Known as Stuch. Armchair War Junkie. Gamer. Pretend to be a writer. Not really doing anything with my life. Obsessed with celluloid. Utopia has taken a large part of my brain for the time being. Happily making gifs of film and television. I do take requests.
Shado-Pan Garrison, somewhat forgotten by those in the Jade Forest and even areas of the Valley. Stories of mantid and mogu slaughter travelling through whisper after whisper until they formed into tales of highly-trained warriors fighting for freedoms and balance. There is truth in that, of course, but there is only so much that a resident of Honeydew Village can take and explicit information of what the Shado-Pan actually do in their stead rests firmly beyond that limit. Though the soldiers were stretched thin by new foes brought forth by the invasion there was still some rotation of front-line fighters. And it was during some relative respite that two things of interest arrived.
The pomfruit were bad news. To them unfathomably sweet and with an initial bite that cascaded back out and over the lips, causing a sticky area of fur on the chin or even chest - depending on the level of manners and time since they had last been eaten. Handed out one a piece without another word, without a single answer to the questions the succulent fruit raised. Pomfruit from the Vale of Eternal Blossoms? Does this mean the attacks on the Spine have become more manageable? This some kind of last meal before they send us against the mantid to die? They were handed out and the Shado-Pan soldiers sensed that they were simply meant to be grateful. A gift, they were told once they were being turned over suspiciously in deft hands, from all the people of Pandaria for their ceaseless sacrifice.
The pandarian’s name was Ju-Li and he was an alcoholic, Gratlok could tell that much from the gentle shake in his limbs when lifting the mug to his mouth and it’s slow fading each time the move was repeated. Whatever the local time was, this was definitely the beginning of Ju-Li’s day. He functioned though, it was long absorbed into the routine and expenditure. They sat across from each other at what was presumably this stranger’s regular table, he asked many questions and Gratlok answered as best he could to the point that the reasons for being on the continent at all, to scout and learn and report, were almost forgotten. Though talking to Ji-Lu did reveal some interesting things.
Report, they said, we need eyes and ears out there before we make our move. The leaders of the Warband managed their level best to make the orders sound officious and well thought through, but between the lines Gratlok could see the desire and indignation. Denied by the red tape and powers that be of the Horde to set foot on this mysterious, misted isle, made Gor’Watha want to go there all the more. Scouting parties were sent while the rest stayed behind, keeping up the appearance of following orders. Gratlok was among one of the first to be sent, ported to the southern land by no remotely legal means. Report, they said, tell us what you see.
But I just can’t. As though my brain has somehow cut off the section that allows it.
Rick’s face turned vacant yet concentrated, his eyes focused on something just to his right of Malcolm’s face and his right hand jerked away from his coffee, leaving a short trail of granules toward a newly forming mound on the table. Malcolm sighed and drummed his fingers on the table, waiting as Rick’s brow furrowed and the eyes continued to move behind squeezed lids. Reading. Checking. The pile of sugar ever increasing. Malcolm gave up and began flicking his hand in the area of Rick’s new found focus, an attempt to steal his attentions back again. “Nothing?”
((Stopped halfway to do the Rubik’s Cube, took me 130 seconds. I keep noticing overuse of the same word. Stupid cube.))
He was told after that he fought Rasek, the boss and his new employer, over very little some halfway through the Warband’s first bar night within the walls of Silvermoon City. Remembering nothing, it was explained to Gratlok that he pushed shoulders before making groundless and boring threats. The duel itself was even more embarrassing, too drunk even to apply poisons, he passed out in a pool of his own urine when the fight began - rousing with every blow before slipping back under once more. Worse yet, it wasn’t even culmination of the night’s proceedings and the jeering crowd returned to drinks as though the entire event was a fabrication.
((My neverending quest to destroy the myth of Shepard continues.))
For the purposes of galactic posterity, transcripts of Shepard’s official conversations with high-ranking individuals were made public after the massive clean-up was complete - once properly vetted and censored of course. It was all hard decisions and heartbreak, real boring shit from a military perspective, but there were smidgens of more. Hints of deep-seated racism hidden below that oh-so-pure human veneer the Alliance (and the Council) were happy to play up for their own benefit. Though the only section that really stood out as an outright fabrication and twisting, a lie that became truth in the minds of all through mere publication, came from Admiral Anderson himself. The exact quote escapes me but it was something along the lines of;
"There’s something of a fan club for you here in the trenches, Shepard."
That he was able to say it without laughing is testament to his chops as an officer (unless he actually believed it, which doesn’t bear thinking about). The actual feelings toward Shepard in the trenches were far different and to be fair to the grunts who held them, their opinions were based on a small radius of operational awareness. They judged the commander harshly, without due process and came to the conclusion that made the most sense to them. You would see the graffiti on chestplates and helmets. Some eloquent and thought out, written with extreme care but most were scrawled and succinct. “Fuck Shepard” was a favourite. You would come across crude banners signifying what remained of massacred battalions, “84th Mechanized. Stood fast when Shepard ran.” Or marines actively speaking their minds along far less politically correct lines, “I guess Shepard’s too good to fight alongside humans anymore. Fucking coward, man.”
In light of the venom aimed toward Shepard in the early days of Earth’s siege, Anderson’s lie to the man himself was - and still is - both understandable and defensible.
Extract from The Truth of Shepard by Captain Ethan Wickers (Systems Alliance),
Haiku written by N6 marine.
((Apologies for the awful title.))
There are good points all around Booty Bay from where you can sit and watch the morning’s fog creep from the port. It fears the rising sun and slinks away like gunsmoke, revealing the aftermath of the night. Gratlok never set foot within during the daylight hours, knowing that it meant at least trouble and probable death but his recent acceptance into the Warband meant he would eventually have to, and regularly. To be safe in the day would mean an excursion in the night, blood on bed sheets and the fog lifting to reveal a goblin corpse.
I wouldn’t hear the rest of the tale but didn’t need to, they always turned out the same. Hollow stories of valor and heroism soaked up and repeated by soldiers who would have known better. Shepard saved the day, got the girl and blew up the pirate base. Shepard rode on the back of a dragon with obsidian scales and brimstone eyes, toasted the Blue Suns in two passes of its tattered wings before they fell to their knees and worshipped him as a God.
"Hey N7! Check this shit out!" word travels fast in small communities and a bulky, topless marine turned his back to Gable and pointed over his shoulders with both thumbs to the detailed rendering. It stretched from his shoulder blades right down to his pants and it took him a moment to recognise the image as Sovreign attacking the citadel and could only guess at how long it took, let alone the cost, "I got the picture from a buddy who was there! Fucking there man! Right under the squid motherfucker!”
Chapter 4: Death
There was so much of it that death, dying, died and dead just weren’t enough. You could get fucked up, torn up, shot up, lit up, blown up, chewed up, and ripped up. Get wasted, greased, screwed, fucked, cooked, toasted, vaped, shredded, warped, battered, smashed, husked. Reaped. Goddamn if that word didn’t take on a new, deadly wonderment to it. It covered all scales and bodycounts. Squads, regiments, fleets, planets, systems. All were reaped and left barren, civilisations lost and forgotten.
Chapter 3: Killing
"You know about all that anti-nuke stuff back at the end of the twentieth century? Scariest things we ever made at the time, take out a small city in an instant. For the longest fucking time only two had ever been dropped in anger, two! These days I drop more than that in one bomb run. Thanks to these new eezo warheads don’t nobody give a shit about nukes anymore.” He was some hotshot bomber pilot and he knew it. ‘PEACE THROUGH SUPERIOR FIREPOWER’ painted on the side of his vessel, sitting in the hangar of the Alliance frigate like the pale horse of Death himself.