Captain Moreina of the Hasselhoff stood over her holotable in the CIC. She had her arms crossed while her augmented eyes caught every glimpse of data that fed up from the table and dissipated into the open air outside the reach of the table’s holosphere. Petra had done well. There was more data here than even she was expecting to get. Of course, the primary objective was all there. The pilots’ location deep within the facility of Montalban’s underwater research station. But there was data in that crypto vault that was valuable to the wider Nomad Nation, things that would buy them some influence in the O-12 security council and make the bully hyperpowers think twice about. With a silent flick of her wrist, Moreina sent the data back to Nomad High Command while copying the data on the pilots for further planning.
She flicked her wrist again, causing the holotable to shut down while she stepped around it and looked out the window of the bridge. The planet Concilium Prima loomed to one side relative to the ship’s orientation in orbit. Her eyes traced the snow-capped mountain ranges of Durgama while she pondered over the data she had seen. The pilots were indeed recoverable, but getting to them would take a hell of a lot of effort, especially if the task was going to be done quietly. From the entry point into the facility that Petra’s team had secured, they’d have to push through a large residential dome that the station’s staff billeted in. Plenty of eyes. Plenty of angles and ways for things to go wrong. Worse yet, the Hasselhoff was stretched thin between the several teams running QAZ containment ops elsewhere on Concilium and some on forced rest and repair. Moreina had little to work with.
The captain’s cybereyes lit up as she perused the statuses of her individual crewmembers. Petra was an easy choice. She was easily the most reliable team leader at Moreina’s disposal. The interventor likely wouldn’t be too happy about being pulled off of her forced rest, but everyone at least understood that the mission came first on the Hasselhoff. “Petra.” Moreina said out loud.
A digital beep chimed in the CIC as Petra’s voice came out through the speakers, “Captain?”
“Sorry to do this, but you’re gonna have to get wet again.” Moreina sighed as she said that. She knew Petra hated being underwater.
“Oh thank God! When can I leave, ma’am?” Petra responded, sounding relieved.
Moreina blinked, “That… Was not the response I was expecting from you.”
“If it means I can get away from the Beverley Hills sisters that just came aboard, then I’m all for it.” Petra said.
Things were abuzz in the Hasselhoff’s crew deck, particularly in the mess hall where members of the crew were gathering around and cheering. Captain Moreina entered discretely, not wanting to disturb their apparent fun with the formalities of being on deck. She spotted Petra pulling herself out from the tight crowd, looking fed up with nonsense. Petra placed herself next to the captain, leaning back against the wall and crossing her arms with a long sigh. Things were quiet between the two of them for a few seconds, but Petra finally acknowledged Moreina, “Captain.”
“How are the new crew members doing?” the captain asked as she tried to see over the gathering.
“They’re entirely too comfortable too fast. Gotta say, captain, I’m normally in support of your onboarding of new crew, but… Cheerleaders? Really?”
Moreina cleared her throat awkwardly and rubbed the back of her head, “Yeah… Not my first choice in all honesty… Their manager- er… I guess their dad? Anyways, turns out he a big Krug-Mania fan.”
Petra pinched the bridge of her nose after hearing that, knowing exactly where this was leading. “Oh no…”
Moreina nodded slowly, “Aaand since we have the current Kruggernaut aboard the ship… Well, let’s just say he wanted to bankroll us.”
Petra put the rest together, “And that means if we want his money we need to deal with his celebrity daughters turning this place into a reality TV show…”
“Yyyyup…” Moreina said.
“Well our dear reverend sisters aren't very thrilled.” Petra said, chuckling at the thought.
“I figured they might not be.” The captain said as she caught a glimpse through the crowd at the scene unfolding.
CSU Larry stood between two groups of women. One group, a sisterhood of similarly white robed reverend sisters of the Observence, and the other, a troupe of similarly black skirted cheerleaders! Both groups were playing tug-of-war with Larry being the rope, both of his arms stretched out between them. “Now now, ladies! There’s plenty of Larry to go around!”
They weren’t listening! Reverend moira Gin was most fervently tugging at Larry’s right arm, shouting at the cheerleaders, “We had him first!”
Meanwhile, the quintuplet cheerleaders were tugging back with Lacy, the apparent leader of the five sisters, speaking back, “Too bad, bitch! Daddy put a lot of money into Larry! He’s ours now!”
Despite being practically pulled apart, Larry did not seem to mind being fought over. In fact, he had a big stupid smile on his face that was only encouraged by the hooting and hollering of the crowd around them. One of the other cheerleaders, this one was named Lucy, backed up her identical sister, “Larry, sweetie, we need to start rolling the cameras soon! Just dump those religious bimbos and hurry up already!”
Gin guffawed, “Bimbos?! Why you plastic, superficial wh-”
“Ahem!” Captain Moreina interjected, catching the attention of the back few members of the onlooking crowd who immediately called the mess hall to attention. Things went silent.
Moreina stepped through the crowd and patted Larry on the shoulder, “I commend you for your strength, Larry. You’re going to have your hands full from now on, I think.”
Larry shrugged, “I don’t mind!”
Petra groaned from the opposite side of the mess hall. Moreina smirked and turned to the rest of the crew, “New mission. This one is gonna be loud. I know we’ve got our hands full with the QAZ’s currently, so the team is gonna be a little ramshackle... Petra is in charge, I’m going to need volunteers-”
“I’m on it, cap!” Larry cut her off and stepped away from the bickering reverends and cheerleaders.
Petra pinched the bridge of her nose as Larry leaned on the wall right next to her, passing her a wink.
Moreina shrugged, “As I was saying-”
“Me too! I’ll go!” said Lacy, already bolting to grab Larry by his arm, “This’ll be a perfect opportunity to get some shots of you in action, Mr. Kruggernaut~ Daddy will be please!”
Gin raised her hand, “I- I’ll go too! No way I trust Larry with that viper!”
Moreina shook her head, “Sorry, Gin, but I can’t in good conscience send both you and the cheerleader in together without killing each other. And er... We could use the extra cash.”
Gin puffed her cheeks before deflating, “Yes, captain...” The other reverends quickly circles around her and whispered their comforts to the love-stricken moira.
“Anyone else? Or am I going to have to start taking volunteers?” Moreina asked, looking around the assortment of crew.
There was silence. Moreina persisted, “Going once... Going twice...”
“I am Percival!” a man blurted out from across the mess hall before letting out a loud belch.
Everyone turned to look at the rogue myrmidon strewn out over a table with several empty bottles of liquor around him. He clearly had no idea what was going on. But Moreina needed bodies and she knew Percival, despite being in a constant state of inebriation, would produce results. Moreina nodded, “Oh charming! Looks like we have another volunteer! Would someone please collect Percival and get him armored up? The shuttle departs in an hour. I want everyone else geared up and standing by while I fill the roster. That is all.”
Moreina made her leave. Petra looked between the drunken myrmidon and Larry, who now had a new shadow in the form of a cheerleader stuck to his arm. She had a feeling that this mission was going to be a mess. She looked over to Lacy, “Tell me you’re actually going to contribute to this mission and not be a burden.”
The cheerleader winked, “Babe, I’m not the troupe leader of the Tunguska Cheerkillers for no reason~ You’ll see~!”
Two hours had passed since the team departed from the Hasselhoff. The shuttle, disguised as a civilian cargo lander to make use of the Montalban landing pads without suspicion, burned hard through the atmosphere. A streak of fire trailed their approach. Once they were below the clouds, the team inside made their final preparations for their kit. It was raining hard outside with enough wind to cause some turbulence on the way. The team was small and not at all complimenting of any others’ capabilities. Such were the strains of this quantum anomaly crisis ripping Concilium apart. Petra was the only hacker with absolutely no repeater equipment at her disposal. Adukwu, freshly resurrected after having her cube ‘on ice’ since the Kurage Crisis, sharpened her blade and tuned her camo cloak to match the interior environs of Montalban. She was a bandit spotter, and the only spotter the team had to guide seeking missiles in from Virtue, the Hasselhoff’s mobile artillery vertigo zond. Then there was Lucien Chavez, an Evader from the Hasselhoff’s hull repair section. He was at least a likeable and reliable gunfighter. Larry needed no introduction, and pressing herself to his side was the cheerkiller that had instantly slotted herself into the mission roster. Apparently she was a hell of a shot with her marksman rifle.
Sitting at the back of the shuttle was a very grumpy woman in a form fitting pilot suit. Her callsign was 8-Ball, the Hasselhoff’s szalamandra pilot. Normally she was hyped up to bring her TAG into battle, but she didn’t have her TAG! 8-Ball’s precious Szally was grounded for extensive maintenance after a raid on a Druze controlled asteroid TAG mining facility. No one had expected the giant wurm to burst out from the rock, least of all 8-Ball as she rode her battle high. Captain Moreina had to smooth things over with ‘Double Kiss’ to loan out her Lizard for the mission. The team was going to need some heavy firepower. Thankfully, the new model Lizard was based on the szalamandra chassis and OS, so 8-Ball was able to operate it with ease. She was impressed with the system upgrades the Mk II Lizard had over the Szally, but it was her TAG, and she was resentful of it for that reason alone.
Sitting across from Petra was a Securitate D.I. by the name of Helen Nova. She was on the security team under Larry. Helen was a relatively new member to the crew, and she somehow was completely immune to Larry’s… personality, for better or for worse. She and Larry had a strictly professional relationship, and they worked well together to ensure the security of the Hasselhoff. Petra had gone over her record, and she was surprised to see a staggering amount of black ink and encryption. A veteran Vortex operative perhaps?
And finally, there was Marianna, the sombra that had taken part in the initial infiltration. Petra liked Sombra, which was a rare thing for any corregidoran. Sure, there was Lucien, but Petra didn’t get along with him off duty like she did Marianna. Maybe deep down she just admired the sombras.
The shuttle jostled and rattled as the winds picked up more and more. The sound of thunder rumbled through the steel hull and Petra could hear the engines picking up power to compensate for the headwind. The lights in the passenger compartment changed to red, along with an alert. The shuttle pilot spoke over the crew intercom, “Thirty seconds! Montalban isn’t returning our codes so they might be suspecting something. It’s gonna get hot so clear the LZ and get inside quickly before the surface defenses decide they wanna turn you all into hamburger!”
Lacy wretched at that comment. “Gross-uh! Ugh… I’m totally gonna break a nail doing this… Larry, sweety! You’ll protect me, riiight?”
Larry winked back at the cheerkiller, “Only if Petra is safe!”
Petra rolled her eyes, “No, please. Keep her safe. The less I gotta tolerate you, the better.”
Lacy unlatched her seat harness and pulled her marksman rifle from its weapon rack. She glanced over at Petra and chuckled, “Trust me. Once Larry is on the vids, you’re gonna want every piece of him!”
“Don’t make me gag…” Petra said coldly as she readied her combi rifle.
The shuttle shifted abruptly as it made contact with the landing pad. The rear ramp dropped and the compartment lights turned green. The team was immediately sprayed with violent rainfall and thrashing waves as they ran out. Beams of white light from the surface structure’s floodlights contrasted the dark raging ocean and stormy skies. The team made best speed to the landing pads surface entrance and breached it with clean, highly practice clearance drills. Once inside, Petra used the quantronic back door on the elevator that she had left behind to easily take control of the lift. The team stepped into the large elevator platform and began their descent into the underwater research labs’ hab sector.
“Hasselhoff, this is One. We’re on the ground and descending to the deep labs now.” Petra reported.
“Copy, One. I’m seeing the station come alive with activity. Seems those same Ariadnans from before are still running security while PanO’s military handles the crisis. We’ve got no time to risk negotiation, so we need to go through them.” Captain Moreina said.
“Roger, Hasselhoff… What’ll this do to the alliance if things don’t go our way?” Petra asked.
“We’ll burn that bridge when we get there. So let’s just make sure thing do go our way instead. Good hunting, One. Hasselhoff out.”
OOC: The mission is Frontlines, hence the narrative being directed more to a face-to-face encounter rather than infiltration and subterfuge. I made a terrible mistake during my list creation after removing units to make room for other units, and only after I had deployed did I notice my mistake. I took no repeaters for my interventor! And thus my vertigo zond was basically blind and useless all game! Being without hacking support and missile support, I knew I was going to be at a disadvantage this whole game and that I’d need to get creative. My opponent, JamesPrime (the only one in my group who is in town during this campaign) brought a 5 man core of Marauders, a 3 man haris of infiltrating H. flamethrower grunts, and two guided missile uragun Traktor MULs! He had also brought four foxtrot F.O.’s to guide his missiles in. The bastard was using my trick and he had prepped for it better than I did! This was going to be an uphill battle for me!
The elevator ride down was quiet. As they descended, Petra infiltrated the facility’s camera network and began gathering intel of what was awaiting them at the bottom. She passed the footage to the commlogs of the rest of the team, “They’re fanned out and looking pretty coordinated. Looks like they’re expecting us at the bottom. 8-Ball, take point. I want your armor shielding the rest of us and drawing the fire so we can fan out and take ‘em head on!”
The Lizard TAG droned as its mechanical limbs carried the heavy TAG to the front of the platform. It studied its heavy spitfire curiously. “Sure thing, boss! But er… Well I don’t think this little pea shooter is gonna do me very well. Seriously! How does D.K. use this thing?! I want my HMC back!”
Lucien fell in behind the TAG and gave the machine a comforting pat, “There there 8-Ball. Last I saw, Chloe and her clockmaker team were just about done with the repairs. Just gotta tough it out for one op! You got this!”
The TAG’s pilot groaned through its loudspeakers. “Fine! But don’t expect me to like it!”
Marianna and Adukwu activate their active camouflage and prepared themselves for a quick sprint ahead of the TAG to get deep into the sector before the enemy could react to their breach. The rest of the team double-filed in behind the TAG as the large elevator lurched to a halt. With a hiss of pressure, the elevator’s gate began to open, its gears creaking under the weight of the metal doors. Marianna and Adukwu slipped under the gate before it was even at knee height, their camouflage preventing the natural, unaugmented eyes of the ariadnans from spotting them. Marianna used her sub-vocal comms to alert the team of the ariadnan positions she immediately saw, “Sniper, perched up on a balcony. Might be hard to dig out.”
The elevator door opened more, revealing the imposing Lizard TAG to the ariadnans as 8-Ball responded to Marianna with her loud speaker still on, “Nothing is hard to dig out for me!”
The TAG charged forward, its heavy spitfire being brought to bear on the perched sniper. The sniper fired once at the lizard and then ducked for cover. The spitfire’s rounds flew overhead while the sniper’s single shot hit the chest plating and pinged off the TAG harmlessly. 8-Ball ran forward with her spitfire singing. The TAG’s legs bunched up and launched itself on top of a cargo container to get a better angle on the sniper. She brought the spitfire to bear on the cover the sniper was hiding behind and held the trigger down. 8-Ball was just as surprised as the sniper was to see that Double Kiss had loaded specialized armor piercing rounds into the gun! They ripped through the cover and the marauder’s heavy armor with ease, punching two lethal holes into his heart and lung. The sniper fell over and 8-Ball lost sight of his vital signs on her displays.
8-Ball waved the team ahead, “Sniper down! Maybe this thing ain’t so bad after all!”
A chain of reports came in from the team as they reached their initial positions and were ready to engage in earnest. Petra nodded, swiping through the camera feeds to get a better handle on the situation. “Alright team, we’re not as organized as we usually are but that doesn’t make us any less deadly. 8-Ball, you’ve got their attention. Move ahead and keep the pressure up!”
“You got it!” 8-Ball said as the TAG hopped down from the container and continued pressing onward down the hab sector’s wide pathways. As 8-Ball progressed, her motion sensor pinged from two different spots. “Found you!” 8-Ball said over the loudspeaker.
A foxtrot, nestled in behind a garden planter, raised his laser designator at the TAG. He watched as the lizard fired off a few rounds at one of his comrades elsewhere. He painted the target just in time to duck low behind his cover as the lizard dragged its torrent of gunfire onto him. 8-Ball was really unleashing hell with the amount of ammo she was burning through!
Percival followed in behind 8-Ball while Lacy began climbing up some stairs to get to a hab's rooftop. Percival had a slow start to get moving. The liquor had mostly worn off thanks to his impressive human 2.0 biology. Instead, Percival was riding a buzz now, and he wasn't sure if he was entirely grateful for it now that he was in combat, or grumpy now that he was in combat and NOT drinking. The myrmidon kept close to the wall of a hab as he came up behind the lizard, spotting the small red dot that was the foxtrot's designator sitting on the TAG's chest piece. "I uh... I think you just got painted there, 8-Ball!" Percival said, his words slightly slurred.
"Yeah! Tracking that! My screens are lighting up with warnings in here!" 8-Ball replied.
Lacy then chimed in over the radio, "Give me a bit of cover and I can take care of that problem lickity-split!"
Percival checked the camera feed on his commlog and glanced around the corner, spotting the foxtrot who was painting 8-Ball as a target. He looked up to the other hab and spotted Lacy waiting for the right moment to take the shot. The myrmidon hiccuped and lazily reached down to his belt for a smoke grenade. "Got your cover coming- *hic* right up!"
Percival pulled the pin and gave the grenade an underhand toss. It rolled on the floor and quickly spat out its obscuring smoke, screening both the lizard and Lacy from the hawkeyes of the foxtrot. "You got your cover, missy! Don't *hic* screw it up!"
Lacy grinned and ran up the remainder of the stares, dropping her multispectral visor over her eyes. The smoke simply vanished for Lacy, leaving the bright red glow of the ariadnan foxtrot tucked in the thick leaves of a garden planter. She raised her rifle and took a quick breath before firing three quick shots in succession. The rounds trailed smoke behind them as they passed through the cloud and punched into the surprised ranger's chest. The ranger fell back and was dead almost immediately.
Lacy let out a cheer and jumped excitedly in place, "Hell yeah! Go Go Nomads! Go! Wooo!"
Petra, watching the entire thing from a camera feed in the relative safety of a tower, groaned and rolled her eyes at the sight. She had to reign the excitable cheerleader in, "Good shot but don't celebrate yet."
With a huff, Lacy stopped her dancing, "Fiiiine... I'll keep overwatch from this rooftop..."
8-Ball had moved up to take cover behind a container. As she did, she heard an alert and a quick scold in swahili. Looking at her screens, she saw that Adukwu had taken cover behind that very container, and the TAG had almost crushed her! Damn that camouflage was good. Adukwu jumped out of the TAG's way and saw some ariadnans with flamethrowers taking cover from the TAG's firepower. Still under the protection of her camouflage, Adukwu ran forward, drawing her long blade and leaping over the short barrier to catch a grunt unaware! One of the grunt's comrades spotted the strange movement and recognized the threat before his fireteam partner could. He let out a shotgun blast at Adukwu, but the hit came too late as the bandit sunk her blade into the man's chest. Still, the shotgun blast connected, blowing Adukwu off of her feet. She smacked her head on the container she came from and passed out.
8-Ball was less concerned about the grunts nearby when there was a well coordinated team of marauder to continue worrying about. Her motion sensors pinged and she spotted one of the marauders at the far end of a long corridor. 8-Ball stepped out from the container's cover and fired a wild volley of armor piercing rounds down the corridor. Four rounds ripped through the marauder's armor and ended him before he could dive to safety. With the TAG now exposed, the grunt that was too late to save his partner took his opportunity to wreathe the large machine in fire. Inside the TAG, 8-Ball could feel the temperature noticeably rise. A internal heat alarm went off in the cockpit, which she quickly silence. 8-Ball stepped back into cover and did a damage assessment, finding that the flamethrower had damaged some of the lizard's more sensitive parts. Overall the TAG was still in working order, but she'd have a tough time explaining that one to Double Kiss after the mission!
((OOC: The lizard was an early game gem. The table's layout suited the range bands for the spitfire, and it's AP ammo in conjunction with the lizard's Shock BS attacks made mince meat out of two of the five marauders putting pressure on my less defended flank. Shame about my bandit though, since that was foolishly my only frontline method of marking targets for my vertigo zond, but that ship had sailed during deployment when I realized my mistake with my list. The cheerkiller too was off to a strong start! So far, both first time uses of the cheerkiller and lizard have been great! The foxtrot did manage to target the lizard however, and that would be something that'd come back to bite me in the ass as the ball entered Ariadna's court.))
8-Ball let up on the hail of gunfire after taking that burst of flame in order to cool down her weapon system and the TAG itself. She had been running the thing pretty hard and she didn't want to have to fork over her money to cover the costs of extensive damage to D.K.'s TAG! She kept behind the cover of the container, watching carefully as threats emerged. Her HUD went red as an alarm blared in her ears. The words 'MISSILE MISSILE MISSILE' flashed on her main screen just as 8-Ball saw the ordnance launch in a high arch, nearly hitting the dome itself before screaming toward her.
"Ah crap! ECM- What?! WHY DID THEY MOVE THE ECM BUTTON?!" 8-Ball instead tried to physically move the TAG out of the way, but in her search for the ECM button, she just didn't have the time to evade. The missile came from above, making contact with the TAG's right shoulder and detonating as the armor piercing missile blew out mechanical and electronic parts alike. The cockpit quickly wrapped 8-Ball in a shock absorbing gel, stopping shrapnel and armor spall from embedding into the unarmored pilot. The screens in the cockpit went dark, and the lizard powered down. 8-Ball tried to speak over the comms, but the missile had damaged the TAG's transmitter.
Percival and Lacy both saw it, along with Petra over the feeds. The comms were abuzz, but Petra quickly silenced them with a confirmation that the TAG was down. "I'm on it!" Lucien said, "Just give me a- shit!"
Gunfire rattled through the corridors as Lucien took fire from the remaining advancing marauders. They took that as their signal to press the attack on the nomads. Lucien fired back, but he took a round to his chest plate that made him grunt and spin back into cover.
"Lucien? You good?" Petra asked over the comms, seeing in the feed that he had taken a hit.
The evader was panting as he sent his return over the radio, "Yeah... I'm good. But those marauders are making a move. We're gonna need to take care of 'em somehow!"
"I'll figure that out, I need you on 8-Ball to get that TAG back up and running!" Petra said.
Lucien checked the feeds and referenced them with the sector's auto-uploaded public map. "That's a hell of distance to cover. Maybe I can get it in view from the roof and pray I'm a good enough shot with this gizmokit."
"You're an engineer, Lucien, I'll trust you to work out a solution!" Petra said before turning her attention to other matters.
Larry and Helen were moving side by side down a quiet corridor, planning to flank the flamethrower wielding grunts that were putting pressure on the disabled TAG. From the feeds, Petra had never seen Larry so focused. Maybe the no-nonsense relationship between him and the D.I. was responsible for that. The two were clearing corners and communicating quietly with one another with hand signals as they closed in on the door that'd give them the surprising flank. But as they moved, the grunt on the rooftop that 8-Ball had initially engaged came into Helen's view above them! Lacy and Percival caught sight of the movement too and fired at the grunt. The grunt was surprised to see Helen there, and so he reflexively fired his shotgun down at her as she threw herself backward just in time as the pellets punched into the floor slightly. Lacy's shot connected with the grunt's shoulder plate, while Percival's breaker round broke upon the grunt's helmet.
Perched atop another rooftop, a foxtrot emerged from his cover with a laser designator pressed to his face. He shined the laser at Lacy, foolishly crossing the red light over her eye and tipping her off to his position! Lacy nodded her head forward hard, dropping the visor down over her eyes to spot the man's silhouette amongst the concealment better. Before the foxtrot could get a lock, the eagle-eyed cheerkiller snap fired a round at him. The bullet blew right through the sighting scope of the designator and exited out the back of the foxtrot's head. He flopped back on the rooftop. Lacy lowered her rifle and blew a kiss in his direction, not that he'd ever see it.
Recognizing the threat of the nomad marksman, the ariadnan dozer sent a command to one of the Traktor MULs to fire a volley of unguided rockets at her. The drone came out from his hiding spot, rocket tubes opening as it did. Lacy saw the stocky mini-tank aiming at her, its glowing red sensor sphere peering right at her. With an agile and practiced jump, Lacy threw herself backwards with a flip and landed on her feet as the rockets blasted the billboard behind her. She dropped to her knees, bracing for a longer ranged shot back at the Traktor MUL as more rocket pods opened up to fire at her. With a soft exhale, Lacy squeezed the trigger and sent a round directly into the sensor sphere. The primitive drone simply went lip, its rocket launchers down turning to the floor as it lost power. Petra was beginning to appreciate the cheerkiller's marksmanship. If only she wasn't so prissy!
The dozer let out a groan of frustration as the bot powered down. He got low to stay out of the deadeye's sights and crawled up to the drone. "Okay..." the dozer said to himself as he tried repairing the damaged sensor. "Damn safety features... 'Why would we want a rocket drone wildly firing the moment it goes blind?'" he quoted someone in a dumb, annoyed voice. As he removed the sensor, the dozer tweaked a wire that was barely hanging in there, snapping it and causing an electrical surge that fried in drone's FCS.
"Dammit! Dammit dammit dammit!" the dozer cursed over and over again after making more work for himself.
Petra couldn't help but chuckle as she watched the engineer proceed to ruin his own hardware. At least that'd keep the air clear for a while... "The drone is down but there is another one there in standby mode. We're clear of missile launches for now but it'd be best to keep an eye in the sky."
Turning her attention back to the three marauders, she saw that they had moved up to and were stacking up on it for a breach. Marianna was just on the other side. While she trusted the sombra's fighting skills in pitched situations, she still didn't have a good feeling about it. "Sanchez," Petra said to the sombra, "Eyes up, door number one on your left. The marauders are looking to breach through."
"Roger that, One." Marianna said professionally.
"You're gonna be fighting that one on your own. Think you can manage?" Petra asked.
"Only one way to find out. I'll be ready-" Marianna's comm was stepped on by Percival with a sudden bellow.
"I am Percival! Fear not *hic* Marianna! I will *hic* ... *hic* Banish the foes! Huzzah!"
((OOC: Losing my TAG to the guided missile was a bit rough, but totally deserved by my opponent! Thankfully my Cheerkiller did an absolutely mad job at keeping the enemies locked down with a few very well timed critical hits! The dozer tried fixing the Traktor MUL, but failed his roll. After failing a reroll with a command token, my opponent opted to keep the drone down for a while so he could focus his efforts elsewhere. His marauder fireteam moved forward, but he was hurting for orders so he could only get them stacked up on a door and in suppression in a bid to strike me in turn 3. The plan would have worked, but he made a positioning mistake where one marauder in suppression wasn't looking at an approach. That mistake was something I would immediately exploit with Perseus! I just needed to get him there safely!))
Percival was on the move! He rounded the corner of the building he was taking cover against to sprint down the main causeway of the hab sector. His HUD highlighted a defensive turret in his peripherals. The turret detected Percival but his optical-digital disruptor played hell with its simplistic sensors. Nevertheless, the turret fired a volley of combi rounds in Percival's direction, but the myrmidon's wired reflexes and impressive acrobatics had him diving ahead and out of sight. Percival recovered with a roll, maintaining his forward momentum to sprint toward the encroaching marauders that were about to introduce Marianna to a world of hurt.
They were just around the corner now. Using his commlog to look at Petra's camera feed, Percival noted that the marauder nearest to him had his back facing the corner! Perfect. Percival hiccupped quietly to himself as he unclipped his last smoke grenade from his belt. He gave it roll around the corner and quickly dove into the shroud. The marauder caught in the smoke started coughing furiously. Percival could see his silhouette in the dense cloud and stalked up behind him. He reached out and took the marauder's head in one hand, while wrapping his armored arm around his neck. With a push of his hand and a squeeze of the marauder's neck, Percival heard the neck snap and felt his body go limp.
He let go of the body, letting it slump onto the ground. The marauder's kit clattered noisily. Percival unslung his breaker combi and leaped out of the smoke between the two marauders. He fired in a fanning motion, catching both of them with the advanced ammunition, but the marauders appeared unharmed. With both marauders surviving, and the grunt surviving earlier, Percival was convinced that his breaker rounds were duds! The marauders, realizing they were unharmed by the breaker ammunition, quickly fired back at Percival with shotguns. His ODD played hell with their eyes, and Percival was able to dodge aside easily. A shotgun from behind Percival surprised him, but once again, the advanced tech in Percival's battle armor was giving him the edge.
Finding himself surrounded, Percival resorted to plan B. He heard the pump of another shotgun round from one of the marauders and quickly threw himself in a spear tackle at one of the marauders, dodging another shot from the foxtrot who had surprised Percival from behind. Percival took the marauder to the ground with him and quickly twisted to lay on his side, placing the marauder between him and the marauder's fireteam partner. He tangled with the ariadnan, using his ODD to distort the image of the two on the ground. Neither the second marauder nor the foxtrot could make sense of the twisting distorted images on the ground to make an accurate shot without hurting the tackled soldier.
"Lieutenant!" the other marauder yelled as he dropped his shotgun and drew his knife, charging at Percival to help his commanding officer.
Percival raised his arm, catching the marauder's attack by the forearm and stopping the knife just inches from his face plate. He twisted his arm, grabbing the marauder's wrist and tugging him closer. Percival drew his knee up, sending the armored knee plate into the ariadnan's gut and winding him. Percival pushed the knife wielding marauder away so he could continue his gentlemanly duel with their lieutenant. The lieutenant grabbed Percival by the leg and stood up, throwing Percival off balance and causing him to stagger back against a wall. Percival threw himself from the wall, headbutting the lieutenant with his faceplate and recoiling him. He glanced back at the other marauder, seeing him charging again. Percival side stepped and drew his sword in one hand, hamstringing the soldier in one clean motion before spinning behind the crippled marauder and pulling a heavy pistol from its holster. Percival fired a single round through the back of the marauder's helmet, the exit wound making a bloody mess of his face.
The lieutenant watched the brutal execution and howled with rage, throwing himself and all of his armored bulk into Percival. He picked Percival up by the waist and slammed him back into the metal floor. Percival's pistol clattered to the floor out of reach. The marauder pinned him with his legs and sent several blows down at Percival's head. Percival kept his arms up, blocking the punches as they came. The myrmidon drew his leg up, awkwardly driving his knee into the marauder's back with enough force to at least throw the marauder forward and shift his weight. Percival then reached up and pulled the marauder forward and down to the floor, slamming his face against the metal walk way. He rolled off of Percival, giving the marauder time to clamber to his feet.
The two stood with heavy breaths, their fists raised. The marauder gave a bloody grin at Percival, "Gotta admit. I haven't had a good fight like this in ages."
Percival laughed, "Same *hic* here!"
The marauder blinked, "Are you drunk?!"
The myrmidon shook his head, "Nah but I wish I was right now."
"Right... Honestly? Same." the marauder said.
Percival nodded, "I'd love to share a drink, but... This mission never happened and orders are orders."
The lieutenant spat a tooth and some blood down on the floor. "Well shit... Let's get to it then."
Percival clenched his fists, "Lets."
The two went at each other against, punching and blocking as the blows came. But Percival was faster and more agile. Even in his permanently inebriated state, Percival was just on a whole other level. Petra was watching on the feed, her hacking device scrubbing the ODD distortion from the camera's display to keep track of the duel. "Percival, we don't have time! Finish him!"
Percival blocked a knife strike from the marauder, then sidestepped the marauder and sent a undercut directly into the lieutenant's gut. He gasped and keeled over. Percival drew his second pistol and pressed it to the marauder's side, "Well fought, but unfortunately I can't go on."
The marauder grinned up at him, a gesture which Percival returned with a respectful nod before pulling the trigger and ending the marauder's life. "Lieutenant, no!" the foxtrot yelled as he ran at Percival. A shotgun blast connected with Percival's backplate, causing him to stagger slightly. But he remained standing. Percival looked back over his shoulder at the vengeful foxtrot, his glowing red visor flaring through the dissipating smoke and optical disruption.
The foxtrot fired another round but the shot hit only air. Percival fired his pistol at the foxtrot's knee, blowing out the ranger's kneecap and toppling him to the floor. The myrmidon collected his other pistol and his sword from the floor before stepping up to the foxtrot. He ran his sword along the foxtrot's neck, drew it back, and finished the ranger in a clean swipe. Percival looked around the four dead bodies, giving them a brief nod of approval before walking further toward the ariadnan line. "*hic* The marauders are taken care of. No need to *hic* thank me, Marianna."
Petra let out a breath of relief after. With the Marauders and grunts cleaned up, the majority of the enemy forces were scattered and in disarray. She made sure to keep an eye on the camera feeds though, spotting movement by the damaged Traktor MUL that the ariadnans had brought with them. The dozer was still working away! Petra watched as the drone hummed back to life, its sensor pod spinning about to re-evaluate its fields of fire. "Heads up team, that artillery piece is back online. Keep your heads down. Lucian, any luck on those repairs?"
"Working on it, boss. This building is an absolute bitch to climb!" the evader replied.
Just then, the sound of gunfire echoed down the metal corridors. Petra referenced her camera feed again, spotting Lacy engaging the other grunts that had gone to ground amidst the discord. With their lieutenant dead they didn't know what to do, and they didn't have the weapons to fight back against the marksman perched atop the building. Lacy's precision took out the grunt overlooking Helen and Larry's position first, then she trained her rifle on the one that had backed up the first grunt from Adukwu, placing a very accurate shot in the grunt's eye. "All clear on this end! Well... If we're not counting the drone in the distance, that is..."
((OOC: So in the game, the fight between Perseus and the ariadnans was a lot less dramatic. Being the CC specialist he is, the low CC marauders never really stood a chance. He killed the first one in the smoke and ran out of orders after having to sprint across the table. The cheerkiller had also taken two orders to finish off the grunts on her side. For my final order, I dodged Perseus into silhouette contact with a marauder, finding out my mistake that the marauder I dodged into was his lieutenant! How fortuitous! Dodging was the right call instead of CC attacking as everyone surrounding Perseus shot weapons at him. Perseus did take a hit from the foxtrot that revealed from camo, placing him into NWI. Thankfully Perseus is Perseus and he managed to stick it through. The two remaining marauders and foxtrot all died in CC as they dogpiled onto the myrmidon, hoping to outweigh his skill with dice!))
The Ariadnans were falling back! Somehow this rapidly assembled, poorly organized team had done it! Still, the dozer and his Traktor MUL's stayed behind to act as a rearguard to cover the retreating ariadnans. Lucian finished pulling himself up onto the building, taking a few seconds to catch his breath. "God why did I do that to myself? Haaah... I need... to work out... A bit more... Whew..."
Lucian stared out the dome to the blue ocean waters outside, his eyes tracking the silhouettes of large ocean fauna lazily swimming about. He'd have loved to have just stayed there and watched them, but he had a TAG to fix! Lucian pulled himself to his feet and stood on a balcony overlooking the street where 8-Ball's TAG had been disabled. He had a clear shot... But it was still a long shot. And provided he even hit the thing from there, there was no promise that the nanites in the gizmokit would be able to repair the damage. Still, there wasn't any other way he could get that TAG back up and running in a timely enough manner.
Lucian reached for his waist and drew the small nano repair device, aiming it down the street to the distant silhouette of the lizard. "Okay, Lucian... You can do this... I believe in you!"
From the rooftop across the street, Lacy cheered him on with a little dance, "I believe in you too, Lucian! You. Can. Do. This! Woooo!"
Lucian grinned and squeezed the trigger, the gizmokit little out a little whistle as the nanite-filled dart sailed down the street. It hit the TAG, its monofilament injector piercing the armor. Lucian pumped his fist in the air, "YES! I did it! HA!" He heard Lacy cheering too.
Lucian watched the rear end of the dart light up green, notifying him that the damage was indeed repairable by the advanced device. It didn't take long for the nanite swarm to reach the damaged area in the TAG's shoulder. After about a minute, the TAG's lights came back on along with the loudspeaker and a very excited 8-Ball. "AAAAND WE'RE BACK! HELL YEAH! Great shot, Lucian! Dayum!"
The TAG gave the evader a thumbs up. Lucian gave 8-Ball a thumbs up in return. Petra wrangled them back in, "Alright we can all agree that was amazing, but we can celebrate Lucian's hail Mary later. 8-Ball, the techno-regressives are retreating. Gonna need your big guns to stop 'em from getting away."
8-Ball grinned in her cockpit and immediately vaulted over the container it was using for cover all this time. "You got it! One wrecked tonk coming right up-" BANG BANG BANG!
More rockets from the Traktor MUL smacked into the lizard's armor plating, this time from direct fire. The TAG was knocked off balance mid-vault by the accurate blasts. The TAG crashed into the floor, a small fire bursting igniting the grenade launcher's ammo magazine and starting a cook off. Lucian watched in abject horror as his moment of glory was upended by a particularly angry little drone. The TAG's lights powered down again, but the loudspeaker was still online.
There was a silence for a few long seconds until 8-Ball spoke up from the loudspeakers. "I'm okay! But uh... Can someone lend me a few thousand credits? D.K. is gonna be pissed when she sees her TAG."
Larry spoke up over the radio, "I got you covered, 8-Ball."
The pilot gasped in excitement, "Really!? Are you sure?"
Larry sipped his coffee and nodded, "Of course! Got nothing else worth spending my Krug-Mania winnings on... Well... Besides a lifetime supply of 'Acafecimento Medium Roast'."
Lacy poked her head over the railing of the rooftop at Larry, "Awesome! I'll be sure to add that to the show! Too bad I didn't have time recording you, Larry. I got a little caught up recording myself being an absolute SNIPER up here!"
Petra cut them off, "Cut the chatter, team. Looks like the area is secure for now. Regroup, we're going to need consolidate gear and set up a perimeter until Nomad Command can get some troops here to secure a beachhead."
The cat was out of the bag now. The nomad presence in Montalban's facilities was out in the open. Simultaneous ops around the rest of the region had done well to limit the response up to this point. But it wasn't going to get any easier from here on out. The Hasselhoff's direct action on the underwater facility's hab sector gave the nomads a solid beachhead to push further into the station. Nomad High Command had dispatched several teams to the hab sector to lock the area down.
The team was relieved to see the first wave of troops arrive, a platoon of alguaciles and a tomcat squad to take care of casualties and shore up defenses. 8-Ball had since been extracted from her TAG, and Adukwu was stabilized for the docs to get her back up on her feet. Larry sat back on a lawn chair situated on a rooftop, sipping his coffee and staring up at the ocean beyond the dome. Lucian had found a place next to Larry, pondering the abyss alongside the CSU. "Damn that's terrifying..." Lucian said.
Larry glanced over at the evader and raised a brow, "How so?"
"Just... The sheer amount of it. The water, y'know? Can't even see the surface from down here. Look at that whale right there. See how big it is? Apparently that's not even the biggest species in Concilium's waters."
"Especially now since the QAZ's appeared." Larry said, delivering a bit of existential dread to the evader.
"Yeah... Y'know? I'm stoked to get the hell away from this planet and never come back. After Durgama and now this, I think I've had enough time on this rock for a lifetime. Ahh it'll be nice to get to Corregidor." Lucian said, resting the back of his head in his hands.
Larry nodded, pondering that for a while. Where would he go after all this? Tunguska? That's where Petra was after all. And the Cheerkillers who were so set on turning him into a star. He could do Bakunin, plenty of things to do there. Or maybe he'd go to Corregidor and continue his career as the champion meta-chem wrestler in Krug-Mania! The possibilities were endless! Or maybe he could go home to Earth and visit his mom. It had been a hot minute since he saw her. Yeah... That didn't sound so bad at all!
Larry was taken out of his reverie when a pair of arms hugged him from behind, "Selfie!" Lacy said as she rested her chin on his shoulder.
Larry was blinding by a flash as a small pocket drone flew out in front of him and snapped a picture. He jumped in surprise from it all, spilling his coffee all over his clean white shirt. Lacy pouted, "Woops! My bad! I can fix that... Once I figure out how to use the washing machine on board."
Larry cleared his throat and shrugged, "No biggie, Lacy. I got ten more of these back in my room. I'm sorta used to spilling coffee."
Lacy gasped, "OH-EM-GEE! Is this the moment when you invite me into your room for an exciting recording sesh?"
"Wait... What? Hold on-" Larry said, waving his hands. "How old are you anyways?!"
"Wouldn't you like to know, lover boy?" Lacy winked.
Larry nodded frantically, "Yes! I would!"
Lacy laughed, "Relax, honey. I'm just messing with you. Actually my sisters and I are all forty-two! Gene mods keep us looking like we're twenty-somethings because youth sells in the vids. Daddy paid a hefty price to make the top cheerleading team in the Sphere~"
Lucian shot up from his seat when he heard that, "Hold up! Hold up! ... Are any of you single?"
"Not anymore with Larry around~!" Lacy said as she clung to Larry's arm.
"Wait WHAT?! When did this happen?!" Larry gasped.
"It's in the contract, sweetie~ Did you read the fine print?" Lacy said, smothering her face in his arm.
"Oh... OH! Oh balls..." Larry said.
That was one hell of a crunch! With the phase ending tomorrow (at the time of publishing this), I needed to get this report out right away! I took every moment I had to write it, even using my free time at work! I had a lot of fun writing this one. There wasn't really any Larry action in the actual game itself, but that happens from time to time. But alas, I got to premier some new characters, namely the Cheerkillers, in this one, as well as return 8-Ball to the fold!
I absolutely love writing these battle reports up, and I hope you love reading them just as much! I have a custom mission in the works to continue the narrative I am cooking up. (It involves conveyor belts and lots of dolphins). Stay tuned in phase two and I work to finalize the details of that mission and bring it into Season 4 of Diaries of a CSU!
That's all for now, folks.
Go Go Nomads!