Things were tense inside of the two stealth submersibles. There were no windows for the passengers to look out of, and with the situation on Concillium Prima being so out of the ordinary, everyone knew that anything, literally anything, could happen in such a remote place below the ocean surface. The passengers were all Nomads, and that only served to make them more uncomfortable. They all grew up in space! The idea of living in a metal coffin with death on the other side of a few inches of steel shouldn't have shaken them as much. But Nomads at least took solace in the fact that someone could be rescued and resuscitated with medical equipment from a puncture in a vac-suit. Under the water, however? The pressures alone would crush anyone in their armor instantaneously. Even the cube would be destroyed. This was not a good place for a Nomad to be, and everyone knew it. Zero-G survival skills didn't apply in the water. And that wasn't taking into consideration the predatorial fauna that dwelled in these depths, let alone whatever monstrosities there were thanks to the QAZ's. Everything was different.
Interventor Petra found herself clutching her seat restraints with white knuckles as the submersible groaned from the pressures outside. She had heard stories of submarines in the past falling victim to the oceans back on Earth, which was why, even to this very day, the oceans on all worlds within the Human Sphere still remained mysterious. It was a miracle that Varuna was somehow so populated when more than half of the planet was covered in water. She looked around, hoping to see a Nomad not in the same nervous position she was in so she could simply tell herself that everything was fine.
Further along the row of seats, she found what she was looking for. One Nomad was sitting forward in his seat with his restraints off, reading some old paperback book while sipping coffee from a thermos. He was calm as can be, but that man specifically left her with the same anxiety as before. He was the antithesis of her standards. Him being calm while everyone else aboard was practically pissing themselves in terror told Petra that she was entirely justified to be nervous about this op.
"Larry! Can't you at least put your restraints on?" Petra hissed at him.
The man sipped his coffee with an annoying slurp before looking up from his book at Petra. He blinked and shrugged, "Er... Why? Wait... Let me guess! You wanna see this perfect dad bod all strapped up isn't that right, Petra?"
"What?! No! Where in any of that did you get that idea?! ... Ahhh you know what? Just- God I hate you..." Petra conceded with a sigh. A few others in the submersible with them snickered. Larry's endless bad flirts with Petra were always a source of good entertainment for the crew of the Hasselhoff, especially when it left Petra flustered and annoyed.
The interventor took a deep breath and closed her eyes, hoping this infiltration would be over soon. The mission was relatively simple. A techtonic shift in the ocean floor had damaged a portion of Montalban's super structure, leading to a condemnation of some parts of the facility as water flooded in. Unfortunately for PanOceania, and vice versa for the Nomad Nation, that meant that several databases and crypto vaults were left in a hurry without being scrubbed first! It was an opportunity that the Nomad Nation couldn't turn down. Get into the facility, reach the crypto vault, and download the codes that could be used to locate the captured Nomad pilots elsewhere in the facility. The team had some forewarning that an Ariadnan team was present on the site, likely an outsourced mission from PanO to go in and scrub the data before Combined Army delegates arrived at the facility. At least mankind had the common sense to work together if it meant keeping secrets away from the invaders. But as far as the Nomads were concerned, that data would be much better utilized in their own circles, and not in some waterlogged facility at the bottom of the ocean. And besides, knowing the techno-regressive Ariadnans, they probably didn't even know what they were actually looking for!
Petra tapped her foot impatiently on the metal floor of the submersible, drawing a few eyes from the other passengers. Michael and Mykah, brother-sister twins from the Hasselhoff's Tomcat division turned their heads to Petra in sync. They were just as nervous as Petra was, and it didn't take long for their own nervous ticks began making something of a tune between the three of them. Marco, one of the Hasselhoff's Mobile Brigadas, called out to Petra, "Keep making noise like that and I'm sure Montelban's hydrophones will pick us up in no time."
Petra puffed her cheeks up, "What the hell else can I do while we wait?! We're still another thirty minutes out!"
Larry chimed in, "It's alright, Petra. Just think about the time when we first met."
"You mean when my brain got fried and I was laying in your arms having a stroke?" Petra asked.
"Ahh what a time to be alive." Larry said with a nostalgic sigh.
"I wouldn't know! I died in that moment!" she chirped back. Larry was just nodding with a smile on his face.
There was a few more chuckles from Michael and Mykah. They were both there on that fateful day, and so they too had very fond memories of the moment a random nobody CSU at the time joined the crew of the Hasselhoff. To Larry's credit, he did carry her to their ship and performed the Cubevac himself much to the chagrin of the Hasselhoff's onboard medical team. But the moment of brevity didn't last long, as there was a sudden smash and jostle of the submersible that made Larry's thermos lid fly off, sending coffee all over him and turning the pages of his novel soggy. Alarmed blared and the the nomads that were all strapped in were deathgripping their restraints. Marco's power armor even caved in the metal support bar over his chest with his grip! Larry flew out of his seat and foudn himself upside down on the floor in a pool of his own caffeine.
"We're gonna die! We're gonna die! Ohh my god we're gonna die!" Petra said as she started hyperventilating.
Larry rolled in his coffee for a moment and clambered to his feet. "Ugh... I was getting to the good part too..."
Michael immediately undid his restraints and went to a terminal on the wall of the submersible. Petra was at least thankful that the team's engineer was aboard their sub and not the other one. "Hasselhoff, this is sub one! What the hell happened? Is our dolphin asleep at the wheel again?"
"One, this is Hasselhoff. No the pilot didn't fall asleep. But it did see a fish on the sea floor in its sensors and went for a snack. You can bet I'm gonna be short changing him some meals. Everyone okay down there? I'm getting alerts like crazy up here." Captain Moreina of the Hasselhoff said.
She was of course referring to Nightrider, the ship's augmented dolphin that was hooked up to the ship's helm. It wasn't uncommon in Nomad ships to use dolphins as pilots. They were naturally attuned to maneuvering in three dimensional spaces as it was. The way Praxis saw it, what could be the danger of giving a dolphin superhuman level intelligence and plugging its brain directly into the controls and sensors of a multi-billion dollar military spacecraft? Absolutely nothing of course! And when it came to operating under water? Just slave the drone submersibles to Nightrider's controls and have him innocently swim toward the AO! At least no one died in that little collision with the ocean floor!
Michael killed the alarms and sighed, "Well... The sub will make it but I wouldn't trust it after more than an hour in these pressures... We might need to find an alternate way out of Montelban after the mission. Got any ideas?"
The team radio chimed up. Salazar, Petra's second in command, spoke up, "I'm looking at the AO's specs now. There's a cargo lift near the crypto vault we could take to get out. But I can't speak for the amount of security we'll be up against at the top."
Captain Moreina took her turn to speak, "If sub one is a no go then I'll support the call on the elevator. I'll dispatch a team to secure the top with a shuttle to get you all out. I'll have Nightrider take the sub far away from Montelban after you board for self-destruction. Don't want PanO knowing we were here for this one."
Petra's commlog blinked as she received the change in the mission parameters. She tapped her commlog and let out a relieved sigh. "If it means I gotta spend less time in this deathtrap, then I'm all for it. Confirmed Hasselhoff. Mission parameters are changed."
Salazar spoke up again afterward, "One, we're entering the range of Montelban's short range hydrophones. We should cut the chatter and drift in silently from here on out. See you on the station."
"Copy Two. Going silent now, out." Petra said, looking back at her team in the submersible. "Get the jokes out now, guys. It's gonna be a long and quiet ride."
Larry cleared his throat and sat down in his seat, "It doesn't have to be quiet. Nightrider can scrape us along the sea floor again."
"That's not funny, Larry!" Petra snapped. But Larry just laughed jovially.
It was indeed a painfully silent and anxiety filled ride to Montalban after the team had passed over the silent line. It was downright impressive in its own right that the spacefaring Nomads managed to keep their nervous ticks in check long enough for the undersea base’s sensitive hydrophones not to detect them. The subs slipped up along the outer hull of the station and eventually found the docking collars they had scouted when the station was first damaged by the tectonic shifts. They weren’t very intact anymore, however. The collars themselves allowed for locking to the station, and the seals were still working. But the doors themselves would need to be sliced open. Once both subs were locked to the station, Michael in sub one got to work slicing through, while the team’s ‘heavy equipment’ ripped a hole in the door for sub two.
Once inside, the two teams quietly moved through the eerily silent station. Water had seeped in through cracks in the station, and there was a solid four inches of water on the floor that made moving silent somewhat difficult with the splashing footfalls of clumsy spacers in 1-G. Petra had gone to work overriding control of the sector’s camera system to mask their movement, while the aforementioned heavy equipment very aggressively invaded the rest of the sector’s passive internal sensors.
Moments before the two teams converged, the station’s intercom speakers began crackling and fizzing. Larry stopped and listened, wondering what was happening. He could hear a faint choir. A cacophony of hauntingly beautiful voices. What was that about? Was it because of the damaged station? Larry was pulled out of his reverie by Marco as the Brigada passed him by. Placing a power armored hand on Larry’s shoulder, Marco leaned down to keep his voice low and say, “Freaky, eh? I heard the sisters of our Observance attaché talking about it. Apparently our new Stigmaton’s AI matrix was copied from some famous opera singer’s cube during a resurrection.”
Larry looked at him in disbelief, “Isn’t that like… very illegal in the O-12 conventions? Copying cube data?”
Mykah, the Tomcat doctor, stepped past the two, nodding as she did. “Sure is. But I’m not gonna be the one to tell it that its existence is a lie.”
Marco and Larry both watched as Mykah carried on. “Huh…” Larry thought, “Well, Marco. My face is too pretty to get punched in by an angry AI, so… I guess you gotta take one for the team one of these days.”
Marco chuckled and tapped the steel faceplate of his helmet, “I think I can take it.”
As he said that, the heavy metallic footsteps in water came into earshot, reminding Larry and Marco to keep up with Petra and the tomcats. They rounded a corner and came face to face with team two with the Stigmata on point. Running along one of the shoulder plates of the TAG was its name ‘Her Enlightened Siren’. Larry was too busy looking up at the immaculately painted and design work of the TAGs body to notice Marco gawking at the massive sword in its hand. Marco cleared his throat awkwardly, “Yeah uh… I think we should just let the bad guys let it know the truth.”
The team shook out and prepped their specialized kit under Salazar’s direction while Petra monitored the sector’s cameras for movement. Sure enough, Petra spotted movement right near
the crypto vault they were aiming for. Most of the sector’s cameras were damaged, so it was hard to make out the fuzzy silhouettes on screen, but there were a few unmistakable figures on screen that told Petra all she needed to know. She whistled to the team, drawing their attention to her. “Ariadnan presence confirmed. They’ve got one of those new TAGs too, y’know… The ones those Ariadnan propagandists can’t shut the hell up about.”
Petra looked at their own fancy new piece of hardware, “Siren, the Cherno is yours. The rest of us will fall in behind to support you and secure the vault. From what I can see in the feeds, it looks like they’re about to pull out. They’re not prepped for combat at all right now. We hit ‘em fast and hard and we should be able to do this without them ever knowing what hit ‘em.
Her Enlightened Siren let out a deep, bassy warble as it strode past Petra and the rest of the team. The intercom speakers around it all still singing its ghostly, staticy choir chant. Salazar made a hand signal for Larry, Marco, and a Bakunin Taskmaster by the name of Hanz to move off as a maneuver element while the rest of the team stayed as together as a cohesive unit. Gruber, a cracked out Morlock who was practically foaming out the mouth, didn’t give a damn about Salazar’s or Petra’s orders, and he just ran ahead of the team to go an incite some chaos and violence. Had it been any other operative, they’d get chewed out. But Gruber was taken specifically as a distraction, and he was A-Okay with that!
((OOC: The Ariadnan force was composed almost entirely of camo markers. S.A.S, Chasseurs, Foxtrots, and Uxia McNeil deployed outside of the Panic Room under the cover of their markers, along with a handful of mines which really required a ton of careful planning to approach. Having lost the Lieutenant Roll at the start of the game, I was forced to deploy first. However, I opted to take the bottom of the rounds so that I could react to Ariadna’s positioning within the Panic Room instead of needing to take the room and dig in from a camouflaged assault. This decision allowed me to have the last say before the Rounds ended, giving me the best chance to dominate the zone and score objective points without fear of a counterattack. Knowing the encroaching Biotechvore would force the low BTS ariadnans toward the center, I opted to take a heavy CC and template list to capitalize on the confined quarters of the Panic Room. With so much forward deployment from the Ariadnans, I was hoping my opponent’s forces would be dangerously clumped up for maximum template damage. A plan which later proved to be extremely effective. The Morlock rolled Dogged+Immunity(Total) for his metachemistry, something would pay dividends in the first turn. CSU Larry rolled his metachemistry during the Strikezone: Wotan campaign and has since had +6 BTS permanently added to his profile.))
The strike team silently moved toward the unaware Ariadnans. Sombra operative Marianna Sanchez had moved ahead of the rest of the unit. Part of the Hasselhoff’s S.O.Ps was that any forward operating units on an op retained a degree of agency for themselves, effectively sidestepping the team lead when it came to matters of positioning and approach. Sombras were valuable for just that. They were quick, quiet, and damn dangerous, allowing for a sudden lightning strike that could sow discord in hostile teams, and provide valuable intel before the guns started singing. Since the rest of the team wasn’t ready for a direct confrontation, Marianna kept her breaker combi on safe and her optical camouflage engaged. She toggled her helmet sensors to high sensitivity and pressed herself to the outside wall of the crypto vault. Her vac-suit was designed to detect vibrations and simulate the sound into the wearer’s ears. By pressing herself to the wall, the vibrations of the Ariadnan’s voices in and around the crypto-vault came
through clear. They seemed to be in a hurry, all scrambling to remove their hardware from the vault. Marianna wondered what could have them hurrying to leave Montalban. Did they get the data that the Nomads had come here for? Were they too late?
Listening to the simulated audio, Marianna could pick out the gaits of at least four different individuals. Camera feeds from inside the vault supported that thought, but the feed was too distorted to get a positive ID on who was inside. One thing that was unmistakable however was the heavy thuds of Chernobog footfalls. It was inside the vault?! Those techno-regressive monkeys! Such an unwieldy and top-heavy brute of a machine could hit the walls and damage critically valuable tech and damage! The thought of it made Marianna grimace. Too much excitement could make this entire op pointless. Mirroring Petra’s thoughts, Marianna knew this would require one single lightning strike to push them out of the vault.
Keeping her back to the wall, Marianna heard a small click and a high pitched whir. A mine maybe? Were they rigging the vault to blow?! That wasn’t good… “Petra, this is Sanchez…” the Sombra reported over the team radio.
“Go ahead, Sanchez.” Petra replied.
“The situation in the vault is getting more delicate by the minute. We’re going to need to strike soon if we’re gonna get any value of this op.” Marianna advised.
“Copy, Sanchez. We are in position to strike. Moving now.” At the end of Petra’s message, Marianna spotted the Gruber the Morlock sprinting like a madman around the corner toward the vault.
“Team, this is Petra. I have access to the vault’s security doors. Opening them in three… two…”
At one, all of the doors of the vault slid open, alerting the Ariadnans to the surprise attack. But by then, it was already to late to reposition.
((OOC: The Ariadnan’s entire first turn was outrunning the biotechvore and surging into the panic room undisputed. A chernobog and four camouflage markers entered the panic room. One of the markers revealed itself to place a mine inside the room. Since I deployed defensively, there was nothing immediately in line of sight of the Ariadnans, and so no fighting actually took place in this turn.))
Gruber the Morlock was seeing red. A lot of it. As he rounded the corner, he came face to face with the chernobog in the vault looking right at him. Gruber grabbed a smoke grenade from his bandolier and was about to throw, but the chernobog’s immediate reaction fire made him flinch. The grenade flew from his hands before he could pull the pin! Still Gruber ran, having at least enough clarity in his mind to throw another smoke in the doorway of the vault and abandon his head-on assault on the vault. Another shot from the chernobog ripped out past him, hissing through the air and punching into a wall. Gruber kept his steel and nailed the throw, the grenade bouncing once then twice off of the floor before the smoke popped and caused the cylindrical canister to spin in place and propagate the smokescreen. He broke off to the left, rushing down three unidentified signatures that the camera feed had detected outside the vault. His mad dash
toward the surprised Ariadnans was enough to sow panic, causing them to open fire back at him. One of the signatures turned out to be a mine, which was promptly detonated by the rampaging morlock. The mine hit him in the chest, but the madman was still standing! Judging by his wounds, Petra knew that he was terminal. The dogged morlock jumped at a grunt, uncaring of the fire being spat from the grunt’s flamethrower. With a quick downward chop, the morlock’s armor piercing blade bit through the helmet and cleaved into his skull. The grunt groaned and fell to the floor. A shotgun round hit Gruber in the shoulder, but he shrugged it off as if his skin were bulletproof! He turned and eyed the panicking chasseur, gritting his steel teeth. Marianna, no concealed by Gruber’s smoke grenade, took that opportunity to lean down in the doorway and place an anti-tank mine. It’d certainly come as a surprise to the over armored piece of metal in the vault!
The chasseur pumped his shotgun and tried firing again, but the morlock was upon him, kicking the chasseur’s knee backward and toppling him to the floor. The morlock jumped into the air and came down at him with the People’s Elbow! The elbow drove directly into the Chasseur’s chest, cracking bone and knocking the wind out of him. More gunfire ripped from the vault as the morlock stood on his feet. The chernobog had witnessed the two-vee-one and attempted to support, but not even the upsized machinegun seemed to hurt the berserker! As a consequence of its action to fend off the morlock, the unaware chernobog triggered Marianna’s anti-tank mine, and a blast of armor penetrating projectiles ripped out from the smoke, damaging the TAG. The morlock turned and charged into the vault, fumbling with his smoke grenade and setting off the mine that Marianna had heard being placed inside. The smart mine fired off its payload and took Gruber’s head clean off. He fell like a sack of meat to the floor. Petra let out an impressed whistle at the carnage Gruber had unleashed. She honestly didn’t have high hopes for the morlock, but Nomad Command was adamant that the insane morlock was ‘put to better use’. And so he was.
Her Enlightened Siren was quick to recognize the path Gruber had cleared next to the side entrance of the crypto vault. The long mechanical strides of the TAG covered the distance in no time, leaving Petra, Salazar, and Michael behind as they moved in unison. The siren reached the outer wall of the crypto vault and slowed down. The shining orange halo behind the Siren began to spin on its back unit, the outer edge of the ring lighting up and glowing. The lights in the area surrounding the Siren flickered and eventually lost power as the intercom speakers inside of the crypto vault began playing the AI's melodic song. The chernobog's cockpit screens flickered and eventually shut down, all while the pilot's headgear played the haunting chorus no matter what the pilot did to stop it. The chernobog had given in to the Siren's sweet song, disabling it and making it easy prey before even stepping foot into the vault. The song continued its entrancing chant inside the vault as the Stigmaton with the glowing orange halo behind rounded the corner and peering into the vault. A flat, wide beam of light emitted out from Stigmaton's chest unit, sweeping from the ceiling to the floor and scanning the frightened ariadnans inside. The Stigmaton let out a deep, roaring warble once the scans were verified, and it raised its immolator cannon.
The foxtrot on the opposite end of the vault raised his shotgun to save himself, but the round pinged harmlessly off of its immaculately detailed armor plating. The immolator unleashed a violet gout of flame, engulfing the room and catching everything inside. The chernobog's hull scorched and the hard steel edges of its frame glowed orange hot from the heat of the cannon, sparks flew from the less protected joints. The lights on the chernobog's hull still flickered, helplessly lost in the Siren's song. When the flame subsided, the foxtrot that had shot at the Siren was nothing more than a black scorch mark on the wall, and a female S.A.S that was registered as having a standing bounty within Vortex laid severely burnt and unconscious on the ground.
Another S.A.S operative and a second foxtrot in the vault fired fearfully at the Stigmaton, scoring some damage but not even fazing the graceful purifier. They had escaped the initial burst! The hauntingly peaceful Siren's song playing over the station loudspeakers was juxtaposed against the hellish gout of flame. Armed with shotguns against what was practically an angel, the two panicking ariadnans were locked in fear as it strode into the room. The Siren's ornate sword sparked with energy and took on a blue glow while it calmly stepped onto a server stack in front of the chernobog it has ensnared in its song. The Siren gracefully lifted its sword, its point aimed straight down into chernobog's primitive power pack. With a sudden and forceful jab, the blade melted through the armor of the ariadnan TAG and silenced the machine. Once the chernobog registered as lifeless in the Siren's sensors arrays, it turned its glowing optics onto the two survivors. The foxtrot let out a panicked cry and opened up with his shotgun in point blank. The S.A.S, understanding of what was to come, joined his fire with the foxtrot's to try and stop the Stigmaton from finishing them as well. It raised its immolator at them and spat more of its cleansing fire, reducing both of them to ashen piles. But their shotguns at point blank range were enough! Once the fire had subsided, the Siren's song ended in the vault, and the TAG's lights went dark. Its vengeful cleansing finished.
Seeing the Stigmaton disabled, Marianna threw herself into the room, taking cover behind the server stack that the dormant Stigmaton stood atop of. Preparing for a counter attack, Marianna reached into her pack and pulled out her second anti-tank mine. The was likely that an engineer could get the chernobog back up and running, she kept the mine handy to keep it down. Marianna assessed the damage in the room and reported it up to Petra. "This is Sanchez... The Siren is down but damn did it ever wreak havoc in here... I'm in control of the vault. The fire retarders kept the crypto-stacks in working order. I'll keep a hold on this place until you show up."
Petra was still running with her team, but she acknowledged Marianna's report all the same. "Copy, Sanchez! Good work!"
Michael then chimed in over the net, "The Siren, how is she? Think I could patch 'er up?"
Marianna glanced up at the graceful TAG and ran a quick scan of its systems. There was an electrical short that had shut down the main processor for the TAG. Nothing a quick fix couldn't handle. "She's in sleep mode right now, Michael. Might take replacing a few capacitors on its mo.bo but she's still in decent shape."
((OOC: Oh boy what a turn! Everything that could have gone my way this round did! My Morlock's metachemistry saved the day and took out two troops while in the dogged state. He shrugged off several attacks and very nearly took a wound out of the chernobog too! Gruber the Morlock absolutely made back the 6 points I spent to put him in the list! And then the big ticket item... The Stigmaton was just an absolute treat this round. Not only did it get to purge the panic room in holy fire, but it also got to hack and shut down the chernobog which ultimately led to its demise! Even though the stigmaton went down, it single handedly cleared the objective room of two foxtrots, an S.A.S, Uxia McNeil, and the Chernobog! Better yet, it's unconscious silhouette provided total cover for the Sombra that moved into the room for the capture at the end of my turn, making her a tough target to approach! Round 1 ended with me controlling the Panic Room and taking the lead in objective points! In order to stay ahead of the biotechvore, I used a coordinated order to move my interventor, grenzer, and engineer tomcat along with the stigmaton to aggressively close in on the panic room.))
The surprise attack was going off without a hitch. Still, Petra couldn't just ignore the fact that she was up against an ariadnan black ops team. A surprise attack wouldn't be a surprise for very long. She heard a ping in her visor, making her switch cameras to see another distorted figure running into the crypto vault. She brought Marianna back up on the radio, "Sanchez, heads up! Someone is rushing your position!"
The Sombra chuckled over the radio and unslung her shotgun. With a quick pump, Marianna chambered a shell and readied herself for the attack. Nimbly squeezing past the wreckage of the chernobog, an S.A.S barreled down on Marianna, shotgun in hand. Marianna's anti-tank mine, originally intended for the chernobog if it ever got back up, detected the rush and let loose on the S.A.S. The mine hit the man in the shoulder, sending him spinning and off balance but remarkably still alive. Marianna squeezed the trigger of her shotgun, putting a blast at point blank into his chest. The operative's plate carrier took the impact, but the concussive force of such a hit was enough to send him off of his feet. He hit the ground hard, his wind knocked out of him.
The sudden excitement deafened Marianna to the sound of cranking ratchets and tools. But it didn't take her long to understand what was happening! Her intuition was on point. An engineer was fixing up the chernobog. "Hijo de puta..." Marianna grumbled, readying herself for the heavy mech to come back online. But just when she thought she was done for, the sound of a piston head flying through the armor and slamming into the ceiling of the station rang out through the vault. The engineer behind the wreckage let out a series of colorful curses along with tools angrily banging on dead steel. Marianna laughed from behind the sleeping Stigmata and taunted, "Can't get it up?"
"Screw you, lady!" the dozer called out, "And whether or not I can get it up is not the problem!"
Marianna poked her head out from cover, her helmet's wide field of view spotting the movement behind the now very dead chernobog. "Whatever you tell yourself at night, cabrón!"
The sensors in her vac-suit were still set to high from eavesdropping on the ariadnans before the attack, and she was grateful for it. She heard the sound of a motor reverbing through the wide steel service corridors outside the vault. A motorcycle? In doors? Kind of weird, but then again, the techno-regressive were rather weird in general so who was she to judge? Pumping her shotgun to rack another shell, Marianna propped herself against server stack and aimed her weapon at the door she was expecting the motorcycle to appear at. When it did, she saw the prominent numbers '1-1-2' painted on the front shield of the bike. A medic! She glanced down at the infamous S.A.S laying unconscious and burned in the doorway.
Marianna angled her shotgun and yelled out, "Not on my watch, punto!" before opening the choke of her shotgun and firing a widespread blast of buckshot. The shot was accurate, clipping the unconscious S.A.S and finishing her off, as well as smacking against the front shield of the 112. The medic took cover and looked at the S.A.S he was trying to rescue, "You nomads are savages! Do you have any idea how many war crimes you just committed in this attack?!"
"Can't say I give a damn!" Marianna called back while racking another round in her shotgun.
Her snippy attitude with the ariadnans was something Marianna would need to change. She had been so focused on chirping the enemy that she didn't even notice the chasseur quietly making his way into the panic room with a flamethrower. Her suit notified her of the threat too late! The chasseur let out a warcry as he unleashed a gout of flame in the vault, wreathing both Marianna and the disabled Stigmaton.
Marianna threw herself back behind cover, practically going prone in the four inches of water on the floor to douse the flames. She was alive! Somehow! Looking back up at the Siren, it took was just a little scorched. But a war machine that dealt in holy fire obviously wasn't going to be bothered by a little bit of its own medicine. Marianna let out a huff and got back up into a fighting stance. "Alright... Credit where credit is due... You nearly got me there!"
((OOC: All alone in the panic room, my Sombra needed to hold off against Ariadna's last ditch effort at retaking control. The S.A.S was a deliberate sacrifice to clear the AP mine out before attempting to fix the chernobog. He did go for the CC (and I don't blame him, it's a friggin' S.A.S!), but the shotgun and mine combo from the Sombra was enough to stop him in his tracks. Once he started moving the 112 toward Uxia's unconscious body, I knew what he was going to attempt. I fired a template and made sure to catch Uxia in the blast. She died, and my Sombra was saved from a nightmare time in CC. I was very lucky however when his engineer failed his test to fix the chernobog, killing it instead!))
The nomad surprise attack was a complete success. There was still a small amount of resistance, but now that the main body of the team was showing up, they would be no match. Salazar, the grenzer second-in-command on the op took point ahead of Petra and Michael. They came out to the other side of the cargo lift where Gruber had taken down the first two ariadnans in the surprise attack. They were still alive, and that meant they could speak of the nomad infiltration in Montalban. For the sake of the mission, and the for the lives of their captured pilots, Salazar and the rest of the team knew what needed to be done. He drew his breaker pistol and stepped over both of the down ariadnans, executing them both on the spot.
"Team, this is Salazar. Remember the stakes of this mission. No survivors. We can't let anyone know we were here." The grenzer said as he holstered his breaker pistol.
The sound of an exchange of gunfire in the vault turned Salazar's black face mask toward the door. The orange glow of the Siren's fire spilled out of the room. "Sanchez, status." Salazar demanded.
"Still alive, but they've got me outnumbered three-to-one here. Could use some help!" she replied.
The grenzer nodded and shouldered his combi rifle, moving tactically up to the door frame. He could see two of the aggressors, the chasseur and the dozer, but he had no line of sight on the 112 in the opposite doorway. "I got two, no eyes on the bike!"
That's when Petra uploaded the camera feed to the rest of the team. "I got him here. Is anyone close enough to take him out?"
Her face went flat when she heard the positive response come from Larry of all people. "Oh yeah! You know I can take him out, babe! But I'd rather take you out... To dinner."
Petra just pinched the bridge of her nose while Michael, who was standing right next to her, chuckle-snorted. "Just... Go and kill his ass, Larry... Jesus..."
"You got it, hon!" Larry returned.
Salazar was smirking beneath his death mask at that exchange, but he couldn't let himself be distracted by it. He had a sombra to assist! Stepping out from the doorway with his rifle held at the high ready, he swept from left to right! He caught the dozer in his sights and squeezed the trigger once. Without even checking to see if the shot connected, he continued sweeping until the chasseur was lined up! His multispectral visor highlighted the chasseur's silhouette, making him an easy target. With a double tap, the chasseur went down, dead as dead could be. He stepped into the room, quickly snapping his rifle back onto the dozer. He too went down and was now bleeding out. Salazar lowered his rifle and drew his breaker pistol his with off hand, planting a shot in the dozer's forehead. "Vault secure. Michael, get in here and fix up the TAG. Larry... What's the sitch on that bike?"
Larry was moving extra cautiously! He had a wide low stance, his feet clumsily splashing in the water as he shimmied along a wall with his back to it. He was immersed in the moment! Double checking- no, triple checking his corners! He moved further along, combat rolling in the water and flopping onto his back. Good thing nobody saw that! Getting back to his feet, Larry came up on the corner and peaked around it, spotting the 112 taking cover from Marianna's breaker rifle fire. He huffed and quickly pulled himself back behind his cover. "I got the target in my sights! Er- I mean I did! One sec!"
Petra was watching the whole thing on camera. Even when he flopped in the water. But she figured it'd be best if she kept that one quiet... for now. "My god, Larry just take the shot! He's like ten feet from you and mounted on a motorcycle! You literally cannot miss!"
"One second, alright?! I'm just making sure I don't screw this up. I'm pretty sure there's a convention somewhere where killing medics is a war crime!" he replied.
Salazar had just finished planting a bullet in another unconscious ariadnan when he responded, "That bridge has long since been burned. Just wipe him out already!"
Larry cleared his throat and nodded, "Right! Fine!"
He took another breath and jumped out from his cover, breaker combi at his hip. "Surprise, dirtbag!"
His magazine fell out of his rifle and splashed harmlessly into the water. The 112 jumped in his seat, obviously startled by the life-ending flank. "Woah woah woah! Don't shoot!"
Larry knelt down and patted the flooded floor in search of the magazine. "Hang on! Gotta fix this problem here... Wow this is embarrassing!" he said.
"I'm feeling second-hand humiliation watching this..." Petra said over the net.
Meanwhile the rest of the team was cheering Larry on. Eventually he found the magazine with an enthusiastic, "AHA!" But by the time he slotted it back into his rifle and racked the round, the 112 was long gone. Marianna stood in the doorway, the barrel of her breaker combi smoking over the dead 112. Larry cleared his throat, "I had that one!"
Marianna took her helmet off and winked at Larry, "It was a team effort. Oh, you could have still shot him when you dropped the mag. You still had a round in the chamber after all."
Larry wasn't about to admit that he forgot to rack a round at the start of this op, so he just leaned against a wall on one hand and nodded, "Oh yeah, of course. I knew that. I just wanted to set him up so you can knock him down, y'know?"
Marianna laughed, "Of course! Of course!"
Petra groaned over the radio.
Meanwhile, Michael had linked up with the stigmaton as Marco and Hanz entered the vault. He didn't waste time getting to work on getting the TAG back up and running. While he worked, he saw a flash in the corner of his eye and heard the sound of a camera snapping. He glanced up, spotting a WarCor taking images of the nomads and the stigmaton. "Ah shit..." Michael muttered.
Suddenly, a metallic screech came from the door that Hanz and Marco had entered in from. A crazykoala came sprinting around the corner, powersliding between the Siren's legs and leaping off of the server stacks directly at the WarCor. It clung to his face, causing the WarCor to fall on his ass, yelling frantically as the deadly little robot started beeping. Hanz stepped between Michael and the WarCor, "Get back to, Michael. Zis iz a sight you are not going to vant to see."
The tomcat cleared his throat and looked back at the damaged stigmaton as the koala's beeping sped up. Then at its climax, there was a small explosion, and then silence. Michael knew what crazykoalas did. But he had never seen one in action. The sounds of it all, despite not seeing it actually detonate, had filled his mind's eye with enough vivid images to keep him up for the next few nights. Things were quiet as Michael got did the finishing touches on the stigmaton. By the time he had finished his repairs, the rest of the team congregated in the vault. Michael tapped a button on his commlog, and the TAGs lights all began to illuminate again.
The speakers burst with static, and before long, that hauntingly beautiful siren's song was playing again, this time through the entire sector.
((OOC: So in the game, Larry actually did kill the 112 with his breaker combi, so that was just a bit of comedic liberty taken on my part. My opponent conceded after the stigmaton was repaired. Since he only had three models remaining, he knew he wouldn't be able to do very much against a sombra, brigada, taskmaster, grenzer, and stigmaton all in the panic room. He was a great sport throughout the whole game so cheer him on! To score my predator classified, I needed to KILL in CC, not coup de grace. So as my grenzer moved up with coordinated orders (taking the other nomads closer to the panic room as well) he stopped along the way to CC the unconscious ariadnans left behind by Gruber the Morlock. The third execution was actually at the hands of my mobile brigada (the S.A.S that rushed my sombra), but I felt writing Salazar the Grenzer as the cold-blooded killer was more fitting. There was no fourth execution, but the third marked the completion of Predator's bonus objective, scoring me an additional objective point and bringing the final score of the game to 9-0 for the Nomads!))
Salazar scanned the camera feed while Petra downloaded the data from the crypto vault. He didn't see anything or anyone on the feeds. Their surprise attack truly did work. It worked perfectly even. Montalban's security alarms were silent, and nobody knew of the nomad infiltration in the damaged sectors of the station. While Petra performed the delicate data extraction, Salazar took charge of the exfil. "Hasselhoff, this is Two. Mission accomplished. One is extracting the data now. No witnesses. No alarms. Our only casualty was Gruber, but... Well we expected that one."
"Confirmed, two. I will notify Nomad Command of the mission's success. Inform me as soon as you can when you learn more about the captive pilots' locations." Captain Moreina responded.
"Copy, Hasselhoff. We'll keep in touch, out." Salazar said before closing the comm. He stepped over to Petra, spotting Larry leaning against the data stacks right next to her.
"So, Petra? I heard the Crypto Winter is in orbit. Wanna go check it out while it's here? In a sort of... Y'know... Date scenario?" Larry said, putting on his best manly voice for the interventor.
Petra groaned, "Larry PLEASE! I'm literally trying to extract valuable intel on our pilots! Any wrong move and I could corrupt the data and fry my brain on a firewall! It's like playing the riskiest game of Operation!"
Larry gave a confident grin, "I'll have you know I'm quite good at Operation. Ask the reverend healers back on the 'Hoff."
Petra worked right up until he said that, then she froze. "Wait... What? You and the healers? Are you serious?!"
Salazar chuckled and leaned on the stacks at Petra's other side, "It's true. Walked in on 'em once. Was quite a magical sight indeed."
Petra placed a hand over her mouth, "I think I'm gonna be sick..."
Larry nodded and opened a holo-pic on his commlog. "Yeah, even got photos too. Check it out."
Petra was too sickened yet curious to NOT look. She glanced over at his commlog and saw Larry playing the Operation board game on a dead shasvastii in the operating room with two of the ship's reverend healers. "That's not what I-"
"Oh? What then?" Larry prodded.
"Fuck off, Larry!" Petra snapped, pushing him away so she could get back to work. "Operation..." Petra mumbled grumpily, "Walking in on him and the healers... Pfft... What a joke..." Grumble grumble grumble!
Whew! It's great to be back! I've missed writing for CSU Larry and crew! Welcome to season 4 of Diaries of a CSU! I hope you all enjoyed this lengthy narrative battle report! You can export more to come over the course of this three week campaign so keep an eye out for them! The crew of the Hasselhoff is tasked with locating and rescuing the captured dolphin and orca pilots of the Nomad fleet, and they will stop at nothing to get 'em back! (One of the captured pilots is the cousin thrice removed of the Hasselhoff's pilot so it's kinda personal)
This was one of those games where everything that could have gone right for me did, and everything that could have gone wrong for my opponent also did. Nevertheless, JamesPrime was a fantastic sport about the bad luck, and we were having many good laughs throughout the match! Be sure to check out his battle report on the same mission and throw some commendations his way as well!
If you read both of our reports, you'll find that narratively they do not mesh together at all. We agreed that our stories would be isolated from one another. Sure we're playing the same games, but we have two different stories in mind for the events that unfold.
Welcome to the Shattergrounds, everyone! I look forward to carving out our next piece of the lore with you all!
Go Go Nomads!