((Continued from vol. 1 here, because it was getting long.))
Date: 05 April
Location: Deliverance Point, Broken Shore
Status: Marginally functional
I am no longer Advisor. I am a Commander now. Many people had emotions. I was hugged. Jo warned me that she would be experiencing emotions later, so I am delaying my arrival to our new camp until I am prepared to handle them. Broom and Roiya appeared emotional to an extent. Roiya mostly. I believe we will continue to work smoothly together.
Longsight said nice things about me. He said that he appreciated my compassion.
I was unaware that was a strength of mine.
I am still uncertain.
Still, going forward, I will continue to hold myself to the standards I do. This new title changes little for me. I have the same responsibilities. The unit has, and will always, come first over any other thing.
Tomorrow, I will meet with an ambassador from the Armies of Legionfall to discuss our new assignment. We will be assisting them in skirmishes against the Legion on the Broken Shore, but at present I am uncertain where we are needed.
I wonder when this war will end. If it ends. And how intact any of us will be by then. This war is relentless and we cannot keep up this pace forever. Still, we press on.
I hope our kids are doing alright. I think I might send some treats from Dalaran to Rethier to have him hand out and tell them that we are alright.
I am not alright, but this lie is important. At some point, when I have time to myself, I will reorganize my internal organs and see if the skin of my legs has melted against my suit's framework and padding. I am uncertain when I will have time to do this. It could be weeks.
The unit comes first over any other thing. Even me.
*Her journal looks even more singed around the edges.*
Date: 10 April
Location: Deliverance Point
Status: Mostly functional
Unit meeting yesterday. We discussed the issue of the fel reaver. I would have preferred it not be loosed at all, but we are far past that point now. Myself, Bey, and Sky will be on the ground to distract it off of its route and lead it towards the cannons on the ridge. Nel and Fro will come behind with a cable - a goblin salvage crew has been stripping ships and they have cable off a crashed airship - and I need to speak with Sparkles or Knutcrank about the weight on the other end. Jo has the missile. Vox, Z, Jo, and anyone else available will be manning the cannons. I have requested them from the Uncrowned on urgent notice. Fortunately someone up there thinks a fel reaver on the loose is a major concern. We are getting three.
I am uncertain if I could begin to list all the things that could go wrong with this mission. I would prefer this thing destroyed and for us to do it would raise unit morale I imagine. Or we could all be scattered and trampled by it. I dislike missions with such glaring fail states but I also have no better options. We will do this and we will see what happens.
Z spoke to me about sacrifice. I refused to condone any self sacrificing deaths. I will always. I have too much blood on my hands as it is. The concept of ordering someone to their death because they might be capable of returning again is unconscionable. Not with Cere, not with Shay, not with Z. There are always other ways.
Roiya spoke with Sky about her drinking problem. I am hopeful she will find more healthy methods to handle her problems. If not, I will remove her from the field until she can cope with this war. Ah'Lam was already removed and sent to assist Lyyn in Dalaran. The precedent has already been set.
I require a new tabard. Again. I require a new tabard that does not burn off.
I hope I am not ordering all of us to our deaths on Tuesday.
M knew she was dead the second the unexpected wave came crashing over her low outcropping. She spent her last few moments of conscious thought apologizing, watching as the hellish green glow of fel overtook her.
I told you I’d try, Jo.
I’m so sorry.
The mission was failing.
She could hear Sky’s agonized screams as if from a far, muted distance.
She wondered if they’d ever recover any of their bodies.
It was over.
I’m so sorry.
Light; it wasn’t the yawning void she’d expected, nor was it the expanse of the Shadowlands she’d seen in passing. Two glowing points of lichfire blue shifted into focus directly above her. With a few sluggish blinks, her eyes focused on a dark black and red helmet hiding a Knight of Acherus’s face.
Things passed in a blur after that. Her odd tableside attendant, as it turned out, was also a gnome, and immediately launched into an explanation that sounded very rehearsed. M could barely follow. She could feel the texture of wood and stone beneath her arms and back. It meant she wasn’t a shade.
It also meant she wasn’t herself.
She started paying more attention.
Cat Lady, as she’d taken to calling the Knight, had left some time ago, her namesake cat trailing along behind. M was alone, staring absently at her hands.
They weren’t her hands.
Her hands were metal and machinery, they weren’t soft or the color of ashen skin.
None of this was hers.
Separation. She was very practiced in distance and disassociation. Now more than ever, it would come in handy. This wasn’t her, but it was now. That contradiction would be her life, moving forward. She had to accept it. She had no other way.
The other gnome had been a fighter, M could tell that by the dusty but still sturdy leathers the Knight had left at her table. They were thicker than what M herself would prefer, built to take punches and deflect thinner blades.
It would do.
There was a thin hole in one of the areas of padding, just below her chest. She knew it immediately as a bullet hole.
There was a matching scar on her own side and a large mend in the flesh on her back.
*Her handwriting is changed, as is the journal she's writing in. The crisp new pages are now covered in a large, rounded, and slightly messy hand; it's a vast change from her angular, neat, and tiny writing before.*
Date: 14 April
I've stared at this page for five minutes and I don't know what to write.
We all made it out, questionably well but we made it. The reaver is dead.
They're all acting like it's a usual mission with a usual result. Maybe for them, it is. I wish it was. No one seems impacted by this but me. I'm not sure which I'd prefer; them acting like nothing's changed or them being shaken by it.
As shaken as
Fro had some advice. I knew he would.
There's so much to handle. Maybe that's why none of them seem effected. They don't have to handle it. They don't have to think about it. That must be nice.
I won't let them know, of course. They don't need to. Seda especially. I can't imagine what being in her position must have been like. I don't know what I would've done.
That's not true. I would've panicked, too.
I'm putting off actually thinking about things by writing this. I don't like thinking about things. Not like this. Not when I can feel it. It was easier the other way. I just didn't. But I have to.
I don't want to.
I never asked for any of this
I'm going to go see if those goblins holed up in the engineering workshop here have any stealthmans for sale that might last more than one use. Then maybe I'll run some drills. Climb a few walls. See what she can do.
I forgot how good it feels to really dig into people. I also forgot how aggravating people blatantly ignoring orders is. These two are linked. I've given Z more chances than I give most people. I don't understand why it's always him but it is. Stormheim will be a chance to keep a close eye on him, I think. If that really was a one time deal, I'll soon learn. And if it's not, he won't be enjoying the next while.
I don't think Sky, or anyone else, understands how seriously I take alcohol dependency and using it, or any other type of crutch, to cover emotional and mental trauma. I did it. A lot of people I knew at the time did it. I knew a gnome who couldn't function unless he was tipsy. It wasn't until the worst of the control started that I stopped drinking regularly. My first three months out of the infirmary in Ironforge were spent under stairs, black out drunk, for fuck's sake.
But they don't need to know that.
They - Sky- just needs to accept my orders and shove her rebellious arguments up her ass where they belong to get shat back out again.
I liked it, though. The look on her face when I got right up into hers. The look on Z's. I don't care if they like me as a leader. They don't need to. Respect and intimidation rule as well as admiration and friendship.
Maybe I am better like this. I can only hear Them on the wind once in a while, or maybe it's just a memory. It's quieter. That's good.
Maybe this will be okay, if this disassociation ever stops. I don't like moving around through unreal space. I don't like losing conversations. The only time I can get through it is with bullshit like last night.
Maybe someday I'll stop being such a fucking mess
I think that's it, though. We leave for Stormheim on Saturday, me, Z and Minks. Worst come to worst, we can just hide behind him if anything blows up. Tactical grouping.
Flew with Z inland today. Found a small abandoned house that will work for now. He seems very sore and tired but otherwise alive. Killed a runehorn for meat so they should have food for at least the next week or so. It's a big runehorn. Z's gryphon seemed to like the entrails at least and having her around will hopefully scare off the wolves.
We move on Tuesday to the vault below us. The sky is an ugly green in that direction. I haven't seen a Legion ship yet but I have no doubt that there'll be more of them further inland. Neither of us want to be near the ocean right now anyway so inland sounds like a good option.
I think I strained a muscle in my arm. I couldn't pull myself up a tree as good as I should've. That's not something I can fix with the goop Peri gave me. I'm not even sure if Minks can fix that. I'll just have to adjust.
I awarded Seda, Fro, and Jo medals during the world's most casual unit meeting today. If they hadn't acted, Sky and I would probably be dead, as well as even more severe injuries for the others had the fel reaver been given time to recover. I'm only here at all because of Seda and Fro. I'm not good at these feeling things or nice stuff but I hope they especially know how much I appreciate what they did.
I miss Jo. I separated couples on purpose, it reduces squad efficiency and increases risk taking, but I still miss her. Gross.
It's quiet here on the roof. I think I can hear rumbling in the valley, though, like thunder. It's been raining on and off all day but I have a gut feeling that this isn't natural thunder. There's only the distant lightning on the mountaintops and it's not very cloudy.
We'll see what we find there.
Z's fun to tease. He's a good sport. For a Lighty, he's not bad. Bad at snap judgments and questioning things that should be questioned and far too easily used but most Lighties are like that anyway.
Now to stare into the woods and try to spot incoming wolves until sunrise. Boring.
I hope the Legion doesn't just bury us all alive. I don't like being underground. The constant shelling echoes in here. Metal guys seem alright, though. They keep talking about 'glorious battle' or whatever. I don't care so long as we make it out intact.
Rocky and a few glowy val'kyr are working on the console. Apparently it'll be ready tomorrow. I'm not asking too many questions. If it breaks the siege, that's all I need to know.
Hope Z finds some water or something in here. Dehydrated meat shields aren't that great.
On the plus, our water barrel at the house is probably going to be pretty full. Assuming his gryphon hasn't bumped it over. Or eaten all the food.
We both got weird runes on our hand from the weird shit yesterday. It doesn't seem to do anything, at least. I've had worse things stuck on my hand.
I guess I'll write tomorrow if we get out of this shit intact.
Note: do not trust Sprizi with area-impacting piss grenades.
We moved today from the hovel to a tower hovel. I took a shower to get the fucking wolf piss off of me. I swear I still smell it faintly. I hate it. It's so gross. I'm never getting near a wolf. What if it pees on me? I can't do this again.
I miss Jo. I miss the kids. I miss the cats. I don't like missing people.
tell yourself again that these are not truly your friends
I think I'm imagining it. Or maybe a whisper of Their wisdom can reach me, even in this corpse.
I hope we get to fight soon again. I forgot how good it feels, to rip out throats and really feel the blood. Taste it. Get covered in it.
*Written on a water stained piece of scrap paper...*
Nia, Kixa, and Rethier -
I hope everything's good. We miss you out here. I
I'm in Stormheim right now, close to the Halls of Valor. We just kept the Legion from storming the vault out here. It was a big fight. I'm fine, though. We're all doing well. Got soaked on our way out but we're all better now. Found a nice tower to camp in here until we leave for Highmountain sometime next week.
[*a rough sketch of the Halls of Valor, viewed from a ways below and away from it*]
Jo's in Highmountain with the tauren. I think she's doing alright, too. We talk over our COMMs when we can, at least. We might see each other if our squads are in roughly the same place at the same time. Highmountain's pretty big, though. And mountainous. Shockingly.
I've probably sent this from the worgen town out here, but we won't be there for more than a few minutes to grab supplies. I'm not sure where our next mailbox will be, to be honest. If we're ever in one place for more than a few days, I'll let you guys know.
I hope school's going well and that you're not giving Rethier too hard of a time. Don't use mage hands for things you could use your normal hands with.
Pet Uther, Diesel, and Mama Cat for me. I miss them, too. All I have is Gun Turtle and it doesn't purr.
We'll be home as soon as we can. The Legion is pretty active out here, but it won't be forever.
Packed up and moved again. We're going to Highmountian. Got winter gear for the living. I found Carmina. She's coming with us. Of course.
I don't remember feeling this hostile before. She's one of those Lightfuckers and I'm sure she finds me equally distasteful but I don't remember being this
Feeling shit this much.
I have guesses why. Whatever happened in Acherus, I think I'm more securely stuck in this corpse. That's good, it'll be harder to wrench me out.
It's been days since we've had a good, nasty fight. The vrykul in the Runewood weren't much of a threat. I want a real fight. A bl
A good one.
I just wanna stab some shit. I like this. I like fights I walk away from needing a bath. Like Aggramar's Vault. That was the good shit there. All the blood, the easy killings. I'd take a good skill fight against another stabber, too, though. Something.
It's a rush again, like I remember when I was alive.
I want more
I'm sure there'll be plenty of Legion to kill in Highmountain.
We might get to see another group, too. Jo's.
That'll be nice. If Lammy's arm whispers anything to me, I'm ripping it off. I don't care if it's liquid.
I hate the Nether, portals, and demons. I hate ruined towns filled with empty buildings. I hate unreality and watching it crumble around me while the Stupids are too worried about saving some lady we just met to jump into the damn portal so I can get the fuck out of there.
I miss Jo. She's so close and that's worse. If she was across the Isles, it'd be easier. I can see the mountaintop she's on from here, I just can't get up there. I've been staring at it most of the night. It's been almost a month since I saw her last. Talking to her is good but
We're moving tomorrow. My plan is to get to Val'sharah as fast as we can, hopefully to head off the Legion troops going that way. I'm sure they won't be hard to find. Tend to be a slash and burn kind of people, just follow the trail of destruction. A good fight, I hope. Holding off the Legion in the Nether was good, too. And knowing they're dead for good, at least the few we fought, is good, too. They deserve it.
Got Z's tail again. I was right, he'd let down his guard. Let me slowly reach right in there and grab it.
I don't know when this will end. This war. It has the potential to be unending until we're all dead. This deployment will have to end, though. I think if the Kirin Tor doesn't recall us before Midsummer, I'll put the word out. We'll see how things are faring, though, when we get closer to that. Roiya's squad sounds like they hit on some infiltration shit. I hope that's not a total clusterfuck. Dreadlords are nasty at the best of times and they're masters at disguise.
Meese are changing patrols now. Gonna go bug them for news, if there's anything new.
M could do it and it taunted her. She craved it. Every last bit of her mind was enraptured with the thought of watching blood flow over her fingers as she rent and tore and mutilated until there wasn't enough of a body left for someone to identify. Vengeance was a drug and, right now, it was a nearly all consuming thought.
M's fingers twitched rapidly. She was right there, just out of eyesight, perhaps less than forty yards off the ledge. Without a doubt, M knew she could get there before anyone else had time to react. If she could silence her, no one would know until the other gnome was dead. Then she'd face their disappointment and judgment, true, but only for a short time. After they'd gotten out, she would disappear as she had done before.
She couldn't deny the temptation. It had been five hours since Sprizi sent an arrow through her skull and her fury only grew. This had been her second chance; for the first time, she'd found herself without a handicap in speech or physical issues and it had been taken from her in a heartbeat. No apologies, no deeds of remorse, could ever, ever, reduce her anger or her hatred.
The slowness at which her mind strung sentences together frustrated her. She had been here before, years ago, and here she was again; a well spoken, intelligent gnome trapped in a body that refused to cooperate. Every time she tried to run through the fine knifeplay she'd been trained in, her fingers shook until the daggers fell into her lap.
If M's body was capable of producing tears, this would have been the moment for them. Instead, the bitter loathing deepened and poisoned further. There would be no forgiveness, that much she knew down to the bottom of her heart. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could ever make her forgive this deepest hurt.
There was no wind in this anomalous cave, nor did she think the voice came anywhere but from her memories. It called to her out of the past, speaking the wise words she, as she always had, wished she'd heeded long before.
Tell yourself again that these are not truly your friends.
It was right, as it always had been. A friend would not loose an arrow through her skull, a friend would have demanded confirmation on whether she was truly M. Sprizi was no friend of hers, nor would she ever be. All M would allow her to be was a loathed associate, a detested subordinate, and a permanent reminder of her own handicaps. Hatred was too kind of a word to describe all she felt.
M loathed, M detested, and M abhorred the gnome. Every word she'd said earlier, she had meant with her whole heart. She would watch her die one day and she would relish every last second of it. And when the light faded from her eyes, only then would M consider putting aside the fury she felt at being stripped of her second chance.
Until then, though, she would sit quiet in her temptation and her longing for vengeance.
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