Omar Mukhtar sat on the captain's chair of the Hud Hud, staring at the mercenary on the deck. V was sleeved as a man today, a lanky, cruel-eyed Hafza in full regalia.
"Low casualties. Successful extraction. And you even secured us a landing pad on the way," said Omar. His accent was drifting now, more like the Amriki spacers he spent so much time with than the Algerian he had been modeled after. "A sterling success, V. Might I know why it was necessary?"
"Can't say, sir," replied V.
"Might I know who ordered it?"
"I can do you one better," said V, pulling the false cube out of their neck and handing it over, "I copied everything the Tax Office sent me down there for."
The Muhafiz. Interesting, Haqqislam's own IRS was its only non-Hassassin intelligence agency, and often bothered itself with more mundane matters than the mighty Hassassins. "I appreciate the trust," said Omar.
"When you got me this job, you said no secret squirrel shit and dumbass double crosses."
"Those weren't my exact words."
"The point is, you bought loyalty. And if your bosses are doing something that's gonna put us both at risk, I figure we both oughta be in on it."
Two hours earlier, V lead a fireteam into the depths of occupied Rhodan, sneaking about the cargo warehouses and transmission towers that O-12 was meant to be defending. It was quiet, but not empty. Which was a problem, as the Tunguskan wetworks team that had arrived first didn't seem keen on sharing the hard drive they were both looking for.
"Mornin', gents," called V over the comms, "No chance you've reconsidered my offer? I guarantee you, my shuttle is going to be a lot angrier than yours."
"This drive is Tunguskan property," came the crackling response, "You're free to purchase it after we've completed extraction. This is your final warning."
"Well, be that as it may-" started V before their headpiece crackled, glowed red hot for a moment, and died. They stared at it between their fingers for a long, disappointed moment before turning to their team. "Alright kids! We've got incoming. Look alive!"
The team scrambled. Their pointman, a brutish Azra'il named Sarah, stepped out from behind a wall with her feuerbach raised while near-everyone else hit the deck. A trio of Al Hawwa and an Omn mercenary disappeared into the environment, while other soldiers just hit the deck.
Not fast enough, in some cases. Safeer, their sniper, dropped in an exchange of gunfire and they could all hear the tell-tale hum of repeater nets snapping into position.
"Hud Hud, requesting backup immediately! I've got a Tunguskan kill-team on my ass!" bellowed V into the comms. Sniper rounds and feuerbach shells tore through the scenery, comprehensively outranging their team. They needed a distraction.
Fortunately, they got one.
Three streaks of flame lit up the sky. A squadron of Yuan Yuans, remote-cubed to the Hud Hud's central computer and loaded for bear. He didn't see where they landed, but the gunfire pinning his team down broke as the Tunguskans wheeled to face their new attackers.
"Sarah, shred 'em!" called V.
Sarah broke out into a brutal laugh, letting loose with her Feuerbach. Across the field, a surprised securitate tried to wheel around his own heavy weapon.
But too late. The man was ripped apart. Over the radio, one Yuan Yuan bellowed a joyous kill-confirm. On the flank, their Omn flatlined, but one of the servers had started transmitting. In the center, Khalid lead his team through Sarah's gunfight, getting them close enough for their medic to reactivate the transmission beacon.
They were, winning. The snipers had them properly pinned, but they were winning.
Sarah had been enjoying herself. She'd shredded one of the Zellenkrieger, a combat drone, and another Securitate, and now was merrily stalking towards the enemy's hacker net. V screwed their eyes shut in annoyance, strode forwards, and grabbed her by the shoulder.
The helmet hid her expression as she glared, but V imagined it was murderous.
"Their hacker's back up!" he yelled, "Step back. Nidal has it from here."
"Spoilsport," thundered Sarah. But, reluctantly, she stepped back into cover. Content to watch the beacon for any last minute fuckery.
Nidal was one of the team's Hawwa'. A hacker with a mean streak, none of the skill of Hassassin Barids, but he made up for it with sheer viciousness and a tendency to remember his firearms. His camo-cloak shimmered as he darted through a Grenzer's line of sight, but it held. Let him slide into place beside the second server and a pair of unidentified contacts.
He threw the cloak off, making a show of scanning a particularly shadowy chunk of transmission room. Behind him, a second Interventor revealed himself, kill-programs loaded.
Within moments, an Interventor and Heckler were down, while Nidal was desperately trying to reset his comms gear.
V waited a moment, genuinely impressed with the Hacker's bald-faced refusal to use his hacking device, and radioed the Tunguskan leader. It took a few moments, but with half her force wounded or worse, she was more than willing to let V copy the data.
I was playing B-Pong with a local friend, Damon, and realized too late that I hadn't packed enough terrain. As Damon was playing a long-range, area-control heavy Tunguska list and I was playing a mid-range camo-hacker heavy QK list, I was fairly worried about that.
Damon's Grenzer haris killed my Djan sniper, he pushed the beacon 2" to my side, set up a punch of Fastpandas, put a Heckler and Zellenkrieger onto one objective, and hid his Interventors and Hecklers in Impersonation and Camo, respectively. Then he jumped a Zond onto the board but it didn't manage to do much.
In response, I jumped 3 Yuan Yuans onto the board. One killed the Interventor and splashed two link members who both passed their armor saves and killed her in a hail of return fire. The other jumped a Grenzer, who passed armor saves until a Zellenkrieger jumped into melee with him. The last failed his jump role and became a Smoke Caddy.
My Beasthunter (Who I always use an Omn for) went left. He cleared a Zell off the objective with a flamethrower burst, forced a Heckler to reveal, and touched the objective. There was a sniper ARO here my opponent missed, but that only saved the Hunter until the start of Tunguska's turn two.
With everything disrupted or suppressed, my Azzie entered a surprisingly fair fight with his Securitate core link, killing one. My Sekban stood up and ran his haris for the Beacon, killing the Heckler on the left objective and the Zond, plus delivering the doctor to the beacon to push it onto Damon's side of the field.
Turn Two: Damon had his surviving Zell kill the Yuan Yuan in melee, dropped by Beasthunter, and revived his interventor with a medikit. However, he was in Loss of Lieutenant, and so didn't accomplish any aggression besides positioning a cloaked Heckler near my fireteam. He tried to get his Zellenkrieger into a more aggressive position, but had to dodge incoming fire from the Azzie and died.
On my turn two, my trusty Hawwa killer hacker pushed up to his Impersonated Interventor killer hacker and heckler, declared discover against the Heckler, and put both shotgun templates into the interventor. Miraculously, he survived this (though the Interventor wasn't so lucky), and he promptly pasted the Heckler but got Jammed for his trouble. This stopped him from walking into the repeater net to fight the remaining Interventor, and meant he did all his killing this game with a shotgun.
At this point we called it: With my Hawwa controlling a console, I was now up 4-1 (He'd scored a classified by rezzing the Interventor) and Damon didn't have much of a way to contest me. I likely would've ended the game 5 or 6-1, as he was low on orders and specialists.