You’ve got as far as planning your squad.
Captain Long’s experience and prowess are simply unmatched. He’s even fought the Rider before. No one else comes close, and many would be simply afraid to engage the Rider at all.The advantages he offers are too significant to ignore, even if he won’t take it to a fatal blow. As long as you don’t press that point, he’ll cooperate – he knows as well as you do what a win against the Rider would mean for the flow of the battle. You just need to persuade him that you have a good enough plan.
Next is Burgundy. She may not be anywhere near her father’s talents, as an officer or a fighter, but she’s hardly incompetent. And her reputation among the Marshguards may serve her well. She’s also used to working closely with Long. Of course, the fact that it means you won’t have to monitor her – and consequently, won’t have her monitoring you – is also convenient.
Third, Darlene Kitey. From her various escapes, she’s learned much about the Marshguards, and may have insights into the specific ones the group faces. Rider will more than likely have his own support, and even if he doesn’t, there are going to be a good number of them on the way there. Of course, her fighting skills are impressive enough as well.
Finally, you plan to send Penelope out. She hasn’t seen much combat, which is a concern; but she’s clever, and you’ve been training her to put that to good use out in the field. You have every confidence that she can demonstrate her value to the Bogknights; if it were up to you, she’d have been promoted by now.
Besides, she’s the only other one who knows about the Captain’s letter. You don’t think he’d try anything improper, whatever his connection to Mudviper; but you have your doubts, and you know better than to ignore them when planning.
A talented team, with a Blade, Stone, Wing, and Leaf. But the best team in the world is nothing without a good plan – and they’ll be depending on you to come up with one. More than that, they won’t even risk it if your plan doesn’t sound feasible. You know Long’s testing you, and ordering him to recklessly charge at the Rider is a certain way to fail that test.
No, before you can go any further, you’ll need a battle plan. And frankly, you expect that you’ll need more than one squad involved. The strike team’s the one that will directly engage, but they’re sure to need support on their way there.
So. What is the plan?
You have your own “Rider”.
During the infestation you gave an unofficial command to a certain squad. “Capture a greatrat – do not let anyone know.”
When you last checked, Squib was successful in his capture attempt – found a greatrat in the water, apparently. With the Great rat bound and blinded, it makes for a passable mount, but one that is poor in combat.
You don’t need Squib to fight though, just appear and cause confusion among the marshguards. He’ll be the one to challenge the Rider directly, from a distance of course. As the Rider approaches the strike team will intercept and begin the actual combat.
That’s just one spearhead, however. One that you can’t tell Long about directly, and one that you haven’t been able to directly address with Burgundy around. Long would scold you for the risk in the plan. “It’s too dangerous to ride a greatrat”, he’d say “You’re putting our soldiers in jeopardy!” But that’s because Long sees every member as an equal – he doesn’t flush out their full potential and their limits. Squib is much like a greatrat himself, brutish, easily scared, strongest in a pack, and blinded by reward. He’s easy to manipulate, and, frankly, expendable if needed.
But that’s just one plan, not the one you’re sharing with Long. The second plan is more conventional, You tell Long that you’ll have a squad create a diversion, which should draw out the Rider into the fray. But, in addition to that, you’ve sent out a scouting squad – 2 swimmers and a runner (it would have been 3 swimmers, but it seems that Stacy was nowhere to be found) The runner is the decoy scout, lightly armed and ready to race back to base upon being spotted by the enemy. The swimmers wait and watch how the guards react to the runner. After collecting their intel, at least one should rendevouz with the strike team and relay their info. If possible, the remaining swimmers will then attempt to flank rider’s squad and provide support to the strike team. They play recon, and backup in case something goes wrong.
If the strike team engages the Rider in the wrong place; however, the entire plan is worthless. It needs to be on The Knob. While the Bogknight base is stationed on the imposing Bog Hill, there are a series of smaller elevated hills around the area. The Knob is one of these, a low lying area just above the water’s surface, with a dome-like structure in the middle, about chest high. The ground on the Knob is sludge-like, difficult to traverse, even for a swampbeast. The ground on the dome, however, is solid, strong footing and provides a clear advantage to whoever can hold it.
If they confront Rider on The Knob, if Long can pressure him, Rider will take the dome. He’ll have the high ground and be ready to defeat anyone below who dares to knock him off of it.
But you’ll get him from above.
Nathan Grinnes, an ex-performer with excellent hand-eye coordination and known as “The Lobber”. He’s often sent on watch duty, partly for his eyesight, but also because of his specialty: High arcing projectiles. With his equipment, they fly high and come down fast – assuming he has time to set it up. If he knows his target beforehand, though – you can launch a scatter shot right into the rider from above…though you could also have him use collapsible net, or other non-lethal projectiles.