Old Scars at Okolnir


At Okolnir...

Blue. Limitless blue. Salt coursed on the northerly wind off the Aegir Ocean, folded into the gentle decay of the waterfront below. Waves lapped against the seafaring vessel hulls, against the legs of the pier, against buoys and lost crates and the dead bodies of Crazy Creatures, limbs swaying in the waves all splayed out like dead harvestmen.
Neil let a stack of supply boxes drop to the grating. “QAZ.”
“Aye, right,” Saoirse said. “Crazy.”
“No, no, like the letters, ken?” he said, swiping his blond curls back with his gauntlet. “Quantum Animal something.”
“Quantum Anomaly Zone,” Nora chirped from behind him, finally tying off the bandage around Fionnlagh’s forearm. The short, burly Forty-Fiver thanked her, rolling his shoulder before plucking his chain rifle from the ground where he’d left it.
“Quebec Alpha Zulu.” Neil pointed at his sister. “That.”
Firmly leaned against the pier railing, claymore braced on her shoulder, Saoirse pulled a face. “Kinda like ‘Crazy’ instead. Sounds loads better.”
Fionnlagh knelt down to brush some real, live Concilium Prima moss with his fingers. “Agreed.”
“Don’t act like this is your first time offworld, Fionnlagh O’Cassidei,” Saoirse said. “I thought you and Dunne and Hodges ran with StarCo for a spell?”
He hitched a bushy brow. “Always make time to pet the moss. Otherwise, why live?”
“Missed your wisdom,” Nora said, reloading her MediKit. She placed the medical gun back into her bag, and slung it around her shoulder. “Alastair’s likely waiting.”
“On us?” Saoirse asked, toeing the moss with her boot. Reluctantly, she pried herself from the pier railing, back aching. Emergency rations and medical supplies didn’t haul themselves, even if it was PanOs and other galactics that needed it. Not like Rodina had asked when it’d come calling for support—voluntold was the word, ken like.
She scanned the sky and tried to guess what direction Dawn was in, but by the time she was ready to guess, the others were already moving. Hitching her claymore back into its sheath and praying they didn’t run into any more loose Crazy Creatures, Saoirse gave chase.
The crowd watching them dispatch the monstrosities had already cleared out, so the walking was easy. What wasn’t easy was weathering the severe looks half the galactics shot when they passed—something like, you got your own planet, why don’t you go back there? And the rest, well, they already loved them, and something about that admiration felt more patronizing than admiring.
Ahead, a plaza. Wide open. Utilitarian. No grass.
By means of a pedway (galactics loved to automate things didn’t need automating, like walking), Alastair clanked their way, loaded to the gills with Teseum. But down the way, a commotion stalled his step. A crowd. They seemed very anxious, or very scared, and as the warm bodies parted so strode a man in ALEPH armor.
Pale. Tall. Nice hair. Neat beard. One sniff gave him up as an Lhost, blood too clean to be an original human. Purple periphery glowed all over his shite, top to bottom, and he had a big shield with a horse on it like that meant fuck-all.
Hector of the Homeridae.
Mid-stride, Hector paused. His perfect purple eyes fell on Saoirse and Fionnlagh, and his perfect pale face screwed up for a bare fraction of a second. Chagrin writ large, the big galactic supremo gave them a wide berth, eyes glued to his path along the way.
Fionnlagh smiled. “Hello! Hector! Good to see you!”
The Recreation didn’t acknowledge him. Flanked by a trio of Very Important Galactics, he slipped back into the crowd and disappeared.
Alastair caught up to them. “What just happened? That was Hector, right? The guy from Myrmidon Wars?”
“I’ll tell ye what happened,” Neil said. “He’s still mad.”
Saoirse nodded. “Fuming.”
“Mad?” Alastair said, eyes wide behind his goggles. “Why would he be mad?”
“I’d be mad,” Neil said.
Nora pursed her lips, and let out a sigh. “I’d be mad too, honestly.”
Alastair chuckled. “There’s a story here. Saoirse, what happened?”
“Not mine, or it’d be boring,” Saoirse said. “Best to hear it from the man himself.”
Fionnlagh cracked his knuckles. Grinning beneath his braided beard, he held out both hands as if to mime drawing his claymore, and said, “It started like this…”

Looting and Sabotage in Okolnir

Standard shop terrain, so not exactly uncharted territory here.

This Monday, I met up with a friend, Erenion, to play a round of Shattergrounds! Since it seemed like Okolnir needed protection, and nobody ever wants to play Looting and Sabotage versus Caledonia (I wonder why), I offered up and he accepted. The table was pretty standard, and decisions were made for me when I drew Net Undermine as my Classified and then won the Initiative roll 6 to 20. I chose to go first, and started setting up...

Standard setup--the Core, guarded by a Cateran, and Wallace, guarded by a Cateran. The 45th are living mines, ready to intercept Andromeda, and I've counter-deployed the best Guard spot on the table by throwing my SAS up top to sit and chill. If someone does come down the middle, he'll take a chain rifle from on high, but until then it's good to sit and wait. Denma (Saoirse) sits behind the console, guarding the way up to Wallace.

My opponent deploys very conservatively with one hidden deployment, placing his Thyreos up on top of the midfield buildings to minelay down below. I get the sense that they're baiting a response, but, well, bait is delicious? for a reason? His sole link is a Haris of Pandora (with the MediKit), a Hoplite HMG, and Hector with Plasma Rifle.

So, that's scary stuff. TI versus Ariadna in this list is rough--especially because I've brought the T2 Boarding Shotgun and two T2 Snipers and more than likely I'm going to be fighting him with Denma, so his AP+DA mitts are gonna count for nawt.

Denma, by the way, is insane. I rolled a 20 for his MetaChemistry, so he was PH17 for this game and it ABSOLUTELY mattered. Totally bonkers! I can't imagine going without him after this--just a total workhorse of a unit, practically a second McMurrough for 1/3rd of the points.

Speaking of McMurrough, I hold him and Uxia. When it comes time to drop her in, I do, and... roll a 19.

So she goes back. I set her out as bait, smoke fodder to get McMurrough out of deployment, knowing she's all but useless, but her D-Charges and fancy miniature might invite a response.

My McMurrough is being played by Gordon, the MacArthur Dog-Warrior, today.

Erenion immediately counters with Andromeda. This is _not_ where I thought she'd go, and is honestly great. It's going to cost me orders to dislodge her, and if Uxia goes, the obvious HD Agema is going to erase her (and maybe wing McMurrough) with a missile.


So, knowing that there's HD on the board, I... run everyone forward except for McMurrough.

No AROs. Denma rockets ahead; a Forty-Fiver takes his place guarding the AC2. I may or may not have made race car noises as Denma goes 6-2 and dodges 4 inches on a 17. Vroom vroom.

DENMA IN THE 90s :aggressive eurodance:

Next: dealing with Andromeda. This is why we brought guns--turns out, they're not just useless, heavier chain rifles! I sneak up in Camo, waiting for the HD reveal, and... it doesn't come.

doooon't be suspiciouuuus, doooooooon't be suspicious....

Andromeda is, uh. Look at her facing.

I didn't know that coming up. My opponent meant that, though? So... the Scots Guard shoots her in the back with their Molotok and she dies.

Downside: The Scots Guard is below one of the Thyreos. But it fails Dodge, so, moot point. Since it's not up, and I cannot continue killing, the Scots Guard goes into Suppression on a strong corner in order to pin Hector's link down and force him to walk the long way around... to get into the Caterans' scopes.

Or like, he could shoot me, but, uh. Please don't?

plink plink

I'm wary of a reprisal from the Thyreos, or whatever HD might be waiting. I do a quick inventory of CCWs on the board and realize Hector is the only one packing Anti-Materiel, so--Denma needs to get out of his way to make this harder on him. Luckily, his PH is yoked, so he dodges up a ladder and goes prone atop a building, Svalarheima-style.

hidey hidey

Next is baiting out this Hidden Deployment, somehow. I don't have a lot of options and I don't want to spend Group 2 orders, not with what could go down when something reveals. So, I haul Cailean out and on top of the nearby building and square off with the Lamedh Rebot at... 34 inches.


Cailean gets flash pulsed. Stunned, he fails Guts and goes back to his starting position. This is _not_ like the simulations at all.

Isobel, Cailean, Nora, and Neil

So... looks like I'm going to have to reveal Camo if I want to spend orders this game.

Acceptable! Let's see how utterly brazen we can be to get this HD to appear.

My first Cateran, Pellehan, makes his appearance and takes on the Lamedh. With all his mods, the Lamedh is near to missing without rolling, and chooses to dodge--straight into Pellehan's waiting T2 round. One bad roll, done. Sadly, a devastating loss for Limited Insertion, but he maybe he shouldn't have been so rude to my friend over there?

I say "MAN I HOPE NOTHIN BAD HAPPENS" and Recamo right out in the open. It provokes the exact response I was hoping for--and an Agema Marksman arrives to shoot Pell with a missile launcher.

I say "MAN I HOPE NOTHIN BAD HAPPENS" and Recamo right out in the open. It provokes the exact response I was hoping for--and an Agema Marksman arrives to shoot Pell with a missile launcher.

And he rolls a 14.

Cover--can you see the tiny, tiny little bit of me in cover there?--is all that saves Pell from instant, fiery annihilation by a stock art of a missile sent direct from Mother Nature herself.

Luckily, I have a bet to hedge--a _second_ Cateran (how original!). If I move, I can get LoF on the Agema, and I burn William Wallace's special Lieutenant order on a Co-ordinated Order, moving Uxia forward too just in case something--

Atalanta reveals herself.

She can see Uxia. And McMurrough. She was the dynamite on the end of the fishhook of Andromeda, waiting to snap up Uxia if she tried to drop smoke for McMurrough. And, unfortunately, she can see the second Cateran. The Agema can see the second Cateran now, too. And both of them choose to hold ARO.

It's at this point that I guess I have like one of those transcendent moments where I can see the wheel of the universe that I'm perpetually lashed to and the source of all suffering boiled into a mathematical formula or something, because I activate like an Infinity sleeper agent and know for a fact that if he held he can't ARO my other units in this order, and the only way he can get my 2nd Cateran is if that 2nd Cateran shoots. Rather than trade and not have a bead on Atalanta... I move again, back to my old position.


Right now, I wish so badly that I didn't have a 3rd Highlander HMG stunned in my deployment right now. That's the tool to dislodge Atlanta and save Uxia--but right now, I don't have that tool. I need to go big, or accept that Hector is going to get out of deployment, meet me in the midfield, and remove my army from Okolnir in a wave of Plasma.

My only tool is my 2nd Cateran. They square with Atalanta, and shoot.

Atalanta is on 18s; I'm on 12s. My bonus die puts me roughly on 15s. I just have to hope she doesn't--

Atalanta rolls a 15.

But I roll a 12.

Atalanta rolls a 14 and an 18 for Armor, and chooses to fail Guts and drop prone.

Pell squares with the Agema, now that the coast is clear--and rolls a second 12.

This time, Erenion doesn't roll double-digits, and the Agema goes down hard.

choo choo

And that's where I realize that both of the Hidden Deployment are done for. The board is mine. There isn't enough space in the army to have another model, not with Steel Phalanx's bloated costs. It's just me, the midfield Thyreos, and Hector's link stuck behind a box in deployment.

I just really like this shot.

Uxia slips on her trainers, gets in a runner's stance, and hauls ass down the board. Four orders means 32 inches of movement, and with her on the literal edge of deployment and Atalanta on the edge of Erenion's, it means I'll hit B2B with the very last order. Win or lose, do or die, I have a D-charge with her name on it and I'm bringing it home.

Luckily, Hector is peeking the corner, but doesn't spot Uxia until she rushes the ramp and makes it into melee with Atalanta. Unluckily, she also sees the Hoplite and Pandora!

[screams in 01100110 01100101 01100001 01110010 00001010]

Hector cracks off a shot with his Plasma Rifle the instant he sees Uxia, sparing his ally the template thanks to the railing. The Hoplite puts an HMG shot downrange; Pandora, a viral pistol shot. As Uxia revvs up her D-charge, Atalanta takes a pistol shot on 18-- and rolls an 18.

But Uxia has Martial Arts, and Uxia is giving her a -3. Atalanta misses; the D-charge sticks; Atlanta takes two wounds and dies.

Hector misses.

The Hoplite misses.

Pandora misses.

What the _hell_ is going on?


The round begins with Hector shooting Uxia right in the face with a Plasma round, and Uxia dodges. Hector whiffs; Uxia goes prone, sliding into the corner. Hector spec fires a grenade onto her, needing something like a 10, and rolls a 5-- Uxia gets an 8, and barely escapes the explosion.

But that didn't matter. Uxia _had to die,_ and my opponent didn't care how many orders it took. He rained the next seven orders onto Uxia with Spec Fire grenades, aiming for double-digits, then 8s, but Uxia dodged every. Single. Time. Even when Uxia rolled 19, Hector did her the favor of missing--a roll of 7 was repaid by a roll of 11--and then, just like that... it was my turn again.

I wasn't sure what was going on, luck wise. If I should stop the game and go to Vegas. But I knew that AC2 had too much Structure, and someone had to do something about it.


One of my Forty-Fivers used his impetuous order to run into a Thyreos mine, flubbed Dodge, flubbed armor, and went back to the Great Tray in the Sky. But, luckily...

Denma/Saoirse and Fionnlagh were in position and ready. One free, Wallace-fueled coordinated order of movement later, the two Berserked in on the AC2 ready to kick some ass--

and rolled a 5 and a 4.

But! In magical Christmasland, we don't have weaknesses, only strengths waiting to be discovered. Denma has BTS 3, the HIGHEST BTS CALEDONIA HAS EVER KNOWN beside McMurrough, and I rolled HOT FIRE to keep from being stunned!

The AC2 screamed out, but Denma did not care. With an RKO and a triple suplex, two wounds flit into the ether, and as God as my witness it was broken by half.

I once spent three whole turns where a Forty-Fiver got stuck in melee versus a REM, failing to roll higher than its Electric Pulse and getting stunned down. This moment was like that, but, you know, the opposite.

It was at this point that McMurrough/Gordon had a relatively strong opening to get to Hector, and a need to. If he could gap close, it'd soften the Haris up for Denma later--and so, like any good Caledonia player, the moment Berserking was possible I did it without question.

McMurrough berserked in. Crit. Hector only hit. Pandora and the Hoplite fired their guns as well, and in the total chaos landed one Viral shot that dealt two wounds to poor McMurrough. But, lucky, Hector's greatest weakness--being able to die--was in full effect! Two wounds down, Hector entered NWI. Still standing, but successfully softened!

Get 'em, Gordon.

With all the space made from Dodging, Uxia was now out of Hector's ZoC. I took advantage of that, and rolled and nabbed Net Undermine in one quick interlude before creeping out to shoot him with a shotgun.

He hit; I hit; we rolled the same number. It happens every day.

On the other side of the map, my link team rushed forward to the base of a small tower, and the Panoply. Rhiannon ripped some grenades out of the vending machine, and my turn ended with a general shrug.


The Hoplite leaned out, shot Uxia to death in 0 band with his HMG, and moved on.

Rounding the corner on Denma, Hector lit up the AC/2 with Plasma shots, bouncing hits onto poor Fionnlagh. But Denma had a trick up his sleeve--being able to roll an 18 on PH to smoke dodge, and have it be a success.

Fionn dodged as well, albeit at a -3-- and got higher than any of Hector's results. Now ensconced within a smoke grenade, Denma and Fionn waited to intercept Steel Phalanx's reprisal.


Hector rolls up on Denma; Denma dodges away.
Denma dodges; Hector follows; Denma fails to dodge; the Hoplite and Hector enter melee. At this point, I have one model with D-charges remaining if Denma goes down.
Denma activates NBW versus Hector's MA4 and beats him to death with his own shield.

Didn't say it was my tragedy.


The round begins with the standard X-slash attack.


But, unfortunately, the remaining Hoplite is too strong--and Fionnlagh fails to wound it.

I activate Denma, knowing that I'll need to swing in hard against Pandora too to cinch this without needing to expend effort. And that's when Denma rolls a 3, and the Hoplite puts him down. Shock immunity keeps him alive, but I don't have another States Phase to regenerate in thanks to my Nat 20 MetaChemistry--I need to find another D-charge, fast, to finish this.

Luckily, Rhiannon--my T2 Boarding Shotgun 3rd Grey--is rocking one. And she's not far.

The only thing standing in the way is Pandora. I bring the Scots Guard around and take a shot--he's flash pulsed. I bring Isobel around to take a shot--_she's_ flash pulsed. I don't have the orders to deal with this--by my calculations, I need exactly what's left in my pool to grab one item from the Panoply, make it to the AC/2, and melee, and that's counting on me dropping a successful smoke grenade and not going headlong into the Hoplite before I get there.

But I have one unit that's not activated yet.

The SAS. Robert Hodges.

And in true Hodges fashion, he arrives late, but he brings the hammer down. One light shotgun from downtown versus Pandora's Dodge. She doesn't have Cover, but he doesn't have good range, and her -6 MOD kicks his target number down to a 5!

But he rolls a 5.

And down goes Pandora.

Robert Hodges, ex-SAS. Best of the best.

My core turns into a haris as I cannot wait for my lagging members to catch up on the corner. Rhiannon launches smoke from outside the Hoplite's ZoC, and misses touching his base by millimeters. One order brings us within engagement range--and the Hoplite fails his dodge, locked in mortal combat with Fionnlagh.

We close on the AC/2. We need to dodge here to get the mobility and avoid the Hoplite.

We all do. Even Isobel, with her weird, stumpy hacker legs, who rolls a 1 and glides out of the Hoplite's range as he grasps for straws.

Rhiannon locks horns with the AC/2. With Cailean and Isobel in B2B, she B3s with her D-charges, lands all 3 hits, and the AC/2 makes SEVEN of the NINE ARM rolls.

But it only needed to fail one. It's destroyed.

Erenion's turn.


In Loss of Lieutenant and Retreat, the Hoplite has only two orders to spend. The first is killing Fionnlagh--the next is closing with Rhiannon, CCW poised, ready to deliver the killing blow.

Rhiannon parries. While the Hoplite sets down a 15, Rhiannon gets a 19. Unlike the rest of the idiots the Hoplite's trained to fight, Rhiannon isn't a martial artist--and like all 3rd Highlander Greys, she just arbitrarily has 21 CC.

That 19 is a crit.

Total Immunity or not, down goes the Hoplite, and so ends the game.



A complete Christmasland game. Erenion suffered defeat after defeat, and most were entirely luck based. The Agema missing Pell; Atlanta being crit by the Cateran; Uxia surviving killing Atalanta; Denma dropping Hector; Hodges killing Pandora. So many insane rolls in this game! We joke sometimes about the 'power of narrative' but oh my god, what even is this power, should a mortal have this, what's going on?

Nonetheless, when the smoke cleared the results were clear. 10-0. A victory at Okolnir.


Alastair’s eyebrows had disappeared inside his helmet something like eight minutes ago, and Saoirse was waiting to see if they’d appear somewhere on the back of his neck.
When he’d finally gathered his wits enough to speak, he said, “Why didn’t Gordon ever say something about this?”
“Prob’ly didn’t want to worry you,” Saoirse said. “Didn’t exactly come together well after that Viral graze.”
“Instead, he came together good,” Nora added helpfully. “Could’ve been worse.”
“Could’ve been so much worse,” Alastair said. “And when was this, Kurage?”
“You were still in Mатр.”
“Someone should’ve said something.”
Neil spat onto the ground. “Come on, cousin. Don’t do your head in.”
Exasperated, Alastair relented. One crate became two; two, four; four, eighteen. As the self-driving vehicle pulled out from the docks and swung back around, headed for parts unknown, a gentle susurrus on the overlook above gave way to a fresh smell—a clean smell—the smell of chagrin.
Down the la, Hector stood there, surrounded by all his adoring fans and citizens and a WarCor with a news crew and a whole load of chattering galactics all currying for his favor, plying for a single glance or a handshake or a smile.
He stared down at the MacArthurs, sweat-stained, dirt-striped, already moving to load the next truck bound for the QAZ with bullets and medicine and rations galore. He glanced at his own armor, all shiny and white and unused for God knows how long.
Fionnlagh waved.
Hector clenched his fist.

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