- Jerral -
It's looking good.
Those slaves may not have much going for them, but if you can count on one thing, it’s that they're willing to put in some effort if you promise them their freedom or that of their families.
The latter works even better as the commanders in their wisdom realized.
Through this advantage, the Tarsonian forces can't maintain their positions if they don't want to lose their troops in skirmishes with our expendables before even confronting the real army.
Their fortresses are a different problem.
You can't tell untrained men or women to storm them and expect any kind of result.
The Tarsonians really spared no expense with them.
I can only guess how stupidly expensive those fortifications are, often built with imported Ceranian stone.
Not only that but their siege ballista and tower trebuchets are really something else.
Also, those Tarsonian archers are nothing to scoff at.
A half-assed attack will only get picked off from a distance.
It will require immense effort, and more importantly, our own siege equipment to bring them down.
And this needs time.
For this reason, we established our fortified camp here some distance behind the center of the border to watch the enemy's movement and ensure that they're not going to impede our efforts to build the needed heavy weaponry with surprise attacks.
Yet there's no reason to worry about our current position.
The Tarsonians fear open battle and resort to ambushing our supply lines.
This way they can circumvent fighting undesirable battles against our expendables.
Also, aside from a certain elite, which they clearly are trying to preserve, they lack the heavy troops required to attack a strong position.
All things considered, this is a rather affordable position.
I only have to lead my assigned slaves according to the instructions of the engineers.
Basically, I only have to tell them to cut some wood and press the respective buzzer to the linked collar if one isn't going fast enough about it.
Shit, that's an arrow!
We're under attack!
Finally, the guards get into action.
I jump into the cover of our wooden palisade.
With my sword, there's not much I can do about them while they're attacking from range.
From my position, I can barely see the enemy.
Those few I make out are hiding behind stones and trees.
As I said before, Tarsonian longbows allow for usage at quite a distance.
Just like these cowards prefer.
For this reason, it would be stupid to go out there without a solid shield formation.
Our position is defensible enough here and the crossbowmen already take position behind the crenels.
While a good archer can shoot more rapidly than a man who has to load a crossbow for agonizingly long seconds after every shot, at least those that provide enough force to work at this distance, they can be better angled through the small gaps for counterfire.
Another advantage of the crossbow is that it's faster and simpler to train recruits on such a weapon.
Naturally, only good Koresoans, as such a weapon would not only be wasted on a slave, but you never know when they might suddenly decide to aim it the other way, if only to make a point of their alignment or hope to get revenge on their keeper.
Someone like me in the latter case.
I doubt either side will be able to cause any noteworthy losses if everyone keeps hiding like this.
Most likely, they'll eventually give up once they’ve wasted enough ammunition.
Did the earth just shake?
I've heard that this isn't too rare in Tarsona, but it's the first time I’ve experienced it since coming to this country.
And this at such a time!
Suddenly there's an ear-piercing scream coming from behind me.
Against what my training taught me, I look away from the enemy and see pure horror.
In the center of our camp, the earth is cracked and nightmarish creatures are jumping out of it.
A giant, black monstrosity climbs out of there on its four legs.
Sadly, we can't immediately fire a whole salvo at them, due to the sporadic exchange from before.
Yet one man at least manages to shoot at it in time.
Only for the bolt to get stuck without really entering.
That sound, it's wearing black armor!
They're clad in iron!
The monster doesn't waste any time and charges at the one who shot, decapitating him with a giant sword, attached to its arm, before he can even abandon his attempt to reload.
Oh no, a second is there!
Then a third!
Now some crossbowmen get shots at them, but most miss their shots as much as they're trembling, and the others either just deflect off or don't seem to do any damage.
At least, the one from before doesn't seem to move as fast now as with its first sprint.
Maybe we can control their approach and somehow deal with them in a controlled way?
Yet then I see how a crossbowman tries to keep his distance from this slow, hulking figure, only to get skewered by a spear tail that suddenly pierces forward.
The monsters don't even have to be close to them to kill.
That's a frontal assault at the camp by the Tarsonians!
Yet at the same time, more creatures are emerging from the hole.
To add to my confusion, there are now also other monsters among the attacking Tarsonian soldiers.
Not as massive as the iron giants but still taller than I am and much quicker despite their metal armor.
Just what is going on here?!
The crossbowmen are under attack by the big ones who slowly make their way toward them.
Naturally, nobody thinks about firing out there if the enemy is already among them.
Then the army reaches our camp.
Some of the new monsters effortlessly climb the palisade, piercing with iron leg tips into the wood and clawing themselves upward.
A short moment later, they jump at whoever is unfortunate enough to be within their reach.
If they don't get smashed, the iron claws rip them apart.
How could anyone fight such things?!
And then the main force hits us.
"For Taarsonaaa!" (T)
One of the first is a battle maiden, wielding a long sword.
One can see that she's important in her embellished armor, yet she looks terribly out of place while fighting alongside the monsters.
What even is happening here?
Tarsonians and monsters are fighting side by side?!
"Slaves! Protect me!" (J)
I demonstratively hold up the buzzer.
They in turn look at their axes and the monsters.
Naturally, they must be unsure what's the worse death, and if I click they won't be in a state to fight.
Then I hear something that makes my blood run cold.
"Concentrate on the overseers! The ones with the devices!" (T)
That woman is running at me!
She wants to take away my control device for the slaves!
So I'm the target!
What was that?
No, no time!
I hastily bring my sword between me and her strike.
The impact is something else, but she doesn't stop there. Instead, she kicks me between the legs which leaves me completely exposed.
"Die! Slaver scum!"
All I feel is an icy cold chill.
- Tamarah -
Hah, finally I'm on the battlefield.
Given the martialist background of my family, it gives me an odd sense of... well, it's hard to tell, but I guess one could call it fulfillment or accomplishment.
At least it's very satisfying to end those supremacist assholes.
Though, I never thought I would go down in history as the first commander of a troop of giant insects.
I look around to search for my next target, but apparently, it's already over.
I ordered my subjects to avoid killing the slaves, or anyone who doesn't wield a weapon to make it simpler for them.
After all, the higher-ups want to advertise our new assets to the enemy. Terrified, fleeing soldiers are a good instrument for this purpose.
The slaves, on the other hand, don't have any reason to return to their tormentors once we took care of their handlers.
Without the control device, those collars are pretty useless.
Some might even defect to our army to get their revenge.
And every hand is welcome, as we have more than enough weapons to equip them with.
That is if they can now overlook our new helpers.
Speaking of which, our usage of them worked just as planned here.
I take a good look at the closest guardian.
Frankly, we may have gone a little overboard with these.
It took us quite some time to make armor both large and sturdy enough so they'd effectively hold off those bolts, even at close distance.
After all, those guardians might be strong, but certainly not unkillable.
So it's a rather good tradeoff if we can keep them alive.
They might be much slower this way but serve very well to draw the enemy fire.
Especially, with those menacing blade sheets which get fastened over their real blades.
Even if they're now so slow that it's rather easy to outrun them.
Yet instead they serve to draw attention.
Therefore, we made their torso protection almost impenetrable and gave them leg plates that would guide the bolts to either side.
As I said, if we have one thing going for us, it’s our working armor and weaponry industry.
The same goes for the workers.
They're still fast enough to reach the enemy with their metal claws.
While I guess they could use different weapons, the claws are mostly for the visual effect.
A rather gory visual effect.
At least, they serve well to dig a tunnel like here.
One has to grant the Formicea that they have their expertise.
Yet our own soldiers fear them as well.
Nonetheless, they were able to fight along their side.
And the results speak for themselves.
My tactic worked perfectly and as a result, we barely sustained any losses.
That's rare in this kind of dirty skirmish.
Well, now we need to do as much damage to the infrastructure as we can, pack up anything of use, and leave this exposed position before an enemy attack can get us.
As I said, I feel rather accomplished right now.