435 Ambushed Caravan
Five Daikens soared high overhead; they would have been visible from miles around had they not been stealthed. Their destination was Dhou, specifically the Capitol city known as Belatora.
/Alpha: Wind: We're heading west towards the camp of General Remis?
/Alpha: Nix: Yes. There is quite a bit of discord in Dhou at the moment. The Mayor was adamant in saying that it isn't a rebellion.
/Alpha: Ronnie: We playing this straight? Or are we going to investigate?
/Alpha: Nix: What's that mean?
/Alpha: Ronnie: What if this discord is because someone is being shat on.
/Alpha: Nix: Nice phrasing. We aren't anyone's muscle. We'll get the lay of the land and then act accordingly.
/Alpha: Ronnie: This is going to be fun.
/Alpha: Darsi: Take a look east of us Trip-7.
Nix turned his gazed eastward; a large caravan could be seen winding its way down the narrow roads toward Zagingba. The town, referred to as Zags by the locals, was located on the only lake in the arid climate of Dhou.
/Alpha: Nix: It's a caravan. So what?
Darsi was holding some sort of optic device in her hand, while she studied the terrain.
/Alpha: Darsi: Look further down their route, about two miles.
/Alpha: Nix: Are those binoculars? I can't see anything.
/Alpha: Darsi: Monoculars actually, and before you ask, I made them.
/Alpha: Nix: Handy... What do you see?
/Alpha: Darsi: A group of people waiting in ambush.
/Alpha: Nix: I hate that kind of shit.
/Alpha: Darsi: There's a really nice peak overlooking their position. I could discourage them a bit.
Nix glanced over his shoulder at the sniper. Her blonde ponytail flapped side to side in the air like a dog's tail. She wore medium camo armor and had a long sniper weapon resting across her thighs. He locked eyes with her for a moment and then gave her a silent nod of approval.
Darsi banked away from the group and accelerated; within a few minutes, she landed quietly.
[Darsi has constructed a Sniper Nest.]
/Alpha: Darsi: Seven hundred meters from the ambush, ready to break it up Trip-7.
Nix watched from above; he was curious about the other former Gladis Hub crafters. It stood to reason that Darsi's stats continued to rise as she used them. He hadn't seen her in action since she was a noob in Mermaid City. The other Hub crafters had the same advantages he did; completely stocked crafting inventories and a vast array of methods. She had stayed at the Hub longer than he had; her artificer abilities were maxed before she ever left the place.
/Alpha: Nix: Don't wipe them all, spot the ringleader if you can, and make an example. Oh, and make me one of those monoculars, please.
/Alpha: Darsi: I have three for sale in the market. They've been there for weeks now. Either no one realizes what they can do, or the 20 million credit price tag is too steep.
Nix grimaced at the price. Although expensive, how do you price the ability to see further?
/Alpha: Nix: Let me use one for a few days, and then I'll make a trade offer.
/Alpha: Darsi: I'll gift you one.
Darsi used her monocular to scout the ambushers. At seven hundred meters, she could see the freckles on their faces. It only took a few minutes to figure out who was in charge.
/Alpha: Darsi: Small problem.
/Alpha: Nix: We shoot small problems.
/Alpha: Darsi: What was the name of that guy we are meeting?
/Alpha: Nix: General Remis.
/Alpha: Darsi: My acquired target scans as Aledo Remis. He's young, probably mid-20s.
/Alpha: Wind: Relative, maybe?
/Alpha: Ronnie: Who cares? Cap-em Darsi.
Darsi smiled. She had her share of run-ins with Ronnie; all of them were interesting.
/Alpha: Nix: Stay in place, we are going to drop stealth.
/Alpha: Wind: What are we doing?
/Alpha: Nix: Circle over the ambush but stay out of range.
Nix banked and unstealthed; he flew directly over the road toward the caravan. The spotted him right away but didn't take action until he landed his Daiken. Immediately they pulled over to one side, alternating left and then right sides of the road. They armed themselves and prepared for action. Nix walked toward them with his empty hands held straight out and palms out.
Three men walked towards Nix, the man in front was obviously in charge, the other two were armed guards. They stopped about five meters away. "I'm Caravan Master Beugol. May I ask why you are blocking the road?"
Nix smiled pleasantly. "My team and I were traveling toward Belatora. We spotted your caravan and a group of raiders waiting in ambush." Nix turned and pointed towards the circling Daiken in the distance. "They are directly below my team."
"Ambush?" Beugol swore softly. He didn't know the man in front of him, but he did know what the market price on a Daikon was. If his entire group had them, they wouldn't need to rob a trade caravan. "Might I ask your name, sir?"
/Alpha: Wind: They are bugging out Boss.
Beugol studied the yellow-eyed man. He knew who Nix was, and the description he'd heard seemed accurate. Inferno cleaned up Ever Flame, and everyone knew who the Steward of Ionova was. "Thank you for the warning, Mr. Nix. Although we have guards, an ambush would have been costly."
"No worries. They know we've warned you and are retreating." Nix paused for a moment, unsure how to advance. "Maybe you can share some knowledge with me since I helped you out."
The thin man and his guards walked closer, Beugol offered his hand in greeting. "Ask away, Mr. Nix."
"Just Nix is fine. I'm meeting General Remis in Belatora. I was hoping you could give me the lay of the land."
Beugol nodded slightly. "General Remis is the head of the army. Seems pretty reliable, but the army has its hands full with the rebellion. The rebellion consists of a sizeable force under the leadership of Dacon Ravo; a former soldier turned farmer who now lives on the outskirts of Belatora.
/Alpha: Nix: How were those men dressed Darsi? Like soldiers, perhaps?
/Alpha: Darsi: No. They were dressed more like bandits after you unstealthed; they all put masks on. However, they didn't move like a group of misfits. Everything was orderly; even their retreat seemed like it came right out of a textbook.
/Alpha: Nix: Could they be military in disguise?
/Alpha: Wind: You thinking deserters boss?
/Alpha: Nix: Could be a couple of different things. We'll keep our options open.
"I see..." Nix stared down the long line of wagons; there were a lot of supplies if someone needed to front a rebellion. "You guys heading to Belatora?"
Beugol nodded. "Eventually, first, we are going to stop in Zags."
"Know anything about Remis's family?"
"Son and a daughter from what I remember. Both of them are officers in the army."
From the rear of the convoy, Cadie watched the interaction. Her driver had pulled over to the right, and she moved to the back of the wagon to shoot from cover. When she saw the flying mount, she realized right away which group it was. Hara told her about the quest to open up flying mounts for Everspire. There weren't many people who had them yet.
"Damn... I need some binoculars." From her position at the back of the caravan, she could only see the dimmest outline of whoever was speaking to Beugol. Cadie suspected that it might be Nix himself. The temptation to ride to the front and see was nearly overwhelming, but she couldn't very well abandon her rearguard position since she was by herself. She cursed and sighed heavily. "Next time, maybe."