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  1. I moaned and barfed into the mats, it was Gross because my lips were on the floor and it made the Barf do tidal waves to the left and to the right and also I tasted some of it, it tasted like Defeat, but I was too Sundered to move. I heard the TV commercials come on the Rink radio and then the Announcer said, "AND NOW, THE TRAP ROUND!! THIS IS THE FINAL BATTLE THAT WILL GIVE VICTORY TO ONE PERSON AND DEFEAT TO THE OTHER!! CONTENDERS!! ARE YOU READY!!!" "Mmmmff no I need time, I have to Recover, we need a intermission!!" I Said, I rolled over on my back and stared up at the Rink lights, I think I felt some stool come out of my unitard, but I couldnt tell on account of the amount of Pain I was in. "NO INTERMISSION!!" Said Billiam Jameswater, he came over and stood over me and stared down, "HE'S FINE!!!" he Yelled. "No WAIT I have to get medicals for my injuries, I Cant go on like this!!!" I Yelled. "MR CHUCKLES!! HELP!!!" But there were no medics, no gorillas, instead I heard the Announcer go, "THE BID FOR CONTINUUENCE IS ACCEPTED. THE TRAP ROUND WILL NOW BEGIN. FIGHT!!!" DINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDING went the bell and all of the sudden I saw the strangest thing. I was lying on my back and looking up at the lights, and a HUGE crane came down and lifted the cage off the rink, then ANOTHER crane came with a bunch of metal beams on it with a bunch of Cameras and Studio Lights, I was really confused and did not know what was going on. "What's going on, I thought this was the Trap Round!!" I shouted, but then my words turned into screams because the BOTTOM OF THE RINK OPENED UP and me and Billiam Jameswater were falling down down down down into a dark pit!! "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" I Screamed and then I felt the Lethal Blow of a tile floor on my butt and my junk and I Screamed bloody murder, then I sat up just as the lights came on with a huge CHUNK and I couldnt believe what I was seeing....... I was in a Japanese Bath House, just like the Edo Hot Baths that Master Honda had went to back on Archimedes, there was white tiles everywhere and a giant bath tub back on the back wall. There was a giant Paper Lantern hanging from one ceiling and a big painting of a crazy looking guy staring at the Japanese Sun, also there was a bunch of Sumo Diaper towels with Japanese writing on them hung up in the background and I was laying in the middle of what looked like it was a Sumo Practice rink. I looked up at the lights and I Saw that they were cameras and lights, I yelled at them "HELLO?? AM I STILL IN THE MATCH??" But no one answered so I Got up and looked back at where I Had fell, there was blood and dook and barf everywhere, I Needed a bath, so I Went over to the Sumo Tub and I threw my loaded unitard down the toilet and I got in, the water was hot and had bubble bath in it, I Relaxed and tried to figure out what was going on, something seemed weird..... Then all of a sudden I looked over and I Saw a plate of hamburgers by the door, "Huh, that's weird, that wasnt there before." But I was starving on account of all the barfing I had did earlier so I got out of the sumo tub and I got dried off and put on one of the togas I saw hanging on a peg on the wall, then I Went over and grabbed a burger. I Was just about to eat it and I felt the most horrible thing, a Rope went really tight around my ankle and yanked yanked HARD and I FLEW down the hallway, I didn't know where I was going and the burger went everywhere, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I Yelled and the hallway went by at light speed, then I SMASHED through one of the tile walls and I Was in another room, it was a fish tank room where the walls were made out of fish tanks and I Was hanging upside down by my ankle. "BALL DAMN IT!!!" I Screamed and I whipped the rope around, then I noticed a Bear trap sitting on top of a fish tank so I Started swinging back and forth on the rope until I was close enough to get the trap, then I pried it upside down apart and put it on the rope and made it go off SNAP "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" I Yelled and I CRASHED down on the floor, then I looked around and I saw someone had made another Snare trap across the doorway. "OH NO YOU DON'T!!" I Yelled and I grabbed a TV set that was sitting in the corner of the fish room and I Threw it at the trap, the snare went off and a HUGE hunting harpoon went KABLAM into the door frame, "HOLY SHIT!!!" I screamed, "THAT'S AGAINST THE RULES!!!" "SINCE WHEN DO I PLAY BY THE RULES!!!" A voice that I Knew, it was BIlliam Jameswater, he came around the corner with 2 more snares in his hands he was using them like whips, whipping out one side and then whipping out the other, slowly coming at me. "Yeah but a HARPOON???" I said, "Even I wont touch that and I microwaved my brain!!!" Except since I Had microwaved half my brain it came out like "Ebbblen I blonth thoppth that and I Microwaffpthed my brain" and spit went everyhwhere. "We're supposed to run Around like Idiots in here trying to trap each other until one of us gets trapped, thats NOT THE BATTLE OF A WARRIOR!!! I WANT MORTAL KOMBAT!!!" Screamed Billiam. "I WILL HAVE IT!!!" "Ok then PREPARE YOURSELF!!!" I Shouted, I armed the Bear Trap and I Held it out in front of me like a shield, "COME AND GET IT ASSMUNCH!!!" BIlliam roared like a bear and came in with his Snares and he whipped one at me, it snared on my leg and I Got ripped down to the ground, as he was pulling me toward him I Whipped around on the ground and SMASHED the bear trap into his ass, Billiam let out a huge Womanly scream and started grabbing his butt, "RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH THERE'S A BEAR TRAP ON MY BUTT ITS PINCHING MY RECTUMS HOLY MOTHER OF GOD GET IT OFF ME" Then I ran over and I Roundhoused Billiam with my legs, that hurt a lot on account of they were broken and I went down HARD, Billiam was still jumping around with the Jaws of Life on his butt so I ran over and I Saw a umbrella stand and I Grabbed it and I Bashed Billiam over the head with it, Billiam roared again and acted all dizzy but then he ripped the bear trap off his butt and turned around and he smashed me in the face with his big fists, then he Snared my other ankle and flung me into the wall of fish tanks!! The glass blew up all over and the water went out and the rocks and fake plants Monsooned out, I saw a billion fish go by and one Bounced off my head as it fell out the tank, everything went down the drain and I was seeing Stars in front of my eyes "GIVE UP NOW STEVE YOU ARE DEFEATED, EARN YOUR PLACE IN LIFE, AT THE BOTTOM LIKE ALWAYS" "I'm not giving up!!!" I Said and I tried to get up and I power puked fish water and blue gravel out, then I Stood up and whipped a fish tank castle at Billiam, it bashed him in the face and he went over, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!!!" Then I Ran over to the other side of the fish tank room and I Ripped the neon light out of the top of one of the tanks, then I came at him with it like it was a sword, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THAT STEVE LIGHT ME TO DEATH???" Billiam asked as he got up and started to come at me, "NOPE!!!" I Yelled and I ran out of the room, I Had saw a bathroom when I had got snared down the hall, I went back down the hall and found it, then I looked around, i Was in luck, there was a vending machine inside and It had what I needed, I picked up the trash can and I smashed out the front of the vending machine and I reached in and got the thing I Needed, a Jolly Jenny blowup doll, it was a thing I had saw on a TV commercial one time, I started blowing it up and running back down the hall to the Sumo bath, as soon as I got there I Tied Jolly Jenny's feet to some bar bells and I chucked her in the Sumo Tub, then I put a towel on top of her head and I went under the Sumo dressing table and plugged in the light, then I cut it off and I waited. STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP "STEVE JENKINS I KNOW YOURE HIDING IN HERE, COME OUT SO I CAN FINISH YOU, I HAVE THIGS TO DO!!!" Billiam Jameswater Yelled, then I saw him come into the Sumo Bath area and he was standing near the training rink. Then he looked oer at the tub, I thought he had saw me but he didnt, he kept going to the tub. 'YOU KNOW AND I KNOW AND YOUR MOM AND DAD KNOW THAT YOURE A DISHONOR AND NOT WORTHY OF A BELT, I WILL GIVE YOU AN HONORABLE DEFEAT SO YOU CAN CLEAN THE LOCKER ROOM IN LESS SHAME!" He intoned, he was still moving to the Sumo Tub. All of the sudden I saw him put his leg over the side of the tub, he was going over to Jolly Jenny on account of he thought I was hiding under the Towel "I SEE YOU HIDING UNDER THAT TOWEL" he Whispered, then he did a Huge power fist and SMASHED it down on Jolly Jenny, the doll made a loud squeaky noise and then started to Deflate and flew out ouf the tub and blew all over the Sumo Locker Room, Billiam looked at it and went WHAT THE HELL?? Then I came SCREAMING out from under the Sumo Changing table doing a huge Zen yell and I Turned on the light that was still plugged in under the table and I SLAMMED it down into the Sumo Tub, Billiam Jameswater looked at it for like 1/2 second and then there was this HUMONGOUS EXPLOSION Of electrical stuff and a huge BUZZZZZZZZZ and lots of CRACKLCRACKLECRACKLE noises and SMOKE started coming out of hte water and Billiam Jameswater started doing this scream that started really low and then went up higher and higher to a womanly Yell and his hair stood up and he was doing this weird crazy electrocution Dance and the next thing I Kne wI could see his huge skeleton glowing and I could see his skull which looked like it was laughing except it wasnt it was doing an eelctric scream and then there was another HUGE explosion and the light shorted out and all of the Bulbs blew out in the Sumo Bath and everything went dark..................................... What the hell???? Did I get killed on accident???? Did I Kill Billiam???? "BILLIAM!" I Yelled "I'M REALLY SORRY FOR BARBECUING YOU IT WASNT PERSONAL!!!!" In the dark I Heard a "Unnnnnnnnhhhhh" Then all of the sudden the Floor started to lift, at first I thought it was my Mind THings messing up from the microwave treatment, but then I looke dup and the cameras and lights had went away and the WHOLE FLOOR was raising up back into the middle of the Dust Up Dome Rink. The closer we got to the room I could hear the audience cheering like mainiacs, also I heard WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS playing, as we came up into the Light I looked behind me and the Sumo Tub had came up too, Billiam was slumped over with smoke coming off his hair and murder in his eyes, a bunch of Confetti exploded over the rink and the Announcer ran over and some old lady ran over too and started hitting Billiam with an Umbrella, I guess she must have knew him, then I looked at the Announcer and he grabbed my wrist and jammed my ARm up in the air and yelled "STEVE JENKINS HAS WON A BLACK BELT, STEVE JENKINS IS NOW A MEMBER OF THE 24/7 CHAMPIONSHIP GYM AND ALSO THE NEW MASCOT OF DAVION DIAURETICS. WHEN YOU REALLY HAVE TO GO BUT YOU'VE GOT A KIDNEY STONE, REACH FOR DAVION DIURETICS." "Wait what, I WON???" I asked, I couldn't believe it, I Had waited my whole life for this and now it was here??? I Looked at the Announcer without belief, then I sobbed with Joy and also because the painkillers were wore off "Whats wrong???" The announcer asked, "NOTHING!!" I said "I'm SO HAPPY!!! I Can do honor by my family and also I Can come in and use the Toilets in participating locations when they cut the water off at my office!!!" "Um yeha I guess" said the announcer, then he said "Here, here's your belt, wear it with Honor." Then he gave me abelt, I went to put it on and then I realized I Was still wearing a sumo robe, then I Shurgged and I put it on anyway, it looked like I Was wearing some kinda big ball gown now but I didn't care, I had won THE BELT. I looked in the audience but I didnt see Sensei Ronald or Master Honda or Jingles, I Sobbed because I Needed to find them and tell them of my Great SUccess, but then I saw another familiar face, he was running down the aisle and he jumped over the ropes and into the rink and came right at me, it was NICK SCHUSTER!!! "Hi NIck, I won the championship for my belt Qualification!!" I Yelled, then I ripped off the Belt and showed it to Nick. "Uh thats great but now your junk is showing on account of youre just wearing a robe for some reason, also WE HAVE TO GO NOW, THERES A HUGE GANG CHASING US!!!" "WOW whatd I Miss??" I asked "COme on I'LL grab my gorilla and you can tell me all about it!!" "Your GORILLA??" said Nick "We don't have time to screw around with that!!!" "I DONT want to lose my security deposit!!!!" "OK FINE come on lets go!!!!"
    4 points
  2. MEANWHILE, at the Dust Up Dome.... “Stop it Ba Ba, you’re embarrassing me!” WHACK WHACK WHACK “You embarrass yourself, Billiam Fitzyamato Jameswater, losing to that pipsqueak!” Ba Ba suddenly whirled around and whacked the beehive with her umbrella instead of me. “It’s almost time for the animal round! Now take these bees and make your Ba Ba proud!” I took the travel hive back to the starting zone and waited for the next round to start. The bees were buzzing like a deranged fire alarm, and every time they started to calm down I slapped the side of the hive. I needed them alert and pissed off. Steve was messing with the appliance box on the other side of the rink. It looked like he was trying to plug the microwave parts into his head. Mid-match cybernetic upgrades were against the rules, but he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with it so I let it slide. The little sneak had sucker-punched me once, but he couldn’t pull that off twice, especially after his leg snapped like a kit kat bar when I body slammed him. Steve’s luck was about to run out. The announcer got back up on stage to announce the next bout. "NOW IT IS TIME FOR THE ANIMAL ROUND. STEVE JENKINS HAS 1 POINT. THERE ARE 2 POINTS LEFT. 1 MAN LEAVES WITH HONOR AND A LIFETIME BELT MEMBERSHIP TO THE DOWNSTAIRS GYM. 1 MAN LEAVES WITH DISHONOR AND MUST CLEAN THE LOCKER ROOM. COMBATANTS!!!!!!!!! PREPARE YOUR ANIMALS FOR WARFARE!!!!!! FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!" I screamed in battle rage and charged at Steve while swinging the travel hive around wildly by its’ handle. Steve ran in terror and shrieked, “I OBJECT!!!!” Just as I was about to open the beehive, the announcer said “TIME OUT. STEVE JENKINS, WHERE ARE YOUR BATTLE ANIMALS?” “That’s the problem, your announcership, my battle gorilla ditched me!” “RETURN TO YOUR CORNERS. STEVE’S GORILLA MUST RETURN TO THE RINK IN THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES, OR THE MATCH WILL NOT GO ON.” The audience shouted a bunch of stuff like “BOO” and “what the HELL I paid fifty Twibucks for these tickets!” and “I’M GONNA KILL YA” and threw empty drink cups and wadded up food wrappers at the announcer. A few people accidentally hit each other with their gross food wrappers instead and started brawling. The announcer went backstage like nothing was wrong - he must be used to the audiences being crazy. Then people had no one to throw trash at but each other. “THE ONLY WAY THE MATCH CAN GO ON IS IF THE GORILLA RETURNS TO THE RINK,” the announcer said over the amplifier system. “YOU HAVE FOUR MINUTES TO FIND AND RETURN IT.” Some of the brawls in the audience stopped and others kept going, and the people who had stopped fighting looked around. “OVER THERE” one guy shouted and jumped up and down pointing. “NEXT TO THE GUY WITH THE BIG RED HAIR!!!” A swarm of people rushed in the general direction the guy had pointed, and there really was a big ape sitting in the audience next to a guy with a big red curly hairdoo. I couldn’t really see what was going on, but there was a bunch of shouting and ape noises and clangs and then the gorilla went gorillaing down the bleachers and back into the rink, pursued by some raggedy looking spectators waving canes and baseball bats. The stadium clock was counting down, and Steve’s five minutes to get his gorilla back were almost up. Ba Ba bravely stepped in front of the charging animal, trying to delay it by the extra few seconds we needed, because a win is still a win no matter how you get it. But the savage beast shoved her aside, slammed the cage door closed behind it and slumped down against the wall like it was gonna take a nap. “YOU’LL PAY FOR THAT!” I bellowed and ran across the rink to help Ba Ba. “Get your hiney back in your corner, Billiam, Victory is at hand!” Ba Ba shouted. I obeyed, and a few moments later I saw her beating her way through the crowd with her umbrella. I was relieved that she’d survived the gorilla attack. The announcer peeked out from where he’d been hiding, and cautiously walked back to the announcer microphone. “THE ANIMAL ROUND WILL NOW COMMENCE!” he announced. “FIGHT!!!!!” I roared and charged at Steve and his wicked war beast and spiked the beehive at the ground at their feet. It busted open and the bees swarmed out and Steve went “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHAAAAAAAGGGHHH” and the gorilla made monkey noises and they both ran all around and swatted at the bees. I chased after the gorilla. Steve might be my opponent, but the gorilla hurt Ba Ba and I was going to get Revenge. When I caught up with it the bees started buzzing around me too and bouncing off my arms, but I didn’t care, I was out for blood. I punched the stupid gorilla in the butt five times until it finally turned around to fight like a man. The gorilla roared and bared its’ fangs. I punched it in the face. It grabbed me around the neck and tried to pick me up, but I kicked it in the nads as it was trying to lift me and it let go and dropped to the ground, rolling around and howling like a howler monkey. “NOOOOOOOOOO,” Steve yelled from the other side of the cage. “I’ll save you, Mister Chuckles!” “FOUL!” the announcer called. “NO HITTING BELOW THE BELT!” “It’s not wearing a belt, you crosseyed cheat!” Ba Ba screeched and started running up the bleachers toward the announcer’s box, brandishing her umbrella. “I’ll call your manager! I’ll report you to the head of the d’juulu commission!” “OVERTURNED, PROCEED WITH THE MATCH,” the announcer shouted hurriedly. Steve ran towards me, with a couple bumblebees still trailing behind him. Most of the stupid fuzz bugs had already given up and flew off, but they’d given the asshole gorilla a nasty sting on the nose so at least they weren’t entirely useless. I yelled at the gorilla “THIS IS FOR MY BA BA!!!” and kicked it in the gut so that it would know not to fuck with us. Then I charged at Steve. “PREPARE TO MEET YOUR DOOM!” I bellowed. “aaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAIIIIEEEEEE” Steve squeaked and turned and ran the other way. I did a flying leap into the air. “I’m sorry, Mister Chuckles!” Steve cried as my shadow loomed over him. I grabbed him around the shoulders and we somersaulted to the ground. Steve landed on top and tried to twist out of my grasp. I wrapped my arm around his throat in a headlock and rolled over on top of him. The announcer ran over to the side of the cage and started the countdown. “TEN! NINE!” Steve’s gorilla sat up and looked around half-dazed. “EIGHT! SEVEN!” “Mister… Chuckles…” Steve gasped. That gorilla was Steve’s only hope, and my only risk of losing. “SIX! FIVE!” The gorilla looked at us, scratched its butt, and then got out a cigarette. “FOUR! THREE!” I shoved Steve’s face into the floor. “TASTE YOUR DEFEAT!!!” I roared. “TWO!” “I’m too young to taste defeat!” Steve sobbed. “ONE! STEVE JENKINS, YOU HAVE LOST THE SECOND ROUND OF THE MATCH! BILL THE BEAST IS VICTORIOUS!” A fog horn blared. “VICTORY!!!!” Ba Ba screamed and banged her umbrella on the bars of the battle cage. “YEAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!” I shouted and jumped up and danced around in glory. The crowd went wild. Steve didn’t even get up, he just made a weird noise like he was barfing or something. It was gross.
    4 points
  3. Haven Dust-up Dome, Twycross December 12, 3029 I changed into my gi in the Dome’s musty smelling locker room. The guy I was supposed to fight wasn’t even here yet. This huge wrestler lady I met on my way in said she was there last night, and the other belt contender couldn’t get in because he’d never won a belt before, and then management made him clean the whole area outside the dome because his gorilla dumped trash everywhere and pooped on the wall. This was going to be an easy fight. The space under the Dust Up Dome’s bleachers was a training room that the regulars called The Pit. It smelled like sweat down there, and there were cracker crumbs, bits of popcorn and sticky patches from spilled sugar drinks mixed into the dirt floor. The selection of free weights was pretty damn good, though, and the stretching mats had sheets of tar paper hung over them so that they didn’t get all grody like the rest of the floor. I did my stretches and beat up a punching bag as a warm up, and then checked the clock. It still wasn’t time for my match yet. I thought about testing out my bees in the gym, or maybe in the locker room since bees chasing after naked people would be even funnier. But I wasn’t sure how to get them back in the travel hive in time for the match. Instead, I practiced my battle yell while I kept wailing on the punching bag. My first kiai yell surprised a couple weightlifters so much that one guy’s weights clanged onto the floor, and the other guy dropped the bar on himself while doing the bench press. He was freaking out kicking his legs around and struggling to get the bar off of him - it was hilarious. Then Ba Ba came down from the arena after setting up my monkey snare traps, and the time for fun and games was over. “Have you done your forms and meditation, Billy?” Ba Ba asked. One of the idiots who’d dropped weights on themselves when I started yelling hollered back “no, he’s just been shouting and hogging the good punching bag!” “It’s a kiai, you butt-brained snitch!” I shouted back at him. “Language!” Ba Ba screeched. “Your competition starts in half an hour, this is no time to mess around! Now show me Mauling Lion-Dog Form, double-time!” I did the form three times over, until Ba Ba was satisfied that my kicks were high enough and I’d landed the stomps with enough energy. Then I did Charging Bull, and Raging Goose, and then Ba Ba made me sit and meditate. One of the Dome employees called me up to the fighting rink before I got much meditating done, which was fine by me - sitting still thinking about nothing didn’t seem like it’d help me fight any better, and also it was boring. The guy who worked for the Dome led me upstairs to a big empty room with a big doorway covered by curtains. I could hear the noise of the crowd and smell their popcorn and chilli dogs. I could also hear the announcer talking to the crowd, but so far he was just reading off ads. I sat down in the folding chair and waited. The contestant waiting area was really weird. There were pipes on the walls, and lines painted on the floor, and there was a big drainage grate in the middle for some reason. There was also a sign on the wall that said Caution: Beware of Zamboni. I guessed that was why they called it a fighting rink instead of a ring; some dofus had tried to start a hockey rink on a desert planet. Then, the announcer started announcing the main event. I got up and did my stretches one more time to make sure I’d be loosened up and ready to rumble when it was my turn to go out. “Listen up, Havenites!” the announcer said over the loudspeaker. “You fortunate few are here to witness a historic event: the very first d’juulu match to ever take place in our little town!” There was some whispering, and the mic cut out and then back on again. “I’m sorry, modified d’juulu, which is even better: in addition to the traditional traps, each contender will be aided by his chosen fighting animals! Lean in close, and witness the spectacle of two mighty warriors facing off for the Haven Dust-up Dome black belt, for their honor, and for victory.” “VICTORY!” echoed a shrill voice just beyond the curtain. I was certain it was my dear Ba Ba. “In this corner we have the established contender. Winner of over twenty different venue belts, black belt since age nine, and renowned martial artist and cage fighter throughout the known galaxy: Billiam ‘The Beast’ Jameswater!” I charged out through the curtain and up the rickety stairs onto the fighting platform. I threw my arms up and paced a circle as the crowd cheered. Then I made a flying leap back the way I’d come and grabbed the metal cage frame over the doorway and climbed up it. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Ba Ba beaming up at me from the coach’s bench as I climbed up to the ceiling of the cage. From that vantage point, I could see the pulleys where Ba Ba had made the Dome employees hang my traps for me. I flipped myself around to face forewards, climbed a few bars forward monkey-bar style, and then let out a thunderous roar and dropped all the way down to the floor. I landed in a perfect horse stance. The entire platform shook and the panels of the cage clanked inside the chicken wire wrappings that held them together. The crowd went wild. The Dust-up Dome was growing on me fast, even though it wasn’t even a real dome. These people didn’t know that the Solaris City Cage and the New Foundation Arena wouldn’t let me compete because I had a “reputation”. They didn’t know or care that I’d never become the Babe Ruth of beatdowns I’d dreamed of being. I was a real champion martial arts fighter in their little town, and they were thrilled to see me, no questions asked. The applause died down a bit, and the announcer continued. “And in this corner we have the up-and-comer. A mech warrior and champion Solaris jock, setting aside battles of machine and missile to compete man-to-man, fist-to-fist for his very first black belt…”
    4 points
  4. My instincts had been spot on. Whoever this prissy person was, they were foreign to the planet. They walked with too much purpose, the arrogance of someone used to taking. Life weighed down people here, obvious even in my short stint. Add in the gear and all signs pointed to being part of whatever ship had landed. I turned over the earpiece in my hand before trying to put it on, hitting buttons to determine how it worked, before rifling through the pockets of my quarry. "---ness, report. What's going on?" A male voice suddenly sounded in my ear, sounding concerned. "Hey buddy! I--" "I repeat, what's going on?" The voice became muffled, as if turning to someone. "No answer, can we get a location?" I pressed buttons, and a sudden beep startled me. "Oy, fuck that was loud." "Baroness, what's going on?" "Your friend is dea--" Glancing over, I saw stirrings of life and blinked. Guess I wasn't going to get that coat of hers. "Scratch that, just KO'd. Head harder than the brick wall it seems. You the ship that just landed?" There was a silence on the other line, before, "Tell us where you're at and we'll pick her up. No questions, no retribution." A good offer but useless. "Mhm, no. I want off this Blake-forsaken planet. Either we both go or neither of us do. You have ten minutes to decide." I pushed a button on the earpiece and looked down at the KO'd "Baroness". "Noble, huh? Might be worth losing out on picking up that package. Ransoms can be lucrative."
    4 points
  5. These mercenaries had no sense of self preservation. Jenkin's continuing employment was becoming less of a mystery and more of an portentous omen. Or harbinger of doom. As Captain Maxwell seemed to not appreciate my voicing of legitimate concerns, I elected to be the bigger person and quietly plan my legwork during the journey back to town. Back in the underground urban sprawl, I immediately hopped off the vee and checked to make sure my earpiece was working before approaching Maxwell. "I'll get information from the underground. The rabble tends to have gossip." "That seems reasonable. Take Bis--" "I'll be more effective alone. That's all, Captain." "Baroness, we don't know this area. There's safety in numbers." "With all due respect, Captain, I am more than capable of handling myself," I retorted. "After the earlier incident, likely safer!" Without waiting for a response I turned on my heel and headed down an alley before anyone could try to interfere. ---------‐-------------- In the Twycross Underground "Schuster, do you copy?" A hiss of static greeted me, and a few seconds later I heard Schuster's voice. "Yeah, I hear you." I waited a few seconds to see if he would add anything else, but nothing. Seemed the storm knocked the manners out of the crew. "Give me a rough map of the area or points of interest." Another silence, before, "The buildings aren't exactly up to code, and they just build everywhere, but...a warehouse to the east, and a few bars that direction that seem to be popular with the underground. The first is two blocks up and over, the Desert Rose" "Good. Once I get our answers I'll return with a game plan. Turning to PTT." "Is going alone really..." Schuster's voice paused, then continued. "Actually, you do you. I'm sure we would just get in your way." I chalked up the less than polite tone to the earpiece reverb, and headed towards the aforementioned bar. The streets were mostly empty, with people not meeting my eyes. Snippets of conversation were useless. The bar should have better odds. A sudden scuffle erupted behind me, and I turned to see a man thud to the ground less a meter away. I darted to the body and crouched down checking to see if there was anything I could do. No pulse. "He was followin' ya for a while. You're welcome." My eyes flicked over to the new voice. A figure leaned against a crumbling wall, tossing a bloodied chunk of brick into the air and catching it repeatedly. They sounded young, female. Could be just what they seemed. Or, a voice modulator. Perhaps a trap. All I could see were gray eyes. The rest of the face was covered in a scarf, dark clothes blending in with the shadows. "Your altruism knows no bounds." "Oy, who said anything about altruism? I saved your life. Gimme your earpiece." I frowned. Not a trap, but a scam. A surprisingly involved one considering the corpse at my feet. Still, this matter was beneath me. I turned my attention back to the body. "Leave me. I have no patien--" The shard of brick grazed my cheek as it zipped by me, shattering into pieces against the wall. I barely had time to scramble to my feet before the girl was next to me, a knee aimed for my stomach. She barely reacted as I blocked with my cyberarm, immediately shifting to a left hook that connected with my very real - and now very sore - right bicep. Mangy urchin. "Stand down!" Still no response, which was more annoying than the actual fight. I wouldn't be able to reach the earpiece for the PTT function at this rate. Enough was enough. "You'll have to forgive me," I said, activating my arm's hidden blade. It sprung free, piecing her shoulder, and I quickly brought my other hand to my ear. "Captain, there's-- what the hell?!" To my shock the girl flung herself toward, digging the blade deeper into her shoulder as she closed the gap between us. Impossible, she should have jumped back to distance. What psychopath-- A hand gripped the side of my head and slammed it into the wall twice in rapid succession. An explosive pain darkened my vision as I slumped to the ground, and the shadowy form of my opponent knelt down and ripped the earpiece away "You'll have to forgive me. That's what you had said, right?" Her voice sounded far away, and as I tried to stand I felt another sharp pain. Then... nothing.
    4 points
  6. Haven, Twycross III, Lyran Commonwealth December 11, 3029 ___________________________________ Ba Ba negotiated with the maintenance crew at the spaceport for an hour or so until they agreed to accept tickets to my match as payment for our repairs. Once that was settled, we headed to the main entrance to get a taxi. A passenger dropship had just landed and the concourse was shoulder-to-shoulder people, but most were happy to clear the way for a famous MMA fighter carrying his Ba Ba’s two big suitcases. There were a few oblivious assholes with headphones on or their noses in books, but they moved quick when Ba Ba whacked them in the shins with her bamboo cane. I didn’t have a free hand to flag down a taxi, but luckily there was one parked right outside the spaceport’s front door. It even had its’ trunk already open for our bags. I cleared my throat and glared at the guy who was fiddling around with a stroller behind the trunk for no reason, and he and the baby-carrying lady he was with speed-walked back to the sidewalk and out of our way. I put Ba Ba’s bags and my backpack in the trunk and slammed it closed. I opened the passenger side door for Ba Ba, and then went around to the driver’s side and sat down in the back seat. The car went lopsided under my weight. The fake leather seats had cracks in them with stuffing poking out and it smelled like dust and stale cigarettes. “Umm, hello there, where to?” the taxi driver said. “I’m here to knock some teeth at the Dust-Up Dome,” I said. “That’ll be twelve fifty, sir” the driver said. “Eight fifty,” said Ba Ba. “I’m sorry m’am, twelve fifty is the standard fare for all downtown destinations.” I pounded my fist on the center console and grunted in frustration. His rudeness to my Ba Ba made me mad. “You know what, for you fine folks I’ll make it a special discount, eight fifty for a trip to the Dust-Up Dome.” The road into town from the spaceport was crummy and busted up, with potholes, patches and bumps all over the place. The old springs in the taxi’s seats squeaked whenever it went over a bump. There was nothing to see out the windows but dust, dirt, distant factories and hovels made of sheet metal and tarps. As we got closer the shanty towns got thicker, and traffic got thicker too. We got stuck behind a big slow truck, and the taxi couldn’t go around it because there were sheet metal shacks right up next to the road. The drive was taking forever. Ba Ba looked in her purse and said, “oh, shoot.” “What’s wrong, Ba Ba?” “It’s past breakfast time, and I forgot my yogurt in the fridge.” “Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ll find us some food.” I watched out the window intently, looking for a drive thru. There wasn’t much of anything besides crappy huts and tents here, but everyone wasn’t dead yet, so there had to be someplace to buy food, right? I saw some smoke up ahead, and as we got closer, I realized it was coming from a food cart in a market plaza. Not exactly a proper drive through, but it would have to do. “Hey driver, pull over!” The taxi skidded to a stop in the middle of the road. “Pull over where?” The driver asked. “There is nowhere to turn here.” “The drive thru, you idiot, we’re hungry!” I leaned forward and pointed out the front passenger side window. “I can’t drive there, that’s a walking plaza! It is illegal, and someone might get hurt.” “Then use the horn to move everyone out of the way!” “I’m afraid that would still be illegal, and-” the taxi driver looked in his rearview mirror, and must’ve seen my poor hungry Ba Ba peering out of her cat eye glasses with her brows knitted and her arms crossed. He had a stroke of conscience and changed his mind. “Please hang on, sir and madam, this might get bumpy.” The taxi driver blared the horn, revved the engine, and rammed the taxi across the gutter and into the plaza. The car rolled forward and the driver kept honking as men, women, children, goats, dogs, pigeons and geese fled out of the way. Some guy spilled a wheelbarrow full of cabbages that made crisp crunching noises under the taxi’s tires. An idiot at the extra fresh milkshake stand let the cow get loose and it charged through a shelf full of jelly preserves, knocked over a fish cart and rolled in the ice. I whooped as a panicked chicken bounced off the windshield. Ba Ba grinned and watched the mayhem play out. The taxi pulled up at the burger stand. I cranked my window down and said “I’ll have a-” “He’ll have four breakfast burgers with double eggs and double beef, no cheese no pickles, and an extra large diet soda. And a breakfast scramble with hash browns and an iced caramel latte for me,” Ba Ba said. She’d unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned over my lap to talk to the drive thru lady. The drive thru lady blinked. She looked at the car, and down at the griddle cart she was standing behind, and back at us. “Would you like an apple pie with that?” I opened my mouth to say yes, but Ba Ba was faster and said “no, he’ll have Victory! Those pies have too much sugar.” She handed the drive thru lady a fistful of cash. Ba Ba sat back down, and I watched the drive thru lady cook our food on the griddle cart. I heard some shouting in the distance, I looked but I couldn’t see what all the commotion was about. Pretty soon the drive thru lady had finished cooking and handed me a bag with all our food in it. Her hand was shaky and her eyes were all bugged out, I wasn’t sure what her problem was, maybe drugs. The taxi made a bunch of really horrible clunking noises as I gave Ba Ba her breakfast, like it had a really bad engine problem. Then something hard poked me in the back of the head. I whirled around and grabbed the stick that had poked me. There were a bunch of people with sticks all around the car, banging on the roof and trying to poke me through the window. They were shouting mean stuff like “You wrecked our market, what’s wrong with you?” and “Get out of here!” and “Entitled assholes!!!” The driver had his hands on the wheel but he looked all frozen up and spooked. I punched the guy closest to the window and leaned all the way out of it. Then I grabbed the next closest guy by the front of his shirt and threw him at the lady who was yelling into the driver’s window. “Back off!” I hollered. “Next person to touch this car is getting a third butthole!” That distracted the angry people with sticks and shovels and stuff for a few seconds, and they backed away from the car. “Drive, drive!” Ba Ba yelled, and reached past the driver and honked the horn. That woke him up, and he put the car in reverse and slammed on the gas. We zoomed back to the road, knocked over a parked moped, and then the driver shifted into forward and we continued on down the road. Ba Ba unwrapped and ate her hash browns and scramble, and I ate my cheeseless protienful egg burgers. The beef was hard and blackened on the outside and the eggs were rubbery and there wasn’t any salt. I finished the first one and chucked the wrapper up into the front passenger seat. I started in on the next one, and my teeth sank into pure awfulness. “BLEH” I said, and whipped the sour mustard-coated pickle off of my sandwich. It hit the front windshield and stuck there. “Excuse me sir, my boss doesn’t give me time to clean the cab between trips,” the driver said. I grunted. His boss wasn’t my problem, I just wanted to eat my terrible egg burgers. I opened up the sandwich and found two more gross pickles. I threw one and it splatted on the windshield and then fell down onto the dash. “Sir,” the driver said, “I would really, really appreciate it if you would-” I tossed the other pickle. It slid off the air conditioner vent and fell onto the floor. The driver sighed and went back to doing his actual job, driving. Ba Ba and I finished our breakfast, and then I remembered something. Something important. “Hey cabbie,” I said. “Where can a guy buy some decent bear traps around here?” The driver gulped. “Bear traps? Um, what for? There are no bears on Twycross.” “I’m gonna smash some face at the Dome tonight,” I said. “Modified d’juulu rules call for traps, and they’ve got to be big enough to catch a person.” “The Camp n’ Hunt might have what you need,” the driver said. “I could drop you off there instead, it’s not too far from the Dust-Up Dome.” “Yeah, let’s go,” I said. “But wait for us in the parking lot, we’re too busy to wait around for another taxi.”
    4 points
  7. Somewhere behind a dumpster Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 Pain. A sharp, piercing pain radiated through my head as I sat up, dying down to a dull throb within a few minutes. A concussion? Perhaps. Either way... where was I? The stench was horrible. Rotting food, sour milk, rancid smells that I didn't care to identify. As my vision cleared I could see what looked like a dumpster to my right, with the brick wall responsible for my headache to my left. With a groan, I got to my feet, holding on to the offending wall for support as I shuffled out to the street. Dried blood caked my cheek, and I counted myself lucky that none of the subdermal plates seemed damaged as I moved onward, looking for a better place to hole down in and reach out to the others. I found a crumbling bit of wall and ducked in - just in time, as the roar of a vehicle sounded nearby. To my surprise, it was our APC. Any relief was quickly killed, however, by the sight of my captor with them, jumping out of the moving vee and bounding over to the dumpster. A familiar face soon followed, and I stepped out from my crevice to stand upright, trying to minimize the appearance of needing support on the wall. "Negotiating with terrorists, Captain?" "Baroness!" The Captain looked relieved, though the girl by the dumpster looked mildly disappointed. "Oy. You were supposed to stay there until I came back for you," she said, scowling. "I hid you there for a reason." "And what reason would that be?" She blinked, looking confused. "To keep you hidden. You really want to be unconscious out in the open? That's just asking to be robbed, or worse. I'm not a monster." "Not a mon--" Sputtering, I turned to Maxwell. "She beat my head against a wall until I passed out. Why are you working with her? Detain her, leave her for the authorities, do something!" "It wasn't anything personal. You should have given me the earpiece when I asked for it." "Both of you, stop. We have to move before the locals move in." Captain Maxwell looked at both of us sternly, gesturing to the vee. Warily moving to the APC, I held my chin up, shooting Maxwell a dark look. "We will discuss this at length later, Captain." The girl grinned and tossed a loose piece of brick in her hand, pocketing it. "You really sure you want this one back? I'm a better fighter obviously, and less grumpy." At my glare she laughed, and hopped back into the front seat. This crew...
    3 points
  8. Looter Warehouse, Haven Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 The APC roared to life as it zoomed down the narrow roads. Good. They hadn't called my bluff. A ganger without her gang - how much attention could I really get? Still, it was worth it to see the panic on their faces. Seems I had myself a ride out. And from the Trids, nobles were used to being captured, so the bitchy Baroness shouldn't be too upset. Blondie - Rebus, from the sounds of it - headed off somewhere, leaving me uncomfortably hostage-less until we obtained my current prize. Though "prize" was stretching it a bit. "Turn right he- or... well, I guess the next one. You look tough, wanna spar? I promise I'll try not to kill you by mistake!" I looked up hopefully at the stranger driving, this... huh. Didn't know his name. "I think I'll call y--- oof!" The big guy grunted before throwing the APC into a sharp turn at the next right, cutting me off mid-sentence as I slid into the bossy guy from earlier. "Sorry, Boss." At least, I assumed he was the boss from the way everyone deferred to him. Strange, considering the other one looked stronger, but then again, who could tell? Gabs was weaker than Wrath, and likely me, and we still had to put up with him. I peered curiously at the Boss, trying to read him. "Captain Maxwell, huh?" "Yes." A curt answer. Fair enough, considering I had bludgeoned two of his crew with a brick or a wall. Couldn't fault him for that. "Military then?" "Are we close to where the Baroness is?" he asked. I pouted at the lack of banter. He really didn't know how to have any fun, focusing on business. Even the driver still looked serious "We're not being shot at, we can-- oh hey, there it is!" I opened the door, tucking and rolling out before hopping to my feet and heading towards the dumpster as the APC screeched to a halt. Some sputtered shouting came from the APC's occupants that I ignored. Peeking behind the dumpster, I paused as I noted a severe lack of any body. This...could prove slightly troublesome. I glanced over my shoulder at the Captain person. "Oy, Boss? How badly did you want that one back?"
    3 points
  9. MEANWHILE.... "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!" The sound of my own Scream ripped into my ears so loud that it echoed back and made my eardrums do a weird buzzing noise, the kind of buzzing when you put a q tip inside your ears and you hear a bunch of random Tones and other things, the buzzes made me Zone back in and I Saw BILLIAM JAMESWATER comig right at me with a huge red toaster, one of those big ones you can put like 4 loaves of bread in at the same time!! ANd it was attached to a Car Battery on his back wth jumper cables and the toaster slot was glowing bright red, Billiam was going to try to toast me!! "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! WHAT THE HELL, WHY IS THERE A TOASTER???" I yelled as I tried to get out of the way, "YOU SPACED OUT AND MISSED THE ANNOUNCER, THIS IS THE APPLIANCE ROUND!!!" Billiam roared and then he jumped at me full blast, the toaster was blinking on and off really crazily because he was racking the toast bouncer up and down and making the Coils go on and off, I rolled off to the siode just in time and Billiam crashed into the mats, he hit so hard the Announcer fell off the stage and we heard the microphone squeal and a bunch of people in the audience started rioting for his Wallet. meanwhile the house music ramped up really loud with deep bass and an old song from the ancient 2000's came on, a battle theme , I think it was called "Guile's Theme" from an old fighting style called "Street Fighter." Me and Billiam stared at each other and he clicked the toaster on and off again and crushed its metal with his bear hands, "I will cremate you Steve Jenkins!!!" I Yelped with fear and looked around for the Grab Box, it was the box where you could get an appliance for fighting your opponent, it was right behind me so I did a Shoulder Roll and landed next to it and started trying to find something to use, the first thing my hand grabbed was one of those crank mixers with 2 beaters like grandmas use to make cookies, I Spun around to use it but I was too late!! The toaster was coming at me, coming fast, and......... CLANK The side of my head sounded like crashing Metal nd I felt a bunch of bread crumbs spray in my face as I went down HARD onto the mat, I saw a bunch of stars in front of my face and I Tried to turn over to get out of the way, Billiam was coming down at me, I Jammed the mixer forward into his chest hair and started cranking the beaters as fast as I could which made Billiam yell on account of his Chest hair was getting tangled up in it, he ripped the Mixer out of my hand and also his chest hair and threw it into the audience, then like 9 people started rioting to get to keep the mixer with hair in it, they were true fans. "YOURE GONAA HAVE TO TRY A LOT HARDER THAN THAT IF YOU WANT A BELT STEVE JENKINS" Roared Billiam, right then I did a Sweeping Wind kick and racked him right in the nads with my Fighting Boot, Billiam howled with Agony and fell down on his knee, right when that happened I Dodged out of the way and I ran back to the Grab Box, I dumped a bunch of useless stuff out and then I Saw a Salad Ninja and 2 onions and 2 radishes, the Salad Ninja had batteries inside of it so I cut it on and jammed in the Onions and beets, then I CHARGED at Billiam who had just got up and I started Spraying him with onion and Turnip parts while he was preparing to set me on fire with the toaster!! "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!!!" Screamed Billiam "THERES ONION AND TURNIPS IN MY FACE AND ALSO MY EYES!!!" Then he Tried to use the toaster to do a Lotus Javelin at me but he couldnt see what he was doing and all of the sudden the jumper cables RIPPED off the Toaster with all kinds of sparks and the cooking p[ieces turned off, Billiam screamed with Rage and started swinging the toaster over his head like a slingshot!! The Next thing I knew the Toaster was coming flying at me and....................... CLANK I Heard the metal parts explode into a Billion pieces as I Went down, down hard, toaster parts went everywhere and I Fell to the mat sobbing in paind and embarassment, but then I remembered, Billiam doesnt have a weapon anymore, I Got up to shoot more Salad Ninja at him but I was out of Ammo, I chucked the Salad Ninja into the audience and started another riot, then I Went over to the Grab Box and looked for anything, something I could use to stop the Freight Train. Then I Saw a Pasta Maker and I grabbed it, I turned around and Billiam was doing a Yoga Torpedo right at me!!!! I Charged up a huge Zen scream and I Jumped up into the air and tackled Billiam right before he hit me, we both went down HARD and I Was on his back and I Grabbed the Pasta Maker and started cranking Billiam's hair into it. "OOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW THATS MY HAIR WHAT THE HELL IM GOING TO RIP THE BONES OUT OF YOUR FACE!!!" Came Billiam and he kept trying to hit me from Behind while I was on his back, I felt a million stabs from the Meat Shredders he had got out of the box and put on his hands but I didn't care, I Held on tight and I started to summon my inner Zen, I Knew if I was going to win the round I Had to cogitate all of my powers into Focus, it was the only way. Billiam was swinging his arms everywhere and I was riding his back like a bucking Bronco, all of the strobe lights were goiung off and the fog machines were sprayingh as we battled, I felt a huge Zen focus start to come into my Mind and my eyes started to glow nmeon blue in the rink and Billiam was starting to get wore down, I think I am going to be able to take him onto the mat and win this round!! All of a Sudden the Belt was in reach, I just had to win 2 of 3 rounds and I thought this was a sure thing but then........... GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL was coming at me, it was a giant metal plate/box that I think was an ancient Earth idol and now it was coming over Billiam's head and smashing into my.................... CLANKBASHCRUNCH "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" I Screamed, my face was on Fire, because the grill had been On and also because I Had got hit in the face with a grill, I exploded down onto the Mats, I could see a big spray of blood everywhere from my nosebleed and everything looked all blurry and weird, I couldn't see Jameswater, didn't know where..... "HAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!" WHUMPCRACKCRACKSPLINTERCRACK All of the sudden Billiam was Body Slamming me from above, I heard my legs get sundered from his huge weight and I Shrieked like I Had just got kicked in the balls except it was my legs and they were broken, I did like a 5 minute scream/barf from the pain, the crowd was going crazy and bell in the rink went DING DING DING DING DING and the Announcer announced "BILLIAM JAMESWATER HAS THE PIN, BILLIAM CAN DEMAND DO'OKUU FOR THE END OF THE ROUND IF STEVE JENKINS DOES NOT RISE!!!!" "I Demand DO'OKUU!!!" Screamed Billiam, then he body slammed on my legs again and I Heard more snap crackle pop sounds and I let out a Crazy yell that sounded like primitive violence except there was a bunch of pain barf and blood that came out with it. "CALL THE MATCH, HE WILL NOT RISE AGAIN, HE IS SUNDERED!!" The Announcer ran over and started slapping the mat next to me, "STEVE JENKINS YOU MUST RISE OR DO'OKUU WILL BE JUDGED TO THE JAMESWATER CHAMPION. YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS." Then Billiam walked over and jammed a Salad Spinner inside my unitard and yanked the pull cord, it spun around a bunch and gave me an atomic wedgie but I didnt care, I laid on my face all busted and broken and dishonored, I had Failed. I Sobbed into the mats as the Announcer yelled the count down into the rink, gagging mourningly, then I turned my head to Look into the audience, the audience that I Had failed...and then I Saw it... 5 rows behind the people who were Rioting over Gently Used appliances and Billiam Jameswater's chest hair, I saw 4 familiar faces behind my tears, 4 faces I could never forget Sitting in the row....I Couldn't believe what I was seeing...... .......Master Honda eating a chilli cheese dog and cheering with his big huge fist in the air......... .......Sensei Ronald with his feet up On the chair in front of him and a cigarette in his mouth.............. .......Jingles the Clown with his Clown Suit on and a bowl of Cocaine and a balloon............ .........and even Mr Chuckles, he was there too making Monkey faces and drinking a Beer and slapping the back of the head of the Guy in the row in front of him........ All of these Special People had came so far out to Twycross just to make sure I did an Honor to them and got my Black Belt the way I was Destined to do, and if I didnt get up........I would be Dishonored forever.......... .....but...... ......so much pain............. "THREE!" "TWO!" "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I bellowed and I Got up onto my broken legs, I heard the crunching and grinding as they broke even more and I Barfed violently everywhere due to the pain, then I looked the announcer and I said "I DEMAND CONTINUATION!!!" "NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Said Billiam Jameswater and he Ran at me, I dont know how I Had did it but the next thing I knew I grabbed the Salad Spinner out of the ass of my Unitard and I SMASHED Billiam under the chin with it, the Salad Spinner exploded into a billion pieces and Billiam FLEW back against the Rink's turnbuckle and flipped over backwards and fell onto the floor. 19 people ran over and started Rioting for a piece of his Celebrity. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS came on the Rink's radio really loud and suddenly a super bright spotlight chunked on and lit me up. I Looked around in Terror. "The First point goes to STEVE JENKINS!! Now it is time for INTERMISSION. Next up: the ANIMAL ROUND." Said the Announcer, then he dropped the mic on the floor of the rink and left to go have a smoke. Billiam Jameswater crawled back into the rink with a look of Rage and blood. "I AM GOING TO PAINT THESE WALLS WITH YOUR BLOOD!!!" he roared, then he went over to his corner and some old lady came out and started hitting him with an Umbrella, I don't know what hat was all about. I staggered into my corner of the rink, still stumping on broken shearing legs. I needed something to kill the pain. But there was no Medicine in the corner where my stool was, there was only a towel. The pain was becoming more than I could bear. Nearby a Microwave sat imperiously in the Grab Box. I hobbled over to it and plugged it up to the car battery and set it for low Power. If I timed it right, I could use its waves to temporarily sedate the pain center of my brain. If I was lucky, the pain center would be numb for a time. I did not waste any time making the mods I would need..... 5 MINUTES LATER.... The micowave numbing had been a success. It had only taken me 5 minutes to pull the Magnetron out of its insides and press it on my left temple, where the tinkezic nerve of the brain is. The radiation waves temporarily caused it disruption, which made me unable to feel pain. Because I had used a microwave it was not preciese. The left side of my face was also numb and I was drooling out of the left side of my face and deaf in my left ear, and I couldn't see color in my left eye. But I didn't care. I could move like I needed to, even with the loud grinding of my bones breaking more as I ran into the Middle of the rink. Then all of a sudden the House Lights went out and blood red Arena lights came on. Fire shot up the sides of the Rink and a laughing skull could be heard, a Smoke machine came on and a giant cage got craned down over top of the Rink. The Announcer came back out and grabbed his microwave. Then He realized thats not what he meant to Grab and he chucked that into the audience where I heard some lady Scream. "AUUUUUGH MY FACE!!!!" Then the Announcer got out his Microphone and started talking into it. "NOW IT IS TIME FOR THE ANIMAL ROUND. STEVE JENKINS HAS 1 POINT. THERE ARE 2 POINTS LEFT. 1 MAN LEAVES WITH HONOR AND A LIFETIME BELT MEMBERSHIP TO THE DOWNSTAIRS GYM. 1 MAN LEAVES WITH DISHONOR AND MUST CLEAN THE LOCKER ROOM. COMBATANTS!!!!!!!!! PREPARE YOUR ANIMALS FOR WARFARE!!!!!! FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!"
    3 points
  10. Looter Warehouse, Haven Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ Resistance from the warehouse had been much stronger than expected, while they weren't exactly skilled they did have numbers on their side, not to mention considerable firepower given this was supposed to be a sleepy shanty town. But if you've built a life fighting against, or potentially working with, frontier pirates you've likely "acquired" a sizeable arsenal one way or another. We briefly considered cutting our losses and coming back later with reinforcements but then additional gang reinforcements from somewhere within the warehouse cut our thoughts short as we were forced into direct combat once again, thankfully Captain Maxwell's well trained firepower combined with my own was still sufficient to keep enemy numbers manageable. A quick assessment of the warehouse's internal layout revealed several potentially fortified positions with a number of them manned and others unclear if anyone was currently holed up there or not, our best bet was to divide and conquer so that the enemy couldn't pin us down and concentrate fire on us. Inside the warehouse the open areas limited the usefulness of my KTS shotgun, even when using slug rounds, and its extended reload time, due to inserting each shell individually, lead me to switch over to the GA King Slayer Gyroslug Carbine I had slung across my shoulders, another bull-pup design the compact form allowed me to retain most of my mobility and maneuverability while still providing the power of a full size rifle. As an added bonus the gyroslug rounds were tipped with an impact activated explosive warhead, nothing close to a grenade or anything but enough to ensure lethal damage and armour penetration at nearly any range. As Captain Maxwell moved swiftly to get into a flanking position through the interior of the warehouse I opened fire with my rifle to draw fire away from him, several self-propelled, explosive-tipped, rocket-like rounds ripped through the air in virtual silence leaving a telltale conical plume of white exhaust hanging in the air before the impact and subsequent detonation of the gyroslug rounds echoed throughout the enclosed warehouse with seemingly reckless abandon. Many of the rounds exploded harmlessly against the fortified cover scattered across the warehouse, although "harmless" was subjective as it still blew out chunks of the walls and sheered through the heavy slats of metal with repeated impacts. A few rounds found their targets though and the effectiveness of the explosive rounds was clearly evident, even a glancing blow was enough to remove a combatant from the fight, even if not permanently. It didn't take long before return fire found me and forced me to take cover myself, a few rounds glancing off the limited protection provided by my flak vest and leather duster. I ventured out for another burst of fire but was immediately driven back by sniper fire, my current armour provided virtually no protection against that caliber of weapon and so I was forced to blind fire my semi-auto carbine with very little success. "All right, Jaeger. What's my next move?" inquired Charles, assumedly having made it into position in the office. "I'm tangling with the sniper out here and his friend. See if you can't get the attention of the other one," I replied, firing off another series of blind shots. Pulling one of the four Class 'B' "mini" grenades from my vest I popped the activation lever and lobbed the smoke grenade out into the open floor, in mere seconds the central portion of the warehouse was filled with a thick grey smoke winding its way up towards the ceiling, the natural convection of the air on the hot day pulling it out beyond the grenade's normal 6m radius. The breeze also meant that the smoke wouldn't last as long either, probably only had a couple minutes at best where the smoke would remain thick enough to be effective. Taking full advantage I slipped out low on the opposite side of my cover, cautiously at first to make sure I indeed had the sniper's line of sight blocked, no enemy fire meant I was probably in the clear. I crouched ran to another piece of cover on the edge of the smoke where I could just see the sniper's position, of course that also meant he'd be able to see me so I only had one shot. Lining up the gyroslug carbine I waited for the wind to blow the smoke clear a little more before smoothly squeezing the trigger and sending the micro-rocket round blitzing through the air, a small crack of the round actually breaking the sound barrier the only sound audible across the battlefield. Before the round reached its target, or perhaps right at the same time, a massive explosion ripped through the warehouse followed by the distinctive whine of a hover vehicle's engine as what appeared to be a Heavy Hover APC literally pushed its way into the now damaged warehouse after unleashing a blaze of fire to weaken the structure. I silently prayed that the new arrival was on our side, and judging from the reckless way they burst into the building I assumed they must be, and had my answer almost immediately as two additional enemy commandos came charging out from amongst the rubble and debris before stopping and staring wide-eyed at the unexpected arrival of the armoured combat vehicle. To their credit they opened fire rather than running, although the latter may have been the wiser choice given the situation, and while their weapons were effectively useless against the hover vehicle the same could not be said about the vehicle's own weapons. Two short, precise, bursts of heavy weapons fire later and nothing remained of the enemy commandos. "Thanks for the assist!" called Maxwell as he exited through the now destroyed wall of the office he had been flanking from. "Don't mention it," replied the familiar, heavy voice of Bishop, "I'm supposed to keep you safe. Wouldn't look good if I had to tell the General I failed at something so simple." As the final words echoed off the walls of the warehouse, Bishop Weyland popped into view. "Now, how long do we have to grab and go before the next wave of baddies hits us?" the hulking man asked, dropping to the dirt floor of the expansive facility, "If history's any indication, we're probably good for about ten more minutes before this place is swarming with looters, cops, or both." "If that," I interjected, moving to meet up with the other two men, "Thanks for the rescue by the way, the rate reinforcements kept showing up I'm guessing this warehouse has an entrance to the underground somewhere nearby, only place I can figure they were hiding that many men." "All the more reason to get a move on, and quickly," replied the Captain, "Bishop, give me a hand checking these crates, the ones NOT on fire at least. Jaeger you get started on the ones over there. Anything marked Irian we take, the rest we'll decide as time permits." Bishop grunted at the slight rebuke, even though it was clearly in jest, and nodded to the Captain before immediately setting to work clearing off the nearest crate and cracking it open to check its contents. A few minutes passed quickly as we proceeded to load up everything we could into the APC's personnel bay, it wasn't exactly designed for cargo but the spacious bay had plenty of room for our current needs. Bishop's enhanced strength was instrumental in moving many of the heavier crates, some of which even he struggled with, and both the Captain and I watched in awe more than once as Bishop easily picked up and moved cargo that the two of us would have struggled with together. Even with his enhanced strength though there were a couple Irian marked containers that were just too heavy and we would have had to leave them behind except for a lucky find tucked away in the back of the warehouse. While Bishop was loading the last of the crates we could move I had decided to quickly sweep the warehouse for any additional cargo but also to keep any eye out for enemy reinforcements which we fully expected at any minute. Instead, half buried behind a collapsed scaffolding, I found a GM HeavyHauler, a purpose built exoskeleton used for moving cargo, that the looters must have been using to move their stolen goods. As I was checking it over, and surprisingly found it operational with a half charge on its power cell, Bishop suddenly yelled at me from across the warehouse in a tone that I instantly knew meant I was in danger. I spun around to face towards an open corridor leading away from the main part of the warehouse and came face to face with an enemy soldier holding a shotgun, he was several feet away but still close enough that it might as well been point blank and yet he never fired his weapon and instead just stood there with a blank look on his face. A moment later, which seemed like an eternity as I instinctively reached for my sidearm in what felt like slow motion, the soldier collapsed forward, falling to the floor motionless, a large red smear marring the back of his head and explaining the odd blank stare. Standing behind him, casually tossing a brick in her hand, was a lithe raven-haired woman dressed in black desert garb with a scarf obscuring most of her face and looking all too comfortable given the situation. "You're welcome," she said, in a not-quite sultry, young sounding voice. "Thanks," I replied, still not sure what to make of the newcomer, "And you are?" "We've already met," the young woman shot, the almost sultry tone gone and replaced by an accent I couldn't quite place off hand. Recognition dawned on me as I realized this was the same woman that captured Octavia and had ambushed Nick only a short time earlier, I immediately backed up and finished drawing my sidearm, levelling the pistol at her head with my finger on the trigger. "Whoaa!! Easy there big fella," said the unidentified woman as she raised her hands, though still holding a brick in one of them, "Remember I'm on your side right now." Without taking my eyes off the woman, and keeping her at a distance I was confident she couldn't rush me from before I could fire, I called back over my shoulder, "Captain!, seems our little hostage taker has decided to show her face." I heard what sounded like Bishop starting to break into a run before the Captain reigned him in and then two sets of footsteps approached together, "Hold on Lieutenant, she is technically on our side still." "Thank you Captain, glad to see you're reasonable," replied the unknown woman as she lowered her hands and began walking towards him. "Hold it right there!" I called out, thankful that she did indeed stop in her tracks. Ignoring me, save for a perturbed sidelong glance towards me when I called her out and didn't lower my weapon, "Captain, are we not on the same side here?" "We are, but you'll have to forgive the Lieutenant, you're track record isn't exactly the cleanest," responded Maxwell with a slight smile. "Fair enough I suppose, though I did return Blondie to you, relatively, unharmed. Plus I just saved your man here from getting his guts shoved out the back of his spine, I didn't have to do that, I could have waited a few seconds and watched the fireworks. PLUS I jammed the door shut leading underground that Shotgun Eddie there came out of." "I understand, and trust me when I say we are both very appreciative of that, however you still are holding a member of our team hostage and to be frank we still don't know who you are," stated Maxwell, coming up alongside me but still careful to keep a distance between himself and the raven-haired lady. "True. Name's Claire, and I'm true to my word, I'll deliver the Baroness to you as soon as we finish discussing my passage off this Blake-forsaken world," answered Claire with what I guessed was a smile, her scarf still obscured most of her face. "Alright Claire, maybe we can start by dropping that brick?" inquired Maxwell. "As soon as you get Lieutenant Jarhead over here to lower his weapon, I'll consider dropping mine," snapped Claire sharply. "Lieutenant," said Charles with a nod when I briefly glanced his way. I lowered my sidearm but did not stow it until after Claire dropped her brick, then I looked at her and said, "Jarhead? Really?" "I could have went for Tin Man," she smiled gesturing towards my prosthetic arm, "but it I liked the sound of Lieutenant Jarhead better." "Now Miss Claire, about returning the Baroness," began the Captain, "full disclosure first, should you try anything untoward, the Lieutenant to my left here could veritably tear you limb from limb without breaking a sweat." "Really?" said Claire, her eyes going wide and a tone of excitement entering her voice, before returning to a more business like tone, "He is a big one, I wouldn't mind going a round or two with him. But later, we have business to discuss first."
    3 points
  11. I angrily wiped blood from the side of my mouth as I looked up at the disguised assailant. I couldn't believe that, whoever she was, she had managed to get the drop on me twice, on an open rooftop no less. I was definitely not as prepared as I thought I was to go at it alone. My military training had taught my how to fight in face-to-face, hand-to-hand combat, but hadn't really gotten into too much detail about how to handle abductors dropping from the sky and randomly jumping me for no apparent reason. The first time, she'd pounced on me and grappled with me long enough to kick my weapon over the edge of the roof and break my binoculars before disappearing again. Now, she was back, and this time, she was coming at me with some kind of steel rod that looked a lot like the comealongs that riot cops used on some of the more unruly worlds. "What are you, back for more? What do you even want?" I asked as I stood to my feet and faced down the masked woman. "It occurs to me that while a single person puts me in a bargaining position, a second person makes that bargaining position even stronger, especially when taking you removes a certain amount of strategic advantage from the people with whom I'm negotiating." the woman explained, beginning to circle me. I started to realize that she was gradually moving me into a position where the only thing behind me was the ledge of the roof and the only means of escape was a gruesome three story plunge to my death in the street below. "I don't know, there is an expression back where I'm from that goes Einem geschenkten Gaul schaut man nicht ins Maul. Inspecting a gifted horse is rude. It shows you don't appreciate what you have." I answered. "And what is it you think I have right now?" the lady asked, feigning a lunge toward me. I recoiled instinctively and nearly fell off the roof. "You have the Captain's attention and it sounds like you might already be in a bargaining position. Why press your luck?" I said, regaining my balance as we continued to circle each other. "Insurance. I don't know how valuable Baroness is to your Captain alone, but I am willing to wager that worthless or otherwise, the stakes are going to go up if I have two of his people." No sooner had she said the words than she very suddenly and without warning kicked a pile of rocks, used to ballast the roof, directly into my face. The stones and dirt pelted me and blinded me temporarily. "Aaaaaugh!" I yelled, without my glasses or shades to guard my eyes. I heard the sound of running boots thudding on the roof and felt a sharp kick as the woman attacked. As I fought to keep her off me, a thunderous explosion down in the alley below stopped the attack short. "Blake damn it!" I heard my attacker yell, followed by footsteps running swiftly off into the distance. I slowly forced my eyes open and looked around. The attacker was gone. I peered over the side of the roof and saw a huge gaping hole in the side of the warehouse and what looked like our APC inside. I coughed a bunch and then located my earpiece. Stuffing it back onto the side of my head, I pressed the microphone. "Rebus to Eden, are things under control down there?" I wheezed. "Because I think we're facing some complications with our hostage taker."
    3 points
  12. No sooner had I dropped the goon that I assumed would be the worst opponent of the moment than bursts of gunfire, intermingled with the frenzied shouts of even more startled marauders, echoed through the cavernous warehouse that was now quote bereft of a door. I looked toward Lieutenant Jaeger and keyed my headset. "Shit," I began, raising my rifle again, "there's more coming." "Sir, with all due respect, we've got an offer on our hands that seems to lend itself to retreat. Should we consider it? There's two - maybe four if that one's keeping her word - of us, and I don't know how many of them," Orlex replied. A heavy-caliber round zinged past my head, exploding on the brick behind me and causing me to instinctively grip my combat shotgun tighter. "And get shot in the back while we leave? I'm afraid that it seems the party's still in full swing." I muttered, clinging tightly to the alley's inner wall as Jaeger and I drew nearer to the warehouse's entrance. "And anyway, our stuff is right there. We should at least give it a shot." The Lieutenant nodded silently, brandishing his firearm and peering through the destroyed doors leading into the embattled bay. "Oh, this is bad," Orlex observed. "There are several positions they've got fortified. I count at least three more guys in there. But, I think I've got an idea." Pointing at a large, two-way mirror in the northwest corner of the bay, he leaned toward me. "We might be able to use that to our advantage. See if you can make it to whatever's on the other side of that window. I'm going to try to get into the warehouse and draw their fire." "Roger that. Good luck," I responded. Several more thunderous bursts of weapons fire rumbled through the facility as I barreled into the warehouse, sprinting down the building's inner wall, following it until it terminated at a heavy, wooden door, adorned with faux gold lettering reading 'Management.' I jiggled the handle, finding the door secured. Time for some serious property damage… Setting my rifle's mode selector to 'burst,' I took several steps backward and fired a volley of armor-piercing rounds into the door's locking mechanism. With a crack, the frame fractured, and a swift kick later, the door was open. As the unmistakable scream of an automatic weapon firing filled the air, I dove forward, throwing a rolling chair aside as I took cover behind a heavy oak desk. As I took in my surroundings, the large two-way mirror above the desk exploded inward, showering the office with dagger-shaped shards of broken glass. Several high-caliber rounds embedded themselves in the opposite wall, punching a hole through a poster promoting 'unity' in an ironic twist of fate. A hulking figure in a flak vest stood looking into the office, smoke rising from his assault rifle. "All right, Jaeger. What's my next move?" "I'm tangling with the sniper out here and his friend. See if you can't get the attention of the other one." "That shouldn't be too hard." I muttered, popping up from behind the desk, simultaneously leveling my combat shotgun's sights on my assailant's head and pulling the trigger. Three armor-piercing rounds exited the chamber, corkscrewing through the air and smashing through the man's helmet. A wash of blood and gore sprayed from its faceplate as the commando dropped like a sack of potatoes, landing on the floor with a horrific crunch that almost certainly heralded the breaking of bones. Astonished, I keyed my mic. "That was easy." The comm channel hissed as though a reply were imminent. Before my earpiece had time to transmit the response, the air was filled with a new sound - the unmistakable whoosh of an artillery round firing, followed by a thunderous explosion and the accompanying shriek of a metalwall collapsing. The office wall before me disintegrated into a cascade of plaster and structural members, affording me a view of the warehouse proper beyond. There, I bore witness to two surviving combatants, who stared out at the menacing visage of a Hover APC slowly moving into the building, its weapon ports glowing. The commandos immediately opened fire on the vehicle, their weapon volleys barely scratching its massive frame. The APC paused for a moment, in what could almost have passed as an incredulous stance, before delivering two debilitating alpha strikes, incinerating both men in a massive volley of hellish weapons fire. Several crates were set ablaze as the smoke cleared, casting a eerie pall across the APC's visage. I cautiously climbed through the office's window, dropping down onto the warehouse floor, and made my way toward the vehicle as its hatch swung open. "Thanks for the assist!" I called out, not entirely certain whether the new arrival was one of our own or yet another rouge element. "Don't mention it," a familiar, gruff voice replied. "I'm supposed to keep you safe. Wouldn't look good if I had to tell the General I failed at something so simple." As the final words echoed off the walls of the warehouse, Bishop Weyland popped into view. I sighed a heavy breath of relief. "Now, how long do we have to grab and go before the next wave of baddies hits us?" the hulking man asked, dropping to the dirt floor of the expansive facility. "If history's any indication, we're probably good for about ten more minutes before this place is swarming with looters, cops, or both."
    3 points
  13. MEANWHILE...... Haven Dust-up Dome, Twycross December 12, 3029 The changing room smelled like butt, it was more like actually a bathroom with some stalls that had had the wall in the middle blew out to make a changing room inside, a changing room with a toilet on one end and some lockers on the other. Other than that it looked just like a bathroom. My boots made sticking textures as I Walked out of the stalls with my rental combat uniform on, it looked just like one of those old time wrestler outfits that was a one piece swimsuit but for guys. I was feeling Nauisea, I was all alone, there was no Sensei Ronald or Master Honda to give me moral boosting, it was just me and my Destiny........I thought about my battle buddies out in the Desert Wastes fighting the good fight, doing all of the Things that needed to be did to keep us Vibrant, now was when I had to capture Honor in their memory, but I did not have my Spirit Guides. At least I Had my gorilla. "Mr Chuckles its just you and me now, we have to do this" I said as I Walked out of the stall and looked over for Mr Chuckles, I was Horrified to see he was licking the inside of the nasty urinal up against the wall and the broken mirror!! "MR CHUCKLES THATS DISGUSTING, I JUST GOT DONE CLEANING YOUR DIARRHEA OFF THE WALL FOR HOURS WITH A TOOTHBRUSH, GET OUT OF THE TOILET!!" I Yelled, Mr Chuckles turned around and looked at me really confused with a Urinal Cake half inside his mouth and all kinds of bluish greenish Urinal Cake crumbs down his front, I was so grossed out that I did a 5 minute barf in the sink and then wiped my mouth with my sleeve, but then an even worse thing happened! “In this corner we have the established contender. Winner of over twenty different venue belts, black belt since age nine, and renowned martial artist and cage fighter throughout the known galaxy: Billiam ‘The Beast’ Jameswater!” I couldn't beleieve what I had just heard. BILLIAM JAMESWATER was back, back from a past a long time ago...............the kid who had beat me in my Belt Trial and sent me to a life of Dishonor, how was he all the way out here, how did he know that today was the day I was going to reclaim my Honor??? I stumbled around barfing in Stress, Mr Chuckles ran over and rolled around in it but I didnt care, I was beyond a horror, how could I even face him in the Rink after all these years??? “And in this corner we have the up-and-comer. A mech warrior and champion Solaris jock, setting aside battles of machine and missile to compete man-to-man, fist-to-fist for his very first black belt…” 'NO!! I'M NOT READY!!!" I Yelled out the curtain at the announcer, he gave me a weird look and then said "STEVE JENKINS!!!" A Huge spot light came down on me and lit me up, I tried to hide behind the curtain I was hiding in but the curtain wasnt long enough and I still saw everyone. Everyone in the Rink was quiet, I heard some guy coughing up in the stands. "AH Ha ha ha" I said, I wanted to make everyone think I had did it on purpose, then I grabbed Mr Chuckles's leash and we came out from bnehind the curtain. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS started blasting on the speakers and I Ran up to the Pit and climbed inside, all of the sudden I Was staring at Billiam Jameswater and he was even bigger than he had ever been, he had 3x as many muscles and was like 5 feet taller than the last time I had saw him, he looked at me with murder in his eyes. "WHAT WHATS THIS STEVE JENKINS??? HOW ARE YOU STILL IN THE LIVING???" he roared in a voice like a bear "I HEARD YOU DIED ON SOLARIS." "NO I JUST HAD A REALLY BAD MATCH AND GOT BLEW UP, THEN I GOT KICKED OUT OF SOLARIS ON ACCOUNT OF I WASN'T THE CHAMPION ANYMORE!!!" I Yelled, just then the announcer cut in and said "NO TALKING ALLOWED UNTIL AFTER I READ THE RULES. I WILL NOW READ THE RULES!!" But then Billiam Jameswater grabbed the microphone and busted it in half with his bear hands and threw it into the audience and roared "WE KNOW THE RULES, START THE MATCH!!" Then the announcer looked at him with Murder in his eyes and said "OK, WHEN I SHOOT THIS GUN THE MATCH WILL START. TWO MEN ENTER, ONE MAN LEAVES WITH HONOR, ONE MAN LEAVES WITH DISHONOR. FIGHT WITH HONOR." The next thing I Knew there was a Huge shotgun explosion and a bunch of Bird Shot bounced off the roof as the Announcer shot the starting shotgun, I Looked at Billiam who Ripped off his uniform with his bear hands and went ripping toward me in his boots and his fighting shorts. I Opened my mouth and let out a huge scream and Yelled "GET HIM MR CHUCKLES!!!!" Then I looked where the Gorilla was supposed to be and All that was left was a tore up leash and Mr Chuckles was gorillaing away into the audience with dishonorable Ape screams of terror, I was on my own!! "OH SHIT I'M A SITTING DUCK!!!!!!!!!!" I Screamed and prepared for Combat!!
    3 points
  14. Somewhere between the Desert Rose and a "warehouse" district, Haven Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________[/i] I stood at the entranceway to an alley roughly 2 blocks from the Desert Rose, a bar that was likely Octavia's intended destination before her current predicament, and also happened to run alongside the back of a warehouse that potentially matched what we knew of the looters that stole our shipment. An unwelcome coincidence and one we couldn't just ignore, the likelihood of this new aggressor being somehow tied to group that lifted our now three times stolen LosTech shipment was much higher than I was comfortable with. I was once more glad I had decided to go a little heavy on the weaponry for what was supposed to have been a quick retrieval from out in the desert. Leaning up against the sandstone wall, one of several brick structures in this area of town, I waited non-chalantly for Maxwell to indicate he was in position on the far end of the alley and likely not blending in as much as I thought I was. Two short beeps on the comms, the signal from Captain Maxwell that he was ready, I reached up calmly and adjusted the collar on my duster with both hands as though shaking dust from the long jacket while discreetly activating the military comm unit on my left ear. "Bastion here, in position Eden," I said almost sub-vocally, the vibration based mic easily and clearly picking up the words, while using a separate encrypted channel on the comms due to the Baroness's assailant having easy access to our normal one. Based on Alyssa's intel we had decided to split into three for our approach to the alley and warehouse, Maxwell and I would each go to an end of the alleyway and enter from the East and West, respectively, while Schuster was going to find a way up onto the rooftop of the buildings along the south side of the alley in order to get a view from above. The plan was to encroach upon their last known position from every direction we could to minimize any chance of escaping and hopefully overwhelm the assailant before they could spring a trap or get reinforcements. It was a good plan, but even the best laid plans rarely survived enemy contact and this one was very hastily put together. "Rebus here, also in position," came Schuster's response immediately afterwards. "Copy that, Eden in position," answered Maxwell, "Move in." With a pointless but habitual nod I slid fluidly into the alleyway, the open duster blowing out behind me as the gentle breeze caught the large leather jacket for a moment. Using the wind to my advantage I reached in to my back and unholstered the KTS bull-pup shotgun that had been stored on the small of my back and brought it up to a ready position. The plan was to move quickly, using our element of surprise to its greatest advantage, as such the compact design of the pump-action shotgun, combined with the close quarters of the alleyway, made it the ideal weapon for such an engagement. The alleyway itself was vacant but far from empty, the dusty path was littered with debris, a mixture of regular trash, discarded building materials, and miscellaneous rubble, and the noonday sun gave the whole scene a bit of an ancient Terran Wild West feel, being on a desert planet just compounded the feeling. I half expected to see a tumbleweed roll across the alley and hear a twangy guitar belt out an iconic tune but there was nothing but a bit of blowing sand and a rusty dumpster. Halfway down my side of the alley I came across another set of dumpsters, these ones still in usable condition, and had to jog around them as I continued my way deeper, clearing the small corners quickly before proceeding in case someone was lying in wait. After rounding this set of dumpsters and its associated pile of debris and trash I could make out the shape of a person leaning against the wall of the alley some distance ahead, they appeared to be near an opening in the alleyway itself, most likely leading into the warehouse compound to the north judging from my limited knowledge of the layout. From this distance, and with the assorted desert-wear the person was wearing there was no way to know if this person was the one we had been speaking with about Octavia or just some random person, or worse a guard for the aforementioned warehouse. They seemed to be waiting for someone or something though, so that was promising, and he was standing near an even larger assortment of dumpsters, several of which were open, and had more than a few large piles of building materials and rubble strewn about them. "Eden, Bastion, I've got something," came Nick's voice on the encrypted comms, "One contact in the alleyway, appears to be alone, but something's not right." "I see them Rebus, explain," replied Charles. "Hard to be certain from here but they appear to be male, pretty sure the Baroness's captor sounded female earlier." "True, could have been a modulator though, keep an eye out for anyone else, I'm approaching," stated the Captain before asking, "Bastion, we'll come in weapons hot but hold fire for my mark." "Roger that sir, ready when you are," I replied closing to a distance where I could engage the unknown contact if needed. As Maxwell and I closed in on the person I saw them look first towards the Captain, their posture straightening sharply before the took a step back and snapped their head in my direction. I got a good look at their eyes as he did so, their posture, body type and facial features suggesting they were male at this closer distance, and saw nothing but fear and shock in them as he staggered back against the wall. "W-w-wait!" he stuttered out as he pushed back against the wall, Maxwell and I still closing in from either side though carefully keeping our distance, "D-don't shoot!" "Who are you?" demanded Maxwell, as the man held up his hands. "Fuck this, she didn't say anything about guns or mercs. I'm out!" the unknown man nearly cried before doing his best to slip past Maxwell, who kept his rifle trained on him even as he stumbled and ran down the alleyway back the way Maxwell had come. "Well shit, I doubt he would have been useful anyways," I said as I came up beside Maxwell. "Yeah, he likely would have passed out from fear if we'd made him stay, and I wasn't about to shoot a civilian just to stop him," replied Maxwell with a shake of his head. "True, at least we're likely in the right spot, assuming the 'She' he mentioned is our captor we're looking for," I answered. With a nod Charles keyed his comm while I moved to investigate the opening in the alleyway towards the warehouse, "Rebus, contact was a bust. You got anything up there?" "Negative Eden, Bastion is checking out the only item of interest, appears to be a back entrance to that warehouse. Alleyway is full of trash but not much else," came Schuster's response. After acknowledging Nick's assessment the Captain moved to my position and we continued investigating the rear of the warehouse. There were no guards or any signs of recent activity back here but that didn't mean much as there was likely multiple entrances and the presence of exterior guards would likely draw unwanted attention from the other locals. The building itself was surprisingly solid despite its dilapidated look, there were definitely portions of the building that were abandoned to the elements for an extended period of time but this particular entrance was rather robust looking. The exterior was heavily weather worn and looked to be little more than layered sheet metal bolted and/or riveted on top of further sheet metal but closer examination revealed a solid frame inside with evidence of a brick or concrete core in some parts. The door itself appeared to be a salvaged blast door securely mounted inside a makeshift steel frame that was not rusted at all and only mildly weather worn, at least in comparison. Several narrow vertical slits in the structure provided limited views inside and were the only form of windows accessible from our location, assumedly the narrow profile was designed to help the building weather the frequent sandstorms and high winds. Through one of the slits I spotted something promising, as opposed to empty or dust covered crates and empty floorspace seen through most of the windows this one was showing the edge of a pile of much cleaner looking equipment and a few smaller crates, nothing definitive but it was the best we had so far. Calling Captain Maxwell over he examined what he could through the window as well, picking out a detail I had missed and spotting what appeared to be the gold and black emblem of Irian Technologies on one of the smaller crates. With this discovery we had at least located our missing shipment, however we still had no idea where Octavia had been taken or the location of her assailant. Time was running out as we approached the 10 minute time-limit the Baroness's captor had laid out and while we didn't suspect she would immediately kill Octavia, based on our interaction so far, there was no telling what she might do to make her point should we refuse her demands. The most likely scenario was that the captor had moved the Baroness into the warehouse for 'safe keeping' and was potentially laying in wait for us. "Alright, so we've got our missing shipment located and a likely location they could be holding the Baroness in," said Charles as we reconvened. "What's next? Bust in guns blazing or do we bring in local authorities?" I asked, not really wanting to bring in locals but not sure how the Captain wanted to play this. "About thrice-stolen goods? Probably not the best play here," chuckled Captain Maxwell. "Point taken, guns blazing it is, now how do we get in? I didn't bring THAT kind of firepower," I replied. Charles smiled knowingly before opening our encrypted comm channel, "Control, we've located the stash but still nothing solid on Exile, do you still have a read on her comm unit?" "I do Eden, it's still reading the headset in that same area. I'm showing all 4 of you in the same vicinity currently, I could get a better resolution on location if we had the drone up," replied Alyssa. "Let's hold on that for a minute Control, I have a feeling our captor isn't working alone and likely moved Exile into the warehouse. We're going to breach and clear, if we still have nothing on Exile by then we'll bring up the drone and deal with the consequences," said Maxwell over the comms. "So Bastion, think this will get us through that door?" inquired Charles as he unveiled a breaching charge from somewhere on his person, "had it for the container in the desert but we didn't end up needing it there." "Oh I think that will definitely do the trick sir," I smiled as I gestured towards the door. Charles moved quickly to the door and expertly set the charges, the breaching charge itself was a set of explosives laid out in a circular pattern on an adhesive pad designed to be attached to most any wall or door and then remote detonated to either destroy the door itself or damage the frame and/or wall enough to remove the door from the equation entirely. With the charges set Maxwell and I retreated to safe distance and took cover behind the sandstone wall on either side of the alleyway entrance towards the warehouse. As Maxwell thumbed the detonator the comm sprang to life with what sounded like a shouted warning from Nick. "Eden, wait--" came Schuster's voice but was cut off abruptly, though it didn't seem to be from the explosion itself as his voice cut off moments before the breaching charge detonated. ****************** Nick was kneeling on one knee at the raised edge of the rooftop, the sandstone building sporting a series of crenellation-like sections rising above the rest of the raised rooftop edge at the corners of the building, and used one of those structures as both support and partial cover as he continued to survey the alleyway below while Orlex and the Captain discussed breaking into the warehouse. Something was off about the nearby dumpsters but he couldn't quite put his finger on it, true there were more of them but it was close to the warehouse entrance so that was to be expected. Several of them were sitting open, their large lids flipped up against the sandstone wall and obscuring the fact that they were rather far from the wall itself, but again the open lids themselves weren't that odd. That was when he noticed the unusual pattern in the dusty dirt path making up the alleyway floor, the constant wind had nearly erased it, which explained why he hadn't noticed before, but the remnants of what appeared to be a scuffle could be seen from above, or more precisely it looked like something, or someone, had been dragged through this portion of the alleyway towards the large collection of dumpsters. There didn't appear to be much traffic through here normally, and so there was no way to tell for sure if this was where Octavia had been ambushed or if she had merely been dragged here by the assailant, but it definitely appeared that someone had stashed something worthy of note near the dumpsters. As Nick observed this and came to that conclusion he moved to radio Captain Maxwell and Orlex just as they were detonating the breaching charge, if he was quick enough he might get them before they did and they could then investigate the dumpsters without alerting anyone and everyone to their presence. Unknown and unseen to Schuster another figure was creeping up behind him, the lithe figure was wrapped in dark clothes and a heavy scarf obscuring their face, slipping from shadow to shadow along the rooftop as they got closer and closer to the unsuspecting Schuster. The man raised a hand to his ear, likely activating the comm unit he wore as he began to speak the shadow struck. She initially misjudged, or else this man was slippery than she anticipated as the initial tackle knocked Schuster against the raised wall but did not hit his head as hard as was likely expected. As Nick slipped free of the tenuous grasp, Claire quickly disengaged and slunk low into the corner of the roof, her legs coiled and ready to pounce as she reassessed the man standing before her. An explosion rocked the alleyway below, a controlled and clearly intentional detonation, but it distracted Schuster just enough and Claire took full advantage of it. She launched herself forward from the relative cover of the rooftop crenellation, striking with a fist aimed at the man's temple, he tried to duck but still took a glancing blow off his skull and he staggered slightly. Claire pivoted quickly, using the momentum from the glancing blow to redirect herself and launch a knee into Schuster's floating rib, the blow driving the air from him. To his credit the young man stayed standing, a fierce defiance in his eyes, he quickly backed off again and began to draw his sidearm, too slow though as Claire closed the gap immediately and jammed his hand, momentarily keeping the pistol in its holster. Schuster tried to punch the young woman, her scarf having moved enough to expose her face now, but she deftly parried his fist and then reversed it with an arm lock as she swept his leg out from under him. He abandoned the sidearm in its holster in order to use his hand to negate the arm lock as he lost his balance and the two of them tumbled to the rooftop, the impact again knocking the wind from Nick but at least the pressure on his arm was gone. Scrambling to get up Claire aggressively came at him again throwing a flurry of punches which Nick managed to mostly block or at least lessen the blows enough to have little effect, every time Nick would try to deliver a strike of his own Claire would close the gap again and either try to grapple whichever limb he was using or throw a knee or elbow aimed at any weak point she could find. A blow to the inside of the knee, a kidney strike, back of the head, even the armpit, Nick felt clearly outmatched and it was only a matter time before he buckled under the intense attacks. His sidearm went skidding across the rooftop suddenly, seemingly of its own accord as he had not attempted to draw it again, mostly due to not having a chance to, his arm was wrenched behind himself as Claire slipped to his backside and locked him up with a deep hammerlock and he was forced to one knee as Claire kicked out his leg violently. Something cold and sharp pressed against the side of his neck as heavy breathing washed over him as she leaned in close to his ear, but not close enough where he could try to headbutt her or anything. "Now then, let's see if your friends are willing to bargain for you." ****************** "Rebus, what have you got?" asked Charles, the sudden silence after the breaching charge's explosion faded was disconcerting. Nothing but silence, I thought I heard some scuffling sounds but when I looked towards the rooftop I couldn't see anything. "Rebus come in, what's your situation?" inquired Charles again, looking towards me. I shook my head, "This doesn't bode well." "Agreed, see if you can find..." began Charles before he was cut off by a voice on our standard comm channel, the one compromised by Octavia's assailant. "Hello again, time's up by the way. Also it looks like I've got another of your men. If you're supposed to be bodyguards or something I gotta say you're rather pathetic at it," said the unknown voice, the same one as before. Fuck mouthed Charles, before nodding to me and gesturing towards the roof then keying his comm, "We meet again, these are less than favourable circumstances I must admit." "Not my problem," replied the young sounding female voice, "About our deal. My terms just went up, and tell your man to stay where he is unless you want the young blond fellow to die. I'm assuming you're the one in charge and the fellow heading for the roof here is under your command." As the unknown woman was talking I had moved down the alley, planning to get to the next set of dumpsters and use them to get up on the roof of the adjacent building then make my way back to where Schuster had been, however I stopped dead when she issued her threat and looked back towards Captain Maxwell, he held up a hand and then gestured me back. "Good, at least you can follow directions. Maybe we can all come away from this unharmed," continued the woman. "Best way for that to happen is to release the blond one and return the Baroness to us unharmed," replied Charles. "I'm not stupid," came the quick reply, "You're going to lower your weapons and raise your hands up so I can see them, I'll come out so you can see I'm not bluffing about blondie here, and then we'll discuss my new terms." Again I looked over at Charles and he shrugged, we couldn't risk Schuster's life, even if we suspected the secret robot army in his bloodstream could revive him or heal him through whatever this crazy woman was threatening to do, it was too big of a risk. Both Charles and I lowered our weapons and then raised our hands slightly, a moment later a figure stepped out from cover on the rooftop. Initially I could only see Schuster, the glare of the sun obscuring whoever was behind him, but as they moved they came into focus and I could see a young, strong looking dark haired woman wrapped in a scarf and dark clothing. She appeared to have Nick in a hammerlock or similar hold and was currently holding a wicked looked straight blade up against the side of Nick's neck, I couldn't tell from the distance but Nick's expression made it pretty clear the blade was already cutting into his skin some. "Alright, what are your demands?" inquired Charles, still using the comms although we were close enough we could likely hear each other if we spoke loudly enough. Before the young woman could respond though shouting and sudden gunfire drew our attention back towards the warehouse we had just blown the door in on. Instinctively Charles and I ducked further into our cover against the alleyway wall and reached for our weapons again, a series of rounds exploded off the sandstone bricks and several more ripped through the air towards the rooftop. I heard Nick yell and then saw the woman diving back into the cover she had just left, leaving Nick still out in the open as his suddenly free hand reached towards the opposite shoulder and he too moved for cover on the other side of the roof. I peeked around the corner towards the warehouse and saw four thugs striding out of the blasted in door, crude looking slug-throwing weapons in hand as the makeshift guns spat out rounds with what appeared to be little accuracy. I fired off a pair of shotgun blasts from cover with my recovered KTS, the selector switch on the buckshot tube magazine and sending two tightly packed clouds of large pellets blasting towards the warehouse, downing one of the unarmoured goons. Charles added his own blind fire from his rifle, the spray dropping another of the thugs while an additional four men charged out of the warehouse. "Having your gang attack us from behind isn't exactly doing well for your credibility here, I should also mention you don't have nearly enough firepower to take our ship if that's your plan," called Charles over the open comm to Octavia's captor. "These guys aren't mine, and need I remind you that it was YOU that blasted open that damned door," replied the unidentified woman, "You're the one who woke these pricks up." "Fair, but we can't exactly take your word for it, how do we know these guys aren't working with you?" asked Charles as he continued to return fire against the new threat. "They are shooting at ME TOO!" yelled the young woman, "Not sure what else you're expecting. Tell you what, if you survive this I'll return Blondie to you with no harm from me." "Uh Captain, just to be clear I'm already free, and while she's damn fast I don't think she wants to run across an open rooftop while getting shot at just to try and grab me again," interjected Schuster. "Rebus, good to hear from you, what's your status?" asked Maxwell. "I'm good sir, minor gunshot wound, couple cuts and bruises, nothing I can't handle. Need to recover my gun though, lost it in the scuffle earlier but it should be up here somewhere," stated Nick. "Copy that, keep an eye on our bogey there, don't let her get the drop on you again, Bastion and I can handle down here," replied Charles as we both gunned down another warehouse thug. A much larger, and heavier set, goon came lumbering out of the warehouse now, this one was armoured with what looked like makeshift iron plating hanging off him with leather straps and a welding helmet reinforced with plates of iron or steel on his head. He carried a large, heavy barreled machinegun looking weapon with a large belt of ammunition slung into an open box beneath the weapon and a tank on his back with hoses running into a shroud around the barrel. The heavily armoured thug let out a psychotic sounding laugh that was somehow clearly heard above the gunshots and then proceeded to unload a blistering hail of fire from the machinegun that tore through the sandstone like butter, the heavy rounds sending clouds of dust billowing into the air as the ripped fist sized chunks from the bricks. The machinegun toting goon raked his fire across the rooftop, blowing out close to half of the crenellations before fighting to bring the weapon to bear on my cover, the barrel glowing with the heat of continuous fire and steam pouring off the barrel shroud as his backpack, which appeared to be some sort of liquid cooling device, struggled to keep the gun operational. I was forced to move back further from the corner as the brick was eroded away under the unrelenting assault, unable to even attempt blind firing as what appeared to tracers mixed into the belt of ammo send streaks of iridescent metal ripping through air where I had been taking cover only moments before. "So new terms there Captain fellow," began the young woman again, presumably still trying to take cover behind the partially destroyed crenellations. "Not really the best time miss," answered Maxwell through gritted teeth as he poured fire onto the heavy gunner, nearly everything was deflecting off the heavy plate armour and whatever drugs was keeping the thug going also meant he didn't care about any superficial wounds he might have received. "Here me out," she continued, unabated, "You get me out of this alive, providing you survive as well, and I'll return the Baroness to you unharmed. No ransom needed. We can discuss passage on your ship then." "There's no free ride here, I'm all for a truce right now but you're going to need to help out if you expect us to try and keep you alive," answered Charles. "Fine," was the only response, a moment later a rock came flying from the rooftop smashing into a shoulder of one of the unarmoured goons. Shortly after the heavy gunner's deluge of fire finally ceased, smoke and steam pouring off the glowing barrel and shroud leading me to believe the gun malfunctioned from overuse as opposed to any intentional cessation of firing. Taking the opportunity both Maxwell and I unloaded into the large man with our guns, myself having switched to solid slugs to have the best chance at punching through a weak spot in his makeshift armour. The solid slugs cratered massive holes into the armour plating but nothing seemed to be punching through yet while the full auto fire from Captain Maxwell's rifle began finding unarmoured spots to punch through. First dropping the man to a knee, though he continued beating on the machinegun and pulling at the charging handle in an attempt to clear the jammed weapon, then taking a sizable chunk out of his shoulder and completely disabling his left arm, but the weapon's sling/harness kept it in place well enough he still continued working to unjam it. Another couple rounds found purchase on the welding helmet and spun it sideways on his head before one of my slugs removed most of his lower jaw, somehow this jacked up beast was still working to clear his gun and even managed to cycle the charging handle fully, ejecting the problematic round, before the Captain's next burst found his now unarmoured neck and nearly decapitated the heavy gunner to finally stop him.
    3 points
  15. "Your friend is dea-- scratch that, just KO'd. Head harder than the brick wall it seems. You the ship that just landed?" I felt a chill go down my spine at the words. Delivered with a spiteful, spittle-laced brogue, there was no hint at all that this person - whoever she might have been - was bluffing. We'd switched vehicles at the spaceport before driving into town, and I now I gazed up into the driver's compartment of the Hover APC toward Bishop, who narrowed his eyes with fury. "Give me a bag of guns and ten minutes. I'll have her back on board," Weyland hissed, a bloodthirsty vengeance in his tone. Lieutenant Jaeger, listening intently to the radio traffic beside me, cast me a worried glance. "I don't like the idea of sending anyone into a civilian center with guns blazing. Collateral damage aside, we have no idea what kind of a powder keg this town might be." I nodded in reply before addressing the unknown speaker again. "Tell us where you're at and we'll pick her up. No questions, no retribution." There came only a momentary pause before the speaker replied. "Mhm, no. I want off this Blake-forsaken planet. Either we both go or neither of us do. You have ten minutes to decide." The comm unit emitted a double chirp, indicating that the channel had been manually closed. I punched another button on the comm unit, opening an encrypted channel to Warrant Officer Chase. "Control, I don't know how much of that you heard, but I'm hoping you can get me a triangulation." "I got most of it, and I'm working on it now," Alyssa replied. "The headset is still kicking out a homing signal, but between the atmosphere causing all kinds of signal bounce and the layout of this town being so cluttered and disjointed, I'm only going to be able to get you the general location. I'm afraid a specific street isn't in the cards." "General location is better than nothing so long as we can have it quickly," I acknowledged. Even though the abductor claimed she wanted to deal, there was nothing stopping her from relocating somewhere that would be more advantageous to her and less so for us. While we waited, I looked to Orlex and Nick. "Options?" I asked. "If you're asking me whether or not I can hack this person's brain and get Octavia back, I'm afraid that's even outside of my abilities," Schuster replied. "I'm going to defer to him." "Alright, fair enough. Lieutenant Jaeger?" "There's something off about all of this," Orlex responded. "The minute Octavia steps off the transport to start asking around about the cargo, she gets yanked by one of the locals? That hardly seems random. Someone's been watching us; whether or not they're directly associated with the people who took the shipment is incidental. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there's a good chance they know more about us than we do about them. That makes a recovery operation inordinately more dangerous than it normally would be." "Alright, so we can't roll knee deep with people, but we also can't take the chance of simply saying, 'ok, fine, you want a taxi ride, come on over' and then jump whoever this is when they show up," I agreed. "So that leaves a precision operation." "Provided that Chase can get us a location, I think that'd be the best option," Jaeger offered. "You, me, and Nick go in, since we've got the most ground experience out of this immediate group other than Bishop, who we need here to facilitate a tactical escape if things go south. We get a lay of the land, and then we effect an evac the same way we'd do with an extraction raid." I nodded grimly. "I can get behind that. I hate that this is falling on us in broad daylight. I can't think of a worse setup for covert ops." The comm unit chirped again. I glanced at its display before replying. M.V. Hurry Up Bessie - ENCRYPTED CHANNEL "Eden here. I hope you have some good news for us, Control." "Yes and no," Chase answered. "The good news is, I've triangulated the signal to that large warehouse complex three streets over, beside the water tower. If you look out a window right now, you'll just be able to see its tin roof." I maneuvered to one of the Hover APC's portholes. Glancing out into the glare of day, my eyes traced across the skyline until a dingy, rusted, battered silo with innumerable graffiti marks came into view. Just below it was the long expanse of an old, dilapidated warehouse. "I see it," I confirmed. "Good. Now, here's the bad news - that warehouse also seems to fit the bill for a likely receiver of the alert tripped off at the salvage site. That's an indication that whoever this abductor is, she's likely not acting alone, and that you may be up against some stiff resistance, given how hard they managed to hit with a booby trap alone," Chase explained. "Lovely," I grumbled. "And you're saying that she's inside that warehouse?" "I don't think so - not yet, anyway. The location seems to be resolving to an alleyway on the building's south side - more or less. If you want, I can send a drone up to try and get a better look," Alyssa replied. "I've got a feeling that will attract more attention than we can presently afford," I answered. "Go ahead and get one on ready status, but don't go wings up until or unless we request it. What we could use your help with is keeping this hostage-taker busy when she calls back on the team comm. Tell her we're willing to negotiate, but drag out the details about where she's going, what she's bringing with her, where we can meet her, what kind of guarantees we have - anything you can think of to keep her talking. Meanwhile, we'll try to roll in from either end of that alley and assess the actual situation." "You got it," Chase confirmed. "I'll do what I can." "Meanwhile, I want the three of you," I continued, pointing to Levi, Mallory, and Bishop, "to be on hot standby to receive injured and clear us out of here." Levi's eyes widened. "Hopefully, that won't be necessary, but it's always better to be prepared," Doc reassured the man. "Indeed. Lieutenant Jaeger and Sergeant Schuster - let's roll out," I nodded. "Let's see if we can get the Baroness back in one piece - and perhaps our cargo while we're at it."
    3 points
  16. I stepped into the Goblin tank and pulled off my helmet, shaking the sand out of my hair as I did so. No sooner had I done so than Octavia Incendio was standing before me, an expression of fiery wrath on her countenance. "Next time you think you might be running the risk of reducing us all to hamburger meat, Captain, I would appreciate being forewarned," the Baroness seethed. "Traipsing inside that container after its tampering was apparent was a completely foolish maneuver and could have seriously jeopardized our mission. That the SRM charges were facing the wrong way was our only saving grace." "Thanks, Baroness - your concern for me is touching," I deadpanned, eliciting a confused expression from Octavia. Before she had a chance to formulate a response, the comm unit in the crew compartment crackled to life. "Don't be too hard on him, Octavia," Alyssa's voice interjected. "I was just on the radio with Schuster, and if they hadn't gotten a look at that transmitter, we might have been hosed. But since they did, I was able to pull a sensor replay from the drone. And it picked up a high-band RF burst coming from the container, directed back at Haven, just moments before the detonation. I can't tell you where the receiving station is, but based on the relatively low power of the signal, I would think that someone would need to have line-of-sight on the transmitter. And that suggests a tower somewhere." Incendio glared at the wall unit for a moment before returning her gaze to me. "Do you have any leads, Chase?" the Baroness asked, eyes locked with mine. "No, I'm afraid I haven't had the opportunity to ask the locals for a tour of their evil underground," Alyssa responded. Octavia rolled her eyes. "Fortunately, I've come to learn that the criminal network is fundamentally of a similar character no matter where it exists in the universe," she began before whirling on her heel to face the driver's compartment. "Bishop! Take us back into town!" "Captain?" Weyland asked as he slowly leaned out of the driver's seat, twisting around to look toward me with a mixture of agitation and bewilderment. "If you would be so kind, Lieutenant," I replied, casting a 'mind your manners' glance at the Baroness before returning to the task of evicting the Spindrift Desert from my attire. "Aye, sir. I'll rally the troops and roll us out." Fifteen minutes later, our convoy was tracing a long, winding line across the umber expanse, plying across the sun-blasted sea of sand toward the town we'd left behind only hours before...
    3 points
  17. Pirate Stash, Spindrift Desert Several hours from Haven/"the middle of nowhere" Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ The explosion desecrated the still, early morning, desert air, a plume of fire reaching up into the sky and sending the ambient temperature rocketing upwards, if only for a few seconds, well beyond the normal oppressive heat of the Spindrift Desert. Moments before we had been standing all too close to what was supposed to be our LosTech cache, or at least a portion of it, but instead ended up being an extremely oversized booby-trapped pipebomb. When the second light had come on at the far end of container I knew something was wrong, well we all knew before that since the container had been empty instead of packed full of priceless LosTech, but that second light, even though it was too far away to see any details, rang just about every alarm bell there was in my head. I spotted the haphazard wires running along the one side of the container back towards the door and took a wild guess that whoever had cleared this place out also took measures to make sure anyone else coming looking for it wouldn't continue looking. I couldn't be sure though as the few remaining items in the container didn't offer any clear indication that they contained explosives, however before I had a chance to voice my concern Schuster had apparently come to a more conclusive decision and ran back towards us while shouting, Maxwell and I both started to turn before Nick plowed into us at full speed, catching us mid-stride and sending all three of us tumbling down into the sandy desert. Dust, debris, and a whole lot of sand came raining down on us seconds later just as the ringing the in my ears finally became audible. "Are you guys OK? I just saw a huge explosion from up here!!" came Alyssa's more than slightly worried voice on the comms, her drone feed likely picking up the explosion easily even if it couldn't make out details of individuals yet. "We're fine, Control.......I think. Captain Maxwell? Lieutenant Jaeger? You alright? Sorry for the rough landing," replied Schuster shakily as he attempted to regain his feet. "I'm good," I replied, working my way out from under Nick as he slowly stood on the shifting sands. "We're all good Control," answered Charles on the comms as he did the same, "just knocking the sand out of our hair." "With high explosives? Great idea Eden, maybe we can use a vehicle Flamer to dry out our clothes next time they get wet, while we're wearing them," admonished Alyssa in a less than jovial tone. "It was surprisingly effective," I offered, "at least momentarily, though it definitely wasn't the plan." "No it was not," replied Charles seriously, though shaking his head in a silent chuckle, "Control, someone got here before us, cleaned it out and tried to make sure no one could follow us." "Shit," said Alyssa over the comms, "Alright, drone's in range now and I can see you all appear to be in one piece, minus the cargo container of course. I'm going to sweep the perimeter again and see if I can't find ... something, the storm likely erased any tracks we might have found though." "Agreed," answered Maxwell, "we'll check out the wreckage here and see if we can turn anything up." As Charles and Alyssa discussed our immediate next steps I had already moved towards the still smoking remnants of the cargo container, curious as to how we managed to survive such a blast. An explosion powerful enough to rip the container apart the way it did should have been easily enough to take us out too, especially since the container itself, by its very nature, would try and funnel most of the blast out the path of least resistance, in this case the open door. Unless the blast itself was strong enough to just punch straight through the container regardless of the open door, but in that case an explosion that strong still should have gotten us since it would have had a larger blast radius in all directions. Only thing I could come up with was if it had been a shaped charge, and it had been pointing in the wrong direction, basically anywhere but towards the door, that would have directed most of the blast away from us while still provided enough energy to destroy the container itself with relative ease. "Find anything Jaeger?" called Maxwell as he made his way into the smoking crater, followed closely by Nick. "Not really, a whole bunch of scrap metal," I replied with a sigh, nothing was left that could be identified. As Charles and Nick got closer I shared my theory on the explosion with them, Charles nodding in agreement before Nick confirmed my suspicions, "Yeah it was a pair of SRMs, didn't get a good look, you know imminent death and explosion and all, but they were dismantled and jury rigged to the homing device it looked like." "Great, so not only did they try and blow us up, or whoever found this thing next, but there's a chance they might be aware that their little booby trap went off," I replied grimly, "This day just keeps getting better." "It's not all bad," answered Charles, "if they bothered to rig it up to the beacon, assuming they had the intention of knowing when the trap was sprung, that means that whoever did this is likely planetside, or at the very least somewhere in system. That beacon was putting out a local signal only, no HPG link and no way of transmitting over large distances. We practically had to be in orbit before we could pick it up properly." "True, at least that gives us something," I said nodding, "maybe the locals could provide us a lead? Hell the locals might be the ones that swiped it in the first place." "You've got a point there," replied Charles. "Somehow I don't think the locals are going to just point us in the right direction though," added Nick, "they didn't strike me as the welcoming, or helpful, type." "They aren't," grumbled Charles, "but there are ways to persuade them." "Let's get back to the transports and decide our next move there," continued Charles, somewhat abruptly changing tones, "at the very least we can get out of the sun while Alyssa runs her sweep."
    3 points
  18. “Attaboy, you can do this,” Captain Maxwell said, and then went back to the passenger area. I put my Thermo Man helmet on and messed with the controls for its sensors while Bishop impatiently flicked a loose piece of rubber on the steering handle grip. With all the sand swirling around outside I couldn’t get my heat vision or anything else to come into focus. As a last resort I set everything’s focal distance to the longest possible and slowly cranked it in, but I got nothing at all until I was close to the nearest focus possible and could faintly make out a few bumps and some linear features on my helmet’s ultrasonic display layer, maybe walking paths or dry creek beds? I switched off the sensor displays to check them against my regular vision. The pattern remained, as scrapes and dings in the tank’s windshield. “You think I could try sticking my head outside or something?” I asked Bishop. “We’re so well protected in here, all I can see is windshield.” Bishop shrugged. “May as well, sand won’t kill ya.” So I went back to the passenger compartment and climbed up to where I could reach the hatch’s latch. “Wow, did Bishop scare you that bad?” Captain Maxwell joked. “I’m just going to try sticking my head out so I can use the sensors without the windshield in the way - if that’s alright.” Octavia looked like she was about to say something, but Maxwell cut her off. “Sure, do your thing.” I opened the hatch and heard a noise that sounded sort of like static, but it was actually a bunch of sand pounding me on the head. I climbed a couple steps higher and stuck my head and shoulders outside so that there’d be less sand raining down on everybody else. “Hey Bishop, can you hear me?” I shouted into the helmet’s mic. “Yeah, if you sound like static,” Bishop said with his voice all distorted and buzzy. “What have you got?” “Uuuuhh,” I said, and wriggled around so I could get my hand outdoors to adjust the dials on the back of the helmet. “There’s a ditch about ten meters ahead of us, we’re gonna need to turn around.” A long, staticky sigh came over the mic. “Alright, is the turn radius clear?” “Yeah, no other obstacles nearby,” I said. Bishop got the tank turned around and slowly rolling along, and I called out the rocks and ditches and stuff I was able to see on my helmet’s sensors. I started to get the hang of what things like “signal’s at ten o’clock” meant, and Bishop got real used to hearing “I meant your other left!” We found the end of the big ditch that’d stopped us in the beginning and got around it, and continued on towards the target. And then I heard Bishop shout. “Not unless you can drive a tank!” “Um, what?” I asked. “I don’t think I got that.” “I was talking to Her Highness,” Bishop grumbled. “Says her seat is too sandy for her.” “Oh. Um, look out, big rock on the right!” There was a bang, and the tank lurched. “Can’t you call it fucking starboard?” Bishop shouted. “Um, sorry, I don’t know which one that is,” I said. “Path to the left is clear for about twenty meters, though.” We kept on like that for a couple hours, and I was glad it was night time because my head would’ve been cooking being outside the tank otherwise. My helmet kept the sand out pretty good, since I’d reinforced the visor’s seal after my match against The Mad Entymologist, but it got in through the collar of my jacket and the cracks in the zipper and maybe even the seams, and I thought I felt sand somehow falling down the legs of my pants, too. I could only imagine how bad it was in the passenger area with sand blowing down in all around me. If the storm got any worse I wouldn’t even be able to hear Bishop over the mic. “Signal at one o’ clock, looks within fifty meters,” Bishop said. “You can see distance on that thing?” “I can at this range. How’s the path?” “Clear as far as I can see, which isn’t all that far, and there’s a big fuzzy something way ahead that might be our box.”
    3 points
  19. Market, in town Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 11, 3029 I hummed cheerfully to myself as I bit into an apple, in good spirits. Thank Blake for drunkards and bars. In vino veritas, and harbormasters were no different. Bragging about a haul from the surprise ship, buying rounds that somehow weren't as effective when I kept swapping his glass with mine after he chugged most of his. With that kind of haul, he wouldn't miss the few hundred I lifted from his pockets. Nowhere near the twenty-five thousand he crowed that he'd taken, but enough to keep me fed and hopefully enough to cover a bribe to get off the planet if they found me before liftoff. No wonder Reaper had been so uptight with bribes and protection rackets - handling my own expenses was proving troublesome. How the hell did people do this constantly? Much easier to have the gang cover everything. Needing to track what I had, what I needed... too many numbers. Too much energy that could instead be spent brawling. Climbing to my vantage point, I hunkered down prone to watch the warehouse, a stolen set of binoculars helping focus my eyes on the guards. Useless pricks had a pattern so far. Fifteen minutes between rounds in sets of two, with two guards looping the roof in twenty minute rotations. Repetitive. Seemed more for show than actual effectiveness. Either they had more gun power than they publicly boasted, or - more likely - bribes were the way in. Ah, at least that was the same everywhere. Another bite of apple, washed down with some water. Even underground the heat clung like an unwelcome guest. Too many C-bills went to fluids that were being sweated out sitting, but better to spend the money and stay hydrated. Boring as the stakeout was - by Blake it was the dullest part of any job - too much depended on making a move quickly. Add in needing to time how to get on the mysterious ship with the package, and every second could count. Too early and they might search the ship for the package. Too late and I might miss one. Or both. The longer I stayed undiscovered on the ship, the less likely I'd have to turn to unpleasantness or more... direct... coercion to negotiate. Another few bites, and the apple, core included, was finished, and I carefully spit the seeds into my palm before tucking them into my pocket before checking the ground to make sure none had fallen during my meal. Seeing none, I settled back into position, still watching. Still. Bored.
    3 points
  20. MEANWHILE..... After everyone had left out of the HURRY UP BESSIE I watched as the Tank and the ACP revved away into the night, "God speed mighty Warriors" I said, then I put my gym bag on my Shoulders and I walked down the space ramp onto the sundered spaceport. I had been gave an address, the Dust Up Dome, and I had to get there to set up my Traps and pump some iron before the match, only problem was I didn't have any traps so I had to find a Trap Store to go and buy the gear that I needed. I waloked over to the road and I looked around, there were a bnch of buildings everywhere that were mostly a ruin and a sign that said TAXI STAND. So I went over to the taxi stand where there was a pickup truck , all rust and ruined tires, and it had the word TAXI on the side of it. "Hi, I need a tax, are you one?" "YES I AM A TAXI" the man inside said, he is a big guy probably from House Marik space going by his tattoos, he had a little red hat on like you see in the old movies, also he had an eyepatch on like he was a pirate except he was a pickup truck driver. "I need to go to the Dust Up Dome, first I have to go get some traps, can you take me to the trap store??" The man looked at me for a while and then said "You are fighting at the Dust Up Dome?? Where is your Uniform???" "Wait what, nobody said anything about a uniform!! I am going for my Belt Title, I didn't even bring my martial clothes!!" I Yelled back. "Well what do you have in your backpack???" The trucker demanded. I Looked at him, "NEVER YOU MIND, I DON'T WANT TO TELL YOU BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO GET ROBBED, ANYWAY IT'S JUST WEIGHTS AND AN ATHLETIC CUP!!" The trucker looked at me again, "OK, get in and I'll take you to the trap store" So I got in the truck and threw my bag in the bed, the trucker put the engine in gear and gunned it a bunch of times, it made a bunch of groin grabbing noises and then it went ripping away from the curb. We went bounching down the road, it was a dirt road with a bunch of potholes, I started to get car sick and I looked over at the driver. "Hey can you slow down, youre going too fast and-" All of the sudden we hit a HUG pot hole and the truck FLEW up in the air and slammed back down, I slammed back down on my gooch really hard and I yelled in pain, right then I felt a humungous barf coming on and I shouted "OH SHIT I'M ABOUT TO GET SICK YOU GOTTA GIVE ME A BARF BAG" The Driver looked at me and went "I DON'T HAVE A BARF BAG THIS ISN'T AN AIRPLANE" I didn't want to get barf on myself so I ripped open the Glove Box and I..... HORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRKKKKKKK I wiped the side of my mouth with my sleeve and closed the glove box, then we hit another huge pot hole and I bashed my head inside of the truck and I heard a gigantic bunch of Crashing and metal noises behind us, I looked in the side view mirror and I saw the most horrible thing, my bag with all of my iron pumping Gear and my jock strap had flew out of the truck bed and landed all over the road, before I could say anything a bunch of metal scavengers ran out of all the buildings on both sides of the road and Looted all of my weights and other gears, now I only had the clothes on my back to guide me to the fight!! "You drove crazy and now all my stuff is lost!!" I Yelled, the driver looked at me with murder in his mind and then he Rammed the pickup truck up on the Curb and smashed into a mailbox, the mail went everywhere and I heard a bunch of Animal noises on account of all of the animals that were living inside the box, a feral cat jumped out and attacked some guy who was going for a walk. "WE'RE HERE" bellowed the driver, then he held out his hand "THAT'LL BE 82.75 C Bills" "That's a crazy insane amount of money to go like 2 miles!!" I yelled "I want to speak to a representative!!" The man looked at me like his brain glitched out, then he said "GET OUT OF MY TAXI!!" The next thing I knew I was FLYING backwards in slow motion and dumping all over the curb on the mail pile when the driver went speeding away honking his horn like a maniac and Swerving. A ton of metal dudes came running out and they stole the sundered Mailbox and also the truck bumper that had fell off the driver's truck when he had crashed the mailbox. I stood up and heard all the bones in my legs making terrible cracking noises, "Ohhhhhhh thats bad" I said, then I looked at the building where I had went. TREVOR'S TRAP-O-TORIUM the sign said, I walked inside and there was a guy behind the counter. "Excuse me, is this the trap store???" I asked. The man looked at me. "YES, YES, what do you want??" "I Need some traps." I Said, "I'm fighting in the rink for my Belt Title, I Need traps and a uniform and some tag team animals." Then I looked around, "What should I buy???" "WELL I think you should buy a bear trap and some Gaiden flailers and a rope trap and some snare cages, also I can rent you a Gorilla for the tag team match, but you have to buy 2 uniforms, 1 for you and 1 for the gorilla." Then he pointed at a cage, there was a huge gorilla inside that was smoking a cigarette and scratching its butt, it looked lazy and not ferocious. "Are you sure that's a fighting gorilla???" I Asked. "YES OF COURSE I ONLY SELL FIGHTING GORILLAS" the man said. "Ok fine, I'll take all those traps and the gorilla and 2 uniforms. Also I need a Athletic Cup" Then the man nodded sternly and he got out all the traps and dumped them on the counter with a Metal athletic cup that looked like it was 1/2 a soup can with a strap in it. "I Need batteries for the Gaiden flailers too" I said, then the man slapped a pack of batteries down on the counter and then got out 2 black swimsuits, the 1 piece kind that old timey wrestlers wear, they had TREVORS TRAPOTORIUM written on the front and KICK HERE on the butt. "WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE??" I asked. "Those are your uniforms, you have to wear them if you want the gorilla!!" the shop guy Yelled. "OK FINE" I said, I didn't have time to screw around trying to find another shop, then the shop guy got out the gorilla and put its leash in my hand, now the gorilla was drinking a beer and smelled kinf of like pee. "THAT'S 782 C Bills and you have to bring the gorilla back in 24 hours" "Aaaaaaaaaagh, that's crazy expensive!!" I shouted and then I got out my Credit Card and gave it to the shop owner. The man ran the card and gave it back, there was a light flashing on it that said MAX CARD LIMIT REACHED "you probably need to pay your Balance soon" The man said. "Never mind that!!" I intoned, thjen I took all the traps and the swim suits and the gorilla and I went out into the street. "OK Mr Chuckles, how do we get to the Dust Up Dome??" I asked the gorilla. The gorilla did a big stinky burp and then sat down on the Curb, then I looked off in the diostance and I saw a sign made out of a bunch of different Neon sign letters that said DUST UP DOME, COMBAT AND TRIALS, OPEN 24/7. It was like a destiny, was I ready to meet it???
    3 points
  21. C.V. Hurry Up Bessie, Mule-class Dropship Plutus Docks, Haven Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 10, 3029 - 23:15 hours _______________________________________________ When I returned to ship I began tracking down the others, which didn't take very long, Nick was already inside the Goblin working on getting its Nav system to integrate with the homebrewed tracker we had cobbled together to trace the pirate's unorthodox homing beacon. The beacon itself we had expected to be able to pick up and track easily enough with the Bessie's sensors once we got within range of the planet, especially given we now had the encryption key courtesy of Malice, but while we could detect the signal we still couldn't triangulate it's location even after decrypting it. Some clever brainstorming and cannibalization of a noteputer resulted in an effective, if crude, method of tracking the unconventional, encrypted, helically randomized, beacon signal. Bishop on the other hand already had his gear bag in hand and was making his way towards the Goblin as I headed into the ship to track down Levi and Octavia. Bishop nodded as we past each other and I climbed into the open main cargo hold of the massive Mule-class dropship, as I entered I noted James from Captain Harlowe's original crew was settling in with a well worn executive style chair and semi-sturdy looking fold-up table in the middle of the cargo hold. On the table he had placed a couple decks of cards, a selection of old looking print magazines as well as a tablet style noteputer, a music player and portable tri-vid set with headphones and the aforementioned laser rifle that Nikki had instructed him to guard the ship with. At least he'll be able to guard against boredom, I thought as I passed by with a wave. Tracking down Levi required a fair bit more hunting around but I finally found him puttering away in one of the 'Mech Bays hastily installed in the cargo hold, conveniently out of sight from the main doors, his pace slowed by his continued use of crutches, on the Doctor's orders, and a crawler for a little added mobility. It looked like he had been welding away on the internals of autocannon which had a small collection of new and old/broken parts strewn about it and he was still wearing one of the mechanic jumpsuits he had taken to wearing while working with the other Techs. I called out to him as I approached and he almost seemed to recoil at the sound of his name, or perhaps it was just unexpected as the rest of the area was empty and likely had been for a while given the current time. "Hey Levi! Are you ready to go? We need to get to the Goblin ASAP," I asked as Levi seemed to freeze like a deer in headlights. "Umm, yeah, about that," he began, almost too soft spoken to hear given our distance apart, "Are you sure I'm supposed to be coming?" "Yes, you were at the briefing with the rest of us, you know you're coming with us," I replied. "Yeah, I guess," came the self-doubting response from Levi, he seemed unusually nervous about leaving the ship. "Remember this isn't Oberon, nobody here knows you and none of the gangs you might have been mixed up in have any kind of presence here. Hell, half the people here probably couldn't even tell you where Oberon is," I joked as I came up alongside Levi. "True," he replied slowly, seeming a bit more confident. "Besides," I said as I wrapped an arm over his shoulder and gently redirected him away from the 'mech cubicle, "you're on Team Jaeger for this OP, what could possibly go wrong." "Didn't you guys run into a platoon of Irian commandos last time? I'm pretty sure you ended up taking a .50 cal to the chest and only managed to survive with broken ribs through sheer stubbornness," quipped Levi with a half-smile. "It wasn't a .50 cal, but touché," I chuckled, removing my arm as I sensed it was hindering the use of his crutches, "Do you have your gear?" "Yeah, in the bag over there," replied Levi, indicating a gear bag back near the entrance of the 'mech bay we had just left. "I'll grab it," I said while trotting back to retrieve Levi's stuff, "you got everything?" "I think so, bolt cutters, laser torch, cutting disk, assorted other tools, some desert survival gear, Thermoman stuff," Levi replied as I caught back up to him, listing things off with his fingers while trying to juggle using the crutches too. "What about your gun?" I asked, adjusting the shoulder strap of the gear back as I transitioned to a walking pace. "Oh yeah, that too," he answered almost reluctantly, we had spent some time over the last few weeks teaching Levi the basics of firearm use, primarily just pistols, and while he was a long way from proficient he could at least semi-reliably hit a man-sized target at 10m (33') now. I still wasn't sure if he was just inexperienced with firearms, despite where he seemed to come from, or if he was in some way opposed to their use, but he seemed overly reluctant to wield a gun even at the firing range, though less so there. Before any further discussion of the topic could be made Octavia's voice echoed across the chamber as she approached and dominated the conversation, "There you are Mr. Jaeger! Finally, I was instructed to meet up with you before we departed and I've spent the last 10 minutes needlessly searching the ship top to bottom looking for you." "Baroness," I replied, the title seeming to come out of its own accord as though Octavia was dictating what should be said, "I was just on my way to find you next." "No need," she said dismissively before unceremoniously dumping her gear bag onto my free shoulder as she continued, "Ah good, I see you've made yourself useful." "I'm not..." I began before she essentially shushed me with her hand in the air. "Captain Maxwell requires me on the Goblin in 5 minutes, we shouldn't keep him waiting," stated Octavia matter-of-fact, as though I hadn't even spoken. "We are ALL required on the Goblin in 5 minutes, Baroness," I said, with no small amount of disdain on her title, "it would be faster if we all pulled our own weight, I should think." Octavia glanced back at me with a quick once over, "You seem to be doing fine, I'll see you on the transport." "Blake-damned Capellan," I mumbled under my breath, deciding it wasn't worth the fight currently, though still considering leaving her gear on the cargo hold's floor. Levi glanced over at me with a sympathetic look before we continued on, reaching the tank only a few paces behind Octavia herself, probably exactly as she had planned. The Goblin tank stood before us, presumably with Charles, Nick, and Bishop already inside, it's back facing us with the rear-mounted infantry bay's main door open and small ramp extended. The squat nature of the tank meant the entrance, and the infantry bay itself, had a rather low ceiling and actually required me to duck every so slightly to fit inside. Once inside the smell of oil and grease, mixed with an unidentifiable musty odour, assaulted my senses and brought back many memories of my time in the Alliance military. The infantry bay was reasonably spacious given it was designed to carry a full support weapon squad in a typical platoon consisting of 7 men in full ballistic plate armour with multiple medium and heavy support weapons, by comparison our 6 man group with no heavy weapons had plenty of space, especially considering at least one of those 6 would be up front driving the tank, and likely 2 or 3 of the 6. At the far end of the infantry bay, facing the front side of the vehicle, there was an even smaller bulkhead door that was currently open and lead into the main cabin of the tank. Up there you could actually stand upright, at least where the turret was, and the turret also provided regular access to the tank's operations via the turret hatch. Through that door in the infantry bay I could make out Bishop, his unmistakable form immediately identifying him, as well as Captain Maxwell and who I assumed was Schuster, though I couldn't see his face from my current position. The Goblin had a somewhat irregular design overall since the infantry bay was installed where the typical engine of conventional tanks would be located, instead the combat vehicle had a pair of gas turbine engines located along the sides of the tank, one to either side of the infantry bay itself. Located above the bay, and the reason the ceiling was so low, were the armoured fuel tanks capable of accepting a variety of fuels to run the turbines with whatever is most readily available. The twin engines could propel the tank at speeds of up to 65km/h (40mph) and its tracked mobility system meant the combat vehicle had little trouble with terrain short of heavy woods or steep mountains. I promptly dropped Octavia's bag on the nearest seat while intentionally waiting for Levi to pick a seat before offering him his bag, Octavia glanced back at the noise but merely shrugged ever so slightly before returning her attention to what was going on in the main cab. I moved to the seat I had selected earlier, with my gear bag already stashed on it, and pulled out my two long guns that I was bringing on the mission, the KTS bull-pup shotgun and GA King Slayer gyroslug carbine. They quickly were mounted in the modular weapon racks, designed to hold both standard infantry and support weapons with a variety of attachment points, and the rest of my gear I stored inside the locker built into the back of the seat itself. Levi was trying to follow suit, struggling a bit to fit his gear bag into the locker before pulling out some of the larger items to store them separately. "Captain Maxwell," I called up front, not particularly caring if I had interrupted any conversation Octavia might have been having, "everyone is accounted for. We're ready to go when you are Sir." "Excellent Lieutenant," the Captain called back, bending over slightly to get a clear view into the rear compartment, "we'll be underway shortly, just waiting for confirmation from the APC." Nearly 2 hours later... - December 11, 3029 - 01:13 hours The Goblin's twin turbine engines roared as the tank powered its way over a shifting sand dune, the engine's fury greatly stifled by the considerable sound-proofing and insulation surrounding both the main cabin and the infantry bay. The storm had come up suddenly, even more so than anticipated and we had known what we were facing as Alyssa fed us constant updates, the initial blast of the storm, and it was indeed a blast, had sent the hover APC careening off course, though their driver was able to regain control quickly and returned to our tank's side. The sky lit up with an unworldly violet hue, streaks of ochre-tinted lightning splayed across the ghostly sky while the planet's solitary moon illuminated the night sky. Clouds, or at least what appeared to be clouds but could very well have just been large amounts of dust in the air, quickly filled the sky with ethereal arms reaching and waving wildly with the ever changing and strong winds. The hover APC, somewhat ironically referred to as a 'Heavy' APC despite its mere 20 ton mass, swayed visibly in the storm as the shifting sands blew out from the craft's skirt with increasing irregularity. Eventually the craft fell back behind us, our tracks and weight enough to compact the sand long enough to provide a more stable surface for the hovercraft to fly over, leaving their driver to only have to battle the wind instead of the ground itself too. Scattered bits of terse radio traffic could be heard filtering back into the infantry bay occasionally washed out by the storm itself outside, an impressive feat given how quiet the ride had been before the storm rolled in. A few minutes later, the storm had fully engulfed us, the tank was surrounded in a literal wall of dust and sand, the engine still running thanks only to the specialized filters installed on the air intakes designed specifically for this type of situation. We had slowed to crawl as visibility was reduced to virtually nothing and from my limited view in the infantry bay it looked like Bishop was driving on instinct, and the occasional flickering sensor readout, rather than anything visual. Eventually the 45 ton tank rolled to a stop, semi-sheltered in the shadow of a dune and some rocks, the hover APC pulling up short behind us as well. Captain Maxwell got out of his chair and conferred with Nick and Bishop for a moment, too low to hear above the howling winds, before turning and making his way back to the bulkhead separating the main cabin and the infantry bay. "Looks like the storm finally took out what was left of our sensors, seismic and EM sensors just crapped out. Bishop thinks they should come back after the storm has passed but for now we're basically blind, even Bishop's IR vision is of limited use because of how much sand and shit is in the air," called Charles, nearly shouting to be easily heard above the howling wind, "Which brings me to you Levi. I hope you brought your Thermoman helmet." "I did," gulped Levi, not sure what exactly was being asked of him and nervous to be put on the spot, "I have it in the locker here." "Great," nodded Charles, "grab it and come join me up front please."
    3 points
  22. Plutus Docks - Haven colony Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 10, 3029 _______________________________________________ The inside of the Goblin tank was old, musty, and smelled kind of like feet. I winced as I slowly laid my head down against the dirty floor as I sat inverted underneath the driver's console with my head underneath the dashboard and my boots sticking up on either side of the control chair's headrest so that I could wire in the hardware that would give us an uplink to the tracking system on the Hurry Up Bessie and hopefully help us map our way to the cargo container that was somewhere out in the desert. I started working faster with the ancient wires as I heard muffled conversations outside, the deep gravelly voice of Bishop and the crisp Canadian accented voice of Captain Maxwell, we weren't going to be on station much longer and the hardware had to be ready. I didn't know whose tank this was, whether it was Crayven's or the property of Aegis Division, but it had definitely seen better days. A bunch of the wires were dry rotted out and there was evidence that some mice had been living in part of the dashboard for a while. Several of the electrical systems had been bound together with tape and there were a few wires that were just dangling loose. I didn't know what they all did since I hadn't known I was going to be a tank technician until this morning when someone suggested the possibility of tying Maxwell's homebrew homing device into the tank's onboard navigation system. I wasn't sure how well that was going to work, tanks and consumer-grade homing beacons didn't usually speak the same language, and this tank was definitely old enough that the spaghetti code I had thrown together to make Charles' device work was almost surely not directly compatible. So now I was wiring up a node that was basically an emulator intended to take modern programming language and make it speak a hacky version of Star League basic, it wouldn't be pretty but it would at least give Bishop some information he could follow on the HUD. I heard the tank's overhead hatch creek open and a loud BANG startled me and made me smash my head on the bottom of the dashboard. "OW!" I shouted at the very heavy figure who didn't bother to climb down the ladder but rather jumped down it straight into the tank. "What's your problem?" the voice growled. It was Bishop himself. "Sorry, Lieutenant, just gave myself a dashboard tattoo here. Wasn't expecting a bag full of guns to drop in unannounced." I answered, rubbing my forehead and going back to wiring in the module with a soldering iron. "No big deal." said Bishop, moving his huge frame forward in the tank. "You got gum on the bottom of your boot, by the way." "Probably Steve's, he parks it in the weirdest places." I said, trying to shift my feet around on the pilot's chair to keep from getting it messed up. "You seen him by the way?" "Yeah, he left the ship a little while ago, said he wanted to get down to the venue early, wherever that is." Weyland sat down in the co-pilot's chair and started pushing buttons. "Some local taxi picked him up, looked like a real piece of crap, driving on two donuts with a busted headlight. On any other planet it would have been a murder van. Hey, speaking of, how come the Check Engine, Armor Breach, Low Fuel, and Airbag lights are on?" "Ignore them, it's just because I have half the computer's brain pulled out to plug this module in." I replied, wiping sweat off my brow as I worked faster to get the job done. Being inverted wasn't doing me any favors, I was starting to get lightheaded and some vertigo. "Got it, you gonna have this thing back together soon? We need to roll out pronto." said Bishop, pulling out the operator's manual and running through some checks. "I think so...?" I said. "What time is it anyway?" "Uhh...2317 hours local time. We're rolling in 13 mikes." Bishop reported. "Shit! Alright, give me like ten more minutes. It's not going to be a pretty job, but it'll work." The hatch clanked again and I heard another person come down the ladder. "Need this?" a voice asked. The next thing I knew, a small electronic plotter with a series of buttons on it and an electronic map with homing data on it was being held in front of me. It was Captain Maxwell. "Thank you sir, yes, your timing is good, I was just about to come looking for that. I'll get it hooked up." "Don't mention it. Hey, you know you've got bubblegum on your boot?" Charles asked. "Yeah, Bishop mentioned it, thanks, I'll try not to mess up the upholstry." I answered. I heard Charles chuckle and take a seat. Over the course of the next few minutes, I finished patching in the homing device as Levi, Orlex, and Octavia came aboard. Eventually, I pulled myself back up to my feet, trying not to black out as I did so. "OK Lieutentant Weyland, give it a shot." I said. Bishop gave me a suspicious stare and took the plotter, then threw a few toggles on the control panel. After a short smell of burning ozone wafted from under the dashboard, a pixelated homing track winked onto the windshield. The image was periodically laden with static and cut out from time to time, but at least it worked. "Alright, I guess we've got our route." said Bishop. "As long as we don't get shot at or catch any weather, it'll probably be a pretty smooth ride. You people ready to go?"
    3 points
  23. Plutus Docks Haven, Twycross Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ As the Hover APC tore inbound, I wiped sweat from my brow and squinted into the late day sun that bobbed and weaved ahead of me under the Raven's lumbering gait. Though I'd only had the BattleMech underway for a few minutes, the heat level in the cockpit was already becoming uncomfortable. Since we hadn't been planning on committing any borderline Ares Convention violations while visiting Haven, the 'Mech had been in the middle of a maintenance cycle, as had the rest of the bipeds being carried in the Hurry Up Bessie's cargo bay, until I'd shown up demanding like a stark raving crazy person to get one of them back into service. The flustered 'Mech tech who'd become the unfortunate recipient of my request had at least managed to get all of the war machine's access hatches snapped back in place and the critical weapon systems fired up, but Aether was currently missing several key components - among them, its ambient light sensor and the coolant circulator necessary to keep its pilot from roasting alive during protracted combat. I gritted my teeth and pushed the Raven toward the ragtag fence surrounding the decrepit landing compound. I was hoping to get a sensor read on the hostiles charging toward us, intent on retrieving their ill-gotten goods, but I wanted to avoid leaving the grounds of Plutus Docks as much as I could. In the event that someone decided to alert the authorities to a mercenary unit operating a 35-ton walking tank outside of an active combat zone with its weapons hot, I'd have a much more believable alibi if I could prove I was never actually off the spaceport's property. Fine-tuning the BattleMech's electronic warfare (EW) equipment to its maximum sensor fidelity, I drew the giant steel bird up alongside a dilapidated Quonset hut and maneuvered it into a crouch. Watching the incoming target feed, I smiled grimly as two bogies began to resolve themselves. The EW suite was a self-contained, 7-ton computer with its own dedicated radar, infrared, visible light and seismic detectors, accompanied by an electronic countermeasures (ECM) unit that disrupted hostile targeting scans. As the Raven's sensor array scanned the surrounding area, the incoming data was analyzed by the EW computer core and cross-referenced with its own secondary sensors. If an anomaly was detected, the machine performed a more detailed sensor sweep of the target area. This system enabled the Raven to detect and classify other battlefield units whether they were camouflaged or even shut down, regardless of local terrain or electronic warfare interference. It wasn't a quick process, but it gave the operator a decisive tactical advantage, while the ECM cloak bought the Raven valuable time to escape in the event that its cover threatened to be compromised. The two sensor hits on my plotter shifted from a bright red to a lime green as the computer acquired their friendly IFF signatures and flagged them accordingly. The nearer of the two targets was the Hover APC carrying Lieutenants Weyland and Jaeger, Captain Maxwell, Octavia Incendio, and, presumably, the hostage-taker, along with however much of the Irian shipment the group managed to recover before being forced to retreat. The more distant contact was the Swiftwind ferrying Nick Schuster, Steve Jenkins, and their own colorful passenger back to our transport. As the EW suite continued its scans, the Hover APC roared directly past my BattleMech, leaving a hail of sand and loose pebbles in its wake. "Radar to Control - package alpha is onsite. I have package beta on my scope. No sign of the OpFor just yet," I reported. "Copy that, Radar; we'll begin receiving in the package momentarily and start pre-launch sequencing." A sudden, grainy mass at the top of my plotter caught my focus, and I moved the Raven forward as far as I could to try and get a stronger sensor acquisition. As I did so, the EW suite began tagging the contacts, bathing them in yellow gradient, as they were broadcasting no IFF signals. Moments later, definitive labels were applied to the sensor pings - an RMS-1 Routemaster bus, a JP-47 Jeep, and a SKD-2G Škoda "Growler" utility truck. The results confirmed what I already suspected - this was our hostile force - and they were drawing perilously close to the Swiftwind, which seemed to be struggling in the desert heat as it came into view, radiating heat and slowing considerably. "Radar to Control - I have hostile sensor contacts! Rebus is in visual range but looks like he's about to be overtaken. I'm engaging!"
    2 points
  24. En route to Plutus Docks Haven, Twycross Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ "You might want to fire up the Raven or something depending on how long you think it's going to take to dust off!" Nick was calling for a BattleMech. The turn of events our operation had taken was unbelievable. What started out as a simple grab-and-dash had now evidently escalated into a situation that had a Lyran military officer requesting activation of the heaviest form of armored cavalry available to human beings. It was certainly not the twist I'd expected when I rolled out of bed this morning. "What's your situation, Rebus?" I asked, motioning for Bishop to lay on the gas. The Lieutenant nodded and shoved the Hover APC's throttle to full, causing the transport to tilt forward as its propulsion fans churned out their maximum thrust. "Uhhh, it's an armored bus with a shit-ton of guns, a Jeep with an SRM-2 and some other weapons, looked like a SAW and maybe a flamer, and a Humvee with an autocannon and I don't know what else," Nick replied breathlessly. In the background, I could hear Steve screaming and what sounded like the howls of an angry primate. "They got us multiple times; some glass breaches and probably a dozen or more hull punctures, but we're out ahead of them for the moment. I don't think they're giving up this chase, though, and I'm worried about what might happen if they get a bead on us when we're going wheels-up, to say nothing of what they'd likely do if they caught us on the ground." "Understood, how far out are you?" I asked. "We're just over 2.4 kilometers from the spaceport; you?" Schuster asked. I looked at the nav computer. "1.7 kilometers," I responded. "Just a short distance ahead of you. We're not much better in a fight than your Swiftwind is, and we're heavy with cargo and personnel ourselves. Stay on course for the spaceport; we'll board ahead of you and have the ship ready for dustoff." "Roger that, sir, we're coming in hot!" Schuster exclaimed. "Eden to Control," I continued. To my surprise, the voice of Nikki Harlow responded. "This is Control; what kind of a shitshow are you bringing my way, Captain?" "We may have stirred up a hornet's nest and need you to be ready to shove off as soon as the Swiftwind is in the cargo bay," I answered, climbing up into the APC's turret and dropping awkwardly into the gunner's chair as the G-forces of our frantic flight across the desert pushed me around. Pulling the targeting scope down over my eyes, I began scanning the landscape behind us. "So your fiancée told me, right before she started disrobing on my bridge and then ran to the cargo bay without as much as logging off her terminal. She's lucky I like her," Harlow deadpanned. "Disrobe - wait a sec, is she piloting the Raven?" I asked. The APC gave a sudden, jarring lurch as it began skipping across the uneven terrain that comprised the final stretch of land between the town and the spaceport. "Well, yes, given that you all went off on an ill-advised joyride and Jenkins is presumably getting his face kicked in at the moment, we were decidedly short of 'Mech jocks." Nikki responded. "Patch me through to her, please," I answered, staring with concern at a large cloud of dust that had begun billowing at the distant horizon off our stern and which now seemed to be drawing closer. The comm channel chirped and the sound of shuffling noises filled my headset's speakers. A moment later, I heard Alyssa's muffled voice. "...no Blake-damned time to wait for you to get the cooling vest circulator back online, I'll just take her out the way she is! Here, take this, I guess I won't be needing it!" Another shuffling noise ensued, this time the characteristic sound of fabric being pulled over a microphone, followed by a loud "thwop" of someone presumably catching Chase's cooling vest. I cleared my throat to try to get Alyssa's attention. "Radar, this is Eden, everything ok?" I asked. "Eden? Sorry about that, I was having a difference of opinion with one of our 'Mech techs - seems that going out into the desert heat in a BattleMech cockpit without a cooling vest on a 52-degree Celsius day is considered a "bad idea." He seemed genuinely shocked at my intent to go through with it anyway. Well, either that, or the fact that I showed up in the cargo bay in my bare essentials in anticipation of such a problem. Never can tell with these kids." "If this were any other time, I'd have any number of witty replies to that," I chuckled grimly. "As it stands, I'll just say thank you. I don't know how much of Nick's traffic you caught, but we're seriously outgunned and coming in hot, and there is a distinct threat to flight operations." "I copied, sounds like we've got the war wagon and its two bastardized friends coming to the party. Nothing I can't handle. You just get yourself in safely." Alyssa paused for a moment. In the background of the transmission, I heard the unmistakable sounds of a BattleMech's computer system powering up. "We'll do our best. Be prepared to bail out of the world the moment Rebus is on deck in Cargo Bay One. You may need to stay at the controls of the Raven until we're in orbit to keep it from getting thrown around the hangar; I don't think we're going to have time to get the vehicles or the 'Mech locked down once they're inside." "I'll be sure to keep Dexter's toy nice and shiny," Alyssa responded. "See you shortly." ### A few minutes later... Plutus Docks Haven, Twycross Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ As we drew near to the spaceport, I watched clouds of dust and sand billowing from the underside of the Hurry Up Bessie, the ship's engines alight and poised to push us away from the surface of Twycross at a moment's notice. Clambering down from the turret into the passenger compartment, I looked toward our unexpected passenger. "Now, listen, I understand this whole thing has been a barrel of laughs for you up to this point - " "Oy!" Clare interrupted. "Don't take that tone with me, I'm still holding the cards here, remember?" the woman replied with indignation. I took a deep breath, choosing to ignore the interjection. "...but when we get on board, I would consider it a kindness if you'd follow our lead until we're safely out of the world. If your friends, or whoever they are, manage to land a rocket or some other Blake-forsaken thing in our drive units or in an open cargo bay while we're lifting off, your free trip off this rock is going to be a lot shorter than you'd hoped." "Ok, fine, but you mean to tell me that a bunch of thugs in used vehicles with guns strapped to their hoods can't stand up to some chick driving a 'Mech around in her underwear with no cooling system?" Claire grinned. "What kind of an outfit is this?" A sudden explosion off the port side of the APC threw me violently off balance. As I struggled to regain my footing, Bishop called out the sitrep as though he'd been reading my mind. "That was definitely an SRM, Captain, and it was too close for my comfort. I think they've made us," Weyland growled as he turned the Hover APC onto the spaceport's tarmac. I pulled myself back up into the turret and grabbed the scope. My heart sank as I saw three eclectic, heavily-armed vehicles, one of which was a former school bus, bearing down on us. Just ahead of the marauders was Nick Schuster's Swiftwind, moving like a bat out of hell across the desert sands toward us. "Alyssa, where's that Raven?" I pressed, looking frantically in all directions for some sign of the friendly BattleMech. Just then, I saw the enormous biped stomping directly toward us, its sleek, birdlike form unmistakable in the afternoon haze. "I'm here, Eden; I'll cover you while you and Rebus get your teams and vehicles aboard. Wish me luck."
    2 points
  25. The Dust Up Dome Haven, Twycross Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ "Ok, fine, come on, let's go!" I shouted, taking Steve by the wrist and hauling ass across the sweaty-smelling sparring ring toward the stands filled with screaming fans. The place was ablaze with strobe lights, loud music, and drunkenness, smoke hung in the air and all types of rough looking folks were enthusiastically waving their arms and chanting "Masher." I looked at Steve as we climbed over the ropes. "What the hell does "Masher" mean?" I asked, yelling over the chaos. Steve grinned at me and grabbed his duffel bag. "Oh it's the end of the show where a guy drives a monster truck through the rink and destroys the fighting stage, it's awesome, are you sure we don't have time to stay and watch?? They say that sometimes he runs over vending machines and stuff!" "Yes I'm positive, now where is this gorilla of yours?" I asked as some song called The Final Countdown started blaring over the speakers. "Oh Mr. Chuckles? He's right there!" Steve said. He was slurring a lot, I wasn't sure if it was alchohol or if he had taken too many hits to the head, either way, we'd figure it out when we were back aboard the ship. I looked where Steve was pointing and there was a literal 800-pound gorilla sitting in one of the arena seats with a cigarette balanced with precision in his fingers and a can of beer crushed in his fist. Disturbingly, the ape was also wearing a tie for some reason. "THAT's a rental animal? Good god, I don't know how that's legal, how are we going to get him inside a Swiftwind?" I asked in disbelief. "Don't you worry about it Mistor Schustor!" Steve giggled and he walked over to the gorilla and took the cigarette out of its hand. The ape snarled and raised a lip at Jenkins, but the Sergeant seemed totally unfazed and looked back at me. "He gets mad when you take his smokes and that was the last one. He'll follow us now." said Steve. I looked at the ape. "Just be sure you give that cigarette back to him if he starts getting cranky. I don't want my arms getting ripped out of their sockets because he's got a nicotine craving." "Aye aye Cap'n Crunch!!" Jenkins exclaimed. "Congratulations on your black belt by the way." I added, sprinting through the arena doors and holding them for the MechWarrior and the monkey to come through. Steve smiled a toothy grin from half of his face. "Oh, and for Blake's sake," I added, "put it on. It'll keep your robe closed." ### The Swiftwind tore through town, leaving a billowing cloud of dust behind it as we bounced over a ton of potholes. Every time we hit a rut, Mr. Chuckles bounced into the ceiling of the tiny vehicle and let out a disgruntled roar. Steve grinned maniacally, apparently thrilled by my lunatic driving. "Ok, where did you say this rental place was?" I kept glancing at the Swiftwind's radar plotter in paranoia, waiting for the inevitable hostile sensor pings to start. "Uh, it's like, 3 blocks over up next to the adult video store, just past the food cart?" Steve replied from the cargo compartment, sounding uncertain. I looked in the rear view mirror at him with consternation. "You don't have an address or anything? I asked. "No, the only address I had was on printed on the unitard I had to wear for the Combat Match, and I don't have it anymore on account of I accidentally crapped my pants in the fight and so I threw my unitard down the toilet, that's why I have this AWESOME Sumo robe on!" Steve said gleefully. "Hey, check out that bus!" "What bu..." I began, my words stuttering out as I saw up ahead a huge, battered old school bus bristling with weapons parked sideways across the road. A bunch of crazy looking raider types were standing outside it with the most mismatched and random bunch of weapons I've ever seen at the ready, one of which was definitely a rocket launcher. As we sped toward them, I heard a sudden sharp ping and then the unmistakable sound of safety glass cracking. A big spiderweb of fractured glass splintered across the Swiftwind's windisheld. "OH SHIT!" I exclaimed and jerked the wheel of the Swiftwind sideways, putting us into an out of control 90 degree turn. A whole bunch of metallic pings followed and rattled down the side of the car. Mr. Chuckles bellowed angrily as his beer sloshed all over the back compartment and Steve screamed at the top of his lungs. "OH MY GOD I JUST GOT MY HONOR BACK I DON'T WANNA DIE LIKE THIS!" Steve yelled as he tumbled around with the gorilla in the back compartment. "You think I do???" I yelled and floored the gas, taking us down a side street and doing a hard left onto another dilapidated road that was halfway covered in sand. The sound of tires screeching behind us made me look in the mirror and I saw a big ratty Humvee and a beat up Jeep with a gatling gun on it in hot pursuit, as the Humvee came around the turn behind us it ran up on a curb and smashed through a couple of vendor stands before straightening out. I heard even more weapon fire and a huge bang as the Swiftwind's comm dish got ripped off in a hail of bullets. "Don't you have any guns you can shoot at them??" Steve cried out. "Ow! Mr. Chuckles! Get off me! Your tonails hurt!" "No, this is a scout vehicle!" I shot back jerking the wheel from side to side to try and avoid as many bullets as I could. Suddenly, I heard a low foom and a contraol of smoke rocketed out ahead of the Swiftwind. Then, a huge explosion with a bright orange fireball erupted from the road straight ahead of us. "HOLY HELL!" I yelled and yanked the wheel hard to the left. The Swiftwind swerved aggressively off the road and rand down into a ditch, smashed through a fence, crushed over a lone tree, and bounced and shuddered through some desert scrub before getting back on the road. I floored the accelerator, taking the car up to its maximum speed of 162 km/h. Slowly, the hellions that were chasing us began falling further and further behind. I grabbed my headset and stuffed it in my ear, slapping the comm button. "Rebus to Control, come in control!" "Control here, go ahead Rebus." "Control, I am coming in HOT, and I do mean hot! That "battle bus" thing? It found me, and its got two other war wagons with it! I've got Dionysus and, uh, a gorilla." "Say that last part again Rebus?" "A gorilla. I'll explain it all when we're off the planet, right now I recommend you get the engines hot, these guys have got missiles! You might want to fire up the Raven or something depending on how long you think it's going to take to dust off!" "Copy that Rebus, just get here safe, we'll be ready to shove off as quick as we can." I looked in the rear view mirror at Steve, who was hunkered down in the back compartment with a terrified look on his face. "I'm sorry, Steve, but I don't think you're getting your security deposit back today! We're getting the hell out of here!"
    2 points
  26. Meanwhile... Looter Warehouse, Haven Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ "Really?" Claire began, her voice brimming with enthusiasm. "He is a big one, I wouldn't mind going a round or two with him." Bishop raised an incredulous eyebrow. "But, later," the woman continued, her voice becoming serious once again. "We have business to discuss first." The sound of boots crunching on broken pavement drew my attention toward the hole in the wall of the warehouse, where I spotted Nick Schuster slowly making his way toward us. "Oh, hi, Blondie, I'm assuming you came to bargain, too? Or are you looking for another brick to the head?" Claire enthused. Nick cast our assailant a resentful glare, rubbing a swollen cheek and glancing back and forth between me and Lieutenant Jaeger. "Easy, ma'am, he's just getting out of the open. I don't think you can fault him for that," I explained. Turning back toward Claire, I continued. "Speaking of getting out of the open, I have a feeling that we're all on a relatively abbreviated timetable now." "You're not kidding, Captain," Alyssa's voice suddenly crackled in my headset. "I managed to break into the local comms, and I'm detecting a police response - or what passes for one - headed in your direction. They're coming from the underground, so I wouldn't rely on keeping an ear out for sirens as your bug out signal. There's also a local militia team reporting that they're rolling a 'technical' from the train station, which is about eight minutes from your current position." "A 'technical?'" I asked. "An improvised fighting vehicle," Nick interjected, walking over to us and hurling another glower at Claire. "In the LCAF, we called them non-standard tactical vehicles, or NSTVs." "Oooh! Are the local yokels coming over to play? I wonder which one they'll be driving? There's that shitty pickup truck with the AC/20 in the bed and the machine guns on the hood, or there's the battle bus," Claire remarked with a gleam in her eye. "That one's badass." "Control, did you get all that?" I asked, tapping my headset to activate its external speaker. Even by way of editorializing, our new acquaintance was unintentionally giving us valuable tactical information. "You're on broadcast now, by the way." "I got it," Alyssa replied. "Judging by the way they're talking, I'm going to speculate that what they're bringing is the 'battle bus.' Do you want me to put a bird up to confirm?" "Do it," I responded. "We have the package - most of it, anyway - and we're going to need exit advisement. No sense in being subtle at this point - the cat's out of the bag now anyway. Just make sure the drone's not covered in Crayven Corporation branding. We'll never heard the end of that." "Roger that, Eden. We'll have wheels up shortly. Get ready to clear out of there." "Acknowledged," I answered. "I like her," Claire sighed with a toothy, wild-eyed grin. "She sounds like one of those nerdy people that can also probably kick someone's ass. Anyway, you better get to negotiating. If the battle bus gets here before we have an arrangement, all bets are off." I looked toward Lieutenant Jaeger, who responded with a defeated shrug. Claire was well aware that she had me over a barrel, and it was pissing me off. We didn't have time to simply take her into custody and interrogate her until she gave us Octavia's location, and leaving the Baroness behind wasn't an option - as much as some on the crew might regard that as an improvement. I was going to have to go along with the woman's demands, whether I liked it or not, and deal with the long-term implications before we got off the ground. "It seems your timing is impeccable," I replied. "What are your terms?" "I thought you'd come around," Claire grinned. "I'm a simple businesswoman. You guarantee me passage off this planet, and I'll hand over your Baroness." "That's it? So all we need to do is get you into orbit and then we can put you overboard in a life boat?" I replied curtly, gesturing to Bishop and Nick to ready the APC for departure. "Oh, no, I need to go somewhere. Your Baroness said you're headed for the Sarna March. I think I want to go there." Claire answered, watching as Lieutenant Weyland and Schuster turned the APC around and prepared its weapons. The heavy drone of a large internal combustion engine began drawing near. We had only seconds left. "How do you know we won't just leave you by the side of the road the minute you hand over Octavia?" I asked. "Because," the woman smirked, "I don't think you want Irian Technologies hunting you and the...what did you call it? The 'Crayfish Corporation?'" "Crayven Corporation," I clarified. "...hunting you and the Crayven Corporation to the ends of the universe for stealing a bunch of their stuff. I've put measures in place to ensure that the word gets out even in the event of my untimely demise. Just meet my terms, Captain, and this will all blow over. I'm just asking for a ride." I cast Claire a resigned frown. "How can I turn down an offer with such favorable terms as 'getting my associate back' 'not getting the crew massacred by a lynch mob,' and 'not being exterminated by a major cartel?'" "I knew you'd come around, Captain Maxwell. You seem like you've got a good head on your shoulders. It makes sense to want to keep it attached," the woman grinned, bounding toward the APC. Bishop let out a cautionary yell. I motioned for him to let Claire board the vehicle and keyed my headset with an exasperated sigh. "Eden to Control," I radioed. "Go ahead." "We're evac'ing now. Once that bird is up, I need a tactical sitrep and direct safe route to the spaceport. Alert Captain Harlow to have the ship on hot standby to get out of the world as soon as we're aboard. Recovery of Exile is in progress. We are coming in plus one," I advised, moving toward the APC with Lieutenant Jaeger. "Plus one?" Chase responded. "Do you need a detail on standby for your arrival?" "Negative," I replied, stepping into the artificial illumination of the armored vehicle's crew bay. "I'll explain everything when we get there. Is Dionysus back from his....whatever it is?" "Not yet," Alyssa answered. "Do you want me to recall him?" "If he's busy throwing punches, I doubt he has his comm unit. Go ahead and roll the Swift Wind to the 'Dust Up Dome' to retrieve him," I advised. "We can do that, but we're not going to have much time to search for him based on what I'm seeing with the tac situation," Chase responded. "Any chance you can get someone over there to find him ahead of extraction?" "I'll do it," Schuster volunteered. "The arena's only a few blocks away. We shouldn't risk taking the APC there, but I'm pretty sure I can get across town without being noticed." "Good man," I nodded, unlatching a laser rifle from the APC's compartment wall and passing it to Nick. "Approved. Be safe out there." "You got it," Schuster acknowledged, bounding out of the APC and into the street. "Control, Rebus has the extraction prep in process. We're departing the warehouse to retrieve Exile now. Have that exit route ready for us." With that, the Hover APC gave a bone-jarring lurch as it screamed out into the alley in a desperate flight to recover Octavia before it was too late.
    2 points
  27. MEANWHILE/EARLIER....... HAVEN town, 12:00 AM I trudged across the village ruin with all the buildings made of tin and garbage and old beer cans and Salvage, in the background I heard a cattle mooing at the moon. Somewhere off in the distance there was some gun shots, wind rattling and yelling. A bunch of people in old grubby rags walked by me, it was a Destitute and poor place. I only had my Shopping bag and the gorilla on a leash, all my material things, because I had to focus on my Mind and my Body for the total war that was going to be happening at the combat rink whjere I was going. I walked down some suspcious streets. A guy hollered at me for cash, but I had no time Then a watch salesman tried to sell me a bunch of watches out of the inside of the coat, no time Finally I went by a Grill and Steakhouse, the smell was so good I almost stopped, but I had to keep fighting, the combat rink was just ahead and I had to get therre. I went across the road and I saw the neon sign nailed to the side of a busted up wearhouse, "DUST UP DOME COMBAT TRIALS OPEN 24/7." "Huh, that doesnt look like a dome Mr Chuckles, I think that sign is False Advertising." Then I took the gorilla across the road and we went up to the door, I pulled really hard on it but it did not open. Then I looked around to see if there was a reason but I didnt see anything, all the lights were on but the door was barred from me. "HEY LET ME INSIDE I'M A CONTENDER!!" I yelled and I banged a bunch on the door, then all of the sudden a guy came to the door and slid open the little talky window and I saw a pair of lips yelling back at me "OK What is your belt password??" "My belt password??? I don't have one, thats why I'm here, I have to fight in the Deomstration Match for my belt and my honor!, the sign says youre open 24/7!!" I Intoned. "OK well the 24/7 part of the club is only open for Belt Holders, if you had a belt you could read the password off the inside of it and we would let you in, since you dont have a belt you have to wait for normal hours, that starts at 8 AM." "8 AM???" I yelled. "That's like 6 hours from now!!! What am I Supposed to do???" "I dont know" said the lips "Come back at 8 AM and we'll let you in!!!" Then the lips slammed the talky window and I was outside alone with my stuff and the gorilla, I hung my head in Shame and I went over to the curb and sat down and looked up at the moon, Mr Chuckles was doing something behind me. "Come here Mr Chuckles, I guess we have to wait, there's nothing but time between us now" I said with a tear in my voice. But the gorilla did not come over. I looked over to see what he was doing. "Mr CHuckles, what are you doing?? Why wont you come over here?" Then I saw it. "WHAT THE SHIT??" Mr Chuckles was licking the side of a big blue dumpster with his mouth and tounge, there were all knds of flies and other gross things flying around the dumpster and a bunch of stains. I screamed with horror, "Mr Chuckles that's gross!!!" Then I walked over to try to get Mr Chuckles to stop doing that, but as soon as I got over to him he piushed me away and made a roar like a bear, then he turned around and ripped the Dumpster Door open and reached his huge arm inside the dumpster. "MR Chuckles stop touching garbage, that's gross, stop touching garbage!!" I Yelled, then I was looking at the gorilla while he was putting his arm inside the trash. But Mr Chuckles would not stop, he had a Deterimination on his face and his tounge was sticking up the side of his face like he was trying hard and in a minute he came back with a big huge awful diaper in his hand. "OH SHIT THAT'S GROSS" i said, "PUT THAT DOWN!!!" But Mr Chuckles just looked at me and then took a HUGE bite out of the diaper like it was a terrible taco, the gross insides went everywhere on the street and Mr Chuckles jumped up and down and made a bunch of ape noises. "BAD MONKEY!!" I Yelled, then I went over and I tried to close the Dumpster, but Mr Chuckles punched me in the shin/Achilles heel and made me limp away yelling. Then he went back to the spot where there had been a bunch of licking and started banging his fist on the dumpster. The talky hole in the Dust Up Dome slid open and the lips yelled "HEY STOP MAKING ALL THAT RACKET OUT THERE WE'RE TRYING TO TRAIN INSIDE HERE!!!" "i'M SORRY ITS MY RENTAL GORILLA, HE WONT STOP EATING DUMPSTER!!" Then the talky door slammed closed and I looked at Mr Chuckles. "Mr Chukles, please stop we are going to get in trouble and I dont want to go to Twycross Jail!!" I yelled. But Mr Chuckles didn't pay attention, he just hit the dumpster one more time and all of the sudden the most terrible thing happened............. .......a hole got blasted in the Rusty part of the dumpster where Mr Chuckles had been hitting and 1000s of terrible huge Roaches came out into the street like a can of Pasta going everywhere, Mr Chuckles screamed happy monkey noises and started scopping up the Roaches with his hands and eating them, I screamed a womanly scream in Terror at the bug swarm and pulled out my gun, then I yelled "EAT LEAD AND DIE MONSTERS!!!!" and I shot oh so many bulletes everywhere trying to explode the roaches before they could get me, Mr Chuckles jumped up and down making monkey screaming noises and the guiy at the door of the Dust Up Bin started shouting at me because of my noise, I didnt care because I had Vengeance in my mind and so I kept shooting until the gun ran out of ammo, then I stomped out the Roaches that didnt flee into the night. "MR CHUCKLES THATS ENOUGH OF THAT" I said Sternly, then I went over and took his leash, the gorilla looked at me with a weird look on his face. "Mr Chuckles whats wrong?" I asked, the gorilla was holding his stomach and getting cross eyed. Then he scrunched his face up really hard and I heard a BWORP and then a giant brown Splash went up the wall behind Mr Chuckles with a huge splat, then all of the sudden I had this Awful wet spray raining on me!! "AGGGGGGH MR CHUCKLES YOU ATE ROACHES AND GAVE YOURSELF EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA AND NOW ITS ON ME, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIGHT A BELT MATCH IN GORILLA DIARRHEA???" Mr Chuckles didnt say anything, he just sat down and got out his Cigarettes while I sobbed in Shame and because I was gross, then the rink attendant came out with a bucket and a toothbrush and some Sawdust. "You can Start by cleaning up that mess!!" He intoned and threw the Items at my feet, I wiped gorilla mess off my face and started cleaning the diarrha with a toothbrush while I Sobbed......
    2 points
  28. Haven, Twycross III, Lyran Commonwealth December 11, 3029 “Look around you!” the guy behind the Dangerous Items counter shouted. “Where’s a bear supposed to live around here? The whole planet’s a desert!” I slammed my hands on the counter and leaned over it. The guy was so tall I couldn’t properly loom over him, so I just did my best. “It’s not for a bear, it’s for my d’juulu match. I need bear traps.” “Sucks to be you, bud, you’re not gonna find any here. We’ve got some other large animal traps that’d work, though - like this dig-it-yourself spike pit trap!” The Dangerous Items guy took a big box off the shelf behind him and dropped it on the counter. The metal parts inside made a big clang and some lady trying on hiking boots got so surprised she almost fell off her chair. “Nah, I haven’t got time for all that digging - and I don’t even know if the Dust-Up Dome has a dirt floor. What else have you got?” “Aerial monkey traps?” the guy suggested. “Here, watch this Demo Vid.” He stuck a tape in the player and turned on the TV screen sitting on the counter. It was a video of a shabby little backyard getting ransacked by big baboonish looking monkeys. They were eating garbage out of knocked over dented-up trash cans, flipping over potted plants and wearing the pots as hats, and ripping up the laundry from the clothesline. One of the monkeys threw a rotten fruit at the neighbor’s back window and broke it. Another monkey had it’s back to the camera and made like it was going to sit down on the ground, but stopped halfway. “Gross, that one’s pooping!” I said. “Why are you showing me this crap?” “Keep watching,” the shop guy said. Suddenly the video sped up and went backwards - the poop went back into the monkey and it stood up, the broken glass went back into the window, the fruit went back into the monkey’s hand, the laundry untore, and the trash cans even stood back up before all the monkeys scampered away backwards. The screen went dark for a second, and when it turned back on the laundry was gone and there were snare traps on pulleys hanging from the clothesline instead, and bits of food inside the loop of each snare where it rested on the ground. The monkeys ran back into the yard and started eating the food, and then the snare traps triggered and yanked the monkeys up into the air so they were hanging by their feet from the clothesline. They struggled and swung around and two of them wacked their heads into each other and then started screaming. “That was awesome!” I said. “I’ll take five of those. One sec, I’m gonna go see how Ba Ba is doing.” I didn’t have to look far - I could hear Ba Ba’s heels clicking towards me, and I could tell just from the sound that she was angry. “What kind of hunting store doesn’t sell hunting dogs?” Ba Ba grumbled as she slapped a multipack of walking stick tips down on the counter. One of them was serrated “for traction” and another was a huge metal spike. The Dangerous Items guy looked at the pack of tips, and Ba Ba’s angry face, and her cane angry-tapping on the floor, and he looked worried. “We used to, but they kept getting loose and tearing up the display of sandhog pheromone baits. Most people don’t have the money for a whole pack of dogs around here, anyway.” “What do we need dogs for, Ba Ba? I can take this guy, I’ll knock his teeth in with my own fists like always.” “Didn’t you read the match rules, Billy?” “I’ve done d’juulu matches a dozen times before, Ba Ba, I know the rules.” “It’s modified d’juulu rules this time, the animals are the modified part! You need something to keep the other guy’s animals busy! You’ve got homework tonight, young man.” The Dangerous Items guy rang up the traps and Ba Ba’s walking stick tips. “If you want a suggestion, the farm store across the way doesn’t sell any large livestock, but they’ve got pollinators.” “What the hell?” I said. Ba Ba glared at me because “hell” wasn’t exactly cussing but it also wasn’t not cussing. “I need something that’ll maul him, not pollinate him!” “I mean they’ve got bees and wasps and stuff. Farmers mostly rent them for greenhouses, but they’ve got some nasty stingers.” I sighed. “Yeah, let’s go check it out.” I carried the shopping bags with our traps and Ba Ba’s attack tips for her cane and we went to the farm store next door. --- The farm store had a bunch of plastic pots and bags of dirt and other useless stuff, so Ba Ba told an employee to get us some hornets, and the employee wouldn’t do it so she demanded to talk to the manager and then the manager showed us the bees. The bees were kind of lame. They were big and buzzing and stuff, but they didn’t look all that aggressive. They didn’t even swarm around when I tapped on the glass. “I dunno,” I said. “They’re all soft and… fuzzy. Haven’t you got any murder hornets?” “Why would I want to get stung by murder hornets every time someone rented them?” the manager said. I shrugged. “You’re the manager, make someone else do it.” “Then they’d get stung, duh,” she said. “Bumbles are better anyway - the fuzz helps them spread the pollen around. You’ll get a bumper crop with these girls buzzing around your plants - as long as the flowers are big enough for a bee to fit, of course. If you’re growing something small-flowered like microcados you’ll want to rent the midget flies instead.” “They’re not for crops, they’re for victory!” Ba Ba said, and banged her metal-tipped cane on the tile floor so hard it cracked. “Please stop breaking the floor, m’am,” the manager said. “Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be happy with our bumble bees’ performance. Amos Fletcher rents from us, and his lemons have won ribbons at the Haven Fair every year for decades!” Ba Ba harrumphed. “There’s got to be someplace around here that sells decent animals,” I said. “The pet store closed at six,” the manager said unhelpfully. “And I don’t understand why you’re trying to buy murder hornets instead of hunting dogs anyway, that doesn’t make any sense.” “Is there a pound or something?” I asked. “There’s got to be someplace I can get a dangerous pissed-off animal tonight.” “I’m afraid not,” the manager said. “Pound’s closed, too. You could come back in the morning and see if anybody’s got a problem bull or something, I guess?” “We’ll take the bees,” Ba Ba said in monotone. “Wonderful!” the manager said with a fake customer service grin. “Our largest colony has two hundred and twelve bumbles. Make sure you bring back the travel hive with at least one hundred and ninety bees including the queen to get your deposit back.” --- We got out to the dirt patch that passed for a parking lot and discovered that our taxi driver was a no-good lying criminal. He’d left us stranded, and left poor Ba Ba’s suitcase and my backpack lying in the parking lot. A couple scrawny thieves had dumped out all our stuff and were fighting over Ba Ba’s jewlery box. A crummy two-seater dirt bike lay in the dust nearby. “HEY!” I bellowed. The moehawked boy yanked the jewlery box away from the girl with curly black hair and they both took of running. I charged after them. “You punks like to steal from sweet old ladies, huh?” These street rats were fast, but I’d catch them sooner or later. The thieves dashed between a couple closely-parked cars. I jumped onto the hatchback’s hood and ran up over it. The car’s shoddily built metal body made satisfying popping sounds under my boots. I did a flying leap off the the hatchback’s roof and kicked mohawk boy in the back as I landed. He fell and I fell on top of him and I grabbed him by the hair and yanked Ba Ba’s jewlery box out of his hand. The punk gasped for air. He muttered “fuck… the fuck, man” and spat out some blood and a tooth. “Fuck. Almost outta chompers.” I growled “you wanna lose some more?” and twisted his arm behind his back. Then something whacked me in the back of the head. I jumped up and whirled around and was face to face with the curly haired girl. She ducked and screamed “Gummy, run!!!” and then dove for the jewlery box. I jerked it away from her and kicked her in the shin. She fell down in the dust. As she started to get up, a glint of green caught my eye. “Necklace. Now.” She hung her head and took Ba Ba’s jade necklace off. “And the earrings, too. Ba Ba will like those.” The gold dangle earrings weren’t Ba Ba’s, but I figured she deserved a little something for all the worry and trouble these two had caused her. The girl threw the jewelry at me and took off running. As I picked up Ba Ba’s things off the dusty ground, I heard a crummy little engine revving far behind me. “Hurry up, Billy!” Ba Ba shouted. “I found us a ride to the motel!” I ran back to where Ba Ba was waiting on the thieves’ motorbike. I tied the case of bees to my backpack and put it on, put Ba Ba’s jewlery box, necklace and new earrings into one of her suitcases, picked them both up and climbed on the back of the bike. The suspension sank way down, but there was still just enough clearance left for the back wheel to turn. “Looks like we came out on top after all,” Ba Ba cackled. She revved the engine once more and then we sped off for our hotel by the Dust Up Dome.
    2 points
  29. Somewhere in the Spindrift Desert Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 12, 3029 _______________________________________________ Several long, tedious hours passed as we listened to the sound of debris pelting our Goblin tank, angry winds howling relentlessly around its angular frame, backdropped by intermittent garbled weather updates coming in from Alyssa Chase, most of which repeated the same information we already knew: that we were in the thick of it. By the grace of Blake, we'd managed to arrive at the container with our Hover APC escort intact, and in a harrowing, probably foolhardy maneuver, I'd donned a rebreather and ventured outside the Goblin in the midst of the maelstrom to attach a pair of chains between the two craft, hoping to further anchor the hovercraft and increase its chances of riding out the tempest in one piece. Now, what felt like an eternity thereafter, the winds were subsiding just as daylight - and with it, the unrelenting heat of the desert - began to spill over the horizon. I stepped into the Goblin's cockpit just as Bishop was activating a device to clear several centimeters of sand from the tank's narrow windscreen, revealing the landscape beyond. "Rise and shine, ladies and gentlemen," Alyssa's voice crackled on the radio, the signal strong and clear for the first time since we'd been caught in the apocalyptic conditions. "The front has broken and the scope is clear. I'll have an eye in the sky over your location in about ten minutes to monitor the perimeter if you want to start suiting up." "Best news I've heard all day, Control," I replied. "We'll get moving. Let us know when you're on station, and we'll commence 'Operation Pop-A-Lock." "Will do," Alyssa chuckled, closing the channel. I gazed through the Goblin's windshield, looking out over the ochre expanse before us. We'd landed nearly on top of the cargo container. Though half-buried by the sandstorm and rather heavily dented from both a low-altitude drop and a subsequent collision with our own tank, the unit looked relatively intact. Provided that we could avoid any unexpected plot twists, I estimated that we'd have a reasonably uneventful time recovering the contents. As Bishop set about arming the tank's defensive systems and relocating into the turret gunner's seat, I maneuvered back into the passenger compartment. "Alright, remember: this is going to be a quick smash-and-grab. Baroness Incendio and Lieutenant Weyland will keep an eye out for hostiles and coordinate fire support with the Hover APC as needed," I began. "Oh...joy..." Octavia remarked, glancing up at the hulking infantryman in the turret, who appeared to ignore the comment. "...while Nick and Levi assess the condition of the lockout device on the container and get us access to the unit. Lieutenant Jaeger and I will coordinate the recovery team from the APC and provide fire support if we have an incident. Warrant Officer Chase has a drone up and is monitoring the perimeter from above. Everyone clear on their roles?" I asked. "Good. Let's be quick but thorough. Oh - and stay hydrated. It might still feel cool out there now, but it's going to heat up quickly. There are water packs in the cooler by the door. Make sure you grab one when you gear up. Any questions?" Silence and determined expressions met my reply. "Excellent. Get suited up and ready to roll in ten minutes. The sooner we can get this done, the better." ### Approximately ten minutes later... The rear door of the APC crashed to the sandy surface with a loud, undulating bang. A whirlwind of heavy, hot air rushed in, almost immediately tripping the cooling system in the MechWarrior combat suit I wore beneath my duster. Drawing my M42B rifle, I strode down the ramp, the visor on my helmet instantly polarizing against the glare of daylight as my boots crunched on the desert powder. Far overhead, I heard the distant whine of a drone engine, the aircraft much too small to be made out with the human eye. "Eden, I've got sights on you. I have to say, your combination of biker helmet, hand cannon, and Wild West duster is pretty badass," Chase quipped in my earpiece. "Very funny," I laughed. "Let's just be sure you bring all those fancy cameras back in one piece." "Don't worry, I'll make sure that Regent's high-end whirlybird gets repacked the way we found it," Alyssa replied. "You just be safe down there. I'll let you know if anything pops on my scope." "Copy that, much appreciated," I acknowledged, shuffling through ankle-high sand toward the cargo container. Seeing that Nick and Levi were already at its doors, I waved to Lieutenant Jaeger. "Looks like we're about to crack this thing. Want to get the APC crew rolling?" I radioed. "You got it, Captain, Mallory just wrapped the safety brief. I'll bring them over," Orlex responded. "Sounds good. I'm going to go see if our locksmiths need any help," I acknowledged, trudging past the sand-covered Goblin and drawing up on the cache, its reinforced structure gleaming a dingy white in the arid sunshine. Nick stood before the unit's heavy doors, clutching a digital handlink wired to the crate's locking mechanism, while Levi looked on through his Thermo Man helmet. "How's it looking?" I asked. Schuster shook his head. "Not good. I don't know if it was the fall from low orbit, the garbage weather, or something else, but this lock is not responding. I can't even get an ACK signal from its microprocessor," the Lyran answered, frustration evident in his tone. "This was supposed to be a simple hack - well - as simple as busting anything with an Irian lock on it can be." "Damn," I replied, eyeing the very sturdy rods that prevented unauthorized entry into the container. "We're gonna be here for a long time if we have to cut our way in." "You're telling me," Nick grumbled. "According to the stock plans I could find about this type of shipping container, there are sixteen rods made out of Durallex Special Heavy composite situated around a central drum holding this door closed. It's the same stuff they use to make BattleMech armor. Shock absorbers on all sides of the crate prevent the locking mechanism from being bashed in and further protect the cargo inside from bumps, spills, and the occasional drop from orbit. In a pinch, we could probably have Bishop use the Goblin to shoot the door in, but that would run a serious risk of blowing up the stuff inside." "So our choices are either to get that lock working or pitch some tents and take shifts cutting," I editorialized. "Great. Let me get Weyland on the horn." I keyed my helmet radio. "Eden to Predator. You got any tricks for getting past Irian-manufactured locks?" "Usually I use high explosives," Bishop responded. "As much fun as that would be, it's not our top option," I explained. "Got anything else? This container's giving us fits." "Going around the lock's probably going to be your better option. You want me to come down there and try to tear the door off its hinges?" Weyland answered. "No," I replied. "Why not?" Bishop retorted. "Because I'd never forgive myself if you ended up tearing your own arms out of the sockets in the process. I'll call you back," I replied, keying the channel closed with a sigh, and turning toward Nick and Levi. "Let me know when we need to get the torches out. Seems we're fresh out of options." "Perhaps we're not, Captain," Levi offered. "Nick got the cover off the locking mechanism, and I've been looking at it in MicroMode." "I'm sorry, did you say 'MicroMode?'" I asked, holstering my rifle and leaning in closer to see what the two men were scrutinizing. "Oh, yeah," Levi replied, "it's a special helmet filter I created that lets me see things close up, like a microscope. I use it to work on my costume's circuits." "Got it. I'm guessing you found something?" I answered. Levi nodded. "Yeah. The mainboard in the lock's been tampered with. Like someone overloaded it deliberately. It's been subjected to way more current than it can handle. One of the resistors is blown out, but I think I can do a spot weld with my laser. It'll probably fry out again pretty quickly, but it might be enough to at least get us inside." A feeling of concern washed over me. "I don't like the idea that someone's already been here messing with the shipment. Have you gents got any way to see what we can expect on the other side of that door?" Nick shook his head. "No. The unit's computer is totally offline and the cargo container is shielded. We would need equipment similar to what they had on the Mendacious to penetrate it." "Alright, I understand. Good find, Levi. Do what you need to do to get it operational. One shot's better than none," I nodded. Just then, Lieutenant Jaeger arrived at my side. "What's going on?" Orlex asked. "There's circumstantial evidence to suggest that someone's been here before us. The locking mechanism's shot. Levi's going to try to patch around it and get us in," I explained. "Alright, I'll have the APC crew on standby," the Lieutenant answered. "Have them go weapons hot. I want to be sure we're ready for any potential contingencies," I added. Jaeger flashed a thumbs-up and headed over to the assembled recovery team. Meanwhile, I watched as Levi dropped to his knees and drew close to the lock. Steadying himself against the cargo container, a tiny coherent energy beam lanced out from the right side of his helmet and made contact with the circuit board for a fraction of a second. A small wisp of smoke rose from the repair site. "Blow on it," Levi said, gesturing to Nick. The Lyran pushed his sunglasses above his forehead and bent down to blow gently at the improvised weld. "Perfect, thanks. Try it now." Nick rose to his feet, dropping the shades back onto the bridge of his nose and consulting his keypad. "It keeps fritzing out. Can you jiggle the case a little bit? Maybe there's a loose wire somewhere," Schuster requested. Levi gave the mechanism a few gentle taps. "OK - it's online!" Nick announced, keying in a rapid-fire series of commands. Then, taking a deep breath, the Sergeant punched a final button on the pad. "Here goes nothing." A loud whine shrieked from within the cargo container, followed by a deep, reverberating rumble. Four heavy bangs followed as the quadruple arrays of locking pins retracted toward the central drum. A final series of twin pops indicated that the unit was now open. No sooner had the procedure finished than a small burst of flame erupted from the locking mechanism as it spontaneously combusted, a stream of melted plastic running down the front of the cargo container. "I can't believe that worked!" Schuster exclaimed, high-fiving Levi. "Nice job!" I agreed, gesturing to Lieutenant Jaeger, who jogged up alongside me to take in the scene. Unholstering my rifle, I approached the container in tandem with Orlex. Making eye contact with the Lieutenant, I silently counted off three fingers. Then, we swung the door open forcibly, flooding the unit with light. As I raised my weapon, preparing for the inevitable ambush, I was instead met with a far more horrific sight. The shipment was missing.
    2 points
  30. I was impressed. I wasn't sure what plan Captain Maxwell had cooked up this time, but whatever it was, it involved Levi, the Thermo Man helmet, and his ability to yell navigation instructions to Bishop. And it resulted in an incredibly uncomfortable, swerving, bumping, and swear-laden endeavor, over the next few hours, accompanied by no shortage of sand spraying in on us, before at last, we felt a final CRASH, and the tank lurched to a stop. "Clear as far as I can see, which isn't all that far, and there's a big fuzzy something way ahead that might be our box." "WAY AHEAD?" Bishop bellowed. "IT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF US AND I FUCKING HIT IT!" "Okay, well, as I tried to tell you before, my sensors are all screwy from this weather." I heard Levi explain. I got up from my seat and brushed a bunch of sand from my lap. Octavia was still complaining loudly, something about the matter being uncouth, but I had other priorities. I looked up the turrret at Levi, who was standing very tensely looking out over the landscape. "Hey, Levi." I said. Eventually he looked down at me. "Yeah?" he asked. "Is it a cargo container?" I asked. "Near as I can tell." Levi said. "Great, then your job is done, come down here and get that sand out of your teeth." Levi looked relieved and slid down the ladder. As he pulled off the Thermo Man helmet, a bunch of sand dumped out on the ground. "You did a good job." I said. Just then, Captain Maxwell came over and clapped him on his shoulder. "Agreed." said Maxwell. "Don't worry about sticking the landing, that's on Bishop, now, as far as the next leg of this jaunt is concerned, we may need to wait until we have some daylight....."
    2 points
  31. Nephthys desert Plutus Docks, Haven Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 11, 3029 _______________________________________________ The desert storm surged and banged against the hull of the Goblin tank, its unforgiving winds lashing and biting at its hull as though nature itself were trying to drive her way through the ferrosteel hide to ravage the creatures of flesh within. I glanced at Bishop as the unrelenting blast of desert sand raced across our transport's viewport, convinced that this was the only reasonable course of action we had left. "Far be it for me to argue with you, sir," Bishop glowered, staring out into the wastes with a crushed spirit. "I probably could have picked the track back up." "Likely so," I nodded, "and I have full faith in your abilities. This is just - " A colossal bang outside the Goblin interrupted my thoughts. "...the time for immediacy," I continued, watching as a vehicle-sized chunk of earth ricocheted its way off the tank's tiny viewport and disappeared into the whirling maelstrom beyond. I tapped the headset that rested on my ear. "Eden to Control - what's the sitrep on this weather?" "Control to Eden...global we *shzzttt* eports that you ha *szhhhtt* -expected advance of Diab*shzzt* unprecedented weather front *shzzzzzzt* I think you picked a really unf *shzzzzzzzt* be in the desert, recommend you return to..." Alyssa's voice was suddenly and unceremoniously cut off by an unprecedented bang usually reserved for the most hostile of combat zones. The Goblin lurched severely before settling back down on its tracks. I looked furtively toward Levi as he clambered toward the cockpit. "Reporting as ordered...sirs?" the young man asked, attempting to assume a position of salute. "At ease, Levi," I chuckled, attempting, as best I could, to suppress the concern in my voice. "You're here because we need your help." "But you guys are the big bad mercenaries - I didn't even think I'd be on this mission! I couldn't have imagined - " Levi began. I raised a hand, forestalling further protests. "Whatever you think you were capable of, rest assured, we believe you've surpassed that," I responded, trying to cut to the chase. "And right now, we need you to be Thermo Man." Levi looked at me with incredulity. "Alright, I'll set aside the fact that Thermo Man is a fictional character for the moment. What do you need?" "Our sensors are shot in this storm. The amount of garbage flying around outside has rendered us effectively blind, and we can't maintain an uplink to the Hurry Up Bessie. We need you to use the enhanced vision system you built into Thermo Man's helmet to guide us the rest of the way to the target. We're reliant on you to keep us from being dead in the water." I watched as Levi went through several permutations of shock, denial, and then acceptance. "What do you need me to do?" he asked. I gestured, with a flourish, at the relentless sandstorm as I yielded my seat. "Slide in here," I continued, pointing at the co-pilot's chair, "and help Bishop get us through this shit. You can do it." Levi eased into the chair, casting me a doubtful glance before looking over at a glowering Lieutenant Weyland, who leaned defeatedly against the tank's controls and stared icy daggers at the storm lashing away at us. After a moment's pause, Levi looked back at me with an expression of determination. "Attaboy," I nodded, before stepping back into the passenger compartment. "You can do this."
    2 points
  32. Continued from The Universe - 3028... The Inner Sphere is a region of interstellar space surrounding Earth to a radius of roughly 450 - 550 light-years, generally demarcated by the outer borders of the "Great Houses." Within this region of about 2 million stars, there are approximately 2000 inhabited planets. Beyond the Inner Sphere is the Periphery. While a variety of smaller states have come and gone, the Inner Sphere has historically been dominated by five 'Great Houses' who rule over their separate dominions: House Davion (Federated Suns), House Liao (Capellan Confederation), House Marik (Free Worlds League), House Steiner (Lyran Commonwealth), and House Kurita (Draconis Combine). The leader of each Great House claims to be the rightful successor to the rule of the Star League, and so the nations the Houses rules over are known as the Successor States. The space surrounding the Inner Sphere contains a number of independent nations, known collectively as the Periphery. The largest of these nations (the Outworlds Alliance, Taurian Concordat, Magistracy of Canopus, and Rim Worlds Republic) predate the Star League and rival the Successor States themselves in size, but are vastly inferior economically and militarily. More moderately sized nations, such as the Marian Hegemony or Bandit Kingdoms, also lie near the Inner Sphere. The Periphery contains countless other independent nations, many consisting of a single star system each and rarely playing a significant role in Inner Sphere politics. The mostly uncharted space beyond the nearby Periphery states is known as the Deep Periphery and contains numerous pirate havens and lost Star League colonies. 3029 was an eventful year in the Inner Sphere. For a timeline of key events, refer to Sarna.net | 3029. From the farthest reaches of the outworlds to the heart of the Inner Sphere, this is the place to stake your claim in the universe!
    1 point
  33. As Schuster's Swiftwind roared past me, I jockeyed the Raven ninety degrees and drove it out of the spaceport's gate and onto the narrow access road that stood between the landing pad and the main road. Almost immediately, a hail of bullets assaulted my BattleMech's right flank, and I jerked the machine's torso to face the oncoming assault. The Jeep and Growler were out ahead of the Routemaster, unleashing a myriad of high-caliber rounds in my direction. I swung the Raven's targeting reticule over the Jeep, noting grimly that it was indeed bedecked with what looked like a massive, .50 caliber machine gun, a single-shot rocket launcher, and a flamer. Just behind it, my targeting computer made out an AC/5 and a proper SRM2 retrofit to the Growler. The bus was still too far out for me to get a solid read on it, but I had bigger problems at the moment. The Growler was now also in range and had opened fire, its first autocannon round missing its mark and obliterating a section of compound wall behind me. This wasn't going to be the simple stomp-and-laugh in which most vehicle engagements against 'Mechs ended. It was going to be a brawl. I opened fire at the Jeep with the Raven's twin medium lasers, one of which flew wide, the other lancing across the vehicle's hood and melting one of the quarter panels. As I reversed slowly into the spaceport, hoping to draw the vehicles into a tighter quarter, the Jeep returned fire with its machine gun, the heavy rounds landing true and inflicting considerable damage against the Raven's leg armor. I pushed the throttle up and snapped off a full volley of SRM-6 warheads, half of which landed on the vehicle, while another two overshot their target and slammed into the oncoming bus at the rear of the formation. The last warhead sailed off into the desert wastes, exploding violently in a patch of scrub and setting it alight. By now, the Growler had fully entered engagement range and unleashed a pair of SRM2 missiles directly at me. I braced myself against the Raven's controls as I watched the explosives corkscrew in and attempted a desperate evasive twist, but the move was pointless. The rockets detonated with considerable force against my Raven's exposed left flank, orange blossoms of flame spitting angrily out from the impact site. Much to my surprise, the fire abruptly increased in intensity, spreading across three-quarters of the Raven's torso, and as the machine's battle computer wailed a heat alarm, I realized I'd been hit with Inferno rounds, and my BattleMech was now covered in burning adhesive gel. "Shit!" I exclaimed, yanking the Raven back on target as I continued to back away from the vehicles. Drawing a bead on the closing Jeep, I unleashed a combined-arms laser and missile fusillade directly into its windshield. The Raven's DI computer wailed in protest, plastering the word OVERHEAT across my HUD as I watched with grim satisfaction as the Jeep went up in a fiery conflagration. The celebration was short-lived; much to my surprise, the Growler was utterly undeterred by the demise of its partner, plowing straight through the wreckage of the Jeep to deliver a debilitating blow to my Raven's left leg with its autocannon and slinging another pair of Inferno missiles directly into my cockpit canopy. Brutalized, the BattleMech bucked and stumbled wildly, crashing through the wall of a ramshackle hangar building and very nearly toppling over in the process. I found myself staring through flaming adhesive at the tarmac, suspended in a forward position from my pilot's harness as I fought to bring the 'Mech level again. I managed to get off another round of blind laser fire despite the protestations of the DI computer, which painted a wildly flashing HEAT LEVEL CRITICAL message against my line of sight. I glanced at the thermal readouts on the Raven's wireframe, noting grimly that the missile storage compartment was fast approaching cook-off temperature, while the cockpit itself was nearly 48 degrees Celsius. While survivable with an operable cooling vest, in my current situation, this temperature could quickly become fatal. Indeed, it was already taking its toll; my breathing was coming in labored gasps and my vision was starting to blur. "Fuck this," I muttered, shifting the Raven into a flanking run and thumbing the fusion reactor's emergency purge switch, discharging as much of the 'Mech's precious engine coolant as I dared in a desperate attempt to bring the machine down to a less dangerous operating threshold. "Come again, Radar?" Nikki's voice crackled. "Don't worry about it!" I wheezed. "What's the situation over there?" I had only a split second to push locks of sweat-drenched hair from my face before the Growler swung into view again. Craning my neck to see around the angry flames that still blazed directly in my field of view, I let fly a flight of SRM6 rounds, their chemical engines leaving an oddly-appropriate brimstone smell of cordite in their wake as they soared toward the oncoming truck. This time, all six warheads tore into the light transport's flank, ripping through its hull and touching off its ammunition storage. The Growler exploded with such force that several buildings in the immediate area were flattened and I felt the resultant shockwave from within my Raven. No sooner had the Growler finished self-immolating than the Routemaster trundled into the fray, half a dozen turrets blazing from windows that had been converted to armored gunports. Under the assault, one of my Raven's medium lasers was almost immediately wrought from its mount, and I had only a fraction of a second to react before jets of superheated plasma shot out of the bus's undercarriage, setting my 'Mech's torso aflame again. The strategy of my assailants had become clear: under a protracted incendiary assault, the BattleMech's DI computer could be forced into an overheat-induced shutdown, allowing the raiders to lay siege and capture the machine - and me along with it. I didn't intend to let that happen. "We're not quite there yet, Radar; the APC was badly overloaded and we need to secure at least some of its cargo before we can dust off. Otherwise, we risk having a multi-ton projectile flying around inside the bay at gravity shift. Can you buy us a couple of minutes?" Nikki replied. "A couple of minutes might be all I have left," I coughed, noting that I was absolutely drenched in sweat, a condition which, in the current temperature, threatened hypothermia. Wheeling the Raven around, I ordered the machine into a limping, sluggish run, withdrawing from the engagement and ducking behind an expansive warehouse. As I rounded the backside of the building, I noticed that one of its bay doors was just large enough to accommodate my BattleMech. Throwing caution to the wind, I pushed the Raven inside, smashing several crates and obliterating a forklift underfoot. Once fully indoors, I quickly shut the 'Mech down, hoping that the combination of EW gear and diminished power signature would function effectively as a cloak until I could get Aether cooled down. As I reached out to adjust the tactical plotter, I noticed that my hands were shaking violently, and I was beginning to feel cold. "Fuck!" I exclaimed. I'd learned about the wet-bulb effect in survival training as an Acolyte. With too much moisture in the air at too high a temperature, sweat wouldn't evaporate effectively, robbing the body of its ability to regulate its own temperature. Hypothermia, rapid pulse, a change in mental status, faintness, and coma would follow. I frantically tore off my neurohelmet and fumbled to unbuckle the pilot's harness, tumbling out of the chair and scrambling to open the hatch above my head. A rush of warm, dry air billowed in. Thinking quickly, I tore off my drenched top and cast it aside, the garment landing with a wet thwop somewhere in the confines of the cockpit as the gust of desert air raged across my exposed skin. Incredibly, as hot as it was outside, the air felt cool as evaporation again took hold. I sagged against the wall of the Raven's cockpit momentarily, listening to the ominous roar of the bus's engine as it circled nearby. Evidently, its crew hadn't given up on trying to find me. "Radar to Control," I gasped, "how soon?" "Radar, you don't sound too hot," Nikki replied with concern in her tone. "Believe me, I'm very hot," I quipped sarcastically, closing my eyes and shoving drenched handfuls of hair out of my face. "How much longer do you need these idiots kept at bay?" "Stand by," Harlow replied. As I waited for an update, I opened my eyes, noting the Raven's emergency survival locker. Yanking it open, I found a hydration pack and a thermal blanket. Uncapping the drink, I downed its bitter, electrolyte-heavy contents in a matter of gulps before grabbing the thermal blanket and toweling off as best I could. I'd just finished when I heard the bus's engine growl louder. "Eden says we're locked and loaded. Bring it in, Chase!" the Captain replied. "Those were the words I was waiting to hear," I deadpanned, reaching up to slam the Raven's hatch. Casting the thermal blanket on the floor near the pilot's chair, I climbed back onto the command couch and slipped on its neurohelmet, fastening the seat's four-point harness as I did so. Taking several heavy breaths to clear my vision, I toggled the Raven's systems back to active status, its fusion reactor roaring to life and posture stiffening as the war machine came back online. Almost immediately, the battle computer's threat alarm wailed with a proximity alert, and I realized that the Routemaster was directly outside the warehouse. Checking the tactical readout being fed to me by the EW computer, I noted with chagrin that the battle wagon appeared to be in better repair than my own machine was this juncture. "Control, I don't suppose we have time to get one of the UAVs up, do we?" I asked. "Not if you don't intend to leave it planetside," Nikki responded. "What's up?" "Never mind. I'll handle this situation myself. Give me a waypoint to those giant fuel tanks just outside the berth, please," I grumbled. "The fuel tanks? Why?" "No time to explain. Just do it," I insisted as I began moving the Raven slowly down the length of the warehouse. Abruptly, a barrage of bullets tore a line of Swiss-cheesed holes through a corrugated wall to my left, daylight pouring in through the openings. The Routemaster had found me. "Alright, here you go, but for Blake's sake, don't keep us waiting . We need to get out of here. We've got more tangoes inbound," Harlow responded, a green nav point winking into existence on my HUD. "Don't worry, I'm bringing the party to you now," I replied, slamming the Raven's throttle to full. The birdlike 'Mech lunged forward, throwing me against the pilot's chair as, in an instant, the biped was catapulted to its maximum speed of 97 KPH. The far wall of the warehouse raced toward me, and I braced myself for impact. A second later, with a bone-jarring impact that threw me into the harness so hard that I felt my skin lacerate, the Raven smashed through the towering bulkhead, exploding out into the daylight amidst a hail of debris. Almost immediately, autocannon fire thrashed along the 'Mech's rear quarter as the Routemaster reacquired its prey and closed in for the kill. Recovering my bearings, I steered the Raven into a breakneck run directly for the waypoint, the hover bus easily keeping pace with me. Another shot tore into my 'Mech's rear armor, its damage wireframe flashing an angry red before darkening the ravaged section of armor entirely, indicating that my reactor casing was now exposed. I gritted my teeth, ducking and weaving the BattleMech as the fuel tanks drew near, the Hurry Up Bessie looming directly beyond. "Radar, what are you doing?" Nikki asked, the tone in her voice evidence that by now, she was likely seeing my desperate flight on the Mule's external cameras. "Don't worry about it," I responded, bracing myself for what was about to come next. "Just get ready to dust off. Start closing the doors." "But you're not on board yet!" Harlow protested. "I'm not gonna just leave you out there!" "Start closing the doors now," I insisted. Another impact jolted the Raven. Internal damage indicators screamed. "I'm going to live to regret this," Nikki sighed. "Clearing all moorings. Beginning pre-launch sequence." The fuel tanks were dead ahead. The Routemaster continued its assault. The gut-wrenching sound of metal being torn from Aether's hull, paired with a calamitous detonation, indicated that I'd just lost the SRM6 launcher. Thirty meters...twenty...ten...five... At the last possible second, I jerked the Raven's control yoke hard to the right, sending the 'Mech into a careening, wildly out-of-control right hand turn. The spaceport rolled drunkenly past my viewport as I was jolted hard to the left, fighting to keep the war machine stabilized. Behind me, an apocalyptic explosion that defied the very heavens in its volume and depth heralded the demise of the Routemaster as it collided full force with the spaceport's fuel tanks and set them ablaze, the resulting fireball burning so intensely that, for a moment, it seemed as though the Twycross system had birthed a second sun. Furtively, I located the Hurry Up Bessie and drove madly toward it, barreling full bore toward its rapidly-closing cargo bay. I hurtled the Raven up the retracting boarding gantry and through narrowing aperture of its pressure door, hearing the 'Mech's cockpit scraping against the descending steel as I did so. The moment I was through, I brought Aether to a screeching halt, locking its legs in place, a cascade of sparks spraying from its clawed toes as metal resisted against metal and inertia continued to carry the thirty-five ton machine forward. With a unceremonious crunch, the Raven came to rest against the far wall of the cargo bay. I breathed a sigh of relief, slapping the auto-shutdown toggle on the command console, feeling the 'Mech settling into a resting position as the Hurry Up Bessie pushed away from the surface of Twycross. Pulling off my neurohelmet, I tossed the appliance aside and fell back against the command chair, closing my eyes and breathing a cathartic sigh. It was over. We were finally underway. ### Approximately fifteen minutes later... A low chime indicated the success of our orbital insertion and the conclusion of gravity shift as we thrust away from Twycross, leaving the desert world behind us to ply our way toward the system jump point. I slowly opened my eyes, hearing muffled voices entering the cargo bay. At length, I unbuckled my harness and pulled myself to my feet, hobbling over to the Raven's cockpit hatch and pushing it open. I felt a cool breeze waft in and goosebumps form along my skin. Casting a resentful glare at my still-soaked top lying the corner, I grabbed the thermal blanket and threw it around my shoulders before climbing up Aether's ladder. To my surprise, Charles was already outside the cockpit, riding atop a scissor lift. As I emerged from the machine's depths, the Captain looked me over with a bemused expression and a raised eyebrow. "Just another day at the office," I quipped with a smile. "Come on. Let's go home."
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  34. Hi everyone, so I have an upcoming unit outage at my work, this means for most of September and October I'll be working a lot of overtime and long 13+ hour days. Unfortunately that is bound to impact the amount of time I can devote to writing on here. While it won't be a true absence, as I plan to keep up on reading posts and contributing where I can, it does mean I likely won't have as many posts (or at least not as long) as I usually do. I'll still be around on the Discord I just won't have as much free time to go all crazy with my posts, lol. The dates are subject to change as things progress but currently they are Sep 17 to Oct 14.
    1 point
  35. Plutus Docks - Haven colony Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 10, 3029 _______________________________________________ A cold, dusty wind roared into the depths of Cargo Bay One as the ship's massive door rumbled aside, revealing the skyline of the Haven colony - a jumble of dark, angular silhouettes with a smattering of dimly-lit windows, contrasted against the deep indigo of the desert's twilight sky. I shivered, pulling the heavy brown fabric of my longcoat closed and popping its collar, the smell of woodsmoke making my senses tingle as I descended the Hurry Up Bessie's cargo ramp onto the sand-covered landing pad. "I forgot how cold the desert gets at night," I remarked, gazing up at the starry evening expanse, noting the stark absence of aircraft typical of most spaceports. Lieutenant Jaeger nodded, pulling on a pair of gloves while Captain Harlow pulled on a sharp-looking woolen cap. "This place is a ghost town, too," Orlex added, glancing around at the deserted expanse of Plutus Docks. "I hope it's at least got a minimal amount of security." "I told James to sit on a bench inside the cargo bay with a laser rifle," Nikki replied. "He can't shoot to save his life, but at least there's a chance he'll scare off any intruders with his wildly haphazard aim." "I'm all for small victories when we can score them," I answered, stepping over several large chunks of broken ferrocrete as we made our way across the deserted tarmac toward the dockmaster's office. The Hurry Up Bessie was the only vessel on the pad, looking even larger than it usually did in the absence of other craft, utility vehicles, or personnel. Scattered throughout the landing zone were the remains of various decrepit support vehicles that had once serviced the port. A fuel truck, bereft of wheels, lay corroded and useless on a nearby siding, while a cargo transporter had apparently been abandoned in place and stripped of its parts in an area marked "Small Craft Staging." Further away, the dilapidated skeleton of what had, long ago, been a hangar building now sat corroding away, its loose beams and neglected roof materials clattering in the wind. The dockmaster's office itself was a pathetic affair - a single-level shack, built out of a patchwork of various salvaged metals and starship components, bearing a hand-pointed sign on its facade that read "PLUTUS DOCKS ADMINISTRATION: ALL VISITORS MUST REPORT." A smaller placard beneath the sign read, "NO TRESPASSING - SOLICITORS WILL BE RIDDEN OUT OF TOWN ON A RAIL." "That's an oddly-specific threat," I mused, gesturing at the smaller sign. "Creative, though." "Speaking of creative, would you look at that!" Lieutenant Jaeger exclaimed, pointing skyward toward the only structure taller than the dockmaster's office itself. Rising from just beyond the perimeter of the spaceport was a tall tower half-covered by a large tarp and bedecked haphazardly with several strings of incandescent lights. As we drew nearer to it, I realized that the 'tower' was in fact a Stinger BattleMech, long ago repurposed from a war machine and now serving as a power source for an eclectic marketplace that had formed at its feet. The ancient machine looked like an ancient soldier standing eternal watch over the bazaars, food stands, and games of chance as gregarious voices and the tinny sounds of concertina music echoed off of its rusted frame. A faint, flickering light twinkled from its cockpit - someone was burning a candle. "That is creative," I agreed as Nikki held up her comm unit to take a picture. "No one's going to believe me otherwise," Captain Harlow chuckled, pressing the shutter and saving the image. "Send me a copy of that, will ya?" I asked. Nikki nodded and slipped the phone back in her pocket as we reached the administrative office. Lieutenant Jaeger, slightly ahead of us, pulled on the handle of the building's screen door, only to realize that it was locked. "Well, so much for a warm welcome. You'd think a harbormaster would at least step outside to mind his facilities while a supposedly out-of-control ship is trying to make port," I observed. "Should I hit the buzzer?" Orlex asked, looking back toward me. "Might as well," I replied, "though I'm pretty certain he knows we're here already." Jaeger pressed a small, glowing button to the right of the door frame. A raspy, mechanical clanging sounded off from deep within the shack, followed shortly thereafter by a crash of furniture and the sound of booted feet thunking toward us. A moment later, the inner door to the shack was thrown open, and a short, balding, rotund man with an unkempt beard and wild hair stood before us. "What do you need?" he asked. "We're from the Hurry Up Bessie," Harlow explained. "The ship that called ahead for an emergency landing?" "Yeah. I know," the harbormaster replied in a thick brogue, craning his neck to look past us at our vessel. "What in Blake's name is all that shite your people are unloadin'? You're only here for a day or two." I cast a look back toward the landing pad, seeing the marker lights of our Goblin tank and Hover APC descending the cargo ramp. "We had to get some assets out of the way so that Captain Harlow's team can work on the thruster problem," I bluffed. "In the mean time, our crew is going to run some maneuvers out in the desert. We've been in space for quite a while, and now seems like a good time to stretch our legs and break in the gear." "Yeah, well, I don't care what you do so long as you pay the port fee and you're out of here in two days. Ship like yours is going to attract attention," the man answered. "How much do we owe you?" Nikki asked. "Twenty-five thousand C-Bills. Cash or charge," the harbormaster replied. "Twenty-five thousand C-Bills? That's half the cost of the JumpShip fare from Maxie's Planet to here! You don't even have maintenance facilities!" Captain Harlow exclaimed. "You don't like it? You can get off my pad or I can impound your vessel. Beggars can't be choosers, Missy," the rotund fellow proclaimed. Nikki glared at me. I reluctantly withdrew my credit tube and passed it over to the dockmaster, who unlatched the screen door just long enough to snatch it away from me and insert it into a point of sale machine. A few minutes later, Captain Harlow had signed the requisite paperwork, and we were on our way back to the Hurry Up Bessie. "Not the warmest welcoming committee, to be certain," I quipped. "Jaeger, let's try to get rolling as soon as possible. If he's any indication of what the locals are like around here, the more we can get done under the cover of darkness, the better. I'm going aboard the Goblin to spin up the homing navigation now. One less thing we'll need to do." "Aye, Captain, I'll see if I can round up Bishop and the others and meet you there shortly," the Lieutenant nodded. "I'll mind the store," Nikki added. "The last thing we need is anyone else ripping us off." "Agreed. At the first sign of trouble, have Chase get us on the horn." At that, the three of us parted ways to set the covert recovery in motion.
    1 point
  36. Twycross III Space, Lyran Commonwealth December 10, 3029 ___________________________________ I grunted and shoved the bar up from my chest for the final rep. My arms shook, and a thick coating of lifting chalk was the only thing keeping the bar from slipping from my sweaty hands. Nearly three hundred kilograms slowly rose into the air. I put all my strength into one final push, and locked my arms under the bar. Slowly, the bar continued to rise, and I felt my sweaty back unstick from the vinyl covered bench as I rose with it. “What in the farting fuck?” “Language, boy, language!” “Sorry, Ba Ba,” I grumbled. “But seriously, where’d the gravity go? My weight’s all out of heavy!” “I got you a gig,” Ba Ba said with a twinkle in her eye. “Mortal Gymnastics needs a fighter for an exhibition match back on the planet. It’s the day after tomorrow. Modified d’juulu rules, bring your own traps, and a Mortal Gymnastics Solaris 7 black belt for your trophy case when you win. Oh, and you’d best put that weight back down, or it’ll squish you like a roach once the ship turns around.” Ba Ba made a pinching gesture with her wrinkled, veiny hand to make her point. “Where, on sandy slum planet? The royalties will be peanuts down there. Their food carts don’t even sell peanuts, they can only afford stale q-nuts!” I lowered the barbell into its’ catches, slid back and sat up and leaned on it. “It’s the best gig you’ll get with one jump’s worth of cash and a half-broken ship,” Ba Ba said. “The Mortal rep thinks you’ll have a full house, too - it’s not often these folks get to see a black belt match. Maybe I can even trade some of our free tickets for a discount on the rest of our exhaust repair.” “Fiiiiiiiine.” I ducked out from under the bar and toweled off. “Can you make my recovery shake a double? I’ve gotta be in top shape for tomorrow. I don’t want the only black belt match those poor sand slum kids ever see to be a lame one.” I tossed the sweaty towel to the side. It hung in the air for a moment, and then slowly dropped into the hamper as the ship picked up speed. “Of course, Billy. Would you like a chocolate chip protein cookie, too? They’re fresh from the oven!”
    1 point
  37. C.V. Hurry Up Bessie, Mule-class Dropship On approach to Haven Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 10, 3029 _______________________________________________ I had left the bridge shortly after the exchange between Captain Harlow and the Plutus Docks, in which she expertly talked us into getting approval for an unscheduled landing, and made my way down to the main cargo bay to collect the rest of my gear before we landed. A spheroid dropship more or less falling through the skies was generally not something one would want to walk around in but I wanted to be ready to go the moment we landed and Nikki and her crew were doing a commendable job piloting what amounted to a flying rock, especially given that half of our reaction thrusters were "offline" and they were playing the part fully. As if on cue the Bessie lurched sideways as the ship attempted to adjust for sudden changes in atmospheric wind with a thruster that was currently non-functional, the tilt sent me careening into a wall in the corridor despite my best efforts but I kept my feet even as the ship righted itself with a different thruster. On the plus side the two Captains had come up with their plan and cover stories BEFORE we entered atmosphere so the crew had had time to secure everything big enough to cause a problem in the cargo bays. Upon reaching the entrance to the main bay I hit the door open controls and the hydraulic door slid open with only the slightest of pauses in the middle, a far cry from the jittering and seizing it was doing prior to some of Schuster's tender ministrations. Nikki was surely going to miss him, assuming Captain Maxwell decided to take him up on his offer, I was still a bit surprised that Charles had asked my opinion on the matter, often mercenary Captain's would make those decisions themselves or leave it with their HR department if they were big enough for something like that. Nevertheless I had given the Captain my honest opinion, I couldn't judge the man on his past since I wasn't there to experience it myself, but everything I had seen meant Schuster would make a valuable and capable member of the team. Another shudder ran through the ship's deck, with no wall to catch me this time I stumbled sideways in the open cargo bay until the shudder stopped and I was able to catch my footing, all thoughts of Nick's request to join Aegis had left my mind and I moved as quickly as I could to retrieve my gear from one of the secured lockers near the main cargo door. As I retrieved my weapons and a heavy looking leather duster I recalled a few days prior when I had been selecting my gear in the armoury and been accosted by both Bishop and Alyssa. Previously... I was standing before one of the worktables in the middle of the armoury with a large selection of weapons laid out before me, everything from a pistol-grip "sawed-off" pump-action shotgun to a M&G fletchette rifle (or needler) and a man-portable flamer to a Thor Light Support Machine Gun with a sprinkling of various sidearms mixed in for good measure. Several of the choices were easy to make, the Flamer for instance was of limited value in the open desert and its encumbering nature ruled it out for a mission where speed was of utmost importance. The new KTS shotgun on the other hand was an intriguing and rather impressive dual magazine bull-pup design that offered the benefits of a full sized shotgun but in a compact package that rivalled a "sawed-off" for size but I had never seen actual combat with it yet. The fletchette rifle was another promising option but its limited range and almost non-existent armour penetration were worrisome even on this backwater planet. The sidearms at least were straight forward, my Serrek 7875D Auto-Pistol would accompany me as usual, along with spare mags including 1 clip of incendiary rounds, and as a trial run/backup to my backup I would be bringing a Wolf M30T pistol borrowed from Bishop's extensive armoury. The Wolf M30T was a reliable and common sidearm from the Free Worlds League, and one which Bishop had personally vouched for, chambered in a standard 0.45 ACP round the pistol packed a punch that was lacking in my Serrek's 9mm round. As I stood there debating in my head about the pros and cons of the various long guns I had laid out before me Bishop entered the armoury and immediately took an interest in the assortment of weapons I'd laid out. "Quite the selection there Jaeger, hope you aren't planning to carry them all into combat, not sure if the planet could survive," joked Bishop as he looked over the display. "Well I was curious just how many I could fit inside here," I laughed, indicating the large leather duster that I was currently wearing, having selected it as part of my attire for our upcoming dash and grab on the desert planet. "I'm pretty sure those harness points are meant for grenades and ammo, maybe a sidearm, not a complete arsenal," chuckled Bishop, referring to the built in harness hidden within the leather overcoat with relatively universal attachment points. "Only one way to find out," I quipped and started connecting various weapons to the internal harness. The bull-pup KTS shotgun was shortly joined by the M&G fletchette rifle, which stuck out past the bottom of the duster, two different SMGs, a pair of Magnum auto-pistols, and I was just picking up the Thor Light Machine Gun when Alyssa happened to walk into the armoury herself. "What the hell guys, do I need to supervise you as well now?" asked Alyssa with her hands on her hips, not really upset but not entirely joking either. "Oh hi Alyssa," I said looking over my shoulder at her, the LMG frozen in my hand with the duster hanging heavily from me, "What brings you here?" "Orlex what are you doing? If I didn't know any better it looks like you're trying to hide a Blake-damned support machine gun inside your trenchcoat," scolded Chase, the light in her eyes a better indication she was more amused than upset over her voice. I slowly turned towards her attempting, and failing, to shrug as the now heavy duster moved clunkily and the sound of multiple weapons clinking against each other rang out across the confines of the armoury, the look of a kid with their hand in a cookie jar playing across my face. Chase's eyes went wide as she saw what I had inside the duster before the fletchette rifle's attachment point failed and the weapon fell noisily to the ground. "Holy Blake! Orlex," gasped Alyssa before she shook her head and face palmed, "I work with a bunch of children, full grown, adult children." I sheepishly put the LMG back on the table and reached down to pick up the M&G rifle, narrowly managing to catch one of the SMGs as it slid from its holster when I crouched down, "We were just curious." "Hey now, this was all you buddy, don't go dragging me into it," replied Bishop with his hands up and backing away. "Ok, so I was curious," I responded, jokingly giving Bishop an evil eye as if he'd thrown me under the bus. "Right," laughed Chase, "and what did you learn? That you can't carry the entire armoury with you?" "Well that, and that the harness in this duster is meant for accessories and gear, not full size weapons," I answered. "I could have told you that Jaeger," said Alyssa with a shake of her head, before waving her hand across the assortment of weapons still scattered across the table, "Please tell me you're not planning on trying to bring all of this, it's a dash and grab guys." "Blake no," I answered shaking my head and continuing to unload weapons from the duster, "these were just options, to help me decide what I would actually bring." "Good, you legit had me worried there for a second. I've got my hands full enough trying to deal with Charles, I don't need to babysit another gun nut," said Alyssa with a laugh. "It can't be that bad can it?" I joked, finally finishing unloading all the guns from the leather overcoat. Chase shot me a knowing look before answering, "You have no idea, have you heard him mention his lost Hawk Eagle? I have, more times than I care to count." "So you came here, to the armoury, to escape from your fiancée who talks too much about guns?" I asked incredulously, "Just making sure I'm following the same logic here." "No you idiot," chided Alyssa jovially, "I didn't come here to escape from him, if I was trying to do that I'd have gone to see Nikki or Octavia, not you two knuckleheads. I came here to get my own weapons for the mission, I may be staying onboard the ship and coordinating you dum-dums from the air but I'll be damned if I'm not armed while we're planetside." "Ok, that makes more sense," I replied with a nod. "So, Bishop, seeing as how Orlex is busy arming himself to take over a small country and is clearly in the same line of thinking as my future husband," began Alyssa, playfully turning away from me to address Bishop instead, "any suggestions for me as to what I should consider for armaments?" "Certainly," answered Bishop, jokingly giving me a dismissive turn as well as they moved deeper into the armoury, "provided the Lieutenant here hasn't emptied these shelves as well there should be something sleek and elegant yet still effective right this way." As Bishop and Alyssa moved away I continued to sort through the assorted weapons, discounting several more as I actually started to consider them seriously, by the time Alyssa and Bishop had returned I had sorted the weapons into two distinct groups, one of which was considerably smaller. The KTS shotgun was in the smaller group, along with my two sidearms and a Gunther MP-20 SMG, as well as a series of grenades and associated spare ammo clips. Alyssa left, having found a gun suitable for what she was looking for, and Bishop went an opened a locked cabinet containing some of his personal weapons that were currently stored in the armoury, one of which instantly stood out and caught my attention. "Hey Bishop, is that a Star King?" I asked, the Star King was a relatively rare bull-pup gyroslug carbine widely considered one of the best on the market. "This?" asked Bishop, indicating the weapon I meant, "Not quite, its an Andurien knock-off made by Grumman Amalgamated, called the GA King Slayer." "King Slayer huh? Sounds like they're pretty confident," I chuckled. "In this case, it's warranted. The King Slayer is a little heavier than the Star King but it maintains the same firepower, range, and accuracy while having a lighter magazine which means the overall weight is actually slightly less. The weapon is easily switched from right side ejection to left so it is truly ambidextrous as all controls are replicated on both sides. Like any gyrojet weapon it is silent in operation, compared to traditional firearms, and has virtually no recoil as well as having no damage fall off thanks to the self propelled ammunition and explosive tipped rounds." Present Day... With all my gear collected and now worn I looked, and felt, like a strange cross between Ancient Terra's Wild West, the Inner Sphere's Terran Exoduses era, and a modern day marine prepped for desert combat. At the base layer I had on a heat suit, an all black, full-body, skin-tight suit with built in coolant and moisture retention systems that were powered by my own physical movements. The filter mask and googles were currently removed and stored in a pouch on my hip since they were primarily in case we encountered an actual sandstorm, of which the likelihood was considerably higher than I would like. On top of that I wore a pair desert camo pattern cargo fatigues, a lightweight, breathable set of pants that afforded additional pockets for storage without adding much weight or bulk themselves. On the upper body I had just a standard flak vest on, the olive drab coloured flexible bulletproof vest had lightweight ferrosteel plates built into it and provided excellent protection against ballistics and moderate protection from explosions, while its inherent weakness to energy weapons was less of a concern on a backwater world covered in dust and storms. On top of all that I wore a deceptively heavy looking synthleather duster, an oversized jacket that hung down past my knees and had an additional layer of leather across the shoulders, the surprisingly comfortable overcoat was loose fitting and designed to protect the rest of my gear from the worst of the dust and sand. The duster was a mottled slate gray and had the equivalent of a load bearing vest built into the interior of the jacket providing mounting points for various lightweight gear and equipment. My advanced combat helmet hung at my side while a humidifier mask was slung loosely around my neck ready to slide into place should I desire it. Finally on my head sat a wide-brimmed leather hat reminiscent of an Akubra traveller hat, once a popular style in Ancient Terra's Australian Outback. The weapons I had finally decided on included a variety of class 'B' mini grenades and a few class 'C' standard grenades, attached and stored at various points on the flak vest and inside the duster itself, along with my regular Serrek 7875D auto-pistol stored in my standard hip holster. In an underarm holster I had the Wolf M30T 0.45cal pistol, with 5 spare clips of ammunition for both sidearms, each with a single magazine of incendiary ammunition. For my primary weapon I had managed to talk Bishop into letting me borrow the GA King Slayer gyroslug carbine, a feat I believe I only accomplished because he was "stuck" driving our tank. The bull-pup rifle, was hanging from its sling across my shoulders and was able to be easily carried at my side, protected by the duster, or in front with quick and easy access should we run into trouble. It's large, heavy magazines containing 20 self-propelled, explosive rounds were secured to my belt as that was the only feasible place to carry them. As an added precaution, and in no small part due to my desire to test it out, I also carried the KTS bull-pup shotgun on my person, it's compact design allowing it to be stored with relative ease on the small of my back, underneath the duster, hanging from the back of the flak vest itself. It's location and attachment didn't provide quick access but I could still withdraw it reasonably well even if it took a bit longer. The weapon itself had a rather unique magazine system, instead of the traditional single tube magazine located underneath the shotgun's barrel the KTS had two 6 round tube magazines side by side underneath the barrel, giving the weapon a triangular appearance, with a selector switch to pick which magazine is used at any given moment. This design allowed me to load the weapon with both standard 00 buckshot and saboted slug rounds at the same time and enabled me to choose which shell to use at any given moment. An ammo holder on the stock and a bandolier across my body held multiple spare rounds of ammunition for both the buckshot and slug shells, each identified by the shell casing colour, red and black respectively. Finally, even though I had no intention of using it, the laser in my prosthetic arm was charged and ready with a spare set of high capacity micro power packs available should I need them. The heat suit prevented opening my prosthetic arm to allow rapid fire use of the internal laser, while also preventing access to the hidden storage compartment in my right leg, but the extra cooling provided by the heat suit meant I should be able to use the integral laser close to normal should I need to. To round out my kit, and help cover us in the semi-unlikely event we get caught out in the elements for an extended period, I had a rucksack containing my basic field kit, electronic compass, flares, and emergency rations as well as a fully stocked advanced medkit that I was going to bring in the Goblin, along with a solar recharger, rangefinder binoculars, noteputer, medipack and military comm stored elsewhere in the duster and my gear. Was it all overkill, most likely, but I had a tendency to be overprepared and it had served me well enough in the past to continue doing so now. As the dropship began it's final approach to the Plutus Docks I hunkered down in one of the cargo bay's jump seats, the rear slit in the duster allowing me to sit comfortably enough despite the extra gear I was currently carrying. A few minutes later I felt the sudden thump of the ship touching down, as gracefully as an 11,200 ton cargo ship with "bad" thrusters could, and then heard the powerful fusion drive engines begin their slow wind-down as the Hurry Up Bessie settled into her new berth.
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  38. Wolf M30T Pistol ---A Time of War (ATOW) Stats--- Armour Piercing/Damage: 4B/5 Range: 7/30/60/110 meters Shots: 17 Mass/Reload: 0.95kg/0.025kg Notes: +1 attack modifier in low light; range modifiers: +2/+1/0/-1 Wolf M30T Pistol From Shrapnel Issue #3, pg 112 Common FWL sidearm Powerful, solid weapon Assuming 0.45cal pistol (roughly equivalent to 0.45 ACP [M1911]) Excerpt from Shrapnel Magazine The M30 is a common sidearm in Free World League Military units, and has been for a few hundred years. The current version, the M30T, varies little from older models, being only a few grams lighter, and square-notched rear sights allows accurate shooting in poor light. It is not uncommon for FWLM officers to carry the same M30 their grandparent did.
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  39. This will be a collection of detailed information regarding any custom infantry weapons that I design or create throughout our MercNet RPG missions. All weapons will be using the "A Time of War" system for stats and I intend to make them as balanced and canonical as I can. I'll include any special information as well as links to canonical weapons I base them off of and any links to real-world weapons I used for inspiration as needed. Everyone is welcome to add their own stuff in here as well if desired, but by no means is required. (I'm just doing this to help me stay organized, lol)
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  40. GA King Slayer Gyroslug Carbine ---A Time of War (ATOW) Stats--- Armor Piercing/Damage: 4B/5 Range: 23/65/130/285 meters Shots: 20 Mass/Reload : 5.5kg/2.0kg Notes: Gyrojet - no damage falloff, "silent", no recoil, leaves visible "cone" exhaust trail GA King Slayer Gyroslug Carbine (Free Worlds League Bull-pup Gyrojet rifle) Based on Star King Gyroslug Carbine Bull-pup design, manufactured by Grumman Amalgamated on Shiro III (Duchy of Andurien) Slightly heavier weapon weight (5.5kg vs 5.2kg) but lighter mag weight (2.0kg vs 2.3kg) compared to Star King Other stats are the same
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  41. KTS Pump-Action Shotgun ---A Time of War (ATOW) Stats--- Armor Piercing/Damage: 3B/5S for buckshot, 5B/5 for slug Range: 5/12/24/50 meters for buckshot, 7/18/28/62 meters for slug Shots: 6 + 6 (twin tube mags) + 1 (in chamber) Mass/Reload : 4.5kg/20g (per shell), 120g/mag Buckshot is standard 00 buck (normal large game hunting round) Saboted Slug is a shaped 1oz slug using a sabot to provide rifling and increased velocity, resulting in greater range and armor piercing but no splash damage (under ATOW rules) KTS (Kuritan Tactical Shotgun) Pump-Action Shotgun Based loosely on KSG shotgun (base model) Bull-pup design, 26" overall length, 12 gauge 3" shells Twin underbarrel tubular magazine (6 round capacity each), manually loaded, selector to switch between mags Pump-action, accessory rails, pistol grip Can list ammo as individual shells or as "mags" (though that is just to make it easier, there are no mags or speed loaders for the gun) Generally use Red shells for buckshot, Black shells for slug Use standard Combat Shotgun (sarna.net) stats for buckshot ammo Based on Avenger CCW shotgun the slug round has increased armour pen (using +2 instead of the CCW's +3)
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  42. Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 10, 3029 Damn storms. There was no point in shaking out the sand - it constantly found its way back into the nooks and crannies of clothing fabric. Once I was off this planet I was going to shower for at least two hours until every particle of grit was gone. The same benefit I gained from being able to hide my face made my patrol for information more difficult. Only eyes and the occasional nose poked out from the crowds. Conversations were muffled, limiting that avenue as well. Hours went by with nothing. No gossip overheard from the crowds in the street. No news reports. Grumbling under my breath, I ducked into a bar, and plopped down on a barstool to drown my sorrows in a beer. A tall figure came in, and looked around cautiously before heading to a bar patron to whisper in their ear. I perked up, watching them closely. That looked promising. Hopefully it wasn't another trafficking ring, or drug cartel. Both a waste of my time at the moment. The dim lighting of the bar lamps cast most of their faces in shadow as they huddled together. Yuuuup. Definitely conspiring something. As they headed out, I slipped out behind them - for the best, really. I didn't have the coin for beer - and stalked the two down the streets as they walked, hiding behind building corners to keep hidden. Twists and turns doubled in on themselves as we kept moving, down the streets until we reached a surface exit. How far into the desert were these two going? More importantly, how would I keep out of sight? I nearly lost them twice with how far back I needed to stay, but I narrowly managed to keep up enough to see my two new friends meet up with a small group. Thank gods they were near rock outcroppings that I could hide behind. "You brought the explosives?" The speaker's voice rumbled in an accented baritone. This far out, they didn't seem to care about volume. "Yes." "Good. That should keep them off our backs. The package?" A new voice piped up. "Western warehouse. Normal spot." Damn. Couldn't they be more like the Trids and drop coordinates, or drop a map? How the hell was I going to find--- A loud roar overhead interrupted as a ship flew overhead. That... huh. That was unexpected. But, I wasn't one to complain when Lady Luck was giving me a sign. Steal the goods, sneak on the ship. Flawless plan. Now I just had to wait for these bastards to head back to town so they didn't catch me eavesdropping.
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  43. C.V. Hurry Up Bessie, Mule-class Dropship Twycross III orbit Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 10, 3029 _______________________________________________ The parched landscape of Twycross III rolled past beneath us, a blistered, fractured expanse of mottled brown and orange hues. Large, umber-tinted clouds - sandstorms hundreds of kilometers wide - swirled across its face, blotting out vast tracts of the barren expanses below where a quarter of a billion colonists resided. Azure rivulets of greenish-tinged water wound and twisted their way across the continent, making the journey from the inland sea of Doken toward the Great Gash in the Windbreak mountains. As we crossed over the Plain of Curtains, an enormous, angry red cyclone came into view. The raging, tempestuous, whirling funnel of dust and debris was known as the Diabolis, a permanent sandstorm that wrought endless destruction with its 350 kilometer-per-hour winds. "Why do we always end up in the desert?" Bishop Weyland grumbled as the ferocious maelstrom overtook the viewscreen. "Just once, just once, I'd like to go blow shit up on a tropical paradise planet. Someplace with a nice beach and a conveniently-located Tiki bar." "Well, I heard that the spaceport at Camora has an indoor ski slope," Nikki chuckled, punching a couple of buttons on the arm of her command chair. A wireframe approach path appeared as an overlay on the viewer, with flashing animated arrows indicating our landing trajectory. "And I believe there's a Polynesian bar on the main concourse." "I don't suppose that thing is pointing toward Camora?" Bishop asked, gesturing at the homing device I held in my hands. "Decidedly not, unfortunately," I replied. "We're getting the same track we've been following for the last day - a few kilometers outside of Haven, just like we thought." "Damn," Weyland sighed. "Guess I'll go get my sand fatigues out. Again." "Sorry about that, Bishop," Orlex quipped, eliciting a frustrated growl from the Lieutenant as he stomped off the bridge. As he departed, Octavia stepped up alongside me, watching the main screen as wind-carved rocks and baked slabs of coppery clay passed beneath us. "Far be it for me to tell you how to do your job, Captain Harlow," the Baroness began, "but have we given any thought to our cover story? I don't think I need to explain that the unscheduled landing of an enormous Mule at the single berth in this backwater town is going to be something of a spectacle. Are we just going to knock?" Nikki pivoted in the captain's chair to face Incendio. "I've got this handled," Harlow responded. "The cover story is that we've lost half of our reaction control thrusters and need a place to set down so we can get them back online. Our engineer thinks it's an annoying but simple repair that should only take a day or two. Definitely a fix to be done on the ground. Not safe to try to maintain an orbit without them." "Hmph. Creative, so long as they don't actually insist on helping us," the Baroness replied. "And the reason we'll be unloading a tank and an APC is...?" "Training exercise," I offered. "We've been overhauling the Goblin and want to run some maneuvers outside of town to test systems that we can't operate onboard a spacecraft." "You certainly seem to have thought of everything," Octavia acknowledged. "Let's just hope we don't get scrutinized too closely." "Well, that's where Chase comes in," I added, gesturing toward the far corner of the bridge, where Alyssa was busy improvising a Command Information Center for the operation. "While they're watching us, she'll be watching them." "Trying to, anyway," Alyssa replied. "Subject to how cooperative the weather and the local telecommunications infrastructure wants to be." "If nothing else, when the bullets start flying, we'll be able to run faster," Nicholas Schuster joked, raising his head up from a pit at the front of the bridge where he'd been performing a repair job. "I heard that the gravity is a little less than on Terra." "That also means that my martial arts will be better!" Jenkins exclaimed, turning around in his seat and beaming at the gathered crew. "Thank Blake for small blessings," Nikki deadpanned. "Gretchen, go ahead and get the Haven spaceport on the horn." "Aye, Captain," the officer replied. "Channel open." "Plutus Docks, this is MV Hurry Up Bessie, we have a pan-pan situation and need safe harbor, over," Harlow began. Following a long hiss of static, we received a gravelly, ornery-sounding response. "Plutus Docks to Bessie, you're not on my schedule," a man replied, his tone clouded with irritation. "It's highly irregular for unscheduled ships to put in at my pad. Why aren't you landing at Hawkroost?" "Because," Nikki explained, "Graf Lehmann-Möller really doesn't like unscheduled ships with half their maneuvering thrusters offline crashing into the Duke of Trell's capital city. There's too much urban sprawl for us to effect a safe landing there. Your port doesn't have that problem." Several metallic clanks and the sound of a chair being pushed across a hard surface met Nikki's reply. Eventually, the man spoke again. "Alright, you can bring her down. But there's a fee. And I haven't swept the pad. Don't need to do that for another 18 days." "Your hospitality is appreciated," Harlow answered. "We'll see you shortly." Cutting the channel, the Captain looked toward me. "Nicely done," I remarked. "Thank you," Nikki replied with a grin. "Not my first rodeo. Helm, take us down!"
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  44. **** note: special thanks to @Charles Maxwell who helped me out with Captain Maxwell's dialog and mannerisms for this post *** C.V. Hurry Up Bessie, Mule-class Dropship Enroute to Twycross III Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 8, 3029 _______________________________________________ With no apparent questions, the briefing was adjourned and the staff started filing out. I lingered behind a little bit and waited for the room to empty out. Captain Maxwell stood off in the front of the room having a quiet conversation with Lieutenant Jaeger as he unplugged his laptop and slid the pieces of it into a leather valise. I wasn't sure what the discussion was about, although I caught bits and pieces, phrases like ''at arm's length,'' ''compartmentalized information,'' ''contingency plan,'' and ''off the books.'' It was pretty clear that there was a high degree of sensitivity about this mission, and if I had to guess, it was probably due to the fact that the Crayven Corporation wasn't paying for what we were about to do and any losses would come out of our....or rather, Aegis' pocket. To say nothing of how upset the Corporation would probably be if we wrecked any more of their stuff. A few minutes later the captain came toward the exit. As he was about to pass me, I made eye contact with him and he stopped. "Hi, Schuster, something I can do for you?" "Yes, sir, there is, I was hoping we could talk briefly." I replied. Captain Maxwell looked over at the Lieutenant. "You go on ahead, Jaeger, I don't want you to miss out on the pot roast. I'll be down shortly." "Sure thing, I can drop that off for you on my way." Orlex replied, offering to take the briefcase for Charles. "Much obliged." The captain responded as he handed the case over. "So, want to take a walk?" "Where to?" I asked. The captain pointed in the general direction of our improvised Mech Bay. "Let's go sightseeing." he said, starting to head toward the hatch that ended at a catwalk down into the cargo levels. As we walked, I was silent at first. "Well, spit it out." Charles said. I looked toward him in surprise. "Sorry?" I asked. "You obviously have something on your mind. You should know by now I don't bruise easily. You'd be doing us both a favor to get it off your chest." "Well..." I said, swallowing. We arrived at the part of the catwalk overlooking the cargo bay. Down below were our Mechs......or more accurately, what was left of our Mechs. They were enshrouded in scaffolding and tarps, many pieces temporarily removed as the tiny team of Mech Techs tried to mend them back to whole as best as they could. The Crayven Corporation Atlas looked even more skeletal than usual, with all of its face armor removed and inner workings exposed. An eerie blue light flashed behind its "eyes" where somebody was running a welding torch deep inside the cockpit. Off in a far corner, the remains of the Phoenix Hawk LAM stood strapped inside a repair harness, a burlap tarp draped haphazardly over its body, with a sign that said "STRUCTURALLY UNSAFE - DO NOT REPAIR" hung in front of it. The Mech was obviously way too smashed for us to fix underway, and I wondered if there would even be a place back home that could undo what I'd wrought on it. Home...now there's a funny word. "Boy, Levi sure is a go getter isn't he?" I asked, pointing at some of the more fruitful repairs happening on Hagakure. "You can bearly tell that Steve tore the shit out of that Dragon back on the planet. It looks like he even got the blood and barf stains out." "Uh huh." Maxwell replied, leaning with his arms and one boot propped against the railing, staring longingly at an unlit cigar. "You done changing the subject yet?" "Yes sir, sorry." I answered, bringing myself back on track. "So, first of all, I wanted to thank you for all of the opportunities you gave me on this mission. It was really great to be able to work with you and your team. I know you didn't have to do it and it means a lot to me that you did. Especially given that I'm a liability, on paper anyway." Maxwell looked over at me with a serious expression. "I didn't give you anything. If you got to do anything on this mission, it's because you earned it." "What do you mean?" I asked. "Not to sound ungreatful, but from my recollection, it was mostly "OK, Nick saddle up" when we got to Oberon, and we've been going ever since." Maxwell looked off into the bay. "You laid the foundation for that by the way you proved your intentions with Nikki. Showing up and doing a consistent job with excellence over the last six months. Never missing a day and taking on even some of the worst jobs without complaint. Going above and beyond." "Yeah, I hope I never have to fish another 12 Loko can out of the back end of a toilet trap that has Steve's aftermath of chef's 9-alarm chili cheese dog beany surprise up to the brim." I replied, shuddering at the memory. "That was the worst. It was like somebody took a gallon of beef stew, mixed it up with burrito filling, and........" "I get the picture." Charles winced. "Anyway. I didn't want to see the talent you bring go to waste, and by the time we got to Oberon I felt that you could bring something to our roster unique and critical to our operation. Something that would bring about a better outcome that if you weren't there. After getting Nikki's endorsement, the rest was, as they say, history." "Wait a minute, Nikki recommended me?" I asked. I could hardly believe it. "Yeah. She said your elevator repair jobs could use some work, but overall, she likes you." Captain Maxwell laughed. "So, does that make you feel better? Was this a "meaning of life" kind of soul searching?" "It was definitely that for sure, but there's a little more to it." I hesitated. "OK. I don't bite, go on." Charles answered. At that moment, a loud crash could be heard down in the bay, along with somebody yelling. "Um, let's wait for that to finish." the Captain added. A couple seconds later, we heard Levi. "Steve, next time you want to borrow my arc welder, can you please ask or at least disconnect it before you try to walk away from the tool cart with it? Now we gotta figure out where all these screws go again." "Sorry buddy, I just needed to use it for my wrestling costume, I wasn't even gonna leave the bay, I was going to do it over there!" Steve replied. "Oh my god, by the fuel cells...?" Levi replied. "That's even worse." "I don't want to know. Please continue." Charles prompted me. "Right, so, um, I want you to know that I really appreciate all of these opportunities. I do. And maybe I haven't earned the right to ask this of you yet, and so I apologize if its out of line, but...I kind of need to know what it is that I'm doing next with my life.....such as it is. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give up the opportunities I've had with Aegis Division for anything, but.......well......all of my jobs have sort have been ad-hoc in addition to my full time maintenance gig with Nikki, and its really hard to juggle sometimes, or even tell her what my commitments are to you versus to her. And a lot of what I do for you guys is super risky stuff. I know you're giving me a stipend, and I appreciate that, but I - " "You want job security." Charles responded. "In both a literal and professional sense. And predictability. And a work life balance." "Yeah, that's.......pretty much it. Am I overstepping asking for that? I totally get it if....." "Nope." The Captain said. "It's a completely reasonable expectation. So, I'm not going to presume to know what kind of arrangement you're looking for to fulfill that need." "I was hoping you might be open to bringing me on as a member of your crew. I wouldn't even ask for full share." I began. .Charles laughed. "Well, that's good, because most people don't come on full share. You work your way up to that." "And I get that." I said. "Well, what about Nikki? Where does that leave her? Why would you want to quit a ship that's going to fly itself apart if you ever leave it?" Charles asked. "It's not that bad anymore." I laughed. "I fixed her up pretty good, and that's actually part of the problem, sometimes I feel like Nikki's giving me busy work. I may be a little bit of extra headcount, and to be honest, I really don't want plumber to continue to be a part of my resume. There are other people who dream of that job, and it would be unfair of me to deny them of it." The Captain let out a genuine laugh at my joke. "Look, I think you make a compelling case." Captain Maxwell said. "But I don't run a dictatorship. I gotta weigh the pros and cons and then let my senior staff do the same, just like any other applicant. One big hurdle that we're facing is that you're running a fake identity, and that could cause us some issues with employers that want to background the people we're bringing on an operation. That's not a no, it's just something to consider." "There are ways around that....." I began. "I know, I know." Maxwell answered. "And I have a lot of respet for you coming to the table like this and laying your cards out. It's an intimidating thing to do. That's points in your favor. I'm happy to give your request all due consideration." "Thank you, that's all I'm asking for. I'm greatful." I said. Maxwell reached out and shook my hand. "Good man. You bring a lot of value to the organization, and we really are indebted to you. I'm glad we had this talk." "Me too." I replied. I had set my sails. Now, it was time to see where the wind would take me.
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  45. Later that day... C.V. Hurry Up Bessie, Mule-class Dropship Enroute to Twycross III Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 8, 3029 _______________________________________________ "...and that brings us back around to Scenario 2," Lieutenant Jaeger advised, pulling the corresponding infographic back up as he and I jointly addressed the gathered cadre we'd conscripted for our impending dash-and-grab. The low lights of the market display room was washed in shades of red and green as annotations splashed across animated representations of a Hover APC and a Goblin medium tank inching over sand dunes toward a large, rotating crosshair. "Our computer modeling indicates that this is the most likely situation to pan out given what we know about the locales and atmospheric conditions. Given the variables at play and the undue attention that deploying a suspiciously high-tech BattleMech would draw, no matter how much we rough it up ahead of time, we're moving forward with this action plan." Lieutenant Jaeger clicked a button on the presenter. A TO&E for the operation winked onto the screen. Team 1 Captain Maxwell - Eden - Goblin Sergeant Schuster - Rebus - Goblin Baroness Incendio - Exile - Goblin Team 2 Lieutenant Jager - Bastion - Goblin Lieutenant Weyland - Predator - Goblin Levi Wright - Thermo Man - Goblin Support & Medical Cadre - Hover APC Mallory Aldon - Doc - Hover APC OpCom Warrant Officer Chase - Radar - M.V. Hurry Up Bessie "As you can see, we're running a fairly lean operation on this one. Two vehicles should keep a pretty low profile, especially in the region we're expecting to drop into based on some initial chatter we've been able to round up thanks to the talents of Baroness Incendio," Orlex continued, nodding toward Octavia. "The command and tactical teams will operate from the Goblin tank piloted by Lieutenant Weyland. Technical assets, including our cargo handlers and medical support, will accompany us in the Hover APC. Dividing our teams between two vehicles will create less of an opportunity to experience a single point of failure, particularly in the case of an ambush. If the weather gets too dicey for the Hover APC to continue, we'll transfer its crew to the Goblin and continue on." A hand went up in the back of the briefing room. It was Doc Aldon. "Yes, Mallory?" Jaeger asked, looking inquisitively toward the medic. "Well, I hate to be the gloomy Gus here, but what if we get separated by one of those storms and can't get to you? Any place that has weather named after Satan himself is bound to be full of surprises," Aldon observed, squinting at the overview. "Are we gonna have...survival suits or something?" "If the worst happens, then we'd naturally want each crew to take whatever measures are necessary to shelter in place or get to a safe location. We'll outfit everybody with survival gear, yes, but let's operate under a doctrine of not getting separated. Especially in a place like this. That's a good segue, actually," Lieutenant Jaeger responded, passing me the remote. "Captain?" "Thank you, Mister Jaeger - nice work getting this intel pulled together in such a short timeline. OpCom will be provided by Alyssa Chase - she'll post here at the Hurry Up Bessie and provide mission control, real-time weather updates, and aerial surveillance courtesy of two heavy drone aircraft that our employer included in our care package 'just in case.' With an eye in the sky, we should have fairly ample advance warning if anything starts heading our way either from out in the desert - or from Haven." I clicked the presenter. The tactical overview wiped away, replaced by a slowly zooming in overview of a dilapidated, weather-worn town. "Ladies and gentlemen, the single point of interest in the southern hemisphere - at least, in the area where we suspect the cargo container ended up. The oldest part of the town is underground, built as a series of connected, weather-resistant vaults once the original colonists figured out that living on the surface is a bad option unless you like persistent sunburn and chronic exfoliation. For some reason, though, people kept moving here, and as the town grew, the vaults got built out. So, folks started building above ground - that's what you're seeing here, in the only picture I could find of Haven on a sunny day. The newest areas are those furthest from the center of town. They tend to be the least sheltered, and thus where the highest concentration of poverty and crime are. I guess it follows; people there have to deal with the wind ripping parts of their houses off all the time, and that doesn't do a lot for your pocketbook or the safety of your belongings." I hit the 'Advance' button on the remote again. The photograph switched to a satellite view. "Since we're not sure if Haven is our place - or where the shipment is relative to the town - I can only give you a general overview and plan of attack. As you can see, there's not much to this place - the 'residential and business' end of the town, such as it is, lies to the north, serviced by a rail depot that sees two trains a day. South of the train station is Plutus Docks, the only spaceport within almost 500 kilometers - though the term 'landing pad' better describes the facility. There's a refueling station and some basic service amenities. That's about it." "Plutus," Nick scoffed. "The goddess of profit." "The irony does not escape me," I agreed, pointing to a section of the map labeled 'The Dives.' "Remember I mentioned the end of town where peoples' houses get blown apart? That's this tent city affair down here. The reason things look so sparse is because Haven recently got blasted by one of the bigger storms on the planet, and it more or less scrubbed the end of town south of the spaceport clean off the map. The shanties haven't been rebuilt just yet. Some folks have decided to cut their losses and build new houses into the valley walls. Others have turned to squatting and scavenging to make ends meet. Crime and vagrancy are at an all-time high." "Oh, fun," Bishop quipped, crossing his arms and glowering at the map. "Indeed," I responded. "So let's talk about our ground plan. If this turns out to be our place, we're going to set down at Plutus Docks at night. Although any arrival of a big-ass cargo ship is going to attract attention here, at least at night, there will be fewer eyes on us. Once on the ground, we'll unload the expeditionary vehicles and try to get a fix on where the haul is. If we're lucky, it's out in the desert, and all we have to contend with is the weather. If we're not, and it's up in town, we're going to have to devise a strategy for retrieving it that doesn't involve us getting every gun, knife, and improvised bludgeoning device pointed in our direction. We are not authorized to be operating here, so MRB insurance isn't going to cover any ruckus we cause." "Do we have any idea what we're looking for?" Octavia asked. "Or are we just going to hand out fliers asking the locals if they've seen 'expensive metal box' wandering around?" I chuckled and clicked the remote again. "We have a rendering of the cargo container. Bear in mind, we didn't physically get ahold of it on Oberon, so we're working on the data that we were able to abscond with from the Irian facility. According to their database, this is what we're seeking." "Now, with that said," I continued, "even if it hasn't, by some miracle of Blake, been broken into, there's still the matter of locating it in a town presumably full of cargo containers. The two things it's got going for it are that it's a lot newer and more high-tech than what I observed in some of the other archival images of the town, such as this one..." "...and it's likely to be one of the few not opened or otherwise inhabited. I checked the port schedules, and it's been almost a month since the last major delivery to Plutus Docks. Therefore, we'll be working with a somewhat leaner field." Another hand went up. It was Levi Wright. "Mister Wright?" I asked. "Two questions, sir," Levi began, standing up and glancing around self-consciously. "One - I'm not totally clear how I fit into the mission profile, and two - is Sergeant Jenkins going to be joining us on this one?" "Good questions, all of which are general interest to the larger group. Please - have a seat," I nodded. "Lieutenant Weyland will be our driver and principal tactician on this recovery venture. Nick Schuster will provide technical expertise and help provide electronic countermeasures and ingress into any barrier systems, should it become necessary. Octavia Incendio has prior experience with some of the types of gangs we might encounter down on the surface and is also an accomplished profiler; we'll be relying on her to get a read of the folks we might encounter. Levi, we need your prowess with defeating conventional locks and overriding mechanical systems - ignitions, wheel immobilizers, that sort of thing. Lieutenant Jaeger and I will be coordinating ground operations and providing operational security - that means we're carrying big scary guns on this jaunt and trying to look intimidating. Mister Jenkins was given prior authorization for...shore leave...but we've tapped him to send us intelligence about the town, because he's apparently entered himself into a martial arts match there," I explained, casting an incredulous glance at Jaeger as I spoke the last words. "Alright. That's where we're at as of now," I concluded. "In the next day or so, we speculate that we'll be within transponder range of the cargo container. With any luck, it'll still be online and transmitting. We should have a better handle on what we can expect to encounter from there. Bear in mind, all plans are subject to change based on what we learn, so don't get too married to this plan. It's apt to change somewhat. Lieutenant Weyland will ensure you all have copies of his OpSec plan for the deployment at the end of this briefing. Are there any other questions?"
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  46. C.V. Hurry Up Bessie, Mule-class Dropship Enroute to Twycross III Twycross - Lyran Commonwealth December 8, 3029 _______________________________________________ Bishop passed through the halls like a shadow, a very large, potentially menacing shadow, but smooth and fluid like a shadow all the same, he appeared to have a set destination and was not wandering aimlessly but it would have been difficult to tell where it was in the large ship that he was working his way towards. As it happened he came across Octavia by chance somewhere near the living quarters, though not near any particular room of note, and he nodded to her in greeting as they passed. He turned up his nose every so slightly as they passed and he half glanced back towards her, something was off with her scent, it wasn't fear per say, maybe nervousness or agitation, he didn't know her well enough to be sure. Unknown to anyone else, deep within the recesses of his mind the beast within growled in a low challenge but Bishop ignored it and kept the mental shackles in place. The beast did not like Octavia, not only was she not part of his pack but there was something about her that seemed almost dangerous, not to Bishop himself but possibly to his pack. However, Captain Maxwell had accepted her, at least temporarily, and Bishop would abide by his ruling until circumstance dictated otherwise. And so he continued on without a pause in his step, making his way through the ship towards one of he lower cargo holds and a small area that had been set aside as an armoury and secured as such for the duration of our voyage to and from the Oberon Confederation. As he approached he noted the door in the ferro-steel cage that had been erected to segregate this section of the hold off was sitting unlocked and ajar, he also knew that Lieutenant Jager was inside before he could actually see him. Aside from the fact that Orlex had requested to meet Bishop here, he also recognized his scent when he came into the cargo hold itself. "I'm pretty sure I told you we need to keep this door locked Lieutenant, even when we're inside," grinned Bishop as he entered the ad-hoc armoury. "You know I was thinking about that," I said as I looked up from the workbench, returning Bishop's grin, "why do we need to lock up the weapons anyways? Why don't we just hand them out to the crew, civilians and all?" "Ohhh, you don't want to go down THAT particular road with me," Bishop retorted with a smile as he came around to my side of the workbench. "No you're right," I replied stepping away from my work and holding up my open left hand as Bishop approached. He cocked an eyebrow at me while looking at my open hand before his grin spread further and he also brought his left hand up, grasping each other's hand as though we were arm wrestling we each clapped the other on the shoulder with our free hand before we started wrestling with our left arms to pull the other off balance. Bishop's full body myomer implants gave him the edge over my cybernetic arm and he started to pull me away from the workbench so I cheated and hooked my right leg, which was also a cybernetic implant/prosthetic, around the lower support of the workbench which was welded to the floor. The increased leverage allowed me to recover and actually momentarily shift Bishop towards my side before he shifted his weight slightly in a single smooth motion pulled me completely off balance and away from the workbench despite my efforts. I stumbled to my left, my right foot being hooked causing me to take longer to catch my balance and I nearly ran into a large cabinet full of carbines and laser rifles. Righting myself I looked over at Bishop who wore a giant grin on his face along with a look that said "did you expect anything different". Bastard, I thought with a smile. "Good to see you Bishop, and thanks for coming to meet me," I replied after a moment, allowing Bishop to relish in his victory, even though he won every time. "Same Orlex, maybe one day you'll figure out how to beat me," laughed Bishop, a deep, hearty sound, "but I doubt it." "What are you working on?" Bishop inquired as the two of us moved back to the workbench I had been at initially. "Nothing special, just some regular tune up on my Blazer," I replied as I picked up the tools again and resumed cleaning the weapon, "The focusing lens keeps getting residual built up on it and I'm not sure why." "Lasers will do that, most people think lasers are maintenance free but they still require just as much care as any ballistic rifle out there," stated Bishop, more for continuing the conversation than because he thought I didn't know that. "Yes but this is more than usual, I think one of the laser cores is starting go but I don't see any other signs of that and the weapon's output is still consistent," I said in return as I continued using a special multi-tool laser to remove the microscopic film from the first focusing lens. "Could be, should check the individual core temps when you're in the range next, could be your heat sinks," suggested Bishop thoughtfully, "if one of the cores isn't getting proper cooling it could be slowly ablating the insulation or thermal paste and depositing some of it on the lens." "Good point, hadn't considered that yet," I answered with a nod. "So what did you want to see me about Jager?" asked Bishop, changing the subject. "Ah yes, as you know we're headed to Twycross to retrieve our missing LosTech nest egg we stole from Irian," I began, finishing up with cleaning the lens and starting to reassemble the weapon. "I'd heard, Captain Maxwell also got an 'anonymous' tip about how to find it, not hard to guess who that came from," said Bishop. "Yeah, so we know where our lost shipment is, or at least we should once we reach orbit and can properly scan for the encrypted signal, provided of course that Malice provided us reliable information," I continued as Bishop grunted, "but here's the kicker, we have to do this on foot. Our 'mechs are still pretty much scrap metal at this point, we didn't and still don't have the parts to fix most of them currently, let alone the lack of facilities to replace those parts. We didn't expect to have to rebuild those machines from the ground up on this OP. Regardless though, even if they were functional they would likely be of limited use considering the shit storm of a planet we are about to land on." "So I've heard, Twycross sounds like a lovely vacation spot if you're into deserts, storms, heat, unpredictable weather and getting sand Blake-damned everywhere. I mean they fucking have a permanent storm named Diabolis that covers Blake knows how much of the damn planet, I mean that literally, the size of the storm varies all the time and can change without any apparent warning. So yeah shit storm." "Exactly, so we need a team to be inserted to secure our errant LosTech and then ideally we bring in the Bessie herself to load it up, barring that we're going to need some heavy transport equipment to load everything up and bring it back to the Bessie. Captain Maxwell charged me with drawing up the landing party and I was hoping to get your input." "Really? Captain Maxwell laid that on your lap?" inquired Bishop with a raised eyebrow. "Ok, so I volunteered and he went with it," I retorted jovially. "That sounds more like it, still chasing his approval or do you just like making work for yourself?" poked Weyland with a chuckle. "Yeah yeah," I chided before continuing, "Anyways, I could use your help getting things lined up. We've got a fairly small team so it shouldn't take long." "I'll do what I can, though as far as the transport equipment goes you'd probably be better asking Levi or one of the other Techs, that's a little outside my wheelhouse." "Ok, but you are our resident Master of Arms so I could use your opinion on loadouts at least. Also I was wondering where things were at with you and Schuster and your Nighthawk?" I asked a little gingerly, the Nighthawk could be a touchy subject sometimes. "Ah," replied Bishop, a note of forlorn longing entering his voice, "I've been told it's not ready yet. You'll have to check with Schuster on the details." "No problem, any suggestions in regards to our loadouts?" I inquired, eager to change the subject. "Ballistics," replied Bishop flatly before elaborating, "we're going to a desert planet with constant wind storms, that means dust and particulates in the air constantly, that shit will mess with laser weapons to no end. Depending on just how dusty it gets that could mean anything from reduced range and/or damage as the dust refracts and scatters the laser to rendering it completely useless if there's enough shit in the air. Granted ballistics will have their own issues to deal with, sand jamming up mechanisms, increased erosion, yadda yadda, but at least it'll still go boom when you pull the trigger. Lower tech is actually better as the simpler it is, and that typically means less moving parts, the less likely it is to jam. Some of the higher tech stuff is alright too if it's built to be rugged and has lenient enough clearances." "Gotcha, ballistics it is then, I'll be sure to relay that to the team," I replied. "Speaking of, who do you have in mind?" asked Bishop. "Obviously Captain Maxwell, he wouldn't stay back even if we tried to make him, myself, Schuster, and Octavia," I answered, Bishop having a fleeting look of disappointment cross his face at the mention of Octavia, "Is there a problem with the Octavia?" "No, not exactly. I don't trust the woman though, does she need to be part of the team?" "Not really, but I doubt the Baroness would let us sideline her. She has a somewhat personal interest in recovering the shipment, seeing as how she's negotiated with the Captain to receive a small share of it as 'compensation'. Plus it might be easier to keep an eye on her, if necessary, when she's with us." "Of course she has, who else have you got? What of Alyssa or Jenkins?" inquired Bishop, moving on. "I believe Steve might have a prior engagement, something about a martial arts tournament and a black belt I think, we'll hold him a spot though if he becomes available. As for Warrant Officer Chase, I'll leave that one up to Charles. As far as I know she's recovered from her ordeal on Oberon but I don't know if Charles' opinion on her seeing active duty has changed given their new relationship and I'm not about to ask him or make that call. I figured you would be in Bishop, provided you're feeling up to it, and we'd hold a spot for Levi as well. Not sure on the state of his recovery but we could possibly use his lockpicking skills and an extra gun doesn't hurt either." "As long as it's pointing the right way," chuckled Bishop. "True, though I think he's been getting better, saw him at the range with Jenkins last week," I replied. "That's a scary thought." "He's not that bad," I laughed. "I meant Jenkins training him, Steve is competent but I'm not sure he knows how to transfer those skills in a coherent manner," quipped Bishop jokingly. "Fair enough," I chuckled, "so I think we've got two teams so far, Maxwell, Incendio, you, Schuster, and myself as definitely going and then a provisional team of our various specialists including Alyssa, Levi, Jenkins, and possibly one or two of the Bessie's crew." "Sounds like you've got things under wraps," said Bishop as he opened up a cabinet containing various rifle caliber ballistic weapons, "I'm going to get started on prepping the armoury, we've got a fairly large stock of ballistic weapons ranging from pistols through SMGs to rifles and shotguns, I'd rather have the full selection available to the team so everyone can have their weapons of choice." "Alright, thanks Bishop, appreciate the help," I said with a smile, having finished reassembling my laser rifle during the conversation I slung it over my shoulder and moved towards the exit, "I'll catch you later buddy." "See ya," called Weyland, waving a hand in the air as he began pulling weapons from the locker and laying them out on the now empty workbench. ..... A few hours later ... "I see, so the suit won't be ready for on Twycross then?" I asked looking for confirmation, I had tracked down Schuster after my conversation with Bishop and was checking on the status and progress of Nick's ongoing project of trying to hack the modded Nighthawk suit that Bishop had returned with after his near death on Nirasaki. "Unfortunately no, I mean the suit is physically ready, there's nothing stopping its use in that regard, the problem is the programming or whatever it is in the software. If Bishop, or anyone for that matter, attempt to use the suit in its current condition it could very well kill them. We've made some good progress but I still can't access the suit's programming itself. I can get access all the data on the suit's status and capabilities, I can get into the suit's subroutines and see what they do but I can't alter them, or even execute them, and the core program is still locked away. I swear the thing is intelligent or something the way it counters every probe or hack," replied Schuster, getting a little louder as both frustration and excitement coloured his words. "Damn, that could have made this recovery a cakewalk, that's alright though we can make do without, it's not worth risking Bishop's or anyone else's health for," I replied. "You don't have to tell me, I know how valuable that thing is. Hacking troubles aside though we've had to go slow for Bishop's own sake too, he yearns for that thing on an unnatural level. Like a bad drug addict at times, and like a young child's favourite toy at others. He is getting better though, his adjustment to his new augments actually seems to be helping control those urges and he spends more and more time going over the suit with me before excusing himself," explained Nick. "Well that's good, at least its progress. I'm going to go finish up my report for the Captain on the landing party, you're sure Captain Harlow will be good with us stealing you away again?" "I don't see why not, provided nothing major explodes on our way to the surface the Bessie is in pretty decent shape right now, knock on wood," replied Schuster, enacting an ancient Terran apotropaic custom meant to ward off bad luck and still in use throughout the Sphere today. "Agreed," I said, before turning to leave, "I'll see you later Nick." Returning to my quarters I finished drawing up the prospective landing party before sending the report off to Captain Maxwell for review. ____________________________ - Incoming Coded Message -- Officer Report Follows - - Decode Alpha Protocol - Delta17emerald: 006 - - For internal use only - ____________________________ Working Codename : Browncoat Planet: Twycross (Lyran Commonwealth) Terrain: Desert Time: Undetermined Mission Type: Extraction Raid/Retrieval Payment: N/A Command Rights: Integrated Transport Rights: N/A Support Rights: N/A Salvage Rights: 30% Captain Maxwell, below is the tentative landing party list for our retrieval operation on Twycross. I have a split the party into teams according to capabilities and included provisional positions for team members that are not yet confirmed. I've also laid out a contingency should the initial plan turn out to be unfeasible. Operation codename, Team IDs, and unit composition are all subject to your approval and can be changed. I will leave the official briefing to you sir. Team 1 Captain Maxwell - Eden Warrant Officer Chase - Radar Sergeant Schuster - Rebus Baroness Incendio - Exile Team 2 Lieutenant Jager - Bastion Lieutenant Weyland - Predator Levi Wright - Thermo Man Sergeant Jenkins - Dionysus *provisional depending on availability Support Members of the Hurry Up Bessie's crew Available Assets Raven RVN-1XL-DC [35 tons] - only space for 2, it's a mech Goblin Medium Tank (Standard) [45 tons] - has infantry bay large enough to transport both teams, relatively slow, ok for desert, little concern in severe wind storms Hover APC (Standard) [10 tons] - capacity to transport entire landing party, very fast, good for desert but may suffer in severe wind storms 2x BFFL Buffalo [100 tons] - 40 ton cargo capacity (divided into 4x 10 ton containers), good for desert, shouldn't suffer in severe wind storms due to weight Once the pirate stash is located from orbit I see three possible scenarios that could occur; Scenario 1 (Ideal) Shipment/Treasure cache located and suitable landing area is nearby with no threats, able to land directly at cache and retrieve equipment without issues Scenario 2 (Most likely/Primary) Shipment/Cache located, suitable landing area nearby but threats or potential for threats exist, unable to land directly at cache. Need to find a safe landing zone, ideally as close as possible, once grounded landing party will deploy and move to secure cache Hover APC provides fastest method of transport and can easily accommodate the entire team, severe storms could pose a hazard due to how light the transport is and its hover propulsion Goblin Medium Tank provides adequate transport for entire team, though cramped, as well as providing additional firepower to assist in securing cache location, weight and tracks mean wind should be a non-issue Once cache is secure we can move the dropship to a closer landing area and load cache directly onto it Scenario 3 (Contingency) Same as Scenario 2 but with no landing area suitably close to the cache location Once the cache is secure we can deploy the two BFFL Buffalo Hover Support vehicles to the cache and load the shipment onto them, then transport the goods back to the Bessie, multiple trips can be made as needed In all three situations the Raven RVN-1XL-DC can be deployed for added security as desired.
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