The Jaculi come back vocalising frantically from a sweep of the upcoming area, so Identity and Spix head out to have a good look around.
It doesn't take them long to spot what has got the Jaculi so excited. Out in the Plain of Dust, there are over a hundred Flembic troops encamped. No walls this time, no siege weaponry. Many of them are the battered and bloodied troops that got away from the Eastern Hills of Hope, and over half of the rest are the charmingly named unit PD GHG 3rd Guards Brigade "The Sweepings", which don't sound like much of a threat.
It looks like the Flembic have kindly laid out a feast for the poor, starving giant snake monsters.
There must be something more to it. Spix and Identity get closer, and the eidolon moves in closer still, to watch the dynamics of the troops. There are definitely quite a few new ones, and apparently 2nd Caldborn Regulars and Harper's Heroes have 'seen off dirty great snake monsters' before.
Ahh, Flembic overconfidence. Don't you just love it?
The only strategy required is figuring out how to stop them escaping in all directions. You keep the Jaculi back; wouldn't do to scatter the enemy before they're engaged. You put a detachment of monsters with each of the eight Gargantua, and you send them out on an epic flanking manoeuvre. With all of the dire warnings of the survivors ringing in their ears, you don't see them being likely to split up and engage the squadrons separately.
One of you goes with each, apart from Identity, who discorporates briefly and then reappears soaring with the Jaculi.
The pincer movement works perfectly. The Flembic ebb and flow a bit, then decide that they are going to attempt to use the Military Encampment as cover, and carefully move into a nice concentrated space for you. By the time the Gargantua roll in from eight directions at once, beautifully co-ordinated by Identity's aerial perspective, they are thoroughly committed.
A military encampment might be comforting surroundings for an army, but fortified it isn't. The Gargantua trample right over the flimsy fences, and the highly flammable tents inside burn real good once Warrior starts them off.
There are isolated pockets of serious resistance. Two of the Gargantua are mobbed to death in beautifully co-ordinated manoeuvres organised by Major Grey's Dragoons and Millicent's Men, two heavily armoured units of which none live to tell the tale. Three of the Deathscales are ambushed from behind by the 2nd Colonial Red Coats (Colonial Army) and the 3rd Terino Marines 4th Company. They've got the hang of this "not looking at their faces" thing, although the 3rd Terino Marines 4th Company don't live to pass it on. Several giant snake monsters are brought down, the two bowmen of the 3rd Colonial Red Coats (Colonial Army) and one pistol-toting 3rd Terino Marines 4th Company Medic shoot down a number of Jaculi, and some jammy bastards catch a bunch of them resting on their way out and slaughter another batch. And the lone Amun-Sa member of the 2nd Colonial Greens (Colonial Army) cracks Xalvador Ramirez upside the head with a morningstar hard enough to make his ears ring, which does not improve his mood.
Overall, however, the Flembic die, and die, and die, until the Military Encampment is swimming in their blood. It's hard to tell how many the handful of survivors actually were, given the state that Spix and the other monsters are leaving the bodies in, but after Sergeant Rose Helvellyn found a nice vantage point on an assault course platform and picked off anyone who looked like they were getting away with her musket, there couldn't have been many. Marten Stockton is particularly impressive when he takes aim at one of the fleeing Flembics and says a quick prayer to the Jaguar before pulling the trigger; the entire back of his victim's skull just explodes from the impact of the bullet, the body falling lifeless from the collapsed fence it was struggling over.
Another fine day's work for the Hunahpa forces and their friends.
The reinforcements sent to the south of Flambard are unsurprisingly sent only to their deaths, as the enormous tide of every kind of monstrosity the New World has to offer continues to consume the farmland around the Plain of Dust. Giant snakes, lakes of acid, ophidians that shoot lightning from their eyes, mercenaries that shoot gouts of flame from ordinary pistols, myrmidons that spontaneously cause the heads of right-thinking people to explode, these are all part of the fantastic and horrific tales emanating from Flambard's southern reaches.
The survivors of the Eastern Slopes of the Hills of Hope knew it was foolish, right from the start.
When the scouts saw the Jaculi winging overhead, the singletons that remained from proud units like the 1st Terino Volunteers (Colonial Army), the 3rd Terino Marines 1st Company, the 3rd and 4th New Terino Red and Whites (Naval Artillery), the 1st Colonial Red Coats (Colonial Army), the 1st Blue and Reds (Colonial Army), they begged the rest of the army to run.
But the newcomers, Millicent's Men, 3rd Terino Marines 4th Company, 2nd Caldborn Regulars, Harper's Heroes, even the hastily put-together PD GHG 3rd Guards Brigade "The Sweepings", were determined to stand and fight. Maybe they are remembering the time on the Plain of Openness with ten giant snake monsters. The protestations of the survivors that there are now hundreds of the things, some of them the size of a house, and uncountable acid-spitting lizards and singing cobras besides, and a WASP with a FLAMETHROWER, fall on deaf ears.
And as true Flembics, the survivors of the Hills of Hope agree to stand with the new arrivals, against their better judgement and against the all-too-justified fear of the enemy that had defeated them so crushingly even behind the safety of their fortified walls.
The anticipation of the attack was crushing, nerve-wracking, and it went on for so long! Trying out different formations, anxiously checking the skies for the inevitable softening-up run by the Jaculi, fretting over the tiny amount of ranged firepower they had between them. Finally, someone suggests decamping to the Military Encampment, where at least there was space for most of the forces to duck under cover when the Jaculi came. Then yet more arranging of forces when they got there, hampered by no-one really being in charge; every unit wanted its own glory and/or escape routes, no-one on the ground had overall responsibility for the force.
Maybe they wouldn't come. Maybe they would bypass the Flembic army entirely. The newcomers began to get restless. They were, they point out, sent to patrol the area, not to hide under wood and canvas like frightened children. The Hunapha could be cheerfully destroying the entire surrounding area while they were bottled up in this military encampment!
The argument made it quite hard for the lookouts to get a word in edgeways. The Hunapha were here. Not quite hundreds of them, but they still hadn't spotted where that first large flight of Jaculi had got to. They had, however, spotted eight truly gigantic snakes. One was approaching neatly from each of eight evenly spaced avenues, the ground around them writhing with their smaller - but still man-sized - brethren. A co-ordinated attack putting the bickering and posturing of the Flembic soldiery to shame.
Determined to expunge that shame, or die trying, the various forces took up their positions.
Any hope that the walls and fences of the encampment might prove any impediment to the gigantic beasts at the head of the Hunapha formations was quickly dashed, almost as quickly as the fences and gates themselves. Suddenly the sky was full of Jaculi, drenching the encampment in acid, and soon after that a blossoming of flame announced the arrival of the flamethrower, just as the survivors of the Hills of Hope had said.
3rd Terino Marines 4th Company Medic and the last soldier of the 3rd Colonial Red Coats (Colonial Army) credit their escape with their focus on the sky and shooting down the acid-spitting lizards; they were saved from the dance of the singing cobras which transfixed so many of their fellows. Once the Jaculi had cleared for another pass, they realised how futile the battle was, and picked their way determinedly out of the encampment and away from the chaos.
The last survivor of the 2nd Colonial Red Coats (Colonial Army) reports hacking their way through several snake monsters before taking advantage of an excellent opportunity along with the 3rd Terino Marines 4th Company to stab some Singing Cobras in the back; it turns out they're almost as helpless as their victims while they are busy transfixing such a number of troops. She credits her survival, strangely, to one of the undead; what looked like an extremely pale Fidelian paladin in a blue tabard caused her mind to seize up with fear, and she fled from the area as the rest of her unit was slaughtered.
Harper's Heroes rely on their heavy armour to get them out of the fighting. 2nd New Terino Marines (Colonial Navy) proudly admit that they legged it at the first opportunity, although two of them were still downed by musket fire and one by a terrifying single pistol shot: it took the back of his skull straight off, spraying the man next to him with a pink mist of blood and bone fragments and brain. You don't stick around in a lone, unarmed galleass when someone's pointing a loaded Proa at you, they opine. Indeed, along with Harper's Heroes they have already redeemed their cowardice slightly: on the way from the battlefield, they came across a group of grounded Jaculi resting their wings, and slaughtered a good few of the beautiful yet deadly creatures.
2nd Colonial Greens (Colonial Army) have a lot of giant snake monster kills to report, and claim that they saw Major Grey's Dragoons and Millicent's Men organising The Sweepings to mob and pull down one of the gigantic house-sized snake monsters. Apparently they left their Amun-Sa comrade behind when he picked a fight with one of the mercenaries, a small swarthy lad. Looked as though the Amusar might even have been winning.
Apart from a handful of PD GHG 3rd Guards Brigade "The Sweepings", that's all that makes it out: one 3rd Terino Marines 4th Company Medic, one of the 3rd Colonial Red Coats (Colonial Army), one of the 2nd Colonial Red Coats (Colonial Army), the three Harper's Heroes, four of the 2nd New Terino Marines (Colonial Navy) and three of the 2nd Colonial Greens (Colonial Army).
It looks like the Hunahpa no longer need the backing of the massive army of angels they had at Jamestown to come through and kill everything.
The fine Flembic reinforcements that were meant for the army on the Eastern Slopes of the Hills of Hope are slaughtered on the Plain of Dust, attempting to take refuge in the Military Encampment there. A massive wave of monstrous creatures, calling themselves "The Price of Flambard's Pride" and "The Scorn of Bendal-Dolum", with a sprinkling of human mercenaries and supposedly also myrmidons and the undead, flood the area with blood, chaos and death.