Milo’s Bane-Part 1
A ship sails into view, curving gracefully around and into the outstretched arms of the lagoon. Coming closer one begins to notice details…the color of the sails an unusually deep red, the streamlined shape and low profile of the vessel, the skull and cog pendants. A Guild Alchemica research warship, fully capable of punching above its weight and commanded by a person of respect and rank. Standing on the deck, amid the controlled chaos that is a sailing vessel, is a man in a long red robe under his armor and harness with sword belted at his hip. A man of presence and rank, older than when we last saw him…
“Stand by to drop anchor”, he shouts, “prepare the skiff and a shore party!”
“Aye Aye sire”, comes the reply.
As the hands bend to their tasks, a soldier wearing the badges of Terras Sur and the rank pins of an Ordinatus comes to stand next to his commander.
“Another stop for the Prometheans, eh General,” he quips.
“Indeed Yuri…and what might we expect to find today?”
“Why more bloody adventures and lost knowledge General Baines,” replies Yuri with a grin.
“Indeed…” says Milo, striding towards the skiff.
As the shore party approaches the island, a strange sensation of familiarity begins to wash over Milo, something long dreaded but not unexpected…the reason behind his years long obsession. Hitting the beach and hauling the skiff above the tide line, the soldiers of the Legio Promethean take up combat patterns designed for defense and retreat. Well trained, the Prometheans have taken beaches before and can no longer see them as anything but open space with little cover. Drawing his charts and journal, Milo begins to determine their relative position and orders half his men to set up a suitable camp and fallback position. Taking the other half and heading into the thick jungle interior of the island, Milo beings yet another research venture into potentially hostile territory.
Watching from the single mountain located in the center of this small island, a group of sinister individuals peer through far seers and mutter to themselves. These men, and they are all men be assured of that, are well versed in the skills of secrecy. Even if an observer could get past the hidden traps and assassin-guards these men employ, he wouldn’t be able to hear more than half whispers along the lines of…
“The plan…remember the plan…”
“HUSH, I think I heard something…”
Cutting through the jungle, the research party takes soil and plant samples at regular intervals, each trooper there a scientist in their own right, each with a different focus, each with one hand on sword hilt or bowstring at all times. Milo, mindful of his growing unease, begins to double check the information that brought them to this spit of land. Bearing the official marks of the Southlands and Forge Terras Sur, the documents and scouting reports appear genuine but do nothing to calm Milo’s concerns.
“Scouts are overdue,” reports the Cataphracti serving as his second in command while Yuri secures the beachhead.
“Hmmmm…” mutters Milo, “Prometheans…fall back to the beach by fire teams…something isn’t right…”
Just as he gives the command, the undergrowth surrounding them rises up and attacks. Monstrous creatures grown from a tainted earthen womb fall upon the party. Knives flash and cries of agony and rage fill the air, the soldier scholars caught in a perfect ambush. Lashing out at their assailants, the Prometheans begin to prove themselves as the elite they are, slaying several “monsters” before coming to realize they face men and not beasts. Special soldiers in camouflaged ghillie suits designed to hide the human body and allow for close combat, these men are assassins of the highest quality and it shows. In the space of a few minutes, the members of the Prometheans are lying dead or bound; captives of their attackers, only one man still free and fighting.
Milo slashes left and right to keep his tormentors at bay until one of their number, a man dressed in a civilian’s suite, black and clean, and somehow more dangerous in presence than any of the ambushers, walks into the clearing. Holding a pistol bow and smoking a home rolled cigarette, the man walks calmly towards Milo, ignoring the blood spatter and unconscious men at his feet. Stopping just outside Milo’s range, he points his bow at a prone Promethean, the promise of pain and death in his eyes.
“Stop”, he says with grim finality.
The momentary hesitation in Milo’s eyes is enough…the man shoots, slamming an eight inch bolt through the unconscious soldiers skull, killing him instantly.
Reloading with poise and patience, he speaks again, “Stop, I can do this all day long Milo. You can’t win here.” and kills another Promethean.
With half his force dead to the ambush and two more to this madman, Milo throws down his arms knowing full well the remaining four Guildsman are just tokens, bargaining chips to be used against him. Silently cursing this bastard and his unseen masters Milo kneels in the mud and puts his hands on his head in a gesture of compliance.
“Like I’d trust you anyway”, says the man in black. “You are far more dangerous than even you know, though I’m sure you know that…heh. Got any more “boons” to pull from your bag of tricks? I do, and I know where to go to get more.”
A reference and one that only a handful of people should know of, that grabs Milo’s attention.
“How do you know that…?” he asks. “Who are you!?”
“My name is Claudius Sebastian Poll, the third, Facilitator for the Consortium and if you haven’t heard of us…well, there’s a reason for that.” says Claudius.
“I’ve heard of you people. Been lookin’ for ya actually…Clyde.” responds Milo.
“Hehehe…I’m sure you have, but questions and answers will have to wait a bit now won’t they. Time for you to meet the bosses,” and with that he gives a silent order and the stealth assassins gather up the living and the dead and disappear into the jungle, leaving Clyde and Milo alone for the moment.
“I know what you’re thinking Milo, now that we’re alone maybe you can make a move, make it back to your camp, rescue your people. I gotta tell you, it’s not going to happen. We know all about the Guild, all your secrets. Hell, you’re working for us and don’t even know it. There’s not a thing you got that I can’t counter and not a person who’s going to know what happened to you…we own you now” and finishing his customary evil guy monologue, Clyde draws a vial of purple liquid from his pocket, unstops it and holds it under Milo’s nose.
“GAAAHHH!!!…*faint* goes Milo