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  1. 3 points
    "Wǒ shì bùduì fùzé rén hú yīng yī. Kǎ pèilán liánbāng wǔzhuāng bùduì. Nín jiāng qūfú yú wǒmen de chāo qiáng huǒlì, bìng zhǔnbèi qǐqiú dà fǎguān liánmǐn," the soldier hissed at me. "Translation, please?" I asked, glancing at Private Jenkins. "I am Assistant Force Leader Hu Yingyi. Capellan Confederation Armed Forces. You will surrender yourself to our superior firepower and prepare to beg the Chancellor for mercy," Steve replied. I raised an eyebrow, impressed at the speed and coherence of his translation. "Your superior firepower?" Hayes asked. "Maybe I'm missing something, but from where I'm standing, four of your battle buddies have been reduced to dog food, and you're currently shackled to the side of a swine cage. Where exactly is the rest of this overwhelming force?" "Zài zhèxiē qiángbì wàimiàn. Wǒmen yǒu shíwǔ gèrén. Nǐmen jǐ gè?" Hu replied. "Do we really have to keep doing this translation song and dance?" the Major asked. "In case you weren't keeping track, the translations are only going in one direction. We're speaking to you in English. Tell me what you said. Or we're leaving you here with the hogs." The soldier stared defiantly at Hayes. "They'll be out of their cages. And they look pissed off," I added. "He'll do it. He's crazy," Steve added, pointing at me and making loopy fingers at the sides of his head. Hu let out a defeated sigh. "I said, my force is outside these walls. There are fifteen still of us. How many of you?" the Capellan clarified. "Five," Major Hayes responded matter-of-factly. "Five?" the captive asked, mockingly. "You would defeat us with five soldiers?" "We'd defeat you with one soldier," a gravelly voice snarled. The sound of a large pair of grav boots clunking against the deck drew my attention. It was Bishop Weyland, flanked by Nathan Schmidt. The Lieutenant's armor was covered in blast marks, several of its panels reduced to slag. "He's crazy too," Steve quipped, jabbing a thumb toward the Lieutenant. "Certifiably," Schmidt added. "Look at all that damage. Just imagine how bad the other guy must look right now." Bishop simply glared at the Capellan, who recoiled instinctively. "Cargo bay door's secured, sir," Weyland advised, looking toward Major Hayes. "We have...one casualty. She'll need medical attention." The Major looked crestfallen. "A non-com?" "Negative. Crew. But she'll live. From what I can tell, we're dealing with two different groups of people. There's the crew - and then there are these guys. I don't know what their relationship is, except that neither of them want us here." "May I?" I asked, looking toward Major Hayes, who nodded obligingly in return. "Alright, Mister Hu," I growled, moving to stand over the soldier. "You've exhausted your quota of bullshit. It's time for some answers. Nathan?" Schmidt stepped toward me and withdrew a syringe from a small, hip mounted pocket. "Truth serum?" Hu laughed. "You would waste valuable tactical time injecting me with truth serum in the hopes that I would have the information you seek and that I would cooperate?" "What? No," I replied, dismissively, taking the syringe and kneeling down menacingly next to the soldier. "See, here's the deal. Major Hayes over there works for a respectable corporation. They don't like to get sued, so maybe they'd go for some humane tactic like truth serum. But me, Nate - he's this guy next to me - and Steve over there - we're just hired guns from the Outworlds. Here to help stir shit up. Appendix E of the Ares Convention doesn't mean jack to us. We run hard and play harder. And sometimes we like to combine work and play. Like when useless people piss us off. People like you." Hu eyed the syringe. "There's nothing in there," the soldier concluded, "except water." With a flourish, I flicked the side of the instrument with my thumb and forefinger. A small capsule held in the fluid suspended within fractured, turning the liquid a dark crimson. "Try again," I replied. "Ever see what happens to someone when you shoot them up with K-Z, LD-512, and X-Quick all at the same time?" "No," Hu replied. "Me either," I grinned. "I'm dying to find out. I fucking love science. Sorry in advance if your heart blows up." Before the soldier had time to react, I injected the entire syringe into his right bicep with a single, fluid motion. "You crazy wángbā dàn! My brothers will avenge my murder!" Hu howled, beads of perspiration covering his face, his eyes wild. "Start talking, and maybe they won't have to," I hissed, leaning toward the Capellan. "What are you saying?" Hu pleaded. "What, you need a translator now? Steve, get over here!" I barked. "No, I mean, what are you going to do? If I tell you what you want to know?" the soldier implored. "Nathan's got Narcan in his kit. I can reverse the drugs if your answers are entertaining enough," I replied. "Let's see how much zest for life you actually have. Major! Lieutenant!" I called out, waving Weyland and Hayes over. "Hu here wants to play. You get the first round of questions," I advised. The Major looked toward Bishop. "What's the force composition on this ship?" Weyland demanded. "Who are we up against?" Hu bit his lip, no doubt realizing that if he answered truthfully, his career in the CCAF was likely over. "Come on, big man, you don't have very long before your brain starts to liquefy," I warned. "If you want to play ball, now's the time." The soldier squinted his eyes shut, rocking back and forth as an anguished, fraught expression crossed his face. If his hands hadn't been tied, I had no doubt that Hu would have been in a fetal position as he hyperventilated and bit his lip. "Aiiiiiiiiiiie! Wǒ de zǔxiān de xiōngdì jiěmèi, mǔqīn hé fùqīn, qǐng yuánliàng wǒ! Liào zǒnglǐ, duì wǒ guòqù de shì wéixiào, jiǎnqīng nǐ de fènnù!" the Capellan shouted. "Translation?" Hayes asked, looking to Steve as the soldier dissolved into tears. Steve furrowed his brow. "Uhhh...he was talking really fast. Something about asking his ancestors and Chancellor Liao for forgiveness, then a whole thing about how he did good stuff and hoping it spares him from somebody's wrath, and also some things about - " "I get the picture, thanks," the Major responded. "Look, Hu, if you don't start talking, I have a feeling Captain Maxwell there is going to let you have a personal audience with your ancestors to ask them for forgiveness." "Okay, okay," the soldier answered through heavy sobs, a long string of snot trailing away from his nose in zero gravity. "We are a Capellan logistics team transporting goods for humanitarian aid to Epsilon Eridani IV. We hired this transport to avoid worrying the people on the world about the intentions of their new government. We are bringing them food, clothing, this livestock, and medicine. The Chancellor wanted the military to take the assignment to show that the Capellan Confederation is benevolent to the colonies it administers. Please, believe me, we meant you no harm! I don't know why you even boarded us! The crew is not even Capellan - they are five, maybe ten civilians, honest people, trying to make a living!" Major Hayes raised an eyebrow. Suddenly, Nathan stepped forward and kneeled down to look Hu directly in the eyes. "I hate liars," Nathan deadpanned. "Captain Maxwell, the Maskirovka doesn't hand out blankets and baby food. And if they did, the Zang shu jian branch of the Chancellor's Hand certainly wouldn't be the unit doing it. See this guy's fancy patch? They're the 'Chancellor's Sword.' They conduct a variety of "black ops" missions in foreign territories, including sabotage, psychological warfare, and assassination. Some Sword agents are former criminals who have been recruited into the agency, but many simply have the 'ethical flexibility' necessary to conduct their missions. Clearly, Mister Hu's ethics are 'flexible,' because I'd wager that a hundred percent of what he just told you is bullshit." I cast the soldier a disappointed stare. "Okay. We're done here," I deadpanned, rising to my feet and beginning to walk away. "Wait! I'll talk! I'll talk..." Hu sobbed. I slowly performed an about-face. "Last chance." "Your man is correct. We are Maskirovka. We are escorting two scientists and a...laboratory...to Epsilon Eridani IV. We did hire this transport to avoid suspicion. I am one of twenty - now fifteen - escorts for the laboratory. The freighter's crew does not know what we are carrying, and the truth is, neither do I. We are not permitted within the laboratory. Only Doctor Tao and Doctor Wen go inside," the Capellan confessed. "You must have some idea of what's inside. House Liao doesn't deploy Maskirovka blindly," I replied. "I know only what I am told, but I have not seen it with my own eyes," Hu sniffled. "And what have you been told? Come on, Hu! You're sixty seconds away from a brain aneurysm!" I shouted. "I don't want to die!" the soldier shrieked, nearly convulsing with terror. "Then tell me what you know!" I roared. "We are told that they have a man - a blond man with advanced technology - whose mind contains information about a weapon that the Chancellor believes could tip the war of succession in the favor of House Liao. And the doctors are under orders to extract that information, while we are to protect their mission at any cost," Hu answered, his voice a combination of panic and resignation. "And that man is inside the laboratory?" I demanded. The soldier nodded. "In Cargo Bay One?" I clarified. Hu nodded again. "And your forces are ...?" "Throughout the ship. Most likely well-entrenched between here and Cargo Bay One at this point. A detail of five is at the laboratory at all times," Hu explained. "All of them specialized infantry, like me." I nodded to Hayes, Weyland, and the rest of the team. "Thanks, Yingyi. You've been real helpful," I replied, clapping the soldier on his forearm. "Say hi to your ancestors for me." "Wait - what? I thought...we had a deal! You can't leave me here to die! I don't want to die!" Hu screamed as, together, Hayes, Schmidt, Jenkins, Weyland, and I walked away toward the cargo bay door, Hu's shouts echoing off the walls of the chamber and fading into the background din of the animal cries and howls that resonated throughout the space. As we neared the exit, Major Hayes cast me a concerned look. "You didn't really give him lethal drugs, did you?" "Of course not," I chuckled. "That'd be fucked up." "What was in that syringe, then?" Hayes asked, worriedly. I tipped my head toward Nathan. "Colon Blow." Schmidt replied, matter-of-factly. "In case you haven't seen the TV commercials, it's a powerful laxative. Side effects include anxiety, paranoia, and fear of impending doom. His heart's not going to blow out, and he's going to live, but the seat of his pants will probably never be the same. What an embarrassing way to be found by your battle buddies. I bet the Capellans have a special level of dishonor for 'shitting your pants and spilling all the secrets.'" "Jesus Christ," Hayes answered, relieved. "You gents really had me going there for a bit." "It's what we do," I chuckled. "Come on. Let's get Bishop's assailant some medical attention and get the hell out of here."
  2. 3 points
    “Bishop!" I blurted out. "What happened?" Nathan stood staring at Bishop with a look of shock on his face. “I allowed her to live.... she was threat to the mission and pack” Bishop said in a deadpan voice. Bishop turreted he’s mass body to show Nathan the scorch marks on his armor caused by the medic’s laser rifle. “Ok...ok she’s alive then, good. Look the Major and Maxwell should be getting some Intel from prisoner, we’re going to moving out soon. This ship is full of non-combats and ships crew. They scared Bishop, and scared people do crazy and unpredictable things. Just please remember that, if we have a chance to get de escalate things we need to try”. The Skinwalker’s anger began to raise, the beast inside of him was becoming impatient. “Boarding actions are won by speed, surprise and violence of action...we are loosing the surprise element and slowing down. Those that will resist us will now have time to plan a counter assault, try negotiating with that Nathan...The General’s life is at stake..we need to move”. “Just a little longer Bishop... that’s all they need” Nathan said with concern.
  3. 3 points
    "Name. Give me your name." Major Hayes repeated, standing over the captive while remaining at the ready to pacify him again if need be. "Nǐ jiù xiàng zhèlǐ de féiliào. Nǐ hěn chòu, hěn làn." the Capellan replied defiantly. "What did he say?" Maxwell asked, turning toward Steve Jenkins. Incredibly, Steve had demonstrated a proficiency in Chinese, quickly ascertaining that, while the captive clearly spoke English, the soldier had decided to play a game and pretend to not understand it. Jenkins scrunched up his face. "He said..." "...yes?" "He said, 'You are like the manure here. You stink and you are shit.'" Steve giggled. "He told shit jokes." "And I have no doubt that his comedy routine would be uproariously funny if we weren't also in a deadly combat zone." Major Hayes grumbled, turning to stare directly at the prisoner. "WHAT IS YOUR NAME?" he asked more insistently. “This is Alpha 3.... corridor secure... pre... threat has been subdued.” Bishop's voice suddenly crackled over the radio. Maxwell looked at Hayes, mouthing the words "Pre threat?" incredulously to him. "Mister Schmidt, would you please go check on Bishop, see if he needs any help?" Hayes asked, looking toward me. "Aye sir." I answered, readying my weapon as I bounded quickly across the zero gravity cargo hold. Nearing the now barricaded & closed door, I arrived just in time to see the Skinwalker retreating stealthily into the shadows. "Alpha - 3, this is Alpha-4...what've you got?" I radioed, trying to sound upbeat and not at all worried. In response I heard what sounded like a series of animalistic grunts. "Bishop?" I asked as I got closer. Then I spotted it - a broken, still figure, in a medic's uniform, prone on the ground near where Bishop stood. "Bishop!" I blurted out. "What happened?" The Skinwalker stared me down, gazing with a predatory expression....
  4. 3 points
    On her way down to the cargo bay, Nikki crossed paths with James, the engineer intern, and Colleen, the cargo mech operator. Colleen was armed with a high pressure paint gun, and James had a shotgun loaded with bird shot and a switchblade covered in fanciful but useless cutouts and serrations. Nikki was glad to be able to hand out some more typical weaponry. Gretchen's voice came over both the intercom and Nikki's headset. "Attention crew. Please tune in to the pre-arranged private channel." They switched their headsets to channel 142. "We're on, go ahead," Nikki said. "I've been watching the security feed. About half of our Capellan passengers went into the breached cargo bay, and the intruders shot down all but one. They set off a bomb in there, and now there's blood and dead hogs and dead people floating all over and-" "Gretta, breathe." Nikki kicked off a bulkhead to propel herself forward, trying to carry the conversation and lead the group at the same time. "You called us for a reason. What was it?" "You shouldn't go down there. The intruders are professionals - like Com Guard level professionals, with lasers and armor and gravity boots. We should barricade the bridge, let them take what they want and go." "They might want the ship," James said. "Just what I was thinking," said Nikki. "We don't have enough escape pods for this many passengers, and the intruders might not give us the chance to use them anyway. We don't really have a choice here. Gretchen, will you let us know if you see anything unexpected on the feed?" "Yes, captain. Good luck." Colleen bounded forward to catch up with Nikki. "We're going to die, aren't we?" Nikki had been avoiding asking herself that question. "Um, maybe. We'll have backup, and we know the ship better. Try not to think about it."
  5. 3 points
    I Heard all kinds of killing happening inside my helmet as I walked in around the Cargo bay looking for another battle. Some pigs went by overhead and a ton of lasers went off as I walked around. Suddenly I walked up on a huge Capellan that was standing there with his back pointed at me looking at some cargo crates! I ripped out my bushido blade and whipped it really hard at him, it flipped through the zero G force and rammed into his back, unfortunately it must have hit an armor spot because it bounced off and went spinning off into the sky & I heard it clank against the ceiling really hard a couple seconds later. "God damn it!!!" I screamed and I really fast ripped out my samurai sais before the Capellan had time to react to my first attack. Then I signed a whole bunch of inner Force and ran screaming at the soldier and stuck my weapons out in front of me with both hands, when I impacted into him I inpaled them really hard through his uniform and stuck them really far into his kidney and his pancreas. But the soldier did not react. "Why won't you fight me????" I Screamed and I got out my laser rifle and racked the enemy really hard in the head with it, suddenly I heard his leg break and the bones in his shin go totally liquified and he twisted around weirdly on the one leg while the other leg stayed back where it had been, all of a sudden his upper part of his body was facing me and I saw that he was already dead and making the most horrible dead guy face you could possibly imagine! "AAAAAAAAAHHHH" I screamed as I looked down and saw that the man had like a 5-foot hole where his stomach used to be and his uniform was all burned up and his insides were dripping down his outsides, something had happened and he was already dead and I had been fighting a dead guy! "AAAAHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGG!!" I Yelled and I stumbled back gagging in fear. On my world where I grew up it was only okay to desecrate a corpse as part of a ritual, but I had been desecrating this guy on account of I thought he was still alive, now I had to do funeral rites to make sure that he didn't come after me as part of the undead or the afterlife. But I didn't have my materials with me!! I sobbed and while I cried I got out a hand grenade, it was all I had. I set the timer on it for about a minute and set it inside the hole in the guy, then I said the Prayer of Gukoda, it was a Fortune and Guidance prayer that basically was supposed to keep people in the afterlife while you blew up their body to keep them from coming back because you could bribe them with your words, on Archimedes we had few problems with ghosts because most people had funerals where they had their bodies wrecked in Flashy ways that would achieve joy in their living descendants. One guy that I knew owned a Car plant, when he Passed they had a big party at the car plant and they ran his body through a giant drill press and had it mashed into the 2000th car he ever built. The driver of that car ended up dying in a firey car crash BUT we think it was because his engine seized up right when his airbag Malfunctioned and went off right at the same time his breaks failed as he was trying to turn on some Tunes and it wasn't on account of ghosts, his family didn't have to cremate him because he was already really badly wrecked up in the Crash so they had a regular funeral with a martial Art demonstration instead. While I walked away from the dead Capellan i heard a huge explosion and I looked back and saw a bunch of arms and legs and a head go flipping off into the roon, I looked away fast because I wanted to remember the Capellan as he was when he was Alive. Around 5 minutes later I found Nate Schmidt whose face was all cut up and his Helmet was smashed in whole he was walking around looking for the next enemy. "Hi Nate, you look like you need a battle buddy,did you find the boss yet??"
  6. 3 points
    "Attention all hands: we're beginning our descent to Epsilon Eridani Four. Passengers, gravity might be squirrely for a few minutes, so hang onto your cookies. Off-duty crew, you're on call, so please be sober for the next few days in case you're needed. That means you, James." Nikki released the button on the com unit, and a staticky snippet of her low, Mac-Ridge accented voice echoed over the speaker before it clicked off. Nikki laid in a course for the drop site and activated the autopilot, while Gretchen logged into a computer terminal to monitor their descent. Once the autopilot took over, Nikki picked up her noteputer and resumed her game of Laser Catgirls 2: Return of the Grays. Epsilon Eridani IV appeared through a couple of the bridge's windows, then swung out of view as the ship set its' new course. The ship's engines hummed, and stars slowly drifted downward. The tactical terminal pinged. Nikki paused her game, spun her seat to face the terminal, and zoomed in on the highlighted area. “Gretta, what do you make of this?” Gretchen put a bookmark in the GE 2080 drive manual and joined Nikki by the pilot’s seat. “‘Fhloston Paradise’, Monarch class - a cruise ship.” “Yep. Visiting a cowpie across the crick from nowhere.” Nikki typed in a command to run a more detailed scan. “Shall I recalibrate the sensors again?” Gretchen asked. “No, this doesn’t look like those other identification errors - I’ve got more sensor data coming in now, and it all checks out. Maybe it’s a discount cruise, I don’t know.” Gretchen checked the sensor suite’s settings, and Nikki returned to her game. Her catvatar vaporized two grays and defeated a third using claw-fu. Then the terminal pinged again. “They’re on an intercept course,” Gretchen said. “Closing fast.” Nikki tossed her game aside. “The cruise ship?” She swiveled her chair toward the tactical terminal. Her noteputer played a feline yowl, indicating game over. “I’m not sure what it is. There’s no reason for a cruise ship to intercept us.” Gretchen pushed buttons and swiped aside prompts on the tactical terminal so fast that Nikki couldn't keep up with reading them. “The radar’s had moths in it ever since somebody reset it to factory specs. Could be anything from a warship to a rock.” “Good thing we're not carrying anything worth sending a warship after. I hope we've at least got their name right, or I’m going to look like an idiot.” Nikki sighed and picked up the com unit. "Fhloston Paradise, this is Nikki Harlow, captain of the freighter Hurry Up Bessie. Please state your intentions.”
  7. 3 points
    C.S.V. Mendacius System jump point Nirasaki system February 24, 3029 Like a guardian angel or compassionate tormentor she was at his bedside, always there, always whispering and watching. She told him stories from times of old, stories about her people and stories about things that would drive a man made. Mother would never leave him. Their spirts were connected. Bishop listen, but not with his ears... it was with his spirt. Though his body was in a chemical induced comma, his mind was awake. He saw the doctor, nurses and visitors come and go everyday. They were all oblivious to the creatures in the room. In the darkest corner of the room the Beast watched and waited too. The werewolf never moved or made a sound...just waited to be released for the killing. Without warning the time came.... “It’s time to wake my pup....there is much work to still do. It’s time to remember who you ow are”. Mother whispered. Bishop went to speak but was stopped by the sudden movement by the Beast. The massive killing machine skulked from the shadows to stand at the Mercenary’s bedside. The Skinwalker watched inquisitively as the Beast places a clawed hand on the man comatose body.... then melted into it....like a glass of water being poured into a lake. The rage induced pain struck Bishop’s body like a PPC shot..... The Skinwalker eyes shot open, monitors buzzed and blared.
  8. 3 points
    "No? No further questions? All right, then this preliminary briefing is concluded. We'll have a more comprehensive operational briefing during our layover in the Caph system. According to our sources, our quarry is going to be jumping to Capolla roughly simultaneously to our own jump to Caph. As the situation evolves, we'll keep you apprised. Dismissed." As the rest of the assembled personnel left the briefing room, I stayed behind in my seat, looking straight ahead at the podium, where Major Hayes and Captain Donovan were conversing. Eventually, Hayes noticed me. "Is there something I can do for you, Mr. Schmidt?" he asked. "Can you and I have a word?" I asked. The Major raised an eyebrow. "Sure, what's on your mind?" I glanced at Captain Donovan. "In private?" Donovan's eyes narrowed. Hayes held a hand up to stop Donovan from saying anything. "Marcus, give us a minute, will you?" Major Hayes asked. Captain Donovan seemed to hesitate for a second or two before walking slowly out of the briefing room. The hatch thunked closed behind him, leaving just me and Hayes together in the room. "Alright, what's going on?" asked Hayes. "Sir, did I do something between Operation: Black Eclipse and now to undermine your trust in me?" I asked pointedly. Major Hayes looked slightly confused. "No, why?" "Because until today, I thought that the stuff......the good stuff, I mean, that I did at Nirasaki meant something. But today, I saw the looks between you and Captain Donovan and your reservations about telling me really important details of the mission. I have risked my life twice for the Crayven Corporation for stuff that wasn't self-serving, and when I got back to the Tana most recently, you thanked me for a job well done and you said you were so impressed with the way I turned things around. You said you would be suspending the charges against me pending William being willing to dismiss them once we rescue him. I thought that meant I had built trust back up with you." Hayes nodded. "And I didn't think or say otherwise, it's just. You have to understand that this is a really, really high-stakes mission. And a few folks are concerned that bringing you along would introduce an unstable element into a critical situation." "You mean that people are worried I'd betray them." I said pointedly.. Major Hayes got really quiet. "In a word, yes." the Major answered. "And I depend on the perspectives of my advisors to plan these missions." I hung my head down in frustration. "Even over your own feelings? What more do I have to do to prove myself to you? You say "trust is earned," but how can I earn your trust if you won't allow me a chance to?" Hayes nodded again. "A fair question." "Is it? Well, here's another." I said. "Why would you not want to take the most qualified skydiver on this ship ....that's me by the way......on a mission to rescue the CEO of your company. Isn't "missing CEO" usually an all-hands on deck type of situation?" Hayes looked like he was considering the words I had spoken...
  9. 3 points
    The comms officer barked a grotesque guffaw nearly toppling his coffee. “Make sure you give her my love too, draco-boy!” “Hideo Takashi” frowned. Kai hadn’t liked the code that his handler had come up with for their comm cipher. He vaguely suspected that it was a joke, of which Kai was the punchline. The “mushy” gai-Jin hugs and kisses commo message he’d sent had meant -Mission Successful- -Unforeseen Complication- -Please Advise- All he could do now was hold his temper, bide his time, and see to Weyland’s recovery. Hopefully he had demonstrated his usefulness to his new colleagues. At the very least, he was sure that they were not in the employ of the Draconis Combine, nor did they have much affection for Capellan interests. On the whole, he rather liked their unorthodox approach to missions. Though it was more unpredictable and open-ended than he generally preferred, they definitely got the job done!
  10. 2 points
    He had been standing in the shadows for several minutes as the Captain and major started interrogating soldier some where in the cargo hold. The Skinwalker stood just at the edge of the darkness at the mouth of the breached cargo bay doors like statue of stone. The amber red emergency lighting from the corridor softly bleed into the cargo hold as if timid to further in the darkness.... as if it knew the creature that lay and wait. Then came the sent....soft, clean and slightly floral. Almost amazon like.... “Prey.... inbound....by its self...moving to neutralize” Bishop whispered. “ Lieutenant Wai...!!” The the Captains voice drifted away from Bishop’s mind. Then it happened.. Bishop saw him self standing next to the beast. Like before... his subconscious human mind was now watching his real form in third person.... but his real form wasn’t real at all. It was the sum of all man’s fears... beast and human combined. Wolf and man united as one. Bishop watched as the Leviathan sizes Werewolf snarled its upper lip and taste the air moving in the corridor. Then the beast growled as if it was hungry... for slaughter. The prey was coming closer, yet silently, it must have been floating in the now zero gee environment. Shyly the monster skulked out into the corridor, pausing to look both directions before fully exposing itself to the danger area. After a few seconds of surveying the soon to be kill zone it found its ambush location. Bishop’s mind watched in both horror and interest as the creature slowly reached up and lifted its massive frame up in to the maze like ceiling. It had chosen to wedge its frame between the air ducting and various pipes that ran along the corridor ceiling. It was there in the shadows of the pipes the beast waited. The wait wasn’t long... as Bishop turned she was there. Like a silent ghost drifting down the corridor. Laser Rifle held high and tight in her shoulder. She moved forward toward the breached door. The athletically built woman was trained, but this wasn’t her specialty, she showed determination on her face. As she floated closer to Bishop he could see she was nervous, sweating and a slight trimmer vibrated in her hands but her eyes remained clear and focused on the door. The woman wore a dark colored jumpsuit and a small backpack which Bishop thought was strange... as a matter of fact it didn’t make since to him at the moment. She also wore a tactical belt that had extra magazines and small handheld devices. With out warning she stop in mid flight, hold just outside the cargo bay door. Cocking her head to one side she froze in mid air. The red light light made her bright colored spiked hair look ominous. Someone was talking to her... a faint noise leaked out from an ear bud.... That’s when the beast made its move, during her distraction. The predator silently uncoiled itself from its hiding place. Like a horror movie the creature drifted down behind the its new prey... slowly it stood to its full height, towering over the woman. In one clawed hand it started to move it combat knife towards the woman neck. That’s when Bishop saw it... the large white cross on her backpack... she was a doctor or medic, not a real combatant. Without thought he said it... “No! She’s a healer!” The werewolf stopped... panning it’s massive skull to Bishop. It barred it’s large fangs... daring Bishop to stop it. Then the scream and bright flash filled Bishops eyes. Pain exploded in the Skinwalker’s chest making step back. The woman was now frantically flailing about in the zero gee. She was panicking wildly, she sprayed laser fire all over the corridor. With tremendous effort Bishop fought the urge to kill the woman and stop the madness. Launching himself forward the hulking mercenary grabbed the Healer’s backpack flung her like a bag of trash into the bulkhead... then it was over. “This is Alpha 3.... corridor secure... pre... threat has been subdued” The Skinwalker disappeared back into the calling darkness of the cargo bay. Dragging the now unconscious and floating Healer with him.
  11. 2 points
    A deathly silence fell across the cargo bay, save for the braying of livestock, as Bishop felled another Capellan soldier. I refrained from calling out for a status check, not wanting to risk exposing the positions of Alpha team to any hostiles still remaining. "This is Alpha three.... prey has been neutralized.... request permission to move to the breached cargo bay door and secure? Over," Lieutenant Weyland advised, his voice a deadly, gravely calm. "Permission granted, Alpha three. Nice work," Major Hayes responded in a quiet, alert tone. In the background, I could hear his mag boots moving quickly and purposefully. "Alpha two, I'm closing on your position. Mendacius is monitoring the thermals in this compartment and reports that we have scratched four hostiles. I have a tag on the last tango and am en route to you. Do you have eyes on the mark?" Major Hayes' voice crackled. "Negative," I replied, my voice barely above a whisper as I perched atop the stack of livestock cages in a prone position, staring down the barrel of my laser rifle's night vision scope. "I can't make out anything with all the hogs in here. The optics on this weapon don't differentiate between people and pigs. I was tracking him, but I lost him just a few moments ago as he moved behind Pen 2 over there." "Pen 2?" Hayes asked, a note of concern in his tone. "Affirmative, Major, but that was a short while ago. About three minutes," I replied. "Captain, I need you to very slowly, without giving away what you're doing, perform a perimeter check of the pen you're on top of right now. The waypoint I'm headed toward is almost exactly where you are. Our target is no longer at Pen 2," Hayes answered, his words sending a chill down my spine. "I'll be there in about ten seconds, but I think this guy has already arrived." "Roger that," I whispered, slowly lowering my rifle and moving gradually to a crouched position. As I eased to my feet, I pivoted gingerly, cautiously twisting my torso to effect an about-face without attracting attention. Squinting, I peered into the darkened expanse that ran the length of the tower. At first, I saw nothing. But then, I became perceptive of a subtle movement, three-quarters of the way past the enormous feed and water dispenser, gradually drawing closer to me. "Alpha one," I whispered, "is that you up here with me?" "Negative, Captain - I'm at the bottom of the tower. Headed your way," Major Hayes responded. "In that case, I think I've got eyes on your bogey," I replied. With nowhere to take cover, I knew that, in the event of a firefight, the winner would likely come down to whoever managed to draw first. "Say again, Alpha two?" Hayes asked. "There's something crawling toward me on top of the - " Without warning, an abrupt crack of gunfire and the blinding flash of a rifle muzzle cut across the hold. My left boot exploded in a burst of sparks and smoke under the impact of a high-caliber round, the hit knocking me from my feet and setting me adrift, slowly spiraling away from the cargo stack. Quickly, I raised my rifle, twisted back toward the shooter, and opened fire with a wide sweep of laser shots. All of the rounds flew wide, my aim thrown off by my weightless and moving state. "Alpha two to Alpha one - I've engaged the target! Be advised, my mag boot got hit and I've been knocked off the platform. I'm still tracking the bogey and attempting to engage!" I shouted into my comm unit. "Copy that, Captain - Alpha four and Alpha five, move to reinforce Alpha two; Alpha one to Control, I need waypoints for Alphas four and five; Alpha three, let's get the hold secured on the double!" Hayes replied, breathlessly, the exertions in his voice sounding as though he was climbing. Another barrage of rifle fire erupted from the tower, several of the rounds passing so close to my helmet that I could hear them. This guy's getting dialed in, I thought to myself. The next shots probably aren't going to miss... As I attempted, desperately, to level my aim again, I saw a sudden flurry of red, coherent energy beams streak across the top of the pen, one of which appeared to strike my assailant, a splash of dissipating electroplasma writhing across the figure's shoulder. "Looks like you found yourself a Capellan, Alpha two. Hope you don't mind me being a third wheel here." It was Major Hayes. "Not at all, Major. I'll see what I can do to provide an assist," I replied, feeling my back unexpectedly bump against the ceiling. With my drifting now stabilized, I raised the laser rifle's scope to my eye, and set about focusing its crosshairs in on the attacker. In the thermal vision, I could see Major Hayes drawing steadily closer to the Capellan, round after round of energy lances striking the man, but none bypassing his armor to effect a stun. The retort of an assault weapon soon followed, orange-hot rounds being flung with abandon back at Hayes. The Major struck back, spraying such a dense concentration of energy output at the Capellan that his laser rifle's barrel registered as white hot in my thermal vision. Suddenly, the Capellan lunged toward Hayes, the Major backing away, apparently unable to fire what was almost certainly an overheated weapon at this point. I drew in a deep breath and led my target, firing a single shot that was intended to strike the attacker in his skull. Unfortunately, the Capellan abruptly changed direction as he closed in on the Major, perhaps perceptive of the fact that he was now outnumbered two to one. I fired again, the round, for a second time, failing to find its mark. The soldier, drawing within striking distance of Hayes, swung his bayoneted firearm at the Major as I attempted, again unsuccessfully, to land an effective stun shot. "Goddamn it... I muttered. Then, I remembered my booster pack. Bracing my rifle against my right forearm, I pushed off the wall with my boots and triggered the thrusters inset into the rear of my spacesuit's shoulder blades. The reactant nozzles fired with a dull roar and a jolt, and in less than a second, I found myself careening straight toward the Capellan, closing with him at a blinding pace. Quickly, I gripped the barrel of my laser rifle in my right hand and its stock in the other, creating what was effectively a cross-handed battering ram, holding it out before me and using it to strike the soldier in the head with my full inertia and a spectacular crack as I plowed directly into him, sending both of us tumbling across the livestock tower. I managed to keep a grip on the Capellan's armor long enough to lock one of my mag boots to the deck and stop my momentum. As the dazed assailant attempted wildly to process what had just occurred, while simultaneously flailing as he tried to ascertain whether he should bring his rifle to bear on me or Major Hayes, I shouldered my own laser weapon and pulled the trigger, the shot coring into the side of the Capellan's head, instantaneously knocking him unconscious as his face and hair were momentarily enveloped in tendrils of orange-red energy. The soldier's body sagged over, his mag boots keeping him anchored to the deck as I carefully moved toward him. "Nice shootin', Tex," Major Hayes quipped. Keeping my rifle trained on the fallen Capellan, I reached down and grabbed the soldier's assault weapon, noticing the approach of the Major as I did so. "Thanks, nice of you to stop by," I chuckled, nodding to Hayes as he came to stand alongside me. "I couldn't let you have all the fun, though." "Of course not," the Major laughed. "Come on, let's get this guy secured before he wakes up. I have questions for him."
  12. 2 points
    Bishop had taken off his helmet after the Majors spoke, it dulled his sense. The sounds and smell of fear, blood and caged animals smashed into his hyper sensitive senses. At first his mind couldn’t deal with the sensory overload, he almost froze in place. But after a few seconds he adjust and found what information he needed. The sent of pack was faint, but distinct, each member had their own unique sent and sound when moving. After a few moments The Skinwalker had their relative location and what they were doing from the micro sounds they made. The Capellan’s also had unique sent, his mind registered the sent as sweet yet pungent. Their sound was light and quick, like a flap of a bird’s wing in the air. Based on their actions and how they moved Bishop had marked them as veterans... soldiers who had seen combat and survived... they where confident and deadly. They were the prefect prey, for the perfect predator. The soldier he had been hunting was quick and silent. Only the faint sound of the occasional scuff of his boots on the cargo bay floor gave him away. It was a sound that the normal person could detect... but the Elder Skinwalker wasn’t normal, any more. After a few moments of listening and smelling, Bishop had a good idea of where his prey was going. The mercenary had to stop him, the pack was endanger. Time and reality slowed in his mind. Truth be told, he had little conscious control over his actions and thoughts. It was as if a supernatural force was driving his body and mind for the hunt. Before he knew it he was perched on top of stack of crates containing livestock. The animals inside went dead silent sensing the Predator close by. Like a Stone gargoyle from times long ago he sat on his haunches weapon slung waiting in silents. As predicted the prey came, using the shadows and environmental noise to cover his movement. He dashed this way and that way in the shadows, with the occasional freezing in place waiting for the oppertune moment for his next move. He was good and well trained. But that wouldn’t save him from the predator. Like a cat watching a mouse move through a house at night Bishop observed the soldier. Quietly admiring the man’s ability and dedication to his duty. Then the moment came... the soldier stop just below the waiting predator. Holding his SMG at the ready the man took a knee... surveying the smoke filled labyrinth for is enemy. Bishop struck like a venomous pit viper, with violence and precision he went into action. Using his powerful frame, reached down and grabbed the soldier by his combat harness and hoisted him to face level. For a fraction of a second Bishop held the man’s gaze with his horrifically scarred face and silver reflecting eyes Bishop stares into the man’s horrified gave. The man died a quick and silent death. The large combat knife Bishop was holding had pierced the man’s jugular notch... the place where both collar bones connect at the base of the throat. “This is Alpha three.... prey has been neutralized.... request permission to move to the breached cargo bay door and secure?.... over.” Whispered Bishop... now covered in the preys arterial blood spray.
  13. 2 points
    It happened in an instant. One second, we were walking the length of a creepy cargo hold, dodging floating manure, generally not trying to get creeped out. The next second, an explosion of violence ripped through the darkness, a blinding cacaphony and flood of smoke rolling toward us. A hail of bullets whistled past my head, causing me to instinctively shove Bishop out of the path of the barrage as I also dove behind a stack of crates. "Take cover!" Captain Maxwell shouted across the comms. Several blazes of red laser fire illuminated the smoke hanging in the air. I looked around for my teammates, only to find myself alone. I heard a series of clangs like a sword being swung against a hardened target coming from one direction, while the scream of a heavy weapon discharging came from another. The electric-sounding yelp of multiple laser rifle rounds being fired echoed around me, and the huge detonation of a frag grenade going off rippled through the hold. I unslung my laser rifle and looked at the intensity settings. "To hell with stun mode." I muttered, shoving the weapon's power to maximum. At that output level, I would only get a few shots off, but they'd be guaranteed killing blows. I raised the rifle and slowly made my way into the smoke. Suddenly, a silhouette came toward me. "Hold it right there!" I yelled, brandishing the weapon. "Nǐ xūyào tóuxiáng!" came the reply. "I have no idea what you're saying! Drop your weapon!" I commanded. "Wǒ yào chǔsǐ nǐ!" the silhouette screamed. The next thing I knew, a beefy Capellan soldier lunged out of the smoke, a machine pistol in one hand and some kind of bladed weapon in another. I knew that I wouldn't be able to land an effective shot at such a close distance, so I twisted the rifle around and swung it like a baseball bat with all my might. It connected with the Capellan's head, causing him to scream out in pain and drop his pistol, which spiraled off into the smoke without gravity to hold it down. In response, the lumbering man swung the blade hard at me, connecting with the side of my helmet and knocking me against a cargo container face-first with a forceful impact. My helmet glass exploded inward, showering my face with little shards that tore into my skin. I cried out and then turned around, trying not to choke as the smell of manure and the sting of the smoke bit at my senses. The Capellan charged at me again, raising his bladed weapon to strike me. In a frenzied moment, I raised my rifle with one hand and pulled the trigger. An apocalyptic blast of laser fire exited the chamber, coring into the Capellan's torso, the rifle glowing red-hot and emitting a plume of smoke as the discharge happened. The Capellan staggered to a stop, looking at me with a shocked expression on his face before looking down, staring with apparent disbelief at the hole that had just been blown clean through his stomach and out the other side, the wound cauterized by the coherent energy. It looked like he tried to speak, but instead, the man sagged like a rag doll as the life drained out of him, his corpse suspended only by the zero gravity and his mag boots that stayed clamped to the deck. I shuddered at the gory scene as, in the background, Captain Maxwell's voice came over the comms to tell me what I'd already figured out. The Capellans had our number.
  14. 2 points
    Nikki dove down the corridor. The ship was adrift in space, and it's gravity was almost completely gone. Nikki's headset crackled. "Captain, what is going on out there?" a man barked over the microphone. He was definitely one of the Capellan passengers traveling with the mobile lab, and Nikki thought she recognized him as one of the two scientists. "Wen, send your Ānquán to cargo bay two immediately!" said a woman, presumably Dr. Tao. "Cargo bay? They're needed here, guarding our cargo. Where are you, Tao? What is going on?" Nikki "landed" on a wall at the end of the hallway, and jumped around the corner. She pressed her mic button while traveling through the air. "Dr. Tao, this is an open channel, do not state your position. Dr. Wen, we've been boarded via cargo bay two by a small team of space jumpers. Their vessel has also grappled us. I have no idea what they want, but if you know, this would be a really good time to say so." "Our contract is for transport of a cargo pod! It is not your concern what is inside!" Nikki continued down the hall, grabbing onto doorways and hatch handles to propel herself. "My crew is about to get shot at, so I'm fucking concerned! What the hell is in your 'medium security' lab pod?" Dr. Tao interjected. "Wen, tell your men to move!" "I will not abandon our project, Tao! Captain, station your personnel outside the bay containing the lab pod." "Outside?" "As per our contract." Nikki sighed. "As per our contract, your security will back us up. I'm on my way."
  15. 2 points
    "There's something coming out of the airlock," Gretchen said, squinting at her terminal. Nikki pulled up the aft camera's feed on her screen and zoomed in on the group of dark objects. "Are those body bags?" Gretchen recoiled from her terminal. "You decompressed a morgue! And if it shares atmosphere from the rest of the ship…" "They might not be dead - they're evenly spaced, almost in formation. Well, aside from the one on the left that's flipping around like a dead fish." "So it's a boarding party?" "Looks like it - one of them grabbed the hull somehow. Weird way to board, though." Nikki pressed a button on her headset and addressed the ship. "Attention all hands. Arm yourselves, we're being boarded." She crossed the room and punched a code into a number pad on the wall. The adjacent panel popped open, revealing a rack of pistols inside a compartment. "They're jumping across from the other vessel, about five of them, and it looks like they're trying to enter near-" Nikki squinted at Gretchen's terminal several feet away. Gretchen whispered "bay two". "Near cargo bay two. Intentions are still unclear, but they're not friendly. Gretchen has the bridge, I'll meet you all at bay two. Stay safe everyone." Nikki checked the safeties on two pistols and put them in her jacket pockets, in case she crossed paths with any unarmed crew members on her way aft. She kept the third, and held out the fourth to Gretchen. Gretchen didn't take it. Nikki waited. "I can't," Gretchen said. "It's not hard. Flip this," Nikki tapped the safety, "point it at a pirate, and pull the trigger." "Nikki, I mean it. I don't shoot people." Nikki sighed. "Fine. Use it as a paperweight or something. Whether you pull the trigger is between you and God, but I'd be a shit captain and a worse friend if I didn't give you the option." Gretchen reluctantly took the gun and set it at the far end of her terminal's desk. "Thank you," Nikki said, and headed out the door.
  16. 2 points
    "Gretta, alert the crew and get Bridget up here, then call PAN-PAN on Capellan hailing frequencies only. We've got pirates." Nikki pulled up the weapons interface on the tactical terminal and locked the guns' targeting software onto the rapidly approaching "cruise ship". She didn't arm the lasers; the other ship's sensors would detect that. "Attention all hands", Gretchen said into her com unit, "an unfamiliar vessel is approaching us." The tactical display indicated an incoming message. Nikki hastily put on a wireless headset, jammed its' earbud into her ear and routed the call there. "Cruise Director Marcus Donovan here, is your lucky crewman ready?" Gretchen lowered her voice and continued her announcement. "The vessel is behaving suspiciously and may have hostile intentions. Bridget, report to the bridge. All others, be ready and wait for further instructions." "He sure is!" Nikki's voice was full of fake enthusiasm. "I'll open a channel to his terminal right now." As soon as Nikki released the com button, Gretchen started her next transmission. "Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan, this is the freighter Hurry Up Bessie." Nikki opened a video call, using the security camera in cargo bay 3 to supply the video. As she dragged the Face-to-Screen window aside to focus on the weapons systems, the transmission connected with static on Fhloston's end, and a pair of brown and grey Jersey cattle eating from a bulkhead-mounted hay dispenser on Bessie's. "We just departed the Eridani Four jump point. We've been approached at close range by a possible hostile- oh no." Gretchen poked at her terminal for a moment. "What?" "EM interference. It looks natural, but the increase was so sudden, it must be-" "Pirates." Nikki fired a short range missile, and the three lasers currently facing the other vessel. She switched her headset over to the intra-ship channel. "All hands. Enemy vessel is jamming ship-to-ship. We've fired. Bridget, get up here now. James, to engineering." Nikki fired a second volley of lasers. Two thunderous clangs rang through the ship from somewhere below them. Nikki fired again. Displays throughout the bridge flickered off, including Nikki's tactical terminal, and when they came back on one laser's status had switched to red. "What was that?" "PPC, and they've got a cable on us," Gretchen responded. "Two, actually. We're hooked like a fish. And now they're- opening a cargo bay?" The displays flickered and another laser flipped to red. "Thanks, I see it now." Nikki took manual control of the one remaining laser, aimed it at the open cargo bay, and fired. A beam of light disappeared into the enemy ship's cargo bay. A blue bolt launched from Fhloston's forward gun and knocked Bessie's last facing laser offline.
  17. 2 points
    Meanwhile.... As for you, Lieutenant Weyland...how are you doing? You sure you're feeling up to this?" Asked Major Hayes. Bishop looked up at the Major, “I’ll be fine sir, thank you for allowing me to come out” The massive Skinwalker struggled some putting on his gear which made him more pissed then usual. Since waking up he found in mood to more darker and full of anger then ever before. The thought of combat fueled him to move passed the pain and sharpen his thoughts. Bishop watched Nathan try and fix the Captains radio.... he did but inadvertently cut himself by doing so. Just then Bishop scenes opened like flood gates. He could smell Nathan’s blood, the reaction struck him like a thunderbolt. He had to suppress this new instinct.... the battle rage. After snapping his helmet into place, mercenary quickly turned his mind to the final gear inspection. Bishop adjust the 100lbs ammo box on his back and snapped in the ammo feeding belt into the massive MG-42 light machine gun. With a well rehearsed movement Bishop slapped the charging handle filling the room with a thunderous CRACK! Suddenly Bishop became aware that all eyes where on him. “Hey buddy, you know this is a close quarters combat type of mission right?” Jenkins asked. “Yeah.... just a little more insurance.... there are only four of us” Bishop said deadpanned. The weight of the weapon calmed the feeling of claustrophobia that was rattling his nerves. Over the past few weeks Bishop was silently suffering from Mother’s curse..... all of his senses had been heightened beyond what a human should have. He craved to be back in the suit.
  18. 2 points
    "Look, mister, um, cruise director. We're on our way to make an important, time sensitive drop, and we can't stop til it's completed. If you'd like to rendezvous with us, it has to wait til after the drop. I imagine that would cut into your schedule, so perhaps this ticket can be transmitted electronically?" While speaking with the cruise director, Nikki searched the ship's database for a list of White Swan vessels. This situation wasn't impossible, but it was stupid enough to be worth verifying. The com unit crackled. "I suppose it could, but our live studio audience would be so disappointed!" "What." Nikki said. "How are you transmitting to a studio? In case you haven't noticed, you're in the middle of nowhere." "We are the studio," the cruise director said, "and we have an audience of vacationers right here in our ship's auditorium who can't wait to meet your winning crew member - and I must say, your commentary is really building the suspense. Can't you spare a few minutes so we can bring him on board?" "You're broadcasting this conversation?" "To every room on the ship!" Nikki turned to Gretchen and mouthed, "kill me". Gretchen snickered and went back to tinkering with the sensors. "I'm sorry to rain on your parade, director, but you need to schedule these things ahead of time when other vessels are involved. We have an obligation to our client. We can't be late." The voice on the other end gave an exaggerated sigh. "I suppose we'll have to set up video conferencing, in that case. We'll hold our course, vessel-to-vessel picture quality improves with proximity. Do you have ComStar SynerSpeak?" "We're still running the old version, Face-to-Screen." "We'll have to install some compatibility patches, in that case, please stand by." The transmission cut off. Nikki keyed in a transmission to James's quarters, and set it to ring on arrival: "Nearby vessel wants to call you on screen. It's about a contest you entered. Be ready." Then she started scrolling through the list of White Swan's vessels in her search results. "Nikki, I think you'd better look at this," Gretchen said, tilting her monitor towards the captain. "If that's a monarch, or really any aerodyne liner, it shouldn't be going that fast. Their engines just don't have the juice." "Weird. Maybe it had an engine upgrade?" "It's a cruise liner. Why would it need to go three times its' safe speed?" Nikki's terminal pinged. James's reply popped up on the screen: "What contest? I didn't enter nothing." "Shit. It's not a cruise liner."
  19. 2 points
    MEANWHILE... The gravity got super heavy as I tried to put on my war space suit, it felt like the pilot of the ship was driving like an asshole, for what reason I did not know why, but the forces Almost sundered my muscles. I grabbed the helmet off the shelf and put it on my head, it looks like a gigantic Fishbowl but with ancient battle writings of my people on it, it was a prayer to the Gods to put chilling Focus into the sacred staff and nunchucks I would be carrying with me. When you were fighting in outer space you had to have Focus, if you got distracted even for a second you could miss your target and go flipping off into space forever. I remembered this one time when I was on a space job back on Kentares, it was an eviction, somebody had not paid their rent on their space station in like 23 local months, we had to go in and tell the guy he had to move out. But when we got there, Jimmy Eaton, one of my battle buddies, tried to go out of the ship too fast. He had slipped and fell going through the doorway of the space code enforcement Cruiser, and the next thing he knew he was falling down, down, down toward the planet screaming dishonorably like a maniac the whole time. Me and the guy that we're getting evicted just watched and grieved his passing. So you have to stay focused. After it was over, I asked the guy if he was going to pay, and he said no. But that's a different story. As I was changing into the rubber t-shirt and thong that you have to wear under a combat space suit, I saw Major Hayes roll up on us. He started talking to Captain Maxwell and my rehab client, which was a Problem, on account of I had attorney Client Privilege and only I could talk to him about legal and medical Things. I tried to go over to talk to them but I had forgot that I had not pulled my space suit arms on yet and they were still clipped on the shelf, when I tried to walk they clotheslined me back up against the rack and banged my head up inside the helmet, I got dizzy and lost my balance and sat/fell against the side of the Gym lockers that had our clothes inside them and I got stuck on account of the extra G-force pulling on me and the space suit. Then I heard an announcement. "ATTEMTION, ATTENTION, WE ARE ABOUT TO BE IN COMBAT RANGE, PLEASE PUT YOU SPACESUITS ON AND READY YOUR WEAPONS FOR ENGAGEMENT, THAT IS ALL." I hadn't done this since Kentares, was I ready???
  20. 2 points
    Seven days later... C.S.V. Mendacius System jump point Epsilon Eridani IV March 3, 3029 ___________________________ Maxwell, Schmidt, Jenkins, and Weyland - suit up. You may be on deck shortly." Bishop had been all but oblivious to what was going on. The secret pain he was feeling was affecting his mental clarity. The truth of the matter war he had burns over 70% of his body and many still healing broken and fractured bones. The Major, Nathan and Captain Donovan had reservations about allowing him to be apart of the mission. The Skinwalker had to lie and take secret doses of pain narcotics and small amounts of combat stimulates just to move and think straight. Sleep was also a distant memory for the Mercenary. The dreams horrified him, the suit called to him. He found him self alone most of time not wanting companionship. Major Hayes and Captain Donovan wanted an in-depth debrief on what exactly happened to him on when he went missing. Bishop had to lie and say he didn’t remember. The fact of the matter was.... he knew it all. One night Nathan found bishop silently sitting in front of his suit starring at it. Nathan tried to open a conversation but the brooding mercenary just gave one answer responses. After the incident Majors Hayes ordered the suit to be locked in the armory... only he had the passcode and denied Bishop’s request to perform maintenance on it. The only thing keeping his mind from detonating was this mission. In it, he found a lust for battle and death. It drove him to train harder everyday to point he was exhausted even vomiting on the bad days. His one driving thought was to make it back into suit... and battle. He was ready.. driven by pain and fueled by rage.
  21. 2 points
    Seven days later... C.S.V. Mendacius System jump point Epsilon Eridani IV March 3, 3029 ___________________________ I white-knuckled the armrests of the bridge's jump seat as, with a roar, the Mendacius exited transit space, the surveillance vessel's compact K-F drives emitting a high-pitched whine while bleeding excess energy from their capacitors. Half a second later, the feed on a nearby display showed the Invader-class JumpShip Ingress flaring into existence, carrying with it the Republic and the Tana, a mere 28 kilometers away. Tension filled the bridge as Captain Donovan ordered radio silence, glancing at a tactical feed while listening intently to an ear monitor. "I'm not hearing any chatter on the open bands," Donovan eventually reported. "I'm pretty sure our slight offset with their jump timing didn't get noticed." Major Hayes nodded. "Let's push ahead, then." Captain Donovan gestured to the Mendacius' pilot, who nodded knowingly, easing the helm's throttle forward. A dull reverberation began to vibrate through the vessel's superstructure, gravity quickly overtaking its decks as the massive planetary drives screamed to life and accelerated the ship to nearly half its safe speed. "Mister O'Neil - go active sensors - let's find that DropShip. Throw everything you've got at it. It's a four day run to the planet from here under conventional drives; we need to know now just how much of a chase we're going to have to give," Major Hayes announced, looking toward the tactical display. "Aye, sir. Sitrep coming up," the sensor chief replied. A lime-green, three-dimensional grid splashed across the bridge's main viewscreen, a series of animated, sequentially-flashing boxes illustrating the range and interval of the Mendacius' scans. Overlaid on the grid, a red line extended away toward the planet, intersected periodically by hash marks indicating distance in units of time. "We're resolving multiple signatures," O'Neil reported. "I'm attempting to filter them to objects of interest so that we don't clutter up the display. There's a lot of debris between here and Epsilon Eridani - quite a few wrecks, some asteroids, and a few actual vessels here and there." "Do what you can," Captain Donovan advised. Suddenly, Nathan Schmidt, who was seated to my left, leaned toward me. "Is all that training still fresh on your mind, sir?" the Lyran whispered. "Why do you ask?" I replied. "Well, from what I can tell, these guys have no idea when and where we're gonna run up against the Capellans. Seems like we're taking a 'haul ass toward the planet and pray' approach," Nathan explained, "what with the running full bore off the jump point while scanning madly routine. If we actually had any intelligence about how far ahead these guys were, and what they were flying, I'm pretty sure we'd be taking a more measured approach." "Astute observations; you may be right," I nodded. "And to answer your question: yes, I do remember your guidance about how to fly a space suit." "Good, because we might find ourselves putting it to practical use at a moment's notice," Nathan answered, leaning back in his seat and cracking his chewing gum loudly. "Yeah, when someone finally questions why there's a cruise ship pulling one and a quarter Gs through a debris-strewn asteroid belt while pumping out scans across three dozen different frequencies," I quipped. Steve Jenkins, seated to my right, let out a snort. "We can just say we're on a booze cruise!" the MechWarrior exclaimed, several heads on the bridge turning toward us at the outburst. I buried my face in my hands. "Sir, I've got a contact!" O'Neil advised, highlighting the sensor trace on the bridge display. I rose from my seat and strode across the bridge to stand alongside Hayes and Donovan. "What've we got?" I asked. "It's a transport ship - the only one in the immediate area - and it's broadcasting Capellan IFF. About thirty minutes ahead of us, which is odd - that means that they couldn't have come into the system aboard our JumpShip, and the JumpShip prior to that arrived two days ago and is no longer on station at the arrival point," the sensor chief explained. "Okay, so it's a Capellan transport that maybe had engine difficulties or something - what makes you suspect that it's the one we're looking for?" Donovan asked, moving closer to the tactical display to scrutinize the sensor reading. "Because, sir, the Capellan military doesn't usually run Mules as combat craft," Ortiz answered. "A Mule broadcasting a CCAF frigate code on its transponder is nothing I've ever seen before. Whoever's running that ship doesn't want it messed with." "Our intel said we're looking for a Trojan," Major Hayes observed. "I could definitely see how someone could mistake a Mule for a Trojan if all they had to go on was a low-res visual and a falsified transponder code," I replied, "though the tonnage difference between a Trojan and a Mule is significant." "You sound like you're familiar with them," Hayes answered, turning to face me. "Very much so. My parents were merchants in the Periphery. I grew up on the trade routes between the Aurigan Coalition, the Taurian Concordat, and the Capellan Confederation. Your sensor chief is right, the transponder code doesn't make much sense." "What kind of armament can we expect?" the Major asked, raising an eyebrow. "That ship is over eleven thousand tons - double our own mass. If we're about to get a bloody nose, I want to know our odds." "Assuming it's a stock configuration?" I replied. "Moderate armor, an AC/5, two SRM-6 launchers on the sides, and a smattering of large, medium and small lasers covering the blind spots. A lot of Mules tend to run with a couple of those weapons on the fritz at any given time. The Mendacius is reasonably matched in terms of agility and firepower." "Sir, we don't necessarily have to engage in a firefight with them," Captain Donovan advised, moving to join us. "The Mendacius is outfit with a pair of grapnels. Assuming that this is our ship, if we can get in low, just above their engine ports, we could take out their rear-facing weapons with our PPC before they're in range to return fire, and then use the grapnel cannons to snare them and pull them within the boarding distance we'd planned for the extraction team." Major Hayes furrowed his brow, deep in thought. "We're taking a huge leap of faith making the assumption that this is our vessel. Our intelligence on the matter is sparse, at best," the Major grumbled. "With all due respect, sir, I think that's a risk we're going to have to take. If that is the ship, and William's aboard, this is our best chance," I countered. "I agree. 'Reasonable suspicion' seems to be the litmus test at the moment," Hayes acknowledged. "Set an intercept course. As soon as we're in range, start jamming them, but leave short range hailing available in case they want to talk to us. I don't want them to get off a call home, especially if it turns out we have a case of mistaken identity. Maxwell, Schmidt, Jenkins, and Weyland - suit up. You may be on deck shortly."
  22. 2 points
    "It is, but you also have to understand that less than a month ago, you were shooting at the people that you were working alongside." Major Hayes answered. "Prior to that, you offlined the flagship of the Crayven Corporation's fleet, got some folks killed in the process, stole data, and caused a major embarrassment for the corporation in front of the Lyrans. Your own government has issued a warrant for your extradition, something that I'm still not sure how we can fight even if we do drop charges against you." I hung my head in shame, my ability to put on my usual cool guy front gone. "I can see that you're definitely throwing out all the stops to make amends for that. You did a remarkable job getting the Republic back online, and I am amazed at what you pulled off on Nirasaki, but as I said, there are those who might feel that your presence introduces an unstable element into a critical situation. We can't screw this up. William is more than just some guy who runs the company. He's the focal point around which this corporation revolves, and he is the sole holder of some of our knowledge. We need to use the most comprehensive, reliable, and expert resources currently at our disposal to bring him back alive. We are working with what we have here, which means that we can't afford to have anything come apart mid-mission." Major Hayes explained. "I understand." I nodded. "I just wanted to help. And I thought that those things that you mentioned - my knowledge of computer systems, my aerial operations training, my proven ability to offline a ship for the benefit of us being able to control the situation, and the fact that I've proven to you that I can be reliable, all would have been points in favor of me coming. The only thing I stand to gain from this specific mission is your trust. Where would I possibly go if I decided to go rogue on this mission? You have the Mendacius here this time and no element of surprise available to me on my part. Even if I did take over that other ship, somehow, I'd never be able to outrun or outgun you. But I wouldn't try to do that, because I want to put my life on the line to get your man back. You saved mine. It''s the least I can do in return." "This isn't going to be a sole decision on my part. Donovan needs convincing as well. What assurance can I give him?" Hayes asked. I thought about my response for a moment. "Put another tracker on me. Send me in with no weapons. Put a remote-controlled cyanide capsule in my body or something, whatever it takes. I'll submit to it." I pleaded. Hayes nodded his head. "I'll talk to Donovan. I'll let you know what he says." the Major replied. "Thanks, Major." I answered. "I promise not to let you down."
  23. 2 points
    "Then I volunteer" Jenkins said. "I was an Elite Parachute Combatant on Kentares for King Dresari. Death has no fear of me." I stared blankly at the MechWarrior for several seconds, attempting to process the statement he'd just made. Steve, meanwhile, proceeded to snap to a salute so hard that I heard his knuckles smack against his forehead. "Alright," I finally replied, slowly. "I hope that you, likewise, have no fear of death. Or, even better, a healthy fear of it. We'll take a look at your training crèche." Private Jenkins continued to hold his salute, wordlessly. At length, I returned the salute. "You may be seated, Private," I nodded. "Sir yes, sir, Private Jenkins, returning to seat, sir!" Steve exclaimed, pivoting on his heel, taking two heavy-footed, exaggerated steps toward his chair, pivoting again aggressively, and then sitting down forcefully with a loud 'clank,' a manic grin on his face all the while. I cast an incredulous glance to Donovan before looking back toward Nathan Schmidt, who had quietly risen to his feet and stood at parade rest. "Yes, Mister Schmidt. What can I do for you? How's your face, by the way?" I added. The Lyran had incurred a nasty gash on his face during the paraglide landing on the Takashima, yet it'd miraculously and mysteriously disappeared entirely by the time Nathan made his return to the Tana. Our physicians hadn't been able to explain it. "It's, uh, still gone, sir," Schmidt replied, self-consciously. "Good. Carry on," I advised. "Sirs, while I can understand that the Mendacius can use her planetary drives to overtake a conventional DropShip, but how do we plan to keep the ship from continuing on its way and possibly even entering the atmosphere, where the Mendacius can't follow? Also, what class of vessel are we talking about? Do we think it's any threat to us when we're flying close in? What's our plan for unlocking the airlock once we're aboard?" Captain Donovan cast me a concerned look. I returned his gaze with a "we'll talk later" gesture. "Our intelligence indicates we're dealing with a Trojan blockade runner, a favored design for smugglers and n'er-do-wells wanting to transact illicit business while making sure that the ship they're in can hold its own in a firefight. As they're typically upconverted from unarmed civilian models on a one-off basis by their owners, there is no standard armament configuration. It typically carries a crew of 18, with the ability to accommodate an additional six passengers, each with their own cabin. It's also got a 1,550 ton cargo bay with two doors. The ship also has a small craft bay with room for two vessels - again, with two doors." I pulled up a generalized schematic of the class for easier reference, sending the image to the main display." Our plan is to overtake the ship, hooking it by its hardpoints with our grappler launcher. We'll disable its engines, and then have our extraction team perform the space jump. When they are aboard, they will electronically override the cargo doors, then go in guns blazing to find and retrieve William." "Who all is going to be on this team? How do you plan to electronically defeat the security lock out?" I pressed. "Let's hold that question for now. We know what kind of lock this ship class uses, and we have a plan," I answered, glancing back at Donovan, who simply nodded. "Well, can you at least tell me who will be leading this mission?" Schmidt pressed. "I will be," I answered, at length. "The safety and well-being of William Kauffman is principally my charge. I intend to see to it that we get him back in one piece." I paused to let the words sink in before continuing. "Are there any other questions from the floor?"
  24. 2 points
    Steve finished shouting his inquiries at Major Hayes and Captain Donovan. In the stunned silence that followed, I also rose to my feet and addressed the command staff. "Sirs, while I can understand that the Mendacius can use her planetary drives to overtake a conventional DropShip, but how do we plan to keep the ship from continuing on its way and possibly even entering the atmosphere, where the Mendacius can't follow? Also, what class of vessel are we talking about? Do we think it's any threat to us when we're flying close in? What's our plan for unlocking the airlock once we're aboard?" I waited patiently for a response.
  25. 2 points
    I jumped up from my chair and stomped a foot and snapped to Attention. "PRIVATE STEVE JENKINS, SIR!" I sounded off. Captain Hayes and Major Donovan looked at me. "Yes private, what do you want?" Said Major Hayes. "Sir I would like to know who will be doing the Space Jump from the MENDACIUS to the Capellan Dropship, sir!" I shouted. I wanted Major Hayes to know that I was serious. "HOW THE HELL DID YOU KNOW that we were planning a SPACE JUMP?? That's classified Data!!!" Said Captain Donovan. "It's okay" said Major Hayes. "Steve is Obviously very skilled in Tactics and knows what he's talking about. Yes, we are going to have a Space Jump as part of this Tactic. A very small team of elites will drop out of our cargo bay when we fly up on the Capellan Dropship and fly across to their Hull, their ship guns won't be able to shoot this Team because they are elite and have no sensor Shape due to being Biologicals." I nodded my head, I understand the Words. "But who gets to be on the team?" I asked more. I needed to know who was on the team. "We have not chosen all our Squads yet." Said Major Donovan. "Then I volunteer" I said. "I was an Elite Parachute Combatant on Kentares for King Dresari. Death has no fear of me." I looked serious at the Captain and the Major while I waited for them to talk it out.
  26. 2 points
    "Thank you, Captain Donovan," I nodded, turning the presentation remote over in my hand and pressing its 'advance' button. A grainy, aerial photograph of a blighted city block resolved into existence on the briefing screen. "I'm going to cut right to the chase," I continued. "On January 31, 3029, while on a solo hike in the Glendale Nature Preserve on the planet Thorin, William Kauffman, CEO of the Crayven Corporation, was abducted by Maskirovka agents of the Capellan Confederation and taken off-world some 14 days later. We believe that the timing of the incident and the subsequent arrival of their DropShip at Nirasaki was no accident - it's the opinion of our analysts that somehow, the Capellans were tipped off to our planned maneuvers in their space - " I fought to keep myself from instinctively glancing at Nathan Schmidt. "...but instead of launching an immediate counterstrike, they decided to temper their response to capitalize on their newly-captured intelligence asset, while leveraging our military response to clear the path to the Takashima. Had we not evacuated when we did - and left the surprise behind that we did - we would've found ourselves in the unenviable position of repelling a response by the CCAF which we'd have been highly unlikely to defeat." "We believe," Captain Donovan added, "that the Capellans have kept Mr. Kauffman in a medically-induced coma while moving him from system to system to avoid being tracked. Most likely, by now, they've discovered his augments, and are in the process of lobotomizing him - either figuratively or literally - to try to get at the information that he holds about the Black Eclipse project, and more broadly, about the Crayven Corporation." "A medically-induced coma?" Captain Maxwell interjected. "Why? What would that accomplish? And how do we know that's what they did?" "A fair question," I nodded. "What I'm about to share with this group stays in this room. William has a number of technological implants in his body - several of them experimental - which afford him enhanced vision, hearing, reflexes, and cognition. Among those implants is also a communication module that enables him to interface directly with a wide spectrum of computer systems and transmitters. In the event that William is incapacitated, the comm unit should enter a seek mode until it finds any compatible uplink. When it does, it's designed to use its entire power reserve to transmit a low-band, encrypted distress signal to the Crayven Corporation via any channel necessary. William can also manually trigger this distress mode when he is conscious. We have received no such signal." "How do we know that he isn't dead - or that the Capellans haven't simply disabled the implant? The question has to be asked," Maxwell replied. "Given that our mole inside the Confederation assures us that William is still alive, we're assuming that the implant must believe that he is in an uncompromised state. A medically-induced coma would not trigger the device into panic mode. If he were conscious, we're certain he would have signaled - if not immediately, then within a short time after his abduction," Donovan explained. Captain Maxwell raised an eyebrow, nodding slightly. "I know it's an optimistic take on the situation, Captain, but it's the best theory we have right now," I responded. "Continuing on - we have reason to believe that William's abductors are headed toward a Maskirovka stronghold on Epsilon Eridani IV. Our entire floatilla - the Tana, the Republic, and the Mendacius - is only two jumps away from the Epsilon Eridani system, but only the Mendacius is fast enough to also be able to intercept the Capellans before they make planetfall." "Intercept?" a voice from the back of the room asked. "Yes," I replied. "Our plan is to try to overtake the Capellan vessel that's transporting William before it reaches the planet. That's our best chance of retrieving him. We're drawing up a strategic plan for that now. If we can't overtake them, we'll need to send the Tana to the planet's surface with an extraction team. That team will have to breach the holding facility, pacify any resistance encountered, and withdraw to the extraction point before the Capellans can send reinforcements in. Needless to say, a protracted firefight aboard an isolated DropShip, versus in a prison with access to virtually unlimited military backup, is our preferred outcome." "What's the sitrep concerning the prison, if we do have to go that route?" Charles Maxwell inquired. "It's a mostly underground facility built directly below the streets of Dori. Originally constructed as a hardened facility to which the local government could retreat in the event of an invasion, it's equipped with state-of-the-art computer equipment. There are entire areas dedicated to living accommodations, since converted to cell blocks. A central War Room provides oversight of the entire facility, while the old emergency intelligence gathering room is tied into surveillance feeds throughout the city. There is a full armory on site, and, as we understand it, a trained detachment of CCAF soldiers provide foot security," I answered. "We have a shit ton of 'Mechs," the MechWarrior who called himself 'Abaddon" blurted out, his German accent adding a decisive ferocity to the words. "Pardon my French. Why can't we just roll deep into the city and disintegrate the first few floors of the prison?" "Because we can't stage a military invasion of the Tikonov Free Republic. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Sheratan's part of that territory now. You do want to be able to go home after this gig, right?" I asked. 'Abaddon' nodded, slouching in his seat and crossing his arms over his chest as he stared at the display. "So - to recap: this is a cut and dry operation. William Kauffman is on a DropShip headed for Epsilon Eridani IV. We're going to intercept it, board it, and get him back. Failure is not an option. Questions?" I asked, looking out over assembled staff.
  27. 2 points
    Seventeen days later... C.S.V. Mendacius System jump point Nirasaki system February 24, 3029 ___________________________ The holographic image of a distant Capellan star system dominated the center of the Mendacius' small but serviceable briefing room. I leaned back in my seat, adjusting its harness as the ship's thrust-induced microgravity bled away; an indication that we'd throttled down for our final approach to the waiting JumpShip. Of course, the Mendacius herself did not possess an actual means to dock with the JumpShip, for she had no need to do so. The Bug-Eye class of espionage vessel - to which the Mendaicus belonged - was equipped with its own ultra-compact K-F drive that could hurtle the tiny surveillance vessel across the cosmos with ease. The typical means by which the ship did so was to travel to a system's jump point, and then, while maintaining an absolute minimum safe separation of 28 kilometers from the much larger craft, perform a tandem jump in sync with an outgoing JumpShip. This tactic had the effect of masking the Mendacius' own jump signature, while making it appear that the smaller ship had simply departed aboard the JumpShip. In less than an hour, Marcus Donovan would be issuing orders to follow this exact course of action, our route not taking those of us aboard the Mendacius back to Sheratan, but instead, to the alien-looking, greenish-blue world now on the display before us. "Ladies and gentlemen," Donovan began, "our CEO, William Kauffman, is missing. And the corporate office believes that they've tracked down where his abductors are taking him." There came a low murmuring from the assembled cadre in the room. "The venue: Epsilon Eridani IV, a world now within the borders of a new nation-state that didn't exist when we embarked on Operation: Black Eclipse," Donovan continued. "While we were out of town, something unexpected took place within the Capellan Confederation. Colonel Pavel Ridzik, chief military advisor to Chancellor Maximillian Liao, and AFFS Lieutenant General Ardan Sortek, one of the movers and shakers in the Federated Suns' military, struck a deal to create a new nation out of disputed border worlds. They're calling it the 'Tikonov Free Republic.' The Republic was created by incorporating those worlds of the Tikonov Commonality that haven't already been conquered during the succession war that's now raging. Epsilon Eridani was one of the systems incorporated into the Republic. With the local laws up in the air following the changeover of planetary custodianship, and wrought with the turmoil of being caught up in constant territory disputes, the planet is a prime location for all manner of criminal enterprise." The screen zoomed in to show a crumbling, blistered city in the northern hemisphere. "Our intelligence analysts, after performing an exhaustive number of interviews, calling in favors, and doing no small amount of forensic reconstruction, believe that they've found our missing CEO. He's thought to be aboard a DropShip in transit to the Epsilon Eridani star system, where the Capellans intend to transfer him to a compound built out of a local jail in what used to be the planet's primary port - the city of Dori." I raised my hand. "Captain Maxwell?" Marcus Donovan asked. "Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here," I observed, "but this seems like a really off-the-wall place to disappear with a CEO that you've just snatched. How do we know that this location intel is good?" "You are a little ahead of yourself," Donovan chuckled, "but we were just coming to that point - the who and the why. I'll let Major Hayes answer those questions. Major?" Donovan tossed the presentation remote to Major Hayes, who made his way to the podium...
  28. 2 points
    Elsewhere... Oberon Confederation, 3015 "Forgive me for being paranoid," the tall, powerfully built goon who guarded the entrance to the royal treasurer's office began, motioning for me to turn my back toward me so that he could check for any unseen weapons, "but if you know anything about us, you'll know that we've had a rather tough time." "I understand," I replied. "What've you got under the coat?" the guard asked. Slowly, I reached one hand down to pull my longcoat aside. A compact laser pistol sat strapped to my hip. "Nothing else?" "No," I replied. The towering fellow raised an eyebrow at me. "You planning on trying anything funny with the treasurer if I let you in?" "No, I swear to you I'm not. I'm just here, at the instruction of His Excellency, to collect my payment," I replied. "People do get paid on your world, right?" The guard looked unconvinced, but eventually relented. With a heavy sigh, he lowered his weapon, and grunted at me, making an 'I've got my eyes on you' gesture as he keyed open the door to the treasurer's office. Quickly, I stepped over the threshold and into the ornate space. Standing before me was a small but orderly desk, flanked on either side by bookcases containing tattered volumes from innumerable different eras. At the desk itself sat the treasurer. "Hello ," the man, an older fellow, with dozens of battle scars, announced with little inflection n his voice. "What do you need?" "My name's William Kauffman. I've completed the work on your battleship, and now, if it's not too much trouble, I'd like to be paid," I explained. "Certainly," the treasurer said. "There's just one small detail we need to work out." "And that is...?" I asked, beginning to feel a general uneasiness working its way into my psyche.The behavior of the treasurer was highly irregular from that I'd become accustomed to from the agents of the bandit kingdom. "We need to ensure that you'll adhere to our non-disclosure agreement," the treasurer replied. Without warning, several armed officers strode into the treasurer's office. "This escalated quickly," I observed. As one of the soldiers looked toward me, I squinted at the details of a small tattoo, barely visible above his shirt line that he wore. What it revealed was chilling. Wait a second, I thought to myself, these guys are... ### Somewhere in the Inner Sphere, 3029 A sudden, burning pain flowing through my veins tore me from my flashback, casting me into the waking world once more. REBOOTING - REBOOTING - REBOOTING - REBOOTING - REBOOTING Assisted Targeting System v. 1.25 [INITIALIZED] Empathy Synthesizer v. 1.07 [INITIALIZED] Optics Enhancer v. 3.54 [INITIALIZED] Reflex Booster v. 6.0 [INITIALIZED] Logic Co-Processor v. 3.14159265 [INITIALIZED] CommMod v. 0.04b. . .INITIALIZATION FAILED All functioning systems nominal. Auxiliary power at 35%. Adrenal infusion detected. Bio-recharge in progress. Consciousness exploded into existence around me, coalescing as a grainy, black-and-white image which quickly burst into a vibrant, technicolor reality, air rushing into my beleaguered lungs and a sudden, overwhelming dread of imminent peril overtaking my consciousness. "...Maskirovka!" I attempted to sit upright as the flashback rushed away, only to feel chains restraining my arms, legs, and torso. I looked around, but saw only dimly-lit medical equipment. As awareness returned to my body and mind, fragments of where I'd previously been - a vastly deep forest, replete with wildlife - raced into my head. That place certainly didn't appear to be where I was now. "Mister Kauffman, how nice of you to join us," came a voice, piped through overhead speakers. "Shall we begin?" "Who are you? What is this place...?" Before I could reply, my body was violently savaged by thousands of volts of electricity, causing me to writhe in pain as my muscles spasmed and my breath caught in my chest...
  29. 1 point
    "Hi Nate, you look like you need a battle buddy, did you find the boss yet??" Steve asked, flipping his puke-smeared helmet open and grinning at me maniacally. "Uhh, which boss are you referring to? Our boss? Or, something else?" I asked, confused. "There's usually a level boss in battle fights like this. But I dunno where he is. Hey, did you know your space helmet is all busted up and there's blood on your face?" Steve answered. "Yeah, actually, I -" "Man, it smells poopy in here." Steve interrupted again. Before I could try to have any more weird conversation with him, the heavy sounds of weapons fire broke out again in the hold. I had been monitoring on my radio and it had sounded like Captain Maxwell and Major Hayes were tracking the last of the Capellans, and now it seemed that they'd found him or her. "Steve! We need to get over there and help Captain Maxwell and Major Hayes!" I yelled, brandishing my rifle and grabbing the MechWarrior by the shoulder. "Come on, let's go!" Steve and I ran as hard as we could to Pen One, and as we got there, I could hear the sound of laser fire being exchanged with the staccato crack of machine gun fire. I looked up, and saw that the weapon volleys were coming from off the top of the stack, and right as I started to climb the pens, full of crazed, anxious animals, I saw Captain Maxwell descend suddenly from the ceiling, carried on a pillar of flame from his jetpack, disappearing behind top of the stack moments later. A second thereafter I heard an impact accompanied by Captain Maxwell giving a loud "oomph" over the radio. "Captain Maxwell! Major Hayes!" I yelled, forgetting to use call signs in the panic of the moment. "Are you OK?" I motioned for Steve to start climbing up the stack with me. There was another powerful blast of laser fire. "Nice shootin', Tex." Major Hayes quipped. "Thanks, nice of you to stop by." Maxwell chuckled. "I couldn't let you have all the fun, though." "Of course not," the Major laughed. "Come on, let's get this guy secured before he wakes up. I have questions for him." "Alpha 4 to Alpha 1 and 2, do you require assistance? Alpha 5 and I are at your location." I radioed. "Negative, thank you though, Alpha 4. We're coming down with a prisoner." Major Hayes answered. A few minutes later, Captain Maxwell and Major Hayes descended with an unconscious soldier bound with flex cuffs, setting him up against a cage and quickly securing him to it as he started to come around. The man was Asian, with dark hair, and had a stocky build and a military uniform that I recognized as being a Military Police officer in the CCAF. I began to wonder what sort of cargo was on board this ship that required an MP, if it was anything other than the CEO of a corporation that held key information that they wanted. As Major Hayes attended to the details of the slowly-rousing captive, Captain Maxwell walked over to me and Steve. I noticed that he appeared to be limping, and then I saw that one of his two mag boots had been shot to pieces. "Gentlemen, I trust that you are in one piece...more or less?" Maxwell asked, glancing at my smashed helmet and facial cuts. "Either of you need medical attention?" I shook my head no. "I should be fine - other than possibly not being able to go back to the ship that way I came." I replied.
  30. 1 point
    We were in the middle of an ambush, and all hell had broken loose, along with, by all appearances, several hogs, the hapless animals floating about in the weightlessness as I dodged incoming fire. Though I'd made every effort to stay with the team, the suddenness and ferocity of the Capellan attack had forced us apart to diverse regions of the cargo hold. As explosions of gunfire thundered around me, accompanied by the screams and shouts of combatants, I ran through the smokey haze, charging toward the location where I believed the Capellans to be fortifying. "Alpha-1 to Contro! We're under heavy attack. Alpha-2 counts a minimum of five bogies. Can you confirm?" What felt like an eternity passed as I waited for a response. A hail of bullets pinged into the cargo containers beside me, sending me instinctively into a defensive position, strafing into the fog with a wide sweep of laser fire. "We're only reading three - make that two - humanoid-aligned heat signatures in the hold with you at this time, Major. It looks like your team fairly quickly put down most of them; we are reading thermals consistent with the presence of decedents," Donovan replied, his tone a practiced, eerie calm against the mayhem unfolding. reassuring. "Where are these other two relative to my position?" I asked. "One is approaching Alpha-3, and the other is closing on Captain Maxwell," Donovan responded. "Copy that, Control - Alphas 2 and 3, are you direct on that traffic?" I asked. A pair of affirmations met my response. "I'm already hunting the one closest to me," Weyland's voice added in a low growl. "Alpha-2's prey is closest to the you, Major." "Acknowledged," I replied. "Control, I need a waypoint to Alpha-2 and the heat signature closing on him." As a green dot illuminated on my combat spacesuit's HUD, accompanied by a red dot representing the hostile soldier, I double-checked the beam intensity setting on my laser rifle. Heavy stun. Good, I thought to myself. I want to take this one alive.
  31. 1 point
    “Maxwell to Alpha team - these guys are Capellan Confederation Armed Forces! I count five of them, and somehow, I don't think 'nonlethal' is in their vocabulary!" “Well it’s not mine as well” whispered Bishop. When the cargo bay door was breached and the flash bangs rolled in Bishop instinctively shuffled to the right side of the cargo hold. He wanted to stop any of the Caps from trying to flank them. Bishop was taking cover behind a stack of cages holding male hogs. The hogs instantly went wild at is presence. The creatures sensed the large predator in him. Then it happened, the sound of gun fire and an explosion from a fragmentation grenade triggered the beast. Rage and the need to kill flooded onto his mind like a river. His body and mind snapped into auto pilot. With an inhuman growl Bishop began skulking forward through the haze caused from the smoke grenade. His weapon moved left then right in a constant search pattern looking for his prey. After several meters movement caught his predator eye. The flash green was all that he needed. The light machine gun snapped up onto his shoulder followed by the immediate jerk of its trigger. The weapon bucked and pounded the mercenary’s shoulder as he tracked his prey. The sound of a buzz saw ripped into the air as the belt field weapon through heavy caliber projectiles at the soldiers. At first the Capellan mistakenly thought that the cargo crate would be a safe place to take cover. He would be dead wrong. Like a dreadnaught of death bishop stomped forward while ripping burst after burst or rounds in the soldiers hiding place. Panicking under the constant storm or venomous firepower the Capellan tried to jump up and move from his cover. Bishop cut him with a savage burst of fire from the MG42B. Within 8 seconds over a 100 brass shell casings littered the floor. Without hesitation the hulking monster stepped over the man lifeless body.... the monster silently disappeared into the smoke seeking another prey to butcher. The only remnants left where his bloody boot prints.
  32. 1 point
    I wrinkled my nose, even though, sealed in an armored spacesuit, I couldn't actually smell the animal leavings that floated aloft before us - a fact about which I was immeasurably grateful. "Oh, I recognize this!" the voice of Private Steve Jenkins suddenly blared in my headset. "Their rotovator must have broken! Back on the farm on Ninja Planet - " "I catch your drift, Private Jenkins," Major Hayes interjected. "Let's keep this channel open for urgent matters." "I think that there's plenty of matter here, Major! If you catch my drift!" Jenkins replied, gleefully. "Steve - that's enough. Save the comedy routine for later," I advised. I glanced toward the MechWarrior, who threw me a thumbs-up. "Alright, people - let's move through here carefully. There's a lot of blind spots in this cargo bay, let alone floating biohazards. Keep sharp," Hayes instructed, readying his weapon and moving forward cautiously. Raising my laser rifle, I moved alongside him, my eyes sweeping from side to side, taking in the chamber. The cargo bay was immense, the livestock crates stacked in six massive cube-shaped pens that ran the length of the bay. Each pen was four cages wide by four cages high, with sixteen cages on each face, centered around a gigantic communal feed and water dispenser inset into the center of each of the pens. Flanking the livestock cages were assorted crates of a vast array of shapes and sizes, some wrapped in cargo netting, others festooned with myriad shipping labels, and still others taking odd shapes that hinted tantalizingly at the cargo contained within them. Overhead, a dim array of low-power sodium bulbs cast circular pools of golden light onto the cargo bay floor, the only interruptions in the otherwise uniform shadows that shrouded the room. It was the perfect place for an ambush. As our party of five advanced down the center of the hold, our mag boots thunking against the deck plates, a scene of surreal horror flanked us on either side. The pens were a hive of frenetic, feral activity. Bereft of gravity, the hogs were suspended in the air within their cages, flailing their limbs, curling their lips, their mouths agape and tongues undulating as they bellowed and squealed with confusion. The overhead lights illuminated their eyes with demonic flashes as the hogs thrashed their heads. It was unnerving and distracting; if someone were laying in wait for us, the mayhem in the pens would provide the perfect distraction. A sudden, sharp squelch, followed by a tinny loudspeaker announcement, suddenly cut through the hold. "Attention all decks - security teams are responding to C2. If your name tag doesn't say "Ānquán," get the hell out of the way and report to your shelter stations," a husky, accented, female voice called out. "C2 - 'Cargo Bay 2?'" I called out over our team channel. "I think that's a safe - " Major Hayes began. Suddenly, without warning, the Major's words were cut off as the cargo hold's inner door burst open and a flashbang grenade, accompanied by a smoke bomb, exploded with terrific force directly in our path, overwhelming my vision and leaving me dazed and confused as I dove to my left, firing my laser rifle blindly in the direction of the attack. The hogs bellowed and roared, banging at their enclosures as the loud reports of rifle and laser fire echoed through the bay. "Take cover!" I shouted into my comm unit, struggling to see anything through the thick smoke that now rolled like a heavy fog throughout the hold. Taking stock of my surroundings, I realized that the upper levels of the animal cages rose above the blinding white wall swirling around me, but there was no obvious way to climb them. Unless... I thought to myself, sprinting toward the nearest enclosure. As I approached, an enormous boar smashed its tucks into the bars of its cage, roaring at me as it bared its teeth. After a moment's pause, I reached down and toggled my boots' adhesion setting to twice Earth's gravity. Then, staring at the creature, and with great effort, I ran directly at the cages, planting my feet on their bars as I reached them, eliciting yet another roar and angry outburst from the animal as I ran directly up the face of its cage and continued up the stack, taking advantage of the weightless environment of the cargo hold to use the pens as another horizontal surface. Reaching the top of the stack, I re-oriented myself atop the cages, kneeling into a defensive stance. From what I could see, Alpha team had scattered throughout the bay, and each member of the squad was individually engaged with one of the hostiles that had breached the doorway. I quickly located one of the aggressors, zooming in on the figure with the scope of my rifle. In the low light, the lime-green of the combatant's uniform insignia was still easily discernible. "Maxwell to Alpha team - these guys are Capellan Confederation Armed Forces! I count five of them, and somehow, I don't think 'nonlethal' is in their vocabulary!"
  33. 1 point
    The door opened with a puff of air, on instinct Bishop shifted the mass MG42B into the ready position. With his new animal like eyes he peered into the blood red air lock. Most soldiers would have activated a weapon light or helmet light... but he could see into the dark. With a short step he glided past his pack mates keeping his weapon at the ready. Like the angel of death he silently drifted into the old room. The dark room was industrial in nature, cold and sterile. To his left where spar EVA suits hanging on the wall. “Room clear....pressure door on the other side... I suggest we breach and clear” Bishop growled. Bishop’s helmet mic clicked..”negative Bishop... if we breach that door we will decompress the this deck... me might kill civilians” said the Major. The beast growled inside Bishop’s mind. “We will loose the element of surprise and the assault momentum... they be staging in the corridor” bishop argued. “Bishop... your vitals are unhealthy... just relax a little..remember, we are just retrieving the General” Captain Donovan’s responded over the command channel. His tone was one of concern. With a soft click, Bishops mag boots anchored him to the deck. Snapping his weapon the hulking mercenary stepped of to his right, he didn’t bother to hide his annoyed demeanor. He never let his eye off the pressure door. As his team members filled in the brooding Skinwalker felt a heavy gloves hand touch his shoulder. Then com channel clicked twice, suit to suit com channel. With eyes still on the door... “Easy partner... we’ll get the General. You got to do this smooth and bay the number.” Nathan said with a slow voice.”
  34. 1 point
    Previously... Aboard derelict Pentagon-class Dropship In orbit around GJ 3634c dwarf planet Pokhara System, Kurita space near Davion border February 18, 3029 ____________________________________ The faint whine of a high energy electrical discharge could almost be heard a moment before the heavy blast door began to glow, faintly at first, but then slowly getting brighter in short pulses as though being heated intermittently from the other side. A short number of pulses later and the center of the door was glowing white hot and rivulets of molten ferrosteel were running down the inside, a final pulse of white hot heat and a large section of the middle of the door seemed to heave inward as the metal began to flow like a liquid and separated from the cooler edges of the blast door. As the molten ferrosteel cooled rapidly it created a pile of slag the obscured close to half of the 1.5m (5') diameter hole that now existed in the blast door, although it did not actually block the hole itself. Through the inky blackness now visible on the other side the glowing barrel of a support laser could be seen as it slowly radiated heat into the cold vacuum of space that permeated almost the entire ship. Several beams of light from various flashlights danced across the still cooling edges of the hole, the now red hot glow of the metal almost obscured under the intensity of the lights. The thudding of footsteps could be felt, if not heard, through the vibrations of the deck indicating that whatever had just melted through the blast door was of a formidable size, had anyone alive been on the inside of the room they very likely would have been fearing for the lives at this moment. As it was, there was nothing but another pair of skeletons in this room, yet more victims of what was most likely the rapid decompression of the ship and subsequent failure of the life support systems after it suffered catastrophic damage in what appeared to be a single blow. The once formidable 4,000 tonne dropship was laid low by a singular unlucky strike from what had to be Capital-class weaponry which had pierced it's port side and ripped a gash through the entire vessel from bow to stern. I manouevered the Golem exoskeleton up to the hole blasted into the armoury door and bent over to look inside, the close proximity blocking most of the light from my shoulder mounted spotlight and prevented me from seeing anything useful inside. I had gotten pretty good at melting through the blast doors using the Support Laser underslung on the right arm of the exoskeleton, the doors were actually designed to withstand some serious firepower and through a bit of trial and error I had worked out that with proper timing I could melt through the door with around 5 shots without completely destroying the door, and whatever happened to lay beyond it. I got a fair amount of flak when the first door they had me try shooting through melted like butter and the final shot went straight through it and destroyed anything worth salvaging in the room behind it. After a few more mishaps I could now reliably melt the door enough to force their way in, if not outright enter through the hole, and it was much faster than trying to cut through the door with a cutting torch. With the power still out throughout 80% of the ship this was the easiest way to get through the myriad of blast doors that were all closed on the derelict vessel. "Well you got through this one nicely Orlex," said Vincent as he slid up next to me, his own light splashing across the opening, "Let's see what we've got." I reached out and grabbed his shoulder with my left hand as he began to try and move into the open hole, "What gives Orlex?" "Take your light off the hole and look again," I replied, "didn't think you'd want to roast yourself just yet." He moved his light away from the hole he was about to enter and took in a deep breath as he saw the metal was still glowing red hot without the bright flashlight on it, "Umm, yeah. Thanks. I'll just take a peak through the hole then." "He's always in a rush this one," said Bill as he glided up behind Vincent and planted the magnetic boots of his Engineering spacesuit firmly on the deck, "someone always has to look out for him it seems." The two engineers were like brothers and over the past week had grown accustomed to working with me and the Golem exoskeleton that we were prototyping, with me being the guinea pig pilot. Despite the Grail Lords being a highly trained DMI special forces squad that I was unwillingly assigned to, with the sole purpose of testing a prototype combat exoskeleton, and my initial misgivings of the unit as whole, there was a few individuals on the team that I actually got along with and that even seemed to appreciate my presence. The only reason I was the test pilot was because my younger brother was a relatively high ranking DMI operative with MI4 and was in joint command of the team that was assigned to test the prototype in the field, well that and the fact that none of the actual DMI operatives on the team had any interest in piloting what they referred to as the Iron Coffin. It had been just over a week since we initially boarded the derelict Pentagon-class dropship that was discovered on the border of Davion and Kurita space and in that time we had managed to setup a fully functioning base in one of the still intact engineering stations and began the rather arduous task of salvaging Star League era tech and equipment. We had found a cache of Mauser 960 pulse lasers in one of the armouries we had previously breached, thankfully without destroying the door or the rooms contents, and while most had succumbed to the centuries of neglect floating derelict in space there were several that were salvageable and even a few that were still functional, once powered with a proper battery. We had even managed to retrieve a pair of Gauss rifles and a few dozen rounds of ammunition from an unsecured cargo hold and there were at least 3 more Gauss rifles installed in salvageable weapons bays on the ship, those would have to wait for the salvage team though, we weren't about to mess with them and risk breaking such valuable equipment. The salvage team themselves had arrived a couple days earlier and were still getting themselves situated and preparing to start full scale salvage operations on the vessel itself. They planned on stripping everything they could from the vessel, right down the double heat sinks and even the reactor if they could manage it. The ship would never be operational again though so the hope of flying it away from the moon and back into Davion space was nothing but a dream now. "Should be cool enough now Vincent," said Bill as he indicated the metal had cooled off enough to safely touch, "still pretty hot, but at least it won't melt our suits now." "Very funny Bill, I seem to recall you almost tore open your own suit trying to squeeze into the breach where we found the Mausers," responded Vincent as he moved to slide through the ample opening. "I never said I was perfect, but at least that would have been easily fixed. Can't really unmelt a spacesuit now can you?" A grumble was Vincent's only reply as he disappeared into the darkness of the armoury, Bill followed him into the void a moment later. Unable to fit into the current hole due the bulk of the Golem I tried to position myself so I could both shine my shoulder mounted spotlight through the hole and see into it as well, after a few moments of shifting around I found a good spot and was able to watch as Bill and Vincent took an inventory of the armoury and found a few useful items. "Nice, is that a working MCES (Marine Combat Environment Suit) Vincent?" "I think so, hard to tell for sure but it was sealed in the locker and everything looks intact. Look there's more of them here too." "Wow, I've got another two over here, they're missing pieces though, I think the weapons cabinet has some pulse lasers in it." "Find some good stuff in there guys?" I queried over the comms, the vacuum made regular communication useless. "Looks like it Orlex, at least a few working Marine Combat suits and some pulse lasers. We'll catalog it and come back later to collect them, we still have two more rooms to clear this shift," replied Vincent. "Sounds good, I'm going to get started on opening this corridor door, according to the map our next target room is a storage compartment down that hallway." I moved away from the breached armoury door and set about using the cutting torch mounted on the Golem's left arm to begin cutting through the standard door that was blocking our path, no need to use the support laser on this door as a few well placed cuts would allow me to brute force the doors open with relative ease. 11 days later... Aboard Black OPs DMI DroST IVc-class Dropship Gorgon Zenith Jump Point, rendezvous with Lithe Fox jumpship Addicks System, Davion Space March 1, 3029 ____________________________________ The Gorgon deftly spun around and drifted slowly towards the Scout-class jumpship's singular docking collar, the dull thunk of the vessel's mating and securing their connection reverberating through the hull, before the Lithe Fox's KF-drive started to spin up. A few short minutes later and there was nothing but the momentary afterglow as the paired vessels disappeared in a wink as the KF field coalesced. Nearly 20 light years away, in the Errai system, the same paired vessels emerged from nothingness in a brilliant flash of EM and IR interference that could be mistaken for nothing except a jumpship emergence. Wasting no time the 2,500 tonne Gorgon disconnected from the docking collar on the jumpship and broke away at a steady 1G burn towards the third planet in the seven planet system, not unusual for a cargo hauler which the Gorgon was currently masquerading as. The local government had no idea that the ship was actually carrying a team of highly trained DMI operatives with the sole mission of targeting and disrupting or eliminating Maskirovka elements known to exist on the Davion controlled world. The Grail Lords had finished their part in the salvage operation of what was supposed to have been a Star League era warship, but instead was a Rim Worlds Alliance Pentagon-class assault dropship, nearly two weeks ago. They had secured the vessel within Kurita space and had started the salvage operation, ensuring everything was safe before the actual salvage team was brought in for the heavy lifting. Afterwards the Grail Lords had returned to Addicks for their debrief and were reassigned to assist in the Errai system. The recent turmoil caused by the ongoing Fourth Succession War had allowed House Liao to get a foothold in the Errai system in the form of several Maskirovka teams, the DMI knew of their actions and had confirmed their presence but didn't know just how many, or few, actual Maskirovka teams there were. The enemy intelligence teams were promoting terrorist actions across the planet and appeared to be trying to upset the somewhat delicate balance of power that the current mob bosses had. The planet, Errai II, was in Davion ruled space and had a Davion approved government but it was so deeply embedded with corruption that it was really the criminal underworld that ruled most of the planet, at least as far as the locals were concerned. The system itself still provided goods and services the rest of Davion space and complied with all the necessary laws on paper so outwardly it seemed like just another industrial hub in the great Federated Suns machine, but anyone who visited one of the major cities could see the influence of the planet's seedy underworld. "...our part will consist of rooting out these undesirable elements when they are discovered and eliminating them as deemed fit. Most of the team will not be involved with the undercover work and will instead form one of the quick response strike teams. Orlex, that includes you, you'll be pleased to learn that while you are still primarily our Golem pilot for the foreseeable future, you've been granted permission to use your Merlin BattleMech on this mission should the situation warrant it, we've taken the liberty of painting it in the local militia colours already. We also have access to a small selection of 'mechs from the local garrison should we have need of them. We'll be based on Errai III, posing as a cargo hauler on temporary hire while one of the regulars is in dry dock for some maintenance, that means we'll be making regular runs to Errai II to keep up appearances so don't expect alot of down time on this one. Finally, there's been hints that it might not just be Maskirovka down there, undoubtedly there's the local organized crime groups but they'll mostly play ball with us, at least until we get rid of the other troublemakers. There's nothing concrete but some individuals believe the ISF or another Kurita unit may also be involved, as always keep your heads on a swivel, it's not the first time we've been in the viper's den." Captain Leena finished the mission brief without pausing for questions, her and her team had been working together so long she knew they didn't have any. It was a straight-forward mission, as far as intelligence operations go, and everyone had already gone through the full mission brief we received the night before. The few questions I might have had probably wouldn't have gotten a straight answer anyways and since I was low man on the totem pole I already had all the information I was privy to. As it was, I was glad to be given a chance to pilot Bastion, my 60-ton Merlin, again, even if it was just a remote chance, I was much more comfortable piloting it over the comparatively miniscule half ton Golem exoskeleton. Although the time spent with the Golem aboard the derelict Pentagon dropship during the salvage operation had caused me develop a certain appreciation for it.
  35. 1 point
    "Alright then, Mister Schmidt. If you'd be so kind, please go ahead and facilitate us entrance. Alpha team - go weapons ready." Major Hayes commanded. "On it." I replied, quickly turning toward the airlock door and examining the security countermeasures in place. They were rudimentary and straightforward. A password keypad and an access badge reader. Fooling the system into thinking I had an access badge was actually going to be harder than brute-forcing the keypad, so I went with the latter. Unspooling a small length of data cable from my wrist-mounted computer, I managed to fumble it into the keypad's data port after several tried with my clumsy gloved hand. Then, I fired up a small proxy application which would give a rotating hardware address and a random time delay to every request I made to the keypad. That would prevent the system monitor from figuring out that there was a brute force attack in progress and shutting me out. With those measures in place I launched the attack. At first nothing happened, the numbers and letters just spun on my display. I could hear the sound of my own breathing in my helmet coming in heavy inhalations and exhalations as I watched. Eventually, one character at a time appeared and then turned green in the capture box. After what seemed like forever, a fully realized password was there: BZ2VH I quickly keyed it in, and after watching the airlock cycling its pressure down, the airlock door itself swung open with a surprising amount of force and a bang, I jumped back at the display before realizing that the decompression timing was simply acting up and released the door ahead of when it's atmosphere had finished venting. A typical thing to have happen on old and not so well maintenenced systems. "OK, Major. We're in. The lead is yours." I advised.
  36. 1 point
    I flew through the darkness screaming at the top of my lungs because the Space Jump was terrifying and also because I could Not control the suit right, it had been so long since I trained with the Duke back on Kentares. Now I was flip flipping through the space vacuum between the MENDACIUS and the freighter. My stomach felt real awful and I was dizzy, either on account of the bad Physics or because of the plate of Voodoo and chilli cheese burrito. Either way I was in a bad shape and fading fast... "Guys I don't think I have control" I yelled. But the other guys just kept on flying through Space. "Seriously guys I think I'm gonna vom if I can't fly straight, I can't figure out how to do it, every time I push a button I spin around more!" "Steve, quit messing around, do it just like you learned in the simulaid!" "Come on, Steve, you're going to get us all killed if you don't get down here!" "Steve, it's up to you you have to use your skills to complete the Mission!" "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" I Screamed from the stress and I hit all the buttons on my suit controls at the same time, the suit's rocket motor Transmission made a bunch of groin grabbing noises as it shifted into all the gears at the same time and fire spread out of every direction nozzle at the same time. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" I Screamed again as I flipped head over heels over and over like I was doing some of Demonic high speed Cartwheel of Death. My scream went on for an eternal period of time and the stars turned into a blur warp zone while I accelerated up to the speed of light on my out of control space suit rocket. I barfed from the G-force and saw it slosh inside my helmet and started to black out when... I... HIT... THE... DECK. I hit so hard upside down that the puke in my helmet blew back and sprayed all over my face. I Screamed in pain and fear and on account of being grossed out. Then I looked around and saw Nathan Schmidt standing near By in his own space suit. "Alpha 5 to Alpha 1,I landed. Is there anything I should do now??"
  37. 1 point
    A blaze of coherent energy rocketed through the open door of the cargo bay and cored into the aft wall, in an instant sending molten steel slagging down the bulkhead as alarms wailed. I stared wild-eyed at Major Hayes while, behind us, out in the void, blue PPC bolts impacted the Hurry Up Bessie, slowly causing its each of aft weapons to explode in blossoms of orange flame in between recharges that felt like they lasted an eternity. "Go! Go! Go!" Major Hayes' voice crackled in my helmet as the bay's drop light cycled to green and the Major himself flagged his arms at the exit. I took a deep breath and nodded, and then, feeling the Mendacius' gravity slip away as it drew to a halt and began applying reverse thrust to hold the freighter in place, I pushed off the deck and sailed through the open bay doors, into the stars. Glancing behind me, I saw Major Hayes, Captain Maxwell, Lieutenant Weyland, and Private Jenkins also taking flight, each of them assuming a different posture as they acclimated to the new process for the first time outside of the simulator. "Blade your bodies, guys...pretend you're diving down through the water. Arms at your sides. Hold onto those jump pack controls." I transmitted. There was no sarcasm in my voice, no cockiness, no arrogance. I knew that I had to keep it on the level and be a leader, even though I didn't hold any kind of rank and I was basically an inmate out on parole. Their lives, my life, and William's life depended on it. As I saw my charges start to fall into a more uniform formation, I glanced up. The prominent nose of the Mendacius loomed over us, its PPC projector glowing with a built-up charge, the ship oozing a sleek corporate look even in its disguise as a cruise liner. Looking down, I saw the Hurry Up Bessie, and the difference was stark. The hull of the ship looked worn and weathered. A large dent, looking for all the world like an impact crater from a cartoon, sat between Cargo Bay 2 and Cargo Bay 3. Someone had evidently painted horsehoe marks across the dent in an attempt at humor. Glancing toward the ship's registry, I noticed that the name of the ship was also hand-lettered on instead of being professionally applied. Flanking the name, in peeling line art, was a large, cartoony drawing of a mule. A series of fires burned where the ship's aft weapons mounts had been, now obliterated by the Mendacius. "Alpha-4 to Alpha-1...I think you're right. These people aren't military. This ship looks like it's being run on a shoestring budget by a bunch of civilians." I radioed to Major Hayes. "Which begs the question, what is the deal with that military transponder signal?" Captain Maxwell added. "We'll find out soon enough." Major Hayes answered. "The readings from Cargo Bay 1 are really interesting. A lot of activity in there. Remember, we're going to be doing most of this extraction in zero gravity, so whatever's happening, you'll need to keep your bearings." "Oh, joy." Lieutenant Weyland quipped. Before he released the key on his microphone, I swore that I heard a noise somewhere in between a belch and a dry heave. I hoped he wasn't getting spacesick. That would be awful. "Alright, Alpha-4, take us down." the Major ordered. Looking ahead, I saw that we were almost directly overhead the Cargo Bay 2 airlock. I angled my body down slightly, and fired the thrusters on my spacesuit. "Go time, Alpha lance! Light the rockets!" I called out as immediately, I felt a jolt as the thrust propelled me forward at what felt like an unbelievable speed. The distance to target counted down from 800 meters rapidly and the airlock grew in size as it approached. The stars passed in a blur, and at 200 meters, I fired the retro thrusters to slow my approach, coming up on the airlock at no faster than a brisk walk. I let the momentum carry me in, sticking first my feet, then my arms out to stop me as I landed softly against the Hurry Up Bessie's hull. I quickly grabbed a mag clamp from my spacesuit pocket and latched it against the hull to create a handhold, and then turned around to watch the rest of the team as they flew in, bacckdropped by the monolithic hull of the Mendacius....
  38. 1 point
    "No, really, I'm fine." Nathan said, clamping a free hand down on the cut. "Watch this..." Suddenly, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I felt as though I was being watched. I turned to see Bishop gazing intently at Nathan, so focused on the Lyran's injury that he leaned forward, his pupils dilating visibly. "We're good!" Nathan called out to the Skinwalker, quickly turning his back toward the man while clasping my arm to turn me about as well. "What are you doing?" I whispered. "Just...watch," the young man replied. Slowly, Schmidt unclenched his wounded hand. While just moments ago, the cut had bled freely, a dry clot now ran the length of the injury. "Okay, that's impressive - what'd you do, squeeze a styptic stick or something when I wasn't looking?" I asked. "No - just - keep watching," Nathan answered. I stared at the cut, not sure what I was looking for. "Did you mess up your hand?" an unexpected voice interjected. It was Major Hayes, standing before us with a pair of laser rifles. "It's just a light cut, Major," Nathan responded. "Barely broke the surface. I'll be fine. It was worth it. I got Captain Maxwell's comm unit turned around." The Major nodded. "Alright - if you're sure it's not going to mess you up over there..." "I'm certain, Major," Schmidt answered. "Good, because you gents are going to need both hands to operate these," Hayes answered, handing each of us a Magna Laser Rifle and bandoleers of energy cells. I took the weapon in my hands and looked it over. A series of Japanese characters, engraved into the weapon's stock, caught my eye. "What does this say? Anything important that I should know?" I asked. "It says 'D.C.S. Takashima.' We haven't had the opportunity to file those marks off yet. What you need to know is this," Hayes replied, reaching over and setting the weapon's beam focus to a wide spread and the output level to '2.' "This is essentially the 'stun' setting - or at least, as close to one as a Kuritan weapon can achieve. It'll probably still singe someone's eyebrows off, but other than that, they'll be dazed but unharmed. I want you to keep the power level there unless you have a significant reason to change it. More on that in a moment. Any other questions?" I glanced toward Nathan, who shook his head. "No, Major, I think we're all set. Point and click; don't change the power setting. Pretty straightforward," I replied. "Good. And you - " Hayes, continued, looking toward Schmidt. "I know, I know, you don't have to say it. Don't kill any of the good guys, either. I swear, you can trust me," Nathan sighed. "That's not what I was going to say. May I finish?" Hayes replied in a faux-irritated tone. Schmidt recoiled slightly in surprise, nodding. "I was going to say no funny business with the electronics. I know how much you like to tinker. That rifle had better not come back playing the goddamn Battle Hymn of the MechWarrior or something," Hayes deadpanned, clapping the Lyran on the shoulder before making his way toward Private Jenkins to continue the weapon distribution. "You know, I like that guy," Nathan smiled. "Also, look." The Lyran extended his injured hand. To my disbelief, the angry, crimson wound had reduced in size to a hairline scab, fresh, pink skin now largely present where the knife had cut its path. "How in the hell did you do that?" I hissed. "I haven't a clue," Nathan replied, quietly. "This is the second time my body seems to have just - regenerated from an injury. I have a thought. I think something happened to me on the Takashima. In the server room, I felt something - " Nathan's explanation was cut off by a loud whistle from Major Hayes, who gestured for the extraction team to join him at the near end of the bay, in front of the cargo doors. "I guess it's time," Schmidt commented. "I'll fill you in later. Suffice it to say - I seem to be a fast healer." "I look forward to that conversation," I answered. Together, Schmidt and I made our way toward the assembled group, joining Bishop Weyland and Steve Jenkins in a semicircle before the Major. "Alright, gentlemen, listen up. We're almost in range of the freighter. Let's do a quick review of our to-do list - what I'm calling 'Operation: King's Bounty.' When we've arrived on target, Captain Donovan's going to use the Mendacius' grapnel launchers to take the Hurry Up Bessie into tow and bring it to within 500 meters of our bow. Simultaneously, tactical will take out the freighter's aft weapons. While that's happening, this bay will decompress. Once the Bessie is pacified, that green light over our heads will turn on, and the cargo doors will open. We'll have thirty seconds to exit the bay and get across to the upper hull of the Capellan DropShip. We'll exit the bay in a wedge formation with Nathan Schmidt on point, as he's the most experienced flyer out of the five of us. Use your booster packs as judiciously as possible to get across to the upper airlock marked 'Cargo Bay 2.' Once we've landed, Mr. Schmidt will override the electronic lockout to get us inside. Once we've breached the vessel, we need to make our way to the main cargo bay - Cargo Bay 1 - where we have reason to believe that William Kauffman is being held. That's going to be directly 'beneath' Cargo Bay 2 and Cargo Bay 3 relative to the position where we're entering on the top of the ship. We will have to traverse two corridors, connected by an elevator, to get there," Hayes began. "Now - it's highly likely that we're going to meet some resistance from the freighter's crew. We're detecting roughly 26 life signs on the ship. As much as possible, I want this team to try to preserve every one of those lives unless you have no other alternative but to use deadly force. We believe that these are civilians we're dealing with, which lends the possibility that they have no idea what kind of a situation they're caught up in. Keep in mind that your responsibility to protect life extends to mitigating damage to the vessel as well. The weapons I've issued you are set to an output level that should achieve both outcomes. Lieutenant Weyland, as I see you've already made...substantial preparations...for the boarding action, I'll trust you to use appropriate discretion with your loadout," the Major continued. Bishop nodded, silently. "Once we've located our missing executive, Private Jenkins, who's been issued a backpack containing an emergency vac kit, will have the responsibility of assisting Kauffman into his spacesuit. We'll then withdraw from the freighter and jump back to the Mendacius. Callsigns for this operation are as follows: Alpha-1: me. Alpha-2: Captain Maxwell. Alpha-3: Lieutenant Weyland. Alpha-4: Nathan Schmidt. Alpha-5: Private Jenkins. Any questions?" Hayes asked. The collective group remained silent. "Alright. This is an off-the-record extraction that never happened. You will not speak of it. If asked by any entity outside the Crayven Corporation, you will deny any knowledge of William Kauffman having ever been missing. Our job is of a singular scope: to bring him home," the Major concluded. "Failure is not an option." The low roar of weapons fire reverberated through the Mendacius' hull. "It sounds like we've made contact. Form up. And godspeed."
  39. 1 point
    "Fhloston Paradise, this is Nikki Harlow, captain of the freighter Hurry Up Bessie. Please state your intentions.” Marcus Donovan glanced at me incredulously, mouthing the words "Hurry Up Bessie" as he did so. I shrugged, shaking my head. "Hardly a Capellan freighter name," Donovan observed. "Hardly the name I'd expect for a Capellan captain," I replied. "I think we're on to something. Interesting how quickly they spotted us, too. Might be some paranoia happening there." "I agree. And it seems they're on to us, too. I better get them talking. In the mean time, sir, you may want to get suited up as well. I'm going to have the helm close the gap," the Captain acknowledged. I paused momentarily, remembering that I, too, was on deck for this engagement. It had been a while since that was last the case. "Right. The ship is yours. I'll be monitoring via comm link," I acknowledged. "Good luck, sir," Donovan answered as I stepped into the lift. As the doors swished closed and the elevator car began to move laterally down the length of the Mendacius, I felt the ship's gravity suddenly double. The helm was pushing the engines hard, solidly exceeding the vessel's safe speed in an attempt to overtake the freighter. I gripped onto the car's handrail to stabilize myself as I withdrew my comm unit from its cargo pocket and flipped it open, listening in on the ship-to-ship communication. "This is Cruise Director Marcus Donovan of the Fhloston Paradise. One of your crew members entered a raffle for an all-expenses-paid trip on the White Swan Trans-Stellar, Inc. luxury liner of their choice. They won! We're here to deliver the golden certificate personally," Donovan's voice enthused. "Raffle? I don't remember hearing anything about a raffle," Captain Harlow replied, confusion in her voice. A series of muffled, off-mic exchanges followed, during which the name 'James' was mentioned several times. The speaker eventually returned to the comm channel. "Who was the winner?" "Does the name 'James' ring a bell?" Marcus asked, continuing the ruse. "Oh my god. Your intern is going to make us late for the drop-off. Or, later, as the case might be, given the cock-up with the sensors at the jump point..." Nikki's voice continued, a debate beginning to unfold with someone in the background. I hit a button on my comm unit to transmit an intraship message to Captain Donovan only. "Feels like we're pulling nearly two Gs, Marcus. How much longer till we're within NCSS range?" I asked. "About two more minutes. If we do find something, it's going to be nearly eight minutes to grapnel distance. Enough time for you to be ready to go - but also a hell of a long time to keep up this game," Donovan answered. "Keep them talking. Let me know as soon as you've got something conclusive. Get me a spectral analysis of the heat signatures on that ship - I want to know how many bio signs are onboard and whether or not it looks like any of them are being detained. Also, tap into their comm system if you can. Any chatter that gives us an indication of what's going on over there could be useful," I responded. "You got it," Marcus confirmed, the voice of Captain Harlow still audible in the background as she apparently read someone on the other end of the commlink the riot act. With a cheery 'ding,' the lift's doors swished open, revealing the expanse of the forward cargo bay beyond. Nathan Schmidt, Steve Jenkins, Bishop Weyland, and Charles Maxwell stood near the chamber's towering external doors, all four men in various stages of suiting up for the mission ahead. As I approached, Charles and Weyland took notice of me, their postures straightening as they looked in my direction. "Major Hayes; welcome to the party," Captain Maxwell quipped. "Glad to be here. As for you, Lieutenant Weyland...how are you doing? You sure you're feeling up to this?" I asked, gazing at Bishop's countenance, noting that the towering man seemed to be barely suppressing his physical pain. "There's no shame in taking a pass, but I'd be lying if I said we wouldn't greatly benefit from your abilities." As Bishop took in what I'd just said, I quickly began changing into the combat spacesuit that had been laid out for me. Whatever the outcome of my offer was to be, I had a feeling that the mission clock would be starting soon, and it was critical for me to be at the ready...
  40. 1 point
    Some time later... C.S.V. Mendacius System jump point Caph February 24, 3029 _________________________________________ The white blaze of the interstellar jump effect faded away, replaced by an inky-blackness against which a distant blue and green world hung, suspended in the void. I gazed at the sight for several long moments before unbuckling my harness and pushing away from the porthole, slowly floating through the zero gravity of the steerage deck. "I heard they have dinosaurs down there," Alyssa Chase commented, trailing behind me as I soared up a nearby ladderway onto the Mendacius' main level. "Used to," I replied, turning to wait for my companion. "Used to?" Chase inquired, raising an eyebrow as she joined me, taking hold of my hand and giving a nearby bulkhead a shove with her foot, sending us both sailing down the corridor. "What happened?" "People happened. People with atomic bombs, in fact," I deadpanned, grabbing a handrail as we came up to a T-intersection, whipping us around its corner and down another short passageway. "You're kidding me. Humans wiped out dinosaurs?" Alyssa replied, maneuvering past me to press the door control for the mess hall as we neared it. "As far as anyone knows. Though, with two out of the three continents on Caph being so radioactive now that no one lives on them, it's anyone's guess what kind of grotesquely mutated horrors might still be stomping around out there," I speculated. "God, people suck," Alyssa grumbled, pushing off the deck and into the mess hall. I followed, nearly colliding with a free-floating slice of pizza which slowly rotated in the weightless environment, long tendrils of cheese swirling round its axis as myriad toppings gradually broke free and spun off into the dining area. "What the fuck?" I blurted, maneuvering past the wayward food article. As I passed it, entranced, I very nearly collided with Major Hayes. "Major! I apologize," I exclaimed. "I was - uh - distracted." "Yeah, me too," Hayes nodded. "Somebody threw up all over the goddamn ice cream machine." "Oh, that's terrible," I winced. "Just as well, I suppose. It's hard enough to keep fit in zero gravity without the calories," Hayes quipped. "How are you two holding up?" "Not too bad. Mulling over this morning's briefing. You have an extraction team in mind?" I asked. "He's going to volunteer," Alyssa interjected. I instinctively looked in her direction, caught off-guard by the comment. "I'm just giving you a hard time," Chase grinned, giving me a light elbow jab. Breaking form, I reached over and tousled the Lyran's hair, eliciting a series of swats on my wrist as I did so. "Well, I...do have some experience in that area," I replied, looking back toward Hayes, who smiled knowingly. "Is there anything you don't do?" the Major chuckled. "Look, I did read your file, and I'd been meaning to talk with you. You think you can learn the basics of space diving in under seven days? We didn't exactly come out here equipped for the kind of mission we're about to undertake." "I think with the right teacher, that's feasible," I replied. "Got anyone on board that fits the bill?" The Major crossed his arms and furrowed his brow. "Well, there are two people onboard who carry ratings in space dives." I nodded, raising an eyebrow. "I'm listening." "One of them is Private Jenkins," Hayes began, squinting and rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, "and the other is Nathan Schmidt." Alyssa dissolved into peals of laughter, quickly regaining her composure. "I'm sorry, Major, I didn't mean to..." "Laugh it up, I'll stick you on the team, too," Hayes deadpanned, a slight smile betraying his stern tone. Chase nodded and collected herself. "As I was saying - Private Jenkins and Nathan Schmidt. Now, I don't know if you have a preference, or what your relationship is with either of them, but as you probably know, Jenkins has a 'D' rating and certification from some place called the 'Camp Kentares HALO Heroes School of Airborne Battle.' The certificate is signed by Eric Dresari himself, which is both impressive and worrying all at the same time, when you consider that Dresari is one of the only Dukes I've ever heard of to do a stint in his own prison for snorting cocaine in a throne room," the Major explained. "I also don't know how many dives Steve's actually done. When I asked him if he could get me an extended qualification transcript, he said, and I quote, 'the school's fax machine is broken.'" "Okay, so we'll call Steve a solid 'maybe,'" I quipped. "And Nathan?" "Nathan has an 'A' rating from the Lyran Intelligence Corps. While I couldn't get his entire service record without arousing suspicion, it seems that he's done over twenty suborbital dives in active operational theaters, not counting the two he's done for us. It's my understanding that he's working on a instructor rating, though he hasn't completed it yet. He's also fully qualified in a combat spacesuit," Hayes answered, a hint of reservation in his tone. "Nathan seems like the obvious choice," I replied. "But I get the impression you're not sold on him, either." "I don't think I need to explain why," the Major answered. A series of soft chimes echoed through the mess hall, an indication that the Mendacius was beginning the process of deploying its jump sail. I gestured to Hayes and Alyssa, and the three of us made our way over to float before the large, aft-facing windows of the mess hall, affording us a view down the length of the ship's hull as the enormous, gossamer surface of the sail began to slowly emerge from its bay. At 800 meters, the sail of the Mendacius was on the smaller side, but nevertheless, at that scale, the polymers used in its construction were very thin and easily torn by micrometeorites, interstellar dust, and rough handling. As a result, it would take the crew anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 hours to extend the device. "With all due respect, Major, it seemed to me like you'd regained some degree of trust in him - enlisting his help to back you and Alyssa with the Republic's computer issues, and giving him the subsequent assignment on Nirasaki," I observed. "As far as I've heard, he did alright." "The stakes feel higher this time," Hayes replied. "And when the stakes are high, I don't like being in the position of having to calculate the probability that the mission might go to shit because of an unpredictable element on my own team." "I get how you're feeling," I nodded. "I guess I'm just used to having to work with whoever - and whatever - gets thrown at me. The Periphery has a way of indoctrinating someone to that kind of lifestyle and giving you a sixth sense about how far you can trust a man. And from my perspective, if you don't mind me saying so, Major...Nathan is the type of risk I would probably take in this sort of a situation." "You haven't steered me wrong so far, Captain," Hayes nodded. "Fine. I'll defer to your judgement. This afternoon, I'll let Nathan know that he's on the mission, and that he's also your charge. Keep an eye on him. At the first sign of trouble, I want to know about it." "You got it," I agreed. "Oh, and one other thing," the Major added. "For the next seven days, he's your teacher."
  41. 1 point
    After the briefing had been over I went down to the Mess Hall to get some food. It was between hours and so the Chef was not there, only the vending Machines were available. I looked into the vending machine glass and I saw a Kurita Pizza for sale. Well, that seems like a good enough food... I thought... let me try it and then I put some C-BILLS in the slot. The vending machine bucked and Shuddered and then it kicked out the pizza. It was froze solid and so I had to cook it up before it was defrosted. I walked over to the microwave and stuffed the pizza in it. I nuked it for 10 minutes but all of the sudden I heard the pizza blowing up in the oven after 5 minutes. I got the pizza out and took it to a table. Then I sat down and took a bite. "AAAAAGGGGHH" I screamed as lava-hot cheese scorched my Tongue and went down my throat. I spit the cheese all over the table and floor, Then I looked at the recipe for the Kurita Pizza. The first ingredients were SCORPION BODIES and PICKLED COW BALLS. "EWW GROSS!!!" I Screamed and then I ran over to the drink machine and barfed for 5 minutes in the Ice Cream Dispenser. "damn Kuritas and their weird recipes." I Sobbed, I just wanted some food. I stood back up and pushed a vomit-covered hand through my hair. I looked around for another food, but just then my com unit went off. Come to find out the person that I had left inspirationals for had woke up. I ran as hard as I could to Med Bay, when I walked back there, I saw Bishop trying to get a focus on where he was. His Power armor was gone and he looked Tired. "HI Bishop, how is recovery?? Did you get my card I left for you?? Are you going on the next Op?"
  42. 1 point
    I cast a glance at Donovan. "You guys need a couple of extra hands with that data core?" I asked. "I got to see the end product of what it contains in action down on the planet. Nathan here is pretty good with a keyboard." Marcus shook his head. "Not at this time. We have orders to limit access to the hardware once it has been safely secured. To that end, it will be held in the technology vault for further analysis during our return trip." "Got it," I nodded. "If your needs should change, let me know. Between this guy," I added, gesturing at Nathan, "Marius Rand, and Alyssa Chase, we've got quite a few technomancers at our disposal." "I'll be sure to keep that in mind." Captain Donovan responded, casting a side-eyed glare at the vomit-covered computer monitor that now floated freely in the weightless environment of the Mendacius as the ship adjusted its flight attitude. "For now, why don't you gents head down to the steerage deck and get settled in? We'll make sure that any other crew that may be coming over from the Tana find their way to you." Donovan's words were not a suggestion, but rather, an implicit order. "Getting settled in sounds like a fine idea," I agreed, deciding, for the moment, to placate the Captain. "Point us in the right direction, and we'll be on our way."
  43. 1 point
    As Steve dissolved into tears and fell dramatically onto the deck, tearing the monitor off the wall and pulling it down with him, I processed what I'd just seen. "Holy shit, Donovan, did you guys just nuke the Takashima?" I gasped, part at the use of such a massively illegal weapon, part at the destruction of the treasure trove that had still been the wreck, and part in shock and concern about the impact on the planet and whether or not it could be traced back to us. "You have a problem with me keeping lethal technology out of the hands of Capellans?" Donovan snapped at me. "Let me tell you something, if it weren't for Major Hayes, you'd be lodging your complaints from the inside of a cell right now. Don't you presume to lecture me on ethics!" "Yeah, well, at least I didn't commit any actual atrocities." I grumbled. "Captain Maxwell - I suggest you get your employee under control before he ends up spending the rest of this trip in the brig." Donovan snarled. "He's not my - " Maxwell began, before pausing. "OK. Mister Schmidt, that'll be enough." he continued. "Aye sir." I responded, going along with the ruse. Maxwell was evidently trying to protect me. "Good." Captain Donovan observed. "This one, too." he continued, pointing at Steve Jenkins, who had pressed his lips up against the air vents in the computer monitor and was projectile vomiting inside them. Maxwell shook his head in frustration. "Come on, Steve, let's go." he said in exasperation. Jenkins eventually got up, dumping the monitor back on the floor. "What's the plan from here, sir?" I asked, looking back to Maxwell. "Do we get to take a crack at the data we recovered?"
  44. 1 point
    Several hours later... C.S.V. Mendacius En route to system jump point Nirasaki system February 7, 3029 ___________________________ I held fast to a railing in the corridor of the Mendacius as the vessel executed a full burn away from Nirasaki, its powerful interplanetary drives carrying us away from the blistered desert world at a breakneck pace. About an hour earlier, I'd been ferried aboard by the Eagle fighter, and moments later, Major Hayes and Captain Donovan made the decision to pull the entire remaining contingent of our battlegroup off-world and evacuate to the star system's jump point. The hasty change in plans had been precipitated by a risk assessment that showed we were highly likely to suffer significant attrition to the small detachment of BattleMechs and various armored units that remained planetside with the Tana. Fortunately, Hayes was apparently the kind of commander who knew when to cut his losses, no doubt realizing that the rewards we'd already secured - as well as the losses we'd incurred - were enough for the time being. I glanced down at the now-empty data unit clutched tightly in my gloved hand, staring into the square-shaped hollow where its glowing memory core had been. As soon as I'd come aboard, Donovan and a trio of technicians were waiting for me at the airlock. They'd quickly taken the module from the device, secreting it away someplace within the depths of the small vessel. I was intensely curious about what secrets the drive held. I had no idea if I'd ever be privy to that information - as was standard with most contracts, we were simply the hired guns on this excursion; the spoils of the mission were solely the property of the Crayven Corporation. Still, after the losses we'd incurred and the sheer amount of violence, terror, and strife that this particular contract had wrought, being able to see firsthand what it was that we'd recovered would have brought a certain sense of closure. The Mendacius gave a subtle lurch, and I looked up at the surveillance vessel's airlock, noting the arrival of Aegis Division's DropShip Tana. Due to our hasty retreat from Nirasaki, the repairs to the Republic's major harbor control systems hadn't been fully completed yet, preventing a proper rendezvous between the two DropShips. Consequently, the decision had been made to transfer the excess personnel aboard the diminutive Tana to the Mendacius, which, although technically an espionage vessel, was over three times the Leopard-class vessel's tonnage. The advanced medical facility aboard the surveillance vessel was also better-equipped to provide intensive care to Bishop Weyland - something that he desperately needed - until we were able to transfer back to the Republic. With a hiss and a loud thunk, the twin airlock doors between the vessels rolled aside, and in a scene eerily reminiscent of that which played out earlier in the afternoon, Doctor Shuriken and Medibot, accompanied by a team of medics flanking a stretcher, slowly made their way through the vestibule. "Welcome aboard," a commanding voice announced. I turned to see Captain Donovan standing at a parade rest in the Mendacius' corridor, the gold trim of his tunic glinting subtly in the low ambient lighting. Accompanying him was a bespectacled man in a white medical uniform. "If you'll kindly follow Doctor Eris, he'll show you to the infirmary." As the contingent made their way down the passageway, Steve Jenkins, Nathan Schmidt, Alexander Blackwood, and the newcomer who called himself Kai stepped aboard. "Gentlemen," I nodded. "Good to see you." "Excuse me," Captain Donovan interjected, stepping past me and toggling on a nearby monitor. "What's going on?" I inquired, stepping alongside the man. "Just trying to make sure that the Capellans receive our message," Donovan mused, bringing up a video feed of Nirasaki, the planet drawing slowly away in the frame. "Our message?" I replied with confusion. Donovan nodded silently. Seconds later, the unmistakable flash of a nuclear detonation blossomed in the heart of the Great Banded Desert.
  45. 1 point
    "Comatose," MediBot mused. "Symptom: unconsciousness. May also be induced as a component of treatment. Possible causes: Sedative medication. Overdose or allergic response to medication. Insufficient blood oxygen level. Neurological conditions. Concussion. Possible causes of concussion: blunt force trauma. MediBot focused it's eyes on it's own hand. MediBot swung it's hand at the patient's head with the maximum amount of force it could exert. MediBot toppled over, and aimed it's camera probe upwards just in time to see Doctor Shuriken bringing his foot down after a roundhouse kick. "Thank you for that alternative medicine" , Doctor Rosa Perez said. The doctor used a pen to press an inset button on the side of MediBot's head. "Have you brought the sedative?" Doctor Shuriken nodded, and held up a jar of dried leaves. MediBot's vision went dark.
  46. 1 point
    After quietly observing the retrieval of this “Bishop,” and the nature of his condition, Kaimani finally decided to volunteer to help this man. He had likely saved Kai’s life after all. This decision was risky, he pondered. It might compromise his assumed identity as Takashi, Hideo. Why would a contract planetary surveyor have such intimate familiarity with Nighthawk battlearmor, anyway. Nevertheless, Kai’s honor demanded action before it was too late. After, the crew and these mercenary soldiers left the medbay to plan their next move, Kai cautiously approached this most quirky medical Android as it treated the afflicted soldier. “Please excuse my interruption, Medibot san,” Kai said quietly.” “This man seems to be suffering from acute CAWS or Combat Armor Withdrawl Syndrome. Those suits remind me of a case I observed on an explorer mission. A crewman in an Heavy EVA powersuit was struck at high velocity by a micrometorite. The impact sent the suit careening into high orbit for hours and was finally retrieved just before terminal reentry. The suit had successfully managed to activate its emergency seals. However, the impact had embedded the shredded metal into the crewmans cardiothoracic cavity dangerously close to the heart. The decision was made to leave him inside the suit until the explorer ship could return to Luthien for advanced surgery to safely extract the pilot. This man was placed into a phenobarbital induced coma for nearly 2 months, not just for the trip to Luthien, but after the extraction. It seems the suit kept its driver alive by deploying several emergency stimulant and life supporting drugs, which this man became physiologically dependent on during his incident and subsequent weeks until recovery. I am by no means a medical expert, but I believe this approach is the best chance to save Bishop san. You will need to comatose him for at least 2-3 weeks while his body slowly transitions back to proper endocrine homeostasis. Also he is likely to require several weeks of psychiatric care after his revival. If the captain is willing, I have contacts on Dieron that could help him if the resources to care for him are not available here” Kai exhaled slowly and carefully, using a semi meditative state to get his racing heart under control. Had he gone too far? Would they realize that he was more than he had revealed? He didn’t know, but at least he had done right by this ailing man. As Kai waited for the robot’s response, he wondered if his handler would have lauded his decision, or put him on “gaijin-patrol” for several weeks. Even if these mercenaries decided to “space” him, he would go to his grave knowing he had not sacrificed honor for safety!
  47. 1 point
    As I cleared out of Med Bay, my still-in-place headset crackled to life with the voice of Major Hayes. "Control to Eden," Hayes called out. "Control, this is Eden," I replied. "Forgive me, but why are we still observing TACCOM protocols? The operation is concluded, with Alpha team safely back at our FBO." "Because you're not going to be out there alone for long. Short range sensors have picked up an incoming Capellan DropShip. They've apparently been hanging out in the planet's magnetosphere and have begun their descent. We estimate that they are going to be making planetfall at or near the wreck site. Any remnants of your team still on site need to get out of the wreck and off the planet immediately." "Understood," I replied. "I'll saddle up and take a lance in to pick up Dutch and Kai's team personally." "Not you, Eden. You’ll be meeting an Eagle fighter with a rumble seat ready for you outside the Tana. You're going to bring the package up to the Mendacius without further delay," Hayes answered. "But those are my people - " I protested. "That's an order, Eden. We're pulling you and the package out. No more delays. Meet the fighter outside in five minutes," the Major insisted. "Copy, Control," I sighed. "I'll see it done."
  48. 1 point
    C.S.V. Half Moon In transit to system jump point Gan Singh IV - November 11, 3028 _____________________________ Most DropShips had food dispensers. Some even had a chef, but more often than not, they were just some random person who could burn food for the crew to choke down. Few DropShips had an actual full kitchen crew. And none that I'd been aboard ever had a mess hall that included an entire cocktail bar complete with a bartender. But here it was. Apparently in a major flex, William had invested in one, a spectacular space that followed the curvature of the ship's hull. The room was filled with throngs of crew, who worshipped at the altar of the bar itself, a monolith structure, lit with accent lights, behind which sat a row of windows that looked out into space. I walked up to the bar and acknowledged Phil, the bartender. "How's it going, Phil?" I asked, leaning in to be heard over the ambient chatter. "Another day in paradise, my man." Phil replied. "I hear you." I said. "What'll it be?" "Surprise me." I answered. Glancing around, I saw Major Hayes at the other end of the counter, nursing down a large martini. A few moments later, Phil handed me some kind of blue alcoholic frosted thing. I wasn't sure what it was, but it tasted good, and was strong. Punching my CredTube into the cash register, I nodded a thanks to Phil, and headed over to chat up Hayes. "Evening, Major." I said. "Evening." Hayes responded. "Quite a day." I took a big swig of my drink. "No kidding. So what's William's deal, anyway? What's the end goal here?" "You get right to the point, don't you?" Hayes laughed. "Humor me." I said. "Well, all right. I'll tell you a story..."
  49. 1 point
    Dutch: "Well for now, just a hot shower and some decent food." I sighed. "Just being on the run and living on the edge, adds a lit'l wear and tear to the equipment", I expressed. Dutch: ".... and maybe an opportunity to go comatose for a while, would be a dream come true at this point." I thought. Charles: "You can take all you can get, but we've got an impending course of action that needs to be dealt with." Dutch: Sigh. ? Charles: "So, when you are ready and our mechs have been repaired, we'd need to get back in action." Dutch: "No time to pause, eh?... So, what's your estimated ETA on the next course of action, Charles?" Charles: "Techs are asking for a week... I gave them 4 days." Charles Said with a slight chuckle. Dutch: "Ok, Comatose for two days, then we go over your mission plans, ... which should give us a day or two to make sure the job goes over as smooth as silk, right?" Charles: "Roger that.", " I'll get the team to draw up the intel ASAP and have it ready for the gang to Scrutinize, as soon as you come out of Hibernation." Charles said with a wry smile. "Good... I hole up til then." I spoke as I trudged towards the door ready to dream about tropical resort planets.
  50. 1 point
    Jackson took his leave of the bridge, and I soon followed. Instead of going straight to my bunk, though, I decided to walk a lap of the long, winding circular corridor of the Half Moon's habitat deck. I needed to transition my brain from 'work' mode to 'off' mode, and I didn't think that I would have the presence of mind to do it if I went straight to my room and put a computer in front of myself. I also wasn't sure if I could resist the temptation to immediately go and try to hack the Half Moon's computer to see if I could figure out what all William had really downloaded from the memory core when he'd had it hooked up. Major Hayes seemed like he was on the level, but I didn't trust William half as far as I could probably throw him. Between the general creepiness his augments made me feel and his overly-charismatic demeanor, William didn't seem like the kind of guy that should be taken at face value. The two things I appreciated about him were his really deep pockets and that was transparent & didn't try to hide the fact that his intentions on this mission were completely self-serving. I could respect that. But it didn't mean that he was necessarily showing his whole hand when it came to what he knew, and what he cared to share with us. I passed a large hatchway which stood partially open and which was labeled 'Ward Room.' Being a nosy person, I stuck my head through the doorway and saw a large, teak-paneled room, dimly-illuminated by accent lights and dominated by an obsidian-colored desk that was flanked by chairs which looked to each the average year's salary back on Tharkad. The room smelled of old oak and, oddly, what I was pretty sure was Chardonnay wine. Along two of the room's walls were an assortment of nautical-themed paintings and a display case of what looked to be actual rolled-up paper star charts, while the third wall held a gigantic situation monitor, and the fourth wall actually had a row of wedge-shaped windows that looked out into space. Classy digs... I thought to myself, and then continued along the equally-luxuriously-appointed hallway. Next up on the circuit was a shadowy hatchway marked 'War Room B.' The door was securely locked and I noted with interest a badge reader with a glowing Crayven Corporation logo on it. I wondered if this particular chamber had any relation at all to War Room A, which sat on the mirror opposite side of the ship and was where William Kauffman himself had been holed up with Alyssa Chase just prior to the Black Phalanx mercenary unit's DropShip getting knocked offline at Outreach. Continuing down the corridor, I passed another hatch which stood open and was marked 'Administration.' Poking my head in, I was greeted with a confused gaze by a couple of clerk types wearing headsets and working behind banks of computer terminals. "Uh, as you were." I mumbled awkwardly, and continued on my way down the hall. I passed through the hatch that bisected the port from starboard half of the vessel and was one of two demarcations between the 'business' side of the ship and the 'residential' side. First up, I passed the infirmary, then the rows of individual crew staterooms, and then mess hall. It was here that I stopped, not to eat, but to get a drink from the ship's unusually well-appointed and well stocked bar. With a decent buzz, I figured, I could switch off, and then get some rest. Maybe I could even avoid certain......temptations.
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