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Orlex Jaeger

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  1. Crash location of Grail Lords Combat Transport (Space) VTOL Somewhere on the Carrigan Continent, Errai II Errai System, Davion Space March 3, 3029 ____________________________________ We managed to get the damaged VTOL airborne within the 5 minutes that Leftenant Isla had given us, despite the engineers originally saying it would take at least 10 minutes, and were making our way out of enemy territory at a semi-respectable speed of around 65km/h. Nowhere near our usual top speed of 108km/h but with a heavily damaged engine and nobody willing to risk using the VTOLs' jet boosters in its current state it was the best we do. We had been airborne for just under 2 mins when the "present" we left in the clearing was activated, knowing that the enemy would return in force after having driven them off earlier we didn't want to risk them following us in our relatively vulnerable state. So we setup a little gift for their return, using roughly 10 C8 blasting blocks, a pair of satchel charges and any grenades or other ordnance we still had left all jury-rigged to the demolitions kit I had been carrying in the Golem's mission equipment storage, we rigged a large portion of the clearing to explode spectacularly with a deadman's trigger on the corpse of one the failed attackers. Seemed a little morbid to use the corpse of one of their fellow comrades to activate the explosives but it didn't seem to bother the DMI agents one bit, they were probably used to much more heinous things dealing with the Maskirovka and their like on a regular basis. We still had the rear hatch on the VTOL open, with the Semi-portable PPC that Sergeants Ross and David carried around mounted on an integral tripod facing out the back, so we could clearly see the explosion with our own eyes. We could actually see the blast wave rippling through the treetops surrounding the clearing as the light of the explosion itself faded before the sound of the detonation reached us nearly a full 6 seconds later. Being around 2km distant already we didn't feel so much as a breeze from the explosion itself but the rising cloud of debris from the blast and the angry glow of fires meant that the enemy certainly felt alot worse. It appeared, for the time being at least, that we were in the clear and made the best time we could to get clear of the enemy territory and link back up with the rest of the DMI team on planet. With radio contact fully restored, and no sign of any further jamming, we updated Captain Leena and Captain JJ on our situation as well as our ETA and hoped there wouldn't be any further surprises on this particular mission. _________________ Several hours later... _________________ Having regrouped with the remainder of our team and "safely" landed the damaged VTOL aboard the Gorgon, a DMI Black Ops dropship based on a modified DroST IVc, our squad disembarked and were given just enough time to stow our gear before we were required to meet up with the Captains in one of the meeting rooms for a debrief. Having less equipment to check over and stow, using the prototype combat exoskeleton meant everything was essentially already stowed once I secured the suit itself in its dock and the techs took care of most everything else with it, meant that I was heading to the debriefing a few minutes earlier than everyone else. The particular path that I was taking to get there wound past Captain JJ's office and as I rounded the corner in the corridor I could hear bits of what seemed to be a rather heated arguement filtering out of the closed doors. "What do you mean 'NOT ON THE BOOKS'?" came an unfamiliar but definitively feminine voice. A slight pause before the same voice continued, "Wait no, don't tell me. I don't want to know, plausible deniability, ..." the rest of the sentence falling below a volume that I could discern. "It's not that simple," said a different, masculine voice, this one I recognized as my brother's, Captain Johnathon "JJ" Jaegar, or Xerox as he often went by. A rather lame callsign in my opinion but I had to keep that opinion to myself, "... a valuable asset ... it's not like I had a choice, besides no one else wanted to test that suit anyways ..." Parts of the conversation drifted in and out of audible range, the closed door and assumedly sound dampened walls made most of the conversation muffled at best as I continued walking towards my intitial destination, only slowly slightly as my curiousity got the better of me. As I approached the Captain's office itself, and continued past to avoid looking suspicious, I noted that the door itself was not fully sealed, which seemed odd, and that is what was allowing some of the conversation to spill out into the corridor. "I want nothing to do with your little MI4 schemes," came the female voice again, this time I recognized it as belonging to our other Captain, Leena Sykora, who was the actual MI6 Captain in charge of this particular DMI strike team, "Just be warned that when this all comes down, and it eventually will, it always does, it will all come down on your head. My team, myself included, have no part in this." "We'll talk about this later, we're not done here ...," responded Captain JJ, again part of the his response fading out beyond hearing as I got further away from the office, "... but we're going ... late ... the debrief." I rounded the next corner and anything that remained of the conversation was lost to the general rumble of the vessel itself, it's main drives firing strongly as the dropship fought the gravity of Errai II in order to get into space and a stable orbit. As I had suspected I was the first person to the debrief but only had to wait a few short minutes before the others began arriving, within a couple minutes everyone was there except the Captains who arrived together almost immediately after everyone else was seated. The debrief itself was uninteresting and typical, aside from our a little extracurricular excursion, and the unexpected strength of the enemy forces, the mission itself had gone off as planned. Now it seemed we had a few days where we would "lay low" so to speak and carry out our cover job of being a hired transport to deliver supplies between worlds in system, in the mean time our undercover agents would be trying to ascertain where the gangs and criminal underworld was receiving such high end military gear from. After the debrief as everyone was filing out of the room, having been the first one in I was also the last one out due to the confines of the room itself, I noticed that Captain JJ had stayed at the front podium instead of leaving with Captain Leena immediately. As I made it to the door he called out to me, "Orlex a moment please, I have something I need to discuss with you." Turning to face him I took a step back into the room, "Sure, what's it about Captain?" I typically tried to refer to him by rank, at least in public, just to avoid the mistake of being too familiar with him in the wrong company seeing as how he was my younger brother, even if we had been estranged just a few short months ago. "I'm going to need a 'FULL' combat report on the Golem exoskeleton, as well as list of any special recommendations you have for it," the emphasis he placed on 'full' told me there was more to this, though I wasn't sure exactly what at this point, "I'll come by your quarters by 19:00 to pick it up, I expect you'll be ready for a complete operational breakdown of your experience with the prototype by then." "Yes sir, understood. I'll have the report ready and waiting for you," I responded with a nod, this didn't sound good. "Good, dismissed." I turned and exited the debrief room and headed towards the mess hall to get something to eat before getting started on the "report" I was requested to prepare. Sadly I knew the report itself was just a diversion and something more troubling was brewing. At one point in time Johnathon and I had a secret code we used to talk with each other, something I'd wager a lot of imaginative brothers did when young, and ours evolved over the years but typically consisted of a seemingly inocuous word or phrase given undo emphasis in an otherwise normal conversation followed by a request or statement that in itself seemed benign but when combined with the previous phrase or word it could have an entirely different meaning from the what the actual words themselves meant. It had been many many years since JJ and I had last used our code and I couldn't even remember what the last iteration had been, let alone what he might have been trying to tell me, but I knew for a fact that he wasn't coming to my quarters this evening to collect a report. All the same, I did need to have a report available to hand in when he came, at the very least to keep up the charade if not to actually file. I was going to have a busy afternoon it sounded like.
  2. Crash location of Grail Lords Combat Transport (Space) VTOL Somewhere on the Carrigan Continent, Errai II Errai System, Davion Space March 3, 3029 ____________________________________ An elongated azure sphere of charged particles ripped through the forest canopy leaving a stream of ionized atmosphere crackling with energy in its wake. The PPC bolt engulfed several trees and a large rock in a cascading discharge of energy that left the surviving infantry hiding behind them probably defecating themselves a little. A few meters away a paltry amount of return fire was directed towards where the PPC shot had come from, probably more than a little averse to drawing the ire of whoever was firing the weapon. Several seconds later, just long enough for the high energy weapon to recharge, the particle projector cannon unleashed another devestating stream of charged particles which struck the large rock directly this time, vapourizing a sizable portion of it and leaving the rest half molten and glassed. The infantry that had been taking cover there scattered like rabbits with some of them outright fleeing while others scrambled to find cover elsewhere. We arrived at the clearing that had been recently created by our crashed VTOL from the opposite side of most of the fighting, having radioed ahead to ensure the rest of our team didn't mistake us for an enemy squad attempting to flank them. Previously we had managed to disable the jamming equipment that was preventing us from contacting the rest of the Grail Lords and in so doing had also acquired a PoW. With our lines of communication now open, we quickly made our way back to regroup with the rest of our squad back at our crashed VTOL as the enemy units chasing us also found the crash site. The PoW had been quite forthcoming with information so far, including details about who was sponsoring them. He knew they were being supplied by either Cappellans or Kuritans but didn't know which. He did know that whoever it was had recently changed based on the sudden increase in aggressiveness by the gangs leaders and the change with their supplies, or at least someone wanted it to look like their backer had changed. We would have time to further question him later though, for the time being we had more important things to worry about, like getting our VTOL airborne and out of hostile territory in one piece. "Rook-lead, this is Knight squad, we've arrived back at base with the package. We'll secure the package and then join up with you, where do you need us?" asked Sergeant Major Emma over our local comms. "Knight squad, once the package is secured meet up with us on the West side. Knight-4, we can use your Golem on the NW flank immediately," replied Leftenant Isla. "Copy that, Knight-4 is on his way." Without hesitating I broke away to the north from the rest of our team as we entered the clearing, the rest of the team headed further south to secure our PoW in the VTOL. In the clearing I was able to push the exoskeleton to its full speed, which still wasn't overly impressive, and ate up the ground at a reasonable speed. Having checked that the autocannon had a full clip in it, I immediately was able to see where I was needed based purely on the volume of fire being directed at the downed VTOL. I took up position along the northmost flank and unleashed a full burst of suppressing fire into the jagged treeline where most of the incoming fire was originating from, the barrage had the desired effect and easily cut the enemy fire rate in half. "Knight-4, reporting in," I keyed over the comms, "What do you need me to do?" "Perfect timing Knight-4," replied Leftenant Isla, "They've figured out the limit of the VTOL's turret and are staying clear of it and we can't draw a bead on them with our support PPC without leaving the west flank wide open. Time to see if that fancy exosuit is worthwhile, I need you to storm their lines and break them up. Failing that, at least try to draw some fire off us until the rest of Knight squad is able to get here." "Roger that, I'll see what I can do. See any firepower I need to worry about?" "Only small arms and some sporadic light support weapons, that armour should be able to shrug most of it off without trouble." "Good, it's held up well so far, let's see if those NAIS boys got it right on what kind of punishment it can actually take," I half joked as I turned and started plodding the armoured exoskeleton to the north heading straight to where the gunfire was still coming from. As I broke into a run I brought up the semi-portable autocannon and fired off a few intermittent bursts as I approached, moving and firing meant I was anything but accurate but I was counting on the sheer volume of fire, and the fearsome noise of the weapon itself, to keep most of my potential opponents in cover. It worked until I was about halfway to the treeline when someone must have realized what I was up to and noticed the 1/2ton iron monstrosity that was quickly closing on their position. I saw movement towards the left and saw a group of at least 4 men repositioning slightly to bring their weapons to bear on me, they immediately unloaded everything they had and I simply had to trust that the armour would hold. Small arms rounds, and thankfully nothing larger than an SMG, ricocheted off the armour in an absurdly loud cacophony of noise that the limited sound dampening the suit offered could do little against. According to the heads up display, and lack of current injuries, the armour was holding up just fine, the enemy fire was doing little more than scratching shallow gouges into the armour but I didn't want to push my luck. I sent a volley of autocannon fire ripping into the ground and cover near where the men were firing from and enough rounds hit close enough to drive them back into full cover, however no sooner had they stopped firing than another group to my right, and further into the woods, opened fire on me. There was a light machinegun or other lightweight support weapon present amongst this group as I could immediately feel the difference in the weapons fire impacts before the HUD alerted me to minor damage. Turning to face the new threat I reactively raised my left arm to cover my 'face' as a lucky round struck the helmet and cracked the edge of the external camera's lens, several more of the higher calibre rounds impacted across the exoskeleton's chest and leg leaving sizable dents in the exterior of the armour. I returned fire, and in an effort to not be a giant target in the middle of a clearing, I moved towards the treeline again, leaving the less threatening squad of men over to my left. The enemy fire stopped as soon as I entered the treeline, the last few rounds coming from them striking into trees instead of me. I didn't have a solid bead on where they were and even if I did they probably would be moving to a new position already anyhow. Instead I turned back towards the clearing and began racking fire across the obvious positions of the squad still hiding out there. The strafing fire brought down several soldiers as they tried desperately to reposition away from my flanking fire and several more got picked off by Leftenant Isla and the other members of Rook squad that were in firing positions on this side of the dropship. Trusting more and more in the safety of the exoskeleton's armour I maneouvered the Golem along the treeline to get into a better flanking position on the infantry in the open clearing. A blue blast of energy, only partially visible through the heavy trees, indicated where the rest of Rook squad was firing the support PPC from the open cargo bay at the back of our VTOL. The deadly energy forcing another squad of troops out of cover and running madly towards me, most likely thinking they were meeting up with their forces on this side. Instead they were met with a hail of bullets as I emptied the last of the autocannon's magazine into their ranks cutting their numbers by half. Another brace of automatic fire raked across my exoskeleton's back and right side, a few rounds causing notable damage this time but nothing overly concerning and I continued on my methodical march around the edge of the clearing, taking cover behind a large tree only long enough to reload the autocannon slung underneath my right arm. I was not only counting on the armour itself to protect me, but also trying to make it look like I was indifferent to their fire, hoping that the psychological effects of that would prove just as an effective deterrent as my actual armour, another blast of weapons fire from within the woods peppered the Golem, this time more sporadic, and it seemed like my strategy might be working. This time I got a definite bearing on the enemy location and I quickly swivelled around to bring the full force of my support autocannon to bear, squeezing down on the trigger and sending a seemingly unending stream of hot lead pouring down range, the high velocity rounds ripping through what little cover the trees provided and tearing apart whatever they hit. The somewhat limited sensors on the exoskeleton were having trouble with keeping up with the pace of battle in anything except normal visual range and I fought the momentary urge to open the exoskeleton's helmet so I could see and track things with my own eyes. My years as MechWarrior definitely helped out as I was used to relying more on instrumentation than my own senses anytime I fought in a BattleMech. A sudden, nearly blinding, blast of coherent light washed across my HUD from the left and a few warning lights lit up across my status screen. As the sensors recalibrated and I could see clearly again I turned towards the source of laser fire and was able to just barely spot a group of what appeared to be 5 jump capable infantry decked out with laser rifles and in the same set of gang colours as the majority of opponents we had faced today. Thankfully, other than the momentary sensory overload, the Golem was even better equipped at dealing with energy weapons than ballistics, it's armour having a semi-reflective coating and superior heat dissipation similar to regular infantry ablative armour. I charged straight at the squad with the autocannon barking out its resounding buzzsaw sound at my side and amazingly the squad was undeterred and returned intense fire, even as the autocannon rounds literally ripped one of the squad members to pieces. The incoming laser fire bathed the exoskeleton in hotspots of coherent destructive energy, the blasts no doubt slagging signficant portions of the armour just due to the sheer volume of fire. Alarms starting going off as my status indicator on the HUD turned an angry orange but I continued on, I couldn't let them reposition and engage me again on their terms. The squad finally broke as another member was gunned down by my autocannon fire and they scattered attempting to use their jump packs to clear out, unfortunately for them they seemed to have forgotten they were within a relatively dense patch of woods and one member immediately launched himself into a tree and crashed, another managed to recover in time and landed but then ran. The third surviving member was a little slower than the others but also realized he could jump away and instead tried to run, he wasn't fast enough however as I lept over the large fallen tree they had been using as cover. In a single motion upon landing I half swept, half punched the unfortunate soldier with my left arm, the sheer mass of the Golem's arm knocking him flying against a nearby rock, and then fired the autocannon point blank at the stunned soldier. It probably seemed like massive overkill, punching 25 high calibre rounds into a relatively lightly armoured soldiered at point blank range, and it was, but I didn't have a choice, the autocannon was hardwired to fire only in full bursts or suppressive fire which meant a minimum of 25 rounds were spent with every trigger pull. During the final moments of the charge a bevy of ballistics fire had begun impacting me from my right again but it subsided about halfway through the point blank burst fire blast, I could only assume that the brutality of my actions had either stunned the enemy into inaction or sufficiently frightened them into retreating. Turning back towards where the support weapon squad was I just caught sight of a couple men running into the trees, their light machine gun left lying on its side, the barrel still cooling. I advanced on their position just to ensure it was indeed clear and with no other enemies in sight I quickly made my way back towards the edge of the clearing to check if Rook squad needed any further assistance. "Great work Knight-4," radioed Leftenant Isla as I reentered the clearing, "looks like most of them have fled for now. We'll regroup in the cargo hold." "Copy that, thanks Rook-1," I replied, "I had a couple survivors that retreated deeper into the woods as well." Everyone was already gathered in the cargo hold when I got there and as I brought the exoskeleton up the loading ramp almost everyone stopped and stared incredulously at me. Apparently the Golem had taken even more fire than I thought and it looked like it had been through hell and back. There were rivulets of molten ferro-steel running down from countless laser blasts all across the front of the exoskeleton, numerous bullet holes punctuated the entire right side of the suit with several exposing vital internals. Multiple rounds pierced the armoured cargo container on the suit's back, and thankfully the demolitions pack currently stored there was naturally inert while stored. An entire panel of armour was just flat out missing on the left arm and the spotlight mounted on the shoulder sounded like a child's rattle with the number of rounds it had managed to catch. The helmet had a dangerously deep gouge across the top right side of it and the armoured lens covering the cameras/sensors and acting as the 'eyes' was shattered much worse than my cracked vision from inside would imply. In short, the Golem looked more like it had just been in a losing 'mech battle rather than an infantry fight. After everyone quickly got over their initial shock of seeing the state of my armour we reassessed our situation and got an update from our injured engineer, Bill, and our pilot, Luke, who had continued working on the VTOL even during the fire fight. "We had to replace and jury-rig almost the entire port side power system, the lasers are out of service as we had to steal their power relays and couplings to provide enough power to the engine, but only around 40% at best. If we had a little more time I might be able to get one of them functional. We have more than enough power from the fusion engine, the problem is getting the power delivered, it's the power system itself that's fried," continued Bill as he rambled on about the repairs. "Thanks Bill," interrupted Luke, after an exasperated look from Isla, "we need some serious repairs to get everything working again but right now, with the time we've had, she's flyable. I wouldn't want to take her anywhere near combat, but she'll get us home." "Alright, let's not waste any more time, I want everything stowed and ready to go ASAP. Bill, Luke, how long will it take to get her airborne?" asked Leftenant Isla. "I need 5 mins to get the engines warmed up and ready for lift off, providing our attempted repairs hold under load," replied Luke. "It'll hold," stated Bill. "You have half that," Isla said to Luke before turning to everyone else, "Double time people, we're airborne in 3 mins, whether you're ready or not."
  3. Near the crash location of Grail Lords Combat Transport (Space) VTOL Somewhere on the Carrigan Continent, Errai II Errai System, Davion Space March 3, 3029 ____________________________________ "Orlex, we've got a problem," called Emma on the comms a moment before a ruby red beam of coherent light blasted through the trees to the North. Without waiting I burst into a sprint moving as fast as the exoskeleton could, closing the distance to the clearing as quickly as possible, "I see that, I'm enroute what have we got Emma?" "A tank, they have a Blake damned tank in there. It's not big, but its still a tank. Don't recognize the model, but can't exactly get a good look at it right now, it obviously knows we're here." "Lovely, I'll see what I can do," I respond just as I reach the edge of the clearing. Pulling up just short of stepping fully into the clearing I quickly locate the tank, and take note of what must be an IR masking camo net that was still half hanging off the comat vehicle. It was small, only slightly larger than a regular Humvee truck, but the relatively large barrel protruding from the turret indicated firepower that was still more than sufficient to end our little mission prematurely. It was probably only a small laser, but that was still enough to turn my entire exoskeleton to slag if I got hit by it. A smaller barrel that protruded on the far side of the main cannon was most likely a coaxial machinegun of some sort and this was confirmed a moment later as the gunner opened fire with it into the treeline along the North side of the clearing where the rest of the team was most likely taking cover. The high calibre rounds ripping through the trees with a deadly whir as the weapons fire rakked across the full width of the clearing. I drew a bead with my underslung autocannon and squeezed the trigger, letting loose with my own barrage of powerful ballistic rounds. While individually the bullets fired from the autocannon had no chance of penetrating the tactical armour of a combat vehicle the sheer volume of fire the support AC was capable could wear down even the toughest of ablative armours, given enough time. ..... Inside the 10-ton mini-tank ..... "What the hell is that?" asked the gunner, as a ringing sound belted across the confined space repeatedly from one side of the vehicle. "I don't know," replied the driver with a hint of worry from deeper within the tank, "there must be more of them than we thought, almost sounds like a support weapon." "Don't worry about it, they can't pierce our armour," stated the commander roughly, "stay focused." The ringing grew louder as multiple rounds continued punching into the vehicle's side, the sound changing slightly as the rounds penetrated deeper and deeper into the relatively thick armour. A sudden warning klaxxon drowned out the sounds of bullet hits as the cramped confines of the cockpit lit up awash with orange warning lights. The gunner starting looking around frantically before scrambling out of his chair towards the turret hatch. "Fuck this, I'm out!" "Get your ass back in your Blake-damned seat son!" yelled the commander, partly to be heard over the klaxxon and partly out of anger, "I'll shoot you myself if you don't." "Fuck you," replied the gunner over his shoulder as he swung open the hatch. The commander bound from his position, an incredibly agile move considering the limited space, and forcibly grabbed hold of the gunner by his leg before yanking him backwards violently. He then grabbed hold of the younger man's belt and threw him roughly back into his seat before smoothly drawing a pistol and aiming it at the gunner's face. "I said sit, the fuck, down." ..... Back outside the tank ..... I was halfway through the magazine of the semi-portable autocannon when the barrel starting glowing red hot with thin wisps of vapour steaming off the rotating steel cylinders. Unexpectedly the hatch on the vehicles turret suddenly popped open and a young man's head half popped out before disappearing quickly back inside. Well that was strange, I thought while I continued to hold down the trigger. Round after round slammed into the rapidly thinning armour on the tank's flank as the turret slowly began rotating towards my position, having stopped firing towards the North shortly before the hatch opened. Before the turret reached me however the sound of high speed ricochetting rounds from the autocannon changed pitch as one by one holes began to appear in the weakened side of the tank, as the magazine ran dry and the multi-barrel autocannon slowly spun down I could count no less than a dozen distinct holes punched through the now severely damaged tank. The turret stopped rotating and smoke began to billow out of the open hatch before a figure slowly emerged with their hands up, it appeared to be the same young man from before. From the North side of the clearing Sergeant Major Emma, and Sergeants Vincent and Melina advanced from their cover on the disabled tank. I took the opportunity to reload the autocannon as Vincent took the young man into custody while Emma and Melina advanced on the only building, more of a small shack, within the clearing which clearly housed the jamming equipment judging from the large pair of radio antenna jutting into the air beside it. Just beyond the building was another vehicular shape shrouded beneath layers of camo netting, as I moved into a firing position on the possible new threat around 7 gang members burst from the side door of the building with their guns blazing. Melina and Emma opened fire with their own weapons as they ran for cover while Vincent dragged our prisoner around to the backside of the tank before opening fire himself. Laser blasts and buckshot pellets saturated the area the gang members were but none found their mark, they did however manage to ensure that the enemies shots were just as erratic. With my teammates now in cover, and my autocannon fully reloaded, I squeezed off a quick burst that sent 25 high velocity rounds ripping through the scattered thugs, cutting two of them down before the rest scrambled away. Two of the enemies rushed towards the covered vehicle but were pulled up short by a steady stream of laser pulses from Emma's Mauser 960, Melina then peppered them with a full burst from her pulse laser rifle wounding both men though their limited armour seemed to absorb most of the attack. The other three enemies at first tried to run for the tank, until they saw the hulking frame of my exoskeleton climbing onto the smoking wreckage, they then made an abrupt turn and ran for a stack of empty cargo crates. My elevated position forced them behind the taller stack of crates and prevented them from having a clean shot at Emma and Melina, who were using the building as cover from the previous two thugs. Clearly these men were not soldiers, just brutes that were used to their sheer size and reputation being enough to make most opponents cower, sadly for them they weren't the big dogs here and intimidation wasn't going to do anything against the hardened DMI agents. A flurry of return fire from the first group of gang members forced Emma and Melina back into cover for a moment but it wasn't enough, most of their shots were going high and Emma stepped out low in a crouch with her Mauser held tight against her shoulder, with a smooth, practiced trigger pull she sent a compact grenade flying towards her targets which exploded in a blinding flash powerful enough to temporarily overcome the Golem's sensors. As the exoskeleton's external cameras came back on a second later I could see in my peripheral vision both Emma and Melina rushing towards the stunned and disoriented enemy who were firing blindly in completely the wrong direction. Turning my attention back to fully focus on the three opponents that were still cowering behind the cargo crates I fired a quick burst of autocannon fire into the crates themselves to keep them suppressed, the rounds piercing into several of the crates and even causing the lids of a couple to break open, their cover would not withstand concentrated fire for any meaningful duration. To their credit they did manage to blind fire a few rounds in my general direction, even managed to land a singular hit, though it did little more than scratch the paint. While all this was happening Vincent had apparently incapacited his charge and was creeping up around the south side of the cargo crates his combat shotgun at the ready. He cleared the last stack of crates and the crack of the shotgun resounded across the clearing as he fired off three precise shots. Two of the thugs must have been dropped instantly as only one backed out from behind the crates, still holding his gun and pointing it in Vincent's general direction. I could hear Vincent demanding the man's surrender over the comm but couldn't hear the gang members response but judging from his body language he was refusing, he then made the fatal mistake of firing his weapon. I heard Vincent's grunt on the comms at the same time that a laser pulse bored through the man's skull from behind, it happened faster than I could react to the point where the man was already dropping to the ground by the time my autocannon starting winding up. Melina walked over to the clearly deceased man and shook her head, "Should have taken the surrender offer, might have come out with a head." Vincent groaned over the comm, and it was clear it wasn't from getting shot as he walked out from behind cargo crates shaking his own head. Melina just shrugged with a beguiling look of innocence on her face. "Alright you two, Vincent where did our prisoner end up?" interupted Emma before Vincent or Melina could say anything more. "He's unconcious behind the tank, don't worry he's not going anywhere." "Good, I'm going to go have a chat with him. Vincent, you and Melina go check out what they have stashed away under that camo netting. Orlex, you're on overwatch, I don't think there's any more enemies here but I'm not taking any chances. Once we know what's under the tarps we'll look at taking out the jamming equipment." A few minutes later Vincent and Melina had uncovered a tracked APC which clearly must have been used to transport the goon squad to this remote location and had secured it. Emma had succeeded in waking the lone survivor and was currently questioning him beside the tank while I continued on overwatch. Another few minutes later, after it had been decided for Vincent to try and appropriate the communications equipment for ourselves instead of just destroying it, we successfully managed to shutdown the jamming signal and Vincent was able to raise Leftenant Isla on the radio. We updated them on our situation, including our new prisoner, and determined it was best if we rejoined them as soon as possible, they had reason to believe the enemy had narrowed down their location a troubling amount and could use the extra firepower as the VTOL was still only partially functional and not yet flyable.
  4. Crash location of Grail Lords Combat Transport (Space) VTOL Somewhere on the Carrigan Continent, Errai II Errai System, Davion Space March 3, 3029 ____________________________________ "I'm not getting anything," said Vincent, "Leftenant I've tried everything from our own DMI channels to the local militia to regular civilian channels. This field communicator should be able to pick up something, we must be getting jammed." "Are you sure?" asked Leftenant Isla, "I'd normally be surprised if a local gang like this had jamming gear sufficient to block military channels, but after today's events it would be par for the course." "100% sure, either this field communicator is dead, which it isn't, or something is blocking all our long range communications. Local comms are working fine, I'd hazard a guess of up to 1km tops, but anything beyond that is getting jammed." "Ok, is there anything we can do about it? Could we boost the VTOLs comm system enough to get through it if we get it powered up?" "Maybe, but there's no guarantee," continued Vincent, "it wasn't working before we went down and I don't think just boosting the signal will be enough. If we could track down the jammer..." "If we could track down the jammer... what?" asked Sergeant Major Emma, Vincent's tendancy to trail off mid-sentence when he gets an idea wore on her at the best of times. After another moment Vincent came back from his own little world of problem solving and continued, "Sorry, I think I can use the field communicator to try and track down, or at least narrow down, where the jammer is located. It'd take some leg work, depending on how big the actual jamming area is, but we should be able to narrow it down enough to find it. If we can find it, we can either shut it down or otherwise disable it and solve our problem." "Well that's better than sitting around doing nothing until the enemy tracks down our location," said Isla, "Emma, take Vincent and another with you, Orlex you go with them too, might need your Golem's firepower. You 4 will track down this jamming equipment and deal with it, I don't care how, the rest of us will setup a perimeter at the VTOL and work on restoring power. Sergeant Major Luke, any guess on how far away we are from the enemy that shot us down?" "Rough guess, I'd have to say around 9km. Lots of heavy woods between us and them which should slow them down. Also pretty sure they don't have a direct bearing on our crash location, I didn't see anything else in the air before we came down," replied the pilot, Luke Jones. "Good, that should give us a few hours at least. It'll be dark in roughly 4 hours now, hopefully that will slow them down more. Let's not waste any more time, get to it." 2 hours later... ________________ "The signal's getting weaker again Vincent," I said as we slowly made our way through the heavy vegetation. We had been working our way East for about an hour before the signal weakened significantly and then we turned and started heading North where the signal had been consistently getting stronger until now. "Alright, we'll go a bit further to make sure its not the just the terrain here," replied Vincent, referring to the shallow valley we were starting to make our way out of, "if it keeps dropping off we'll turn and head West that should bring us in closer. Judging from our map we should be getting very close." The exoskeleton plodded along admirably despite the heavy undergrowth, the 1/2 ton experimental combat suit tore through small saplings with ease leaving behind small branches and leaves strewn about on the armour, caught in the joints and few exposed linkages. I held the field communicator in my left armoured glove watching the signal strength as we continued to move, scanning left and right for any signs of something man-made or any indication that someone or something had passed through ahead of us. Sergeant Major Emma was leading our search, she was about 15m ahead and to the left of me, Sergeant Vincent was back and to my right about the same distance, and Sergeant Melina, who rounded out our foursome, was further to the left from Emma forming the left wing of our rough chevron formation. We had covered roughly 6km so far and were managing to steadily strengthen the signal we were using to track the jammer. "Signal's still dropping Vincent," I called again over our local comms, we had lost contact with the rest of squad at our crashed VTOL about 900m away just as Vincent had predicted but our comms between the 4 us were still functioning fine. "Alright, Emma you catch that? We need to veer left again, 90 degrees like last time to bear West. Signal should be stronger that way." "Copy that, everyone stay in formation, let's head for the top of this hill, we'll get a better line of sight from there." We shifted our heading and began making our way further up the hill, the incline rising steeply now as we went. Several minutes went by as our progress slowed due to the more difficult terrain before Emma pulled us up short just before reaching the crest. "Everyone form up, I might have something," called Sergeant Major Emma, "Orlex try using your sensor suite to get a look at the trees about 100m ahead, something's off but my IR can't get anything solid." "Alright, I'll see what I can do," I replied as I came up alongside her. Switching over to IR sensors on the exoskeleton bathed the interior of the suit in shades of red as the system fought to find a balance between the cooling air and the still warm trees of the forest, as the system settled out I could just barely make out something where Emma had indicated, there appeared to be a clearing or at least a noticeable thinning of the woods and possibly something within that clearing. The sensors couldn't pick up anything more though, just randomly spiking with pinpoints of heat before smoothing out again. "No luck on the IR, going to try the magnetic anomaly sensors, there's definitely something there but it could shielded in some manner." The HUD now displayed a grayscale image of the woods with coloured bands indicating the strength and location of various magnetic fields. The relatively primitive sensor suite on the prototype exoskeleton was both limited in range and in its precision and the computer system was unable to even speculate on what a possible sensor contact was, unlike a BattleMech's sensors and computer. As such, the magnetic anomaly sensor range fell just short of the perceived clearing and I had to move closer to get any usable readings. I radioed this to Emma before slowly creeping forward, trying to be as silent as a 400kg hydraulic and myomer powered ferro-steel exoskeleton could be in a forest. Finally getting within range the grayscale HUD lit up with a strong contact just within the edge of the clearing, the system was unable to identify it but there was definitely something highly magnetic there. I flipped back to IR to try and see if being closer helped but I still only got the sporadic heat spikes and nothing solid, although now the pattern of the seemingly random spikes almost seemed to indicate something was flapping in the wind over top of a heat source. "There's definitely something there, I got a solid contact with the magnetic sensors but no ID, IR is still useless but I'm pretty sure there's something being shielded in there, the whole clearing looks warmer than it should be. I think we might have found our jamming equipment." "Hold position Orlex, we're coming to you. If it is the jamming equipment we want to try and keep the element of surprise," replied Emma as her and the other two members of our strike team approached. Once there we decided that I would hold my position while the other three circled around to the North and approached the clearing, once they could get a visual on whatever was in the clearing I would be able to flank any OpFor we found and we could hopefully make short work of the jamming equipment and any resistance.
  5. Aboard Grail Lords Combat Transport (Space) VTOL Somewhere on the Carrigan Continent, Errai II Errai System, Davion Space March 3, 3029 ____________________________________ I squeezed down on the trigger of the semi-portable autocannon that was attached to the underslung mount on the Golem exoskeleton's right arm, the whine of the motor winding up the multi-barrel assembly blended into the roar of the weapon firing as the gun began throwing 12.7mm (0.50cal) rounds downrange at an impressive 10 rounds per second. The armoured exoskeleton absorbed the recoil with ease and I could sweep the 5-barrelled autocannon across my field of fire with barely any resistance, provided I remained braced, I wouldn't want to try moving and firing this thing with any accuracy even with the massive assistance provided by the Golem. I was currently braced in the back of the Grail Lords 60 ton combat VTOL, the rear cargo hatch open as the rest of the team approached the aircraft under heavy fire. We were extracting from what was supposed to be a quick and easy hit and run mission against a local gang that was believed to be backed by the Maskirovka, as it turned out the local gang was more than prepared for us and even had a pair of light BattleMechs in their possession. We were ambushed before even reaching our objective and our raid quickly turned into a drawn out engagement and a fighting retreat, somehow the gang was fully aware of our plans and had way more equipment and personnel than our intel indicated. The possibilty of a mole in our team was inconceivable as, aside from myself, they had all worked together for several years and everyone was beyond loyal. There would no doubt be suspicion cast on me, being the only new member to the team, but I know I hadn't leaked anything which only left one of our local contacts for the mission as a whole, which considering how corrupt everything on Errai II seemed to be these days that would be no real surprise. The VTOL sat in a clearing just barely large enough for its 60 ton frame to set down, the clearing itself was only just within the treeline of a large forest that bordered several open fields which themselves lead to a valley in which the gang's base was rumoured to be. The base was there, but instead of being a haphazard collection of random structures like we were lead to believe, it was a veritable fortress with emplaced defenses, walls, and anti-mech entrenchments. "Haul your asses people, we're leaving immediately," called Leftenant Isla over the comms as she stood at the bottom of the ramp ushering her team into the waiting hold, the roar of the VTOL engines drowning out even the autocannon as the powered up for lift off. As the last of Rook squad clambered aboard the VTOL, Isla followed them up just before several enemy rounds slammed into the armoured transport, she quickly spun around low and returned fire with her pulse rifle sending a full burst of laser fire into the trees. Two other members of Rook squad, Sergeant Major Emma and Sergeant Melina judging by the weapons fire, unleashed their own bursts of laser fire into the treeline in an attempt to suppress our pursuers. I took the opportunity to reload my exoskeleton's autocannon, dropping the spent magazine onto the deck as I slammed home a fresh 200 round casket magazine into the side of the 25kg cannon. I caught sight of movement at the edge of the clearing and unleashed a 25 round burst of 12.7mm shells ripping through the foilage and even bringing down a small sapling, what was more satisfying was seeing two enemy opponents laying motionless in the debris, having been caught by the burst. Return fire again richocheted off the armoured fuselage of the VTOL, doing little to no damage, with a few rounds finding their mark this time and flying into the still open cargo hold only to strike the armoured bulk of my Golem exoskeleton again doing little damage. Turning slightly to face where the new shots had come from I spotted another group of enemies hiding behind a fallen tree at the far edge of the clearing and unleashed a full barrage of suppressive fire towards their position. The large caliber rounds screamed through the air as more than 50 individual projectiles blanketed the area in a hail of lead, the power of the autocannon rounds punching holes straight through the fallen tree they mistakenly used as cover and shredding their personal armour with equal ease. The deck below me rolled heavily, the exosuit's actuators straining slightly to compensate, as the VTOL lifted off with a gusto normally reserved for aerospace fighters, the twin engines scorching the ground heavily on full burn as the pilot punched it into the sky. Leftenant Isla slammed the cargo hold door button and the hydraulics barely started closing the ramp before the VTOL engines rotated into cruise position, the change in momentum a dead giveaway that the pilot was pushing the craft to its limits. Before the cargo door finished closing, sealing us into the pressurized cabin, I could see that we were no more than 50' above the treetops and already moving fast, probably approaching the VTOL's flank speed of 86km/h, then the distinctive roar of the jet boosters firing filled the cabin as Rook squad managed to find their seats despite the rapid acceleration. With the jet boosters active the VTOL could reach speeds of roughly 108km/h, not terribly fast for an aircraft that normally relies on its speed to survive but impressive considering this particular VTOL weighed twice as much as most VTOLs at 60 tons, and it carried 14 tons of armour. Built specially for combat operations with the DMI it forgoes any attempts at stealth in exchange for versatility and pure survivability while being capable of operating in any environment, including space. No sooner had everyone gottent strapped in before the VTOL shook hard with the impact of what could only be weapons fire, what felt like a secondary explosion reverberated through the hull before the deck felt like it dropped out from under us. "That's not good," stated Vincent, one of the two engineers currently in Rook squad, and seated closest to me. "Well no shit," quipped David, who was sitting next to Vincent, "tell me something I don't know." "Stow it," commanded Isla from across the hold before she keyed the VTOLs internal comm system, "Things are getting a little turbulent back here, everything good up there?" "No, no they aren't," replied the pilot in a frustrated tone. Before he could elaborate we could hear the co-pilot in the background, "we're losing altitude, engine 1 is losing power. We need to switch to hover mode, I can't keep it stable in flight mode." "Hold on," said the pilot, clearly talking to us but not bothering to mute the connection when he continued with his co-pilot, "Leave it in flight mode, we need to get as much distance between us as we can. She'll hold together long enough, don't worry about that." "Leftenant, we've been hit, obviously, took a hell of a number out of engine one, she's barely holding on. I'm trying to put as much distance between us and whatever hit us before we go down, and we are going down, it's just a matter of how quickly and how rough." "Copy that, do what you can Jones, we'll radio the Gorgon and inform them of our situation." Less than 5 minutes later, and with no luck reaching the Gorgon on the comms, the VTOL rocked again and felt like it dropped from the sky before the internal comm system piped up again, "Damn it, Leftenant we just lost engine 1 completely. We're going down NOW, brace yourselves this is gonna be rough." The sudden loss of forward momentum could be felt as the pilot probably swung the remaining engine into hover mode in an emergency attempt to lessen the impact of the crash, moments later an ominous scrapping sound could be heard echoing from the deck as the VTOL must have started scrapping the tops of the trees. The scrapping grew louder and seemed to surround us as the aircraft rocked wildly from side to side as it plunged full on into the forest, a sickening crack was heard on the port side before the entire ship whipped violently counter clockwise, the roar of the single functioning engine growing louder as it tried in vain to compensate. The centrifugal force of the ship spinning out of control snapped one of the restraints on the harness holding my Golem exoskeleton in place, I grabbed hold of a nearby handrail in the hopes the exosuit itself could keep itself rooted in place. The ship corkscrewed through the trees for what must have only been a few seconds but felt like a lifetime before the starboard side of the ship lifted drastically with a final deafening roar of the engines before darkness enveloped the infantry bay and the sounds of sheering metal combined with a bone shattering impact. A faint glow made me realize my eyes were closed and as I opened them slowly I awakened to the fact that the crash might have caused me to black out for a moment, the glow was the HUD on the exoskeleton rebooting, apparently the impact had been enough to disrupt the power systems, which wasn't a good sign. I could smell burnt metal and chemicals, nothing dangerous but not pleasant and definitely not a good sign since the Golem was supposed to be environmentally sealed. As the HUD finished booting up the external displays flickered to life and I could see inside the infantry bay of the downed VTOL, or rather I could have if there had been enough light, instead there was only the faintest of orange light at the far end of the infantry bay, apparently all that was functioning of the emergency lights. I tried moving my limbs, in part to make sure I wasn't injured and in part to check if the Golem was functional, and to my relief everything on me worked fine, the suit resisted however and a screach of metal could be heard as I tried to stand upright, having now realized I was slightly hunched forward. Switching the suit over to infrared allowed me to see much easier in the near pitch black of the infantry bay and also highlighted the other members of Rook squad, to my relief they all appeared alive. Of the 7 other members I could clearly see 3 still in their seats and starting to stir, 2 others were already standing but the final 2 were laying on the deck apparently having been torn from their restraints in the crash. The external sensors on the exoskeleton must have finally rebooted because at that moment the sounds from the infantry bay flooded into my ears, I could now hear the sparking of broken electrical conduits somewhere nearby and the angry sounds of the engine still trying to fire. "I'm ok Leftenant, don't know how but I'm good," came Sergeant Ross's voice, one of the soldiers specifically trained with support weapons in Rook squad. "Alright, check on Melina and the others over there, I'm going to check on these two here," replied Leftenant Isla. "Orlex, are you ok?" she asked, having noticed the exoskeleton trying to move. "Yes I'm fine I think, no obvious injuries at least. Still working out if the Golem here is still functional, the crash seems to have reset some systems," I responded. "Good, think you can get us some light in here?" she continued before motioning over her shoulder towards the near useless emergency lights, "those just aren't cutting it." "I'll try, give me a minute." The systems display on the HUD was still on the fritz, coming in and out with random bouts of static on the display before finally solidifying into their normal state. "Here we go," I said more the myself than anyone else as I attempted to turn on the spotlight on the exoskeleton's left shoulder, it flickered on and off for a few moments before it too shimmered back to full strength and bathed the entire room in bright light. "Thanks," said Isla as she set about checking on Sergeants Bill and David, who were the two laying on the ground. With the light provided the other three members of the squad quickly awoke and got out of their restraints before confirming that they were also alright. A few minutes later and everyone was awake and accounted for, including the pilot and co-pilot who opened the door from the cockpit and joined us, and we managed to get the Golem free from the steel ceiling beam that attempted to crush it. Somehow during the crash the Golem had broken completely free of its restraining harness and I had stepped out from the alcove on the wall built for it trying to stabilize it. In doing so though it placed the exoskeleton in a position that when a strut of some kind broke through the ceiling and collapsed several heavy ceiling panels into the infantry bay they were pinned against the Golem's back instead of flying around inside. Using the Golem's shoulder mounted Support Power Pack to power the hydraulics for the external door ramp we were able to open the infantry bay and exit the stricken VTOL. From outside the damage looked much less intense than what we had assumed from inside, other than the near total loss of power and the obvious damage to the port engine the VTOL was amazingly intact. We put out a few minor fires in the vicinity to limit the amount of smoke in the hopes that it will slow down the enemy from locating our crash site, we knew it would only be a matter of time before they find us so we needed to find a way of contacting the Gorgon as soon as possible. Our personal comms and even the field communicator we had didn't have the range needed to reach them though so our first priority was to try and restore power to the VTOL's systems and see if the comm system was still functional.
  6. 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.
  7. Combat Transport (Space) VTOL Mass: 60 tons Movement Type: VTOL Power Plant: 70 Fusion Cruising Speed: 54 kph Maximum Speed: 108 kph Armor: Ferro-Fibrous Prototype Armament: 4 Medium Laser 1 Machine Gun Manufacturer: Unknown Primary Factory: Unknown Communication System: Unknown Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown Introduction Year: 3029 Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-F-X-X Cost: 6,966,000 C-bills Type: Combat Transport (Space) Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Experimental) Movement Type: VTOL Tonnage: 60 Battle Value: 1,071 Equipment Mass Internal Structure 12 Engine 70 Fusion 3 Cruising MP: 5 Flank MP: 8(10) Heat Sinks: 12 2 Control Equipment: 3.0 Lift Equipment: 6.0 Power Amplifier: 0.0 Turret: 0.5 Armor Factor (Ferro Prototype)250 14 Internal Armor Structure Value Front 6 60 R/L Side 6/6 54/54 Rear 6 50 Turret 6 30 Rotor 6 2 Weapons and Ammo Location Tonnage 2 Medium Lasers Left 2.0 2 Medium Lasers Right 2.0 VTOL Jet Booster Body 0.5 Half Machine Gun Ammo (100) Turret 0.5 Machine Gun Turret 0.5 Infantry Body 4.0 Cargo Body 2.0 Combat Environmental Sealing Body 0.0
  8. DroST IVc Dropship Type: Military Aerodyne Mass: 2,500 tons Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard) Introduced: 3029 Mass: 2,500 Size: 60m long x 63m wide x 24m high Battle Value: 5,990 Tech Rating/Availability: D/X-E-D-D Cost: 289,022,400 C-bills Fuel: 100 tons (4,000) Safe Thrust: 7 Maximum Thrust: 11 Heat Sinks: 109 Structural Integrity: 16 Armor Nose: 350 Sides: 310/310 Aft: 238 Cargo Bay 1: Light Vehicle (2) 1 Door Bay 2: Cargo (285.0 tons) 2 Doors Bay 3: Heavy Vehicle (2) 2 Doors Bay 4: Infantry (Jump) (12) 2 Doors Ammunition: 90 rounds of AC/10 ammunition (9 tons), 36 rounds of LRM 20 ammunition (6 tons) Escape Pods: 18 Life Boats: 0 Crew: 2 officers, 3 enlisted/non-rated, 4 gunners, 68 bay personnel Notes: Mounts 71.5 tons of standard aerospace armor. Weapons: Capital Attack Values (Standard) Arc (Heat) Heat SRV MRV LRV ERV Class Nose (25 Heat) 1 AC/10 3 1(10) 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) AC AC/10 Ammo (300 shots) 2 Large Laser 16 2(16) 2(16) 0(0) 0(0) Laser 1 LRM 20 6 1(12) 1(12) 1(12) 0(0) LRM LRM 20 Ammo (72 shots) RW/LW (33 Heat) 1 AC/10 3 1(10) 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) AC AC/10 Ammo (300 shots) 2 Medium Laser 14 2(18) 1(8) 0(0) 0(0) Laser 1 Large Laser 1 LRM 20 6 1(12) 1(12) 1(12) 0(0) LRM LRM 20 Ammo (72 shots) 1 PPC 10 1(10) 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) PPC RW/LW Aft (6 Heat) 2 Medium Laser 6 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) 0(0) Laser Aft (6 Heat) 2 Medium Laser 6 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) 0(0) Laser
  9. Aboard Black OPs DMI DroST IVc-class Dropship Gorgon In orbit around GJ 3634c dwarf planet Pokhara System, Kurita space near Davion border February 11, 3029 ____________________________________ The retro thrusters fired sporadically and the cold blue glow of the idling planetary transit drives reflected off nearby debris as the dropship made its slow circle around the outer edges of a prominent debris field. Time had not been kind to whatever had been left after a fight in this system a couple hundred years ago, between solar radiation and gravity itself there wasn't much left that was identifiable, let alone salvageable. Had I been able to see outside I might have been able to appreciate the somewhat surreal beauty of the massive cloud of debris floating in space almost suspended between the dwarf planet and its tidally locked binary partner, a moon that was nearly 20% the mass of the dwarf planet itself. From our current position I would have been able to see the planet's second moon in orbit at twice the distance away reflecting the dull red glow of the Pokhara system's class M2V red dwarf star, as we searched seemingly futilely for something worthwhile to salvage. As we once again passed over the debris cloud, the dropship's thrusters adjusting our orbit with finely tuned precision, the bridge crew assumedly were performing various scans to see if there was anything of note amongst the twisted remains of what was once most likely a powerful warship of a bygone era. I was currently strapped into a jumpseat in one of the Gorgon's cargo holds, along with the rest of the DMI special forces platoon, as per the order by the captain roughly an hour ago. We had arrived at the planetary system some time before that but had been ordered to get strapped in as they moved the dropship into the outer edges of the debris field, now operating in zero-g with the main transit drive only idling it could be disasterous if sudden evasive maneouvers were required and someone wasn't properly anchored in the zero-g environment. A sudden shift in momentum within the cargo bay indicated one of those maneouvers was likely happening now, although the steady acceleration that followed indicated we might just be moving to a new location instead. Again if I could have seen outside, or known what was going on on the bridge, I would have been aware that they had detected a much larger piece of debris in a synchronous orbit with the moon on its far side and we were now on our way to investigate what was currently our best lead. As the Gorgon rounded the moon a large almost spherical silhouette emerged from behind the moon, currently cast in complete shadow by the planet, the dropship crew had to stop the ship short though as the density of the debris cloud surrounding what was potentially an intact vessel was too high to safely navigate with a large vessel. Instead they settled into a similar orbit in order to remain at the same location, relative to the wreck, while smaller craft was taken in to investigate the vessel closer. "So it looks like we actually found something," began Johnathan "JJ" Jaegar, "Captain said there's a derelict out there for us to investigate but it's not a Warship. It appears to be an old Pentagon-class Assault dropship, it's clearly taken some major damage but we are to board it, assess the damage and see what can be salvaged. The debris field surrounding the vessel is too dense to safely navigate unnecessarily with the Gorgon itself so instead we're taking the CT(S) VTOL in for a closer look and to board it. Everyone is going on the VTOL but only Rook squad will be boarding at first, they will assess the initial area for damage and if safe to do so we'll proceed from there. Castle and Archer squads will of course be prepped and ready to go should Rook require any assistance." "This is a derelict ship, and it's highly unlikely that anything on board will be working however we're still going to treat it as a standard boarding operation," continued Leena Sykora, Captain of the Grail Lords and in joint command with JJ on this operation, "That means Rook squad will breach the hull and establish a beachhead within the vessel before Archer squad will be deployed to secure it. Castle can deploy once a secure location is established and Rook will proceed towards engineering and any other targets of opportunity that might come up. The goal is to secure the entire vessel and begin salvage operations, if possible we want to bring the main reactors back online and restore power, that'll make it much easier to assess the overall state of the wreck and determine if we can actually recover the derelict or if we have to scrap it piece by piece. Once power, and hopefully life support, is restored we can bring in a full salvage crew and if needed the DMI has provided us access to a salvage ship waiting in a nearby system. As a side note, we are still instructed to test the 'Project Golem' combat exoskeleton in any of our missions." A slight pause as Captain Sykora looked over everyone assembled before locking eyes with me, "Guardian Orlex, that means you get to join Rook squad and assist with the breaching of the vessel and intial salvage attempts, as well as any other testing or situations we deem necessary to complete that aspect of our mission. Let's hope your training hasn't been wasted. Alright everyone, I want you suited up and on board the CT(S) in 10." With that the cargo hold exploded into activity as various deckhands as well as all the members of the Grail Lords moved to get ready within the zero-g environment of the hold. The CT(S), or its full title of Combat Transport (Space), was a superheavy VTOL that was environmentally sealed for operations in space, or any other hostile environment, and had somewhat uncommon fusion powered vectored thrusters as opposed to traditional rotors which allowed it to operate without an atmosphere. It carried an unusually large amount of armour for a VTOL and did not suffer the usual VTOL vulnerability, due to the lack of rotors, but was still susceptible to a critical hit taking out its engines with relative ease. The CT(S) carried 4 medium lasers mounted on the fixed portions of the left and right wings along with a large calibre machinegun on a turret under the body, it also had a 4 ton infantry bay in the back along with room for an additional 2 tons of cargo. All in all the CT(S) VTOL was a tough little transport perfect for delivering troops in any combat environment and safely extracting them once their mission was complete. 10 minutes later the Grail Lords were all suited up in various combat capable space suits and were strapped into the infantry bay of the CT(S) with all the various gear we would need securely stored. I myself was inside the combat exoskeleton suit, which everyone was starting to just refer to as The Golem, for better or worse, and strapped to the wall like cargo, with the magnetic clamps in the feet engaged as well. Nobody wanted the 400kg exoskeleton coming loose and smashing around inside the infantry bay even if it was zero-g, myself included. A few minutes later and the deckhands had finished the final checks to clear us for launch and everyone had vacated the vehicle bay to allow us to safely depressurize the hold and deploy into space. The klaxon warning sirens faded as the bay depressurized and a moment later the fusion engines of the VTOL lifted us from the deck and propelled us out into the void of space. The pilot had to be careful to not fly too fast as some of the debris surrounding the derelict was difficult to see at best and several last minute course corrections made me glad I was so securely tied down. The familiar electric hum of capacitors discharging and recharging somewhere in the hull indicated to me that the pilot was also using the lasers to clear a path when necessary even without looking into the cockpit to see it, a feat I would have trouble managing even if I wanted to due to limitations of the exoskeleton. The CT(S) weaved its way through the worst of the debris and the final approach towards the derelict vessel was relatively smooth. As the searchlights on the VTOL played across the ship the extent of damage came into clear view and the pilot let out a long low whistle as I heard JJ saying "Damn..." not quite under his breath. The entire port side of the Pentagon was gone, and I don't mean destroyed, it was gone completely. It looked like someone had just carved a chunk right out of the vessel, clearly the ship had taken some direct fire from Capital class weaponry, that was the only thing we could think of capable of that kind of damage. That meant that at least one side in this battle had a Warship though it didn't look like we would be finding enough of one to be meaningful at this point. The gouge carved into the Pentagon's side cut deep into the internals of the ship and the skeletal remains of the several decks could be seen as the CT(S)'s lights played over them, it was clear the ship would have explosively decompressed at this point and that would explain why the vessel was still as intact as it was and not blown into pieces, there was no surviving that hit. "How's that look over there?" asked JJ to someone in the cockpit. "Looks as good as any place to me," responded Leena. "Yes sir, ma'am, that should do nicely. There's nothing stable enough that I can see to land on, but we can get nice and close in that ... alcove let's call it, and limit the distance you'll have to traverse in open space. Also looks like I should be able to anchor this bird in the vicinity and we'll have some protection provided by the derelict's own superstructure," came the pilot's own assessment. The sound of boots on metal and a second later both Captains floated past me back towards the VTOL's cargo doors before landing smoothly at the front of the platoon. Keying their headsets to make sure that everyone could hear them they gave us a final brief before we launched into the salvage operation. "... but there's nothing stable enough to actually land on, so we've moved into the best position we can and we'll be deploying in complete zero-g. Orlex, since The Golem isn't exactly designed for zero-g maneouvers you'll be escorted by Bill and Vincent to assist you with reaching our entry point. You'll then be on point to breach the vessel and Rook squad will follow you in." With the cockpit sealed, the main hatch door slowly lowered after the infantry bay was depressured and the vast blackness of space was laid out before us. The spotlights on the CT(S) provided somewhat limited and localised light highlighting the damaged deck we were using to enter the derelict, the gaping maw of what should have been the inside of the vessel filled most of my view as I disengaged the magnetic foot clamps and pushed forward to drift into the void. On either side of the me were the two engineers currently assigned to Rook squad that had been designated to assist me with the crossing, their suits had built in retrojets to allow for zero-g movement, an ability the exoskeleton was decidely lacking. There supposedly was an external maneouver pack that was being worked on at NAIS but that did very little to help me here and now, thankfully the three of us made the crossing from the VTOL to the derelict without incident and I was glad to have the magnetic clamps on the suit's feet firmly attached to ferrosteel again. In the odd silence of space I made my way slowly along the section of deck we landed on until I was far enough into the ship's exposed internals to properly orientate myself with the derelict's position, realizing we were actually upside down at the moment I reached out and grabbed onto a steel bar jutting out from the wall and in one smooth motion disengaged the mangetic clamps, swung myself 180° in the passage way and re-engaged the clamps on what was the proper floor. Behind me the rest of Rook squad also re-orientated themselves as they got close enough to the derelict to actually be considered inside now. With the squad successfully inserted the CT(S) pulled back to a safe distance to wait for us to officially breach the vessel and establish our entry point. About 20 feet into the exposed hallway we found a badly damaged but still sealed bulkhead that must have closed shortly after the ship was fatally wounded. We had no way of knowing if the section on the other side was still pressurized and the blast door itself wouldn't have been operable even if the power was still on. As such, Rook squad secured themselves along one side of the hallway while I used the exoskeleton's large cutting torch to gently break the seal on the door and started prying the bulkhead open. There was no blast of air or any other indication that the blast door had actually been successful all those years ago when it activated as the laser torch melted through the thick slab of steel and within minutes I managed to cut open and pry one half of the bulkhead far enough open to easily pass through with the exoskeleton, and by extension the rest of Rook squad as well. I toggled the mounted spotlight in The Golem's left shoulder on as I stepped through into the inky blackness of the derelict Pentagon's proper interior, the light flooding down the corridor and showing ancient signs of severe damage consistent with explosive decompression, apparently the blast door had failed or was too late in its activation. Sections of the corridor seemed like it tried to collapse in on itself while others appeared to have almost blown out the walls, neither of which fully occured but ended up giving the corridor a weird undulating wave punctuated by destroyed panels and the occasional ceiling strut or floor panel sticking out at odd angles. I moved further into the wreck, the echo of the exoskeleton's heavy footfalls only audible to myself as I tread carefully amongst the debris covered floor. Toggling the comm I half joked, "Well this looks promising," to my squad. "Well at least it's enclosed," replied Ross, one of the squad's support weapon specialists. "What's the matter Ross, don't like the cold vacuum of space?" teased Melina, another support weapon specialist. "I think he's afraid of the dark now Melina," said Dave in what used to be a British accent, he was the squad's third and final support weapon specialist. Between the three of them they carried a semi-portable PPC and power pack for this mission, though why we thought we would need that kind of firepower I didn't know. "Oh F*ck off you two, for Blake's sake it's always the same with you guys," answered Ross in a somewhat jovial manner. "Alright, cut the chatter unless you have something useful to say," came the stern voice of Leftenant Isla over the comm before she toggled open the command channel as well, "Rook-1 to Castle, we're inside the vessel. She took some serious damage in here but so far it's intact. We're moving deeper into the ship, assuming these old maps we have of a Pentagon-class dropship are accurate we should be near an emergency power station. We'll see what kind of state it's in and report in then." "Orlex, you're on point. Take the next two lefts and then go right, let's see where we end up. Everyone, move out." As one the squad moved further into the wreck, we took the first left but that corridor ended abruptly at a dead end where it looked like the ceiling and floor had been pinched together. After two detours and three more collapsed or otherwise impassible corridors Leftenant Isla made the call to abandon getting to that emergency power station and instead had us make our way towards a nearby engineering station that was one deck down and a few corridors towards the ship's dorsal side. If the room was still intact and sealable the plan was to setup a temporary base there from which to explore the vessel from.
  10. Aboard Black OPs DMI DroST IVc-class Dropship Gorgon Enroute to GJ 3634c dwarf planet Pokhara System, Kurita space near Davion border February 8, 3029 ____________________________________ It had been 3 days since the Lithe Fox, a DMI Scout-class jumpship, had folded itself, and us along with it, back into normal space at the Nadir jump point of a long forgotten star system. At the time I wasn't even aware of what system we had even jumped into, or from for that matter, I wasn't exactly very high up on the need-to-know list on this vessel, not that I particularly cared. I did know that at one point in the past 2 months we had been on Errai where we collected some dubious information regarding a lost Star League ship that some, less than reputable, traders supposedly saw somewhere near the edge of Kuritan space. There were alot of those rumours going around lately, ever since the Helm Memory Core was discovered last year there had been a massive boom in both the interest in and the rumours about lost Star League tech. I'd heard everything from rumours of a fully intact Star League era warship patrolling the space around Terra to whisperings of a fully functional Star League manufacturing plant existing on Hall or Outreach, I'd even heard the outlandish claim that the Star League had created a fully automated AI controlled warship that was now lying derelict somewhere in Kurita space. A few years ago I wouldn't have paid any attention to the rumours of long lost Star League tech, it was a dream with no chance of becoming real I had thought, just a sinkhole for people with more money than brains or so desperate it didn't make a difference. But between my recent work with Interstellar Expeditions and the now public discovery of the Helm Memory Core I had to consider that it was indeed possible to come out ahead in the search for lost Star League tech. My new opinion aside, I wasn't exactly thrilled about my current situation however, yes we were on our way to possibly find and recover an artifact that could be considered the pinnacle of Star League technology, a Warship, I didn't actually choose to join this mission, nor did I have a choice. For all intents and purposes I was essentially a prisoner to the DMI, Davion Intelligence, in all but name. A prisoner granted access to cutting edge technology, one of a kind prototypes, and not a shackle or bar in sight, but a prisoner all the same. Back in November of 3028 the mercenary unit I was part of took part in a potential salvage operation for Interstellar Expeditions where we were tasked with recovering anything related to the Star League that we could find on the planet Myrvoll, instead of getting anything useful we found a bunch of old documents on rations and TO&E of long gone equipment in a long abandonned base. The one interesting thing we did find was a secret ComStar listening post, which lead directly to my current predicament. See, ComStar didn't take too kindly to us finding their secret base and so they decided to send their spooks after us to kill us, and they nearly succeeded. As a result we had to get help from the last place I wanted to, we needed someone with enough power to openly, and covertly, challenge ComStar if it came down to it and it just so happened that I had a brother working relatively high up within the Federated Suns' Department of Military Intelligence, and the fact that we had a bad falling out a few years back had to be put aside since our lives were literally on the line. After narrowly escaping our first of what would surely be many encounters with ComStar ROM agents, provided we lived that is, we quickly made our way to Aldebaran in the newly conquered Davion space in order to reach out to my estranged brother for help. Somewhat eerily and both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, Johnathan responded immediately and quickly met up with us and was quick to provide us with the protection we needed, for a price of course. I had to agree to work with him as "specialist" DMI agent, no questions asked and no choice in the matter, in addition to our mercenary unit BeoWulf's Knights being disbanded and absorbed as a "House unit" for 2 years. No one was happy about it, least of all Mikhala and Jess after all the work they had done to get the unit established and sustainable, but we didn't have much of a choice, it was either that or risk being killed by ComStar spooks at any time, in any place, in the end we all wanted to live. Gravity returned, as did the noise of the fusion engines firing, and put an end to my reminiscing as the comfortable pressure of 1G of acceleration settled me into my jump seat. The specialty DroST IVc dropship had just completed its transition from accelerating towards our destination to decelerating for the last half of the journey. Being strapped into the jump seat was by no means necessary for the transition as there was only a few moments of weightlessness as the ship spun around 180° and fired up its transit engines again to slow down safely at our target. I was well accustomed to working in zero-G environments but I was tired today and just couldn't be bothered so I strapped in instead. With the risk of floating off to the ceiling before crashing down to floor removed I got up and started making my way down towards one the ship's two large cargo bays, I was due for yet another round of training in my new equipment this afternoon and you did not want to be late on Leftenant Isla, or Sergeant Major Emma for that matter. The DMI agents I was working with were thorough with their training if nothing else. I reached the upper cargo bay in less than 5 mins, with what I thought was plenty of time, only to find both Leftenant Isla Cricton and Sergenat Major Emma Godaschke waiting pointendly near the entrance. Before I could even start raising my hand in greeting they checked their time pieces and then sighed in unison at me. "You're late again Guardian," stated Emma, using my rank to keep things formal and to demean me by reminding me that she not only outranked me but that I was an outsider too, "you were told 13:00 sharp this morning." "It's only 12:58, I still have two minutes," I said without thinking while checking my own watch. Fuck, I'm going to pay for that I thought. "Deal with him," sighed Leftenant Isla, not even bothering to acknowledge my presence before walking past me and deeper into the ship. "Yes Ma'am," replied Emma before turning to me, "You heard her. Suit up, you've got cargo to move and if you don't get it and your training done in time you'll be on latrine duty, again." This time I managed to bite my tongue and just nodded a curt, "Yes ma'am." I'd find out what redundant cargo moving they had for me this time once I was in the exoskeleton suit. Speaking of, that was the one thing about this mission that actually had my interest, in a somewhat bizarre and very unusual twist of fate this particular DMI unit was assigned as testers for a new prototype combat exoskeleton suit that I was somehow "uniquely qualified" for, doubly strange was that not a single member of the actual DMI unit wanted anything to do with the suit but they were perfectly happy with strapping me in it anytime. I know I was officially introduced and listed as being a "specialist" with the sole purpose of performing combat and other tests on the exoskeleton suit's capabilities, both on and off the battlefield, but it still struck me as odd with how comfortable they seemed about an outsider getting essentially unfettered access to prototype gear the NAIS boys dreamed up. They definitely took it upon themselves to remind me how much I was an outsider every opportunity they could. The suit itself almost completely made up for all the slights and mistreatment though, and if it meant getting to pilot it some more I could put up with the disdain and outright dislike. The exoskeleton itself was built around a fairly standard frame, it was a typical industrial based framework designed from the start for hostile environments, and therefore offering better innate coverage than a regular exoskeleton, but it was built with military grade materials and with military grade precision. The integral extended life support system fully encapsulates the exoskeleton in a pressurized shell that allows 24 hour operation in any environment, and then 125kg of heavily modified BattleMech grade armour is fitted over top everything else. The suit looks bulky as can be, and it's no surprise that the Covert Ops guys want nothing to do with this very clearly NOT covert suit. The shoulders are overly large and pronounced and house a spotlight and a large Support PPC power pack encased in the left and right shoulder armour respectively. The power pack is modified to properly fit and allows either connection to the suit itself or a support weapon with the main external power cable or else three standard devices could be powered from the retractable standard power cables stored in the side of the power pack, the other 3 standard cables normally used are inaccessible due to the shoulder pauldron design and the mounting location. The spotlight appears integrated directly into the armour itself and allows for only small adjustments to either side, roughly 90° total centered on directly ahead. The left arm has large cutting torch on an articulated mount attached to the forearm while the right arm houses a universal Anit-Personnel/Squad Support weapon mount allowing the suit's main weaponry to be changed out between missions. The legs of the exoskeleton are also fully armoured and contain magnetic soles in the boots to ensure stability if used on the exterior of a ship or in other zero-G or low-G environments. On the back of the suit, above the cylinderical housing which contains the extended life support system, sits an armoured compartment reminiscent of a backpack used for mission specific equipment that can be stored internally or externally on universal mounting points. The entire suit had the look and feel of a military prototype, there were no soft curves, no smooth surfaces that weren't needed, everything was sharp angles and hard edges and it was beautiful in its simplicity. A few minutes later I was fully enclosed within the armoured exoskeleton, which I could now do without help after having trained daily with the suit over the past couple months, and ran through what was now a routine startup procedure involving voice authentication and testing limb movement before fully releasing the safeties and gaining full control. Once in complete control I spent the next 2 hours using the 400kg exoskeleton to needlessly move cargo from one side of the bay to the other in "punishment" for my earlier "outburst", after that I moved on to my regular training routine running through maneuvers and practice drills testing the limits of the machine under the artificial gravity afforded by our deceleration. The exoskeleton was surprisingly agile for being a prototype, even with its military origins, and offered virtually full range of motion for the user, greatly improved over the industrial counterpart it was modelled on. Several hours later I had managed to run through my mandatory training regime, and by working through any breaks I might have normally taken I managed to get finished in time to avoid latrine duty this time. Two days later I was finally briefed on what our current mission was, at least as far as my role in it. The intel we had gathered up to this point indicated that there was a high possibility of a derelict Star League era warship, believed to be a Pinto-class corvette, floating forgotten in a system that was apparently rediscovered only recently by smugglers and traders using old jump points just before the 4th Succession War started. The system was just within the edges of Kuritan space and apparently the DMI had decided it was worth checking out just in case there was some truth to the rumours, and they couldn't allow that kind of technology to fall into the Draconis Combine's hands. The system, I was told, is the Pokhara system and it was abandonned sometime between the 2nd and 3rd Succession Wars and subsequently fell off the map, it contains 4 major planetary bodies and we were currently enroute to what appeared to be the outermost planet system which actually consisted of a dwarf planet tidally locked to a large moon with a second small moon orbiting around the larger pair. Initial scans showed nothing of promise but we had reason to believe that the wreckage could be hidden within this planetary body or the nearby asteroids, combined with some unusual anomolies in the scans gave some hope to the mission not being a complete bust. Our job would be to find any sizeable wreckage or derelict and assess its salvage potential, if there was any chance of retrieval we were to secure the derelict and commence salvage operations while a full salvage team waited in a nearby system if needed. Why a full DMI special forces squad was required for this particular job was never explained to me, though I assumed it had to do with being in Kuritan space and the potential to run into pirates or even Kuritan forces that likely had also heard to same rumours.
  11. Nice that is pretty cool, also love the visuals of the planet having rings. Nice to see that we unknowingly got it right putting Site 187 to the South of Gellen's Heights, lol. Nice find.
  12. ************************************************************************************************************************************************************** *** These next few posts take place back in November 3028, due to real life duties (read new baby) I have been remiss in keeping Orlex's story up to date, *** these posts should bring things back in line with the overall universe timeline. However, this story is still separate from the overall arcing *** Aegis and Crayven storylines at this time. ************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Previously... IE Offices Carosasha, Menkalinan Menkalinan System, Marik/Liao border November 28, 3028 ____________________________________ As we all filed out of the elevators we quickly surveyed the underground garage to find the best suited vehicles to get us back to the spaceport. "We're taking the armoured SUV at the end there," stated the burly guard, who's name we found out was Ryan, "You're welcome to take any other vehicles here, we can collect them from the spaceport later." "Sounds good," replied Mikhala. "We better make a choice quick, I can hear them on the stairs," said Irene as she moved towards a nearby hover car. "We'll have to split up and take three vehicles, only way to get everyone to fit," said Jess as her and Joel moved to an armoured looking truck. Without any further prompting our group split up amongst the hovercar, the armoured truck, and another large hovercar just as more of the unknown enemy soldiers busted out of the door leading to the stairs. The last few of us getting into the vehicles fired a couple parting shots towards the enemy causing them to scatter just long enough to get the vehicles moving towards the exit. The IE personnel in the SUV exited first, being the closest to the exit ramp, and peeled away down the back alley as soon as they were clear. Kyla, having recovered from her earlier hysterics, slammed the armoured truck into high gear as she pulled away with Jess and Joel while Irene and Mikhala wound up the hovercars engines to full speed as soon as they could as well and followed Kyla. No sooner had we all made it out onto the small street than a series of armed motorcycles, bearing the same colours as the soldiers from earlier, pulled onto the road from a small alleyway and began closing the distance to us. As we took a hard left to try and escape an armoured car pulled in behind the motorcycles, also sporting the same colours as the bad guys, whoever it was they were definitely not giving up. "We need to split up," said Mikhala over the comms, it's too easy for them to keep up with us if we stay together." "Alright," responded Irene. "See you at the spaceport," called Kyla as she peeled off down the first side street with the armoured truck, two of the motorcycles followed her. The other two motorcycles went after Irene's hovercar as she slid around the corner of another street before taking off out of view. The armoured car stayed on us as Mikhala picked up a little more speed, having more room on the road now. The steady staccato of gunfire erupted from the armoured car as one of the soldiers leaned out the window and became firing their submachinegun at us, multiple rounds struck low on the rear of the vehicle causing minimal damage but lots of noise. "Looks like they aren't going to let us go that easily," I quipped as I rolled down my window, "I'm going to see if I can get them to back off a bit." Sticking my prosthetic arm out the window I fully opened the arm's enclosed panels and began firing blasts from the internal laser back towards the enemy car. Most of the shots missed but a couple landed on the car itself, doing no real damage but scared the soldier enough to duck back inside for a minute. A second soldier leaned out the window on the opposite side of the car and unleashed another burst of SMG fire, this one shattering the back window of our car. Kevin swore under his breath before posting up in the back seat and returning fire with the KA-23 subgun he had kept from before, squeezing off two full bursts before ducking back down for the limited cover the hovercar provided. Ducking back inside myself I repositioned myself so I could fire out the back window as well and switched the laser from pulse mode to continuous in the hopes I could cut through the armour on the enemy car. Using the backseat as a support I fired the laser at the car again, trying to hold it steady long enough to melt some armour with only limited success. The hovercar helped immensely with being a smooth ride but the evasive actions Mikhala was forced to take meant I could do little more than cut off one of the unarmoured side mirrors. Replacing the now burnt out power cell I switched back to the pulse mode and fired a few more shots as one of the soldiers tried to lean out the side of the car again and got a lucky hit that dropped the enemy. "I'm out," called Kevin a few blocks later as he tossed the now empty KA-23 down in the backseat, "Down to my laser pistol." "I've got two mags left in my Serrek," I responded, having switched to the ballistic pistol after expending all but my last power cell for the prosthetic arm laser. "Mikhala," crackled Irene's voice over the comms, "Don't know about you guys but our friends here aren't giving up, however they seem to be trying real hard to avoid any serious collateral damage." "I can't say for sure, our buddies seem to firing at will over here, but they definitely aren't going all out with trying to stop us," replied Mikhala. "Same over here," added Kyla, "they're shooting lots but only energy weapons here, nothing that'll leave a distinguishable trace." "Good to know, I have an idea then, may sound crazy but might be worth a shot," said Irene, "If they want to try and be stealthy, let's take them to the main road, might give us a chance to blend into the traffic, not that these IE cars are exactly subtle." "I like it," replied Mikhala, "that might just work. These cars do stand out, but if they're trying to avoid collateral damage joining regular traffic could be the edge we need." "Hold on," called Mikhala from the front seat as she veered hard to right, the hovercar slipping wildly as its fans fought to maintain the supportive air cushion below the car's lower skirt. The hovercar recovered from the skid, just in time to avoid slamming into the brick walls of the buildings lining the new street. The armoured car chasing us had to slow down to make the same corner but they managed to do so without completely losing sight of us. A few minutes later, and a couple more sharp corners, and we made it to the main thoroughfare heading to the spaceport, the armoured car keeping pace with us the whole time. We were quickly joined by Irene and Kyla in their respective cars and were even able to keep up a decent speed on the large road, a quick check showed that the motorcycles had stopped chasing them at some point and another look behind and I barely caught a glimpse of the armoured car falling way back and heading to an exit off the main road. Apparently Irene's idea had been right and whoever these guys were they didn't want to risk chasing us in public. "Good call Irene," said Mikhala on the comms again, "looks like they're breaking off. Everyone keep their heads on a swivel though, I don't trust that they've actually stopped tailing us, until we're back on the Mjolnir we aren't safe." Surprisingly enough the remainder of the trip to the spaceport was uneventful without even a sighting of our pursuers. We pulled in to the spaceport and only received some questionable glances at the state of our vehicles, no longer trusting any strangers on this planet we didn't bother giving any explanations to anyone and thankfully not even the guards asked us about the damaged cars. With little fanfare the 9 of us disembarked from our vehicles and quickly made our way the waiting dropship, the crew had managed to refuel and resupply the ship while we were gone and thankfully the Mjolnir was ready for take off. As soon as everyone was aboard we closed up the ship and launched as quickly as possible, no one wanted to wait around planetside any longer than we needed to. "Those Blake-damned bastards, what the hell were they after," said Kyla, more as a statement than actual question. We had gathered on the dropship's bridge and the tension was palpable. "They think we know something we don't," replied Irene. "I know that Irene, it was rhetorical," snapped Kyla before relenting, " but the fuckers killed Jim, they blew him the fuck up..." "We know Kyla, and we'll figure out who they are and make them pay for it, but right now we need to keep it together. We'll mourn Jim once we're safely out system." said Jess carefully. Everyone was on a razor edge but she was right, we weren't safe yet, not until we left the Menkalinan system behind. "Speaking of, we need to leave the system, we have roughly 9 days to the Nadir jump point, we'll need to figure out where we're going by then," began Mikhala. "Hold on, 9 days? I thought it only took us under 5 days to get to the jump point, and didn't we come in at the Zenith point?" asked Joe, his wound now patched up. "Yes, and yes," answered Mikhala, "however, we aren't going to the Zenith, but we're going to make it look like we are. We're heading towards the Zenith on the furthest out path we can, in a day or so, once we're completely clear of normal planetary traffic, we'll turn and burn hard towards the Nadir. With our IE contract now completed we no longer have free access to the Star Cruiser, it wouldn't be wise to use them again anyways, so we need to find another jumpship with an open docking collar to take us out of the system." "If this is ComStar that's after us, and I believe more and more it is, jumping out of system won't be enough. We don't have the resources to keep off their radar and we'll be hard pressed to find legitimate work without them finding out. Best I can suggest is that we need to get as far from Myrvoll as we can and try to pick up some low key contracts either out near the peripherary or maybe Lyran space," added Jess. "I think I might be able to help there," I said reluctantly, "in regards to where to go." "What do you mean?" asked Mikhala, "Don't keep us in suspense here." "I could reach out to my brother, the DMI agent," I hesitated before responding, "I don't know if it's worth a shot or not but I can try. I don't even know if he'll respond but it's all I got." "I thought things ended badly between you two?" asked Jess. "They did, that's why I don't know if he'll respond. But I think, if anyone has the means to oppose ComStar it would be the DMI and House Davion. He won't do it for free, I'm not naive anymore, it'll cost us or more specifically me, but if they can help it may be worth the cost." "What exactly do we even have to offer that the DMI would be interested in anyways?" asked Luke. "Well, I'm not entirely sure to be honest, but we can offer the intel from Myrvoll to start with, at the very least I'm sure the DMI would be interested in learning that ComStar has a secret comm base that close to their new border." I answered. "Well that's something, better than anything I've got at the moment," said Jess, "only problem is, how do we get a message out to this brother of yours? HPGs are obviously controlled by ComStar, anything you send through them they have access to and there's no way they'll let you pass that kind of information on." "Don't need to, if you can get us into Davion space, even their newly conquered space, I can get a message sent without the HPG network that I know my brother will get, eventually." "Alright, well it sounds like we have the beginnings of a plan, we got 9 days to iron out the details and then we'll jump on the next trade jumpship heading into Davion space," stated Mikhala as she clamped her hand on my shoulder. "And then?" asked Kevin. "We'll go from there, at the very least we'll be able to find some work in Davion space during this war," said Mikhala as she moved to the front of the bridge, "Alright everyone, we have 9 days until we arrive at the jump point, I suggest everyone get patched up and get whatever rest you can. I imagine things will get more interesting before all this is over. Dismissed."
  13. ************************************************************************************************************************************************************** *** These next few posts take place back in November 3028, due to real life duties (read new baby) I have been remiss in keeping Orlex's story up to date, *** these posts should bring things back in line with the overall universe timeline. However, this story is still separate from the overall arcing *** Aegis and Crayven storylines at this time. ************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Previously... IE Offices Carosasha, Menkalinan Menkalinan System, Marik/Liao border November 28, 3028 ____________________________________ With our discussion on who the attackers could be concluded, everyone agreed that our immediate course of action would be to return to the dropship and get off world as soon as possible. At least then there was less of a chance of getting ambushed by seemingly random strangers, planetside, at least right now, everyone was a potential threat. Our current plan was to fight our way to the security offices where we stored our gear upon arrival, assuming that there would be more enemies present once we left the debriefing rooms, and then hopefully our armoured transport would still be waiting for us at the entrance as we originally were told it would. If the transport was unavailable we would have to make our way to the basement and find something suitable from the IE motorcade that, according to a floor listing by the elevators we passed on our way here, was located on sublevel 2. First we checked to see if the doorway the Baron used to enter and exit the debriefing hall was usable, it was not, the heavy metal frame and doors suggested they were blast doors and they were sealed tight. With that route blocked our group made our way back towards the meeting room we had originally entered from while checking what little gear we had accumulated. Our group of 10 individuals had between us 4 serviceable KA-23 subguns with only 2 clips each, 2 M&G Service Auto pistols with 2 clips each, and 3 Sea Eagle Needler pistols which only had a single clip each. I also had the laser in my prosthetic arm with 3 remaining power cells but all in all, not a lot of ammo considering what we'd seen so far. Thankfully the armour we had been allowed to keep was still in good condition, though not everyone had chosen to wear armour, and only Kyla, Joe, and Kevin were injured, with none being serious. With our gear checked and ready we made our way into the waiting room and towards the set of double doors leading out to the hallway we originally entered from, which was currently be bashed into hard enough to dislodge the damaged KA-23 subgun Jim had previously used to jam the door closed. As the doors burst open our group scattered to take what measly cover we could find in the waiting room and 5 mercs dressed in the same green fatigues as our previous attackers entered the room, 3 of them firing back into the hallway with their backs to us and the other 2 facing into the full barrage of fire we unleashed in the next few seconds. All 5 of our opponents were gunned down in the intial volley of fire as more than 50 rounds of ammunition were sent into the doorway within a mere 10 seconds. Working in teams we approached the downed enemies to recover any usable weapons and to ensure there were no more enemies waiting in the hallway. To our surprise we found 3 IE personnel taking cover in an alcove in the hallway, two office workers and a wounded guard, who quickly agreed to join our group on our way to the security office on the condition that we help them search the offices on the way for more survivors. "I think most of them got out before things really went sideways, at least I'm hoping so," said Tim, one of the office workers, "but on the off chance that someone is left we have to at least try to help. And with all of you with us we should be much safer if we run into more of these lunatics." "There is safety in numbers, I would agree," said Mikhala, "but it also makes us a bigger target. We're heading to the security offices anyways so it won't hurt to check the rooms on the way, at the very least it'll ensure the rooms are clear. If there are IE personnel still around, we'll do what we can to help them." "Thank you," said Chris, the wounded guard, through gritted teeth. His breath was laboured and his left arm was curled up in a makeshift sling, it looked like he had taken a round or two in the chest as well. "If you can get us to the security offices we should be safe there, unless the entire place is gone to hell in a handbasket that is," he continued, "There's another entrance to the security offices, slightly closer than the main entrance. Up ahead on the left, take that hallway and then the 4th door on the right." "Thanks," replied Mikhala as Jim moved to help the wounded guard. One by one we cleared the intervening rooms until we reached the new hallway, we only came across 1 enemy but several bodies, some of which unfortunately were IE personnel. In the first room we cleared in this new hallway we came across 2 more office workers that had managed to barricade themselves in their office and survived the onslaught so far, they quickly joined us once Tim talked to them and we had to take out 4 more of the green fatigue wearing assailants in the hallway. We cleared the rest of the rooms without incident and made our way into the security offices, coming in from the back entrance the place appeared to be abandoned and we easily made it to the secure storage area and was able to recover everyone's gear. With our personal gear back our group moved up through the security offices to the main entrance hoping to find the IE security force that was supposed to be present and hopefully making it to the armoured transport unit. We weren't prepared for what we found at the main entrance though, bodies lay strewn about throughout the lobby, several of which were various IE personnel and also several of the unknown enemy combatants but most surprising was the bodies of the 4 guards wearing full ballistic plate armour. Oddly enough they didn't appear like they were killed taking cover but rather were killed in the open, almost at their posts, a closer look at the lobby revealed why. There were no fewer than 4 spent gas grenades lying amongst the bodies and one of the dead enemies had an umistakable Zeus Heavy Rifle laying near him, it appeared that the insurgents had gassed the heavily armoured guards before gunning them down with heavy fire. This indicated that whoever these enemies were, or whoever hired them, knew what kind of gear they were going up against and came prepared, if ill experienced. That didn't bode well for us if we came across any of these more heavily armed enemies, we did not have the equipment to deal with them properly. "Hold it right there!" shouted a commanding voice from further in the lobby. Our group turned, almost as one, from our various spots searching the bodies near the main entrance, to face the source of the voice, half expecting to see more of the enemies. Instead we found ourselves facing another squad of 4 heavily armoured IE guards, all of which had their weapons trained on us. "Whoa, we're on the same side here," I responded, being the closest member of the Knights to the new IE personnel. Glancing down at the body of one of the enemy assailants I looked back up towards the guards, "I know this probably doesn't look the greatest but we didn't do this." "Yeah, I'm not interested in your excuses son, you're all coming with us. Put down your weapons nice and slow now," responded the burly guard. Before things escalated thankfully one of the IE guards that had been accompanying us came out of the security office, where they had been trying to access the office's security systems and see how bad things were, and intervened on our behalf. After several minutes of explaining the armoured guards became amenable to our situation and agreed to allow us to leave using the armoured transport that was apparently still sitting outside, the guards would then escort the IE personnel back through the office to the motorcade in the basement to make their own withdrawal. As our two groups parted ways, heading in opposite directions, a group of at least 12 enemy combatants burst into the lobby from the third entrance and opened fire on both our groups. As both our groups took cover and began to return fire the enemy squad made sure to concentrate fire between us in order to keep our groups separated. "Get out of here," called the armoured guard from earlier, never did get his name, "We'll hold them until you're aboard that transport." "Like hell we're leaving you to have all the fun," called back Joel as he fired several rounds into the enemy ranks. "Suit yourself, but we aren't sticking around forever. You should get out while you can," replied the guard. "Cover me, I'm going for the transport," called Jim as he moved towards the main entrance. Kevin and Luke nodded confirmation as they opened fire over their cover and dropped a couple more of the enemy soldiers. Jim ran towards the main entrance keeping as low as possible as the enemy squad fired at him, Kevin and Luke, along with the IE heavy guards and several other members of our group focused fire on the enemy soldiers firing at Jim and forced them into cover allowing Jim to get outside and into the armoured transport. A few moments later and the heavy sound of the transports I.C.E. firing up could be heard rumbling through the front doors of the lobby. "Alright everyone," called Mikhala, "outisde now! Let's go, our transport is waiting." Several more concentrated bursts of fire were directed towards the dwindling enemy position, only 6 or 7 soldiers remained now and they looked about ready to break. A few well placed incendiary rounds from my Serrek 7875D auto-pistol, which conveniently lit an enemy on fire, caused the remaining soldiers to fall back and retreat through the door behind them while the IE guards unloaded their SMGs at their retreating forms. Outside Jim honked the transport's horn to indicate everything was ready, in case we somehow missed the loud rumbling of its engine, and our group began to file towards the main doors behind Jess. A massive explosion from outside the building shattered the glass of the entranceway and send shards of dagger-like projectiles flying inwards followed closely by a huge fireball. "JIM!" Jess screamed before being blown off her feet by the explosion. Luke, Kevin, Kyla, and Irene were also blown over by the force of the blast and the rest of us tried to shield ourselves as best we could from the heat and flying glass. As the initial shock faded a high pitched ringing began in my ears, a strange break in the silence that until now I didn't realize had fallen across the lobby, a moment later I recognized that I was just momentarily deafened by the blast itself and my hearing should return shortly. I could see some of the others laying on the ground, shattered glass and steel lying everywhere and after a quick check over myself for any new wounds, of which there were only superficial cuts and bruises, I somewhat shakily made my way towards those that had been closest to the blast. I could see Kyla pointing towards the doors and screaming, though I still couldn't hear anything, and saw Mikhala and Joel tending to Jess who appeared to have a shard of metal in her shoulder. I looked out to the road and saw what Kyla was pointing at, the twisted, smoking remains of the transport, still burning and beyond any recognition or hope of survival. Whatever it was that exploded, it made damn sure no one would be walking away from it. "Son of a bitch!" I said, only realizing on the last word that I was yelling as my hearing came back seemingly all at once. The crash of sound that suddenly washed over me almost made me wish for the silence of shell shock again, the screaming and groaning of the injured and slow terrible sound of twisted metal slowly sheering itself away as bits of the foyer still crashed down randomly. "Are you alright?" asked a voice that I couldn't immediately place, until she walked around in front of me and I saw that it was Mikhala. "Yeah," I replied, holding up my prosthetic arm, "this guy took the worst of the glass for me. You ok?" "Well enough, we need to regroup and move." Even in the face of this she somehow remained calm and collected, a trait we all recognized and admired, but she was right we needed to regroup everyone and get out of here. Whatever, or whoever blew up our transport, and Jim along with it, was probably planning on getting us all at once, they would not be pleased if they knew the rest of us survived. Plus, who knew what other surprises they may have had in store for us in the event the we did survive. Having gotten over the majority of the shock, and compartmentalizing the feelings of pain, anger and loss that were threatening to well up inside me, I moved quickly now to assist the others and soon was back in full professional mode, we had a job to do and if we wanted to survive the other stuff would have to wait. I helped Irene finish getting to her feet and then we both collected Kyla, who was virtually in hysterics at this point, while Joel, Mikhala, and Joe helped collect the others that were injured in the blast. The armoured IE guards arrived to help bring us further into the lobby, away from the destroyed entrance and out of sight from the outside. "Well fuck," I overhead the burly guard from before saying to Mikahala, "if you can move, come with us to the motorcade, there should be enough vehicles down there to evac everyone. Please try to keep up, it doesn't look like these guys are going to stop coming any time soon." Mikhala nodded, and waved us all forward, directing us to move back further into the building and hopefully eventually to safety. As one we followed the IE guards back into the office building and towards the service elevators, despite our new injuries we weren't slowed a signficant amount and made good time getting to the elevators. With a bit of luck we only ran into the remnants of the squad that had attacked us in the lobby and made short work of them with no trouble to ourselves before we boarded the elevators and descended to the motorcade on sublevel 2.
  14. ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************** *** These next few posts take place back in November 3028, due to real life duties (read new baby) I have been remiss in keeping Orlex's story up to date, *** *** these posts should bring things back in line with the overall universe timeline. However, this story is still separate from the overall arcing *** *** Aegis and Crayven storylines at this time. *** ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Previously... IE Offices Carosasha, Menkalinan Menkalinan System, Marik/Liao border November 28, 3028 ____________________________________ The debriefing was moving along slowly, as was expected, with the IE officer often backtracking and getting each of us to recount the same event multiple times to 'make sure they have things straight', if it wasn't for the relative comfort of the room, the refreshments offered and the notable lack of a spotlight in our faces one could have easily mistook the meeting as an interrogation rather than a debrief. That was until an unusual muffled bang was heard from outside the meeting room, at once all 4 mechwarriors turn to each other with a questioning look. "Was that a gunshot?" asked Joe, voicing the question we all had on our mind. As we turned back towards the IE officer, who had a somewhat confused look on his face but said dismissively, "That's not possible, no one in here would have discharged a firearm and there's no way we could hear anything from outside in here." No sooner had he finished speaking than another two muffled pops could be heard rumbling into the office, the second one rolling on in a short staccato. "That's definitely weapons fire," said Luke as he started to get up, both Irene and I nodding our heads in agreement. Being MechWarriors we were used to hearing various weapons fire in muted tones from within the confines of our cockpits and ballistic fire of any notable calibre all sounded similar enough to recognize. The look of confusion deepened on the IE officer's face as he tried to comprehend what that could imply, as the four MechWarriors started standing up there was sudden thud that sounded like it came from directly above us in the ceiling. With a crash, that sounded like it was coming from both in front and behind at us at once, a figure smashed through ceiling to land behind the IE officer as the man's confused look quickly changed to shock and surprise before the sound of compressed gas heralded the end of the man's life. The figure that had landed behind the IE officer unleashed a spray of deadly and nearly silent fletchette's from a pistol sized weapon, which I recognized after the fact as a Sea Eagle Needler Pistol, directly into the back of the unfortunate man's head and neck, the small, sharp shards of polymer cleanly slicing through the officer's unprotected flesh and killing him almost instantly. Immediately grateful for having chosen to wear the ballistic plate vest I immediately finishing standing up with a jolt before launching myself forward and over the intervening desk, the size requiring me to plant my feet on top of the desk partway over but allowing me to then leap directly into the attacker, their jerky movements the only thing revealing their surprise since their face was completely covered by a sleek armoured looking helmet. Mid-vault I heard a sickening thud of metal striking a body hard before someone crumpled to the floor behind me, revealing at least one additional attacker, before I collided with the initial assailant and the two of us tumbled to the ground in a mass of sprawling limbs. Landing on top of the other man as we collapsed I managed to maintain my position as we rolled once of the floor before coming up against the bookcase, wrestling myself upright I was able to draw back my left arm and use the extra weight of the prosthetic arm to slam my fist into the faceplate of his helmet. The first blow cracked the visor while the second and third shattered the mirrored faceshield, a fourth drove through the remnants of the visor to strike forcefully into the man's face the sound of breaking bone accompanied the man falling slack beneath me, the impact knocking him unconcious. At some point during the scuffle a shot rang out within the office itself and someone grunted from the far side of the desk, after checking that my attacker wasn't going to be getting up anytime soon I stood up and looked over desk, a quick glance confirmed there was no need to check for vitals on the IE officer. One the far side of the desk Irene had the second assailant locked into a vicious rear naked choke in which the assailant was still trying to aim his submachinegun at Luke, whom it appeared the assailant had just kicked off of himself, before an audible snap rang out and the man's body fell limp his head remaining at an odd angle even after Irene released her grip. Luke moved to check on Joe, who was lying on his side a large welt already appearing on his forehead and a small trickle of blood running down from what appeared to be a hole in his right arm, while Irene wasted no time in liberated the KA-23 Subgun SMG from the dead man. Before Luke could try and rouse Joe the door to the room burst inwards and two more men wearing the same flat green fatigues and black armoured vest as the two men who came in through the ceiling. They also wore the same blacked out armoured visors and carried the same two guns, one with a KA-23 SMG and the other two-handing a Sea Eagle Needler Pistol. "Take cover!" I yelled as I flipped up the large desk with considerable effort, flipping it over to provide some limited cover in the otherwise open office. Irene did a surprisingly agile front roll over the top of the desk as I flipped it, managing to land smoothly on the other side and quickly sliding up behind the desk with her newly acquired SMG at the ready while Luke slid sideways along the wall to slip behind the desk just before the new attackers opened fire into our makeshift cover. The needler rounds harmlessly impacted the heavy steel desk but the KA-23 punched hard into the metal desk, visible dents appearing on our side of the table and bringing into question how long it would last. Still covered by the desk Luke was able to reach over and grab the needler pistol from our first attacker while I pulled up the sleeve on my shirt and slid a high capacity, military grade, micro power pack into a semi-hidden receptacle located on the inside of my left upper arm just above the elbow. As the power pack slid into place a faint hum could be heard from within my prosthetic arm as the laser within charged up to full power. With a glance and a nod to each side all three of us popped over or around the desk and opened fire on the two men who were still standing, and apparently reloading, just inside the doorway, they clearly did not expect to have us return fire on them or else they were very poorly trained. Both Luke and Irene emptied the remaining ammo in the clips of their respective guns while I unleashed a quick laser blast towards each opponent from the laser hidden within my prosthetic arm. The men were struck down immediately, the combined fire chewing through what little protection they had and dropping them before they could react. With our immediate threats eliminated we wasted no time in securing the room, Irene and I stripped the attackers of any usable gear, giving the appropriate ammo to Luke or Irene while Luke tended to Joe, who was very groggily starting to come around. "How's Joe doing?" I asked as I handed the IE officer's sidearm and spare ammo to Luke. "He'll be alright, I've stopped the bleeding, but I'm sure we won't hear the end of it once he comes to," replied Luke with a smile. "I'm right here guys, even if it feels like a Blake-damned dropship just landed on my head," said Joe raising a hand to gingerly feel the goose-egg that literally seemed to be growing before our eyes. "What's our next move?" asked Irene as she came over, having finished searching the bodies for useful items. "We need to check on the others, I'm more worried about Jess and Mikhala than any poor souls that tried to take on Joel and Kevin," I said as I moved towards the still open door, the palm on my prosthetic left hand splitting open to reveal the barrel of the high powered laser pistol within. "Roger that, I'll follow your lead Orlex," answered Irene as she glanced back towards Luke and obviously still dazed Joe, "You good with him?" "Yeah, no worries I've got the young blood here," replied Luke. "Hey, I'm right here and I'm good to go, I can fight," said Joe woozily as he tried to stand up, his legs immediately gave out beneath him, "...ok, maybe I'll just sit here for another minute." "You got hit pretty hard Joe, best if we stay here for now. We'll keep an eye on our unconcious friend in the corner there too, just in case," chuckled Luke with a nod towards the assailant I had previously knocked out and left crumpled in the corner by the bookcase. Without another word Irene and I moved into the hallway, each covering a direction before stepping out into the hallway itself. "Clear." we both stated almost in unison. The door to the debrief room directly across from ours was now open and it was quickly apparent that the two additional attackers had come from the room into ours. The sound of a door opening further down the hall caused both Irene and I to turn and bring our weapons to bear, one low and one high, on the currently empty hallway waiting for a target to present itself. A lightly armoured figure appeared, semi-shrouded in the partial darkness, and took a half step out into hallway looking the wrong way, a quick blast of coherent energy from my laser punched a hole clean through the light armour vest he wore and he as slumped forward into the middle of the hallway his partner mistakenly stepped out low to try and find the source of the attack but Irene was ready for him. A quick 10 round burst of ballistic fire from the KA-23 Subgun put down the second enemy soldier, his armour vest doing nothing as each round penetrated the armour with ease. Fairly confident that no more attackers would be coming from any room, except possibly the room that Mikhala and Jess were in, we moved down the hallway quickly in tandem. Once at the other debrief room we tried to see if we could hear anything but it was futile effort with the sound proofing, so Irene and I stacked up on the door and I tried to open the door slowly but it would not budge. Putting my full weight behind the door it slowly started to open but then jammed less than an inch open, with a look at Irene I signalled that I was going to try and bust the door in, she nodded she was ready and I stepped back before slamming my shoulder back into the door with my full weight, this time something behind the door slid and gave way and the door opened abruptly inward causing me to stagger slightly following the door in. Irene followed my stumbling body into the room and a brief tense second passed as recognition passed across her eyes, and thankfully across Mikhala's eyes as well, as I collected my feet back under myself and half stood, raising my arm to the ready as I started to clear the room I saw the Mikhala had me square in her sights, finger on the trigger. "God damned, Orlex, I nearly shot you dead," she said to break the tension. "I see that," I replied, noting she still had the gun trained on me, "I'm glad you didn't, but maybe we could aim that gun somewhere else please." "Sorry," Mikhala said as she lowered the M&G Service Auto Pistol, "things are a little tense. Any chance you have any idea what in Blake's name is going on?" "Nope, sorry I've got nothing. Was kind of hoping you might have something," I said as I nodded to Jess who currently had one of the opponents, clearly alive, pinned painfully into the floor beneath her, his arm looking like it was dislocated and still being leveraged further, "So I initially came down here to see if you were in need of a rescue, clearly that is not the case. Glad you're both alright." "Oh we didn't get off scott free," replied Jess with a chuckle as she nodded her head towards her right hip where her pants were partially shredded from apparent needler fire, "I've had worse though, and the poor IE guy didn't make it. I've been taking it out on this fellow though." "I see, as long as we can question him once we're secure," I answered with a grin, "We've taken out enemies in the other three debreifing rooms, counting ours, if you two are good here Irene and I will go meet up with the others in the waiting room. We can regroup here once everyone is accounted for." "Sounds good, we'll keep our prisoner here company while you two round up the others. Hopefully we can find out what the hell this is all about," said Mikhala. Irene and I moved back into the hallway and carefully headed towards the waiting room where the sounds of gunfire could be heard, the sound of the echos sounded like they were exchanging gunfire and not just one sided, which was hopeful. As we rounded the corner into the waiting room itself we could see Kyla hiding behind a heavy planter, the best cover available from the main doors, with an obvious leg wound and Joel and Kevin gunning down what appeared to be the last of four visible enemy combatants. As the last one went down Kevin fell to one knee, a stifled groan indicating something must have made it through his armour. Meanwhile Jim and Joel moved up on opposite sides towards the main hall doors with the obvious intention of closing them but before they could get there another 4 attackers burst into the room from the hallway, stepping over the bodies of what appeared to be IE security guards. Kevin still managed to raise his weapon and open fire on the new targets despite his injuries and Irene and I joined him. Both Kevin and Irene emptied the clips of the KA-23 Subguns they had acquired, spraying a deadly barrage of lead into the open hallway doors while I unloaded the remainder of the power pack in my laser in rapid, short pulses of emerald energy fully opening my prosthetic arm as I did so, the forearm splitting underneath swinging out like wings to vent the excess heat from the fusilade of energy blasts. One of our opponents dropped dead as multiple ballistic rounds tore through his armour while the other three managed to escape back into the hallway weathering the fire surprisingly well despite taking several hits each but nothing lethal. As soon as the men retreated into the hallway Joel and Jim slammed the doors shut and jammed one the SMGs into the loop handles to prevent it from being opened. A quick conversation to bring everyone up to speed, and a rummage through the corpses for more salvageable gear, and the regrouped Knights headed back towards Mikhala and Jess's debrief room, collecting Luke and Joe along the way. They unfortunately had to kill the unconcious enemy as he pulled a combat knife and tried to leap on them when they looked away for a moment. Back with Mikhala and Jess in their room Jess had gotten their prisoner up and seated in one of the office chairs and then tied him down with some computer cables that they had found in the desk, apparently needing to dislocate the man's other shoulder in the process. Jess had just finished tying him up when everyone arrived and as Mikhala turned to start questioning him Jess cursed and rushed forward trying to pry open is mouth but it was already too late as white foam began leaking out around the corners of his lips, his eyes rolled back into his head and his whole body fell limply to the side. "Son of bitch!" replied Jess as she finally got his mouth open, the remnant of a tooth falling loose, "Blake-damned suicide pills. These guys are fanatics." "Alright then, since we can't interrogate one, what do we know?" asked Mikhala to everyone present. "They are trained and they have good gear," stated Kevin through gritted teeth, his wound clearly bothering him but he wasn't letting it slow him down, "those fatigues I believe are actually IR sneak suits, I've seen similar before but never this livery. If it wasn't for the one guy in the waiting room having a white cobra emblazoned on his chest I'd pass the colouring off as standard military but the green hue is off and I think it's intentional. The concealable ablative/flak vests and flash suppressant helmets are also relatively high end gear. Despite all this these guys seemed almost like rookies, making simple mistakes that a seasoned grunt would never make. Some of that could be attributed to them being overconfident that we wouldn't be able or willing to fight back, but even still I'd be willing to bet these guys were wet behind the ears." "I would concur about their level of experience, they were slow to respond to new threats and made simple mistakes when trying to clear rooms. Also, it's a rather odd mix of weaponry too, the KA-23 is almost exclusively a Draconis Combine weapon, despite it's good reputation and popularity it's relatively hard to find this far from Kurita space. The needler on the other hand is an extremely rare variant out of the Free World's League, I've seen them before and it's an odd choice for an obviously clandestine OP, despite being an excellent weapon for it, due to its rarity. I'd guess they are either trying to misdirect or else they weren't planning on anyone being left to try and identify them," I added. "They also appeared to be targetting IE personnel before us, though that could just be coincidence. Hard to say for sure but either IE was the real target here, or else it's another attempt to misdirect. If I had to though, given recent events and the potential fallout from them, I'd say we are actually their target but they wanted to make sure that no one we interacted with, and possibly passed information to, was able to get away with said information. Also since this is an IE facility it would make sense to take out the personnel familiar with it first, leaving us essentially stranded in an 'unknown' environment," said Jess as she moved to join the discussion. "All excellent points, so it seems that we have a covert ops group of some kind that may or may not be targetting us, Interstellar Expeditions, or both. The group is clearly well supplied but not experienced, that at least gives us bit of an edge, not much but I'll take it," responded Mikhala after listening to our opinions before turning to Jess and continuing, "Any guesses on who this group could be?" After a moment of consideration Jess shrugged, "I want to say it's the work of ComStar ROM agents, but if it was, we'd be dead right now, or at least some of us would be. These guys are way too inexperienced to be ROM, that being said however, I can see them being a low end mercenary group hired as plausible deniability by ComStar to take us out." "I was afraid of that," said Mikhala, "so it looks like we probably didn't get away scott free on Myrvoll then, somehow ComStar was able to identify us and now we're on their radar, which is very bad. We'll worry about that later, first we need to get back to the Mjolnir and get off world then we can figure out what to do about ComStar."
  15. I would love to, however I am on call for work on Wednesday and between that and the little one I can't commit enough time for it. I would be in to play a smaller/shorter match in the future though. If she's having a good day I should be able to slip away for an hour, maybe 2, it all depends.
  16. IE Armoured Transport Carosasha, Menkalinan Menkalinan System, Marik/Liao border November 28, 3028 ____________________________________ The armoured transport trundled out of the spaceport and onto a main thoroughfare heading deeper into the city proper, despite the vehicle's appearance of being a strictly military it had a surprisingly smooth ride and IE spent a pretty penny upgrading the interior as well. While no luxury sedan by any stretch of the imagination the seats were surprisingly well padded and several vidscreens had been installed strategically around the cabin to provide live footage from external cameras to allow passengers a view outside despite the lack of actual windows. George kept Mikhala busy talking about one thing or another throughout most of the ride but the rest of us mostly sat quietly and either watched the view or just mulled over our own thoughts. We all thought it was a bit odd that everyone had been requested to attend the debrief with IE but it wasn't unheard of, nor was it even the first time, though it was usually when an OP went south really badly. During the ride we could hear the muffled sound of distant combat, even through the armoured exterior of the transport, a couple different times and even once saw smoke rising up from behind buildings a few blocks away but never close enough to feel a threat. Without anything eventful happening during the ride the transport pulled up in front of our destination and the 10 of us disembarked and followed George into the lobby of the local IE offices. While the building was clearly meant to impress anyone entering with the large foyer, atrium styled glass paneling, and artistic waterfall/fountain that dominated the lobby my attention was immediately drawn to the impressive security presence. As our group filed into the building there were four large, and well armed guards flanking a set of full body metal detectors that it was apparent all guests had to go through. The guards were wearing full ballistic plate armour suits, including helmets, and were armed with Imperator 2894A1 SMGs which they made no attempt to hide. A room off to the side with blacked out windows and "SECURITY" emblazoned on the lower portion of the glass appeared large enough to have at least a full squad inside. "I apologize for heightened security but again due to recent events and some repeated escalations in the neighbourhood we've had to take some extra precautions," said George as he waved his hand to broadly encompass the guards and metal detectors before continuing, "As I mentioned at the spaceport you will need to surrender your weapons before proceeding." "Don't worry, they are properly logged and stored safely in our secure lockup until you leave. Everyone gets a chit to identify whatever gear they surrender and no one else can take your stuff without that chit," added George as a few members, namely Joel, Kevin and myself, tensed ever so slightly at the thought of giving up our gear. In short order everyone had surrendered the weapons we had carried with us, although we were allowed to retain our armour if we so chose. Since most of us did keep our armour, partly out of want and partly because some of us didn't have much of anything on under the armour, we were exempt from going through the full body metal detectors, since they would prove useless. Instead the guards patted us all down and checked us over with a hand held wand style metal detector instead, and after some minor issues regarding the power cells I still had stowed on my armour we were all cleared for entry. "Well my friends, this is where we part ways. Shiela or Tiffany at reception will direct you where to go from here and, depending on how long your debrief is, either Mark or myself will see you back here later to take you home." "Thank you George, we'll hopefully see you later," replied Mikhala as George pointed us towards the large reception desk at the other end of the lobby. Our group crossed the expansive lobby area as one and Jess and Mikhala approached the reception desk while the rest of the group stayed back a respectable distance, no need for everyone to crowd the counter unnecessarily. "Hi, I'm Mikhala, commander of the BeoWulf's Knights, we were directed here by George. We're supposed to be getting debriefed," stated Mikhala after catching the apparently busy receptionist's attention. "Ah, you must be here to see The Baron," she replied distractedly. "The Baron?" asked Jess in an incredulous tone, a look from Mikhala stopped her from continuing. Something in Jess's voice caused the receptionist to look up, and in so doing revealed her name tag stating her name was Shiela, "Yes, The Baron. Baron Fredrick von Reich III, is that not who you're looking for?" "Sorry, Shiela," responded Mikhala before Jess could say anything, pausing to read her name tag, "we were not aware we would be meeting royalty." "Oh he's not a real Baron, just likes the title and he's very nice, Very generous and VERY rich. So we humour him, but don't tell him I told you," replied Shiela, apparently deciding she liked Mikhala and Jess after all. "Oh, ok. Well don't worry we won't say anything. Could you direct us to where we're supposed to be meet him?" "Sure, take the double doors on your right there, down the hall, on the left will be some stairs, go up them turn left and then take the next left again. Go down that hall and conference room 213-B will be on your right, grab a seat in there and The Baron, or a member of his entourage will be with you shortly," Shiela said with smile. "Thank you, have a nice day." "You too!" With that our group made our way through the double doors out of the lobby, which appeared to be soundproof based on how suddenly the ambient noise of the lobby itself was cut off when the doors closed, and proceeded to make our way through a rather opulent series of hallways and corridors following the receptionist's directions until we arrived at room 213B, the placard read "Debrief Room 13" with an older worn out engraving below saying "Conference Room". Pushing open the double doors which opened inwards our group entered into a surprisingly sparse large room, while it was still fairly lavishly decorated it wasn't nearly as opulent and over the top luxurious as some of the other rooms we had passed by. The walls were still paneled in what appeared to be solid oak, there were numerous display cases housing various items that looked like they belonged in a museum but there was plenty of open space and the flooring was a simple but elegant ceramic tile instead of the lush carpeting found elsewhere. The seating was more reasonable than what we had seen in some other rooms as well, instead of the leather plush couches and chairs the seats here were mass produced steel framed benches with steel backs and extensive padding denoting each individual seat. They were arranged in rows like you see in a hospital or airport waiting areas, although these particular seats were immeasurably more comfortable than you would find typically. We barely had a chance to get ourselves situated though before a young man dressed in deep burgundy fatigues trimmed with royal blue entered the room from a hallway on the wall adjacent to the only door and sounded and actual trumpet. Apparently this "Baron" Fredrick fellow we were about to meet went all out with the Baron thing, although the barely discernible sidearm holstered under the young man's arm indicated he was more than just a bugle boy. "Presenting, Baron Fredrick von Reich III," announced the young man before snapping to attention and holding a salute as two similarly dressed men entered the room, also with semi-concealed sidearms, and stood guard on either side of the hallway as the "Baron" himself entered the room with another pair of guards behind him. The man who was clearly the "Baron" was unsurprisingly a relatively short and round man who wore an almost comical outfit consisting of royal blue pants with a burgandy overcoat and boots combined with an actual cape in the same colours and trim as the guards. There was gold piping along the man's collar and some kind of gold icon or sigil affixed to the lapel but I couldn't make out the details from this distance. He carried himself with an air of arrogance that was blatantly present but he didn't come across as condescending and he crossed the room with long, purposeful strides despite his shorter stature. As the man approached with his retinue of guards Mikhala stood and greeted him, "Baron von Reich, I am commander Mikhala Kravets of BeoWulf's Knights, it is a pleasure to meet you." "Miss Kravets, the pleasure is mine. I have heard many tales of you and the BeoWulf's Knights, I look forward to discussing your most recent exploits in detail with you all. And you may call me Fredrick," replied the Baron, his voice thick with an unusual accent that I couldn't place. "Thank you, Fredrick, just Mikhala is fine. I'm surprised you've heard of us, I didn't think we had that big of a reputation within Interstellar Expeditions." "Ah nonsense, your name is known Mikhala and that is enough. Besides, what kind of host would I be if I didn't know about my guests and their endeavors to assist our wonderful corporation." "Well we appreciate the recognition, but I do have to ask Fredrick, it seems a little unusual to ask an entire mercenary company to be present for what typically amounts to a high level corporate debrief. Traditionally IE has only requested our after action reports and a brief face to face with myself and sometimes our intelligence officer Jess. Is there a particular reason for this request?" "Ah, straight to business, I like that. Mikhala, despite my obvious appearance, I am not one for holding onto traditions. In this particular matter, I simply prefer to be able to interact with our clients directly and to be perfectly honest I was bored this week and thought that getting to talk one on one with a group of reliable and friendly mercenaries would be interesting. Plus there is a certain level of detail you can acquire when talking with individuals personally that simply can't be achieved through reports and second-hand accounts." "Fair enough, I can't argue with that. So how do you want to do this, just interview us one at a time somewhere or all at once here, what's the plan?" "While I would love to sit and chat with everyone here at once, sadly our facilities are not setup for that. I do still need to provide full reports to superiors within the corporation so we will be using the debrief rooms down this hallway," answered Fredrick while motioning back towards the hallway he entered from, "Unfortunately we do not have a single debrief room large enough for everyone at once, so I would like to break you up into the units you were in during the mission on Myrvoll. Namely, the dropship crew, the MechWarriors, the Vehicle crews, and any Infantry that accompanied our own research team, we can have up to four individuals in a debrief room at once so we'll mix and match as needed. Also, full disclosure, we will be recording everything once in the debrief rooms as part of our report. Since I will be interviewing everyone myself we'll only be able to do one group at a time..." As the Baron was talking another man dressed in the same burgundy and royal blue fatigues, this time with an officer's emblem on his lapel, came rushing into the waiting room holding a datapad and clearly looking for someone, upon spotting the Baron he rushed over quickly and cleared his throat before interrupting, "Um, excuse me sir, Baron Fredrick, I'm sorry for the interruption but there's an issue requiring your immediate attention that cannot wait." Exchanging a look with the man Fredrick turned back to us and said, "Apologies, I will just be a moment." Fredrick and the newly arrived officer walked a few steps away towards the hallway, just far enough to be out of easy earshot, and began looking intently at the datapad and discussing something that caused the Baron to get more and more animated. A couple of words managed to drift our way whenever one of the men looked up from the datapad but we couldn't hear enough to know any detail about what was happening, the words "Davion", "Succession", "Free Worlds", and "Planet" were all we could pick up but that was enough to have an idea. As the men's discussion seemed to come to a conclusion Fredrick returned to us with a disappointed look on his face. "I'm terribly sorry Mikhala, and the rest of the BeoWulf's Knights, I was looking forward to speaking with each of you but fate seems to have other ideas today. Apparently First Prince Hanse Davion's ambitions aren't finished ruining my plans yet, but that's none of your concern. Sadly I will not be able to partake in the debrief while I go and deal with this new mess with the Free World's League, courtesy of Hanse Davion, but you will still be debriefed today. I will send a couple officers momentarily who will debrief you in full as originally planned, I will just have to settle with watching the recordings later." "I understand," replied Mikhala, "we will miss the opportunity of being debriefed by you directly but I'm sure your men will be just as thorough." "Thank you Mikhala, I appreciate that, perhaps we will get an opportunity to work together in future again." With that the Baron, and his full retinue, headed back down the hallway he arrived from and left us alone in the waiting room again. True to his word, within a few minutes two of the Baron's men arrived to begin the debriefing, these men did not wear fatigues but instead had office uniforms on, though they were still in the burgundy and royal blue colour scheme, and carried sidearms like the Baron's guards. The men introduced themselves, quickly went over the remaining details of the debriefing and divided us into the previously mentioned groups before taking two groups into the debriefing rooms down the hallway. The rooms were unusually spartan with a single bookcase on one wall while a set of four comfortable office chairs, a large metal desk, and an oversized executive office chair dominated the center of the room. A set of rotating metal looking vertical blinds covered the windows and the heavyset door, obviously soundproof, was about as plain as could be and did not appear to have a lock. The floor was the same ceramic tile as the waiting room while the ceiling was a simple suspended tile ceiling lacking any defining details, all in all the rooms were unimpressive and mundane in comparison to almost everywhere else we had seen in the IE offices. The first two groups taken were the dropship members, Jess and Mikhala, into the back right room of the four debriefing rooms, while the MechWarriors, Irene, Luke, Joe and myself were all taken into the front left room. Once everyone was settled into their chairs they closed the doors to the debriefing rooms and the officers pointed out the cameras used for recording the debrief before closing the blinds themselves and explaining that the room was essentially soundproof to aid in the recordings. We then started at the beginning of the Myrvoll OP and went through in rather excruciating detail everything that happened, paying especially close attention to details about the abandoned base where the research team had found various files. Meanwhile Jim, Kayla, Joel, and Kevin awaited their turn to be debriefed out in the waiting room.
  17. I did not design it with either of those buildings specifically being the Cantina, I couldn't remember if it was supposed to be actually in the base (ie, in one of the underground silos, or elsewhere on site) or not so I opted not to specifically have it. But it would be easy enough to have it just off the map on the East side, you could easily have it like a minute down the road or something or we could incorporate it into the map itself easily enough as well.
  18. Aboard the Leopard-class dropship "Mjolnir" Nadir Jump point, Myrvoll System (Marik Space) November 17, 3028 _________________________ It had been three days since we left Myrvoll and while all was not well among the members of BeoWulf's Knights everyone had calmed down enough to be more than civil with each other. This was usually how things went with this group, one or more people could go off on something but then, given some space and time, everyone would typically come around and within a few days things were back to normal. It was the sign of a group that had either worked extensively with each other or that just meshed really well when someone could blow off steam like that and it not affect the overall group's cohesion. That's not to say things were perfectly fine, it was still a tense three days and there was times where I swear you could feel tension when you walked into a room, unfortunately being stuck on a relatively small dropship meant there weren't many rooms you could avoid or separate into. Luke spent most of the time in the 'mech bay tinkering with his MechTech as they worked around the clock repairing his nearly destroyed Hatchetman. Jess on the otherhand spend almost all of her time on the command deck or in her quarters pouring over intel reports, dataROMs and whatever other limited info she could get in this uninhabited system, however the two still inevitably would run into each other but thankfully there were no more arguements between them. The rest of the crew was also somewhat subdued after the events on Myrvoll though that was quickly passing as the days went by, thankfully. As the Mjolnir approached the star system's Nadir jump point the glint of sunlight could be seen reflecting off the Interstellar Expedition's Merchant-class jumpship "Star Cruiser" and her still deployed jump sail, though it did look like it was beginning to retract the sail in preparation for the upcoming jump. There was a gentle thunk as the crew of the Mjolnir expertly guided the aerodyne vessel into an empty berth alongside the jumpship and docked. A few hours later, after the jumpship had finished retracting it's sail and the other usual checks were complete, the warning klaxons signalling an imminent jump were sounded across both the jumpship and our dropship before the vessels were shunted through hyperspace away from the Myrvoll system and emerging at the Zenith jump point of the Kyrkbacken system nearly 22 light years away. Immediately after finishing the transition the crew of the Star Cruiser began unfurling the jump sail and started the recharging operation that would take the better part of the next week to complete. Meanwhile the computer and comm systems automatically connected with HPG network now that they were back within a habited system and began receiving updates and communications that were destined for either the Star Cruiser itself or the Mjolnir, as it was the only dropship currently attached. ____________________________________ 11 days later... Leopard-class dropship "Mjolnir" In transit to Menkalinan from Zenith jump point Menkalinan System, Marik/Liao border November 28, 3028 ____________________________________ Over the past week and a half things had returned to normal within BeoWulf's Knights and everyone was back on amicable terms as though nothing had transpired back on Myrvoll. During the week of patiently waiting for the jumpship drive to recharge we were able to also repair most of our 'mechs to 100% combat readiness, however Luke's Hatchetman needed an entirely new arm, his use of the detached arm as a makeshift bludgeon ensured that, and that would take some time to acquire. At the moment though we did not have any new work lined up after we finished with this IE job so it was not an immediate concern. Also during this time we were informed that our original rendevous with Interstellar Expedition's on the planet Styk after we finished on Myrvoll had been moved and rescheduled due to the progression of what was now being called the Fourth Succession War. House Davion was making massive gains into House Liao's territory, Styk had apparently been captured near the beginning of the war and IE felt the volatility of the newly captured planet was less than ideal for us to potentially arrive with recovered Star League tech. As such, they arranged for us to instead meet on Menkalinan, a planet on the border of Marik and Liao space and in fact under shared occupancy between the Free World's League and the Capellan Confederation. It was believed that this planet would be far enough away from the Davion/Liao border to avoid the worst of the conflict but that border was shifting much faster than anyone anticipated and it wasn't clear anymore if Menkalinan would be spared or not, but either way IE stated that barring an active invasion of the planet itself we would be debriefed on Menkalinan. The burn from the Menkalinan system's Zenith jump point towards the planet was uneventful to say the least, although news of the Federated Suns invasion of New Canton and Saiph, both of which were interstellar next door neighbours to Menkalinan, was disconcerting it appeared that the Davion forces did not currently have their sights set on Menkalinan itself. It wasn't until we reached planetary atmosphere that things got interesting. No sooner had we switched from the transit drive to the traditional aerodyne engines than Mikhala came over the comms instructing everyone to strap in as we had some unscheduled visitors and things might get a little rocky. Turns out that Interstellar Expeditions had failed to notify the proper militia authorities, a confusing enough jumble even before considering there were two active militias from different houses on the planet, before our arrival and given the current situation within the Capellan Confederation they wasted no time in scrambling a squadron of aerospace fighters to "escort" us to the spaceport. "We've submitted our identification and our intentions already, we are here on legitimate business with Interstellar Expeditions to fulfill an outstanding exploration contract, I fail to see what the problem is," replied Mikhala over the open comm channel to Carosasha's spaceport. "I repeat, please power down your dropship, transmit your ID and follow our escort in to the spaceport for inspection, your credentials will need to be verified and any cargo you have will be subject to search and seizure as necessary," came the spaceport's response. Glancing over at the young lady on shift at the engineering console Mikhala gave an exasperated shrug before asking, "You're sure everything is powered down?" "Yes," responded the junior engineer, "weapons are completely offline, sensors are passive only, the 'mech bays are even shutdown. If I turn off anything else we won't be flying anymore." Turning back to the main viewscreen Mikhala once again addressed the spaceport comms officer, who was sounding more and more like a broken record, "Listen, we're following your escort, we'll land where you tell us, we have nothing powered up except the engines and systems we need to stay airborne. I don't know how I can comply any further with your demands. As for our cargo, you'll have to talk with Interstellar Expeditions before we can allow you access to our ship." "Very well," came the suddenly tired sounding response, "but if you try anything, or we think you're trying anything, we won't hesitate to blow you out of the sky and pick through the scraps later to see if we were right or not." "Okay," was Mikhala's slow response after the spaceport closed the channel, "well somebody is a little on edge. Helmsman, make sure to follow exactly where they tell you to go. As long as it isn't going to cause damage to our ship, I don't want to do anything that might give them a reason to itch those trigger fingers." "Aye, ma'am." As the Mjolnir landed gently on the designated landing pad, clearly stationed well away from any other dropships currently landed, an entire Assault lance of BattleMechs supported by at least 6 heavy tanks came into view with everyone of them having their weapons trained on the dropship. Despite our best efforts to be compliant apparently the local militia was taking zero chances that we might be here to attack them or something. "Ma'am," came the gunnery officer's voice from across the dropship's bridge, "I'm reading multiple missile locks, rough guess would be at least 200 LRM missiles alone. They aren't bluffing and they aren't pulling any punches either." "They are also hailing us again Ma'am," added the comms officer. "Great, open a channel, let's see what they want now." "Mjolnir you will power down your engines and prepare to be searched." At a signal from Mikhala the dropship's fusion engines began winding down as the system safely shutdown, "Our engines are powering down as we speak, however, as I stated before, our cargo is destined exclusively for Interstellar Expeditions. I can assure you we are carrying nothing illegal or contraband, you can scan our holds yourself. I cannot permit access to the ship though until I speak with Interstellar Expeditions, as is our right within the MRC contract we have sent you for review." "Mjolnir, I repeat you WILL submit to a thorough inspection or we will be forced to hand matters over to the militia. I do not believe that will go well for you," there was quite the commotion in the background at the end of their latest veiled threat before the Capellan officer came back on the channel briefly before cutting the channel, "One moment please." A look of confusion and worry passed over almost everyone's face on the bridge of the Leopard while the few moments of silence seemed to stretch on into infinity. Finally, after what was merely a minute, the spaceport opened the comm channel again and continued, though it was a different officer's voice this time. "Sorry for the confusion Mjolnir, it appears that Interstellar Expeditions landing request was filed with the wrong office. You, your crew, and your ship are all cleared for landing, disembarking and are not subject to any further searches, seizures, or any other unnecessary actions that may have been mentioned," by the tone of their voice it was clear this new officer was speaking to us but was admonishing the previous speaker as well. "Glad to hear things are finally cleared up, does this mean we are allowed to unload our cargo? Including any BattleMechs or Combat Vehicles that need servicing?" replied Mikhala. "Yes, provided any combat capable units have no armed weapons and do not leave the spaceport. The militia will remain in the vicinity and will not hesitate to enforce this, irregardless of your arrangement with Interstellar Expeditions. If anything requires facilities outside the spaceport's own facilities you will need to get special permission from the local garrison first." "Understood, Mjolnir out." With the confrontation over the miltia BattleMechs returned to their regular patrol of the spaceport while several of the tanks stayed on guard near the dropship as we began opening the cargo and mechbay doors in order to unload and move Luke's Hatchetman into a slightly better facility for replacing the lost arm. As the loading and unloading of regular cargo commenced the members of BeoWulf's Knights not directly involved with such operation disembarked from the dropship, thankful for some fresh air after nearly two weeks in the rather stuffy dropship. No sooner had we put boots on the ground than an armoured transport pulled up alongside the Mjolnir with the gold, slanted IE logo emblazoned on the side and as the side door slid open a tall, wiry man with spectacles stepped out and futilely tried to smooth out his ruffled and ill-fitting business suit. As the man finally gave up on fixing his suit he began to approach our group with his hand out heading directly for me, realizing the mistake he was about to make I purposely looked over to Mikhala in deference and hoping the man would pick up on the queue without having to make a more obvious motion. Thankfully, for his sake, he picked up the queue and easily redirected slightly to my right to greet Mikhala first. "Welcome to Menkalinan commander, I apologize for the confusion with your arrival. Things are rather tense around here, already having two different house militias makes things complicated enough but then adding in the fact that the Davions are right in our backyard has everyone more than a little on edge lately. My name is George Victorovich, please call me George. I was sent by Interstellar Expeditions to collect you and your crew and bring you to their office here in Carosasha." "Thank you George, I appreciate the welcome and I can understand the, complications, recent events have likely introduced here..." Mikhala proceeded to introduce the members of BeoWulf's Knights that were standing nearby while George and her exchanged the usual pleasantries required or expected in this part of the business. After a time Mikhala brought the conversation back around to an earlier point George had brought up, "You mentioned earlier that you were sent to collect me and my crew, what did you mean by that?" "Just that, Interstellar Expeditions instructed me to collect you, the commander of BeoWulf's Knights, as well as any member that directly participated in the operation on Myrvoll," replied George. "All of us? That is rather odd, any particular reason for this request?" asked Mikhala. "Not that I'm aware of ma'am, I was just instructed to bring everyone to the office for debriefing. I believe the boss just likes to debrief everyone together at once or something. Hence why I was given this large armoured transport instead of the usual car," said George, gesturing at the large armoured transport that looked like it would be more at home delivering a squad of infantry into combat instead of on the city streets. "Very well, I'll have to collect a few more people that took part in the operation and then we will accompany you to the IE office. I hope you have room for everyone in there. Anything else we need to know?" "I was told it should comfortably fit 15 and was lead to believe that would be enough," stated George starting to look a bit worried. "That should be plenty George," replied Mikhala with a smile. "Ok, you also might want to bring a sidearm or something for personal defence. The spaceport here is peaceful enough, but the despite what the militia would have you believe the city streets are not exactly the safest right now. There are factions on both sides that are in constant conflict and you never know where the fighting will break out. You will have to relinquish any weapons before entering the IE offices but until we get there you'll probably be safer with at least something." "Good to know, we'll grab some gear then before we depart. We'll meet you back in 10 minutes George if that works for you." "Yes, of course. I'll be here waiting." With that we quickly returned to the dropship to grab whatever gear we deemed necessary for our departure into the apparently volatile city and our meeting with the local Interstellar Expeditions representative. Today may end up being more interesting that we intially expected, even with our "speed bump" while landing. Going to my spartan quarters located in the 'mech bay stall housing my now repaired Merlin I grabbed my ballistic plate vest, a rather bulky piece of armour but the easiest and quickest piece I owned to slip on over other gear, and trusty sidearm, a Serrek 7875D Auto-pistol, along with the 5 magazines of ammo I always brought with it. After slipping on the armoured vest and securing it in place I also double checked that the 4 HC micro power packs stored in the armour were also in place before sliding the Serrek into a holster on my right thigh and securing the 4 magazines with standard ballistic ammo on my right hip and the 5th magazine loaded with incendiary ammo in a separate pouch behind the others. Making my way back outside I joined the others as we piled into the armoured transport unit noting that only Joel, Kevin, Luke and Jim had decided to wear any form of armour, with only Joel wearing his usual full suit of ballistic plate. The others, like me, were just wearing a combat vest of some kind, though Kevin also had his armoured pants but no helmet. Everyone also had some form of a sidearm with them, ranging from a simple holdout laser pistol to fully automatic submachinegun and Joel also decided to bring his StarKing Gyroslug carbine. We were getting some sidelong glances from the spaceport personnel that were attending our dropship as we loaded into the transport but that was typical even if we weren't looking like we were heading into an active combat zone instead of a business meeting. Once everyone was settled into the surprisingly spacious interior the transport fired up and made its way out of the spaceport and began heading towards the city proper and our meeting with the local IE rep. Hopefully we didn't encounter anything that would actual need all our extra gear on the way there.
  19. Wasn't quite sure where to put this, so I decided I'd put it in here rather than create a whole new thread for it at the moment. Before the baby was born I was working on designing the Sheratan base at Site 187 that we were talking about using. In the lore of our original unit (The Legionnaires) this site was acquired from the Crayven Corporation and we thought now(ish) would be a good time for the Crayven Corporation/Aegis Division to acquire it themselves. That being said I have unfortunately lost the detailed original plans for the base from the early 2000's with the Legionnaires, but I was working on making a new set of plans. In the process of doing that I created a MegaMek map board that has the surface levels of the base roughly laid out. It's not entirely complete but I think it has all the important parts currently and thought I'd share it with you guys. The facility is surrounded by a raised berm and 2 level high wall (it was an old missile silo base, then taken over and converted by local garrison before being partially decomissioned and sold off) and there are old weapon emplacements around the outside of the wall (currently empty). There is an Admin building and open air motor pool on top of Silo 1 (the right one in the map) as well as a covered motor pool/maintenance bay/warehouse that additionally provides employee access to the underground facilities on Silo 1 too. Silo 2 is raised up and reinforced to provide a heavy duty industrial elevator that provides access to underground mech bays/repair facilities/vehicle bays/cargo. Along the south is a landing pad large enough to accomodate a Seeker or Union class dropship. There is an armoured building to provide emergency services and refueling. North of Silo 2, right beside the entrance is an open air hanger to provide additional parking for larger vehicles/whatever we want to put there, lol. The map itself has Gellen's Heights to the North (off map) with a main road travelling along a river running roughly East/West. The base has a main entrance on the North side, another secondary "main" entrance on the East side, and a final employee only/emergency entrance/exit on the South side. There are currently no underground portions due to limitations of the MegaMek map editor and my own limited skills with it. Also the buildings may not be accurately represented either but they should work mostly. In the next few weeks I may get a chance to work on the actual site plans some more and if so I'll share them with you guys. Let me know what you think ? Sheratan - Site 187.board
  20. Thanks everyone, Baby and Mom are doing just fine, both are healthy and happy. Still working things out, but it's all good. And yes everything seems to be working fine as near as I can tell with the site for me now.
  21. Hey everyone, just wanted to let you guys know that my wife and I had our first baby on March 12. She's a happy little 9lb baby girl who's a bit more of a handful at times than we expected, lol, go figure. Anyways, I apologize but I will not be able to be overly active for the next few weeks until we get something resembling a routine worked out. Currently my PC is in the basement which is a little too chilly for the little one and also currently lacking any baby facilities (we were too busy getting the upstairs ready), however I can apparently get on here on my phone so you might see me from time to time. Hope everyone is doing well on here and I'm hoping I can still move Orlex's story along slowly from time to time as real life permits. BTW, loving the new skin, it looks great. Miss you guys and hopefully I'll catch up with you all soon, Adam (Orlex)
  22. I can confirm that the skin was not the problem in my case. Still have the same issue even after clearing all cookies and cache, closing everything, restarting the computer even and trying again. No luck whether I'm logged in or not. This was all in Chrome. Microsoft Edge surprisingly enough works fine (though to be honest not really surprised, we've had similar issues at work where things only work in Microsoft Edge for whatever reason).
  23. Also having the same issue with the "next page" button in multi-page threads. Also using Chrome. Thought it was just me, had to go and enter the page I wanted into the address bar as a work around. Also just double checked and still having that issue. Haven't noticed anything else at the moment though.
  24. Sorry to hear about the fire, glad it was contained to such a small location. Hopefully the re-wiring went well (looks like it did from the pics and since you're back, lol). With any luck, that won't be an issue again now that it's been replaced.
  25. Yeah, that file will always load blank currently because there is no saved scenario that is ready to be played. Once you have a mission setup in the Briefing Room tab and ready to play (where you can just click "Start Mission" and it launches MegaMek) if you save the campaign file then, the excel sheet will be able to extract the other force compositions, including pilot names and skill levels. I'll link a campaign file I've been using for testing purposes that can show what all the other stuff looks like. Testing Scenario Generation - Excel Testing,cpnx
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