En Route from Mountain Grill to Huaqiao

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Yu Jing
Yue Fei
VS PanOceania
Sir Wall

This report follows contact with an informant at the Mountain Grill in Edda. Details of that encounter provide context for the rest of the report and are included here for completeness:

"I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit
I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet
I rob you and I slaughter you, your downfall is my gain
And still you play the sycophant and revel in your pain
And all my promises are lies, all my love is hate
I am the Triumvirate and I decide your fate..."

Standing outside the Mountain Grill in Edda, Hsien Yue Fei could hear raspy, shouted lyrics over the distorted, rhythmic notes of a bass harpset. Something sounded off. The harpset player exhibited undeniable skill, but the song called for additional instruments. While he didn't consider himself an expert, he guessed that without a lead harpset and some drums, it lacked at least two-thirds of its intended ensemble.

As Yue Fei strode through the doors of the restaurant, the music stopped abruptly. A last whine of feedback from the harpset was muted by the musician's palm. The sparse audience consisted solely of a trio of aging Tohaa, huddled around a table positioned as far away from the stage as they could manage. Their expressions bore a palpable sense of relief at the music's sudden halt, though once they registered the hulking frame of a Yu Jing Imperial Agent in the room they made a flustered show of finishing their food and hurrying for the door.

"Yue Fei," growled the musician, as he stepped down off the small stage. "I'm glad you could find me. I have something you need to know."

"Le Muet, why do you play in a place like this?" asked the Hsien. It didn't seem to have brought in any customers, though at least that meant there were no witnesses to their meeting.

"The owner, Lou, is down on his luck. He hopes I'll keep this place safe for him if he feeds me. He's been trying to stop me getting on stage, but I worry I'll forget my music. I get edgy if I don't play. Sometimes people get hurt." Even now, the holsters of two large breaker pistols were conspicuous under Le Muet's bulky, black jacket. "Whatever the cost, Lou figures it's worth it. The Tohaa community is scared. There aren't many of us left."

"Your services were invaluable to us in the New Hypatia docks. I'll listen to what you have to say. My presence isn't going to boost business around here though, you should know my Durian Inspectors have been sent to hunt down the Spiral Corps."

"Hhrm. Those bastards. That's why we need to talk," Le Muet scowled.

"And why should I trust what you have to say about them? You've worked for Spiral in the past. You could be trying to save their necks."

"Money is money, I work for everyone. But you don't know what they did to me, do you? They did all this," said Armand, waving at the scarred crown of his head. "They said I gave them permission, but the bastards lied to me. This isn't a haircut, or missing leaves on a damned vegetable, this is life to a Tohaa. I can't even talk to my people without using your stumbling human language. I'm a cripple that nobody can bear to be around. I have no family, I have no lovers. Then they messed with my identity and named me LeMuet... the Corahtaa mute. That's their joke. But my music helped me unpick the mess they've made of my mind. ���� Spiral Corps and ���� the Triumvirate [1]."

"Tell me, what is the Triumvirate?" In truth, Yue Fei had been investigating them for some time. But why let Armand know what cards he held? Better to hear everything.

"That's what you need to know. The Tohaa didn't want to destroy this world. Most Tohaa came here to fight the Combined Army, or to escape from it. But before you humans even built the first circular, the secret, bastard Triumvirate has skulked in the shadows and has been playing us, and you humans, for fools. They brought down the Daedalus Gate and they caused this Concilium Debacle. And right now, for whatever secret reason they have, they've sent the Spiral Corps to build a mercenary coalition and attack the Master Clock in Huaqiao. I know because they're trying to pay me to go there."

[1] ���� indicates an untranslatable word. Context indicates it may be Vaarso Battlespeak for some kind of curse, probably sexual in nature.

Before providing further information, Armand negotiated a contract to operate with us. As a condition for this work, he demanded that we purchase several boxes of unsold band merchandise and distribute it for him. Optimistic about the value of information he might still be able to give us, and viewing it as a bargain to secure his services, we loaded them onto our Azure Dragon and took off for Huaqiao.

As we approached Huaqiao we were redirected to the Bureau Agni Advanced Fusion Propulsion Laboratory, one of many research facilities clustered in the area. A group of research personnel had sent a hurried message for assistance and frozen themselves in tech-coffins whilst trying to escape some kind of ephemeral Quantum Anomaly. An Exrah freighter had landed nearby, hoping to make delivery of equipment but unable to contact anyone or bypass the security systems. We linked up with a group of technical specialists led by Daoying Li, who had requested additional firepower when they spotted a heavily armed Pan Oceanian force deploying into the opposite corner of the complex.

Yu Jing deployment, set up open tech coffins on the left with Krit and on the right with a Monstrucker or Lei Gong
Varuna deploy with a Squalos MKII and Montesa duo on a heavy left flank, and scattered camo elsewhere.

Varuna concentrated their forces to attack on their left flank and protect the tech coffins with a handful of camo tokens. Yu Jing prepared to move on both flanks and open tech coffins early on, hoping to rescue their technical staff.

In an attempt to flush out disguised helots, a very well dressed beast hunter stealthily moved up on Yu Jings left flank. While a helot waited for the right moment to attack, a fugazi dronbot was able to discover the Beast Hunter.

Running forwards, the (very fashionable) Beast Hunter deployed a portable heavy flamethrower from a small suitcase and roasted the helot, also knocking out the fugazi. Unfortunately, she was shot by Red Fury return fire from the helot.
Dropping prone and squeezing under the Exrah freighter, Krit and an accompanying Zuyong Paramedic ran up and opened up the closest tech coffin. Sadly it was empty.
Running further up the table, the Zuyong stepped inside the facility and detonated a mine, dodging forwards into contact with another tech coffin. As he opened the tech coffin to reveal an O-12 scientist, a Croc Man revealed and hit him with a boarding shotgun. An ADHL shot from the monstrucker at the end of the corridor went wide.
Not having time to shoot at someone in thermo-optical camo, the Zuyong [proxy] stepped forward and shot the Croc man in close combat, going unconscious to a shotgun blast in return.
Not content to let Krit do all the engineering, the Yu Jing Monstrucker had the steely eye of an overachiever and ran forwards to open another tech coffin. It turned out to be empty.

As a friendly message of competition to the Yu Jing Monstrucker, Krit gunned down the Pan Oceanian monstrucker, then took a safe spot outside the facility. Le Muet and Lei Gon repositioned to prepare for incoming Pan Oceanian heavy units.

[YJ's first turn ended having taken out four enemy units, and locking away 3 OP by opening 3 tech coffins. Not a bad start.]

A Zulu Cobra revealed and opened the last tech coffin, revealing the second HVT. Annoyingly both were on the Pan Oceanian side of the table.
The Squalos MKII and Knight of Montesa rocketed forward and engaged in a lengthy gunfight with the Long Ya and Lei Gong, who desperately wanted to get himself on TV immobilizing the tag with his Blitzen. Neither of his two shots landed, and as the Long Ya, defensive turret and Kuang Shi giving him backup died, he took a wound and ducked out of the doorway he was guarding.
With a chivalric cry, Sir John [Hero of Cameliard!] gunned his bike and rushed into combat with the bird-like Aristeia! star. Perhaps a career in Aristeia! awaits, as he easily bested him in close combat.

[Varuna turn 1 ended with four units cut down on the YJ right flank. A second Helot camo token moved to threaten Le Muet if he moved. Not a bad comeback, and it looked like it would be difficult to push them away from the second HVT. At this point we also decided we had to end the game at end of turn 2, as our local store can't stay open past 10.30pm]

LeMuet moved to a better position to guard against the incoming Squalos, gunning down the Helot that popped out to shoot rockets at him.

Krit threw an HVT over his shoulder, ignoring some rather loud protests, and hauled him back to a defensive position by the Exrah freighter.

"Everybody, prepare for incoming Squalos TAG", said Hsien Yue Fei as he moved with the Long Ya to build a defensive castle.

"Hang on, I've got a great idea!" said the Monstrucker, running forward out of position...

... before winding up and pitching an E/M grenade right at the Squalos. It landed perfectly, and immobilized the TAG.

With some audible swearing, a machinist ran down the corridor on the Varuna side of the table and initiated a restart procedure on the immobilized tag. Creaking back into motion, the Squalos raised a large multi pistol, and taught the Yu Jing monstrucker what happened to overachievers.

The Kamau fireteam moved up and secured the second HVT, but Varuna tactical command decided a push towards the second HVT wouldn't be able to succeed before their extraction window expired

[At end of turn 2, Yu Jing scored 6-3 OP. Mostly thanks to the Monstrucker, who proved that he was, for one brief moment, the best engineer on the table.]

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