Felidae Patrol - Group Three
In the very distant land of Joya, a storm was brewing. This was no mere tempest in a teacup, however; this was a storm so potent that its breaking heralded the archangel of destruction. With the state of the world rapidly escalating into an unfortunate miasma of chaos and discord, little hope seemed to remain - until the nations of the world decided to try one last effort in order to claw back some semblance of stability. Enter the symposium for peace; a multitude of nations had committed to sending envoys to the event in order to oversee the effort to finalise the end to the bloodshed that had occurred between Bellum and Pergrande months prior. This was, in fact, a golden opportunity for the nations to be involved in the steering of the course of the ship that was the world stage. With Pergrande first suing for peace to ensure that Bellum did not rebel against them - especially given their ideological differences - it seemed that the entire world was now taking a step back from the precipice before they took the grand leap down into the abyss of war. Many people - civilians and militaries alike - were incredibly thankful that what battle had been waged was all there was going to be, should this summit be successful. It was rather easy to see that the possibility for mass disruption was gigantic, and therefore the governments of the world were taking appropriate measures to ensure that sort of disruption did not happen. Both Fiore and Iceberg had been requested to deploy security measures to ensure the symposium went smoothly; the Magic Council had requested powerful mages to escort the dignitaries, and the guilds to deploy patrol teams in order to monitor the perimeter. There were far too many onlookers that were arriving in Joya, and it would be a simple matter for disruptive elements to enter the city and execute a coordinated strike on either a strategic or civilian target - neither of which were an acceptable outcome. Iceberg too was submitting their citizenry combat assets to contribute to the effort, but the mobilization of Fiore was far too big to ignore. The guilds would be out in force to ensure the defence of the people, which both the Magic Council and the host city were thankful for. Every single one of the light-aligned guilds had sent their forces, and the independent guilds had pledged some of their forces to the task as well.
To that end, Rhace had been deployed as part of the multi-unit team representing Meliora Vitae’s Relocation and Dispatch division. While this was outside of their normal monster-taming duties, this was certainly within the bounds of the guild’s overarching requirement to vie for peace wherever humanly possible. A number of guild members had been deployed to Felidae City in order to ensure that the local populace did not come to harm - this was their primary mandate in maintaining the balance of the world and thus they would fight to help those in need. The one downside was that with Felidae being so expansive and so many people cheering in the streets to celebrate the historic moment that would change the balance of the world, the defence of the city was having to be stretched considerably. Some of the strike teams had been left to their own devices, though given communications tools. A number of comm relays had been set up throughout the city, though these were less relays and more teams of people with communications backpacks that were designed to act as nexus points; these people had priority defence. Should the network go down, the defence of the city would fall deeper into disarray. The unfortunate moment of a neutral nation allowing foreign powers to take responsibility for their defence was the fact that the defenders would need to bring their own infrastructure to the table in order to facilitate proper work - there would be no using the Joyan communications structures, or their military nets. Why would they? It wasn’t their place to provide such, and they were neutral - showing any favouritism could potentially compromise their neutrality. This was not an outcome permissible by the Joyans, and thus the Fioreans were left to their own devices. Figuratively and literally, apparently.
Rhace had taken up an observational position in the first-floor window of a small business and was observing the situation from a better elevation than being down in the thronging masses of humanity would have afforded him. From here he could see the movement of the people on the street, and the way the festivities carried on he was going to need every advantage he could get. Emerald eyes surveyed the street below him like a hawk searching for prey, taking into account every non-standard movement that he could determine. This was an interesting point to be observing, that was for sure. The streets themselves were still open for traffic at this four-way intersection, but there were plenty of people packed in on the sidewalk, and a number of different egress points that could be used by anyone who wanted to cause some mayhem around the place.
In the meantime, Rhace was also listening to the earpiece that he had in, and the multitudes of voices that were sequentially coming in regarding the observational teams that were giving situational reports. These were little more than callsigns, and a basic report beyond it. Radio silence needed to be maintained for the most part to prevent operational issues. This was, by and large, an almost military-scale operation. Chatter on a mission communications line was not permitted.
”Victor two-two,” started the operative in clipped tones, ”sector clear.”
At this point in time, Rhace couldn’t see any movement that was out of the ordinary; the partygoers below appeared to be having a great time, milling amongst themselves. Loud, joyous music played in the background, presumably by some sort of street band, setting the scene for whatever negotiations might be happening in the distant city hall. Hopefully, if all went according to plan– and with this much security, it should– then everything could just move along, negotiations could end, and the security details could be sent home. However, to rely on such was wishful thinking and Rhace would not give himself in to such fanciful dreams.
In fact, had he given in to such pointless thoughts in that moment, he would have missed two people vanishing into an alleyway on the far side of the intersection after sharing a furtive glance. Rhace’s hackles went up in that second. That didn’t look like it was going to be a pleasant chat behind a building between two friends, no - either violence was going to break out or they were up to something shady. He could feel it in his bones. Making sure that Granveil was secure in its sheath, the swordsman decided that he was going to check it out before he called it in.
From his first-story lookout, Rhace sprinted down the stairs, his shoulder cape fluttering in the air behind him as he tried to catch up the distance to those people that were a few hundred metres away. It was a long shot, sure, but Rhace was in good enough shape that he felt that he stood a good enough chance to catch them up, especially with the use of Granveil’s wind powers and his own ability to move through the shadows quickly. Relying on his techniques would be the fastest way for him to make gross advantage upon his newfound potential foes - it allowed him to move across the intersection without stepping into traffic properly. This allowed the guilded mage to get into position to look at the scene he was potentially seeing unfold before him. There were two cat-eared people, having a discussion with a third figure deeper in the shadows, and passing a large, rectangular object between them; Rhace knew exactly what it was on sight.
An explosive device.
Without hesitation, Rhace drew Granveil from its sheath; the swordsman knowing that there would have to be no mercy and no hesitation from stopping these fiends with their plot. ”Victor two-two - three hostiles spotted with explosive device in sector two-two alleyway. Engaging.”
In his ear, the communication line began to explode with voices - all of them needed to be tuned out so that he could focus on the situation unfolding before him. Suddenly, the sword blade began to glow its unholy azure, which formed the harbinger of destruction, its clarion call blasting loudly in the darkness of the alley. Three new pairs of eyes turned in the direction of the interloper, and panic registered on their faces; they had not anticipated any kind of trouble so quickly. Without warning, one of them reached for something hidden under a cloak, which promptly fell to the ground with a metallic clank; it was no bigger than a small pellet that bounced off the pavement before it exploded in a large plume of smoke. The ersatz smoke grenade was already encapsulating the entire street with its shrouding vision, and Rhace was already moving to take his sword into two hands to prepare to fight his enemies.
Three sets of footfalls began to echo - one, he could tell, was already running away from him. Two were advancing upon him at a rapid pace, meaning that they either intended on breaking through him, or attacking him. Regardless of this, there was no way that the swordsman of the Granven school would dare allow his foes to best him. This was not an acceptable outcome to him.
The two figures broke through the smoke cloud, claws bared, drawing knives that they had concealed on their person; Rhace, in the moment of truth, closed his eyes and found his perfect centre as he achieved the silence that his mind required to perform. His training, the teachings of his ancestors and an indomitable iron will brought perfect clarity. The blade drew itself up into a high guard, its onyx edge shining bright as it sliced downwards towards the first man - unhesitatingly, the blade dug into the flesh and bone of the first foe’s wrist, then out the other side; the knife in that offensive hand was immediately dropped as tendons were severed, removing his enemy’s strength to bear arms against him. A killing blow was an injustice; harming a civilian beyond removing their will and capacity to fight was an unnecessary evil that Meliora Vitae did not believe in. However, at this point, this enemy was now a combatant. He had conspired to harm others, and now was prepared to fight to uphold that will.
Clutching his wrist, the first howled in pain as his weapon clattered to the floor, blood coating its unsullied blade. The second, eyes widening in fear, realised now the folly of charging a man whose steely-eyed resolve would overcome their brazen aggression. Taking a step in to reach engagement range against this man, Rhace lowered the tip of his sword such that it threatened the man’s adam’s apple. The knife was raised, held in a reverse hand grip, before scything through the air to cut at the guild warrior. The knife, however, found itself meeting the steel of the sword, clanging off harmlessly as it met a sideways parry against the sword’s forte. With the blade raised, a twist of his wrists brought the sword’s lead edge down into the flesh of the shoulder, gouging deeply and forcing the man to roar in pain - between the two of them, Rhace had engaged them successfully and forced them to very seriously consider whether they would press the attack.
The scion of the Tarrin family had other ideas. ”You have three seconds to drop your weapons and surrender to the authorities,” Rhace said with a growl, ”or you are not leaving this alleyway with all of your limbs.” Yes, that was a bluff, but considering he’d already caused them some rather grievous wounds, then there was a reasonable chance that he would follow through with that threat should they decide to look into it more closely. At that, instead of making the conscious effort to charge him, Rhace’s second target decided to drop his knife and they both fled into the throng of the crowd.
A sigh, as Rhace shook the blood out of the fuller of his blade, eyes casting around as they adjusted to the thickness of the smoke cloud that was now beginning to dissipate. There was absolutely no trace of the third man, who presumably was now running off with the explosive device that they had passed between them. This was a threat that could not be ignored, which Rhace knew he was going to have to call in.
”Victor two-two has secured two targets. Third target has fled with an explosive device, whereabouts unknown,” he started, raising a finger to his earpiece to ensure that he could hear the next words that came back from the control teams. However, he was met with nothing but dead silence - in fact, there were no other reports that had come through. Was he now speaking to dead air? Was anyone receiving his messages at all? If he wasn’t in range of the comms net, had anyone even heard his first message regarding these three? Did the teams know about the explosive device to begin with?
Damnit. Damn, damn, damn, the swordsman thought to himself as he turned around to face the street, refusing to lose grip on his blade; this was no longer the time for subtlety. There were very real threats now on the loose in Felidae City, which would need to be tempered before anything else was to go awry.
Unfortunately for Rhace, such thoughts were mere daydreams, as the first booming sparks of a distant detonation went off in another part of the city. It was an explosion that was strong enough to shake the ground underneath his feet, presumably somewhere far enough away that it would not endanger him in his combat zone. However, when a second ringing peal reached his ears, he knew that this was nothing simple at all, but an entirely coordinated strike - this was nothing short of a terrorist action that was entirely targeted at reaching the dignitaries, or distracting from some other goal that was to be reached. There was simply no other explanation for this miasma of chaos that was now preparing to swallow Felidae City in its entirety. With no support en route, with little in the way of support, the guild warrior was now going to have to fight his own battles while hoping and praying that someone had heard his call and was now coming to assist him. Without that assistance, he could not promise that the civilians would be safe.
Speaking of those civilians, panic was beginning to claim the masses as plumes of smoke began to rise towards the sky, touched with the acrid tang of burnt metal; screams of confusion and chaos were now rising to join the choral cacophony. People were running in every direction, trying to escape the madness that was overtaking the streets. Rhace himself was now pushing in towards the throng, trying to get a good sense for where the intersection that he had been tasked to monitor was at. From what little he could see, the streets were starting to clear from the debris and detritus of humanity, with the traffic now vanishing from the roads as everyone began to seek shelter. Down the long boulevarde that he could see, Rhace saw that a car had been torched; it was flipped onto its side, with its yellow paintwork smeared and scarred with torch marks that marred with bubbling and blackening. People had sprinted away from that, except for a number of figures that were now approaching down the road towards him; there were four figures that came, all of different heights and builds.
The swordsman simply couldn’t see them at this distance to make out the figures, but one of them was by and large far bigger than the rest of them. A bulky, brawny frame surrounded by three others; this would, in theory, be one of the enemy commanders that he would inevitably have to tangle with in order to handle this problem. At this distance, Rhace could see that the big one was carrying a long-hafted axe that was almost as tall as he was, which meant that this big one was ready to fight. Highly likely incredibly dangerous, too. Next to him was a smaller one, more lithe, somewhat feminine with a beautiful crimson cloak. Two others, both entirely different, but their features were difficult to pick out by comparison. At this distance, they caught glance of the wandering bladesman, and the one in the red cloak held up her hand to the two smaller ones - before a sky-piercing roar fell to the heavens, the buildings around the quartet shuddering under its might. The axe was raised high, as if in triumph, while the other three looked on with what Rhace could only assume was amusement; there was a powerful feeling in the air that the warrior knew was the sheer, unbridled aura radiating off this magic-wielding fighter. This fight was going to be brutal.
Such being the case, the scion of the Granven school took his blade and his ready stance, adopting the high guard that he favoured with his timeworn longsword. It was the best he could do to steady his breathing and prepare himself for a fight that would be so dramatically unlike the momentary skirmish that he had fought in earlier. This was going to be an entirely different beast. In the next instant, however, the leonine warrior began a wild, full-bodied dash down the street at a speed that Rhace simply could barely keep up with, the axe coming to its own highly-held battle stance. This was the opening moment of a bout that had to be fought like the most precise dance, lest he lose his life. This was an opponent whose aura dictated that he slay his opponents as brutally as possible.
The master hunter prepared his cleaving swing as he approached, ready to bisect his opponent at the split second that the two of them made contact; predicting such a strike, Rhace slightly lowered his guard so that the sword’s tip would end where the man’s throat began, leading with the longsword’s false edge instead of its main edge. In that first moment of contact, Rhace stepped forward to meet his foe, flicking the edge of his sword upwards to meet the wooden haft of the greataxe. The blade bit into the wood and they rested there momentarily in the bind, eye to eye.
Here, now, Rhace could get the measure of the man that he was drawn to fight. There was nothing but rage in this lion’s eyes, hell-bent on tearing his foe’s throat clean out with little more than his fangs. There was nothing more than primal judgement, a fury unbridled and base instinct that drove this fighter in this moment. Perhaps his senses and strength were heightened as a result, but the heir apparent would not give in to his opponent so easily so long as he stood tall and proud to fight this enemy. Smaller in stature and strength, yes, perhaps - but in willpower Rhace found no equal. No mage would cow him with sheer force of magical outpouring, where this one was no exception. He knew full well that this foe could call on the powers of ethernano, where Rhace simply had no such luck. Pure technical skill would be his saviour.
At that, the swordsman pushed away from his mighty enemy, their weapons bearing apart as Rhace decided that this aggressive kitty could not be given the joy of the offensive. The longsword described arcs through the air as the blade went to brush across a thigh with an upwards flourish, then a thrusting strike down towards the ribs; against an unarmoured foe, these were particularly effective tactics. Cripple the opponent’s ability to either move or breathe, wear them down, and there would be naught but victory as the foe fell to their death by a thousand cuts. Each cut was met by two-handed parries of the wooden haft, this time meeting the flat of the blade so as to avoid another potentially deadly binding of weapons. This lion, for being so bulky, was fast. Each blow, as they began to trade, one for one, axe swinging through the air in great cleaving strikes, or for longsword to make precise incisions, was met by the opponent’s tactical acumen. No matter.
Rhace could kick it up a notch.
In a moment, the shadows consumed him, only to appear at his opponent’s side in the next second with the tip of the blade already poised to strike the man’s kidneys. A howl met the air as steel pierced flesh and organ, where Rhace withdrew his blade in the next instant to prepare for his next strike. The beast, wounded, lashed out with the claws of his left hand - and that wild swing found purchase upon Rhace’s left arm and chest, stinging flesh and tearing sinew with a vicious rend that could not be understated in the pain that it brought him. . Rhace, too, found himself recoiling in that moment, only for the beast to pivot on its left foot and bring the back of the axe down upon the sword, knocking the blade downwards - and the beast turned and just headbutted Rhace as punishment for his transgressions. Suddenly, the Granven swordsman found himself completely disoriented, bleeding heavily from the nose. The blow, in all its might, had sent him reeling, stumbling back, barely able to see. A wild swing came back, the blade glowing an even brighter blue in response to Rhace’s unbridled emotion. The arc slash, an unexpected distance attack, caught the lion warrior head-on in the midsection. It left him gasping for air as the wound hit his stomach.
Both fighters already heavily wounded, they charged, again, their will to fight not yet drained. Rhace, for his part, wiped the blood from his eyes first. He’d need to see in order to land the next decisive strike. First, the withering blade, to cut tendons and muscles, removing the enemy’s strength and their ability to hit back as hard; the axe was going to have to go next, in the following moment. If Rhace could either disarm the beast or sunder the axe, then the victory would be his. The lion, however, harboured no such intentions. Rhace’s death was the only suitable outcome.
They clashed again, both already reeling from their wounds. Unfortunately for the lion, the nimble blade found its mark first. It met the right elbow, digging into the hinge joint and sliced into the connective tissue; already oozing blood, Rhace took that second to withdraw the blade and step through the shadows again, this time bringing his sword towards the ground in a rotation that would have the sword pointing behind him–
Right as he found his step to behind the lion warrior’s back. The blade planted itself firmly through the rear of the ribcage and through the beast’s heart. A beat passed, both unmoving, as Rhace felt the weight of his opponent through his sword, carrying the burden of slaying an enemy on his heart. It would not be the first man slain by the ancient, blood-drinking sword of the Granven school of blade mastery. As the legends spoke, it would not be the last.
In the next instant, Rhace extracted his sword from the monster, and it collapsed to the ground. He, too, was on the verge of collapse himself as his wounds bled out far too rapidly for his own liking, the over-exertion that came from adrenaline wearing off as his arm, chest and head bled out far faster than he realised--
In the next instant, consumed by blackness, Rhace began to fall to the ground, losing control of his body. He fought, desperately, for consciousness, as he could hear the distant voice of the approaching feline woman growing closer to him, though he could not make out what she was saying. The others, however…
“Mistress, what do we do with this one?” he heard, struggling desperately to keep his eyes open and force himself back to his feet. His body refused to cooperate, however, and the strength that had once carried him was already beginning to leave him.
His vision was swimming. Rhace wasn’t even sure he was awake any more, until he heard a feminine response.
“Take him. We’ll bring him back to the hideout for interrogation. We need to know what’s happening here and how the Fioreans knew.”
The voices grew distant again. Consciousness was rapidly slipping away.
At the edge of his hearing, Rhace could hear an incredibly familiar roar; it was a sound he’d heard a dozen times before. Overhead, flying low over the street, a very distinct shadow passed overhead, short and stubby wings poking out the side of a boxy fuselage. It was a shuttle - to be precise, a Meliora Vitae shuttle, carrying a gun-toting strike team. Gods be good, he thought, the reinforcements did come. What happened to him after this, he couldn’t say, but relief washed over him as Rhace Tarrin finally slipped into unconsciousness. Gunfire began to erupt around him as the rescue team he’d called for began to begin the extraction of their operative, where Rhace was no longer responding to emergency hails.
For his luck, the scion of the Tarrin name was pulled aboard the shuttle for extraction and medical attention back aboard the somewhat-distant SS Endeavour. What transpired after that, however, was an incredible tale; one that would have to be recounted elsewhere.
It sounded like a real blast.
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