“... Alas, my Sisters, our Enemies have conjoined their efforts to destroy us: even more treacherous than its nefarious sister Aleph, the EI has turned to employ the subtle weapons of word and promise, truly befitting of its demonic nature. How can we fight such a battle in the hearts and minds of the denizens of the Human Sphere without appearing as lost and sniveling children, when they already have seized for themselves the name of CHAD?”
A faint blue glow outlined Reverend Mother Asunciòn’s soft features, while the speech of Sister Cordelia continued from the Arachne broadcast in the background.
She was carefully examining the blueprints of one of Montalban’s smaller laboratories belonging to GeneTech, one of the subsidiaries of the PanOceanian megacorp Moto-Tronica. The structure was built on an artificial platform slightly above the ocean floor, remarkably near the ever changing confines of the QAZ. As things stood, it would have to be evacuated soon, and that would be their chance to strike: cross referencing the communications they managed to intercept from Bears, their transport, and the flow of data coming from the Crypto Winter, acting as the Nomad flagship from its stable orbit around Concilium Prima, it appeared that the PanOceanian scientists there had been experimenting on Little Norbert, an uplifted beluga whale pilot from Bakunin.
Less than twelve hours later, the Custodier had moved from the reassuring weightlessness of high orbit to the crushing depths of the Ocean: inside a civilian bathyscaphe rented with a false ID from a Bureau Hermes planetary service, her and a small team of Platoon 404 members were descending towards the GeneTech facility, already too severely compromised by quantum anomalies to pay any mind to their approach. Or, at least, so she hoped.
The cabin of the submersible, spacious by Nomad standards, was eerily quiet, now that the banter between their two Morlocks, Linda and Clara, and their new hire from Bakunin’s illegal fighting circuit, Toshiro, had been cut short by sister Lavinia’s harsh voice; after her black market resurrection three months prior, the Cenobite had become even less tolerant towards anything that came from outside the confines of Charon Cloister.
Beside Asunciòn, looking intently out through the panoramic glass, was one of the two moderators sent by Nomad Command: a young pink haired girl named Greta, that was supposedly an expert in cetacean physiology, hailing from one of Bakunin’s more unconventional modules, and that doubled up as their squad medic for the occasion. She looked pretty thrilled by their journey through the depths, unlike the rest of the crew.
Once they reached the docking port of the laboratory, it became clear that the situation inside was quickly becoming unsalvageable: the external structure was still mostly intact, but on the interior bulkheads and electronics had been badly damaged by the strange shockwaves caused by the quantum fluctuations, and water from burst pipes and infiltrations formed a three inch layer of debris-filled iridescent sludge over the floor. The air was stale, and reeked of chemicals and rot; only the emergency lighting seemed to be still working, painting the walls in a reddish, unsettling hue. However, the rooms and corridors that separated them from the central containment pod appeared deserted, as did the disjointed remains of the local network.
Just when Asunciòn was beginning to think it would be a fast and easy operation, an alert was shouted on the secure communication channel, immediately followed by a burst of gunfire:
“Right flank, enemy contact beyond the ZO!” it was the voice of their Orphan marksman, Phoebe ”Security detail’s still here, Reverend Mother. JSA mercs by the looks of it - clipped one of them, I think.”
She immediately switched her overlay to active combat mode, the tactical map of the area showing her squad advancing on the left side of the main laboratory, while the moderators and young sister Phoebe took the right, with Morlocks cordoning the center.
She quickly marked advanced positions “Acknowledged. All units, establish a defensive perimeter. Right flank, do you have a good firing position to keep them busy?”
“Sure thing ma’am, moving to higher ground.”
She launched a repeater down the flooded hall, while the reverberating echo of gunfire resumed in the distance. Clara and Toshiro had already taken position inside the lab, reporting that it was clear of hostiles, while Lavinia remained by the entrance, guarding the approach to their location. The irregulars were immediately followed by Sister Leanna, a zealous freshly appointed Reverend Moira, that clambered onto a cooling unit to peer into the glass surface of the containment tank
“Norbert’s still here.” she announced after a moment “Vitals look fine, he’s probably in cryo sleep.”
“Careful, Sister” interjected Phoebe, a hint of panic in her hushed tone “I’ve lost contact with the two Mods; my position’s still secure, but they might have broken through!”
“Yep!” echoed Linda’s shrill voice “You have two heavy dudes inbound from the right entrance, Reverend, they just f*ing ignored me shooting at them, ruuuude!”
The inside of the laboratory suddenly lit up with gunfire, the electromagnetic pulse from the Moira’s zapper stopping the first armored japanese soldier in his tracks; however, the buckshot from his shotgun found Leanna’s hip, sending her backwards against a rack full of scientific equipment.
Outside the room, the Custodier had managed to interface with the enemy comms network, highlighting one of their infantry carefully advancing behind the far wall of the hallway, and spoofing enough data to duplicate their IFF. Applying the fake ID, she ran together with Sister Lavinia into the laboratory, where Linda was gleefully emptying the clip of her sidearm into the second assailant, ignoring her own bleeding wounds; the Tanko collapsed against the wall, leaving a red streak on the bare metal surface, while Clara ran into the northern corridor to greet the incoming spotlighted keisotsu with more bullets.
“Got another one.” came Phoebe's voice from the secure channel “I don’t think they’ll give me more targets, I’ll get down from here and cover you.”
“Copy that.” answered Asunciòn “Careful on the way, the structure’s starting to become really unstable.”
“Yeah, I have some strange... Things going on here. First there were these ripples along the walls, like waves? Oh, now the water’s starting to flow up towards the roof, what in the name of…” The connection abruptly cut off with a static crackle, but everyone could hear the blood-curdling scream coming from outside.
“Damn it. We need to get out of here, fast!” she gestured towards the pod “Secure the pilot, and prep for exfiltration!”
In that moment, another figure rushed into the room, rolling past the blast of the morlock’s chain rifles: the unmistakable white and pink armor of Neko Oyama came into view in the red emergency lights of the compound. The Domaru flashed a wicked grin, katana unsheathed, challenging the Nomads to come forward. Toshiro didn’t need to be asked twice: his shorter blade met the Samurai’s in a rain of sparks, and the two exchanged a series of rapid blows. However, their duel didn’t remain a fair fight for long: the two morlock girls rapidly closed the distance that separated them from the two fighters, and quickly overpowered the JSA soldier.
“待って! Wait!” he screamed, forced on the ground, desperately trying to stop Clara from driving her blade through his chest “This facility is going to collapse soon, we all need to get out of here!” With a last ditch effort, he managed to break free of the morlock’s hold, tossing the psycho to the side “I have retrieved the Cube of your soldier that encountered the 量子異常, you can have it back if you let me get my men and leave this deathtrap.” He held his hands out, breathing heavily “We were just honoring our contract, there’s no need for more bloodshed.”
After a moment’s pause, Asunciòn nodded “So be it. Take your wounded and leave this place.” She took a step forward, and helped Oyama get back on his feet.
I won initiative and chose deployment, my opponent took second turn. My first turn was not too impactful, I just managed to break the keisotsu link by killing the leader with my Orphan and to set up my defences around the room.
After losing the Aragoto spitfire to an unlucky gunfight with the Orphan, JSA moved the Tanko haris to get rid of my moderators on the right, losing Musashi in the process, and storm the room, trading one of the Tankos with my Moira and scoring the first turn control with the other against the surviving Morlock and Zellenkrieger.
In the second turn I cleared out the Tanko and another keisotsu with the assault pistol morlocks (which are deceptively good at shooting) and scored extreme prejudice, while the orphan managed to get a shot on Yuriko, killing her but falling victim to the biotechvore plague.
My opponent started the turn with just Neko Oyama alive. With his three orders, he scored In Extremis Recovery on the Orphan’s unconscious body, and then dodged into the room, scoring an essential personnel point.
My third turn saw all my warbands impetuously charging Oyama, with the zellenkrieger NBW and B2 providing an advantageous 1vs1 fight, and the burst bonus for multiple allies in CC doing the rest for the Morlocks.
Final score was 8 for Bakunin (1 for classified, 2 for control and essential personnel T2, 2 for control and essential personnel T3, 3 for more victory points) with 79 VP, to 3 for JSA (1 for classified, 1 for control T1, 1 for essential personnel T2) with 0 VP.
My morlocks were really the stars of the Panic Room, dodging templates, passing armor saves and winning gunfights, while the Zellenkrieger was instrumental in his capability to engage JSA’s scary CC specialists without being immediately obliterated, granting the other warbands the chance to pile on.