Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Day Eight-Fifty-Six: Strategical Stuff

Dragomir stormed out of the meeting with Logan. He was, as the previous verb implied, rather miffed with the results.

“”’Hang back’, he says!” Dragomir ranted to no one in particular, though there were plenty of people around him who were privy to his words. “‘Don’t get involved! Let ‘em destroy each other!’ Oh, yeah, that’s great, Logan! ’n let my wife get killed, too, I guess, eh? Fuckin’ great!”

Casting one quick look at the poorly-repaired hole in the Sky Bitch’s glass canopy - They stole her through that, he thought, plucked her right the fuck out - he went belowdecks. He knew the ship’s crewers were watching him with some apprehension, knew there was a decent hunk of mistrust in there eyes, and he didn’t care. He didn’t have time enough to care.

“SOMEBODY GET THIS TUB MOVING WEST!” Dragomir yelled back up the stairs. “EVERYBODY ELSE’LL FOLLOW!”

A few confused ‘Yessirs’ floated back down the stairs towards him. Dragomir rolled his eyes and kept going.

He didn’t know where he was going, exactly, as the Sky Bitch shakily rumbled to life and took to the skies. He had a general course - west - and a few scattered reports of some brightly-lit, white thing in the far distance, brought back by goblin scouts. Something told him - experience, perhaps? - that the thing would be Grayson’s seat of power. White was very much the colour of the rats, after all.

Spying a half-dead rat in one of the corridors, Dragomir took the opportunity to kick it against the wall. The rat flopped feebly, twitched twice, and fell, panting, against the floor. Dragomir wanted to crush its little guts out with the heel of his boot, but he didn’t have the unction to take a life, even one so utterly detestable as that of a rat.

He kicked the wall a few times instead. Indeed, he booted the wood so vigorously that he left a sizeable dent in the wood - and the fabric of his pants began to sink into his inky black leg. He failed to notice this, and only lucked out because the first person to spot him already knew what he was.

“You may want to rein yourself in,” a voice murmured from the other end of the corridor, barely audible over the rumble of the charging airship engines. “People will learn your secret rather speedily if you don’t.”

Dragomir whipped around, glaring at The Baron. The old man had an ice pack pressed against a nasty red welt on his head. He’d held it during the meeting with Logan and several of the commanders, as well, though this was the first time today that Dragomir had heard The Baron open his mouth.

“Thanks for the advice,” Dragomir grunted back, voice thick with sarcasm. He nevertheless willed his leg to return to normal, and after a few seconds of shifting it did. “Can you tell me how to change my wardrobe so I’m not always wearing these shitty pants? Maybe then people won’t argue with me so much.”

The Baron chuckled. “Yes, Logan rather got into it with you, didn’t he? He always had quite the tongue. It appears holding sway over a small army of werewolves has emboldened him a tad.”

Dragomir clenched his fists. “My son is owner of that army, thanks.”

“Mmm. True. But…” The Baron scratched his cloaked chin thoughtfully. “I recall him standing on the other side of the table. Don’t you?”

Dragomir did. He scowled deeply at the mental image of Fynn at Logan’s right shoulder, his face gaunt, his eyes alternating between green and orange. “Guess he doesn’t mind his mom’s missing. Great to see both of my sons are a bit shitty. And the guy who said he wished he was my son. Lemme guess, you wanna abandon Libby, too?”

“Oh, no one said anything of the sort,” The Baron said, wincing at the pain in his head. “Ow. Remind me not to be on this ship during a battle again. Anyway, there wasn’t a person in that room who didn’t want Libby back. Everyone simply urged you not to take the entire army after her. You heard it as well as I did.”

“A few people ain’t gonna cut it!” Dragomir growled. He was irritated enough that his hands began to shimmer ever so slightly green, though he willed that away, too, wincing as a deadly headache formed around his temples. “We… have to all go. We can cut in while the Non are goin’ after the rats, blindside ‘em both, and - “

“Assuming that is how the situation will unfold, yes, we could do that,” The Baron conceded, though Dragomir knew he had much more to say. “But we have no idea what Kierkegaard has planned. He may avoid whatever force your son has assembled altogether. That would leave us in the disadvantageous position of moving on the Imperium’s assembled armies alone, assuming what little intel we have about their positioning is true. Given our current, ramshackle state, and lack of dragon support…”

The Baron shrugged. “Thus far you have operated as support for the rats. Your army has been theirs. Now that they’ve abandoned you… and assuming that your son is in control of their operations - “

“He is,” Dragomir insisted. “Absolutely.”

“ - then I think a much smaller force is a wiser course of action,” The Baron concluded. “A pack of werewolves will not guarantee you a victory, Dragomir, not under these circumstances. Not even Eve’s presence can do that, though both will certainly help. Rushing into a major battle, particularly without a strong military commander, is extremely ill-advised.”

Dragomir winced. He thought again of Pagan’s lonely, unmarked grave, soon to be left behind.

“No one else pointed this out,” The Baron added, “but you’ll move much faster with smaller numbers. You want to get to Libby quickly, yes? An army is not always the best solution.”

Dragomir punched the wall again, though with less force this time. His hand nevertheless flashed black, and his fingers sprouted into claws. He didn’t bother to will his hand back into its usual human facade for some time, instead drawing it into his sleeve. He had no idea why he did this.

“The hell good is an army if you can’t use it to do shit?” Dragomir complained. “I want, I dunno, a fuckin’ refund. Or something.”

“And I want to go back in time and expel a certain penguin from my classes,” The Baron replied. “But we don’t always get what we want.”

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