The Catapult

 

Added here:  17 October 2014

Updated:  22 December 2014

 

23 September 2014
Deso-held Hills Keep, Gandara Borderlands



"I love this time of day," says The Ranger to his dog. He sighs happily as they both sit atop the inner wall. Of course, it would be even better were I not alone here, he thinks, as he gazes out at the predawn darkness. But the usual Deso Night Team isn't around today, so we're trying to cover all four maps with a skeleton crew. But then, we're already so far ahead on score this week that we're virtually untouchable -- so who cares about defending an enemy's paper, zero-supply keep on their home borderland?

The Ranger chuckles and ruffles his dog's fur. "We care, Ruff! That's who!" The dog has no idea what Master is on about, but he wags his tail and gives an enthusiastic bark anyway. But then suddenly, the dog is on his feet, still, eyes wide, nose twitching. He gives a soft growl.

The Ranger perceived nothing, but he's smart enough to trust his dog. He narrows his eyes, strains his ears. Then he hears it. "Cata spot," he says as he regains his feet and moves out.

He finds the wall already at 80% and sighs at himself for not paying attention and catching it sooner. He alights upon the battlement and looks down ... one catapult ... one Gandaran ... a guardian. The Ranger nocks an arrow and lets it fly.

Eight minutes later, the catapult is destroyed, the Gandaran guardian is in retreat and the wall is at 60%. That little summary makes it seem like it was easy, but it was certainly not. The Gandaran had put up a good scrap -- buffing and healing himself, throwing up a siege shield, which had proven especially inconvenient on the occasions where he'd perfectly timed it to the Ranger's point-blank shot, beautifully avoiding the knockback and consequent loss of tempo on his cat-firing.

"Whew," sighs the Ranger, panting and wiping sweat from his forehead. He smiles at his dog. "Think he'll be back?"

The dog doesn't answer. He'll be back, for sure, the Ranger thinks. But not right away. He's going to do something else for a bit, let some time pass, lull me into thinking he's gone for good. Then he'll try again.

The Ranger knows this for certain, but not how he knows it. Call it what you will -- battlefield intuition, gut feeling, shining, extrasensoryfargingperception -- doesn't matter. It's only important that he knows it. And with that knowledge, the Action Plan forms.

He strikes out toward the northeastern camp, grabs supply and hurries back to Gandara's Hills. Twice. He doesn't repair the wall. Instead, he constructs an arrow cart on the wall above the cata spot, as far back as he can position it.

And then he waits. Out of sight.

Seven minutes later, he hears the hammering. He remains where he is.

The hammering stops. He peeks over the wall. A catapult build site, 30% finished. He hides again.

Again he hears the hammering and the pause. When it stops for the 2nd time, the catapult is 60% ready. Now he mans the arrow cart and fires. He keeps firing until the build site is down to 40% -- all while his enemy is away. He ceases fire and hides.

The Gandaran returns. Stops. Stares at the catapult under construction. Puzzles. The Ranger silently chuckles to himself. The Gandaran frowns, then shakes his head as if to clear it. And bends down to continue building the catapult. The Ranger waits until his enemy expends supply, leaves and runs back to the camp for more.

As soon as he's gone, the Ranger again mans the arrow cart. Now he chuckles out loud. This is way too much fun! he thinks. Why destroy his siege when I can just whittle it down a bit while he's away? Make him keep coming back and waste his time? Have him think it should be further built than it is but maybe he was mistaken and it wasn't as far as he thought so he'd better just go back for more supply and continue to build? Hah! Keep pouring supply into something that, for some odd reason, never actually gets finished? Haha! I wonder how many more times I can make him do this before he figures it out! The Ranger laughs at his own joke and takes the arrow cart's lanyard in hand, prepares to pull and send the next rain of arrows onto the catapult build while the Gandaran guardian is away.

And pauses.

The smile fades. Mouth remains open. Eyes take on a faraway look.

 

Why am I doing this?

Uhm ... he's the enemy, remember? He's trying to attack a keep that you are defending. Does this require some kind of "explanation"?

Yes, but ... he's not a quitter.

So?

Gandara is so far behind Deso on points that they'll never make it up. He can't win. Yet he keeps trying. All by himself. Again and again. Despite a hopeless situation. He can't take this keep with me here ... he won't even break the wall ... he won't even get his cat built. And yet ... he tries.

How is this a problem?

It's a problem because right here, right now, in this moment ... I don't feel proud of what I'm doing.

Your pride is not the issue. Winning is.

We've already won. There is no glory in this. He stubbornly continues, works against impossible odds and does not falter. Never says "die". Works to take back that which, by all rights, should be his, that which Deso took from him. Does only that which he should do. And I sit up here in comfort and dash his hopes with the barest lift of a finger.

Isn't that the idea? Dashing the hopes of the enemy?

If this guardian were a Seafarer's Rat, I would not hesitate to fuck with him. And I would feel good about it, because those who are not honorable deserve no honorable treatment. But this is not a Rat. This is a Gandaran. And right here, right now, he displays a quality that shames me.

The rapid beat of footsteps from below interrupts the Ranger's
reverie. He sighs. And in that moment, he does that which he's never done before, something he swore a holy oath to himself that he'd never do.

He comes forward, stands on the edge of the wall and looks down into the eyes of his enemy.

And then he raises his hand, palm outward, in the universal sign of
parley.

 
This is treason!

Then it is knightly, too.

The Gandaran looks up at the wall. Chuckles. "I see you camping up there!"

The Ranger gives a short smile. Then speaks, with noticeable pauses between sentences...

"Greetings.

"I don't have the heart to destroy your cat.

"You're working so hard.

"All by yourself.

"You deserve it.

"I'm leaving the tower now.

"Good hunting."

Without waiting for a response, the Ranger steps away from the edge of the wall and focuses on the Asuran waypoint in Deso's staging area. A moment later, he and his dog are no longer in the keep.