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“That be jes’ perfect.” He grumbled to himself under his breath.  Dropping the useless ammo chain he launched himself at his nearest attacker.

The wall collapsed under the impact from his steam powered armor as Orin drove the Wendigo into it.  His gauntleted fist cannoned into it, boosted by the servos in his armor.  Orin was strong enough to break trees with his fists; with the extra power from the servo-assist he could crack boulders.  He hammered at the Wendigo faceplate, knowing he had to take one of them down fast.  A crack appeared in the seam where two of the armored plates met, and Orin focused the brunt of his assault there.  The Wendigo tried unsuccessfully to block Orin’s attack as another energy blast exploded against the wall behind them, peppering them both with concrete shrapnel.  Orin jammed the barrel of his steam jet into the crack he had managed to open in the Wendigo and triggered the weapon.  The elven warrior screamed as he was cooked alive inside the shell of his armor.  The Wendigo bucked and kicked, flinging Orin off just as the Corsair came in firing.  Energy slugs slammed into the Wendigo where Orin had straddled it just moments before.  As the metal turned to slag under the magical energy, the screams from inside it stopped.

The ‘low water’ alarm bell sounded in Orin’s armor, nearly deafening him.  He must have pinched a coolant line or sprung a leak somewhere.  His boiler-pack had dropped into the reserve tanks.  That left him without his steam jet or his chain-gun.  Picking up a chunk of the rubble that was strewn about, he flung it at the faceplate of the elven Corsair.  The elf inside knew the projectile couldn’t hurt him through his suit, but it is reflex to flinch when something is thrown at your face.  The Corsair jerked to the side, and Orin charged into it, making the fight close-quarters where he would at least have a chance.  Or so he thought.

As his first punch connected, lightening flared.  All of his display bulbs exploded at once as electricity shot through his suit.  Glass shrapnel stung his face and blood mixed with the sweat running down his cheek.  The discharge had flung he sideways and he had landed facedown with his back to the Corsair.  Blinking away the dirt and sweat, he tried to roll over.  Everything seemed so sluggish.

With a creak and a groan the armor finally passed the pivot point where the weight he had been pushing against was now pulling him along.  He flopped over with a clang.  Rain poured into his open faceplate from a missing section in the roof and Orin began to laugh uncontrollably.  All this jes’ ta drown.  He continued trying to sit up even though he knew there was no way he would have time to do anything.  Any moment the Corsair was going to end his life.  But the end didn’t come.

Orin clambered to his feet to find the Corsair aiming it’s deadly Energy Slug Gauntlets at him.  It stood, unmoving, surrounded by a white nimbus of light.  The light grew brighter and Orin became aware of the sound of metal groaning under pressure.  Suddenly the Corsair armor collapsed in on itself with the sound of tortured metal.  The light vanished leaving nothing but a twisted smoldering hull leaking blood all over the floor.  The elven pilot never even had the chance to scream.

At first Orin just stood there, not quite sure what had happened.  Then the elven ‘scout’ he had seen earlier stepped out from behind the Corsair’s remains.  The white nimbus glow was fading from his hands and he looked as haggard as Orin felt.  It took Orin a moment to realize the elf was speaking to him.  He had heard the elven language before, but he couldn’t understand what the elf was saying.  It was just meaningless jabber, and he said as much.

“I am sorry. My common speech is very rusty.  I said; are you alright?”

“Wha..? Yes.” Orin stuttered.  He had been saved by an elf!

“I think that group had been sent to intercept me.  They just found you by accident.”

“Who are ye?”

“I am a friend to those that oppose the present Elven Regime.  That is all I can say for now. If we…” Their conversation was interrupted by the pop of gunfire.  Blood exploded from the elf’s shoulder and several red flowers blossomed across his chest.  The elf jerked like a marionette with its strings tangled and then fell in a heap at Orin’s feet.

“Hold yer fire!” Orin bellowed as a dwarven musketeer dropped through the missing section of roof.  Two more came through the openings behind him.

“Sir! I’ll have to ask you to power down your armor.”  The musketeer that spoke aimed his rifle at the open faceplate to emphasize his request.

“Wha? Are ya outta yer bloody skull?”

“You were found talking with the enemy, Sir.  I have to place you under arrest.”

“We ort ta jes’ kill’em.” One of the other two said.

“No.  We’ll take him back to Crank.  Let him decide what to do.” All three of the musketeers were glaring daggers at Orin.  He knew there was no use in talking.  They weren’t listening.

“I know ye don’t believe me, but I be innocent o’ any wrong doin’.” Orin powered his boiler pack down.  Two of the dwarves helped him out of it, while the third held a rifle on him at all times.  “That elf jes’ saved me life.  An’ he was about ta tell me why when ye plugged him.”

“I don’t care, soldier.  You can tell it to Crank.”

“At least bring th’ body.  It’ll help prove me story out.”

“We don’t have the time to lug a dead elf back to HQ.”

“Then bring ‘is stuff!” Orin despaired, thinking the musketeers were going to reject even that suggestion, but the leader finally nodded in agreement.

“Sam, you collect that elf’s belongings.  I’ll watch the prisoner.  Jeb, you walk the armor back.  Think you can handle it?”

“As long as I don’t hafta do nuthin’ but walk.” Jeb nodded.

“Let’s get to it then.  We have a good ways to go.”

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