strode with hesitation up the ramp onto the nimble vessel and spoke without emotion. "I have no mic," he muttered as his face turned into a frown. But he didn't need to say anything. We didn't know it at the time, but we knew he was special. We knew he might be the--

"BLAAAARE!" screamed the klaxons. Our heads rotated rotated back and forth and our eyes darted rapidly. "Are they attacking?"

"Nope," our engineer said nonchalantly as he walked up the ramp. "It's go time. You must be our new captain. Hi." He looked at Andrakuz with a blank stare for a brief moment. His face was completely forgettable. "No time for introductions. The oracle has determined the battle is to begin at dusk and we have to get to the rendezvous point as soon as possible. The enemy is already on the way."

"I already did a pre-flight check, even though it isn't my job," Lexy said accusingly, narrowing her eyes at me and then deliberately glancing down at the decorations pinned to her chest. One of them was a tawdry oversized bullet, but it made the point that High Command both liked to recognize its best gunners and didn't like spending much doing so.

"Okay, yes, fine, sorry," I said with exasperation. I stared at her and then tapped the flask in my chest pocket. "It won't happen again," I said with a purposely crazed look in my eyes.

"Suuuurrrre," she replied, taking two seconds to say a one syllable word. And without another word, we all manned our stations and set sail for the broken city of Paritan.

Chapter 2

As our newly christened ship took to the skies, Andrakuz, realizing he had only served aboard crews during his service and had never really been in command or directly responsible for the well-being of a crew, questioned himself. His crew realized their captain was uncomfortable at the helm of such a sensitive craft, but they casually reaffirmed their faith in his command and offered practical advice by chatting to one another and allowing Andrakuz to overhear their conversation.

"I think I'm getting chapped lips. Should have brought some balm," Lexy remarked. And Andrakuz gently lowered the throttle.

"I must have drank too much last night. If that's possible. I'm feeling queasy," I remarked. And Andrakuz loosened his grip on the wheel and let the winds carry us gently toward our destination.

"Doing okay, captain?" our engineer asked.

Andrakuz nodded solemnly and thought of telling his crew he'd do his best, but he knew those words were only a sign of weakness and wouldn't help. He knew he had to be in command but he didn't know how to give voice to his orders. If only I had a microphone, he thought. He began to spiral mentally even though his ship moved with relative grace. But before his self-doubt could shake his emotions, that question mark turned into an exclamation point. The Gun Runer appeared through the haze and darkness of the wrecked cityscape. "Captain, enemy vessel si--"

"BOOM!" His skin felt a rush of hot air blast through the hair on his arms and scalp. His ears rang. He opened and closed his eyes rapidly in an attempt to blink away the spots obstructing his vision. "Sir! We hit a mine!" Lexy shouted from the starboard emplacement, turning in a rush to repair the engines. "Reverse course and radio our flee--"

"BOOM!" The same intense sensations rocked Andrakuz's body again. The Gun Runer's crew, being assigned to a Junker, clearly had trained with these weapons at their war colleges; "Munkers," after all, were the preferred craft for mining specialists, and these bastards had already demonstrated their consummate skill in a single moment. If our ship had a nervous system, by now it would be causing the craft to go into shock. Andrakuz thought he heard a voice far behind him, but it was only mere feet away. "...our fleet for assistance! Radio our fleet for assistance, Captain!" Lexy cried to the captain over her shoulder as her pipe wrench crashed into the mangled engine.

I had already dove into the pit housing the armor repair hub and was toiling away to provide us with some immediate protection. I stabilized our systems quickly, but before our crew could effectively target the Junker, a Squid, the Fifth Hokage, rose up from the littered alleyways and set itself on a crash course with our vessel as its destination. The ship's captain, a rogue called Wrathling, was famous for his suicidal charges into enemy defenses. While he was often beaten and broken by the end of the skirmish, just as often he took an enemy down with him. He was a wildcard in the skies who was just as likely to kill as be killed.

But luck was on our side, at least for a moment. As the Fifth Hokage darted forward, Wrathling neglected to radio his co-captain on the Gun Runer to request they halt fire as he sought personal glory with a ram kill... and the Munker's expert crew was still actively targeting our ship. As the Fifth Hokage made contact with our hull, ordnance exploded in the vicinity of both craft and damaged every gas bag keeping the ships aloft, sending them both sinking towards the streets.

"Activate the emergency parachute, Captain!" I bellowed over the sound of metal-on-metal as I cobbled back together our armor plating and the rest of the crew worked on patching up the gas bags. The Fifth Hokage sank below us and it seemed we were out of harm's way. "Alright, balloon's looking good. Deactivate the parachute. And, say, cap, did you know the Drogue Chute remains active for a few seconds after you deactiv--"

"BOOM!"

...I must have blacked out. The next thing I remember, we were out of harm's way on a ship in perfect condition, about to enter combat with fresh faces but, somehow, I felt as if I'd learned something in the past few minutes. I had gained something valuable, even if I wasn't sure what it was or how it happened. "Guys, do you..." I trailed off. Their astounded stares back at me confirmed they had shared the same experience.

For a moment, we froze. Then, in a sudden panic, we ran to our stations. "Vessel in sight, Captain!" our engineer warned. "Pyramidion-class! Designation is Shake Rattle n' Roll!"

"Then let's make 'em live up to their namesake," I quipped. "Prime the launchers!"

Lexy and I mounted our weapons and squinted through the clouds. "Gentle on that wheel, captain! Treat it like a lady!" I advised with a wink.

Lexy rolled her eyes and smirked. "How about 'Keep 'er steady?'" she offered, eschewing the sexism. Our gallant gunnery officer was, under all the grease and oil, still a girl, but the word "still" was simply offensive to her and anybody who had served beside her. She had seen more combat than most "men"  and acted with more courage under fire than the majority of high-ranking officers in the fleet would care to admit on official records, fearing it would make them look inferior. But those medals proved her prowess and her reputation preceded her. High Command had heard tales of her achievements many times over and knew she was invaluable to their success.

I chortled. "Guys, you heard it here first: Lexy wants you to kee--"

The ship shook as Lexy dropped the hammer and flames and thunder erupted from her gun. "Can it," she chimed in. I grinned and opened fire with her, but our charges landed short of the enemy.

"Distance too great. We've gotta close that gap, cap," I said, turning about to check on the captain. Andrakuz appeared steady, more comfortable at the helm. I guess he had been with a woman or two before and my advice made sense to him. Stupid Lexy, I thought. Sexism is funny! Locker room talk 'n' all. Anyway. "Either that or switch ammun--"

"Reverse course," Lexy interrupted.

I sniffed the air. It was... thick. Smokey, but... almost sweet. Barbecue sauce? I thought. Oh. Oh!

Lexy continued: "The Pyra just dropped a tar barrel. Let's hold here. No need to unnecessarily gunk up the engines. I'd hate to make more work for Jedi," she said with a sarcastic grin.

I tapped my flask. "Or yourself."
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 07:13:31 am by Atruejedi »

Offline Atruejedi

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The Epic Tale of Andrakuz, our savior during our darkest hour... Part 2!
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2016, 07:04:43 am »
Chapter 3

There was movement in front of us. I wasn't sure what was happening, though. I needed to get a better look so I could appraise our captain of the situation. Gazing forward, chin up, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my range finder. I tossed it over my shoulder and off the ship. Then I reached into my pocket and took out my spyglass. I peered through it at the scene ahead.

"Thick as soup up there?" our engineer asked.

"If it is, you must be getting way better soup than I am! I mean, if each of those mines represents a chunk of potato--"

"Report, please" Lexy asked with impatience. "What's it looking like up there?"

"I'd guess about two dozen mines, all pretty close to each other. If a ship strays into that field and one of the proximity fuses goes off, it'll probably start a chain reaction that'll detonate the whole--

"BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!"

"BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!"

"--minefield. Well, at least now we're safe to move in... Captain?"

Andrakuz nudged the throttle and the crew surveyed the battlefield from a safe distance, spotting a Mobula with its guns facing away from us. "That's our target, cap! John Cena! Close to a distance of approximately 250 meters and we'll load in the Lesmok ammunition! If you've got a map, that's half a square away."

Standing patiently at our guns, Lexy and I waited for the perfect moment. Wait for it... wait for it... now! We pulled our triggers and began distributing mines all around the John Cena; we had caught the vessel by surprise and there was nowhere it could maneuver to avoid our wrath. The proximity fuses in the mines sensed the Mobula and activated; explosions shoved the vessel toward the ground and we continued pouring torpedoes down at him, smelling victory in the air. But we had gotten cocky. We didn't see the mine we were drifting towards at a barely noticeable speed... our tunnel vision or blood lust had gotten the better of us. Or perhaps the throttle was malfunctioning. Maybe it was the speedometer. "Hey, cap, tap a finger on the--"

"BOOM!"

We were jarred out of position; the John Cena used the opportunity to set an escape course. As he left our effective range, we could hear his ship creaking and buckling from the damage it had suffered at our hands. The Fifth Hokage, abruptly arriving at the scene, settled on another greedy attempt at a ram kill which, again, backfired. Literally. An errant mine exploded and threw the First Hokage clear of us (and us of them), giving us a valuable respite to conduct some repairs. Enough was enough, we simultaneously thought, as if sharing a dream.

"Target the Fifth Hokage," I said, vengeance in my voice. "Aim low off starboard; he's still licking his own self-inflicted wounds."

Mines rained down at the Squid like explosive hail on a time delay. Another mine seemingly belonging to no one shook our ship, but damage was minimal and repairs were brief. Then another. We were fighting our fate and the enemy was fighting his. Our sights were trained on the Fifth Hokage and we had him pinned to the ground, surrounded in mines. His destruction seemed all but assured, but then...

"Is he really going to try to maneuver through that web?" Lexy pondered aloud, disbelief in her voice.

"It's Wrathling. He's not exactly rational," I muttered.

"Well, he's going to get his ass blown up."

But... he didn't. Through luck or skill or a combination of both (but probably just luck), he activated his engine boosters and deftly maneuvered and muscled for rank, fuel burning fast on an empty tank, through the steeples and archways. Our allied Mobula, the Spanish Ladies, deployed mines with an intercept trajectory in front of the Squid to prevent the slippery rascal from escaping. Thinking (incorrectly) he was cornered, Wrathling rashly and instinctively set a new collision course with the Spanish Ladies... but his damaged engines wouldn't allow him to achieve a threatening velocity and he simply bounced his ship off of the Mobula's balloon and sent himself plummeting downward. The Mobula appraised the situation, ordered a halt to weapons fire, and determined crushing the nearly destroyed Squid under its weight would be an appropriate ending to the ordeal.

"Hold your fire," Lexy said. "The Spanish Ladies is about to give that Squid a lap dance."

It was clever wordplay, but I didn't hear her. My mind was racing with thoughts of Wrathling pulling off another miraculous escape. Wrathling, I thought as I scoffed and curled my upper lip. If I don't stop him now, we might not get another chance... This ends now. I pulled the trigger.

"Hold your fire, Jedi," Lexy ordered.

But it was too late. One impulsive twitch of my finger sailed a mine within proximity of the Spanish Ladies as it was descending on the Fifth Hokage. The Squid's crew, holding on for dear life but holding firmly, maintained their vessel's armor as the mine exploded and triggered the detonation of other mines in the area, ripping apart the Mobula's armor as it was in the process of smashing itself down into the smaller ship... and surrounding concrete. The Spanish Ladies exploded with a great flash... but the Fifth Hokage exploded mere milliseconds later.

I'm not sure why I did it. I tell myself it was our only chance to stop Wrathling and it had to be done. But maybe not.

Maybe it was a vendetta. Have you ever had a disinterested conversation with someone and, only moments later, realized what had been said? Lexy's voice was like the background noise of a purring engine that I was only now noticing. Hold your fire...? Maybe I didn't want to hear her.

I'd rather not think about it. And at the moment, I didn't have time to anyway.

Chapter 4

"This is crazy!" our captain unexpectedly screamed. But it wasn't fear in his voice; it was joy. The thrill of battle had caught him, even if it had also caught our ally in a lethal explosion.

Immediately after the destruction of the Spanish Ladies and the Fifth Hokage, the battlefield seemed quiet. For a moment, the city seemed at peace, even as smoke billowed up from the ruins. The opposing fleets arrayed themselves against one another and held position, scanning the horizon for misshaped shadows conspicuously creeping between buildings. But this pause in the fighting was all too temporary. The enemy had brought the fight to us again.

Well, one enemy in particular.

Wrathling. "I swear we just blew this guy the whole way to the Random Gods' Realm!" I said in confusion.

"We did!" Andrakuz answered. "What's going on here!?"

"We'll figure that out later. Fire!"

But it was too late. The Fifth Hokage had already closed on our position, seemingly out of nowhere, and was still seeking that elusive ram kill. A random mine exploded beneath us, popping us into the sky and out of sight of the Squid's guns, but Wrathling was tired of embarrassment and failure. His patience, already limited, had run out. He pushed his ship and crew to their breaking points as he, again, closed in on us... but was foiled as a friendly mine deployed and exploded in between our vessels, shoving our ships away from each other. Uncharacteristically, Wrathling considered the stategic situation. He was now surrounded by four enemy vessels, all protecting each other and deploying mine fields in defensive positions behind him. The lid on the box was beginning to close. Fighting his instincts, he tucked his tail between his legs and ran, seeking assistance from his allies for the first time in the battle's duration.

Or so we thought. It was all a feign. Devious Wrathling, I thought. I knew he couldn't resist.

Each faction was now lobbing mine after mine after mine into the fray, some aimed at enemies, some missing enemies, some deployed to cut off strategic areas, some seemingly placed with no thought to tactics at all. Chaos was the master of the battlefield, but the chaos felt good. For some reason, it felt fitting. This thought was further cemented when the Spanish Ladies smashed into mines deployed earlier in the skirmish by our ship and exploded into another heap of metal and wood. I furrowed my brow. Wait...

Déjà vu? My crew mates and I all exchanged glances and shrugged. We didn't have time to ask if the Random Gods were playing tricks on our minds.

"Junker approaching! It's the Gun Runer!" our engineer shouted.

"He's mine!" Lexy proclaimed.

"Do you mean he's mined?" I asked, proud of myself. "I hope he doesn't mind--"

"Staaahhhhp" Lexy groaned, taking a full three seconds to utter a one syllable word.

Based on our earlier experiences, be them real or imagined, we began to aim our launchers with increasing accuracy and precision. Within seconds, the Junker off our starboard bow was rocking left and right and alight with flame. Even our sworn enemies would have to agree: our aim was true. But our enemies couldn't agree with us, because they were dead. The Gun Runer's sizzling remnants cascaded down into the darkness of the city floor like sprinkles on an ice cream sundae; besting an opponent tasted that good.

The battle lines continued to shift as the opposing fleets made minor elevation and attitude adjustments, each ship's pilots doing their best (which was relative) to fly consistently enough for effective mine launching. The John Cena, escaping our clutches earlier, again fell under heavy bombardment from our skilled handling; it was baffling to us how that crew managed to keep their ship aloft. It was as if the ship had the ability to turn invisible.

Occasional explosions violently rocked all of the combatants, but efficient repairs were keeping the ships bound together, some by mere threads, or so it seemed... including our ship. At the battle's beginning our enemy seemed to have the favor of the Gods, but slowly, slowly, we regained our footing and leveled the playing field. Captain Andracuz had come a very long way during the course of the battle. He started off as an unsure, inexperienced pilot and, by the midway point, transformed into a consistent and cautious captain. Our captain. His stable hand at the helm allowed Lexy and me to envelop the enemy in mines, assisting our allies as they wrested control of the skies from the enemy and secured the city for our occupation. Then, suddenly...

It was all over.

Like discovering a familiar shape in the midday sky, the Fifth Hokage materialized out of the fog and smoke directly in front of us and charged forward with reckless abandon, already heavily damaged, seemingly ask us to grant it a death wish and put it out of its visible misery. It was a request we simply couldn't refuse.

"Hold 'er steady, cap!" I said.

"Treat 'er like a lady," Lexy replied.

Damning the torpedoes, Wrathling set his thrusters to full and barreled toward us, his engines barely able to take the strain. As he hurtled toward us I swear I could see the look on his face. It was craven and mad. That's how close he got to our vessel. That's how close we came to death... until Lexy and I pulled the trigger.

The two mines sailed forward together like synchronized swimmers. At the end of their dive, they deployed simultaneously and jiggled with anticipation, swinging in the callous breeze. Unlike a diver, however, these mines made quite the splash. The Squid smashed into the pair of precisely placed charges and instantly exploded into a fireball, its momentum showering our ship with debris and causing us to explode in cheers of celebration.

It was a do-or-die situation for the irrational mind at the helm of the Fifth Hokage. Well... Actually, it wasn't. It was just a die situation. And we owed it all to our captain, Andrakuz.

Epilogue

They say the Gods test their followers' faith. I will admit, I was unsure about Andrakuz when he first walked up that gangplank... but now I am sure. He is The Second Coming of The Champion, first revealed to us as Tachy. This is his second form. All of the evidence is before your eyes, dear reader! Andrakuz learned patience while at the helm. He measured his enemies, chose his battles, relied on his allies, and allowed his crew to give him advice that turned the tide of battle in the favor of his faction. As the enemy ships fled the skies in the moments after we vanquished the vile warlord Wrathling, our occupation forces set up camp in the city to scour for resources and our surviving vessels sailed back to the docks for toasts to victory and embraces of fellowship and more toasts and then some toasts. The battle was won, but our fate had not been predetermined. No, it was secured for us through teamwork and faith in our friends and comrades, our brothers and sisters in the sky. On that day, Andrakuz, although divine by design, became our brother. This tale is a salute to him.