Swamped Chapter 12 Page 1

You think desperately. Mudviper knows the situation better than you, so you decide to run what few ideas you have past her.

“What if you did talk to Rider? What would he be able to do?”

“Not much. Only about a third of the Marshguard are proper military, so we’re not as organized as the Bogknights. An operation like this is less of a planned assault, and more like fifty separate squads all moving at once, at their own speed. Rider could get his own squad to retreat; and if he did, a few of the more reluctant squads might follow his lead. But a lot of us are itching for a fight. Even if they see Rider breaking off, they’ll keep going. That’s if I can convince him in the first place, mind.”

“Would that be hard?”

“He already thinks this is a bad idea. But the decision’s been made, and he’s not the sort to disobey orders. He was already doubtful of the poison, so if I tell him it was completely wrong, that won’t change a thing.”

“What if… what if it would endanger another objective?” you ask. “Like, finding me. If you told him that the attack would ruin your chances of finding me, what would he say?”

“I don’t think you’re quite that high priority,” Mudviper hisses. “But you might have the right idea. If attacking meant risking something more valuable, he might change his mind…”

“The barge,” you say, recalling Lou’s words.

“Better, but I don’t think that would do it,” Mudviper says, shaking her head. “It’d be valuable, sure, but if the attack succeeds, we could take it anyway. Even if we destroyed it in the attack, we wouldn’t really be worse off. It’s not exactly our top priority.”

“Well, you’d know more about what’s top priority than I would,” you sigh.

“That would be keeping Bogknights away from…” She pauses. “From our fortress. I can’t give you more details, but that’s a clear enough idea. A small group of Bogknights is sneaking past our defenses. I know about it because they caught me and tried to get information out of me, before I managed to escape them. With most of our troops on the move, there wouldn’t be enough back at base to keep them out…”

She turns to you.

“But if we don’t find a group of infiltrators at the end of the night, my story falls apart. So, I’m going to have to count on you to provide them. Get some knights you trust together, and take them to our fortress – but warn them that they will be captured. I’ll handle stalling the assault force. It’ll give you a chance to warn the base, too. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I won’t repeat myself.” She leaps away, towards the advancing forces. “Good luck, Marshall.”

You start heading back. You don’t have time to worry about what sort of punishment you’re in for. All your thoughts are occupied with the question of who to ask for help with the infiltration.

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Suggestions:

Burgundy would probably be willing to help you out to try to make up for what happened

 

Well you did save Walter’s life.. But even beyond that, something makes you think you can trust him.

 

Lisa Black comes to mind – she was a huge help in getting acclimated to the base, and she certainly would do what she could to keep from losing any more comrades

You remember that Tom Ninth had been captured by the marshguard once before…he might know a bit about their fortress…

From what you’ve gathered, the Dean is probably connected to this whole fly-egg rumor…you might be able to guilt him into it…and he would be interested in the chance to study the flora and fauna near the Marshguard base. Not to mention, having knowledge of the many things that can kill you in the swamp.

You’ve gotten Burgundy into enough trouble as it is…you should probably leave her alone. Aside from the guilt she may have towards your arm, you haven’t gotten to spend a lot of one on one time with her. You do know the marshguards fear her…but that might change if they keep her locked in a cell.

Sargent Greenwoods however, has gotten to know you well. While do you don’t want to explain your apparent defection to a superior officer, you can imagine what her advice would be on who to bring:

“You’re Fishbone Squad remember?”

  • Mary Baker has helped you train…and she might know a bit more about Flame-tech
  • Stacey is likely fast asleep right now, but she may be inclined to believe you and help with aquatic infiltration.
  • Riley is good for stabs.
  • Jackson is also familiar with navigating the swamps – and someone handy with rope could really help with the whole…climbing thing
  • Juliet Corser’s artistic talent might not be the best help in this situation…but an alert bogknight with a battle axe would be a huge help in getting the base ready for an attack.
  • Mark…might know some good prison games to play, what with the we are going to be captured part.
  • Tom Tenth, you’re not really sure what his strengths are but you think you could convince him to come along at the promise that something like this could earn him a new nickname.

Thinking it over, you should take Mary for sure, Mark, Jackson, and Stacy. If either The Dean, Tom Ninth or Tenth seem up for it then they should come as well.

Juliet and Riley need to get the base on alert. Get Riley to alert Sargent Greenwoods and Juliet to alert Burgundy. Let Lisa know as well.

The thought is far back in your mind, but…who is in charge of the base right now? Is it still Sar–Commander Ash? If he holds a strong front during this it would really bode well for him. You wonder why Commander Long had to step down. (You’re sure he’s not involved in anything shady…but even then it won’t look good if he’s let his post go during an attack.)

 

Author’s Note:

This is one of the most interesting updates for me in terms of how the suggestions shaped it.

As the author, I tend to make a lot of little rules in my head for how the world works. But I don’t always communicate them in the story. In some cases I’m intentionally holding them back to reveal at appropriate moments, in other cases there just isn’t a particular time to bring it up.

The suggestions after the previous update were all running up against some of these hidden rules. If I made any of them work, I would have to change a lot of my conception of the world.

I should note that sometimes, making that change is the right call. In this case, I didn’t think it was – I felt the suggestions wouldn’t work given what the Marshguards wanted and Rider’s general personality, and those aspects were too critical to the overall story to change.

But conveniently, Marshall doesn’t know the hidden rules either.

So the story ends up somewhat reflecting the process that built it. Marshall comes up with untenable plans based on limited information. Mudviper knows enough to explain the problems with each plan, but in talking through them, she develops another one. Still risky, but it has a real chance.

None of the suggestions were used directly, but the final plan would not have been the same without them. This was not “I don’t like these plans so I’m using my own”, this was “I am trying to solve the problem alongside the suggesters, who know less about my world than I do”.