((This series begins at the start of the WoD expansion, and covers Landreth's entry into Draenor after his attachment to the Eighth Legion))
Roughly one hundred tons of burning steel slammed into the earth. The impact killed dozens of soldiers outright, and the shockwave radiating outward flung dozens more like toys. As it rolled across the battlefield, the Iron Star's bladed chains tore a swath of destruction though the ranks like the clawed fist of a fiery titan, crushing everything unlucky enough to be in its way. Finally, it punched into a siege engine, ending both in a searing ball of magic-fueled flames. In a matter of seconds, nearly half of Task Force Lima-Bravo -- better known as Lunch Box -- was dead or dying.
The concussion of the blast hit Landreth, lifting his heavily armored frame into the air and sending him sprawling. Dazed and ears ringing, he fought to get his feet. The noise of the battlefield had reduced to a persistent buzz, with other more distant explosions and gunfire being more felt than heard. Someone grabbed him by a pauldron, hauling him to his feet. He tried to focus. It was Lt. Ditmer, an earnest young man, who had tried to make Landreth's re-introduction to the rigors of regular military life a little less difficult for the aging paladin. For the most part, he had succeeded, though Stuart barely had a week in his assignment to the 8th Legion before they were deployed to staunch the Iron Horde vanguard pouring into the Blasted Lands.
Stuart staggered against Lt. Ditmer, who was pointing towards the Dark Portal and yelling something. More tugging. Landreth glanced back in the opposite direction and felt his heart drop. He saw the charred earth left in the wake of the Iron Star, and hundreds of barely recognizable remains. Stuart tried not to notice that the ground in its wake looked like churned-up, rusty mud amid the desert dust and broken bodies. Beyond the destruction, a formation of Iron Horde surged forward to fill the void. It was enough to drive away the haze of horror and goad him to action. Turning back around, he could see the command flag was moving towards the Portal. There must have been a break in the Iron Horde lines ahead. Unfortunately, other Iron Horde lines were swinging around to flank.
"Where's Burke?" yelled Landreth over what he assumed would be the din of the battlefield. Ditmer scowled and pointed at the Iron Star. Part of him wanted to curse Capt. Burke for dying, and leaving him in this situation. Instead a prayer came to mind in the few seconds before the reigns of necessity took over, and Landreth found himself issuing orders. "FORCE Lima-Bravo to me!" he shouted. His shout was picked up and carried down the line as the able-bodied regained their feet. "Shields around the wounded! Fighting retreat to the portal!" They were difficult orders. The wounded would slow the already decimated task force, but he refused to leave them behind. Furthermore, the fragile morale of the troops demanded that he did not. At this point his first goal was to gain the command force and the heroes mustered by Khadgar enough time to do whatever it is the master mage had intended. If Landreth's shredded task force was actually able to get with the Alliance vanguard pushing back through the Portal, all the better. However, the chances were slim and the grim faces all along the lines told Landreth they all knew it. He felt their eyes looking at him, watching to see what he would do.
He hefted his shield, moving closer to the soldier to his left. "Close up these lines and BRACE!" All told, a line of roughly forty shields closed up and lowered with a determined clatter. Behind them, pikemen lowered their weapons just over the tops of the shield wall, creating a bristling line of death for any foolish enough to try to overcome the shield carriers. Three four-man fire teams of gunners took cover behind the wall, except when they were firing. And a lone battlemage kept a vicious hailstorm going that slowed the onslaught of the orcish footmen long enough for the gunners to take down rank after rank. Still further behind them, a handful of healers and light-wielders worked frantically to get what wounded could be saved onto their feet. With agonizing slowness, the roughly four remaining platoons of Task Force 'Lunch Box' retreated towards the Dark Portal.
Landreth started praying.