Fireball projectors were weapons invented by Lady during the Black Company's campaign against the Shadowmaster Longshadow (the final battles of the Shadowmaster wars) in the southern continent. They were also referred to as fireball throwers or simply bamboo poles.
They were created specifically to combat the unique threat posed by the non-corporal shadows. The weapons played a role during Bleak Seasons but featured most prominently in She Is the Darkness. The fireballs discharged from the weapons were embedded with a sorcery which caused them to diverge from their ballistic trajectory and seek out the nearest shadow.
They were used extensively to fight the shadows employed by Longshadow (both before and during the Siege of Overlook); the crows of Soulcatcher; human adversaries; and even to melt fortifications. Originally, the weapons could only be employed to fight shadows, as they were wildly inaccurate unless aimed in the vicinity of a shadow. New cannon-sized models were soon created by the Company engineers Cletus, Longinus, and Loftus. These developments vastly improved the weapons' range and overall firepower, as they could accurately hit targets miles away with devastating incendiary force.
Construction and development Edit
Lady began acquiring vast amounts of bamboo while the Company was headquartered in Taglios. This served a double purpose, as it confounded her enemies as well as providing her with a strong sorcerous weapon in the upcoming fight against Longshadow and the traitor Mogaba, who had recently changed sides after the Siege of Dejagore. The minor wizard One-Eye was responsible for administering the vast armories for Lady, as revealed by Murgen during one of his ghost walks. The charges for each fireball were "spongy colored marbles", which were manufactured by minor wizards from throughout the Taglian territories who had been trained by Lady.
At the height of their usage, these were the standard variations, from smallest to largest:
- Cavalry tubes (fifteen charges each)
- Standard infantry tubes (thirty charges each)
- Long infantry tubes (forty charges each)
- Battery wagons (each had a "bed four feet wide by ten feet long" packed with hundreds of the longest tubes, although the firepower of these was not specified)
She Is the DarknessEdit
- Main article: Battle of Lake Tanji
As they approached Lake Tanji, Company infantrymen used the weapons to kill six shadowweavers. Although Lady would have disapproved of the use of the weapons against human targets, Murgen recorded the following in support of the behavior:
|“||Your average infantryman does not give a rat's ass about the design function of a weapon. He is concerned about staying alive and about getting his job done with the least risk taken. The bamboo doohickeys were meant for combating killer shadows? So fucking what? If using them made taking out nasty little wizards easier, guess what was going to happen?||”|
Without the vast numbers of these weapons they stockpiled, the Company would have been wiped out to a man during the shadow assault at the Battle of Lake Tanji. Instead, millions of shadows were exterminated, and while the Company did suffer fatalities, the number was apparently nominal.
- Main article: Siege of Overlook
Fireball projectors were also used to great effect during the Battle of Charandaprash. Next, they were indispensable during the Siege of Overlook, where they were used to melt parts of Longshadow's castle.
After the Company defeated Longshadow, Cletus, Longinus, and Loftus applied their engineering expertise to create vastly improved models, including a monster cannon twelve feet long with a three-inch bore. This model had an estimated range of 14 miles and was able to burn through fifteen feet of solid stone. Lady worked with them to produce a battery of 26 bamboo cannons, which they used to completely incinerate Soulcatcher's hideout ten miles away.
Sleepy, the Annalist and current leader of the Company, committed many of the few remaining fireball projectors to the kidnapping of Protectorate official Willow Swan. Although the operation was a success, she underestimated the destructive power of the weapons. She was herself almost killed in the fiery carnage as fireballs melted through at least six feet of the stonework of the Palace of Taglios.
Soulcatcher, the Protector herself, was kept at bay in Taglios on several occasions when she attempted to directly confront the Company. In one incident, she fell for a trap laid by Goblin outside the Palace when she stomped on a clay figurine, assuming a shadow was hidden within it. However, fireball projector ammunition was actually inside, and the searing object burned through her feet up to the bone of her ankle. Crippled and unable to heal, she had to design a prosthetic to walk.
Later, Soulcatcher very narrowly avoided being assassinated with a fireball projector used by the defector Khusavir Pete. This occurred immediately after the Company and their Nyueng Bao counterparts passed through the homeworld shadowgate onto the glittering plain to rescue the Captured. Soulcatcher's enhanced reflexes allowed her to jump 10 feet in the air, avoiding the lethal projectile by "a gnat's breath". Pete fired off two more shots from his concealed location before Soulcatcher neutralized him.
The weapons were so versatile that from their inception through the voyage to the Land of Unknown Shadows, the Company continued to both carry and construct more of the weapons. Lady employs a fireball projector during the fight with Lisa Daele Bowalk, albeit unsuccessfully.