Header and inset art by Cryo Huren
Welcome back, dear readers. First, I must apologize sincerely for the lateness of this release: COVID-scares and the banal commitments of everyday life have had their way with the creative process. Nonetheless history does not write itself, so the fires of Saga-writing industry have been rekindled, and today we return to the tale of the men of Delta Sqad as they face dire circumstances. You can read the preceding installments here: Part I, Part II, and Part III. While well-pleased with their victories over the lesser-forces of PAPI, the men of Delta must now contend with new obstacles and make tough choices as their successes begin to draw some unprecedented attention.
Brave Returns, PAPI Strikes Back
It was springtime in the lands of Querious. The air began to warm, the days became longer, and for the first time in the new year the sun began to shine into the deepest fjords of Delta Sqad country. This was the time of year when many new Vexors and Hurricanes were born and the shepherds of Good Post Country would accompany them to the highlands where they could graze on the fresh grasses and tend to their young.
There was a man called Thingul Sindacolla, a man of Delta who was held in the highest regard. He was an able farmer and an excellent poster, and was also said to have been one of the best Griffin pilots in all of Delta Sqad. On this day, Thingul was looking after one of his shielings in the hills outside W6V and things looked to be going very well: the sky was blue, the air was pleasantly cool, the sunshine was pleasantly warm and Thingul had many fine young frigates amongst his herd. Suddenly, the air took on a distinct chill. The sun grew dark, as if the depths of winter had returned, and a freezing wind picked up from the west. Cynos appeared in the hilltops all around, and men of TEST and Horde and NCdot began to appear upon them in great numbers.
Thingul leapt onto his Rifter and rode off in the direction of the W6V Keepstar. There were not very many men at the Keepstar this day, as many of them were in the hills tending to their livestock, but there were a few able-bodied men there. Thingul cried out to these men. “The men of PAPI have come to Querious!”
Now, it had previously been known to the men of Delta Sqad that the men of Brave – having already been disgraced and humiliated by their eviction from Querious at the hands of Delta and by their eviction from the East by the men of Init – were keen to take revenge and otherwise make themselves look like a real alliance. They were planning to invade the lands of Querious yet again. The men of Delta, however, knowing Brave to be amongst the most inept of fighters, were not at all concerned by this appearance and had previously ventured out into the hills and forests of Querious and killed the iHubs that Brave had installed, leaving only a handful standing. Therefore, many of the men had been eagerly anticipating Brave’s return, as this iHub destruction was widely regarded as something sure to create many hilarious fights. It has previously been related that the men of Brave and Severance had attempted to burn a Raitaru in W6V, and that they had paid for their greed with many dead Gilas and Basilisks. This was the kind of thing that Brave did, but after several humiliations at the hands of Delta’s fearsome Sax fleet, the men of Brave and Severance had not been seen in W6V for some time.
Returning now to Thingul and the fate of W6V, many men of PAPI had journeyed there through many cynos. Muninn fleets were there. Cerberus fleets were there. Skybreaker fleets were there. Jarl Aritzia was awakened, and said, “Over a thousand men of PAPI are here to burn our iHub. It seems unlikely that twenty men can compete with this, but we men of Delta are a steadfast lot and we will do what we can despite our modest means.” With that, many Thrashers and Griffins were saddled, and the few men of Delta who were in the vicinity of W6V rode out to meet their attackers.
This counter-attack went as was expected. The Thrashers were sent to attack those men of PAPI who were seen to wield the green persuasion-beams that would doom the iHub POS. Those Thrashers were killed. The Griffins went to assail the sensors of those same ships. The Griffins were killed. Even the nimblest ECM Ares – who were well-known for their ability to ride faster and turn quicker than all other ships – were destroyed by the instalockers and Skybreakers of PAPI. It seemed that at every node or gate, there was a new PAPI HAC fleet to be found and more Monitors were in Querious that day than there were men in all of Delta Sqad. Things were going very poorly.
The men of Delta sent messengers to their kinsmen in the lands of Delve. They spoke to King Mittani’s hersirs and made their case: many men of PAPI had arrived to burn W6V, and the men of Delta required urgent aid. “We cannot come to your aid, noble Deltas of Querious,” said the King’s men, “For there is a mythical bird in the lands of M2-XFE. This bird is of untold value such that even one of its feathers is worth more than everything every man of Delta Sqad owns in Querious, and we must guard this bird with utmost steadfastness against the advances of our enemies, who also want the bird for their own. For this reason, we cannot come to Querious.”
The messengers returned to the men of Delta with their news. This was a dark day for the men of Delta Sqad, and the iHub POS of W6V, which had stood for several months, was then destroyed by the vast legions of PAPI.
A Distinctly Querious Wake & Bake
There was much sorrow amongst the men of Delta Sqad at the destruction of their iHub, and they retreated to their farmstead in W6V. The cowardly men of Brave took this opportunity to install an iHub of their own in the heart of Delta’s lands, and were more than eager to accost the men of Delta and say many slanderous things about them, now that a thousand of their kinsmen were there to hold their hands. When the iHub POS of Brave was constructed, the men of PAPI returned to their lands: they are now out of the saga for the moment.
A wake was then held, and all the men of Delta helped to build the burial mound for the iHub. Then, Jarl Aritzia spoke a verse:
I dreamt that many battle-trees
Descended upon our modest farmstead
They pierced this feeder of ravens
With many Republic Fleet EMPs
My blood was spilt,
Until it covered the lands of Delta
Yet though the wolves have had their banquet
We ride again, to slay the men of Brave
Then the men went back to their homes and a solemn silence descended over the valley of W6V, but this silence was not to last for long.
Now, to return to the men of Brave and Severance. The events of this day had turned out very favorably for them and they were feeling quite emboldened. Eager to capitalize on the losses of the men of Delta, and full of the mistaken belief that they had contributed in any substantial way to the events of the day, the men of Brave and Severance decided to press the attack themselves. They clanged the bells and assembled a gang of Cerberi. Arrdun Sol addressed his kinsmen: “The men of Delta Sqad have suffered a great defeat. Let us go now and burn their farmhouses, and humiliate them further, and show them how good we are at EVE!” The men of Severance clattered their Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missiles against their flat-nosed Caracals and made a mighty din, and those men set out from P-Z.
The men of Delta Sqad received word that the men of Severance and Brave were moving against them. Severance had assembled many Cerberi and Scimitars. Brave had some Manticores. All of them jumped into W6V and cowered briefly behind the walls of their Fortizar there. Then, setting their eyes on a modest farmhouse belonging to Zungen, they began their attack. The Cerberi charged the farmhouse, expecting little resistance.
Now, it has previously been related that the men of Brave and Severance once lost many HACs and a Dreadnought attacking one of Zungen’s farmhouses. This was that same farmhouse. Though the men of Severance charged towards the farmhouse atop their flat-nosed Caracals, and the men of Brave plinked impotently from the sidelines in their Manticores, Zungen and the men of Delta Sqad were not deterred. Zungen had a fleet of strong, well-built warships called Dominixes, which had many brightly-decorated shields along their gunwales which rendered them well-armored; he therefore joined the battle with these ships.
Zungen and his fleet shot at the Cerberi. But Severance knew of the Dominixes and had a cunning plan. A cyno was lit and a Revelation dreadnought appeared, which was a very fearsome ship, more than capable of attacking a farmhouse on its own, and doubly-so while supported by the Cerberi. Now the Cerberi of Severance were free to attack Zungen’s warships, while the Revelation attacked the farmhouse. Zungen fought bravely against all the Severance men and defended himself well, keeping the Scimitars of Severance very busy and wounding many Cerberi, but slowly the walls of the farmhouse began to give way. Things again looked to be going poorly for the men of W6V.
At this moment, Jarl Aritzia and Ganthrithor called forth the fearsome Saxophones from the Delta farmstead. Many Tornadoes leapt over the walls of the Keepstar and charged toward the men of Severance. Zungen shot Cerberi. Saxophones shot Cerberi. Many T2 cruisers were exploding. Seeing this, the men of Severance again fled the field, preferring to cower behind the walls of TEST’s Fortizar in a tremendous display of cowardice, rather than risk their limbs to prove their boldness. The Revelation was now in trouble. Dominixes shot it; Saxophones shot it; and even the women and slaves of Zungen’s farmhouse were to be seen hurling stones and other detritus at the Revelation from the doors of the farmhouse itself. Finally, the gilded armor of the Revelation gave way, and the dreadnought fell over dead. The men of Delta cheered mightily and slammed the ends of their Tornadoes against the ground and taunted the men of Severance for their cowardice, and the men of Brave and Severance returned home that day humiliated and without any treasures or burned farmhouses or tales of glory, and were said to have lost a great deal of honor as a result of this expedition.
Home is Where the Good Posts Are
With the men of Brave and Severance retreating in disarray amidst much humiliation, the men of Delta returned to their farmstead and a gathering was convened. Jarl Aritzia and all the leading men of Delta Sqad were there, as well as Zungen and his large host of men and slaves. It was decided to discuss the future of Querious. Jarl Aritzia spoke and said, “Many men have come from the lands of Delve to burn our farmhouses. We men of Delta Sqad are a brave lot, but we are few in number. It seems unlikely that such a group can withstand the forces of all of PAPI. Still, the men of Brave are no match for the men of Delta despite their great numbers. I suspect that we can still kill many of them before the men of PAPI can burn every one of our farmhouses. The men of Brave will be forced to defend their new iHub POS every day, and Delve is a long way off: their PAPI cousins will not be able to come to their aid every day.”
The men of Delta considered this. There were many witless Brave soldiers around, and it seemed a shame not to relieve them of their treasures. The men of Delta agreed that they would stay in W6V and raid Brave’s villages for as long as they could. There would be no more grazing of Procurers in W6V, but otherwise things would remain much as they had been before the men of PAPI had ravaged the lands. With that, the men of Delta set about planning their next viking raids.
Moonwalking, PAPI-Style: Face-First Into a Brick Wall
There was a man named Ganthrithor, of Delta, mentioned previously as one of the men who carried the Delta banner and showed the Saxophone Men where to play their jazz. It should also be mentioned that Ganthrithor was widely-regarded as one of the most bittervets of all Deltas, as he was very old and had seen many battles won and lost. Although most Deltas in Querious knew of him as a Sax-man, Ganthrithor had also spent many years abroad, where he learned many things, raiding even the best-defended fortresses.
Ganthrithor was still grievously upset about the burning of the W6V iHub POS. He and many other hardworking Deltas had toiled for many months to conquer the lands of Querious, and Ganthrithor was accustomed to getting his way in most matters. He did not appreciate Brave summoning a thousand men to burn Delta’s iHub POS, and was eager to return the favors.
That day, Ganthrithor saddled one of his Sabres and rode out over the ridge to the valley of 9CG6-H. He rode this way and that way, all round the valley, surveying it from every angle to see where men would be most likely to travel, and built many small cairns out of stones to identify these places. Then he took his Sabre to the small ridge that separated 9CG from the neighboring valley of P-ZMZV, where Brave had their grandest farmhouse. Many men of Brave were known to come and go from this farmhouse, so it seemed as good a place as any for an ambush. Baculus Orden, Psilocin, Indy, and a few other men of Delta accompanied Ganthrithor to this place, but soon became restless and began to ride this way and that looking for men to fight. Baculus in particular was a man of some notoriety amongst the men of Delta, a man who features prominently in another saga, but that story must be told another time.
A long time passed. Baculus and his men roamed here and there, but found few men to kill. Then, suddenly, one of the Delta scouts cried out across the valley: an Orca belonging to a stranger had been spotted over the next ridge in the valley of NDII-Q, and was headed towards the Deltas. Baculus and his men had been quite restless for some time now and had been drinking quite heavily, but were nonetheless eager to chase after this whale. A single whale of such size was a precious commodity in the region of Querious, and was known to be able to feed an entire village for a winter, and so was of tremendous value. The men jumped atop their steeds and thundered off towards the ridge leading to NDII, arriving with not a moment to spare.
The whale lumbered over the ridge and found itself surrounded by fearsome Deltas. Baculus and Psilocin were sure they were about to land themselves an immense haul. The whale paused for a moment, then attempted to bolt in the direction of P-Z. The men threw their harpoons and everyone was eager for the slaughter to begin. Yet, unbeknownst to the men of Delta, the Orca had many magic spells cast upon it, and as a result of this seiðr the harpoons and lassos of the men of Delta glanced off the whale’s hull and failed to secure it. As the whale bounded off towards P-Z, it’s pilot turned to face the men of Delta and laughed at them and slandered their competence. Baculus and his men were dismayed as they watched their quarry sail off in the direction of the safety of P-Z.
It has previously been mentioned that Ganthrithor was a very bitter veteran and quite fond of interdictors and had been riding one of his trusty Sabres that day. He had witnessed many such sorceries in his time, but he had himself studied many magic spells and was proficient in galdr and knew that no basic witchcraft was a match for his favorite spell, which was the spell of bubbling. He used his wisdom that day, and while the other men of Delta were busy trying to lasso the whale, Ganthrithor had cast his bubbling spell at the cairn he had made near the top of the ridge that led to P-Z. There was a tense moment as Baculus and his men lost sight of the whale, and Ganthrithor called the men over to him and all waited to see whether the whale would resurface. Shortly, the whale appeared again, and it was dragged from its course by these strong magics and, as it landed helplessly far from the entrance to P-Z, Ganthrithor cast his bubble spell again so that the whale was trapped twice-over. The men then set to work stabbing the whale with many harpoons and butchering it. They made quick work of it, carving off many great chunks of Dark Glitter– enough to feed the cynos and jump-drives of W6V for many months. Just as the last of the carcass was being stripped, a fleet of many Cerberi belonging to the same family as the Orca pilot was spotted in the valley from which the whale had come, and the men of Delta quickly made haste from that place, except for Baculus who greatly desired to lose his Ikitursa and fought valiantly against the Cerberi in single-combat, wounding many of them and defending himself well and gaining a great deal of renown for this exploit. The slaying of the whale greatly improved the morale of the men of Delta after a difficult time, and the men were very inspired to procure more fine kills as a result of it.
So ends this saga of the Moonwalker.