A New Hope?
A New Hope?

Sky H Ainsworth

Bacca hobbled around the keep and went to the stables. Grabbing an already saddled Chocobo, Bacca hoped on and rode it out of the keep, down the road, and to the pass.
Nearing the place, Bacca saw that the Dark Lord had already ordered a few human units to attend to the carnage left behind the battle. Funeral pyres were scattered about, the bodies of the dead being thrown into them. Piles of weapons, armor, and clothes lay about.
"Yes, we will need that in the time to come," Bacca said under his breath. Louder, to be heard by the officer in charge, "What news?"
As the officer turned to face the rider, he recognized Bacca and smiled. Saluting, the soldier spoke. "Well, sir, the moogles were approaching the pass a while ago, but when the dust cloud appeared, they retreated. We sent a scout out to see who they were and he should return shortly."
"Very good," said Bacca.
Looking about, he saw familiar land marks. Bacca took special notice of a place where several orc bodies lay. He shuddered at the thought and as his eyes closed, the shadows charged him. Bacca snapped his eyes open.
Bacca gripped the reins tighter on his chocobo, making the animal take a step back. The warrior looked around and hoped that none of the soldiers saw him.
A moment later, a man on chocobo raced down the pass. He approached his superior officer and both approached Bacca.
Bacca had dismounted and inspected some of the weapon and armor piles for reuse.
The scout and Bacca saluted. "Report."
The scout was panting. "Sir. As ordered, I left the pass and rode to the dust cloud rising off in the distance. On my way over, I noticed the moogle army retreating off in the distance. When I approached the other approaching army, I saw that they were human. I could not recognize their banners, but when I got closer, I saw that all of them looked alike."
The soldier paused and took a deep breath. "Some of their vanguard cut off my escape and I surrendered without a struggle. I was brought before the army commander and he said that he was coming to meet you, sir." The soldier indicated Bacca.
"Excellent," said Bacca. "That is the army of Lance Henriksens given to me by Spacecat. They will prove a great help, and relief. Continue."
"I told the commander what I was doing and that you were in charge and he let me go. He then said to let you know that his army should be at the pass within the hour."
"Excellent," said Bacca with a smile. "Thank you." Bacca turned to go, but stopped and faced the scout again. "One thing though, you let yourself get captured. That was not wise. What is the purpose of sending out a scout?"
The soldier responded immediately. "To search the area and report back what he finds."
"And would the scout do that if he was captured or killed?"
"No, sir."
"Remember that. A scout has three responsibilities: to not get caught, to see all he can see, and to not be detected by the enemy. The first two are most important." Bacca then turned and faced the officer. "And you remember that the next time you send out a scout."
"Yes, sir," answered the officer.
"When that army gets here, tell the commander to march to the keep and that he, his staff, and higher officials are to come to the keep as soon as possible."
Bacca mounted the chocobo and returned to the keep.

An hour later, ten riders approached the keep. Bacca waited before the keep for them.
Rearing up, the men dismounted. All wore the same uniform, their ranks denoted by shoulder markings. All wore soft, cloth caps.
Bacca then realized that there was a problem with his army. All the men looked the same. There were differences about each man's face and some difference in height and body shape, but their features were all the same.
One man stepped forward and saluted.
"I am Commander Henriksen," said the man.
"I am Bacca, High Lord of All That Kicks Ass. It is good that you have arrived."
Both men smiled and shook hands.
"How was your journey?" asked Bacca.
"Mostly uneventful," replied Henriksen. "Although we passed the carnage left behind by the moogles. The pass to this ravine especially shocked us. That must have been quite a battle, sir."
"You do not know the half of it," said Bacca. "We lost many men in that battle, but were lucky enough to save some of them.
"Commander, I have reviewed the information given me about your army and must say that I am impressed. You are all well trained and equipped. You also have all the essentials in units and leadership."
"Thank you, sir," said the Commander.
"However, your army has never been in combat, your officers and
soldiers are untested and have never tasted battle," said Bacca, his tone
and manner were very serious. "Because of this, and it being a new army
under a new commander, I am uncertain of how they will behave.
"So, I am ordering two things of you right now. First, set up camp
along this section of wall on the keep." Bacca pulled out a piece of paper
with a diagram of the keep drawn on it. He indicated the side where Dark
Lord Eric had built a new wall. "You will camp outside the wall and dig a
defensive trench around your army. Once you are settled and have your camp
set up, get your engineers together and complete building the wall that
the previous owner of this keep had erected. Also, send a regiment to the
pass and establish a defense there. Set up pickets and scouts. As soon as
an enemy is spotted, report back to me.
"Secondly, I am going to replace all your sergeants with
experienced men from this keep."
"Sir?!" responded the commander.
"I know, I know," said Bacca, "this is not a recommended course of
action for a commander of an army, but you need experienced men in the key
places to make sure the troops do not crack under the pressure that the
moogles will be putting us under. Also, they will tell the troops about me
and my exploits. I am not one to brag about myself, but these troops know
what I have done and have come to hold me in very high esteem. It is my
feeling that this will help in their morale and respect of me.
"Yes, sir," replied the commander. He did not look happy about it
all, but accepted Bacca's wisdom.
"One last thing," said Bacca. "Since we are having such a hard
time fighting the moogles, I am instigating a new training program. All
soldiers are going to spend four hours a day in weapons practice. This
should help us in these massive attacks the moogles launch at us.
"By the way, how long will your provisions last?"
"We have enough food on our wagons for a few weeks," said the
"Good. Commander, I know that together we will do a great job and
that the two of us will come to respect each other very much so. I promise
not to abandon you or your men, no matter what happens. I also promise you
that you will never suffer defeat under my command. If your men hold and
obey my commands, they will not be destroyed. We may have to retreat from
a battle, but you will never be routed if your men obey me."
"Yes, sir."
"Dismiss your men," said Bacca. "I want to discuss with you a plan
for a new wall I want to add to this keep."
Bacca and the commander walked into the keep and talked while the
army of Lance Henriksens marched to the keep.