Swamped Chapter 12 Page 14

Officially, you’re assigned a mudpike. It’s a simple-to-learn weapon, and useful for dealing with wild animals at a distance.

But you really only know the basics of wielding it. You’re not skilled enough to fight a human opponent with one; you’re more experienced with barehanded techniques. You may not have Walter’s sheer strength, but your own strength is more than enough when applied in the right ways.

Of course, it helps if you can disarm the opponent first. Chances are, if someone uses a weapon, they’re less skilled than you are in unarmed combat.

In this case, the Marshguard has a dagger. Dagger fighters tend to be similar to martial artists, with a focus on quick, precise movements to compensate for their short range. As such, she’s not likely to underestimate you, as a sword or spear-fighter might. Your best option is to surprise her.

You consider flinging something as a distraction, but discount the idea; if the cries of her fellow guards haven’t diverted her from her patrol route, she’s clearly determined to hold to it.

So, you wait by the end of the walkway, until you hear her footsteps getting closer. Then, farther away again.

Now’s the time. You scramble up the walkway and rush at her from behind, trying to strike her dagger hand first.

You manage to wrest the dagger from her, but she punches you in the face with her other hand as you do. You stagger backwards a bit; no serious harm done, but you’ve lost the element of surprise.

You toss the dagger aside, so she can’t get it back from you. But it seems she has little need of it; she’s already tackling you. It’s clearly been a while since you’ve faced someone with hand-to-hand training; your reaction time isn’t what it needs to be yet.

You push her away and grab her arm as she tries another punch. You try the same with her other arm, but she’s a bit too fast and grabs your arm instead.

Fortunately, you know the countermove to this situation, so you’re faster to react to it. You release her arm, and move back quickly, forcing her to either release you or go your way. Whichever she does, you’ve got more control of the situation.

She opts to move with you, and you land a punch as she does. She grabs your hand in retaliation, though; now she’s got you by both arms.

That’s when you kick her in the stomach. She recoils, releasing your right arm; she keeps a steady grip on the left, though. So you punch her in the right elbow. It’s enough of a diversion for you to pull your hand free.

With both hands free, and your opponent still recovering, it’s your move. You grab her by the throat quickly; she’s got armor at the neck, so there shouldn’t be permanent damage. She starts gasping after about a minute, then collapses. You lay her down so she can still breathe; she’ll only be out for about ten minutes, which should be plenty of time to move forward, but not long enough for any dangerous animals to find her.

Marshall and Mary should still have their long goggles, so you wave to indicate it’s safe. The rest of them soon come your way, and you all move forward a bit before talking.

“It’s about a mile and a half to the Marsh Fortress,” you say. “The patrols are going to get even worse, though.”

“They’ll shore up their defenses once they find this group,” Walter says. “Which is bound to mean sending at least a few squads back from the assault force. Between that and the warning, the base should be okay.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” you say. “Still, the deeper we advance, the better. Best of all is if we can get them thinking we’ve made it into the fortress – they’ll want as many troops as they can searching the place before we stumble on whatever it is they don’t want us to find. So, let’s press on.”

You’re now Bluesight.

Your scouting team has found that the base is, indeed, better defended than you thought. A direct assault is clearly useless. You’ve already sent Muckflow back to tell Rider that much.

But you can’t just stop there. You’ve got to look for potential holes in their defenses. If there are good enough opportunities, you can simply use the main force as a distraction while strike forces slip behind the defenses and do as much damage as they can. It won’t be as thrilling, perhaps, but seeing the Bogknights get taken down a notch is always worthwhile.

So what possible approaches are you looking at?

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There are marshguards in the base right now that would be willing to help.

Mudviper said she sneaked out of a tree – you could possibly climb back up if you could avoid the patrols.