*Third Person Perspective*
Although Ariel’s telepathy was strong on its own, she was able to use pheromones to enhance it significantly. Of course, it also helped that the insectoid creatures no longer had a queen to direct them. While they were fighting each other or just standing around, they became easy prey for the mysterious group of firearm-wielding warriors. Even the heavily armored Dark Dwarf pulled out a revolver and started shooting at the cave entrance, rather than trying to rush into melee combat and risk being hit by friendly-fire.
Unfortunately, they only had so much ammunition on them. Within two minutes they ran out. Ariel could only control a few dozen of the ‘Roaches’ at a time, while there were at least a few hundred crowding around outside.
“Umm, hi there?” The Red Goblin eventually walked up to pink one and asked, “How well can you control those fuckers?”
“Ugh, I could probably make one or two of them… Do specific tasks, I that’s what you’re wondering… I’m getting really low on Mana though.” Ariel groaned in pain, as her head was pounding.
“My name’s Tarah Crane by the way.” The girl snickered and then pulled out a few ball-like objects from her backpack and the pockets on her belt. Then she asked, “Can you make a few of them carry one of these grenades each? It’d be best if they an hold em in he air, so that the shrapnel is dispersed as much as possible. That way it’ll kill more of them at a time.”
“I think I understand what you want, but if I do this, I won’t be able to keep them fighting each other and… A lot of them will swarm inside the cave.” Ariel coughed a bit, struggling to endure the headache.
Tarah opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, the radio suddenly crackled and a soft emotionless voice whispered: “This is Judgement Squad Zero… If you’re still alive, respond immediately.”
“Holy shit!” The tiger-man roared, “Answer right now!”
The Rat Tribe woman was the closest, so she reached out and grabbed the radio-microphone, “Hello Supreme Commander! This is Ra-Ra-Rain, erm, Sergeant Rain speaking! We’re definitely alive Commander!”
There was a brief pause, before that quiet feminine voice ordered: “Take cover, now.” Then there was static, until the radio shutdown completely.
“Fuck! Gary, reinforce the ceiling! Everybody else, get the fuck down!” The tiger-guy roared so loud he coughed up blood again, but he still got to the back of the cave, carrying the boulder with him. The panther-centaur, who had already healed up pretty well, grabbed her weapon and a smaller boulder to help create some kind of a fortification.
“Wait, what’s happening?” Ariel asked the Red Goblin, who was closest to her.
Tarah shouted, “That was the Supreme Commander! The Spirit of War! Beatrix Ares Day!”
The pink woman nodded her head, “I have no idea who that is, but that doesn’t matter. Why is everyone acting like that?”
Sergeant Rain immediately screamed, “They’re gonna bomb us!”
“What’s a bomb?” Ariel literally had no idea what some of the terms they used even meant. They were speaking in the Lorthon tongue that she remembered and understood, but some words were completely new and foreign.
“Damn girl! How long you been away from civilization for?!” Sergeant Rain shouted, before explaining: “You know what explosions are right? Like, kaboom~!” She made a hand gesture to emphasize what she was saying.
“Oh…” Ariel nodded her head, then yelled “Oh no!” Without wasting anymore time, she sprinted to the front of the cave and used her tentacles to collapse the entrance. Without her controlling them, the creatures unified again and began digging through the pile of stones.
However, the pink woman didn’t stop there. She rushed to the back of the cave and said, “Get out of the way, Kids.” Once Tommy and Mary were out into the open and nervously looking around at the strangers, Ariel continued drilling a hole in the side of the wall. Normally, digging a hole in the side of a cavern would be extremely dangerous, since it might collapse at any moment. But since Gary was reinforcing the walls and ceiling of her impromptu tunnel, it was actually much sturdier than the natural cave.
“Good idea! Since this hole is so much smaller, even if it’s a little cramped, at least I can reinforce it more efficiently!” The armored dwarf chuckled, while pressing his glowing silver gauntlets against one of the walls.
It was a really tight fit for the Tiger Tribe and Panther Centaur, but the others had plenty of room to breathe and move around if necessary. As the cave started rumbling, Tarah and Rain jumped out at the last second and grabbed the radio.
“Are you crazy?!” Ariel shouted as the cavern collapsed, leaving only that small compartment intact.
The ground was still rumbling as Gary explained, “It’d be awfully disappointing if after all this bullshit, our pay was deducted because we needed to requisition a new radio. You got any idea how much these things cost? This ain’t one of those cheap kind either. This one can cut through all kinds of interference! How else would it work in a damn cave? Not to mention in the Third Ring… Where even telepathic communications don’t work so well.”
*Third Person Perspective*
“What kind of magic… Could cause so much destruction?” When Ariel tunnelled out of the pile of rubble, she couldn’t help but have a hard time believing what she saw. The rain had already stopped and it was nighttime in the jungle, however, the trees all around them were brightly lit up with flames. The cave wa gone, completely smashed into tiny fragments, while the smoldering carcasses of those insectoid enemies were hard to find. Most of them had simply been obliterated.
The second one out of the hole was the burly Tiger Tribe man, Captain Green. His fur was orange, with black stripes, but his eyes were bright emerald. Of course, now one of his arms had become green as well.
“Yeah, I had a hard time wrapping my head around it the first time I saw it too…” He growled in an eerily deep voice.
Then there was the second in command, Sergeant Rain. She giggled and asked, “What’s your name? Where are you from? It’s amazing that you haven’t even heard of bombs, so I’m guessing you’ve been out in the jungle for at least a few years?”
“Ariel Gur… Just Ariel now I suppose.” The pink woman sighed, “I’m from Black Mithril. I was a Red Goblin before… This happened to me. I spent a few years as a slave in a human kingdom, but when their world ended, I returned ‘home’. Well… I didn’t want to return to Black Mithril, but I hoped that I could find some semblance of peace in the Ancient Dark Elven city of Angren… For my children to be free, and safe.”
“Damn, it’s a shame all those human kingdoms are gone now. It would’ve been nice to fuck em all up personally.” Captain Green grumbled, “Everybody’s got a sob story though. Lina was a slave too. A lot of centaurs from the North Eastern corner of Lorthon were enslaved by those fucking little assholes. Well, all the slavers in White Mithril were wiped out years ago, the Supreme Commander even made a point out of finding every single rapist and executed them publicly.”
Corporal Lina Loa was the panther-centaur who came out of the hole in the ground next. Then Tommy and Mary crawled up out of the pit, but the illusion was no longer making them look like Red Goblins. The two of them had horns on various parts of their hands and bright pink skin, but aside from that, they didn’t look much different. Their facial features and stature remained the same. And I… Well, my situation wasn’t really the same. I was the head of a small Pride, so I had to fuck half a dozen women a day. It might sound like a dream job to some guys, but personally, I’m not really attracted to ‘fur’… And those women were my mother, sisters and cousins.”
Ariel asked, “What do you mean? Who is this Supreme Commander and why does she care so much about rape and slavery? I’m confused. You still haven’t explained about those strange weapons either.”
Mary smiled and said, “Isn’t that great Mama? Slavery is bad!”
Private First Class Tarah Crane came out of the pit next. She was the youngest member of Alpha-Minor, but not necessarily inexperienced. She simply started out as a mercenary for a while, and before that, she was actually part of the Red Goblin District’s Fire Mage Battalion. She looked young, yet she was already in her late fifties. The oldest member of their little special ops squad. There was an Elven Archer who was older… However, that man sacrificed himself to save the rest of the team, back when they were escaping from that ‘nest’.
“The Spirit of Invention, Ailyn Ironheart, created a new weapon recently. It’s called ‘Heavy Artillery’. They’re basically like our small guns, except way way~ bigger! There’s at least one cannon at every outpost, and there are a lot of outposts all over the country…” Tarah explained before yawning and stretching her arms, with her head leaning back. She long brown hair, which was still soaked with insect juices, mud and blood.
Specialist Gary Soulhammer came out last, carrying his hammer in his hand and half of the radio on his back. Since he heard most of what Ariel and Tarah said, he commented: “Ah Ailyn… I remember when she was a little girl. Hell, she’s still just a kid compared to us old fogies! Most of the technology we got now days was either created by her personally, or one of her apprentices.”
“Ailyn… That name sounds so familiar. Ah!” The pink woman gasped, “That little kid! The one who owned the smithy on Fifth Street!” She giggled and said, “I remember that she was always tinkering around with weird things all the time. Even in my day she was well-known as a prodigy. She invented portable clocks afterall. It’s been so long, but I definitely remember owning at least one of her ‘watches’. I remember… She was always hanging out with that little butcher brat Lori-something.”
“Pft~, hahahah~!” Everyone laughed for a while, until Gary explained: “That little ‘brat’ Lori… Now days most people in Lorthon know her as President Lorelei Fleisher. She’s been the leader of this country for a few years now, though it was only made official recently.”
“What the hell is a president?” Ariel raised her left eyebrow for a moment, before asking: “No way… That little kid is in charge of Angren?!”
“She ain’t no mayor! Hahaha~!” Tarah grinned and exposed her long, fang-like teeth: “She’s the fucking leader of the whole forest! And beyond for that matter! I heard she headed north, into the mountains, on some new expansion project. Not just her, but Archmage Raelin Nerorneth, Shadowlord Ethir-”
“Wait, my er, I mean…” Ariel coughed a few times, “Are you talking about Ethir Gurguranor? The Red Goblin boy with the umm, golden eyes? We’re related.”
“Oh, holy shit! I didn’t really think about it before since well, you’re pink and all, but yellow irises are pretty rare among Red Goblins.” Rain cackled, before suddenly realizing something: “No fucking way! You’re her, aren’t you?! I thought it was just a rumor, but are you really Ethir’s time-traveling daughter from the future?!”
*Third Person Perspective*
“Huh?” Ariel was stupefied. Eventually, she decided to ask a dangerous question: “Haven’t you ever heard the rumor about… Ethir’s mother? The one who… Abandoned him.”
“Nope, never heard of that one.” Rain snickered thoughtlessly, grumbling: “It would’ve been really cool if you were from the future though. So far I only know one time traveller and they’re a total cunt. Looks like a little brat, but has the soul of an ancient asshole. If you ever meet that bitch, try to keep your distance. She basically openly admitted to telling that fucking dragon to attack Black Mithril back in the day. You know, before she reincarnated or whatever.”
Gary grumbled, “Will you cut it out with all that time-travel bullshit! Tarah, you recognize her too right? Bariel Gurguranor, the Matriarch of the Red Goblin District back in the day. But the past is the past. So long as you don’t do anything stupid like try to start a rebellion, I’m sure nobody will really give a damn who you were before now. It’s a new era. We’ve all changed. Hell, I used to be a tailor! Now I’m a Specialist in the Alfirin Army, which I admit, isn’t a very high position. But I’ve saved and changed a lot of lives the past few years. And I was able to join Alpha-Minor, which is kind of a big deal.”
“Okay, okay, you can stop showing off now.” Tarah snickered and whispered to the shocked pink goblin, “You might wanna steer clear of the Supreme Commander. I know you’re strong, but if she reaches into your mind and finds something she doesn’t like, there’s nothing we can do to help you then.”
Captain Green growled, “Alright! Enough fucking around! We gotta get back to the base and make our report! Ariel, unless you wanna join the military, you should go that way. Follow the river until you reach a town called Gator Brook. From there you can head south to Angren, east to Ael Tol or even teleport to that new town they’re building in the north… I think it’s called Snow Haven? Snow City or something like that. Oh wait, before we split up, Lina…”
The panther centaur snickered and reached into one of the pockets of her torn-up leather armor, pulling out a black wallet. She complained, “Why the hell am I the one who always has to pay mercs?”
She pulled out ten yellow paper rectangles and handed them to Ariel, who asked: “What are these things?”
Gary chuckled and explained, “See that number in the middle and on the sides? Each one of those are worth ten Gold. A hundred gold really isn’t that much money, considering that you saved our lives and this really expensive radio, but well… It’s not like we bring thousands of dollars with us to dangerous missions where we might get blown up. A hundred Gold is a fortune in the First Ring, but out here in the Third Ring it’s a pretty paltry sum. At the very least, you’ll be able to afford to get a Mark, lodging and teleportation services in Gator Brook. If you really become a Mercenary, we can pay you a few hundred more when we see eachother again. Good luck.”
Powerful Mercenaries rescuing relatively weaker military squads or even entire battalions was something that happened occasionally. There was no explicit stipulation that the soldiers would need to repay the favor with money, but it was a generally accepted tradition.
Money wasn’t everything to Mercenaries and Adventurers. Reputation could often save their lives. For example, if the military could only save one of two groups, they would typically choose the one that had the better reputation… Of course, there were plenty of other variables involved. Their duty was to protect the civilians and the country itself, but they wouldn’t just let Mercenaries and Adventurers die in front of them for no reason.
“I really gotta shit…” Sergeant Rain grumbled as she started to walk faster off into the jungle. The others were following after her and either laughing or complaining.
“Ummm, Mama, I gotta pee too.” The pregnant pink goblin murmured in a soft voice, while holding her mother’s left tunic sleeve.
“Go ahead. But be careful. Do it right there where I can see you, and take Tommy with you.” Ariel sighed as the two ‘kids’ wandered off. They weren’t actually children by goblin standards. Before transforming from their original green bodies, their mental faculties were very limited. Unlike Red Goblins, the green kind were essentially devolved ‘Orcs’. The consequence of Orcs living in a mana-deprived environment for generations. Thus, they didn’t have the inherent longevity or magical prowess of the Red Goblins. Even after becoming Pink Goblins, the only reason those two were able to not turn into mindless monsters, was due to Ariel’s presence.
Once the two little ones finished relieving themselves, they returned to Ariel and the three of them started moving. As they left the charred crater-filled battlefield behind, they reached a seemingly calm and peaceful river. Underneath those slow currents were reptilian creatures that none of the three goblins had ever seen before.
“You guys headed for Gator Brook?” A scaly green head popped out of the water and it suddenly opened its mouth to start talking casually with them. When it saw how shocked the goblins were, it chuckled and said: “Just keep going downstream and you’ll get there in a few miles. Careful of the alligators though. They look like us, but they definitely ain’t friendly. Don’t get eaten!” After that, it went down below the small waves again.
“Umm, thank you, I guess?” The pink-skinned woman murmured, as she gazed off into the distance. The river was winding, and there were massive trees blocking her view, but she was still able to see black smoke rising up into the sky. There were ‘popping’ and ‘banging’ noises ringing out constantly, from various parts of the jungle. It was only then that she realized those sounds definitely weren’t thunder.