From ‘The Engineer’ by Darran Handshaw.
“Destroy them, Engineer. I give you my command.”
“Aye aye, and so we will. Remove the aperture.”
One of the attendants pulled free another blackened hide with a circular aperture in it that limited the amount of light that entered the array. There was a bright flash of light in the image of the encampment and Actaeon could see that the tent had ignited instantaneously.
“Excellent! It is alight! Rotate element one to right by one degree. Yes, now up by one half degree. That’s three of them! And one quarter degree to the right.”
As he called out the commands and lit more and more of the enemy tents ablaze, he watched the tribemen awaken in a panic as they moved to wake others and extinguish the flames. He could hear them blowing horns in the far distance to alert the whole camp. The Ruinic tribals emerged from their tents with weapons drawn and readied, but they soon realized that it was fire they were dealing with and they ran to help extinguish the field of blazing tents. The Engineer frowned as he watched several of the tribals spill from one tent, their flailing bodies engulfed in flames. He could see them screaming through the scope, though they were much too far away for their screams to be heard. They struggled in abject horror for but a moment before they lay still, the fire flaring up as their bodies continued to burn.
“Very good, Engineer. He will wait until they are the most preoccupied and disorganized,” said the Prince, his voice snapping Actaeon out of his horror.
He’d just burned those men to death – he hadn’t realized that the tents would catch fire so quickly. It was only supposed to serve as a distraction. Even though he knew many of the tribals far off in the distance were destined for death by sword and spear, it didn’t subtract from the savage fact that he had caused those deaths by fire.
As if on cue, in the bottom left corner of the image arrived the Shieldian troopers, led by Enrion, his sword held high. Adjutant Minovo was at his side, her two swords out and flashing in a blur as she reached the first Ruinic lookout, sending his head spiraling to the side. At their flank were Trench and Wave. The duo was unmistakable with their disparity in height. As they neared the panicked tribals, Wave let loose a bolt from his crossbow and slung it over his shoulder, his own rapier a blur that sent enemies reeling to either side of him as they fell as he dodged and weaved between their spear thrusts. Trench stood behind him with his heavy maul and took care of anyone that the swordsman couldn’t handle, shattering them each in a single blow.
Indros placed a hand on Actaeon’s shoulder and spoke in a low voice that only the Engineer could hear: “Do not fail me now, Engineer. War is Death. If not theirs, then ours. Continue your work. Our countrymen are down there fighting.”
Actaeon shuddered and scratched his right arm before he continued to call his commands to Endira, lighting more and more of the encampment on fire and even using the light to blind enemy troops that turned to face the attacking Shieldians. Many tribals could be seen fleeing toward the distant forest at the foot of the mountains. A group of the tribals had begun to organize at the right side of the camp, their shields held high to block the light that swept over them from the Suntower.
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