Book 2 - Text Updates 020
Wanda removed her hair helmet and stowed it in the saddlebag. The plan to take the garrison by dance fight had been obviated at least two revisions ago, and the wretched thing itched.
There was better headgear on hand for the aerial fight they now faced. For the moment, though, she let her hair hang free. No missiles were flying, and the breeze felt nice on her sweaty scalp. The war paint could stay on.
She took a deep breath, and released it slowly through her nose. "Restack," she told Ossomer. "Give K.C. an interceptor stack of blues and pinks. You, Sylvia, Jack... with me. Remount them on top dwagons by hits, disregarding color and level. Fill us out to max with top Archons, but leave one with Leadership with the rest in a single stack. Go."
"Yes, Commander!" barked her latest and biggest. Ossomer was high-level and competent enough, but Wanda disliked this one. It was as if, instead of promoting a warlord from the ranks, someone had gone down to the larder and promoted a side of beef.
Where had she lost Fate's trail...
More importantly, how quickly could she find her way back? This was the thing she seemed unable to explain, even to Parson Gotti.
She was unafraid. Her thread would not end here, whatever the apparent odds. Mathamancy was largely bunk. There had been worse situations. She had once lain broken in the dirt, at the mercy of the enemy Chief, and spoken a challenge. Seal my Fate. Seal yours.
One can run from Fate, but suffering follows, and escape is impossible. Ansom ran away that day. Did it save him? Did it keep the Arkenpliers from her grasp? Where had it led him? Croaked at the hands of a lowly henchman, in full view of all of his men.
No. Running toward Fate is the only way to lessen the hardship. But for mortal units, even casters of Fate magic, the view is low to the ground. The way is unclear.
Wanda thought she had found her path over the last few score turns. But the fact that things were going so badly now indicated that she had strayed from her true course somehow. The old, familiar pains in her head and chest and stomach had returned all at once.
She did not know where she had erred, but it surely involved Jillian...
There would be time to consider that later. For now, the task was as always: to muddle through the underbrush and minimize the thorns on her way back to her path. If she did nothing, she would somehow be dragged to her destiny anyway. But units popped with minds and hands, and putting them to use always eased the way.
Ossomer completed his orders swiftly, and she called her stack's commanders into a huddle. Ossomer scowled, Jack observed, and Sylvia always, always burned. Wanda liked Sylvia.
At Gobwin Knob there lived Erfworld's perfect warlord, and she could call him and ask him what to do. Or perhaps he would soon call her with some tactical proposal. But perversely, she did not want Parson's advice this time. Somehow, she felt it was now simply time to apply what he had taught her. She cleared her throat.
"The principal strategic objective here is escape," she began. Sylvia and Ossomer made faces, but Jack suddenly looked attentive, concentrating on her words. "Following that is preserving me, then preserving you, then the preservation of all our other units in the battlespace. We cannot move, and we may be attacked at any moment."
She looked each of them in the eye, a little afraid of what she was about to say. She cleared her throat again. "Let's hear some ideas."