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BladeofObliviom
2016-12-04, 01:28 AM
Alternatively titled "Blade is a massive Armored Core fanboy".


So I'm running a game IRL in a system I've never used before called Chromestrike. If you haven't heard of it, that's okay because I don't think it's very well-known. I picked it because I wanted something relatively rules-light but crunchy enough for build decisions to feel like they matter, and moreover because I was on an Armored Core kick around the same time my previous game finished. The system is better than I expected for something whipped up in the pits of /tg/, though there are some polish issues, like the "body work" upgrade that provides a bonus to a type of roll that doesn't actually exist.

I'm also not using the setting included in the manual, because I apparently like making work for myself, and wrote my own setting that is definitely not ripping huge chunks out of various Armored Core games and pasting them together. There's a(n admittedly a bit sparse) setting "bible" in a Google Doc, for anyone interested. (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LiTVkrhFbmz-PVTM0v4sN4L45SfqDQlXKwXCZ1sIOdE/edit?usp=sharing)

So, yeah. I've never done a Campaign Journal before, so bear with me.


Note: This is the case at the start of the campaign, and meant for new readers.

Herman “Trigger” Gunther: A mechanic from Tir City. Herman joined the underground resistance movement at the age of 14 and quickly discovered he had a penchant for both mechanical repair and high explosives, which he used to help the resistance sabotage key NRB facilities. He commandeered a stolen NRB MT and proved to have a knack for piloting mechs in addition to fixing them, fighting alongside fellow pilots and Rackham himself. When the city was freed, he took up a few contracts with his stolen MT until he could afford his own AC. Trigger is out to make money and keep throwing wrenches in NRB plans: He will go out of his way to take contracts that pay less if they involve attacking NRB or it's subsidiaries. Trigger pilots the AC Bergentrückung, a customized quad-leg design modeled after a pre-cataclysm animal known as a wolf.

(OOC Notes: Trigger's player really likes wolves for whatever reason. His mech is modeled after one pretty creatively, using an armless chassis, quad legs, and a head part that can include a one-handed weapon - a melee weapon in his case. That head part probably wasn't intended for that particular use, but I found the idea amusing enough to let him have a bite attack. The armless chassis also includes two "arms", or really weapon mounts, so he mounted a burst rifle on one to have a ranged attack. Despite his character's background in using explosives, his mech doesn't have any, though he's expressed an interest in buying missiles when the party has more money.)


Jack “Thunder” Wynter: Originally an orphan from New Rhodes, Jack Wynter grew up surrounded by crime in the city’s underbelly. He survived by becoming a runner for criminal syndicates, hauling whatever illegal goods needed to be moved around the city. As he grew up, Jack idolized the flashy, spectacular lives that pilots led and made it his dream to become one. Eventually, he made a name for himself as a runner in the Night Market, and garnered the attention of a sponsor. Seeing potential in Jack Wynter, said sponsor decided to patronize his career as a pilot, provided he could prove himself. With the beginnings of his dream realized, Jack Wynter works as a freelance pilot and is determined to climb to the top of the ranks. AC Lightning is an alarmingly fast biped armed with two blades.

(OOC Notes: Jack Wynter's sponsor is Asami's dad and he's supposed to be watching her back. Or else the Bei Fongs will be breaking his kneecaps. Or possibly worse. He's a good roleplayer and makes it work, though.)


Asami “Blossom” Bei Fong: Born into privilege, Asami is a daughter of the Bei Fong Family, a princess of a sort. Though she could have recieved almost anything she wanted on a silver platter had she asked, she found in herself a natural talent for working with technology and a silver tongue besides. Headstrong and independent, she decided to try her hand as a mech pilot on a whim; surely if her sister can do it, so can she. Right? Blossom pilots the AC Steel Hibiscus, a spindly-looking but surprisingly dense and tough mech equipped with a long-range heavy-bore rifle and a sophisticated electronic warfare suite.

(OOC Notes: Blossom's player is probably the most RP-focused member of the group, and she ended up picking a role that put her right in the middle of factional politics; her father is the CEO of one of the big Megacorporations. This clears a lot of paths for her...but danger lurks around every corner. She's a fantastic roleplayer and probably the only one of the group I actually trust to give this kind of role the respect and caution it deserves. She's also the smartest character in the party, all the better to use that Electronic Warfare System with. The sister mentioned is Bellatrix Bei Fong, a ranking member of Concord and pilot of a mech called Halberd...which, funnily enough, is also focused on hacking enemies to weaken them.)


“Hellfire” Stan: A hauntingly beautiful man with the fashion sense of a vampire, "Hellfire" Stan is actually quite the daredevil, relying on his wits and charm to get him through the day. He also has some history with DIS, and plays the flute. Hellfire pilots the AC Brimstone, a highly mobile machine with a jump pack and a pair of shotguns, purpose-built for getting in close and blindsiding enemies right where it hurts.

(OOC Notes: Hellfire's player hasn't given me a proper backstory yet, so watch this space. The player is the sort of guy who usually ends up playing the party face one way or another, and despite Chromestrike's lack of a bard class, Stan's highest stats are Grandeur and Allure, ensuring that he can talk his way through the kinds of situations that can be talked through. He's a ballsy roleplayer too, willing to take a lot of risks for the promise of reward. He's a fun guy.)


“Buddy” Dacote: A hardened man from the wastes, Buddy made his big break after finding a damaged AC and putting it back together. No one expected him to live long, but he beat the odds time and time again, even naming his mech after the predictions of death as a sort of macabre badge of honor. Buddy pilots the AC DoomedGuy, a reverse-joint lightweight made using primarily Bei Fong parts and loaded to the gills with missiles.

(OOC Notes: If this guy sounds like a joke, well, it's because he sort of is. Trigger's player built him for a guest player that ended up showing to the first session; Dacote is short for "dies at conclusion of the episode", and he was built with the Open Cockpit disadvantage. Open Cockpit causes every single hit against you to have a chance at causing instant death. Unfortunately, the guest player in question doesn't live nearby enough to meet regularly and probably will not be appearing often. Or at least that was the case; he's since become a permanent member of the party.)



Antonya “Boudicca” Greene: Born in Dhamburlan to the descendants of Glazfelli Royalty, Antonya left home at 14 to join a small waster warband. Carving out a name for herself with her Glazfelli Heirloom Sword and her skill at arms, she became a respected right hand to the Dham known as 'Baron Enormous'. When Enormous was killed four years later by another Dham known as Santangelo, Antonya fled Dhamburlan to the Arcadia Valley, where she found employment under KROSSCorp as a transport and occasional gunship pilot. When her 10-year contract was up, Antonya joined Bei-Fong Industries as a mech jockey and purchased her own AC. Boudicca pilots Britannia, a heavyweight biped armed with a shield and a Battle Cannon.

(OOC Notes: Played by Trigger's Player. Backup PC introduced after...events. Britannia isn't very mobile compared to the rest of the team, but it has good armor and its shield can absorb wounds at minimal cost. On top of this, her Battle Cannon has been specially modded to fire off an extra shot per attack and she has a shoulder-mounted NRB-57, which grant Britannia some impressive damage-dealing capabilities at close-to-medium range. Despite her lack of melee weapons, she isn't afraid to attempt to shield bash foes either, despite the risk of damage to the shield.)





Arc 1

Mission 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21454228&postcount=4)
Interlude 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21455949&postcount=5)
Interlude, Blossom Solo (1) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21462152&postcount=9)

Mission 2: Avici Facility (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21475702&postcount=17)
Interlude 2: A Party (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21482281&postcount=32)
Interlude, Blossom Solo (2) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21485890&postcount=39)

Mission 3: Summer Camp Counseling? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21494053&postcount=41)
Interlude 3: Everybody Lies (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21495718&postcount=46)
Interlude, Trigger and Buddy (1) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21530212&postcount=83)
Interlude, Trigger and Buddy (2) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21571839&postcount=86)
Interlude, Trigger and Buddy (3) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22066017&postcount=98)
Interlude, Hellfire and Thunder (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22035141&postcount=95)
Interlude, Blossom Solo (3) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22520922&postcount=100)

Mission 4: Gordian Knot (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22523631&postcount=103)
Interlude 4, Part 1: Something Fishy (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22536510&postcount=109)
Interlude 4, Part 2: Something Wicked (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22551183&postcount=115)
Interlude 4, Part 3: ...That Way Goes? (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22553971&postcount=119)

Interlude 4A: Undermine (Trigger Solo) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22673710&postcount=122)
Interlude 4A: Sung City Showdown, Part 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22674846&postcount=123)
Interlude 4A: Sung City Showdown, Part 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22680070&postcount=125)
Interlude 4A: Sung City Showdown, Part 3 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22689886&postcount=127)
Interlude 4A: Sung City Showdown, Part 4 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22694234&postcount=129)

Interlude 4B: Hell in Jemeztown, Part 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22706077&postcount=131)
Interlude 4B: Hell in Jemeztown, Part 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22708725&postcount=133)
Interlude 4B: Hell in Jemeztown, Part 3 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22711955&postcount=135)

Mission 5: Defend Tir City, Part 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=23283715&postcount=140)
Mission 5: Defend Tir City, Part 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=23308500&postcount=141)
Mission 5: Defend Tir City, Part 3 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=23326045&postcount=145)

Interlude 5 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=23330135&postcount=146)


Arc 2

Mission 6: Eliminate Bioorganisms 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=23839294&postcount=148)

Interlude 6 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=23839654&postcount=149)

JBPuffin
2016-12-04, 01:39 AM
If nothing else, the name for this journal sounds promising :smallbiggrin:.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-04, 02:39 AM
Mech action may or may not include lubrication, oil, and occasional penetration. Also rope from time to time.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-04, 04:29 AM
Mission 1



Serpent's Fang: 0cr (varies)
Employer: KROSSCorp
Theatre of Operations: Sandalia Airfield
Enemy Forces: NRB MTs, NRB Tanks, any NRB or CT pilots, CT GPACs.
Conditions for Success: Eliminate Enemy Forces, Destroy AA Guns, Destroy Surface Access.
Briefing:
This a message from KROSSCorp. It has come to the attention of the Arcadian Transit Authority that Cerulean Horizons has constructed an airbase using a heretofore unknown surface access. Cerulean Horizons constructed this airbase in secret, using advanced methods to evade our sensors. This has come to our attention because NRB forces have seized this airfield and surface access, destroying CT's jamming technology in the process.

This concerns us. The airfield is close enough to the Arcadia Valley to act as a staging ground for bombing runs by CT aircraft, and the surface access allows them to continually supply this base with relative impunity. We believe that CT will attempt to recover this airfield from the NRB, and so we have a request. The pilots taking this contract will accept CT's contract, and will play that role for a time; when the time comes, the pilots shall turn on CT forces, eliminating any remaining foes of KROSSCorp. Finally, these pilots shall destroy Sandalia Airfield's Anti-Air defenses, as well as the Surface Access Elevator.

This mission is difficult and dangerous, and we understand if the mission must be abandoned before all conditions are met. Instead, we are offering a bounty on targets: 2cr for each AA emplacement, 3cr for each ranked pilot, 1cr for each NRB Tank or CT GPAC, and 10cr for the Surface Access. Eliminating the AA emplacements is the minimum requirement.

- Titania, KROSSCorp Liaison to Concord


(Musical suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sasz-VyuUFM)

Operator: "This is K.K. Sonnen, your operator. You're being deployed in an abandoned railway shaft near the area of operations. Your mission parameters are as follows: You will obtain entry to the underground portion of the NRB-occupied airfield and clear it of hostile targets. You will then sabotage the facility's Anti-Air Cannons and Surface Access; KROSSCorp has supplied you with five explosive charges and a detonator for this purpose. You will use the surface access - before destroying it - to ascend to the surface and finish clearing out NRB Presence, including the ranked pilot Grieg and his AC, Mountain King. You will then eliminate any and all CT forces on site before extraction. We can detonate on the way out. I'll be providing you with updates throughout this operation.

Good luck."

We open underground, within visual range of the NRB fortress' back door. They haven't had time to fortify and supply it yet, so the entrance is defended only by a pair of S1 Solomon Battlesuits and an S2 Jeshua Battlesuit. They have not yet spotted the party, since it appears the NRB presence hasn't managed to set up decent sensors yet either.

(Setting Note: The S1 Solomon Battlesuit is an NRB-made three-meter tall (mechs generally trend toward 4-5 meters tall) manned MT unit armed with a heavy machinegun. It's well-armored, but slow and relatively weak compared to a mech. It's also surprisingly dangerous in melee; it's agile enough to trip a mech, and it's strong enough to rip a hatch open and tear the pilot right out if you're on the ground. The S2 Jeshua is an upgrade over the Solomon, with added boosters for speed, additional armor, and the Heavy MG swapped out for a Grenade Launcher. This information is all known to Trigger due to previous encounters with NRB military forces, and he relates it to the party. It's useful information, since they'll be fighting several.)

The PCs open fire with impunity. Blossom destroys a Solomon in one hit with her Sniper Cannon while Bergentrückung, Lightning, and DoomedGuy attempt to get closer. The remaining Solomon and the Jeshua raise the alarm and attempt to return fire, but fail to hit the fast-moving Lightning. The fight is over by the second round, much to Thunder's chagrin: Blossom also destroyed the other Solomon in a single shot, and the Jeshua is brought down by the combined efforts of Trigger's Burst Rifle and Buddy's rockets.

Pushing forward, the PCs pull the doors right open to reach the staging room, containing the surface access and some side paths. There's a single S2 Jeshua standing guard. Trigger and Thunder charge it, but can't make an attack yet. The Jeshua responds by clubbing one of Lightning's legs with its gorilla-like arms, and in a moment of pure hilarity, blowing Bergentrückung's head off with its Grenade Launcher. Trigger flicks on emergency cams just as Blossom and Buddy destroy the Jeshua with their weapons, once again denying Thunder the opportunity to actually attack something.

(OOC note: Bergentrückung losing its head is less disabling than it sounds. It can't use any of the bonuses the head provides and takes some debuffs since it's no longer using its main cameras, but it's otherwise functional. Also, it's really Trigger's player's fault for having a head with only 1 hp.)

The PCs go down one of the side paths, seeking the guts underneath the AA emplacements; the silos where all the ammo and such are stored. They find the first one pretty quickly, guarded by a single Solomon around a tight corner. Thunder wins initiative and rips the thing apart in one round with his blades.

((OOC Note: Thunder's player laughs maniacally as he realizes he won't be denied his chance to get a kill this time. Also, at this point I look at my GM notes and realize running this exact same encounter three more times with the other AA guns would be dumb.))

Operator: "I've got camera access to the facility. There are three Solomon MTs converging on the entrance to your current side path, setting up a firing lane for you. Be careful."

Being Thunder, Thunder decides to charge right down the tunnel, into the converging Heavy Machinegun fire. In a legitimately jaw-dropping display of fail, all three of the Solomons roll twos and threes (on 2d6) with their Heavy MG attacks, causing their weapons to jam. With all three of them offensively disabled for two rounds, the team makes short work of them. They planted all five of the explosive charges and headed up the Surface Access Elevator, as ordered.

Midway up the elevator shaft, radio contact returned, along with a new unsecured channel, playing only a familiar tune... (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMS5h8OXl0Q)



Surface

The PCs were thrust into new fight at the top of the elevator: Grieg, piloting AC Mountain King and backed up by two M1 Abraham Tanks, though they were currently tied up fighting Spinal Tap.

Mountain King is an impressive foe, resembling nothing so much as a heavily-armed black swivel chair with four legs, oversized shotguns for arms, and a pair of rocket pods on its shoulders. Its pilot is Grieg, #48 in Concord's ranks and infamously terrible person that the PCs don't have to feel guilty about killing. His emblem is a troll's head with a golden crown, mounted on a spike. Grieg works for NRB, and is in fact in command of the NRB forces occupying Sandalia Airfield.

The AC already fighting Mountain King when the PCs arrive is Spinal Tap, piloted by a man known as Drumbeat. Drumbeat is one of CT's "Knights", not to be confused with the CT Knight, a model of GPAC. Spinal Tap is a red bipedal mech with two heads and dual rifles.

Thunder charged forward immediately but couldn't make it to melee range in one round, so didn't accomplish much. Trigger followed up with some dramatic taunts in Grieg's direction and a declaration of revenge, in addition to taking a potshot with his burst rifle, which failed to penetrate armor.

Trigger: "You killed my father!"
*plink*
Grieg: *laughs* "That may have been the most important day of your life, but for me, it was Tuesday."

(OOC Notes: Trigger's player did not discuss Grieg's personal responsibility for the death of his father with me. Normally, this would earn a GM frownyface, but I decided to roll with it. And the reference was too easy to pass up.)

Buddy took a chance, and fired a pair of guided missile called shots, aiming for the treads of the two tanks. Miraculously, he hit with both, and both Tanks rolled a natural 1 on their armor saves: They were stopped in their tracks with their treads disabled.

Grieg: "Cute. Now let me show you how it's done."
He swivelled around to blast Lightning twice with his shotgun arms (dealing a hit to the chassis, though not wounding), and sweeping Bergentrückung with 6 rockets from his shoulder pods. 5 hit, though only 3 penetrated armor, dealing 3 wounds to the wolf-mech's chassis.

Blossom wasn't having any of that, and spent her turn hacking and used her Electronic Warfare System to disrupt Grieg's systems, successfully overwhelming his software defenses. The results were immediate; Mountain King's movements became sluggish and exaggerated. One tank took another shot at Spinal Tap, dealing a hit to the chassis, while the other attempted to shoot (and proceeded to miss) DoomedGuy. Finally, Spinal Tap made another pair of ineffectual shots at the tanks.

In round 2, the tables turned - fast. Lightning closed with the first tank, and tore two gaping holes in it with his blades (though didn't quite destroy it; the tank had 3 wounds and he only knocked off 2). While the severely damaged Bergentrückung failed again to penetrate Mountain King's armor, DoomedGuy intervened with another well-placed missile: Mountain King was a sitting duck thanks to Blossom's sabotage, and in another stroke of luck, it struck an inadequately armored muscle tracer bundle controlling Mountain King's arms, rendering the AC's dual shotguns useless.

Grieg: "Son of a-RRGH"
The pilot vented his frustration by spamming rockets again, spitting them between Buddy and Blossom. A few hit, but none penetrated armor this time - and then the pilot's trigger clicked. Out of rockets, and primary weapons disabled. Grieg was hit by a moment of realization, and Mountain King fired up its boosters, trying to retreat.

Blossom turned her focus from the neutered threat of Mountain King and cored the undamaged tank with her Sniper Cannon, destroying the turret and rendering it unable to attack. Quickly realizing that he had the opportunity to end the fight, Buddy fired another missile at the tank damaged by Lightning. In another miraculous stroke of luck, the missile penetrated the tank's armor and finished it off with an impressive explosion.

(OOC Note: Seriously, Buddy's dice were really hot. When I talk about penetrating armor, Chromestrike has an armor save mechanic, where attacks can be ignored if you roll high enough on a d6. Some weapons have an AP value, which gives a penalty on this roll, and some armors are better than others. Tanks have armor 2+, which means they have to roll a 1 on their armor save to take damage from an AP0 weapon. Buddy's light missiles were AP0, but he was just lucky enough for the Tanks to repeatedly roll 1s on their defense.)

Mountain King, disarmed and being a very slow AC, did not survive being hammered by everything on the field for another round. Spinal Tap hailed the PCs on an open comm channel to congratulate them on mission completion.

Drumbeat: "Good Job, but...oh, crap, scans say they planted bombs in the surface access. Blossom, you're a tech specialist, right? I need help disarming that before -"

That was when Blossom hacked his comms to shut them down. The PCs rolled initiative again, and ganged up on Spinal Tap until he died. He didn't even do any damage to them, and he had already taken a few hits from Mountain King and the tanks.

Operator: "You've got a squad of CT reinforcements incoming."

((OOC Note: Can't let them get too comfy, right?))

They held their ground, and a new team of CT enemies came in. One of them tried to bluff, but whiffed the check, and the squad of GPACs attacked - A Knight, two Bishops, and a Rook.

((Setting Note: CT's private military is an "elite" army in comparison to NRB's; they don't field things like battlesuits, instead manufacturing GPACs, or General Purpose ACs. Essentially, they build budget mechs as their rank-and-file units. See what I did there? Chess puns, I really do have no shame. Knights are so-called because they have Jump Packs, Bishops are fast-moving units with Heavy MGs, and Rooks are better-armored variants of the Bishop that have Rocket Launchers instead.))

For the sake of not dragging out another encounter with a play-by-play, the PCs made very short work of them, not a scratch on them. Which is a good thing, since Bergentrücking's Chassis was down to 1 hp. The area cleared of hostiles, K.K. Sonnen brought in the Transport Helicopter, and the players detonated the charges on the way out. And since they put some of the explosives in the ammo stores for those AA cannons...

...Well, they got a fireworks show on the way out.


I decided to separate the mission itself and the post-mission gameplay for the sake of having something to post tonight. Not much of a campaign journal without content, you know?

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-04, 07:53 PM
Interlude 1:

After figuring out how much money KROSSCorp owed them and arranging for repairs, the players left the Freeport hangar only to find someone waiting for them, a smiling, athletic-looking green-haired woman in a jumpsuit, leaning against a wall.

???: "Am I the first to say congrats? Probably not, unless you got one of the cold operators. But congrats anyway. Not many pilots take down a ranker on their first go, much less two. And since one of 'em was Grieg, I think I owe you all a round of drinks. You guys up for a drive?"

Trigger: "Sorry, but who are you?"

Rebecca: "Oh, ha! Fair enough, name's Rebecca. But really, if we hurry we might get there before they stop serving dinner, and I'm starving. You guys coming?"

(OOC Note: A couple of players were a bit suspicious and reluctant, until one of them realized that they didn't really know what to do with their newfound freedom and I was putting a blatant interaction hook in front of them. I could have rolled with it had they ignored the hook and had some material prepped, but this does make life easier for me.)

After they hesitantly accept, Rebecca guides them through the maze of hallways to reach a lonely, strangely empty parking structure, containing a few miscellaneous vehicles and the energetic woman's garishly-colored jalopy. She asks them to tell her all about the mission on the way, and they do.

The streets of Val City are a place not totally unlike New York at night: Choked with people and cars, lit by flashing neon advertisements covering every inch of some buildings. The sky can't be seen, but not because of smog: There are many tons of earth in the way, because Val City is underground. Indeed, some of the 'skyscrapers' are literally buried in the artificial cavern's roof. There are other such cities, of course: Sung City, Tir, Kri, Skye, New Rhodes, and others exist, but none are quite so bustling or diverse as Val City is. Val is also unique for its independence; most cities are beholden to or even controlled in all but name by one of the Megacorps, but Val City had somehow avoided this fate. That's probably why Freeport was built here: To ensure a degree of protection for Concord's official policy of neutrality.


The car came to a stop in front of a hole-in-the-wall dive bar simply called "The Rogue's Gallery", a little corner vista blaring jazzy pop music from one of Val City's many radio stations. (https://youtu.be/IHA35ejO1QY) Trigger immediately began complaining as the motley band walked in.

Trigger: (Grumbling) "I hate this stuff. Give me some rock any day."

Rebecca: "Oh, give it a chance, Herman. This place serves real alcohol. Real. The kind that you can get blitzed on, not like that synthetic stuff they serve at Beibevbar counters."

Trigger: "Well, I'll drink to that."

Blossom: (Defensively) "Do you have an issue with Beibevbar counters?"

Rebecca: (Obliviously) "Nah, it's enough some days, but they formulate the stuff so it starts breaking down before you can get anything more than a little buzz going. Hey, Bartender! Five drinks for us, and a plate of chitin kabobs for me!"

Blossom: (A little surprised, unused to not having her opinion asked for) "I'd rather have iced tea."

Rebecca: (Rolls eyes) "Oh, fine. Four house brews for us, an iced tea for the lady, and those kabobs for me." (waves at pcs) "You guys sit wherever you want, it's all on my tab."

The party picked out a table (with an open seat for Rebecca) and took a moment to look around the bar. It wasn't too packed tonight, all the better to get a good look. The Rogue's Gallery was nicer on the inside than its exterior appearance indicated, with a clean, polished wooden floor, surprisingly decent lighting, and red wallpaper covered in geometric patterns...and portraits. Lots of portraits, young and old. Seems the 'gallery' part was literal to some degree. Though there were quite a few patrons even on a slow night, only three really stood out: A man in a pin-striped suit with a synthop pipe reading the newspaper over at one of the far tables, and a pair apparently drowning their sorrows at the counter.

Thunder and Blossom were able to recognize the man in the suit immediately: Cyrus Ahu, a ranking pilot and Tiberius Bei Fong's left-hand man, one of the most notorious and feared men in the Night Market. The guy who breaks kneecaps when Papa Bei Fong is displeased. And worse, he was sneaking glances at Blossom. Dad would be hearing about this little venture. Both pilots sat down facing away from Mr. Ahu, pretending they didn't know he was there. It was probably for the best.


http://img06.deviantart.net/9ad0/i/2014/363/4/a/cyrus_ahu_by_ashtrails-d8br20h.png
(Cyrus Ahu, courtesy of ashtrails (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/member.php?83685-ashtrails))


The other pair consisted of a man and woman sitting side-by-side at the bar, along with at least a dozen apparently-emptied bottles. The girl was far more striking in appearance: Albino, with very long hair wrapped in twintails and wearing a suit jacket and skirt. The fellow, on the other hand, had short, dark hair and was wearing what looked to be a military dress uniform. Trigger couldn't place the woman, but he recognized the man: Alexander "Prince" Sing, one of Concord's best pilots, #12 in the ranks, in fact. Still, who was the girl, and why were they drinking so much?

Rebecca: "This table'll do. Heads-up, Trigger, you shouldn't stare. That's Grieg's sister, though I dunno how she knows Prince. Did I mention Grieg had a sister? You should probably watch your back, she's a crack shot."

Trigger grimaced, and reluctantly looked away, just in time to spot a waitress dropping off a newspaper at the table. Blossom picked it up, eager for a distraction.

Blossom: "The Val City Herald?"

Rebecca: "Yeah, the Rogue's Gallery has a deal with them. Complimentary newspapers at every table, a little before normal release. You guys made the front page for tomorrow's issue."

Sure enough, 'Green pilots obliterate two ranked ACs in wasteland skirmish' was the front page headline. How had the Herald gotten those pictures? The only one with access was...Sonnen. It must have been Sonnen. Other headlines in the paper include 'Hospital in New Rhodes firebombed by Kri City Liberation Front in latest gruesome attack', 'Cyrus crushes two rising stars in most impressive arena match of the year', and 'Kind Red Industries purchases Isley Pharmaceutical; CEO Emil Scarlet promises new herbal remedies will be added to catalogue by next year'.

Trigger: "Rebecca, how do you know all this, anyway? Who even are you, really? You must be a pilot."

Rebecca: "What, don't recognize me? Fastest woman alive? I thought I'd earned a little more credit than that. Does the name Dashing ring a bell?"

Trigger: "Wait, you're Dashing?! I thought Dashing was a guy!"

(OOC Note: I think Trigger's player intended to say this out of character, but it was funnier to roll with it. Dashing is also a pretty highly-ranked pilot, at #16. Her mech is completely optimized for raw speed, capable of moving at speeds exceeding 300 km/h for short bursts. Presumably Dashing has some way to avoid blacking out under that kind of acceleration.)

Rebecca/Dashing: (Slams back the rest of her mug, belches loudly and leans back in her chair) "Yeah, I get that a lot. Hey, have I ever told you about that one time I took down a supersonic plane in flight with a sword?"

Everyone laughed as Dashing told the story again and had a few more drinks before heading back to Freeport in Dashing's Jalopy.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-04, 08:03 PM
Oh, and for the record, I'd appreciate writing tips of any kind! This goes double if I descend into impenetrable jargon. I try to include explanations for things when I can, and most of the setting information is in the Google doc linked in the OP, but you shouldn't need to read the manual to follow what's going on.

Hawkstar
2016-12-05, 12:53 AM
This is a fun read. I'm glad I found it before it got too big and scared me away! I hope you continue, though Buddy not being a regular will be sad.

Also - animal-themed quad mechs are best with rockets mounted on the haunches.

Kane0
2016-12-05, 01:20 AM
Ooh, sounds like will be a fun read!

I hope there's a few Zoids vs Battletech arguments discussions happening at your table.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-06, 12:31 PM
Interlude, Blossom Solo (1)


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/SdRS3DtXh3I)

After returning to Freeport with Dashing, the party wandered back in from the parking garage, looking for the rooms they'd been assigned to. One advantage of being a registered Concord Pilot: Rent Control.

Blossom: "...You guys go on ahead. Rebecca, where is the nearest women's restroom?"

Rebecca nodded and gave some quick directions. Blossom thanked her and ran off...before quietly returning once the coast was clear; she was free to operate now that Mr. Wynter wasn't lurking in her shadow. She stalked the halls quietly, searching for any sign of her quarry, but found herself interrupted: A whirring, repeating mechanical noise accompanied a growing shadow cast upon the hallway from around the corner, and when it turned the corner, she saw something she'd never seen before.

A man, perhaps, but it wasn't the first word that came to mind. A skeletal figure in shimmering chrome, with narrow organic eyes the only sign of a human face and organs in plastic the only other indicator of humanity. A cyborg among cyborgs, more machine than man. His gaze fell upon Blossom for only a brief moment, before he scoffed and continued walking.

Blossom: "What, never seen a woman before?"

The figure stopped dead in its tracks and turned its head around, far farther than any human should, and spoke in a growling, mechanical tone.

???: "You are not worthy of my attention."

(OOC Note: Okay, I'm lying. The real description I gave at the table was "he looks like General Grievous", and I did an awful impression of the guy's voice. I make no promises that this campaign journal is a completely accurate transcription of my table.)

As the strange cyborg moved on, Blossom watched for a moment, only to flatten herself against the wall in surprise after a pair of technicians in hazmat suits rushed by, shouting for the thing to come back. Not daring to pursue, Blossom moved on, continuing her search. Finally, she came to a door in the residential sector, labelled "Bellatrix Bei Fong." She knocked twice. After a long moment, the door cracked open, revealing a single brown eye.

Bellatrix: (Surprised, but measured tone) "...Asami, what are you doing here?"
Blossom: (gesturing with both hands to quiet down) "Bella! Let me in and I'll explain."
Bellatrix: *Pauses* "Alright."

The door widened enough for Blossom to walk through, and she probably would have if Bellatrix hadn't practically grabbed her. The inside of Bella's private room was...pretty much exactly what one would expect, if one knew Bella. Bookshelves lined the walls, disorganized but nevertheless well-read, and the carpet smelled curiously of a mixture between musty book-smell and sweat. In the far corner, there was a well-used chair flanked by an electric lamp and a lightly-used writing desk. Bellatrix herself was a very tall, muscular woman and a natural blonde, though she preferred to tie her hair back rather than doing anything special with it, and her build was well-hidden by her loose, almost pajama-like clothing. It was late enough that maybe she would have been getting ready for bed, but Blossom knew better: She'd almost certainly interrupted Bella's reading; indeed, there was an open tome right there on the desk. Bella was an enigmatic creature: Introverted, awkward, even meek off of the battlefield, but Blossom had seen videos of her arena matches: It didn't show at all when she was piloting. Indeed, Bella's success was half the reason she'd...

Bellatrix: "Asami! What are you doing here, you know Concord does not allow random...wait."

Blossom: "I did. I'm a registered pilot. Oh, and, uh, you should call me Blossom here, I'm not using my real name."

Bellatrix: (burying face in hands) "Alright, what is done is done. What are you doing here? In my room."

Blossom: "I can't visit my sister?"

Bellatrix: (Browsing her own shelves absentmindedly) "Nobody visits me for small talk, Asami. You know that. Even Corvos has been distant of late."

Blossom: (Frowning) "Okay, you're right. I needed to get away from the others for a bit. One of them is watching me, and I'm uncomfortable with it. I think he's working for Dad."

Bellatrix: (Stops cold) "...I understand. I still look over my shoulder and see Cyrus lurking every now and again. My room is open to you if you require a haven."

Blossom: "Thank you, Bella. There was one other thing I wanted to ask about: I was reading the Val City Herald, and one of the headlines caught my eye: Kind Red Industries bought out Isley Pharmaceutical. I just don't know why, but something about it feels fishy."

Bellatrix: "I am sorry, but I do not know about that subject. Intrigue has never been my field."

Blossom: "That's okay, Bella, you've been helpful. I was just hoping maybe you had an ear to the ground."

Bellatrix: (Smiling) "I am afraid not, but perhaps you should ask Lykon. Keeping an ear to the ground is his job, after all."

Blossom: "Lykon's here?"

Bellatrix: "Did you not know? Lykon is the company's official representative in Freeport."

Blossom: "...I see. Thank you, Bella."

Bellatrix: (Already sitting down to resume reading) "Happy to be of service."

Blossom thanked Bellatrix for her time, and left her to her book; she had someone else she needed to see. After looking both ways to ensure the hall was clear, she wandered from her sister's room, seeking the Office of Lykon Bei Fong. It didn't take long; his name was prominently displayed by the door, and the secretary let her in immediately. Lykon's office was sparsely but tastefully decorated with striped wallpaper and a ceiling viewscreen set to emulate the night sky with a full moon. In a corner of the room, a truly enormous wolf was curled upon a padded bed.

Lykon Bei Fong himself cut a striking figure, tall and broad-shouldered, handsome despite his scars - and there were many scars. It had been a long time since Asami had seen him last, but Lykon was terribly burned years before: Both arms were charred and blackened from fingertip to elbow (though tight bandages concealed these injuries from open air), and other marks crisscross his body, including a terrible, disfiguring one across his left eye. He looked up at her approach, good eye widening and a genuine smile crossing his face.

Lykon: "Asami! Welcome to Freeport. Can I get you something?"

Blossom: (Guarded) "No thank you, Lykon." (Looks over at wolf) "Pardon me for asking, but aren't those supposed to be extinct?"

Lykon: (Smiling mischievously) "You know perfectly well that the usual rules don't always apply when a Bei Fong wants something, sister. You can pet Faola. She won't bite."

Blossom: (Nervously stroking the wolf's fur, to its delight) "I wish I were just coming to say hello, but I'm afraid there's something I was hoping to ask. I don't suppose we could speak privately?"

Lykon: "Of course."

The door closed at the press of a button, and the tiny sounds of static crackling filled the room: A noise generator. It seems Lykon was concerned about the possibility of his office being bugged, or else was simply taking precautions.

Blossom: "Thank you. I actually wished to ask after a headline that caught my eye: According to the Val City Herald, Kind Red Industries purchased Isley Pharmaceutical yesterday. Do you know anything about that?"

Lykon: "Are you thinking of getting into politics, Asami?" He gestured whimsically and smiled to indicate that he was joking, but his face fell flat soon enough. "I can only tell you rumors, I'm afraid. Corvos has met with Emil Scarlet recently, but he's been keeping matters hushed, even from my ears. I don't know exactly what Kind Red wants with Isley, but something unusual is happening. I can't tell you much, but I believe that Scarlet intends to escape Drake's yoke and turn Kind Red into a seventh Prime Corporation. This is, to be sure, mere rumor. You would do well not to repeat it where there might be prying ears. And I certainly said no such thing."

Blossom: (Smiles innocently) "I'm sorry, brother, what was that? I don't think I caught a word." She stood from the seat she'd taken even as Lykon only smirked in response. "Good night, Lykon. And good night, Faola."

The door opened, and Blossom left the office with a wave to her long-unseen family member. She had a lot to think about. But she had time.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-06, 12:34 PM
This is a fun read. I'm glad I found it before it got too big and scared me away! I hope you continue, though Buddy not being a regular will be sad.

Also - animal-themed quad mechs are best with rockets mounted on the haunches.


Ooh, sounds like will be a fun read!

I hope there's a few Zoids vs Battletech arguments discussions happening at your table.

Aw, thanks. You shouldn't say these sorts of things, they'll go right to my head.


Trufax: One of the contributing factors to running this was Trigger's player asking if he can play a Zoid after his PF character died hilariously. But that's a story for another time.


The next session is supposed to be on the 13th. This time, hopefully, I'll write it while it's still fresh in my memory and it'll flow more easily.


EDIT: I actually forgot, I have art of Cyrus Ahu, courtesy of ashtrails (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/member.php?83685-ashtrails). It's been added to the relevant journal log, but here it is again.

http://img06.deviantart.net/9ad0/i/2014/363/4/a/cyrus_ahu_by_ashtrails-d8br20h.png



EDIT EDIT: I forgot to mention that we have a fourth member who couldn't make it to the first session who isn't Buddy, so the gap in the party will be filled. I'll introduce that character when they appear though.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-08, 10:43 PM
This is a fun read. I'm glad I found it before it got too big and scared me away! I hope you continue, though Buddy not being a regular will be sad.

Also - animal-themed quad mechs are best with rockets mounted on the haunches.

Trigger's player here.

I registered an account just to confirm that Yes, Bergentruckung now has Rockets mounted on the Haunches. And they will probably be awesome. Probably. As long as they don't get shot and explode while attached to the chassis.

IntelectPaladin
2016-12-09, 01:42 PM
Trigger's player here.

I registered an account just to confirm that Yes, Bergentruckung now has Rockets mounted on the Haunches. And they will probably be awesome. Probably. As long as they don't get shot and explode while attached to the chassis.

Welcome to the playground, Trigger! I hope you take full advantage of our little community while you're here!
Including more funny DnD stories than you can shake a ten-foot pole at.
Also, I just wanted to say that it brings me no end of joy to see a mech-based campaign journal.
We've been waiting for one for some time now.
I look forward to the next update!
If there is one. I've seen too many journals peter out, so I hope this one is lasting.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you have a better day!

D-naras
2016-12-09, 05:06 PM
Hi guys. I'm posting to subscribe and also put this here: The Armored Core Campaign Journal! (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?203219-The-Armored-Core-Campaign-Journal!) which is an older Armored Core campaign journal which I loved. Keep up the good games! I love Mech on Mech action, especially when it's Armored Core themed!

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-09, 05:21 PM
Well, those interested may be happy to know that we ended up playing a session yesterday on the 8th. I'm currently in the process of writing up the mission portion and plan to have it complete by tonight.

I'll have to check out that Armored Core journal when I get a chance, too! Looks like a fun time.

RagingBluMunky
2016-12-09, 07:42 PM
Hey there! This is a promising campaign journal! I will definitely be keeping my eye on this.

I must admit that seeing a good mech story always makes me want to create a few of my own.
So I did.
But since I realize you probably have all the ideas you need, and probably don't want random passers-by throwing all their brains at you, I won't post them unless you ask me to.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-09, 08:43 PM
Mountain King, disarmed and being a very slow AC, did not survive being hammered by everything on the field for another round. Spinal Tap hailed the PCs on an open comm channel to congratulate them on mission completion.


Also, Blade totally forgot to mention me climbing out of my mech to Kill Greig on Foot with an Anti-Materiel Rifle rather than letting him die in the ensuing explosion. Needed to make SURE he was dead, after all.

Kinda like how I forgot to send him the finalized Bio explaining that Trigger's father died when Greig blew up a factory. GM Frowny Faces abound.

Anyways, if Anyone is interested, I've got a drawing I've done of Bergentruckung that I can post once I'm on the computer that I have it saved on.

Oh yeah, and thanks for the warm welcome everyone. Probably should have said that first.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-09, 10:34 PM
Mission 2: Avici Facility, 13:00


Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Drinks
Text: Dashing here. Glad you guys came along for a couple of drinks last week, even if you weren't feeling too great by the end of it. Sorry about that if it was something I said.

I hate to do this so soon, but I have a favor to ask. I've got this friend taking a DIS contract this month, and...I've got a bad feeling about this one. It looks sketchy, and I really don't want this friend getting hurt. I'd go myself, but Bolt isn't made for tight spaces and without room to maneuver I'm dead to rights. I understand if you're busy and can't afford to drop everything for someone you just met, but I can spare four credits on top of what DIS is offering if you can watch Butterfly's back for me.

Sorry again,
Rebecca


The Drone Wars: 20cr
Employer: Drake Imperial Sciences
Theatre of Operations: Sung City AUS Factory
Enemy Forces: Unmanned Drone MTs
Conditions for Success: Eliminate all rogue drones. Avoid damaging factory floor machinery.
Briefing:
Greetings. I am Doctor Biyal Xilung, representing Drake Imperial Sciences. A DIS subsidiary factory located near Sung City has been sabotaged by unknown agents, likely Spiral Tech, and the local Drone Control network has been...compromised. These drones now attack outside personnel on sight, but whatever virus they used damaged the software and reduced the drones' efficiency significantly. It's really a shoddy design, but that kind of sloppy work is expected of our competitors.

Regardless, we would like to recover the facility with minimal damage to our equipment. Refrain from using explosives, incendiary weapons, and anything else likely to produce collateral damage; costs to repair damaged equipment will be deducted from your pay.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/NpOVKbM7vlA)

The Avici Facility was a dismal place on the outskirts of Sung City, isolated from the sun by hundreds of tons of earth and metal. It was in theory a factory run by Avernus Unmanned Systems, a subsidiary company of Drake Imperial Sciences, but at the moment it looked like more of a warzone than anything else: Even the front doors to the factory were visibly damaged and would need to be forced open.

Operator: "This is K.K. Sonnen. You've been deployed at the south end of the facility, with Squad 2 at the north end. You'll be moving through Factory Floors A1, B1, A2, and finally C1, where you'll be rendezvousing with the second squad to confirm all targets cleared. Hostiles are rogue AUS drone units, which are known to behave erratically when separated from their control programming. I will be providing updates throughout this operation. Good luck, and be careful."

Trigger and Blossom eyed the third pilot they'd been teamed with.

Trigger: "Okay, but who's this guy?"

Operator: "I took the liberty of having a pilot who has experience with AUS drones partnered with you. Hellfire has performed well in previous operations and I have no doubt his assistance will prove beneficial here."

Blossom: "...Alright then, welcome to the team."

Hellfire: "That was fast."

Blossom: "Well, that's pretty much the same way we ended up on a team in the first place."

(OOC note: I got burned. In my defense, it's still better than starting in a tavern.)


Loner: "...How the hell do you outrank me anyway, you spineless..."
Butterfly: "..."
Lunatic Eye: "Shut up, Loner. She survived the Skyefall incident, she has more experience with drones than you have with women."
Red Don: "Ooh, burn."
Loner: "Why, you..."
Lunatic Eye: "Focus on the mission, we can trade barbs later."
Loner: "...Rrgh!"
Butterfly: "..."
Red Don: "Damn, this place is a mess. Must've been some party."


Operator: "Open the doors whenever you're ready."

The loading depot was a mess: Forklifts were tipped over and often on fire, there were scorch marks everywhere, and yet no signs of life. The operators must have fled the facility and sealed the doors on the way out, and the room was flooded with emergency lighting; the main generator must have been damaged. The entryway to factory floor A1 loomed ahead...and the trio took a deep breath before pressing onward.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/7row4QJ-EhM)

As soon as they stepped in, the sounds of horrid mechanical screeching filled their comms. The first factory floor was a huge room, taller even than it was wide, with catwalks crisscrossing upward until they seemed to fade in the distance. That was when they saw the drones: Horrid things, spindly and insect-like in their construction, armed with gruesome weapons. Three hung upside-down from the catwalks brandishing glistening blades, and two more lurked further back in the piles of factory machinery with rifles. Still screeching like monsters, the Nupperibos flung themselves at the players on wings of thrust even as the Lemures opened fire!

(Setting Note: All of the AUS-series drones follow the same basic model, a three-ton mess of lightweight alloys and minimum build specifications, though their armament varies significantly. Of these, the AUS-α "Lemure" and the AUS-β "Nupperibo" are the most common models, equipped with a ballistic rifle and a pair of composite steel blades, respectively. All are lightly-armored and relatively easy to dispatch, but they're extremely cheap to produce and always come in numbers.)

Trigger and Blossom sprung into action, picking targets and firing. Blossom's shot neatly cored one of the Lemures before it even got a second shot in, but Trigger's burstfire scored only a glancing hit on the second gunner. Hellfire was a little too slow on the draw and barely had his shotguns forward before the Nupperibos closed faster than any of them thought possible; all three pilots were suddenly thrust into melee! Steel Hibiscus managed to avoid the worst of the slashes, but both Bergentrückung and Brimstone were scored along the chassis by pristine Coldiron(tm) metalwork. Hellfire managed to turn the tide quickly though, darting around the Nupperibos' backs and expertly blasting two of them apart with perfectly-aimed shotgun blasts.

Hellfire: "Choke on that!"

(OOC Note: Hellfire's Sneak Attack perk is probably overpowered now that I've seen it in play, but at least it's the fun kind of OP since it relies on PC team tactics and only really shines in situations exactly like this, with weak enemies fighting in close-quarters.)

With three drones messily deactivated, Trigger mauled the one that had dared to stab his AC with Bergentrückung's fangs and followed it up with a burst of gunfire to finish it off. Blossom, for her part, casually turned her weapon on the final Lemure and destroyed it with a single clean shot from her Sniper Cannon.


Red Don: "They're coming out of the goddamn walls, man!"
Lunatic Eye: "Get a hold of yourself, or so help me I'll..."
Red Don: "Game over, man, I'm outta here!"
Loner: "Goddamn it, you coward!"
Butterfly: "...Um, I don't mean to be a bother, but there are more drones incoming."
Lunatic Eye: "Dammit!"


Operator: "Floor A1 clear. There should be a hallway to your next destination. You should be aware that AC Wolverine appears to have fled the field."

Trigger: "Oh jeez, this is gonna be one of those things where the other team gets whittled down one by one isn't it?"

Blossom: "Didn't Dashing want us to make sure Butterfly gets out okay?"

Hellfire: "I dunno about you guys, but we should definitely hurry up."

In the next hallway, Hellfire caught the light out of the corner of his eye and narrowly brought Brimstone to a hard stop before the explosion smashed him flat against the wall: One of the side doors had been blown right out of the wall, with another group of drones lying in wait! Still, with only two Nupperibos and a Kyton, Squad 1 made short work of them before moving on.

(OOC Note: The PCs won initiative and cleared the encounter before the drones even got a turn. They also made the perception check to spot the trap before blundering right into it.)

(Setting Note: The AUS-γ "Kyton" is another drone model, equipped with a Sans-Ferguson Single Line Winch and a nearly unbreakable grappling cable. It has little combat ability on its own, as the grappling hook is not an effective offensive weapon, but its ability to pull an AC prone and drag them about is disabling and potentially deadly when coupled with other drones or environmental hazards. The Kyton drone also has the ability to discharge dangerous amounts of electrical current from its "hands", but limitations make it effective only against immobilized targets at melee range.)

Upon reaching Floor B1, the squad was treated to a bizarre and horrific sight: A group of drones, 5 Lemures and 2 Kytons, clustering around a fallen drone and painting themselves with its fluids, even while one of the Kytons led them in a mechanical, screeching chant that could almost be mistaken for a prayer. They watched for several seconds, enraptured with horror, before any dared speak.

Trigger: "...What the hell?!"

Hellfire: "They haven't noticed us yet...so let's line up our shots."

(OOC Note: "Hey [Blade's real name], they count as unaware, so Sneak Attack applies, right?")

The opening salvo was as destructive as planned: Hellfire's shotguns took out both Kytons before they knew what hit them, and Blossom's Sniper Cannon took out one of the Lemures as well. The other four scrambled to organize, but still lost initiative, and Blossom took out another one. The three remaining Lemures managed to put a few more holes in Bergentrückung, but another volley of combined fire obliterated them.


*Sounds of gunfire*
Lunatic Eye: "Squad 1, this is Lunatic Eye. I think we've found the biggest mass of them, and are currently engaged in a fighting retreat. At least two dozen, you'd better be there when we rendezvous at C1."
Loner: "Son of a - I'm cut off! Help!"
Lunatic Eye: "Goddamn it! Hold on, Loner, there are too many in the way!"
*static*


Operator: "They're deep in the facility and breaking up. I am sorry, I will re-establish communications as soon as I can. You should continue to floor A2."

They did. Five more drones inhabited A2: Three Kytons, and two Abishai.

(Setting Note: The AUS-Δ "Abishai" is a drone model usually deployed against infantry squads and in certain environments rather than against mechs. It's identical in design to the Lemure, except that the Rifle is traded out for a Flamethrower.)

They were ready for more drones this time, and quickly disabled both Abishai before they got a chance to bring their weapons to bear. Blossom's EWS really shined in this fight: Hellfire hit twice where he would have missed if Blossom's hacking hadn't lowered the enemy's dodge rating. The Kytons reacted by trying to snag Bergentrückung, Steel Hibiscus, and Brimstone with their grappling hooks: Blossom and Hellfire managed to slip away from the cable's grasp, but Trigger wasn't so lucky and found his AC's legs pulled out from under it; despite Bergentrückung's efforts to wriggle free, Trigger found himself being dragged closer and closer to the Kyton.

While Blossom and Hellfire returned fire and successfully destroyed the drones that attacked them, Trigger couldn't get a clean shot from the ground and soon found himself tied and pinned next to the drone. Its skeletal fingers crackling with arcing current, it proceeded to grab Bergentrückung's chassis and start frying it.

Trigger: "Ugh, I don't like these tummy rubs..."

Blossom tried to save Trigger, but her shot went wide and punctured a conveyor belt instead. Hellfire had a little more luck, swooping in with his jump pack to blast the remaining Kyton with his twin shotguns from behind. Ripped apart by the world's largest buckshot, the drone's cable went slack and a groaning Trigger brought Bergentrückung back up onto its feet.

Trigger: "That sucked. Dunno how much more of this we can take."

Blossom: "Speak for yourself, there's barely a scratch on me."


*Mechanical Screeching*
Loner: "No, no, oh god, no! They've got me, I can't move! Systems are shutting down, I've lost cameras, but I'm moving down, oh god they're taking me down the elevator shaft! Help, anyone, ple-*Static*"
Lunatic Eye: "****, ****, ****, we've lost Loner, his comms are dead. Squad 1, if you're still alive, we're approaching C1, followed by the swarm. If you're not there, I will haunt you."


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/wTWIJEl042k)

Factory Floor C1 was almost twice as large as the others and had four exits, one of which the players entered through. Butterfly and Lunatic were already there, back-to-back, pointing their weapons at different exits.

Lunatic Eye: "Finally, I was beginning to wonder if you all died on the way. I'd say I'm happy to see you, but I'd be lying."

Trigger: "Trust me, the feeling is mutual."

Butterfly: "Um, pardon me, but here they come."

The first wave was nothing to worry about. Two Lemures and two Nupperibos might have been scary if they hadn't already been through much worse fights, and if they hadn't had Butterfly's EM Rifles and Lunatic Eye's high-end automatic rifle backing them up. The drones were cut down by combined fire almost as soon as they burst through the door.

Blossom: "Was that it? You needed our help with-"

Lunatic Eye: "Distraction, they're busy surrou-"

The second wave burst through one of the other doors almost immediately, a more potent force containing two Kytons and three Abishai. Though the players and their erstwhile allies attempted to stop them before a third wave could show up, it was not to be; thanks to poor dice, most of the second wave was still active when the third wave, consisting of two more Kytons and three Lemures, burst from the final doorway. The fight got messy and dangerous in a hurry; even Steel Hibiscus took a wound.

Though they'd cleared the second wave and killed some of the third wave by the next round, they were blindsided when the fourth wave came from the first door: Four Nupperibos and a pair of Malebranches.

(Setting Note: The AUS-ε "Malebranche" is a sort of 'elite' drone, relatively expensive and armed with a rapid-fire Grenade Launcher. It's better-armored than the other drones and has twice as much health on all of its hardpoints. The Malebranche is DIS' answer to the CT Rook, an unmanned unit capable of hitting hard and fast, and one that can take a few hits.

While Trigger worked on mopping up the last of wave 3, Lunatic Eye and Butterfly tried to shoot down the incoming Nupperibos. LE managed to take one down herself, but both of Butterfly's shots were absorbed by its armor. Hellfire ran into the fray once more, taking a couple of potshots against one of the Malebranches: One was absorbed by the machine's armor, but the other blew a hole through its frame. Blossom diverted power from her legs to focus on hacking the damaged Malebranche's systems, and found more success than usual: Beyond merely disrupting it, she briefly gained total control, and ordered the drone to fire upon its allies, to terrible effect. The spray of high-explosive pellets caused terrible damage to the second Malebranche's body, and Blossom's own shot finished it off.

Unfortunately, the three remaining Nupperibos charged Brimstone, and their combined melee attacks, despite his best efforts, completely devastated the AC's legs. Brimstone dropped prone, and Hellfire might have died there if Trigger, Lunatic Eye, and Butterfly hadn't intervened to destroy the drones flanking him with a well-aimed spray of bullets.

When the last of the drones went down, everyone was still standing. Metaphorically-speaking, anyway, since Brimstone's legs were thoroughly shredded and Bergentrückung's chassis was so battered that it would probably need to be harvested for parts and replaced completely. Again. But nobody was dead, is the point.

Lunatic Eye: (Breathing heavily) "Was that the last of them?"

The emergency lighting went out, and normal lighting snapped on just as quickly - before a voice spoke over the facility's intercom.

Dr. Xilung: "Greetings, this is Doctor Biyal Xilung. I am pleased to announce that the DIS Technicians we sent in while you were distracting the drones have successfully completed their task and reestablished control of the facility. Your mission is complete, and you should leave the premises as soon as possible before security is reactivated. We have much to do here."

Blossom: "What about Loner? The drones kind of dragged him into the depths of the facility screaming?"

Dr. Xilung: "I assure you, we'll find him. Now, please leave the premises. We shall take account of the damages and send you your pay soon enough, I promise you."

Trigger: (over private comms) "There was never any virus, was there? This was a combat test."

Hellfire: (over private comms) "...I sure hope not."

Blossom: (over private comms) "...We're not seeing Loner again, are we?"

With no other option, they left the Avici Facility and waited for K.K. Sonnen's transport helicopter to pick them up. There was a lot to think about.

Hawkstar
2016-12-09, 10:49 PM
Also, Blade totally forgot to mention me climbing out of my mech to Kill Greig on Foot with an Anti-Materiel Rifle rather than letting him die in the ensuing explosion. Needed to make SURE he was dead, after all.

Kinda like how I forgot to send him the finalized Bio explaining that Trigger's father died when Greig blew up a factory. GM Frowny Faces abound.

Anyways, if Anyone is interested, I've got a drawing I've done of Bergentruckung that I can post once I'm on the computer that I have it saved on.

Oh yeah, and thanks for the warm welcome everyone. Probably should have said that first.

I am very interested in seeing this. If I could ever bring myself to draw again, I'd probably try drawing a picture of it myself. I kinda wish I'd gotten into Zoids (I loved the design of the mechs), but when I was exposed to it, it was during a time I was a close-minded xenophobic idiot and all the imported robot anime had that stupid focus on weird honor duels and tournaments, which I found to be a stupid, interest-killing premise.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-09, 10:54 PM
I must admit that seeing a good mech story always makes me want to create a few of my own.
So I did.
But since I realize you probably have all the ideas you need, and probably don't want random passers-by throwing all their brains at you, I won't post them unless you ask me to.

Never let it be said that I'm not open to ideas. (Though I have a lot of things already plotted, as you imply...and one of my players is definitely reading the thread.)



Also, Blade totally forgot to mention me climbing out of my mech to Kill Greig on Foot with an Anti-Materiel Rifle rather than letting him die in the ensuing explosion. Needed to make SURE he was dead, after all.

Oh shoot, I DID forget to write about that part. That's...actually kind of a big deal. Important character moment, and all that...plus it puts responsibility for the guy's death squarely on Trigger.




EDIT: Interlude 2 coming when I feel less tired.

Hawkstar
2016-12-09, 11:16 PM
... where's Hellfire's introduction?

TriggerGunther
2016-12-09, 11:51 PM
I am very interested in seeing this. If I could ever bring myself to draw again, I'd probably try drawing a picture of it myself. I kinda wish I'd gotten into Zoids (I loved the design of the mechs), but when I was exposed to it, it was during a time I was a close-minded xenophobic idiot and all the imported robot anime had that stupid focus on weird honor duels and tournaments, which I found to be a stupid, interest-killing premise.
Here you Go!

http://i.imgur.com/l69GVl3.png

ANNNND Apparently I can't post links or images until I've made ten posts. And This is only post #3... Hmmm...

I'll ask Blade if he can post it and send it to him over Skype.

Or go back and add it here when I can

Went back and added the picture

Hawkstar
2016-12-09, 11:52 PM
Here you Go!

[Removed]

ANNNND Apparently I can't post links or images until I've made ten posts. And This is only post #3... Hmmm...

I'll ask Blade if he can post it and send it to him over Skype.

Go get involved in a stupid argument on another thread or something to get the 10 posts you need.

... I was wondering where the massive link-spamming bots that used to plague these forums went. Nice to know about this policy change.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-10, 12:53 AM
Go get involved in a stupid argument on another thread or something to get the 10 posts you need.

... I was wondering where the massive link-spamming bots that used to plague these forums went. Nice to know about this policy change.

I'd Rather not get involved in a stupid argument....

Hmmm... I could Elaborate about more of the stuff in the thread. Anything you've got questions about? OOH, I could talk about that Hilarious death of my pathfinder character Blade mentioned earlier! That was fun.

*CUE PACIFIC RIM MUSIC*

RagingBluMunky
2016-12-10, 01:20 AM
Never let it be said that I'm not open to ideas. (Though I have a lot of things already plotted, as you imply...and one of my players is definitely reading the thread.)

Eheh...
I realize that I worded that poorly. I meant designs/ideas for mechs. If you're still open to these new ideas...

Well, I'll put them in spoilers so you you can peruse or not at your leisure. An unconventional ultralight AC, Will-o-Wisp uses electronic warfare drones to lure targets to a chosen area, typically with heavy concealment for the mech itself. The drones then shut down the victims targeting and radar, allowing Will-o-Wisp to strike with impunity with its heavy flamethrowers and incendiary rockets. Cataphract is surprisingly fast for such a heavyweight AC. Large boosters attached to its back give it fantastic straight line speed, combined with a powerful energy blade, and the sheer mass of the mech itself, Cataphract has a powerful melee attack capable of toppling all but the sturdiest of opponents. This speed has come at the expense big maneuverability, it has trouble turning to face new opponents with any sort of speed. Cataphract fights by charging opponents in an attempt to knock them onto the ground, where it can finish them off with the powerful assault rifle it carries.
I hope those spark an interest, and that I haven't stepped on your toes too hard.

Forum Explorer
2016-12-10, 02:35 AM
This is certainly a cool read, so I hope you continue it. :smallsmile:

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-10, 06:25 AM
... where's Hellfire's introduction?

Haha, whoops, I definitely didn't forget about that and then take a nap. Noperee.

(The player has yet to send me a proper bio, so a partial intro has been put in the OP until such time as he does.)



ANNNND Apparently I can't post links or images until I've made ten posts. And This is only post #3... Hmmm...

I'll ask Blade if he can post it and send it to him over Skype.

Or go back and add it here when I can

Is this the one? (http://i.imgur.com/eIjVF0x.jpg) You sent it to me on imgur at some point. Though you've clearly modified the mechanical details since then.



Eheh...
I realize that I worded that poorly. I meant designs/ideas for mechs. If you're still open to these new ideas...

Well, I'll put them in spoilers so you you can peruse or not at your leisure. An unconventional ultralight AC, Will-o-Wisp uses electronic warfare drones to lure targets to a chosen area, typically with heavy concealment for the mech itself. The drones then shut down the victims targeting and radar, allowing Will-o-Wisp to strike with impunity with its heavy flamethrowers and incendiary rockets. Cataphract is surprisingly fast for such a heavyweight AC. Large boosters attached to its back give it fantastic straight line speed, combined with a powerful energy blade, and the sheer mass of the mech itself, Cataphract has a powerful melee attack capable of toppling all but the sturdiest of opponents. This speed has come at the expense big maneuverability, it has trouble turning to face new opponents with any sort of speed. Cataphract fights by charging opponents in an attempt to knock them onto the ground, where it can finish them off with the powerful assault rifle it carries.
I hope those spark an interest, and that I haven't stepped on your toes too hard.

These are cool!


The former definitely sounds like a SpiralTech pilot, the bastards - they even manufacture drones with EWS.

Cataphract looks like a potentially fun fight too, and could probably be modeled with some creative perks.


And for what it's worth, it's a time-honored Armored Core tradition to fill the lowest ranks with surprisingly-powerful pilots, so that they start appearing as the PCs inevitably work their way through the original top 50 list. :smalltongue:


This is certainly a cool read, so I hope you continue it. :smallsmile:

Well, that's convenient, because I intend to! :smallsmile:

Herobizkit
2016-12-10, 06:52 AM
Nice Chain Devil reference in your Kyton mech. :smallwink:

... but when do they get to be Ravens? :smalleek:

I love mech games, never get to play enough.

When do they start seeing the transformable ones...? :smalltongue:

TriggerGunther
2016-12-10, 10:03 AM
-snip-
Is this the one? You sent it to me on imgur at some point. Though you've clearly modified the mechanical details since then.
-snip-


Yeah, that's the one, though I have an updated version with the L-RCL and camouflage. Will post that one when up to ten posts and not currently sick with stomach flu.

OH COME ON, I CAN'T EVEN QUOTE LINKS?

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-10, 11:55 PM
I'd planned to put up Interlude 2 tonight, but unfortunately I've hit a bit of writer's block halfway through so that's going to be delayed 'til tomorrow unless Inspiration strikes. Sorry about that.



Hi guys. I'm posting to subscribe and also put this here: The Armored Core Campaign Journal! (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?203219-The-Armored-Core-Campaign-Journal!) which is an older Armored Core campaign journal which I loved. Keep up the good games! I love Mech on Mech action, especially when it's Armored Core themed!

Having now read the journal...glorious. Too bad it ended so soon. :smallsigh:



Nice Chain Devil reference in your Kyton mech. :smallwink:

All of the AUS drones are based on DnD devils, of course, but the Kytons ARE my favorites. They're nasty things, and I think there's something primally terrifying about the SFSL Winch, getting tied up and dragged toward your doom.


...but when do they get to be Ravens? :smalleek:

They already are, really; I've just avoided using the term for the sake of plausible deniability. You know, at least pretending to have an original setting. :smalltongue:

I've also avoided using official "ranks" like in that other journal; Pilots are generally ranked by skill, but it's not in distinct classes as such. Still, each block of 10 pilots in the top 50 is a noticeable cut above the block below it, with more money, better attributes, and sometimes better perks. The Top Ten pilots are particularly abominable, having budgets floating around 80cr, 24 attribute points (to the PCs' 22), and at least one mildly unfair perk.

RagingBluMunky
2016-12-11, 12:00 AM
These are cool!

And for what it's worth, it's a time-honored Armored Core tradition to fill the lowest ranks with surprisingly-powerful pilots, so that they start appearing as the PCs inevitably work their way through the original top 50 list. :smalltongue:

Well I'm glad you like them! I can probably come up with a few more if you're sure you don't mind.

As for the journal itself, I feel like you're starting to hit your stride. As I've never written one of these myself I can't give any direct advice, I would recommend checking out the All Guardsmen Party, written by Shoggy, on this site, for some examples of well written fight scenes.

Hawkstar
2016-12-11, 12:06 AM
Well I'm glad you like them! I can probably come up with a few more if you're sure you don't mind.

As for the journal itself, I feel like you're starting to hit your stride. As I've never written one of these myself I can't give any direct advice, I would recommend checking out the All Guardsmen Party, written by Shoggy, on this site, for some examples of well written fight scenes.

I think I prefer this journal's visceral play-by-play of each battle to the frequently glossed-over snark of the All Guardsman party.

I'm trying to remember what the Brimstone mech reminds me of with its shotguns and jumpjets, because it's giving me a REALLY strong mental image.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-12, 03:31 AM
Interlude 2:


The PCs exited the hangar only to find Dashing waiting for them again, her hair dyed purple this time, smiling and wiggling a tiny credit chit in front of them.

Dashing: "Thought I'd find you here. Got a call from Butterfly a few minutes ago. I just wanted to say thanks, you've earned this."

She tossed the chit to Blossom appreciatively.

Dashing: "Don't spend it all in one place! Oh, and, uh, Reveler's holding a party tonight, just so you know. You're all invited." She looked pointedly at Hellfire, before adding "...Even you, new guy." She took a moment to look him up and down, before nodding with approval.

Hellfire: "...Well, are we going, or are we just gonna sit here?"

(OOC Note: "Well, I know a plot hook when I see one.")

The other pilot began walking away with a faint chuckle.

Dashing: "I'll see you all later."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/8Qje_0KykzU)

Anyone who'd been to one of Reveler's parties could tell you that they were rarely subdued affairs. No one really knew how she was always able to reserve a multipurpose room on short notice, nor how she managed to move everything in and out in the space of a day, tops. Reveler was a curious sort of famous, a girl everyone knew, but almost no one knew; indeed, she was like a celebrity among celebrities in that regard.

The room was already filled with people, mostly Freeport personnel but also several pilots, as well as an open bar and an energetic young woman in a tuxedo attending to the guests, slipping (and in one case, cartwheeling) through the crowd with sinuous ease. The inaudible din of a dozen conversations nearly drowned out the speech of anyone in particular...but wasn't so loud as to overwhelm the music blasting from three stacked amplifiers in one of the corners.

Unsure where to start, the three wandered over in the direction of the bar, where two particular figures caught their eyes, visibly out of place but for wildly different reasons. The bartender was a young woman - very young, a preteen at oldest, with waist-length gray hair and a blank, jaded expression.

(Hellfire's player: "Yeah, there's no way she's actually as young as she looks.")

The other person of interest was a man sitting at the bar with a glass of Champagne and a bemused look in his eye. Sporting a scarred face, blonde scruff, and an honest-to-goodness captain's coat, he looked the part of every stereotypical smuggler out there. Perhaps more importantly, he wasn't a Concord Member, and he definitely wasn't staff. How did he get in..?

They casually sidled up to the bar, and might have sought the bartender's attention if she hadn't already noticed their presence.

Bartender: "Can I get you something."

Her voice was strangely dead, devoid of intonation or any other indicator of a question beyond the phrasing, and it didn't help that her face was as still as the grave through the whole process, with only the bare minimum of lip motion made.

Hellfire: "I'd like a virgin old timer."

Bartender: (Pouring fizzy soda) "Very well."

Trigger: "I'll have the rum you left out of his."

Bartender: (Pauses, then pours the rum) "...Very well."

Blossom: "Today we fought a swarm of drones practicing Satanic rituals. I need whiskey."

Bartender: (Long pause) "...We have high-quality Bourbon under the counter. I was instructed to save it for an emergency." (Reaches down, then pours a glass.)

???: "You were holding out on me after all? Your poker face is exquisite, I must say."

Blossom: "I'm sorry, who are you?"

The man raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth to say something, only to be interrupted by the Bartender. "A Stray", she deadpanned, "who has yet to be ejected."

Stray: "That's Captain Stray to you!", he replied with mock indignance, even as the bartender only rolled her eyes in response. "And to you three, for that matter."

Hellfire: "Well, nice to meet you. I'm Stan."

Stray: "A pleasure, Siegneur Whatshisnam-"

Hellfire: "It's Nunyabe-Zwax. Stan Nunyabe-Zwax."

Stray: "Please, you can't force that sort of snideness. Being mysterious is all well and good, but it doesn't work when you rub your own secrets right in front of me."

Trigger: "...So how'd you get here, anyway? Freeport's supposed to be a secure location."

Stray: "Slipped into a cargo crate, then wriggled my way through the air vents while avoiding the lasers. Minus the extravagant lies, I told the guards I'd left my wallet behind and they let me pass."

(OOC: "You know he's just going to keep mocking you, right?" "Yeah.")

The PCs excused themselves soon enough, realizing that they'd wasted far too much time on that silly man. For just a little bit, they split up to mingle.

---

Blossom soon found herself watching the overly-energetic waitress from earlier, still expertly sliding through the crowd. She wasn't quite sure how she hadn't noticed before, but this girl was surely the infamous Penelope "Reveler" Stone. She didn't know her personally, but she knew her by reputation: Energetic, goofy, and always partying, whether the people around her were or not. Really, the impressive reflexes and trademark ginger curls should have been a dead giveaway.

She was clearly too busy to talk to, not that it seemed to dissuade the man attempting to flirt with her - Sue "Sickman" Jones, a pilot and a minor celebrity on the dark corners of the internet devoted to a subculture of 'crackers' and other malcontents. A pallid and strangely oblivious fellow, he lacked Reveler's grace and in truth the only thing he was accomplishing through his embarrassing pursuit was bumping into other guests and generally being a nuisance.

Blossom: "You're Sickman, right?"

Sickman: (Quickly turning around in surprise) "Uh, yeah." (Looking at Blossom and smiling) "Yeah I am."

Blossom: (Doing her best impression of someone being flirty) "I've heard you're a pretty good hacker. Do you have any tips for someone just starting out?"

Sickman: (Definitely drunk, openly leering) "Well, one of the most important things is working with an operator who can spot you. Using an EWS properly can take pre-preci-useful time in a fight, so an operator who knows what they're doing can really help. There's this guy named Torre, and he's got all the- all these neat tricks he won't share...

Blossom: (Gesturing to her still-full glass of whiskey) "Okay, well, I'm going to get another drink. I'll be back in a minute!"

Sickman: (Obliviously) "Alright!"

She did not return. She hadn't intended to, regardless, but Blossom saw something she had to check up on: At one of the far tables, the Sing siblings were sitting together. She'd briefly seen Alexander "Prince" Sing drinking at The Rogue's Gallery the week before, but she'd never encountered Jennifer "Princess" Sing in person.

Princess was just sitting there reading, visibly annoyed at the room's noise, and yet not getting up to leave. With long, dark hair, hazel eyes, a mousy face with thin lips and a pointed nose, all rounded out with a very calm and quiet demeanor, it was sort of hard to believe that the twenty-something girl could be one of the most widely-feared people in The Layers. But there she was, reading at a party, sitting next to her brother.

Actually, where did the brother go? Blossom quickly looked around the room, only to spot him approaching Trigger from behind, a hand outstretched...

---


Trigger left the bar to find Dashing waving at him from one of the faraway tables. Smiling at the sight of a friend, he approached to find Dashing sitting with a smiling dark-skinned girl he didn't recognize.

Dashing: "Hey, Trigger, sup? Glad to see you could make it." (aside) "Butterfly, this is Trigger."

Butterfly: (Barely above a whisper) "...hello."

Dashing: "She's shy. It's okay, Butters, he's a decent guy. Rei's biased."

???: "This seat taken?"

All eyes shifted to the new speaker, an Albino girl in a suit jacket and skirt that Trigger recognized all too well.

Butterfly: (Slightly louder than before) "Oh, hello Rei. I didn't know you were coming."

Dashing: (A little embarrassed) "Uh, hi Loony. Didn't see you there."

Trigger: "Maybe I should..."

Lunatic Eye: (Glaring daggers at Trigger briefly, before softening) "No, stay. We can call a truce tonight." (Back to Dashing) "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you."

Dashing: "It's okay. Actually, do you two mind if Butters and I step out to chat privately? I'll only be a minute."

She was already standing up as she said it, and so was Butterfly; if anything, she looked eager to leave the party. Probably too many people for her taste. They didn't wait for an answer before starting to walk away, though Dashing turned back for some parting words.

Dashing: "...Please don't kill each other."

Lunatic Eye: "We won't. I gave my word."

A long moment passed silently between the two, now alone at the table.

Trigger: "I'm sorry about your brother."

Lunatic Eye: (visibly sneering) "No you're not."

Another long moment.

Lunatic Eye: "I-I actually wanted to talk. We worked well together in the Avici Facility; that sort of combat rhythm is hard to find just anywhere."

Trigger: "Well, I'll drink to that."

Lunatic Eye: "Advantages of an open bar. It's too bad. I think we could have been friends under different circumstances."

Trigger: "Yeah... maybe under other circumstances."

Lunatic Eye: (Staring a moment, then standing up) "...Thi-this was a mistake. I should go."

Trigger watched her leave, right up until she disappeared into the crowd. Were those...tears? Weird. He didn't have a long time to think about that, as someone tapped his shoulder - he turned around to find Prince standing behind him.

Prince: "Hey, got a minute? I owe you an apology. I shouldn't have glared at you like that last week, it was unprofessional of me."

Blossom: "You were glaring at us?"

Prince startled; he hadn't spotted her approach.

Prince: "Uh, yeah? I, um, didn't realize you guys didn't notice. Could have saved myself some awkwardness if I'd known that." (Fumbling for words, feeling flanked by the two PCs) "Look...Grieg and I went to school together. We were friends, kind of. I realize he wasn't the best guy, but...it's hard to look at it that way when you've known each other since you were kids, you know?"

Trigger: "He killed my father. Leveled a building on top of him."

Prince: "...That's rough. I'm sorry, war can be brutal. But I suppose you know that. I saw you talking to Rei a minute ago; I really hope she's okay. She took it hard."

Blossom: "It's always sad when war takes someone you care about. Pilots like us, we just sort of have to deal with it. It's war, after all. And it's not going away."

Prince: "Yeah. We'll go crazy if we try to avenge everyone. Good night, you two. I should go find my sister before she throws down with Prodigy in public again..."

Almost as quickly as Prince turned his back, Blossom and Trigger found themselves face-to-face with Reveler. There was no denying how fast that girl was - and how stealthy.

Reveler: "Hey there, whatcha doin'? You two seem pretty morose for being at a party! Anyway, I just came to tell you that you should go talk to Arlan in the back room. Gotta go!"

She was gone almost as quickly as she appeared, her message delivered. Trigger and Blossom looked at each other a moment, silently agreeing that the party's host was definitely more than she seemed.

---

Hellfire watched Prince and Princess from a distance with some curiosity; the two were both very highly-ranked pilots, and it was strange to see the famous Sing Siblings just lounging about at a party. He continued to watch as Prince seemed to spot something out of the corner of his eye, put his drink down, and walked off. Princess noted her brother's absence, but then shrugged and returned to her book...at least until someone else sat down: Someone that Hellfire recognized.

He knew her face from many an advertisement: Prodigy was a pilot with fair skin, blue eyes, and shoulder-length blonde hair, wearing a long leather jacket over a tailored dress and a miniskirt. Prodigy was famous, as much as Princess was. Maybe moreso; Princess was known for her cold, brutal efficiency, but Prodigy was downright flashy. A real crowd-pleaser; even off the battlefield, she couldn't resist exaggerated motions and mannerisms as she threw an arm around a clearly-not-okay-with-this Princess.

Hellfire couldn't help but listen in on their conversation as Princess frowned, put her book down, and threw Prodigy's arm off of her shoulder, all while Prodigy grinned like a loon.

Princess: "...tired of doing this, you know."

Prodigy: "What, get tired of me already?"

Princess: "I've known you for years, and I deeply regret doing so."

Prodigy: "You wound me!"

Princess: (Picking book back up) "Well, I'm not in the mood to deal with your crap today. If you want to start another fight, just do it already, or else leave me alone."

Prodigy: "...So that's how it is, huh?"

The next bit of conversation was too muffled for Hellfire to hear, but Princess looked vaguely scandalized for a moment before suddenly gaining a mischeivous smirk...and Prodigy's face turned to outright anger.

Princess: (Still smirking) "You know, we could partner up again. Just like old times. I've been waiting for you to knock off Burnout for a year, do that and we can go after Narcissus together."

Prodigy: (Barely containing anger) "You know why I won't do that."

Princess: (Returning to her book) "I do."

Prodigy: "...I don't know why Mom likes you so much."

She stormed off in a huff, leaving Princess alone again. Hellfire, still far too curious for his own good, decided to follow her.

(Trigger and Blossom's Players: "So, is there popcorn? We need popcorn.")

Hellfire followed Prodigy out of the room and down the hallway, turning left only to find himself face-to-face with her, leaning against the wall, trying to light a synthop pipe. Prodigy looked him over once with a frown.

Prodigy: "S'there a reason you're following me?"

Hellfire: "Uh, I was actually hoping to introduce myself, I'm a newer pilot -"

Prodigy: "As if that isn't obvious. Who are you?"

Hellfire: "Er, Hellfire. Stan, properly, but-"

Prodigy: "That's great, kid. You sound like a man after my own heart."

(OOC Note: She's not significantly older than him, just being condescending. He actually lucked out and got the best possible reaction roll; she'd probably have been a whole lot less friendly to almost anyone else under similar conditions.)

(Me: "Your keen social senses tell you that she's being polite but trying to get rid of you."
Hellfire's Player: "...I know. I have ears.")

Hellfire: "Well, actually it was sort of my understanding that you were sort of the one to talk to about mobile combat and incendiary weapons. I was thinking of upgrading my shotguns with specialized incendiary..." *talks shop for a bit*

Prodigy listened politely, not exactly interested but willing to tolerate a stranger's presence just a little longer. Talking shop was a welcome distraction. She knew that field well, and it was better than dealing with some hanger-on's awkward introductions.

Hellfire: "...and I was wondering if you had any tips?"

Prodigy: "Don't set yourself on fire, and don't forget to have options in a fight. I'll be watching, Stan." She puffed once on her pipe. "Try talking to me again when you have a few more missions under your belt. Too many of you green pilots die within a month to bother getting to know you."

She coughed once and walked off, leaving Hellfire alone in the hallway. Or so he thought.

Reveler: "She's cute, isn't she? Shame about the attitude. Nevermind, that's not important. There's someone you should talk to in the back room, back at the party. Trust me on this one."

Hellfire turned around just in time to spot the terrifyingly fast redhead winking at him as she ran back down the hall.

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/Bse5U6XKTY0)

The three found themselves in the back room, beats from the party's speakers still reverberating through the wall behind them. It was darker and much quieter here, almost dead-feeling after the sensory overload from the lights and music in the other room. The figure at the other side of the table was appallingly shady with his black cloak and eerie bronze mask, sitting in a dimly-lit room.

???: "Please, sit. There is much to discuss."

The figure's speech was undeniably masculine, but it sounded like it was coming through a voice synthesizer. Could he be any more pointlessly mysterious?

Blossom: "Right, well, this is clearly suspicious. Can't guide people to a secret meeting yourself?"

???: "Miss Stone set up this meeting because she thought it important that you meet me. Her instincts are...impeccable, and I have learned not to ignore her requests, no matter how odd."

Hellfire: "Who even are you?"

Arlan: "My name is Arlan Santos, pilot of The Bronze Crusader. I understand that you have recently taken and completed a DIS contract. For this reason, I am happy to see you, but would advise against taking such contracts in the future."

Blossom: "...Why?"

Arlan: "What do you know of the Human PLUS project? Nothing, I expect. Very well."

The man unclasped his cloak and put it aside, revealing that the bronze mask he wore was not a mask, but merely the only visible part of his body. Clad head-to-toe in bronze far too tight to be armor, Arlan stared through empty eyes back at the three of them.

Arlan: "I was...a failure of the process. There is little remaining of my body aside from a few vital organs and shreds of connective tissue. But I no longer feel anything at all, like floating in emptiness."

Trigger: (stunned) "Robot guy, there are...so many rude questions I want to ask but won't because I don't want to be rude."

Arlan: "You may as well. I am accustomed to them."

Trigger: "You can't feel anything? Not even, like...wanga-wanga?" (gestures lewdly)

Hellfire visibly edged away from Trigger, as if pretending not to know him, and Blossom only buried her face in her hands.

(OOC Note: The players in question had much the same reaction, in-between gales of disbelieving laughter and sheer fremdschämen.)

Blossom: (trying to salvage the situation) "That aside, what exactly do you mean by a failure? What is supposed to happen? And what IS the human plus program?"

Arlan: "DIS has a philosophy, of a sort. They believe that humanity is a canvas and that steel is a paint, that it is a necessary step to...upgrade, as it were. The PLUS process is mature and they apply it widely, to subjects both consenting and...unconsenting. Some individuals take well to the process, and demonstrate superhuman abilities as a result. Others are failures, terribly stunted or physically-destroyed as I was. Most PLUS subjects experience improved functionality in some regard, but almost always with some trade-off. Did you order a drink tonight?"

Hellfire: "I knew it."

Arlan: "Yes, Madeline Stone is a Human PLUS escapee, as I am. Do you know that she is the older sister? Her senses are superior to any normal human's, but she stopped growing before adolescence, and many of her facial muscles are paralyzed permanently. The Stone sisters have suffered more from DIS' predations than most, I dare say. She was fortunate to escape. Most damaged to the degree that Madeline was are...repurposed."

Trigger: "Repurposed?"

Arlan: "AUS drones are manufactured using select slices of human brain tissue, so that they may act intelligently in the absence of outside orders. As you observed earlier today."

Blossom: "Then...Loner."

Arlan: "Yes, he has already been removed from Concord's rankings. No doubt DIS has already reported his death, regardless of the state he was found in. If he is fortunate, it will have been the truth."

Blossom: "Why are you telling us all of this?"

Arlan: (Donning cloak and pulling up hood) "Because Reveler believes you will use this information wisely, and I trust her judgment. I believe that the time has come for me to leave, but I will keep in contact." (Rises and bows) "Walk with Arah, friends, and be wary."


Arlan left out the back door, leaving our heroes richer in knowledge...and in danger. They enjoyed the party a bit longer before retiring. They never did get to have a proper conversation with Reveler.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-12, 03:40 AM
Interlude 2 is up! This one was a doozy to write. Lots of material, and it was meandering/unfocused so I actually altered the order of events to make it more readable narratively. (At the actual table, the conversation with Arlan was actually one of the first things to happen after visiting the bar, but I decided ending with SRS PLOT would be better and let the split-up funtime happen beforehand. Also, the conversation between Trigger and Lunatic Eye was really glossed-over at the table, so it was expanded into a real conversation after talking to the player.)

And of course, because I'm being honest, several bits of dialogue were touched up here and there. As usual, a lot of dialogue is what I intended to say rather than necessarily what I actually said. So sue me. This one is dialogue-heavy.


As for the journal itself, I feel like you're starting to hit your stride. As I've never written one of these myself I can't give any direct advice, I would recommend checking out the All Guardsmen Party, written by Shoggy, on this site, for some examples of well written fight scenes.


I think I prefer this journal's visceral play-by-play of each battle to the frequently glossed-over snark of the All Guardsman party.

I'm trying to remember what the Brimstone mech reminds me of with its shotguns and jumpjets, because it's giving me a REALLY strong mental image.

I'll probably take a look at the All-Guardsmen party at some point. I prefer the visceral style myself, as long as the fighting is interesting: If an encounter plays out the same way as the last two, or if the play-by-play would be long/boring, I tend to summarize, of course.

I'm not sure exactly what Brimstone could be reminding you of. I'm sure there's something similar in media somewhere, but I'm drawing a blank on what it could be.


EDIT: Forgot about one of the musical suggestions, and fixed an omitted word in the process. One thing these could definitely benefit from? An editing run, if I were less sick of looking at them by the time I was done. :smallyuk:

Alent
2016-12-12, 04:38 AM
I'm enjoying this so far, the intrigue out of combat is pretty nicely done, kudos on touching up table-talk into something so enjoyable to read. :smallbiggrin:


I'm not sure exactly what Brimstone could be reminding you of. I'm sure there's something similar in media somewhere, but I'm drawing a blank on what it could be.

Hazarding a guess based on just the name: Battletech has the Hellbringer/Loki, a fairly iconic jumpjet riding mecha with various configurations of cannon-arms that is loosely based on the Warhammer aka Macross' Destroid Tomahawk.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-12, 10:09 AM
Interlude 2:

Trigger: (stunned) "Robot guy, there are...so many rude questions I want to ask but won't because I don't want to be rude."

Arlan: "You may as well. I am accustomed to them."

Trigger: "You can't feel anything? Not even, like...wanga-wanga?" (gestures lewdly)


In the list of other embarassing things Trigger asked that Blade forgot was

A) do you still have a face or are you just a floating robot brain in a jar?

(Followed by Hellfire's player saying "They stole my face!")

And

B) "You can't feel pain? That must be pretty useful." (This led to the 'Wanga Wanga' comment, since they were talking about feeling and nerve endings)

Also, I am so proud of myself. I haven't slipped up and called Blade his real name ONCE.

Kane0
2016-12-12, 09:04 PM
Hazarding a guess based on just the name: Battletech has the Hellbringer/Loki, a fairly iconic jumpjet riding mecha with various configurations of cannon-arms that is loosely based on the Warhammer aka Macross' Destroid Tomahawk.

I would have guessed the Summoner/Thor, it was the one with Jump Jets and a couple variants based around cannons.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-12, 10:12 PM
I just realized I never mentioned anywhere that Trigger looks exactly like Irvine from Zoids: Chaotic Century/Guardian Force/Legacy/Jashin Fukkatsu! Geno Breaker Hen/the Miriad of other products he's in. Except wearing the Stealth Suit Mk II from Fallout: New Vegas.

You know, in case any one was wondering that.

I might just be rambling so I get up to ten posts and finally post links and stuff.

Hawkstar
2016-12-12, 10:21 PM
I would have guessed the Summoner/Thor, it was the one with Jump Jets and a couple variants based around cannons.Actually, I was thinking the Assault from HAWKEN but with flak cannons instead of a machinegun and rocket. A light, fast mech, instead of a bulky and ponderous one.

I just realized I never mentioned anywhere that Trigger looks exactly like Irvine from Zoids: Chaotic Century/Guardian Force/Legacy/Jashin Fukkatsu! Geno Breaker Hen/the Miriad of other products he's in. Except wearing the Stealth Suit Mk II from Fallout: New Vegas.

You know, in case any one was wondering that.

I might just be rambling so I get up to ten posts and finally post links and stuff.

Post the best out-of-context quotes in the relevant thread on these boards! Blade's posted a few.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-12, 11:55 PM
Recipients: [email protected], [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: A small favor?
Text: Dearest sister and brother,

I sincerely hope the two of you are doing well. I have just completed my second mission at Concord and may have earned my way into the top 50! However, it was unfortunately at the cost of a pilot named loner’s life and/or wellbeing. He was dragged into the underbelly of the Avici facility by “malfunctioning” satanic battlebots. I suppose I too would have met a similar fate if I were not well-trained and lucky. That being said, I have become very suspicious of DIS and their recent actions and I plan to investigate further. I can only imagine that KindRed’s recent acquisition of Isley pharmaceuticals is related.

Now comes my request, if either of you come across any potentially related information, please do contact me. Also, please avoid dealing with DIS too much. I would hate for my family to be used as science experiments. I will continue to investigate, but I doubt this issue is worth reporting to father in this stage of inquiry.

I will continually hope for your wellbeing and success.

Your dearest little sister,
Asami


Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Re: A small favor?
Text: It is always a pleasure to hear from you, Asami.

I can check with my contacts on this matter. If I learn anything likely to be of use to you, I will be sure to let you know.

Take heed: DIS' web of secrets is one that the Bei Fong family has yet to fully unravel, for generations of effort. This is a dangerous game, and some things are better left buried; if you probe too deeply, nothing I can do will protect you from the gauntlet's grasp.

Sincerely,
Lykon Bei Fong


Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Re: A small favor?
Text: Dear Sister,

Congratulations upon your induction into Concord's official top pilots list. Please do not allow this to dull your senses: It only becomes more dangerous from this point.

DIS has long been a subject of concern for the Bei Fong Family, as you know, given their historical competition - and sometimes outright warfare - in our mutual home of Sung City. I am afraid I can be of little assistance in dealing with politics, however, and for that I apologize.

I can tell you that AUS-series drones are well-known for their erratic tendencies[1] when released from remote control modules: They are manufactured with select slices of human brain tissue, and are fully capable of continuing to act without a source of new orders[2]. They have been known to act in strange, alarmingly human ways when they are unaware of outside observation: One Thaddeus Smith attempted to assemble an ethnography before his disappearance[3]. AUS-series drones have never been recorded kidnapping a human before, however[4]. This reported activity is unusual.

Regardless, I wish you well, sister. I agree that excessive dealings with DIS are a health hazard and should be avoided except out of necessity.

Regards,
Bella

Citations:
[1]: See any one of the thousands of accounts of the Skyefall incident five years ago.
[2]: According to AUS-series Operation Manual, page 10.
[3]: Most copies of his work have unfortunately gone missing. I had the chance to browse one at the Sung City Public Library, but sadly I was unable to acquire a copy myself before it disappeared from the shelves.
[4]: My own notes from studying Thaddeus Smith's ethnography.


Recipients: [email protected], [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Re: A small favor?
Text: Thank you both for your help. I wonder if I should start by speaking with Corvos? In any case, I plan to move ahead with my investigations. Both of you, please, keep safe.

Best regards,
Asami


Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Re: Re: A small favor?
Text: I've taken the liberty of forwarding your initial message to Corvos. He's been distant lately, I'm afraid, but he'll see it sooner or later.

Sincerely,
Lykon Bei Fong

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-14, 09:36 AM
We played a session yesterday (as originally planned), and for once everybody could make it! Well, aside from Buddy's player, obviously, but he doesn't count.

Journal Entry is still in the shop, but a few things I learned:

- Dynamic, complicated combat encounters can be entertaining! They also eat up time like nobody's business because there's so much more to keep track of.
- Running an enemy like a B-list Slasher villain is entertaining for the GM. I can't speak for the PCs though...
- PCs don't feel guilty slaughtering faceless mooks...but do if said faceless mooks happen to be slave-soldiers. *shrug*
- Giving the submersible enemy a grappling hook on the water level was definitely mean of me.

EDIT:

- Hellfire and Thunder make for a badass tag team. Now that Lightning is equipped with a Jump Pack, they're both mobile enough to close gaps very quickly, and since Hellfire's Sneak Attack perk requires a flanker, having an ally who wants to be in melee anyway is a huge boon to his damage output.
- Blossom is the least mobile member of the party. This usually isn't a big deal due to her enormous range, versatility, and high toughness, but since this mission had some more complex architecture it was a minor hindrance. It would probably have been a huge PITA for her player if I hadn't cut the Pillar Climb encounter for time.



I'm enjoying this so far, the intrigue out of combat is pretty nicely done, kudos on touching up table-talk into something so enjoyable to read. :smallbiggrin:

I do always appreciate more compliments. :smallwink:


In the list of other embarassing things Trigger asked that Blade forgot was

A) do you still have a face or are you just a floating robot brain in a jar?

(Followed by Hellfire's player saying "They stole my face!")

And

B) "You can't feel pain? That must be pretty useful." (This led to the 'Wanga Wanga' comment, since they were talking about feeling and nerve endings)

I did lose those lines! Ah well.


Actually, I was thinking the Assault from HAWKEN but with flak cannons instead of a machinegun and rocket. A light, fast mech, instead of a bulky and ponderous one.

Hellfire is light and fast! Though not quite as light and fast as Lightning. Which is pretty light, and pretty fast. Hence the name.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-15, 12:40 AM
Mission 3: Summer Camp Counseling?



Poseidon's Smile: 18cr
Employer: Viridian Epoch Energy Council
Theatre of Operations: South Sea Oil Rig Construction Site
Enemy Forces: Unknown KROSSCorp forces, Automated Defenses
Conditions for Success: Successfully sabotage KROSSCorp Oil Rig construction.
Briefing:
This is Director Mona Samaela, a representative of the Viridian Epoch Energy Council. It has come to our attention that KROSSCorp is constructing an Oil Platform just off of the coast, and we would like to see this effort fail to bear fruit. Sabotage the platform's construction, and destroy whatever you can. Make this as expensive a failure as possible.

KROSSCorp no doubt anticipates potential sabotage and will have made an effort to protect their investment; expect KROSSCorp gunboats, automated defenses, MTs, and whatever else they can smuggle out to sea.

We await results.


(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNDgnN8PhPU)

This was new ground for the PCs: Their first real raid. Sure, they'd done assaults before, but they'd never needed to be dropped in hanging 30 feet down from a chopper over open water into enemy territory.

Operator: "This is K.K. Sonnen. Viridian Energy has requested that you cause critical damage to KROSSCorp's oceanic extraction operation here. Enemy forces are unknown, but preliminary aerial scans suggest a number of KROSSCorp Ogre and Aranea MTs defending the facility. KROSSCorp maintains significant naval capabilities, and may have further defenses that cannot be seen from this vantage. Be aware that KROSSCorp maintains a naval fleet approximately one hour away: Evac may prove impossible should you fail to complete your task quickly. I will provide updates throughout this operation.

Good Luck."

The Oil Rig loomed in the distance upon a plane of blue, the foundations of its unfinished partner sitting seemingly dead in the water next to it with little more than a cargo lift connecting the two. The four Mechs were deposited safely at the far corner foundation; no need to risk getting closer to those huge anti-air guns than absolutely necessary.

Operator: "The most ideal location to cause critical damage is the engineering control room, accessible by elevator from the top of the adjacent structure. You can access this area via the cargo lift. Once your task is complete, please disable the anti-air cannons to secure the area for evac."

The PCs began moving single-file along the narrow walkways between the pillar foundations, when Blossom briefly caught sight of a dark shape moving through the water out of the corner of her eye. When nothing materialized, they proceeded, albeit more carefully. Halfway along the second walkway, their caution was justified: A Lacedon bursts from the water!

(Setting note: The Lacedon Submersible Gunboat is a KROSSCorp mainstay, a mass-production unit similar in cost to a GPAC. Its ellipsoid hull is airtight when closed, but the top panels retract when it surfaces to reveal a machinegun tower and a light missile pod. It's a versatile machine, though of course limited to the water.)

Trigger was the first to react, puncturing the ship's hull with his burst rifle though failing to sink it. What surprised everybody, however, was the steel cable that suddenly flung itself from the other side of the bridge, wrapping itself around Bergentrückung's legs and pulling the mech right off its feet! Thunder quickly came to Trigger's rescue, bringing one of his blades down upon the grappling cable and freeing his fellow pilot. Their ally safe for the moment, Blossom and Hellfire turned their weapons fully upon the gunboat and put holes through it until it was vertical in the water.

Trigger: "The hell was that?!

Operator: "AC White Whale identified. Be wary: Ahab is a lateral thinker and will not hesitate to use...creative tactics."

Trigger: "What's a lateral?"

No answer was forthcoming, but the path was clear for the moment. If White Whale was still lurking nearby, its pilot seemed to be waiting...for now. Watching the water for any further signs of movement, the PCs pressed forward.

The Cargo Lift was a surprisingly fragile-looking thing, essentially a long belt cable with a number of metal platforms hanging from collars set into the belt's length. With nowhere to go but up, they boarded the next platform to pass up to the completed rig, weapons ready. It should have perhaps come as no surprise that, when the players were approximately halfway across the watery expanse between the two platforms, something went horribly wrong. A steel cable shot from the water once more, this time grabbing onto the lowermost platform. The entire system ground to a screeching halt, buckling under the sudden strain, once-solid ground shifting frighteningly underfoot as the hanging carriage became a precarious pendulum: Treacherous salvation from the churning sea below.

Ahab: "I think it be time ye all walked the plank!"

Despite the absurdity of the other pilot's speech, the threat was very real. Nearly half a dozen spiderlike Aranea MTs approached the topmost edge of the Cargo Lift; while four began ziplining down toward the squad, one stayed back...to bring its cutting torch to bear against the cable itself. Thunder grumbled to himself, sharpening his blades against each other in preparation for a confrontation, though the range was just too great to engage. Trigger took a different tack, aiming his burst rifle at Ahab's narrow cable but just unable to land a shot. For her part, Blossom took a deep breath, lined up a shot despite the still-unsteady footing, and placed a shot with her big gun right through the cutter's cockpit. Hellfire grinned in his cockpit and pointed both shotguns at the group ziplining down before blowing the foremost of the right into the water.

Hellfire: "Nice of you all to get in line!"

(Setting note: The Aranea General-Purpose Mobile Unit is a KROSSCorp-manufactured manned MT. It has a unique design, with a spherical central cockpit suspended by four long, flexible limbs capable of gripping onto most surfaces and even grasping objects. One of these limbs contains an all-purpose arc projector that can be used both for cutting and welding. The Aranea is lightly-armored but specially-fortified against mining explosives. While the Aranea is primarily used in a utility and labor capacity, it can easily be modified for use as a security MT by adding KROSSCorp's standard EG-X Autocannon and a rocket tube.)

The three surviving Araneas dropped off the line to land on the platform immediately ahead of the squad's, before unleashing a hail of autocannon fire and several rockets upon them. Blossom's armor managed to withstand fist-sized balls of depleted uranium punching against it, but they cut through Brimstone and Bergentrückung's armor like tissue paper. The rockets, at least, were neatly dodged, sailing into the ocean blue behind them. Back up at the top of the line, two Ogre MTs began to descend, shredding toward the PCs with a spray of sparks and screeching metal in their wake. Almost covertly in comparison, another Aranea emerged from a port to continue the cutting work its fallen ally started.

(Setting note: The Ogre Battlesuit is KROSSCorp's own version of the NRB Solomon. While broadly similar, the Ogre is much more agile, built more like a chimpanzee than a gorilla, and the notoriously unreliable NRB HMG has been replaced with the KC-standard EG-X Autocannon. While it lacks the Solomon's powerful CQC capabilities, the Ogre is deadly at medium range and far more mobile than its counterpart.)

Thunder fired up his brand-new jump pack to leap across the gap between the platforms, landing with a mighty thud. In one move, he sliced the arms from one of the Araneas with his blades before kicking the now-helpless cockpit right off, pilot screaming as he sunk into the waters below. Trigger and Hellfire laid down fire support, their combined attacks shredding a second Aranea's armor and sending it too plummeting into the briny deep. Rather than attacking, Blossom focused on isolating Ahab's comm signal - before overloading it with a burst of static. The effects were immediate, as White Whale lost its grip and was briefly pulled forward before releasing its current cable to avoid being dragged into the open. The cargo lift lurched forward once more with a terrible metallic screech - and the unfortunate Aranea trying to cut the line was pulled into assembly's gearing, utterly obliterated by the crushing force.

(Thunder and Hellfire's players: "Wow, brutal.")

Not all was well, though: The two ziplining Ogres dropped onto the platform shared by Lightning and the last Aranea before opening fire on the blademech, Autocannon fire dealing critical damage to Lightning's head and opening gaping holes in its chassis. The Aranea's aim on the other hand was thrown wildly off by the swinging platform and the hail of bullets failed to connect with anything but thin air. Just as it was correcting its aim, the cargo lift once more ground to a screeching halt as Ahab regained his bearings and frantically grappled the next carriage. Not to be deterred by something as minor as losing his head, Thunder skewered the final Aranea before chopping it cleanly in half with his other blade. Not to be outdone, the other three pilots opened fire on the Ogres, which proved to be no more resilient to their attacks than the Solomon units at Sandalia Airfield were. The last of their enemies (minus Ahab) eliminated, the squad had a brief rest.

Trigger: "Well, now what?"

Ahab: "Ahar, it be just as well. I don't hafta kill ya: Just be slowin' ya down long enough for the battleships ta be gettin' here."

Thunder: "Hold on a second and I'll go cut the line..."

That was when two Lacedons surfaced...and began locking missiles. Two guided streaks of light all-too-quickly shattered against Steel Hibiscus and Bergentrückung, but miraculously the explosions did little more than scratch their paint. True to his word, Lightning fired up his jump pack and took off at full speed toward Ahab's mooring. While Trigger took a few potshots at one of the Lacedons (and put a few holes in it), Blossom tried to shut down the missile systems on the other. Unfortunately, due to snake eyes and a good roll on the gunboat crew's part, they managed to resist her influence. Hellfire pointed his weapons at the Lacedons, but realized quickly that they were well out of his range, feeling like a sitting duck. Not that it mattered; Thunder reached the mooring and cut it with a single slash.

Thunder: "You wanna try that again?"

Ahab didn't answer, and the Lacedons submerged once more as the Cargo Lift finally resumed its motion once more. They'd won, but this battle had cost them precious time.

Thunder: "How much you wanna bet we'll be seeing them again?"



No one took him up on it. They found no resistance on the deck of the Oil platform, only Servicemen and technicians fleeing on foot to the lifeboats. Hellfire lifted his guns in their direction...

Blossom: "Wait, are we just killing people now?"

Thunder: "What are you talking about? We've killed at least a few dozen people in the last hour! We sunk a shipful of people!"

Blossom: "That was different, they were attacking us."

Thunder: "No, they were defending this place. We came here."

Hellfire: "...These ones are slaves. KROSSCorp bolsters its numbers with Janissaries. Doesn't matter if they reach the lifeboats, I doubt most of them are going back anyway."

Ignoring the rig's crew, Blossom spent a few minutes reconfiguring the Anti-Air Cannons: Sonnen would be able to pick them up, but they'd shoot down anything else approaching. Preparing themselves for one last fight, they all piled into the cargo elevator and began their descent.



The doors opened to a platform just above the water, with stairways and catwalks spiderwebbing up and around the lower levels of the Sea Fortress. Dozens of uniformed servicemen and six Ogre MTs manned the platform, guarding the central extraction bore...flanked by the same two Lacedons from earlier. One even still sported some of the holes Trigger put in it, with a few crewmen rushing about on deck with buckets.

Thunder was the first into the fray, sprinting forward and sliding both blades into an Ogre's cockpit before twisting them out of the lifeless machine. Trigger put a few bullets through another Ogre, but his attempt to charge into melee was interrupted by a familiar cable. Though it grappled Bergentrückung about the legs, Trigger reacted faster this time: Only the front legs were trapped, and that was enough to avoid being pulled off of his feet. Fighting tooth and nail against the pull of the deep, Bergentrückung's teeth sank into the cable and managed to snap it before things got any worse.

Trigger: "I feel like a goddamn summer camp counselor here..."

Blossom took aim at the Lacedon whose crew resisted her EWS attack earlier and put a new ventilation shaft through it with her Sniper Cannon, though the stubborn thing refused to sink. Meanwhile, Hellfire dashed forward, taking advantage of Thunder's positioning, and jammed his shotgun right between an Ogre's armor plates before pulling the trigger, even while he expertly spun his other weapon around to blast a second Ogre head-on.

With two of the original six Ogres utterly obliterated and two more seriously damaged, the retaliation was more desperate than anything: The hail of autocannon fire scored Bergentrückung across the legs, though a second spray to the torso was blocked by Trigger's shield. The other two took their shots against Lightning and Steel Hibiscus; unfortunately for them, Lightning managed to outrun the stream of fire and Steel Hibiscus' armor continued to prove impervious to their weapons. The two Lacedons sprayed the deck with machinegun fire to no effect.

With a certain destructive glee, Thunder fired up his jump pack again to land on one of the damaged Lacedons, not only putting two deep gashes in the ship's hull, but perfectly slitting the captain's throat with the tip of his blade in the process. His rampage nearly came to a terrible end as a steel cable tried to wrap around him, but Thunder's momentum gave him just the edge he needed to slip free by mere inches before heading on to the other Gunboat. Meanwhile, Trigger charged one of the damaged Ogres and attempted to finish it off with a bite attack, only to find that he'd bitten a part of the armor too thick to penetrate properly; fortunately, the point-blank burstfire found purchase instead, followed by one of the other Ogres being utterly obliterated by Blossom's Sniper Cannon. Hellfire emptied both barrels and blew another to smithereens, leaving them with just one more Ogre, one lightly-damaged Lacedon...and Ahab. Thunder landed successfully on the second Lacedon and tore a few more openings in its hull, even as the machine held on by a thread. Taking another beautiful leap, Thunder narrowly cheated death once more as Lightning's ankle slipped free of Ahab's second grapple attempt.

(OOC Note: Ahab missed him by 1. Twice.)

Blossom's cannon destroyed the final Ogre with a single shot as Hellfire attempted to finish off the narrowly-surviving Lacedon...which made its armor save twice in a row before submerging.

Ahab: "I know when I be beat. 'Til next time, Landlubbers."

He didn't attack again, swimming off to fight another day. The PCs quickly set to making a mess, destroying anything important-looking in sight...and then slicing a few gaping holes into the extraction pipe, followed by setting the resulting oil spill on fire. The results were...catastrophic, and they fled up the elevator as quickly as possible.

Blossom: "...I'm pretty sure were supposed to use the stairs in case of fire."

Not that it stopped them from engaging in a little gallows humor. They arrived back at the top of the rig just in time to spot the hacked Anti-Air Cannons shooting down a pair of incoming KROSSCorp attack helicopters. They didn't have to wait long for evac, and they flew away watching their destructive handiwork.

A job well done, given that catastrophe was the whole point.

Hawkstar
2016-12-15, 12:59 PM
I'm always a fan of Trigger's mech most in these (Partially because he's here, but mostly because the wolf mech is awesome). Unfortunately... he seems to be coming across as the team's punching bag in most of these encounters. Maybe it's because his burst cannon doesn't feel like the most glamorous of weapons compared to Hellfire's shotguns, Lightning's swords, and Blossom's sniper cannon.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-15, 01:21 PM
Trigger kind of got the short end of this recap, yeah. He actually upgraded with a rocket pod between sessions, but I don't appear to have mentioned him using them at any point, which is an issue because he definitely did. I want to say he shot some Ogres with them toward the end and I misattributed the damage to his Burst Rifle?


Regardless, you're not wrong. It doesn't really help that Bergentrückung is the most generalized mech out of the PC designs; the others are all more or less purpose-built. Lightning and Brimstone are both extremely fast, short-ranged mechs (with Lightning being a bit faster and rather more short-ranged), and Steel Hibiscus pulls double duty as an EWS debuffer and a long-range specialist. Bergentrückung's weapons are kitted for medium range, but it also has a melee weapon and a combat shield. It also doesn't help that Trigger's player has some of the worst luck with dice.

Hawkstar
2016-12-15, 01:29 PM
Mention the rocket salvos more often. They make everything more awesome. I could be charitable, though, and just think of him as the party's tank. For something with 4 legs, though, he gets knocked off them pretty frequently (Loved the part where only two got caught, though)

TriggerGunther
2016-12-15, 01:29 PM
I'm always a fan of Trigger's mech most in these (Partially because he's here, but mostly because the wolf mech is awesome). Unfortunately... he seems to be coming across as the team's punching bag in most of these encounters. Maybe it's because his burst cannon doesn't feel like the most glamorous of weapons compared to Hellfire's shotguns, Lightning's swords, and Blossom's sniper cannon.

The burst rifle (in addition to Bergentruckung's ATROCIOUS SPEED and thus Dodge) is EXACTLY why I'm the punching bag. It's one of the cheapest Long Range weapons in the game at 3cr, and the rest of the wolf mech was expensive enough that I chintzed out on weaponry at first... which means I don't kill things, so they manage to shoot back at me. Which means I have to spend so much more on repairs than everyone else that it's hard to upgrade.

I did, however, finally upgrade to the MG57, the Chromestrike equivalent of Armored Core's AR1000. And it kicks all kinds of serious ***. It's a burst rifle that trades 5 range for the ability to attack twice.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-15, 01:36 PM
Interlude 3: Everybody Lies


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/jxCR-F4ST68)

When they left the hangar this time, Dashing wasn't waiting for them. In fact, it was almost midnight. While day and night lost much of their meaning down in the layers, people still had to sleep eventually. Two hallways down, they encountered someone who didn't seem to respect that very much.

Red Don: "Hey, you!"

A slightly pudgy fellow wrapped in outdated military fatigues and wearing one too many bandoliers, Red Don had the look of a man who was certain that he would one day be a great hero, but seemed now as if he'd be more likely to get himself hurt in a fight. The fact that he freaked out and fled in the Avici Facility did little to dissuade this impression. Even now, he rushed toward the PCs in what could only be described as utter terror, before shoving a hastily-folded newspaper into Blossom's hands.

Red Don: "I don't know what that metal freak wants with you, but next time leave me the hell out of it!"

He left as hastily as he could, barely giving anyone a chance to get a word in edgewise. Not that anyone cared to.

Blossom: (Unfolding paper) "Metal Freak?"

Trigger: "Bronze face guy?"

(OOC Note: "...You remember his name is Arlan Santos.")

Thunder: "...Who?"

Hellfire: "We'll introduce you."

Blossom scanned the new edition of the Val City Herald for a long moment, eyes passing over a few headlines of interest - 'Kri City Liberation Front steals unidentified bioweapon from Applied Biodynamics Facility!'; 'CT "Black Knight" Sirius razes Isley Pharmaceutical Center in Arcadia Valley, death toll includes Arena Favorite Bleak!'; 'NRB announces plans to reopen Space Program!'. Eventually, she found what she was looking for: A hidden message, denoted by tiny inkspots under certain letters that the unsuspecting might mistake for mere misprints: "nOtSafEheRerOGuEsgAllerypRivAteboOtHa".

Blossom: "He says it's not safe here, and to meet him at the Rogue's Gallery."

Trigger: "Sounds important."

Thunder: "Who?!"

Trigger: "We'll introduce you!"

Thunder: "...Meet you there, I guess."

Thunder had a motorcyle, but the other three just called a taxi. Regardless, they found their way to the Rogue's Gallery and stepped inside. It was clearly a sparse night, with only the scarred, balding bartender and a few faceless patrons at one of the tables.

Bartender: (smiling) "What can I do for you four?"

Blossom: "Private Booth A."

The Bartender made a shallow, slightly nervous nod, and quickly began shooing the other patrons out.

Bartender: "Hey, I warned you all that this place was reserved at one! Get out!"

They didn't need to be told twice, though their mirth seemed to fade at being kicked out of the establishment.

Bartender: "...Alright, follow me."

He pointed to a curtain at the edge of the room, though just as they started to follow, Trigger caught something interesting.

Trigger: "Hey, you got your eye fixed up! You had a glass eye last time I saw you, now it's bionic."

Bartender: (Nervously) "Heh, you got a good eye yourself. Yeah, some patrons chipped in to cover the cost after they saw me squinting at a label." (Pulling the curtain aside) "...I'm sorry."

The man sitting in the private booth was decidedly NOT Arlan Santos. Fair-skinned, narrow of frame, clean-shaven, and clad in a dark trilby and trenchcoat, the man rapped his fingers upon the table.

???: "Please, sit down. We have much to discuss." He looked briefly over to the door as the PCs could feel a shadow looming over them. "Ah, Agent Perfect, how kind of you to join us."

They glanced over to the doorway, reaching for their weapons, to spot a figure Blossom found all too familiar: An eight-foot tall Colossus of flesh wrapped in steel, wearing a similar dark longcoat and pointing an oversized revolver in their direction.

Perfect: "Greetings. I would advise against that."

???: "Yes, 'twould be a shame if Agent Perfect here had to kill the lot of you."

The stranger's hand hovered over an unusual firearm he'd laid upon the table, not touching the trigger. Not that he needed to; the threat was palpable.

Trigger: "...Is that a Glock 86?"

???: (Smiling faintly) "Indeed it is! So few have an appreciation for the classics. Now, I believe I told you all to sit."

Realizing they'd walked right into a trap, the PCs reluctantly sat, eyeing the quietly retreating bartender hard enough to burn holes through his apron.

???: "Allow me to introduce myself: I am Agent De Leon, here on behalf of Drake Imperial Sciences. It is my understanding that you have recently been in contact with PLUS Subject Number Two Fifty Seven, whom I am given to understand uses the moniker 'Arlan Santos' to hide his identity. Am I correct?"

Blossom: "And what if you were?"

De Leon: "There is little point in playing coy with me; my sources are very reliable. I'll get to the point: Arlan Santos is a dangerous, delusional rebel, and my superiors would very much like to recover him undamaged." He casually placed a tiny white sphere upon the table, a strange thing that a casual observer might mistake for a gumball. "This is a specialized bionic disruptor, designed to paralyze a PLUS subject when crushed against the skin...or exterior, as it were. I would have you use this device to assist in the recovery of our lost property; for your assistance in this matter, I can offer the sum of ten credits, paid upon recovery."

(OOC note: That doesn't look like a big number, but credits are an abstraction used to buy and sell military-grade hardware. That's approximately a $1.5 million bounty.)

(Blossom's player: "...Can we use the device on Agent Perfect?"
Me: "...You can try, if you fancy the thought of rushing the eight-foot-tall Cyborg Secret Agent who has a gun trained on you.")

Hellfire: (reaches for and pockets device) "...We'll consider it."


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/NbGc6sOprBM)


Perfect: (suddenly looking aside) "I hear something. I'll return shortly." (exits bar)

Blossom: (Watching Perfect leave) "...But why us?"

De Leon: "Simple: Because Subject 257 trusts you enough to meet in person - don't deny it, you wouldn't have come if you didn't believe so - and unlike his true followers you have no stake in his infantile 'crusade'. If he is warned...it is of little concern, and we will know precisely who warned him."

PCs: "..."

The conversation was suddenly disrupted by the sound of wrenching metal (prompting the curtain to be pulled aside), followed by the sound of crashing glass as a gun twisted into a pretzel was thrown inward through the window, followed by an effortlessly-tossed man, who quickly crumpled against the floor in agony. A man most of the PCs recognized, in fact: Cyrus Ahu.

Perfect: "I thought I heard a rat. Mister Bei Fong's pet, however..."

The eight-foot-tall steel monster wasn't far behind, placing a clawed foot on Cyrus' chest and pressing hard enough that his apparent last words were little more than wheezing. Perfect's tone grew truly smug despite his facelessness as he levelled his revolver at the pilot's face.

Perfect: "A shame. I had thought the Bei Fong Syndicate had more to offer."

Cyrus eyes found Blossom's for just a brief moment, and for the first time since meeting him she saw fear.

Blossom: (Improvising) "Wait, maybe he knows something! We have ways to deal with spies."

The cyborg stared at Blossom for a long moment in apparent surprise. And then he pulled the trigger.

Perfect: "Yes. We do."

Agent De Leon 'tsk'ed as the scene resolved, blood already beginning to pool on the bar floor, standing casually and holstering his plasma pistol.

De Leon: "A shame we'll have to cut this short, then. I would advise leaving before Val City Police arrive. Don't forget: Ten credits."

Stepping over the body, Agent Perfect grunted and stared at Blossom just a little longer before following Agent De Leon out the back door. The Bartender had fled at some point, nowhere to be seen.

Thunder: "Hell of an introduction."

Hellfire: "Shut up."

Trigger: "...Not sure about you guys, but I'm gonna catch a train and visit home for a few days while this blows over."

Blossom: (taking the curtain down and wrapping Cyrus' head with the cloth)"...Well, come on. We can't just leave him here."

Hellfire: "...Yeah, I am not helping you guys move a body. I need a drink."

(Trigger and Hellfire exeunt.)

Thunder: "You want to ship him back to Sung City? I...might know a guy."

Blossom: "You've got a side car. We can load him up in the alley."

Thunder nodded and left to pull his motorcycle around back, before he and Blossom could load Cyrus' corpse in the side car. Fortunately they managed to make it look almost inconspicuous; the curtain was dark enough that the blood didn't show, and he looked almost peacefully sleeping there in the side car, wrapped in a hooded cloak for warmth. Making sure one last time that no one was looking, Thunder drove out with Blossom riding behind him.

Wracking his brain for Night Market meeting places in Val City, Thunder finally managed to track down old Slimy Steve, a graver posing as a bum. The man was shocked to see his own boss in the bag, but after some discussion they arranged to have Mr. Ahu returned home for burial.

A shame. They may not have liked him much, but Cyrus was never really their enemy. They drove back to Freeport; it was almost three in the morning by now, and they badly needed rest after tonight.

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-15, 09:59 PM
This is a fun read. I'm glad I found it before it got too big and scared me away! I hope you continue, though Buddy not being a regular will be sad.

Also - animal-themed quad mechs are best with rockets mounted on the haunches.

Buddy's player here! I'm hoping to participate in future meetings with Skype when I'm out of town.


Also, if I recall correctly, the enemies never made their armor saves against my pistol, which has AP -1.

Hawkstar
2016-12-16, 02:26 AM
Buddy's player here! I'm hoping to participate in future meetings with Skype when I'm out of town.

Also, if I recall correctly, the enemies never made their armor saves against my pistol, which has AP -1.

I am really hoping that, as you appear in more games, you end up being the most accomplished person on the team just by dumb luck of the dice.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-16, 02:35 AM
He's still higher on the Concord scoreboard than half of the core party by virtue of last-hitting like it's a MOBA.


EDIT:

Which means I have to spend so much more on repairs than everyone else that it's hard to upgrade.

For the record, you guys were the ones who decided to split mission rewards evenly before accounting for potentially uneven costs. I originally suggested tabulating your costs before dividing the net profit. :smalltongue:

TriggerGunther
2016-12-16, 11:10 AM
For the record, you guys were the ones who decided to split mission rewards evenly before accounting for potentially uneven costs. I originally suggested tabulating your costs before dividing the net profit. :smalltongue:

You did suggest that? Because i was about to suggest that at the next meeting.


edit:
ALSO, WHO WANTS A MAP?! (http://imgur.com/40HVjQK)

Blade totally forgot to post this in the main post last I checked

IntelectPaladin
2016-12-16, 11:54 AM
Well, it's certainly interesting to see an ongoing campaign log
with many of the players present. Rather unprecedented, honestly.
I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist.
I'm still looking forward to continuous updates, as well as seeing how this villain receives his retribution.
Even if it's rather anticlimactic. I can settle.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you have a better day!
Also, I have a long history of leaving hidden messages in my posts.

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-16, 12:29 PM
I am really hoping that, as you appear in more games, you end up being the most accomplished person on the team just by dumb luck of the dice.

I'm fully expecting extra bad rolls on my end in the next mission to compensate for all of the snake eyes the enemies rolled on the first mission. So many snake eyes.

Hawkstar
2016-12-16, 01:24 PM
I'm fully expecting extra bad rolls on my end in the next mission to compensate for all of the snake eyes the enemies rolled on the first mission. So many snake eyes.

And I hope that you roll only boxcars, and your foes roll only snake eyes. Become greatest Ranked AC pilot by luck alone.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-16, 01:43 PM
And I hope that you roll only boxcars, and your foes roll only snake eyes. Become greatest Ranked AC pilot by luck alone.

Except on enemy armor saves. Roll ones all day on those

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-16, 04:09 PM
edit:
ALSO, WHO WANTS A MAP?! (http://imgur.com/40HVjQK)

Blade totally forgot to post this in the main post last I checked

I didn't forget, posting it would have included an implicit promise to keep it updated with new locations. >.>


Well, it's certainly interesting to see an ongoing campaign log
with many of the players present. Rather unprecedented, honestly.

I wasn't expecting it either! I linked it because I figured "Hey, I'm writing about people I know, and who doesn't like reading about themselves?"

And then a couple of them registered accounts to comment...



I'm still looking forward to continuous updates, as well as seeing how this villain receives his retribution.

What, corporate spooks for the Hell-themed Company full of mad scientists who don't respect the bodily autonomy of others come across as antagonistic? Noooo... :smalltongue:

(To be fair, all of the big corporations are evil to some degree, but DIS really is a cut above in showing it off. >.>)

TriggerGunther
2016-12-16, 04:21 PM
What, corporate spooks for the Hell-themed Company full of mad scientists who don't respect the bodily autonomy of others come across as antagonistic? Noooo... :smalltongue:

(To be fair, all of the big corporations are evil to some degree, but DIS really is a cut above in showing it off. >.>)

Yeah, this is a setting where two corporations, one with Slavery, indentured servitude and Janissaries and the other being the YAKUZA/TRIAD are the LEAST evil people.

We also have:
- less genocidal Enclave (New Rhodes... or whats left of NORAD)
- the company that makes terrifying bioweapons in their secret applied biodynamics corporation (CT)
-Phyrexian/Demon/Vampire/Machine Cultists/Doom 4 UAC (DIS)
- I have no idea what Spiral Tech is hiding but it's supposedly worse than Bei-Fong and KROSSCorp

Forum Explorer
2016-12-16, 05:52 PM
Yeah, this is a setting where two corporations, one with Slavery, indentured servitude and Janissaries and the other being the YAKUZA/TRIAD are the LEAST evil people.

We also have:
- less genocidal Enclave (New Rhodes... or whats left of NORAD)
- the company that makes terrifying bioweapons in their secret applied biodynamics corporation (CT)
-Phyrexian/Demon/Vampire/Machine Cultists/Doom 4 UAC (DIS)
- I have no idea what Spiral Tech is hiding but it's supposedly worse than Bei-Fong and KROSSCorp

Can I vote that you wreck that company before they open a hell-portal? Just for a change of pace? :smallwink:

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-17, 02:42 AM
For the record, you guys were the ones who decided to split mission rewards evenly before accounting for potentially uneven costs. I originally suggested tabulating your costs before dividing the net profit. :smalltongue:


Personally, I think we should divide rewards after making all repairs.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-17, 12:56 PM
Can I vote that you wreck that company before they open a hell-portal? Just for a change of pace? :smallwink:

I'm sure that if they open up a hell portal, one of their man and half, half machine 12.0 on the 10.0 scale of badness Human Plus subjects will clear the facility with just a chaingun and HIS HANDS.

that's your spinal cord baby, dig it.


Personally, I think we should divide rewards after making all repairs.

You're just saying that because you've got even less hit points than me. :P

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-17, 01:11 PM
You're just saying that because you've got even less hit points than me. :P


I guess you can say that. Honestly, my playstyle is meant to preserve as many hit points as possible, mainly with careful spacing and awareness of the surroundings.

Hawkstar
2016-12-18, 03:42 AM
I'm sure that if they open up a hell portal, one of their man and half, half machine 12.0 on the 10.0 scale of badness Human Plus subjects will clear the facility with just a chaingun and HIS HANDS.

that's your spinal cord baby, dig it.I'm pretty sure while he COULD do it with just a chaingun and his hands, he'd also use a chainsaw, rocket launcher, two different types of shotguns, a heavy assault rifle, a plasma rifle, railgun, pistol, and what can only be described as a BFG.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-18, 12:34 PM
a heavy assault rifle THAT SHOOTS MICROMISSILES PEW PEW PEW KAPLOWY

You left out the heavy assault rifle's best feature.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-18, 03:41 PM
Yeah, this is a setting where two corporations, one with Slavery, indentured servitude and Janissaries and the other being the YAKUZA/TRIAD are the LEAST evil people.

We also have:
- less genocidal Enclave (New Rhodes... or whats left of NORAD)
- the company that makes terrifying bioweapons in their secret applied biodynamics corporation (CT)
-Phyrexian/Demon/Vampire/Machine Cultists/Doom 4 UAC (DIS)
- I have no idea what Spiral Tech is hiding but it's supposedly worse than Bei-Fong and KROSSCorp

This is, of course, somewhat oversimplified on every front describable, though not wrong, per se.


Indentured Servitude and debt-bondage are actually legal in all but name throughout the Layers; these people do still have legal status, but the general legal milieu even in places that aren't under direct corporate control looks a little bit like the Lochner era on steroids, corruption and all. That said, KROSSCorp takes things a step further, outright selling prisoners, criminals, and the occasional desperate who sells themselves into slavery to Noble-caste Kroznat Citizens as chattel. Under Arcadian/Kroznat law, while slaves are not completely without rights (it's still not legal to murder them, for example, and there are some restrictions on how one is allowed to punish them), they do gain a very different set from citizens and it's not a desirable life for most. KROSSCorp's private military forces are partially composed of Citizen Officers commanding a team of their own slaves. It's also possible to be a Janissary of the Company, which affords a sort of odd prestige: While one in this position is likely going to be fighting for Krozna until they die, they only have to take orders from Bureaucracy/chain of command and are afforded many of the same privileges as Citizen Officers, and citizens in general.

They really are a blended-together pastiche of various real-life criminal groups such as the Mafia and yes, the Yakuza/Triads. I'd avoid attaching an 'ethnic gang' component to them in this case: Despite the eastern-sounding name, the Bei Fong "Family" is not composed of any particular ancestry or race, and includes people of virtually all appearances. (The name Bei Fong was actually stolen pretty much shamelessly from A:TLA; it was supposed to be a placeholder until I came up with something better, but it ended up sticking.)

It's not true that they control all crime. However, if someone starts making waves and isn't already affiliated with them, they'll probably find some Bei Fong enforcers knocking on their door sooner or later - possibly even Iron Clan agents.


It's been strongly implied that New Rhodes started out as a remnant of NORAD, yes, between the name and placing it directly under Cheyenne Mountain. It's a city now: I think the description I gave was "Imagine Minas Tirith crossed with East Berlin, minus the sun". While New Rhodes Ballistics is a post-destruction Corporation, it's since become for all intents and purposes a military junta in command of the city, the fortress and sensor hub at the top of the city, and outlying territories; at this point NRB is less a MegaCorp and more of a statewide company store.

Applied Biodynamics isn't actually a secret; they literally appeared in a newspaper headline during interlude 3. Their activities are super sketchy though, and they hadn't publicly admitted to bioweapons research before the KCLF stole some of it. Bioweapons research is not the extent of CT's crimes against humanity, but they've kept a better lid on most of that and saying too much about it here would definitely be spoilers. Suffice it to say that they're worse than NRB.

Most of those things carry baggage that doesn't actually apply to DIS; I wouldn't describe them as cultists, since while their leaders do have an agenda beyond cynically making money, it's a largely secular philosophy. Phyrexians in particular were not an intentional inspiration, though I'll admit that the end result looks pretty similar minus the slavering devotion to Yawgmoth.

Given that this setting is lacking in outright magic (...probably. Beyond the level needed to make mechs practical in the first place, anyway), opening a Hell-portal is not a likely outcome of their activities. Probably.


That would be telling. :smallwink:

Forumlurker
2016-12-19, 02:34 AM
Just posting to sub and give my support to the writer. This is very different from any other journal I've found on this board, and quite enjoyable!

TriggerGunther
2016-12-20, 01:39 AM
And I hope that you roll only boxcars, and your foes roll only snake eyes. Become greatest Ranked AC pilot by luck alone.

Well, Buddy just took out #46 AC Angry Cactus Needles with boxcars.

So he's on his way. I'd wait for blade on this one, because there's no way I can describe the AWESOME CLUTCH (seriously, Bergentruckung and two other allied mechs were down, it was a clutch) and do it justice.

Hawkstar
2016-12-20, 01:41 AM
Well, Buddy just took out #46 AC Angry Cactus Needles with boxcars.

So he's on his way. I'd wait for blade on this one, because there's no way I can describe the AWESOME CLUTCH (seriously, Bergentruckung and two other allied mechs were down, it was a clutch) and do it justice.This sounds like it's going to be an epic thing to read, but Bergentruckung going down doesn't surprise me (As much as I love your wolf mech with missiles and big guns). But Buddy being the luckiest pilot with the crappiest mech (As far as I can tell from its description) is just too awesome.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-20, 02:34 AM
It was indeed a very lucky shot. That one, well-placed shot immediately turned the situation from "Oh god we're going to die here" to "Wait, did we just win?".

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-20, 05:30 AM
But Buddy being the luckiest pilot with the crappiest mech (As far as I can tell from its description) is just too awesome.



The mech might sound bad at first, but the number of missiles and rockets on it are what really make it shine.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-20, 12:30 PM
The mech might sound bad at first, but the number of missiles and rockets on it are what really make it shine.

It's actually nowhere near as crappy as it was in mission one. It was being held together by duct tape in mission one.

Now it's got a proper closed cockpit, all it's parts are no longer decrepit, it's got medium (now Medium/Heavy) missiles instead of light missiles, it's a REALLY solid missile boat.

Which sucked in that fight because Angry Cactus has TWIN Bei-Fong Lánjiés (anti missile systems).

Once again, I'd wait for blade's write up. I can't do it justice.

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-20, 02:19 PM
Now it's got a proper closed cockpit, all it's parts are no longer decrepit, it's got medium (now Medium/Heavy) missiles instead of light missiles, it's a REALLY solid missile boat.

Which sucked in that fight because Angry Cactus has TWIN Bei-Fong Lánjiés (anti missile system.



My character Buddy is from the Waste, so he already disliked cactuses cacti. This mission made him hate them more. That Angry Cactus mech was every weakness of the AC DoomedGuy all at once. It was a nightmare.

Hawkstar
2016-12-21, 12:59 AM
My character Buddy is from the Waste, so he already disliked cactuses cacti. This mission made him hate them more. That Angry Cactus mech was every weakness of the AC DoomedGuy all at once. It was a nightmare.If you hadn't upgraded your mech to be Not A Rickety Deathtrap, it would have been helpless against an endless onslaught of perfect boxcars from you, and perfect snake eyes from him. (Counting armor rolls as his)

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-21, 04:11 AM
If you hadn't upgraded your mech to be Not A Rickety Deathtrap, it would have been helpless against an endless onslaught of perfect boxcars from you, and perfect snake eyes from him. (Counting armor rolls as his)



I'm just thankful that I got boxcars when they were most needed. If I'm alive at the end of the episode, it's a good day.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-21, 11:04 PM
In case the thread doesn't do it's updating thing or notify anyone, I've gone back and added bergentruckung's picture to the relevant post. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=21475887&postcount=21)

Kane0
2016-12-22, 12:28 AM
Remind's me of a Zoids Command Wolf. Which I believe is the intent?

TriggerGunther
2016-12-22, 01:02 AM
Remind's me of a Zoids Command Wolf. Which I believe is the intent?

Close, But No Cigar. It's actually an RZ-053 Heavy Arms Koenig Wolf (http://www.zoid.us/1heavyarmskonigwolf2.jpg) as opposed to the RZ-009 Command Wolf (http://www.1999.co.jp/itbig08/10086819a2.jpg), but I'm not going to blame you for not knowing the difference.

It's actually just a recolored version of a drawing I did of a friend's Sentient Zoid OC from another RP that's way too complicated to get into.




I also know way too much about Zoids for someone who's never owned a model kit or seen a single episode of the anime.

Kane0
2016-12-22, 01:33 AM
Only having seen one if the shows, I was only subject to the blue one :P

If it were Battletech trivia you'd be totally justified in blaming me for a wrong answer.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-23, 10:35 PM
My apologies, everyone. The next entry of this journal has hit some delays. I've decided to split it into two parts (there is no clear Mission/Interlude separation in this one), and part 1 is mostly complete but is unlikely to be published this weekend for reasons.


My character Buddy is from the Waste, so he already disliked cactuses cacti. This mission made him hate them more. That Angry Cactus mech was every weakness of the AC DoomedGuy all at once. It was a nightmare.

This is actually a false statement; thanks to Needles' Speed, your missiles were the weapons that had the best shot to hit that AC due to the bonus to hit and ignoring the movement bonus to dodge. She just kept getting lucky with her AMS defenses, and the missile that landed hit the part of the mech that didn't massively weaken it.

Of the current crop of PCs, I think Buddy actually had the best odds of taking Saguaro out, aside from possibly Blossom. Blossom wouldn't have been likely to land a hit on her own, but her EWS system would have made it easier for someone else to beat her down.


I'm just thankful that I got boxcars when they were most needed. If I'm alive at the end of the episode, it's a good day.

A very Waster attitude, that.

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-24, 02:36 AM
This is actually a false statement; thanks to Needles' Speed, your missiles were the weapons that had the best shot to hit that AC due to the bonus to hit and ignoring the movement bonus to dodge.




Ooh, good call! I completely forgot about that!

TriggerGunther
2016-12-24, 11:01 AM
Ooh, good call! I completely forgot about that!

You also can make the most attacks per turn out of anyone (until you run out of rocket/missile ammo, then you lose to Bergentruckung in melee range), statistically giving you the most opportunities to roll an automatic hit against her.

Dr. LAW Mundy
2016-12-25, 04:11 AM
You also can make the most attacks per turn out of anyone (until you run out of rocket/missile ammo, then you lose to Bergentruckung in melee range), statistically giving you the most opportunities to roll an automatic hit against her.



Wait, speaking of Bergentruckung in melee range, is it possible to upgrade its head to have more than 1 HP? Because I highly recommend that.

TriggerGunther
2016-12-25, 10:49 AM
Wait, speaking of Bergentruckung in melee range, is it possible to upgrade its head to have more than 1 HP? Because I highly recommend that.
Blade says we need to keep the player banter to a minimum, so text him your skype so we aren't clogging up the thread.

The Glyphstone
2016-12-25, 12:56 PM
Fascinating campaign so far. I'll be watching for updates to the bible as much as to the campaign log, I love worldbuilding (even if it's Frankensteining together settings I don't know).

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-25, 11:15 PM
Recipients: Trigger
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Watch Out
Text: Better keep an eye out, I've got some nice new parts after my last run. That truce was a one-night deal, and we still have unfinished business.

(OOC Note: Lunatic Eye completed one of the contracts that the PCs ignored while the PCs were doing Mission 3, which was one of a number of options.)


Recipients: Trigger
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Going Somewhere?
Text: While it did not appear on your mission postings due to your...poor relationship with New Rhodes Ballistics, I feel you should be made aware that a mission has been posted to Concord with the objective of destroying AC Plunderer's Folly. I am given to understand that you have elected to schedule a surprise trip to Tir City within the week, so given the circumstances I have arranged for Bergentruckung to be sent along with you in a freight car specialized for moving AC units.

This is not a Concord-sanctioned operation, merely a...personal favor. I cannot assist you further in any direct capacity, I am sorry to say. Good luck.

- K.K. Sonnen


Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: no subject
-unencrypted message-
Hey old man, Its the kid who's never going to live down blowing his own eye out when building pipe bombs before that Garrison raid. Almost caught up with you in the rankings, so thought it might be a good time to go see you.
I'm heading down to Tir this week, I witnessed some stuff going down that I shouldn't have and decided it'd be a good idea to skip town. Drinks are on me when I get there.
-encrypted message-
OPERATOR WARNS OF IMPENDING NEW RHODESIAN ATTACK AND BOUNTY ON YOUR HEAD STOP
BRINGING IN BERGENTRUCKUNG FOR FIRE SUPPORT STOP
ENEMY FORCE SIZE UNKNOWN EXPECT ARMOR COLUMNS BATTLESUITS AND HIRED ARMORED CORE SUPPORT STOP
WILLING TO BET AC JADE HARE WILL BE PART OF ATTACK STOP
DID I MENTION GREIG HAD A SISTER BECAUSE SHE IS PISSED AT ME STOP

Neither Rackham nor the Tir City Authority responded to this message.


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/tpXKPcCqQkU)

The Val City Train Station had a certain strangely rustic charm to it, despite its ultramodern finish: The attendants were friendly in their old-timey uniforms and in spite of everything not a single flashing advertisement soiled the walls...though perhaps slight signs of rust and lack of maintenance did. The train approached almost silently in its magnetized tube, its lights flashing and doors opening as the passengers of the previous trip made their exit. Trigger looked again at his ticket: Fourth car from the back, with the following three consisting of a pair of freight cars and the caboose. One of them he knew contained his pride and joy, Bergentrückung, but the other..?

Buddy: "Hey there, care to share a seat?"

Trigger: "What are you doing here?"

Buddy: "...Sonnen asked me to watch your back. Said you were going down to Tir City for a few days and something seemed fishy."

Trigger: "Figures. The other freight is DoomedGuy then?"

Buddy: "Yep! Patched 'er up, armored up the cockpit, and bought myself a bigger missile launcher."

The two pilots boarded without incident, though Trigger caught a glimpse of someone he knew boarding the next passenger car: Lunatic Eye.

Trigger: "...What's she doing here?"

No answer was forthcoming, though the train's announcement system was quick to announce that boarding was complete. Next stop: Kri City.

Even the blisteringly fast maglev machine took nearly two hours to reach Kri City, and Trigger's instincts felt threatened almost as soon as he arrived: Kri City was a protectorate of the New Rhodes Authority, and he surely had many enemies here. He watched a pair of New Rhodes soldiers scanning passersby for contraband, and caught a glimpse of Lunatic Eye arguing with one of them over her bag. Maybe she had business in town? It didn't matter, really, but it'd be wise to keep an eye on her one way or another. The doors closed again, and the announcement system chimed in: Next stop, Rimtown Station.

Rimtown wasn't a populous city, and was really more of a stop on the line than anything else. The last of the passengers, minus Trigger and Buddy, got off here. Instead of the usual cheery announcement system, however, a gruff male voice called over the loudspeaker.

Engineer: "The scheduled trip to Tir has unfortunately been cancelled due to unknown circumstances. Next trip is to Kri City, at the previously scheduled time. Our apologies for any inconvenience."

After a short discussion with one of the Engineers at Rimtown station, the issue was revealed: The circuitlines through a portion of the tunnel to Tir City were out, indicating possible damage to the train tracks and even potential blockage. Sending a train that way would be a deadly threat to the passengers, so trips to Tir would be cancelled until they could confirm the route's safety or fix whatever issue had occurred.

Trigger: "Damn. Guess we're gonna have to find another way."

Buddy: "The tunnel's big enough to move two ACs through, especially without worrying about a train..."

Trigger: "Let's mount up then."

Fortunately, the specialized freight cars Sonnen had arranged for them included mechanical assistance in moving the heavy machines out of the boxes. The two were still waiting for the winches to finish unwinding when two Rimtown Guards approached them; not NRB Soldiers, at least. Rimtown may theoretically be under the rule of New Rhodes, but this was nevertheless still frontier, and their grip was weaker than it might have been.

Guard 1: "You two, with the ACs! You got a license for that?"

Trigger + Buddy: (Flashing Concord membership cards) "Yep."

Demand met, the guards relaxed their rifles.

Guard 1: "Alright, those look legitimate. Sorry about that; we've had a lot of ACs moving through here lately, and we're trying to crack down on parts smuggling to Tir."

Guard 2: "Seems like everyone's a Concord Pilot now! Would you believe a teenager, a girl no more than fifteen or so, flashed a card just like that at us yesterday? World's going crazy, I'm telling ya."

Guard 1: "Shaddup. You two, if you're planning on heading to Tir, a word of warning: Just use the train tunnel. The labyrinth is a deathtrap, if you get lost down there no one's coming for you."

Guard 2: "Oh, and just a tip? Concord licenses are recognized down here for now, but if you're gonna be operating in New Rhodes' territory, you might want to get a license from the New Rhodes Authority too. Politics are funny, y'know?"

The two pilots nodded; no need to interact with police any more than necessary here. With both Bergentrückung and DoomedGuy dislodged from their containers, they were ready to take the last leg of the trip.

---

The tunnel was long and seemingly empty. They travelled in silence for a short while before Buddy broke the silence.

Buddy: "I'm starting to feel out of my depth in the politics here. You undergrounders really like to make things complicated."

Trigger: "Well, it's a bit of a long story."

Buddy: "We've got time. If I'm going with you to Tir, I want to know what we're walking into."

Trigger: "What, the old lady couldn't tell you herself? She seems to know everything else. Er, don't tell Sonnen I called her that."

Buddy: "Nope. Care to fill me in?"

Trigger: "...Alright. Well, the short version is that Tir City properly broke free of NRB control a year and a half ago. We've been working with the Bei Fong Syndicate to keep it that way; they smuggle in supplies, MTs, and whatever else through the Labyrinth. No one has a reliable map of the Labyrinth, but the Night Market knows a few passages; they're tight-lipped about them too. We trade missiles to the Syndicate."

Buddy: "Missiles?"

Trigger: "NRB wants land for its own sake, but what they were really after in Tir was the Ra/Theo factory, an old missile-manufacturing base. It's been made operational after a good spitshine, and Tir rivals REDGlare's factories for it. It's our biggest trade good, and sort of a big deal: If the Bei Fongs didn't like our missiles so much, we'd be starved out within a year. The Old Man's good in a scrap, but no miracle worker."

Buddy: "...I've gone without food for long stretches before. Never again."

Trigger: "Anyway, Tir's in a tricky situation. We're no one's property but our own, but NRB is always plotting to reconquer, and we'd be up a creek without Bei Fong trade. I think the Bei Fongs just like pissing NRB off, but we're still pretty dependent on them."

Buddy: "Who's this Old Man?"

Trigger: "Oh, a pilot called Rackham. Sort of a big deal, Hero of the Resistance and all that. I'll introduce you."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/DxNXq3RR5RY)

The two headed onward in silence for some time through a silent tunnel, until they caught a glimpse of something in the darkness:

Buddy: "Contact coming up. Looks like a blockade."

Trigger: "...New Rhodes Army. Got to be. Probably cut the circuit to keep the train away too."

???: "Two unidentified ACs approaching...wait, one of them's Trigger! All units, fire on the insurgent and his accomplice!"

Trigger: "...Figures, really."

The blockade was a formidable force, though one clearly intended to stop supply vehicles rather than a pair of ACs. A simple barricade was manned by four Solomon MTs, a pair of Jeshua MTs, and a single M2 Isaac Tank; the last of these drew immediate alarm.

Trigger: "Buddy, concentrate fire on the tank, that thing will rip us apart in no time!"

(Setting Note: The M2 Isaac is NRB's top-of-the-line Main Battle Tank, and represents a significant upgrade in durability and firepower over the older M1 Abraham. Trigger's threat analysis is correct: A single M2 Isaac Tank is similar in cost and overall threat to a typical AC unit, and its main cannon is equivalent in range and firepower to a mech-sized Sniper Cannon. It also has a rotating machinegun and enough mass to literally crush a light mech under its treads. This specific tank also happens to be equipped with Explosive Reactive Armor, though not all M2 Isaac tanks have that upgrade.)

Trigger's reaction time proved the best of anyone present, launching a trio of rockets at the tank and opening fire with his brand-new NRB-57 machinegun in an effort to blitz down the singular tank before it could bring its cannons to bear. Unfortunately, all three rockets exploded harmlessly against the tank's superior armor, and the bullets did little more than scratch up the turret, to the pilot's utter disbelief.

Trigger: "Are you kidding me?!"

Tank Operator: (Maniacal laughter)

Trigger and Buddy quickly worked to put some distance between themselves and the enemy; they wouldn't be able to escape the Tank's line of fire, but at least they wouldn't be torn apart by the slower MTs with heavy machineguns and grenade launchers. Taking his parting shots, Buddy fired two missiles and a rocket at the tank: One again exploded harmlessly against its armor, but the second managed to penetrate part of the turret, leaving a flaming hole in the warmachine's side. The rocket went wide.

Still, it was a fleeting triumph. The Solomons and Jeshuas advanced in a line, aiming their weapons and readying to fire as soon as the intruders were in range, and the tank lined up a shot against Bergentrückung - Trigger boosted right just fast enough for the high-velocity shell to zip by without damage.

Buddy: "Oh wow, yeah, let's...not get hit by that."

The pair wisely retreated further, realizing that they had both a speed and a range advantage over the MTs, and could stay out of their range if not the tank's. Trigger launched another trio of rockets and continued spraying the field with bullets, and though the bullets did little one of the rockets hit the weakened area of the tank's turret, further compounding the damage. Buddy launched another pair of missiles, and managed to land another consecutive hit on the turret: The resulting blast twisted the main cannon severely, ensuring the tank would not be able to fire again.

Trigger: "Yeah, take that!"

The MTs dug in further, taking cover and preparing to fire when they returned to range...but the tank wasn't about to take its damage lying down. The smoking mass of metal lurched forward upon its massive treads, crushing the barricade underneath it as it crossed half the distance between the checkpoint and Trigger in mere seconds! Fortunately for Trigger and Buddy, the concentrated of Bergentrücking's bullets and DoomedGuy's salvo of rockets and missiles managed to land two solid hits on the machine's treads, stopping it in its tracks.

Buddy: "We've got to finish this, I'm down to two missiles and a rocket."

Trigger: "Well, at least you've got that. I'm down to just the '57 now."

The MTs took advantage of the lull: Buddy had strayed just a little too close to the enemy weapons' range. Both Jeshua MTs skated forward on their boosters and brought their heavy weapons to bear against DoomedGuy. Buddy managed to dodge one explosion, but the second grenade was unavoidable and he narrowly managed to throw up his shield in time to prevent it from blowing a hole through his chassis. Even so, the shield was nearly blown in half and DoomedGuy stumbled backward against the force of the explosive charge.

Buddy: "Agh, forgot how hard those things can hit!"

Trigger wasted no time in leaping forward to spray down the offending heavy MT with two bursts from his '57. Shielding itself with one arm, the steel gorilla's armor deflected the first few bullets, but sustained fire proved too much for its armor and the machine was seriously damaged. Buddy proceeded to finish what Trigger started, rushing forward to put two pistol rounds right through the gaping holes in its armor to finish it off...and desperately launching the remainder of his explosives at the second Jeshua, destroying it with a barrage of overwhelming firepower.

Though they successfully eliminated both of the Jeshua MTs before they could bring their heavy weapons to bear once more, Trigger and Buddy unfortunately neglected to stay out of the range of the four Solomons waiting for them to get close enough to blitz down...and blitz they did! Three opened fire on Trigger and one on Buddy, and that might have been the end of it were it not for a stroke of luck: Two of the ones shooting at Trigger managed to encounter a weapon jam, and the remaining fire ripped apart Bergentrücking's shield rather than its chassis. The Solomon MT firing upon Buddy proved to be embarrassingly poor at its job and simply couldn't land a hit.

Their most limited resources spent, the two ACs were quick to pull back. Trigger remembered that his NRB-57 had a longer effective range than the Solomons' NRB-5s, and he was faster than them too. He could kite them with impunity, and after he harassed them at range for a short bit, the MT pilots realized it too.

Solomon Pilot: "Screw this, I'm not gonna die for the army today!"

The other three quickly agreed and the remaining enemy forces began their retreat, heading for a narrow Labyrinth entrance in the sidewall of the train tunnel, just slightly too small to fit an AC through. Trigger fired upon the retreating units, but only took one down before the three survivors managed to clear the gap and move beyond his reach. With the last of the Solomons escaped into the hole, the two rounded on the disabled tank.

Trigger: (over mech-sized loudspeaker) "Come out with your hands up!"

The tank's hatch cracked open, and three men in dark NRB uniforms climbed out in surrender, arms raised and pleading for their lives.

Trigger: "Throw your weapons to the ground."

Looking at each other in panic, all three nodded their heads and threw their service pistols to the ground in front of them. Bergentrückung stepped forward, and twisted its foot to grind the weapons into uselessness as the tank crew watched helplessly.

Trigger: "...Now flee into the Labyrinth before I change my mind."

They didn't need to be told twice, sprinting and nearly tripping over their own feet in their haste to reach safety.

Buddy: "You know they probably have some food and resources squirrelled away in there, maybe even a camp, right? It's what I would do."

Trigger: "Maybe. I'm gonna reconnect the Train circuit, can you get the Tank off the tracks?"

It didn't take them too long to restore the track to working order. Trigger's repair expertise was primarily of use with damaged mechs, but he knew his stuff well enough to put a damaged fusebox back together. They considered dragging the remains of the tank with them to Tir City for salvage, but eventually decided it'd be too much work with the treads out and left it on the service road instead.

Trigger: "We should head out, we're almost to Tir."

For now, their destination beckoned. With the checkpoint cleared, there was nothing keeping them from reaching Tir City.

BladeofObliviom
2016-12-25, 11:25 PM
The next log entry is up! Part 2 is coming when I finish writing it, which may take a bit.


Blade says we need to keep the player banter to a minimum, so text him your skype so we aren't clogging up the thread.

Yeah, I don't mind if you guys are here, but that sort of chat is why we have a (private) skype thread. Also because unmarked spoilers are uncool.



Fascinating campaign so far. I'll be watching for updates to the bible as much as to the campaign log, I love worldbuilding (even if it's Frankensteining together settings I don't know).

Well, nothing new under the sun, you know? :smalltongue:

But really, I also enjoy worldbuilding quite a bit! Hence my torturing myself by writing up my own setting from almost scratch, even if I've been liberally borrowing elements from various Armored Core games, the base setting, and even other things I've written in the past. (And if I'm being honest, at least half of the NPC pilots are references of some sort, whether that's to some media or to previous DnD characters of mine or whathaveyou.)

TriggerGunther
2017-01-06, 11:50 PM
Blade, you need to finish part 2 and Blossom's solo session.

Poor Thread is dead without it.

BladeofObliviom
2017-01-07, 12:34 PM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/8-TBSQ6KZZ8)

Buddy and Trigger didn't have much further to go before their destination was in sight: The Gate of Triumph guarding the entrance to Tir City was ugly in an oddly grand way, built from many tons of coarse ironwork spraypainted with phrases like "Die NRB!" and "Freedom for the People!" They didn't have long to stare before something else demanded their attention, though.

Radio: "This is Sergeant Choi of the Tir City Free Army. Two ACs, please identify - we have missiles locked."

Trigger: "Sandy? Is that you?"

Sandy: "Herman! What are you doing here?"

Trigger: "Apparently, clearing out NRB blockades."

Sandy: "...I'd wondered how you got through that. Captain Rackham was just organizing a team to go clear them out. Who's the other pilot?"

Trigger: "I've been going by Trigger for a while now, and I'm here with Buddy, he's a friend. Identification, AC Bergentruckung and AC DoomedGuy, requesting entry, Hangar space, a repair team, and some ammo."

Sandy: "Alright, I'm clearing you for Bay 7. How's the damage? You did us a favor, so I figure I can pull some strings and get you service on the house. Heh, your old room in the Barracks is open too. Aaaaand...reserved."

Trigger: "Thanks, Sandy."

Sandy: "No problem. Follow the signals and we'll show you to your hangar. Come up and visit me when you have a minute? We can have a drink and catch up a bit."

Trigger: "Alright, tell the Old Man hi for me."

Sandy: "You'll probably see him before I do, but I'll let him know you're here. Take care, Trigger."

The iron colossus before them cracked open with a terrible grinding noise, granting the pair access to the military district of the city. Without further ado they followed a trail of Free Army Soldiers with marshalling beacons to the aforementioned Bay 7, and headed out to rest a bit in Trigger's old room in the barracks.

Trigger: "Hey, my old records are still here." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gDch1p4c_M)

A few hours and a trip to the market later, Trigger had whipped up a batch of his Ma's Cricket Gumbo recipe and was about to serve it when someone knocked on the door. Buddy proceeded to casually throw the door open, revealing a brown-haired, clean-shaven fellow in his early thirties clad in a naval captain's coat and a tricorne hat. Looking forward with mild surprise, he sheepishly rapped his fist against the doorframe a few more times in lieu of a door.

Trigger: "Old man! Was just about to serve lunch if you're hungry."

((OOC Note: Trigger's player remembered that he had the cooking skill on his sheet and found an excuse to use it.))

The man grinned widely and stepped in, right past Buddy, throwing his coat and hat on the rack next to the door.

Rackham: "If I'd known you were stopping by, I'd have rolled out the welcoming mat. As is, I'm afraid you'll have to make do with just me. Not gonna turn down a free meal though." (Flashes a grin to the man still standing by the door) "You must be Buddy, right?"

At Buddy's nod, Rackham smiled, and as everyone sat down to eat, he leaned back in the chair, twirled his spoon, took a few bites, and made conversation.

Rackham: "This is pretty damn good, Trigger. Didn't even know you could cook, actually."

Trigger: "You pick up a few things."

Rackham: "Well, it's good work. Hey Buddy, what do you..."

Both looked over to see Buddy messily devouring the stew as if he hadn't eaten in days.

Rackham: "...I think he likes it too. So, Trigger, I hear you're slippin' up the ranks, and I have to ask: The hell's goin' on up there?! Concord scoring is crazy at the best of times, but..."

Trigger: "I dunno what's up, but..." (smiles faintly) "At this rate I'll pass you within another month."

Rackham: "Pshaw. So, Buddy, where are you from?"

Buddy: (A little awkwardly, not used to being asked) "Uh, the Wastes."

Rackham: "Well, I could guess that much. Not too many Layer Folk have a natural tan, and you don't look orange enough for it to be fake. What part are you from? Jemeztown? Old Salt Lake? Whiteland? Some podunk I've never heard of? Oh, you aren't from Dhamburlan, are you?"

Buddy: "What? No, just...from the wastes. I've never even heard of half of those. Crawled out of a shelter, fixed myself up an old wreck of an AC, and eventually found my way here."

Rackham: (laughing) "Ha! You sure you ain't a younger me?"

Trigger: "How do you know so much about the wastes? I knew you weren't born here, but I never did find out where you came from. Just came barrelling in out of the blue five years ago and singlehandedly put the rebellion on the map."

Rackham: "Have I never told you, Trigger? Huh. I'm actually from Old Salt Lake, 'fore KPS - that is, Cerulean Horizons, bombed it to hell and the whole Wasatch region got declared no-go."

Trigger: "Huh. So Plunderer's Folly..."

Rackham: "Funny story: I found an old NX-series Beta Trainer wrecked in the desert. Ended up fixing it up."

(Setting Note: The NX-series is a project from about two decades ago that ended in disaster, though the details remain elusive. What IS known is that it was intended to produce a new class of military operators, AI units trained in a simulation to pilot ACs as their bodies. Something went terribly wrong, causing most of the AIs to ultimately go insane...and to be released into the wild. While there may be sane NX-series AI in hiding, most NX-units are dangerous to themselves and others, and wander the wastes or less frequented parts of the Layers. While NX-units are AI cores, their trainer ACs were made from standard parts and pulling the AI core out of one would yield a mech usable by a human pilot. Trigger rolled well on a knowledge check and learned all of this information.)

Trigger: "NX-series...you pried out the pilot then?"

Rackham: "Course I did, I'm not crazy. Speaking of crazy, you two did a good job clearing out that Blockade. I was worried I'd have to drag Elegant out of her goddamned beauty sleep, and no one wants to deal with her when she's like that. No matter how good she is."

Trigger: "Sorry, who? Is she a ranker?"

Rackham: "Yeah, she is, and we only have her help because the Bei Fongs sent her out here; Probably just to get rid of her. She's prissy and insufferable, but damn if she isn't good in a fight. Shame about her operations lifetime though: Never seen her take a hit, but she seems to run out of ammo every time we go out. And she won't stop complaining about our lack of culture down here."

Trigger: "Wow, are all of the Bei Fong pilots that bad?"

Rackham: "Nah, Swift and Ebon are great, though that boy needs to take some edge off. And Doc is...wait, you know her. Remember Hannah? Hannah Velasquez."

Trigger: "Wait, that Hannah? The medic?"

Rackham: "Yeah, she went up to Sung City and got herself some field training and a GPAC. Shame she's really too useful outside the AC to risk out in the field; someone needs to patch our people up afterward."

Trigger: "Huh. Maybe I should go say hi."

Rackham: "Well, thanks again for clearing that blockade. Now we can focus on the Labyrinth; maybe that way NRB won't literally starve us out in a few months."

Buddy: "...Starve?"

Rackham: "We trade for food through the Night Market. I don't want to get into details here, but we think NRB's planning on interfering with our supply routes in the Labyrinth."

The older man frowned, his bowl clean, and stood up to leave.

Rackham: "Thanks for the meal, Trigger. I think I should get back to work, but if you're planning on sticking around for a few days, we could use your help. We'll cover any repair costs you incur, of course. This is a TirCA operation, not a mercenary contract. I can't pay you, but..."

Trigger: "Do you still have those discretionary surplus missiles?"

Rackham: (Smiling faintly) "Well, I might be able to hook something up. You two have a good night, and come see me in the morning if you're interested."

It wasn't much longer before he was out the door, leaving Trigger and Buddy with little more than dirty dishes and another fight to look forward to.

This isn't over, but I've had writer's block and haven't updated in a while, so here's Part 2 and the rest of it will be split into another part.

TriggerGunther
2017-01-07, 05:32 PM
Trigger: "Hey, my old records are still here." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gDch1p4c_M)



Things Concord Pilots are no longer allowed to do.
11c. Playing ‘Shoot to Thrill’ over the speakers moments before dropping a red and yellow AC out of the back of the Barracuda is ill advised.
11ci. Even if bystanders stopped to applaud.

TriggerGunther
2017-02-19, 10:01 AM
Hey all. So Blade has been busy and had writers block, but there have been missions since the last post. 3 to be precise, 2 side games (Asami, Stan and Lightning) and a main one.

So Trigger just commited an 0.5 on the Henderson Scale of Plot Derailment and possibly split the party forever.

Beacon of Chaos
2017-03-21, 01:43 PM
Hey, just got done reading this journal after looking for more mecha stuff while doing my own mech campaign journal. Really enjoyed it, hope the writer's block wears off for you soon, I'd love to read more. :smallsmile:

BladeofObliviom
2017-03-21, 02:57 PM
Hey, just got done reading this journal after looking for more mecha stuff while doing my own mech campaign journal. Really enjoyed it, hope the writer's block wears off for you soon, I'd love to read more. :smallsmile:

You'll be pleased to know then that I haven't totally abandoned it, just need to make better use of my time and such. >.>

TriggerGunther
2017-04-18, 09:55 PM
For those who still care, a lot has happened, least of which includes:

Trigger has been Shot in the chest by a sniper rifle and is probably paralysed from the waist down for the rest of his life.
We have a New Pilot.


@bladeofobliviom. FINISH MISSION 3.1 PART 3, MISSION 3.2, 3.3 AND MISSION 4 BEFORE I'M FORCED TO START POSTING LOGS OF MISSION 4.1 and 4.2 :tongue:

Kane0
2017-04-18, 10:28 PM
I care!

10char

Dr. LAW Mundy
2017-04-19, 08:38 PM
Stan and Buddy found a CT base in the Waste and took down its defenses. They are currently exploring the recently evacuated facility. AC Brimstone and AC DoomedGuy were heavily damaged during the initial fight.

IntelectPaladin
2017-04-21, 03:02 PM
Thank you both for the update! I've enjoyed this series thus far,
and I'm grateful to you both for bothering to keep us in the loop!
For your sake, I hope it doesn't fall to you two to pick up the campaign journal.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you have a better day!

BladeofObliviom
2017-05-26, 07:51 PM
Raid New Rhodes Vault: 10cr each
Employer: Artemis
Theatre of Operations: Cheyenne Fortress, New Rhodes
Enemy Forces: NRB Forces
Conditions for Success: Secure Red Box and remove from fortress.
Briefing: I have an...unusual...request, for which I wish to assemble a small and specific team: Concord pilots Thunder and Hellfire, whom I believe to be acquainted, and a third known as Phantom. All three are experienced and subtle enough for this operation, in addition to lacking any inconvenient NRB loyalties.

I am a private individual who wishes to acquire something that NRB has stolen during a raid on an Applied Biodynamics Facility. This item, which shall be forward described as a "Red Box", has been temporarily taken to a vault located in Cheyenne Fortress until such time as the New Rhodes Authority attempts to use it. The objective of this operation is to enter the vault, acquire the Red Box, and remove it from the premises. Further operational details are pending acceptance.

---

Recipients: Hellfire, Thunder
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Operation
Text: It is my understanding that we will be collaborating on an operation. I look forward to working with you in this capacity. Unfortunately, AC Itsumade is damaged and currently inoperable; I have instead been supplied with a Bei Fong Industries SOMIH with which to infiltrate a different part of the fortress. From that position, I will be able to open doors and delay alarms to smooth your operations toward the Vault.

I wish to ask, do either of you know of this Artemis? I do not, and though I am in no position to refuse work, I feel wary of unknown employers.

- Phantom


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/nLUZG5FYO9k)

There was a curious grandeur to the City of New Rhodes. Most Layer cities were relatively flat, with 'ceilings' no more than fifty meters or so from the ground, but New Rhodes was quite literally built in layers; enormous, concentric terraces bound by inner walls, climbing all the way to the black edifice at the center. That terrible thing burst wickedly from the ground below, bridging the intervening space of the open hemisphere that contained the city, and burrowed through the stone into the upper reaches of the mountain. Cheyenne Fortress: The belly of the beast, the seat of New Rhodes' unfathomable strength, and yet strangely subdued. It lacked the streamlined elegance of Skye Tower, the tasteful opulence of Bei Fong Headquarters, the controlled natural beauty of Arcadia, the alien grandeur of the Imperial Palace of Sung, or even the liveliness of Freeport. No, Cheyenne Tower was an ugly thing, designed solely for its function, and the shadow it seemed to cast in all directions was incidental, a happy accident of its size and its reputation.

Being far beneath the earth, there was not a single ray of sunlight in the city, though street lights certainly were more than enough to see by, at least in the wealthy heights; parts of the lowest regions seemed strangely steeped in darkness by lack of maintenance. New Rhodes is a populous city, after all: Maintenance is expensive, and ever more so when the Authorities care far more about their war machines than the slums.

Nevertheless, there is one thing that even the New Rhodes Authority cannot neglect: Sanitation. Dense cities are vulnerable to disease, and allowing waste to build up would soon poison the air with foulness and methane. New Rhodes may pride itself on a certain lack of creature comforts, but the value of civic engineering is not lost on the Generals in command. Nevertheless, New Rhodes Ballistics never does anything by half-measures the corporation would not accept a mere solution to the problem, but the ultimate solution, the solution to end all problems for the forseeable future. So, some three decades ago when these issues became too great to ignore, the New Rhodes army converted its fleet of aging overland Transport Carriers into a fleet of appallingly overengineered garbage collection trucks. This is where our story begins.

One such truck in particular rumbled through the abandoned streets of New Rhodes, to all appearances identical to any of the others but for its strange habit of never actually stopping to pick up waste of any sort. Doing so would blow the passengers' cover, after all. Hellfire and Thunder boredly sat upon a pair of folding chairs in the cargo compartment, doing their best to ignore the rumbling below and the faint odor of sewage that no amount of detailing could ever quite erase. With any luck, it wouldn't cling to the pair of ACs stored back here, or to Hellfire's clothes for that matter. Even knowing that he'd be travelling this way, the man couldn't help but dress like a particularly melodramatic vampire. Thunder, for his part, opted for a simple jumpsuit.

Hellfire: (Scowling) "I already hate this place."

Thunder: (Grimacing knowingly) "It doesn't get better."

Hellfire: (Scowling harder) "****. We almost there yet?"

Thunder: "Why would I know?"

Thunder grumbled and stood, throwing his arms out to balance himself in the shaking compartment, and made his way, steadily, to the cabin access. Stifling the churning in his gut, he growled something incomprehensible and rapped his elbow on the discolored steel.

Thunder: "Hey, Phantom, we there yet? If this takes much longer I think we're gonna need some buckets."

A long second passed before the panel clicked open, wide enough to climb through if necessary (though certainly not comfortably so). Sweet-smelling, pleasantly cool air wafted into Thunder's face, almost cloying after spending an hour in the back, and a smirking face greeted him. Phantom was a strange young woman, very short but broadly built, with strikingly blue eyes and a bob of well-kept hair to match. Her skin was different from most Layer folk, rougher and with a few marks indicating actual time spent in the sun, but somehow seemed as pale as a ghost nevertheless. She seemed to vacillate wildly between brooding, polite, and - as she was right now - mischievous.

Phantom: (Grinning) "I don't have a bucket up here, but maybe you can use your friend's silly cape."

Hellfire: "Hey, I heard that!"

Thunder: (Sighing) "Status update?"

Phantom: (Nodding professionally) "I've input the access code, and we're inside the tunnel. Only a couple more minutes. In fact, you might want to get ready for insertion. You guys remember the plan?"

Hellfire: (Carefully stepping toward access) "Let's go over it one more time."

Thunder: "Yeah, it can't hurt."

Phantom: "Right." (Turns around to get something, returns with a simplified schematic) "We're almost at the base of this shaft here." (Points) "This shaft is extraneous, and there shouldn't be any security. It's bricked over and doesn't have any passageways, so you'll need to punch in, and out again to enter the Fortress proper. Don't get cut off from here, there's no plan B for extraction."

Hellfire: "And you?"

Phantom: "I will be making use of a Bei Fong Industries SOMI Harness to seize control of the floor's security room, and will be running interference from there. Now, our target is located in Vault 112B, the easternmost vault on level 112. Your entrypoint is located close to vault 112D on the opposite side."

I gave the PCs a map for this, which I'll describe in brief. The floor layout is essentially square, with vaults located in each of the four corners and a freight elevator located toward the center. The floor consists of a 4x4 grid of large storage rooms, each connected to adjacent rooms by a hallway wide enough to move a freight vehicle through, and the four central rooms also each have hallways leading to the central elevator. Each room is separated from its connecting hallways by a security door large enough to move such vehicles through, though there are also man-sized ports to move through. No need to open the giant doors for the patrolling guards. The insertion point is directly through the wall of one of the hallways on the opposite side of the floor from the goal.

Thunder: "Alright. So the plan is bust in, try not to raise an alarm, break into a secure vault, then snatch-and-grab?"

Phantom: (Shrugging) "Yes, more or less." The rumbling of the truck came to a slow stop, and Thunder heard a faint beeping from the cabin. "...And that's our cue.", she quickly added. "Opening bay door."

The back of the truck lowered itself with a mechanical hiss, and the pilots began the process of climbing into their cockpits with little fanfare. Phantom circled around and did much the same, climbing into the SO-MI Harness wordlessly and slinging her sword over her back.

(Setting Note: The Bei Fong Industries SO-MI (Special Operations Mobile Infantry) Harness is an expensive piece of technology, but oft-regarded as worth every dollar for those needing its particular set of skills. While it lacks some features of conventional Powered Armor, the SO-MI Harness makes practical use of BFI's proprietary optical stealth systems along with more general enhancements to the user's physical capabilities. Agents equipped with SO-MI Harness are usually outfitted with collapsible mass drivers for skirmishing use or a blade and explosives for sapping use.)


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/3rmaCLu6JQE)


Finally, the ACs powered to life. Lightning and Brimstone had both been modified since their previous combat outings: Lightning had been fitted with a SpiralTech head containing a sensor suite designed to better compensate for significant motion, worth a pretty penny but ideal for Thunder's rapid blade assaults. Brimstone, on the other hand, had been modified with an all-around high-performance Cerulean Horizons head and a CT wheeled base noted for providing an incredibly stable firing platform without compromising speed.

Phantom: "This is Phantom, checking in. Once we're in, avoid using this channel too much. We want to avoid suspicion as long as possible." (Points at section of tunnel wall) "Thunder, please cut here."

Thunder: "Done."

The steel plating of the sanitation services access tunnel was no match for Lightning's combat blades, which easily tore through. With a second slash and a hard shove, steel and stone alike groaned and parted to reveal the forgotten shaft behind.

Hellfire: "Info was good after all. ...Good."

Phantom: "I will require a ride to floor 110. We are currently level with floor 100. Some climbing will be necessary, but less than if you did not have jump packs."

The shaft was deep and dark, but there wasn't any time to think about that. Instead, they made steady upward progress, clinging to whatever they could hold onto while keeping a close eye on their jumpjet fuel. No reason to waste that trying to fly all the way up. Soon enough, Phantom was dropped off at floor 110 as requested, and the pair made it two more floors up.

Thunder: (Staring at a nondescript wall) "This is it?"

Hellfire: "Gotta be."

Phantom: (Cutting in over radio) "I have seized control of the security room, and the cameras are on a loop. Entry should be safe now. There are three patrols on this floor, just regular infantry, moving clockwise. Avoid the other vaults and the central elevator, they have Security MT emplacements that I can't override from here."

Thunder: "Roger."

Much the same way he had the first time, Thunder tore through the wall, and peeling down the layer of sheet metal to open the way proved unexpectedly...easy. So far, so good. The ACs moved into the first hallway without incident, and didn't waste any time progressing to the door.

Phantom: "I can see you in there, and I can get those doors open. I can open them as you go, and close them once you're through. Less risk of the guards noticing that way. Alright, shutting up now. Hurry."

They passed through another door, and another, and another, every second passing a deadly risk to their lives. There was no doubt that they could crush any group of infantry with little effort, but if they raised the alarm...well. This was Cheyenne Fortress, NRB's greatest stronghold. There was no telling what might come down that elevator if they were seen. Finally, after several excruciating minutes of nothing at all, Thunder and Hellfire came to the door separating their last hallway from the vault door.

I gave the PCs reports on the guard locations and moved them on the map while the PCs pointed out which doors to open and close, with the ever-approaching risk of a patrol seeing their entry point as time passed. This was somewhat fun in play, like a minigame, but actually describing this narratively would be terribly dull, like recounting a DnD party working on a sudoku puzzle. So hopefully this is better than that.

Phantom: "I haven't found a way to override those turrets, so we may have to go loud. So...good luck. Try not to die. I'm opening the door now."

Hellfire: "No problem, check this out."

Brimstone lifted its shotguns at his command, making a rough guess at where stationary turret emplacements might be, and lined up a pair of shots as the doors began to part. He didn't need much correction, and the turrets barely had a chance to spin up their barrels before twin slugs punched symmetrical holes through them.

Hellfire: (Cheering for himself) "Ha! Sneak attack, bitch!"

And then the Alarm sounded.



Thunder didn't waste any time going for the vault door. At a glance it looked too well-armored for his blades to get through, but the anchorings preventing the door from lifting looked potentially vulnerable. It took a lot of effort; even the anchors proved difficult to damage, and with the klaxons blaring they couldn't afford to waste a second. Still, after several wasted strikes, Thunder was able to weaken them enough that Hellfire could lift the door.

(OOC Note: I'm mean. There were two anchorings, and each had 5 wounds and 1+ armor. For comparison, a tank chassis has 3 wounds and 2+ armor. Thankfully for them, the moorings could also be torn out with a mech strength equal to current hp, and Brimstone has 4 strength.)

Scurrying into the vault and dropping the door behind them, the two pilots searched frantically for the object they'd been sent to retrieve. Finally, Thunder found it: The Red Box, like a cargo crate small enough to fit into a Mech's spare weapon bay. Not willing to risk wasting any more time, Thunder put the cargo into Lightning's unused weapon bay while Hellfire pilfered a loose SpiralTech Laser Rifle.

Phantom: (Static interference) "-chk- all doors open, all feeds looped. Had to run, Assault team against my position. Not much time, get out of there!"

Hellfire: "Well, that's bad. We should go."

Thunder: "You sure do like stating the obvious."

An infantry squad was waiting for them outside the vault with portable rocket launchers readied, but unfortunately for them, Hellfire shot first. The pair quickly engaged their jump packs down the nearest hallway to leave the gory scene behind, only to find a pair of NRB-A01 "Uriel" MPACs waiting for them.

Hellfire and Thunder, simultaneously: "Oh, this is gonna suck."

(Setting Note: MPAC is short for "Mass Production Armored Core", a particularly dangerous sort of war machine still piloted by a redshirt. While MPACs are much more dangerous than GPACs (with a higher price tag to match), they tend to be highly specialized and lack the versatility that independent pilots usually design their vehicles with. With that in mind, the A01 "Uriel" is NRB's standard MPAC, built on treads with an armored chassis, an NRB-05 HMG, and a rocket launcher. It is most often utilized in a guard or siege role, as MPACs are generally considered overkill for street-sweeping and the Uriel is less effective than similarly-priced tanks in open-field operations.)

NRB Officer: "Don't let them escape!"

The MPACs opened fire. Brimstone and Lightning had little room to dodge rockets and a hail of lead in the relatively narrow confines of the hall, but they certainly tried. Both rockets went flying past harmlessly, but the machinegun fire was not so merciful: Dodging the full firepower of two NRB-05s in a killbox would have been akin to dodging rain in a hurricane. Neither pilot came out of that unscathed, but Thunder had the worst of it, with Lightning's head totally nonfunctional.

(OOC note: "Dammit, I just bought that! And it cost me 10cr!" It does suck pretty hard. Fixing that head alone cost half his cut from the mission.)

Thunder and Hellfire didn't bother returning fire, firing up their boosters again to make a desperate rush for the exit. Against all odds, through another hail of fire, they both made it through the hole without any more serious damage. A few infantrymen took potshots down the shaft at them, but to little effect.

Phantom: "You're clear! Transport engine's hot, but we've got to go now!"

Hellfire: "That was fun! We should do this again sometime."

Thunder: "Let's not."


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/zSg6talwzbU)


They rushed to climb into the back of the truck, sickening smell and all. The faster they could be out of here, the better. The door closed with a hiss, and the rumbling returned in force. It wasn't long before the truck joined all the other waste collection vehicles elsewhere in New Rhodes, Cheyenne Tower's floodlights passing harmlessly overhead. One bribed rail station manager later, they were safely on their way back to Val City, cargo clear.

Thunder: "So, either of you curious what's inside? What's so important about this thing?"

Phantom: "Yes, but I can think of no way to open the Red Box without leaving signs of tampering."

Hellfire: "I have a bad feeling that I don't want to know too much with this 'Artemis' character, and I think they'd know."

Thunder: (downcast) "Yeah, you're probably right...just, damn. Something doesn't feel right."

The rest of the train ride was quiet.



Recipients: Hellfire, Thunder
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Operation
Text: It was a pleasure working with the both of you. I have successfully raised the funds desired to repair my AC, and so it is my hope that we will not find ourselves employed on opposite sides in the future.

I still do not know with certainty what the red box contained, but I did a little more digging: I believe it had something to do with NRB's space program. If you acquire further information, I can put you in contact with someone who might pay for it.

- Phantom

BladeofObliviom
2017-05-26, 08:07 PM
Hey, remember when I updated this regularly? Me neither, because that was four months ago and I can rarely remember what clothes I am wearing at any given moment without looking down at myself. As you might imagine, trying to write an account of a months-old memory of a memory of a session is difficult, so...yeah. Uh, hi. Sup?

Have an update, as a peace offering. It's not Part 3 of Trigger and Buddy's side venture, but it's happening around the same time.

IntelectPaladin
2017-05-27, 09:06 AM
Frankly I'm just glad you're updating at all!
Besides, I've go the patience for this sort of schedule.
You would be surprised. I once waited a full year for something minor.
Thank you for reading this, and for returning to update, so I hope you have a nice day!

BladeofObliviom
2017-06-05, 03:57 PM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/_zD0EoDWyxA)

Rackham: "...So, if we focus our efforts on these three checkpoints, with a little luck we should be able to capture all targets cleanly. 'Course, this gets a mite more complicated if-oh, good morning!"

Trigger and Buddy found their way easily enough to Captain Rackham's unofficial 'war room', a little niche carved out from what might once have been some company's breakroom. Half-finished breakfasts were arrayed upon the counters (safely away from the charts and maps spread out on the table), next to at least half a dozen abandoned cups of coffee. The mechanical hums of central heating and ventilation systems were joined here by the quiet puffing of an old coffee machine, dutifully chugging along and filling the sleepy room with that distinctive aroma.

As the Captain extended his simple courtesy to the room's new occupants, the other three faces darted up from their study. The first was a middle-aged, dark-skinned woman with an intensity in her eyes that Trigger couldn't quite place, though Buddy recognized the scars of a hardened waster as surely as anyone could. Seated across from her was a very pale man with greasy black hair stretching down below his shoulders, wrapped in a simple green cloak and eyeing the pair dubiously. Finally, a bright-eyed young woman clad in a tattered baseball cap and waistcoat stood up with enough force to knock her chair down behind her, and interrupted whatever Rackham was about to say.

Hannah: "Herman!"

She sheepishly looked down at Rackham's quiet glare and the greasy-haired man's quiet condemnation before turning around to put her chair back up, then sitting back down.

Hannah: "Right, sorry."

Rackham cleared his throat.

Rackham: "Please, take a seat. Friends, these are the guests I mentioned earlier. Trigger, Buddy, I'd like to introduce you to my squad, as it were. This is Swift-" He gestured to the dark-skinned woman, who only nodded, before turning his finger to the cloaked man. "And this is Ebon. And, well, Trigger, you already know Doc here."

Trigger: (Amusedly) "Doc?"

Hannah: "Yep! Got a license in Sung City now and everything."

Trigger: (With sudden concern) "Wait, you didn't before?"

Hannah: "Oh, right. How's that eye of yours doing?"

Trigger: "Uh, great, actually. You didn't have a license?"

Hannah: (Waving a hand dismissively) "Please, I've always been the best at what I do."

Trigger: "You installed it in a sewer!"

Hannah: (Smirking) "And it didn't get infected, did it?"

Trigger didn't have a response to that.

Ebon: "Right, so, if we're done catching up..."

Rackham: "Yes, yes, the mission. Well, with you two here, that frees up some resources. Now, since I'm not cleared to hire mercenaries and you're not formally under my command, I can't technically pay you...but I can authorize the repair crews to fix up your ACs with TirCA's coffers, and I can...misplace a pair of surplus THOR-class Missile Systems. Will that do?"

Doing their best to hide any signs of drooling, both pilots nodded.

Rackham: "Good. Doc, you're off the mission."

Hannah: "What?!"

Rackham: "Your medical skills are too valuable to risk outside of an emergency situation. You'll be with Elegant and I, on relief if needed."

Hannah: (Grudgingly) "Yes, sir."

Buddy: "Who's Elegant? Wait, the ranker? Concord #13? THAT Elegant?"

Rackham: (Frowning faintly) "That's the one. She's one of Bei Fong's best, and when they sent her down I was impressed...but in retrospect I think the Bei Fongs wanted her somewhere far away."

Trigger: "That bad?"

Rackham: "She's getting some 'beauty sleep' right now, and we didn't make her get up because she'd have spent the whole meeting complaining about the lack of culture down here anyway. It's for the best, trust me."

Buddy: "...Oh. I see."

A fist rapped loudly upon the table, briefly drawing everyone's attention.

Ebon: "Are we going to focus, or are we going to waste time with gossip and sentiment? I don't know these pilots, and I could not care less about your personal history with them. If we are doing business with them, do business."

The Captain glared daggers at Ebon, but didn't argue.

Rackham: "Have a seat, you two. I'll go over the mission again."

Even as Trigger and Buddy grabbed spare chairs from the edges of the room and pulled them up to the conference table, Rackham was already starting to point out markings on a map.

Rackham: "Long story short, NRB hired an independent, civilian cartographer to map parts of the Labyrinth, and they just can't be allowed to have that information. The Labyrinth is our main source of supplies from outside the city, since the train route goes right through NRB territory. If they had a complete map of the Labyrinth, or even just the section closest to Tir..."

The man shuddered.

Rackham: "We have military supplies, but wouldn't last long under siege without the Night Market. The point is, we need to stop the cartographers. They're civilians and I'd prefer to capture them without harm, but New Rhodes cannot be allowed to have that data."

He sighs.

Rackham: "The Bei Fongs tell us that they have five rovers still in operation, and all of them are currently in our section of the Labyrinth. We're screwed if they escape, but if we can sweep the place fast enough...well. Not much reception in the Labyrinth, you know. They can't transmit from that position, and any escort they have will be out of radio contact."

Trigger: "So, what's the plan?"

Rackham: (Leaning back in his chair) "The plan is, we go in and take them out. We'll be splitting into three teams, with Sandy acting as operator. Doc, Elegant, and I will be on relief. We'll be waiting outside the tunnels, just close enough to get a signal if someone calls SOS. Swift and Ebon will sweep from Tunnel A to the choke point, and loop around to Tunnel D. Trigger and Buddy will enter through Tunnel C and sweep through the center of the network here. When we've tagged all five units and eliminated any resistance, we'll let the infantry clean up and take survivors into custody. Any questions?"

Buddy: "SOS? How much trouble are we expecting?"

Rackham: "Whatever escort NRB sends along. Could be nothing, could be a couple of Solomons...could be Tanks. Be careful out there, and keep in radio contact as much as you can. Labyrinth makes comms touchy, but we're operating in the shallows."

Trigger: "I've heard enough. When do we start?"

All four of the war room's regulars glanced up at the ticking clock on the wall.

Swift: "...Now."


---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/IDak4Y3kXAA)

Bergentrucking and Doomedguy were truly impressive machines, but here they were among equals. Rackham's personal unit, Plunderer's Folly, was a strangely wood-colored machine made from outdated NRB parts, and a few even older-looking parts that weren't recognizable as belonging to any modern company. Elusive, on the other hand, was sleek and very modern-looking, painted blindingly white with violet accents, strangely beautiful for a machine of war. The pilot, Elegant, had chosen her title well enough, but despite the seeming frailty of the AC, Trigger and Buddy had no doubt that its twin Laser Rifles could be used to terrible effect if she were roused to anger.

The three Bei-G01s used by the other pilots looked almost ugly in comparison, but Redeemer, Vengeance, and Open Heart were nevertheless impressive in their own way.

The Bei-G01 "Jing" is a GPAC manufactured and used by Bei Fong Industries. While its capabilities are extremely average, Bei Fong engineering has integrated the head into the main chassis to ensure that a stray hit does not compromise the machine's accuracy with its primary weapon: A BASALT cannon, designed to efficiently destroy light MTs and drones. While neither fast nor particularly tough, the Jing's offensive capabilities and excellent range make it a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. The Jing has only one arm; the BASALT cannon is attached to a turret mount where the right arm is normally located, and the left arm is used to stabilize the foregrip.

Sandy: "This is Sergeant Choi, checking in. All pilots, please confirm."

Swift: "This is AC Redeemer, standing by."
Ebon: "This is AC Vengeance, standing by."
Hannah: "This is AC Open Heart, standing by."

They continued sequentially, followed by Rackham, followed by Elegant, followed by Trigger and then Buddy.

Sandy: "Redeemer and Vengeance, Alpha Team is clear to enter Tunnel A. Good luck, and be careful."

Ebon: "Confirmed."

The two GPACs engaged their thrusters, skating into the darkness as the others merely watched.

Buddy: "Anyone else got a bad feeling about this?"

Sandy: "Bergentrucking and, uh, DoomedGuy, Bravo Team is clear to enter Tunnel C. Don't die or I'll be pissed, Herman. You owe me a drink."

Trigger: "I'll be careful."

(OOC note: "You'll be dead!")

And they rocketed forth into the darkness. The first few tunnels were clear, but the radio was deathly quiet, and static creeped at the edges of their sensors.

Buddy: "Can you see anything?"

Trigger squinted, and caught a glimpse of something reflective around the next corner.

Trigger: "Yeah, actually. Hold your fire, I can't see an escort."

Bergentrucking pounced around the corner, turning its weapons on the tiny rover with practiced ease, and Trigger barked out orders over the loudspeaker.

Trigger: "This region belongs to the Tir City Free Army! Surrender immediately!"

The civilians inside the rover sheepishly complied, exiting the vehicle with their hands up. Trigger fired a burst into one of the rover's wheels, and the resulting fireball made it quite clear that the thing would not be moving any longer.

Buddy: "Remain here. Additional personnel will arrive to escort you to safety."

The cartographers looked over at their disabled rover and simply stood frozen in terror.

Trigger: "Good enough. Sandy, are you getting this? We tagged one at our current coordinates."

Sandy: "...got...chk...confir-...good job. Alpha team has also found a group, so we have three targets remaining."

They moved on, twisting through the passages, left and right and up and down. There was a reason this place was called a Labyrinth; more than once they came to a dead end and had to turn back. Finally, the pilots came to a blind corner and found themselves face-to-face with a pair of Solomon MTs.

Solomon pilot: "Agh! Fire!"

The bullets did only superficial damage to a pair of ACs, but the MTs did not fare nearly so well: DoomedGuy's pistol scored only a single telling hit against the right Solomon's armor, but Bergentrucking's NRB-57 ripped the left Solomon apart before the Wolf-mech's teeth finished the job on the right. Their escort obliterated, it wasn't long before the second rover surrendered as well.

Trigger: "Sandy, this is Bravo Team, we got another one."

Sandy: "Confirmed, that's four targets down. One came out of Tunnel B with a tank, but they never stood a chance against Charlie Team. Track down the fifth and-"

Suddenly, silence.

Trigger: "Sandy? You still there?"

Sandy: "Alpha Team sent an SOS ping. They're near the chokepoint. Patching through."

Swift: "-eemer is severely damaged. Vengeance is dow-" There was a brief static interruption before the last line came through. "-ushed by an AC, I repeat, they've set a tra-" Only static.

Buddy: "...Spooky. Are we going to go spring a trap?"

Before Trigger could answer, the radio crackled again.

Rackham: "This is Charlie Team, we're entering the tunnels. Trigger, you're closer than we are. I don't know if we'll get there fast eno-" Static.

Trigger: "...Yeah. Yeah we are."


---

Tir's section of the Labyrinth ended with a chokepoint, a single passage into the greater structure. There were other routes one could move through, of course, but only one big enough to move Tanks and ACs through. Indeed, a few beasts of burden still saw use in Night Market caravans for this very reason. Trigger and Buddy waited in cover on either side of the passage, examining the pair of M2 Isaac Tanks idling at the edge, just beyond the next corner, and the smoking wreck of Vengeance battered against the wall...along with the wreck of a third tank.

Trigger: "Why aren't they advancing or firing? They must see us. Maybe they're scared, looks like Swift and Ebon got one of the tanks."

Buddy: "Swift said it was a trap, and that there was an AC. Are...are we going to spring it?"

Trigger: "How bad can one NRB AC be? We got Grieg, we got this."

Buddy: "It's lines like that that make me wonder why I followed you here."

Buddy's words fell on deaf ears: Trigger had already engaged boosters to rush one of the tanks, opening fire with Bergentrucking's MG57 and Rocket Pods. A screaming hail of lead and a trio of deafening explosions landed upon the Tank's armor, leaving it in visibly worse shape than it started, but hardly disabled. Buddy sighed and locked missiles, firing a pair at the same tank. Both missiles exploded harmlessly against its armor, to his frustration, and while he allowed himself a pair of potshots with his pistol, he knew the weapon had little chance of piercing that armor.

(OOC Note: Tanks have armor 2+, and the Pistol has a -1 AP modifier. Thus, penetrating tank armor with a pistol requires a roll of less than 1 on a d6. It's not technically impossible, though: Rolling a natural 12 gives a weapon +1 AP for that shot, so hypothetically a 12 to hit and a 1 on the armor save would allow a pistol to do damage to a tank. It's a longshot, but it doesn't cost him anything to try.)

Both tanks sprung into action as the ACs made the first move, advancing rapidly and opening fire with their main cannons. Buddy was fortunate: The corner he lurked behind absorbed most of the shell's force. Trigger was less so, with the cannon shell scoring a direct hit to the chassis. Bergentrucking's combat shielding took the worst of it, but the shock still rattled the AC and the pilot inside.

Trigger: "Son of a -"

And that was when he caught a glimpse of it: A greenish blur slipping out, hidden by the corner but now unmistakable. As the shaking cleared, he quickly recognized the silhouette of an AC coming right for him! The assailant was a tall, slender thing covered in wicked spikes and barbs, elegant in its motions and in every way imaginable unlike the boxy machines preferred by NRB. He couldn't believe just how fast it was; it seemed only a moment ago it had been darting out from the corner, and now the sickeningly-yellow-and-green AC was swinging one of its spiked limbs right into one of Bergentrucking's legs.

Sandy: "Trigger, got a bead! Enemy is AC Needles, pilot Saguaro!"

He couldn't focus on that, not while reversing his thrust to skate backward on three legs and narrowly avoiding a second blow.

Saguaro: (Cackling) "Tail already between your legs, mi lobito?"

She sounded young, too young to be on a battlefield, but here nonetheless. Trigger answered the pilot with a hail of MG57 fire, but he couldn't get a clean shot; the damned Cactus-mech-thing moved like a sprinter, always one step ahead of the bullets even when he tried to compensate. He caught a glimpse of Doomedguy taking pistol potshots to no avail, but he couldn't focus on that either. Finally, Trigger heard the ping he'd been waiting for: Missile lock! Apparently Buddy had the same idea, because a trio of missiles rapidly converged on the enemy in a cramped tunnel. No way she could dodge that...

Three explosions sounded one after another, but the smoke cleared with no signs of damage to the enemy. Thin trails of smoke wafted from two sets of still-spinning barrels protruding from the AC's shoulders, and he could only imagine she was smiling smugly in the cockpit.

Saguaro: (Amused) "Bei interceptors, amigo! You think I've never seen missiles before?"

Trigger's snappy comeback was cut short by the Tanks firing another pair of shells, one of which punched a clean hole through Bergentrucking's core. Alarms flashed everywhere and the pilot could only grunt in response. He was already very glad that Tir City was footing the repair bill this time. No time for hesitation: Saguaro rushed him again to engage in brutal melee: Spiked limbs against Bergentrucking's mighty teeth. A lucky bite managed to crunch down on one of Needles' arms, but the other limb soon came down hard, taking the wolfmech's head with it.

(OOC: "Aw, not again! So glad I'm not paying for this.")

Buddy: "We need to retreat or get reinforcements now! We're getting torn apart!"

The desperation in his voice was obvious, but the replies came in quickly.

Swift: "I'm still in proximity. Don't die."

Rackham: "Confirmed, we've got the last rover. We're coming, just hold out a bit longer if you can."

Desperate to reduce the incoming fire, Buddy emptied a salvo of rockets and missiles into the nearest tank, deafening blast after blast hammering down upon the machine's black armor. It seemed for a moment as if it were all for naught, but then the hatch burst open with tongues of flame, shadowy human shapes fleeing the wreck.

Buddy: "One Isaac Tank confirmed destroyed."

Following his partner's logic, Trigger turned his weapons toward the other tank, battering it with everything he had; alas, even as he ran out of explosives, the machine was still moving, and fast! Trigger tried to force his AC to back away, but he just wasn't fast enough, and Bergentrucking was caught under the tank's treads, metal grips chewing the Wolfmech's armor. Suddenly, there was a horrible sound like flesh tearing asunder, and all of his equipment went dead. Sensors out, systems out, even the radio rendered nonfunctional. Bergentrucking was dead in the water.

Meanwhile, Buddy had been darting back and forth with Saguaro, trying to stay out of the cactus-mech's melee swing radius as best he could. He just needed to buy time...but he could see that he didn't have time as he watched the non-smoldering Tank back off of Bergentrucking's wreck and lower its cannon, lining up a final shot. Fortunately, something else fired first.

A Jing GPAC with one leg mangled to uselessness and the name "Redeemer" scratched onto the side leaned up against the corner Buddy had abandoned, battle cannon's barrel still glowing red from its firing cycle. The shots were perfect, reducing the tank's main cannon to uselessness and severely damaging the treads. It might theoretically still be functional, but it wasn't going to do much like this.

Swift: "That's for Ebon, you bastards."

Saguaro: "Ah, you've returned!"

Abandoning Buddy, Saguaro closed the distance between Needles and Redeemer in the blink of an eye, casually impaling the GPAC with both arms.

Swift: "I spit on-"

The radio went dead as Redeemer lost engine power. Saguaro sounded far too cheery as she pulled her mech's arms from the hulk, turning to Doomedguy as two ineffectual pistol rounds grazed her armor.

Saguaro: "Well, this has been fun, hasn't it? But we'd best finish up."

Needles charged, terrible fists shattering the motors in Doomedguy's legs, and the AC collapsed to the ground. With no chance to escape and a terrible foe bearing down on him, Buddy took aim and fired one last shot. Miraculously, it struck true.

(OOC note: Natural 12, finally.)

The bullet hit a weak point on an already frail AC, and one of its legs collapsed out from under it mid-dash. Needles crumpled against the grountd, flailing ineffectually for a brief moment before suddenly going very still.

Saguaro: "...Very well. I surrender."

Buddy: "..."

Saguaro: "...You are working with Tir City, yes? Do you, on behalf of Tir City, accept my surrender?"

Buddy: "...Yes."

Things were quiet after that. Relief arrived quickly enough to arrest the survivors, and recovery crews began the arduous process of dragging a pair of disabled mechs all the way back to Tir City. Still, could have been a lot worse.

Trigger: "I'm really glad we're not footing the bill on this one."


Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: New Contact
Text: Hey Herman, it's Sandy. Rackham never got that message you sent, and it doesn't seem like the servers lost it on our end. Believe me, I've looked. I dunno what's up with that, but whatever happened has got to be on your end.

Hope you're putting those missiles to good use. Ebon's dead, but Doc managed to get Swift patched up in time. Redeemer's beyond saving, though; ironic, that. That tank column and AC was the primary thrust of the attack; they were just trying to cut us off and take out our elites, focusing on isolation rather than planning to attack through the backdoor. We think we got all of the mapping teams, but we'll keep looking.

That pilot you fought, Saguaro? She's a wacky one. Just a teenager once we pried her out of the cockpit, cursed in Spanish at us when Jackie pinned her leg under a piece of steel for a bit. She's not NRB, just a Concord Merc who got in a little over her head taking on four ACs. Colonel Halley tried to offer her Ebon's job, and I think Swift would have strangled him for the audacity of it if she weren't bedridden. Just business, you know? She didn't take him up on it, though, just paid one of our mechanics - generously - to fix up her AC's legs and bought a train ticket to head back to Val City as soon as the Brass agreed that keeping a Concord pilot as a POW would be riskier than it was worth.

Stay safe out there, Trigger.

Dr. LAW Mundy
2017-10-25, 11:44 AM
Tir City has been lost in battle. Trigger and Rackham among casualties. Refugees flee to Jemeztown before settling at the newly acquired base. Leads on the whereabouts of Sonen have been found. Bower double crosses Stan and Buddy and skips town. New character joins the team. Buddy gets infested after being exposed to bioorganism.

BladeofObliviom
2017-10-29, 08:02 PM
Sender: [email protected]

Subject: Impressive Work

Text: I wish to congratulate you all on your first completed assignment, and moreover on the impressive nature of its completion; not many successfully defeat two ranking pilots on their first official sortie. KROSSCorp clearly picked the right people for the job. My master was impressed and wishes to see you in action once more; I have arranged for a mission to be sent to you outside of the usual channels.

I do hope you will consider working with us.




The railway from Val City to Arcadia to Sung City was an all-important economic spine between three of the greatest and most populous cities in the Layers - or indeed outside the Layers in Arcadia's case. Needless to say, there was significant profit to be had here, and several corporations ran their own lines along the route, directly or through their subsidiaries.

But in the end, who runs the line is less important than who uses it.

Blossom sat alone in the first-class car with her thoughts and a glass of whiskey. Someone must have recognized her; she'd bought a coach ticket under a false name, and had been mysteriously upgraded to first-class. Apparently, nobody else bought a first-class ticket, not even the elderly couple that she'd watched purchase one ahead of her. Some days, being a wealthy heiress could be inconvenient, especially when one was trying to travel incognito. She did her best to relax and nurse her drink; at maglev speed the trip would take no more than an hour and a half, and a significant portion of that would be a stop in Arcadia.

It was still so strange in some ways, like a trance: Cyrus, a man she'd known for years, had died ignobly only the night before last, and her brother's schedule had cleared up just as suddenly; something was going on, and not knowing what had her on edge. But despite everything, the trip went smoothly and she disembarked in Sung without issue.


The Sung City Rail Station was located on the east side of town, in a "neutral ground". While Sung City was governed by the People's Assembly (Theoretically a representative republic, with representatives coming from each city district and some surrounding smaller towns), most of the real power was held by DIS and of course the Bei Fong Family; both functionally owned a large number of representatives, though neither could totally dominate. The Rail Station was located in a district whose representative had no particular allegiance to DIS or BFI, though he was a shareholder in the Sung Rail Company. Thus, safe territory (if not quite friendly).

Blossom made her way on foot toward the Bei Fong Industries building; she knew the way. Located in the second-nicest part of town, BFI's headquarters was a towering structure that buried itself both under the street and into the top of the cavernous space known as Sung City. Once upon a time the building was a hotel, and most of the old suites were converted into Offices when the Bei Fong Syndicate established itself as a legitimate entity fifty years ago. Still, it has a certain opulence to it, like you'd expect of a high-class hotel. The specific place she sought, the office of Corvos Bei Fong, was actually the former penthouse: An elaborate office-home where Corvos lived and worked, accessible by Elevator.

Immediately important was the gatekeeper, the secretary sitting at the adjacent desk. Blossom knew her - Ms. Johanna Venito, her brother's right hand, a taller-than-average brunette woman with glasses, freckles, and a slightly hooked nose. Nothing less than the image of professionalism, she wore a waistcoat over a pinstriped blouse with a black tie. Her eyes darted to Blossom as the other woman approached, and she caught just the slightest hint of tension. How strange.

Blossom: "Lovely to see you, Johanna."

Blossom went directly for the first name, plying her personal charm and familiarity. Johanna looked back pointedly, not quite glaring but also not quite not glaring.

Johanna: "Good Morning, Ms. Bei Fong.", she replied with a measured tone, cold and professional.

Blossom: "Oh, why so stern? We're practically family."

(OOC Note: Successful charm roll.)

Her conversation partner frowned harder for a brief moment, but then released a deep breath, and the tension with it.

Johanna: "You're right, I'm sorry."

Johanna: "Your brother's been overloading his schedule, and shuffling everything around at the last second was frustrating the first time, much less the second."

Johanna: "I shouldn't have lashed out at you, that wasn't fair."

Blossom: "The second? Who came before me?"

She visibly stiffened at the question. It didn't take an expert body-reader to tell that she said more than she meant to. Apparently seeing no point in lying, she sighed and acquiesced.

Johanna: "Er, a young girl, no older than a teenager."

She looked both ways before leaning in and whispering.

Johanna: "Said her name was Tanith, and I think she was Iron Clan."

Blossom: "Really now? Fascinating. Who knew my brother got along so well with little girls?", she joked. Johanna stifled a snort.

Johanna: "I hope not. He's been known to invite young women to the penthouse before, but never quite that young."

Blossom (still being facetious): "Maybe he needs advice for my birthday present? Though I was always under the impression that you picked them out for me."

Johanna: "Officially I did no such thing." A smirk.

Blossom: "Well, I've always loved them."

Johanna (smiling earnestly): "I'm glad to hear that." And with that, Blossom was shooed away with a free hand. "I'm so sorry, but I have work to catch up on and you have an appointment to make."

Blossom: "Of course, it was wonderful to see you."

Johanna: "...I do wish your brother would rest more so his siblings didn't have to make appointments on company time to see him, but it is what it is. Stay safe, Asami."

(Blossom's Player: "Into the office! That lady needs a raise.")


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/srjBvNbWrTY)


Blossom took the express elevator directly to what was once the Penthouse Suite, and in all honestly still closely resembled a Penthouse Suite. It was an opulent room with checkerboard tile, a grand staircase, and a small fountain in the entryway...

...as well as someone she didn't recognize watching the elevator: A twisted hulk of a woman with long and stringy black hair, snaggle-teeth, a dull expression, and a visibly hunched posture. Even with the hunch, she was almost nine feet tall and built of muscle. Blossom could only imagine what kind of heart she must have to avoid passing out: She looked like she could crush rocks to dust with her bare hands. With this in mind, Blossom carefully resisted the urge to chuckle at her apparently custom-tailored, bright red smoking jacket. Instead, she smiled awkwardly.

The mutant ever-so-slowly adopted a huge smile in return. "Isawmee Buhfawnguh?", she asked, clearly having serious trouble with the pronunciation.

Blossom: "Yes, that's me."

The mutant shakily nodded, before returning to her guard stance. Apparently she was just watching the elevator, not that Blossom was made to wait long. Corvos threw open the doors at the top of the Grand Staircase and took a few steps forward before leaning casually over the rail.

Corvos Bei Fong was an imperious man: Tall, with broad shoulders, and clad in a charcoal-colored overcoat with gold embroidery, worn open with a matching waistcoat. His knee-high boots were made from synth-lambskin and cinched with gold-plated buckles. He wore his wavy silver hair long and tied back with a silk ribbon. He had fair skin and pronounced cheekbones, with eye shadow and irises always accenting his wardrobe in indigo and emerald. The phrases most often used to describe his debonair good looks were "dreadfully handsome" and "rather pretty for a man". Somehow he looked no older than twenty-five, despite the fact that Asami knew him to be thirty. He had all the luck in the family: Lykon's Identical Twin, but aged better for some reason. Unlike Lykon he's also sort of a dandy.

Corvos: "Asami! What have you been up to?"

Blossom: "Oh, the usual! Reading, gardening, laying waste to secret buildings in a multi-ton suit."

Corvos: "Ah, you do take after Bella after all. Gardening aside; I've never known her to willingly engage with nature of any sort, at least not before it's been processed into paper and written on."

Corvos: "Oh, and don't mind Ogre. She's the best bodyguard a man could ask for but sadly not much for conversation."

Blossom: "Is that what you named her? It doesn't suit her, she's a delicate maiden."

Corvos: "Personally, I think it rolls off the tongue better than 'Rare and Terrifying Result of Contaminants in the Water Supply', but perhaps that's a matter of taste."

Ogre does not seem to mind much, at any rate, merely continuing to watch the elevator.

Blossom: "Well, that aside, we do have some business to attend to. I believe you're pressed for time?"

Corvos: "Lykon did mention you had business."

He pushed back from the railing and began to descend.

Corvos: "Would you like anything? I've found that discussing matters over the kitchen table works just as well as the office proper unless you're trying to frighten a man."

Blossom: "Anything is fine as long as I don't have to worry about pesky bugs."

Corvos: "Bugs?" He stumbled in faux-shock. "Just what are they feeding you in Val City?"

Blossom: "Oh dear brother, nothing but the best once you've gotten a rank in the top 50. But surely you know what I'm referring to?"

Corvos: "This place is as private as a place can be, Asami."

Blossom: "Very well then. I have a present, a nice vintage surface wine. Would you like some?"

Corvos shrugged and retrieved a pair of wine glasses from his kitchen cabinet, setting both down on the table as Blossom continued.

Blossom: "I've noticed you've been working quite a bit and making interesting connections."

Corvos: "Have you now?", he replied with a curious and just ever-so-slightly smarmy tone. "That is my job, as I'm sure you're aware."

Blossom: "Yes, but with little girls and DIS subsidiaries?"

She asked the question with a barb, but he didn't even flinch at the veiled accusation.

Corvos: "Little g-oh. I may need to have a conversation with Ms. Venito regarding basic confidentiality. Still, the meeting in question was nothing particularly strange, I assure you." He paused a moment, looking down at the glasses to pour out wine for both of them. "She demanded to meet me, actually."

Blossom (fake-laughing): "I can't help but worry about my big brother."

Corvos: "I can't imagine why seeing our niece would be cause for alarm.", he says with a matter-of-fact smile, as if he didn't just reveal a new family member Asami had never met. "There's no harm in telling you, I think: Tanith Marius is Lykon's daughter."

(Blossom's player: *Mental Record Scratch*)

Blossom: "Oh dear, is she in trouble? Why would she need to visit you on such short notice?"

Corvos: "Ha! No, if anything you're the one in trouble. She was investigating the untimely death of one of our beloved employees."

Blossom: "Oh...yes...that."

Where some would be thrown off by a sudden shift, though, Blossom knew her own brother well enough to identify a deflection when she saw one.

Blossom: "Why would she come to you to investigate, anyway? I haven't even reported to the main estate on the matter. Why would you know so much?"

Corvos: "Come now, Asami, you already know the answer to that. I do believe it was Mr. Wynter and yourself who arranged to have the body transported."

Blossom: "That isn't as interesting as the one who pulled the trigger and the situation itself. I'm sure that's what she was investigating, and I have my suspicions."

Corvos leaned in with his head resting on top of his hands, elbows planted on the table. "Oh?"

Blossom: "I told Mr. Wynter I'd report the incident myself and he hates to make reports, so just who told you about this?"

Corvos (examining his nails): "You gave your name to Mr. Wynter's Night Market contact. All I did was ask him."

Blossom (growing slightly frustrated): "He knew nothing but my name and his task."

Corvos (smugly, with undisguised curiosity): "...And I did not intend to imply that I knew more detail than that."

Blossom: "...You'd think the Iron Clan would know that without coming to you."

(OOC note: Critical Success on the social roll here.)

Corvos frowned almost imperceptibly at that.

Corvos: "Fine. If you must be so insistent...well, do you know what a graybox is?"

Blossom: "I've heard of those, yes. A data storage implant? What are you suggesting?"

Corvos: "It's fortunate that you had his body sent here, for more than just a funeral. You knew Cyrus as well as I, surely you noticed how strange his eyes were? They were bionic - and interfaced with a graybox."

(OOC note: Dramatic Pause. Blossom's player didn't interject.)

Corvos: "He recorded everything. Every single thing he looked at with those eyes, saved into that tiny piece of titanium and silicon. Everything witnessed by Father's confidant and one of his best men."

Blossom: "Well then you must understand why I'm here. As you can see a certain corporation is up to something. I've noticed that you've been meetings with Kind Red and AUS. You must understand why I am concerned."

Corvos (shaking his head): "An interesting theory, but I'm afraid you're missing some key pieces. Cyrus' eyes were a prototype model from when Bei Fong Industries briefly attempted to compete with Kind Red openly on the cybernetics market. The graybox was an unauthorized, third-party alteration added later, and we don't know where it came from."

Corvos: "Yet.", he added after a short pause. He looked away, still frowning. "If you ask me? Insurance policy. A little package designed to make us regret it if we ever turned on him." He scoffed. "Paranoid bastard."

Blossom: "So how much were you able to see from the graybox?"

Corvos: "Moi?" He gestured to himself. "Not a peek. The data was encrypted, and an Iron Clan Agent came by to pick it up long before I could have cracked that shell. But you know all about that."

Blossom: "Is that so? Well I suppose we should focus more on you and your connections to DIS. Lucky you!"

Corvos only scoffed again.

Corvos: "Now, now, if you're going to make wild accusations the least you can do is stop being coy about how our dear friend met his fate."

Blossom: "DIS threatened me, Cyrus protected me. Now he's dead."

Corvos: "Goodness, Asami, 2/10 for effort on that deflection, I know you can do better than that."

Blossom: "I'm not here for deflection, I'm here to make sure our family stays safe. That includes you. I saw how easily the murderer handled Cyrus, and he was no weakling."

Corvos (nods, smiling just slightly): "Let me guess. PLUS?"

Blossom: "Y-yes..."

Corvos: "No doubt. Drake can be so predictable in that regard; can't even put a spy somewhere without filling the poor fool with enough metal to make a set of cutlery."

Blossom: "And from what I can tell, they're picking off their enemies and nuisances one-by-one through business both legitimate and underhanded."

Corvos: "Should I assume you have a corkboard somewhere? Lots of newspaper articles, pins, and red yarn?"

Blossom: "Actually, I have eyes. I'm certain you've heard of those?"

Corvos: "Here I was worried that your sharp tongue had shrivelled from disuse! This is the part where I ask why DIS' current attempts to get rid of their enemies should concern me any more than all the other times they have done the exact same thing."

Blossom: "Because they're trying to hire a Bei Fong to do their dirty work."

Corvos: "Care to elaborate?"

Blossom: "I may be avoiding my name in Val City, but of course they knew who I am. They wanted Wynter, myself, and a few of my comrades to capture a rogue PLUS subject. Rather than hire, they flanked us in a small room with weapons more than capable of killing Cyrus."

Corvos: "Well I'd imagine so, lethal weapons aren't much good if they can't kill an unarmored human." He considers this information a moment. "Are you sure they intended to hire you?"

Blossom: "I'm still looking into it. The DIS representative had a guard. He's an AC pilot but I'm pretty sure he's been watching me and I don't think he has the mental capacity to fall for my good looks."

Corvos chuckled sensibly at that.

Corvos: "I'd certainly be cautious in your place. DIS Agents can be many things, but few are fools. I doubt they'd try to hire a Bei Fong without some ulterior motive. Frankly, if a DIS Agent had you cornered and let you go, it's because they think they've put themselves in a situation where they cannot lose."

Blossom: "What do you suggest I do?"

Corvos: "I'd be lying if I had an answer, but a bit of advice? Consider how not doing what you were told might help your enemies, and work from there."

Blossom: "Well I wasn't planning on doing their dirty work, but they'll know who tipped off the rogue. I'm not sure I could take on Perfect even from my mech...actually, I have some ideas on what to do."

Corvos nods approvingly. "We'll make a politician out of you yet!"

Blossom: "Now wouldn't I love to tip the balance in Sung city to our favor. I do enjoy challenges."

Corvos: "It's a work in progress."

There was a sound from the other room as the elevator opened, and she heard Ogre telling someone to wait.

Blossom: "...Time for your next appointment?"

Corvos: "Yes, it does look that way. I don't suppose you know the way down on your own?"

Blossom: "Go to the big doors and press the button. Rather difficult, but I can manage."

Blossom: "I'll be seeing you brother, take care and stop overworking poor Johanna!"

Corvos simply rolled his eyes and waved goodbye.

On the way out, Blossom spotted Ogre waiting patiently next to a very tall, very thin woman with bone-white hair and red eyes wearing a pinstriped black-and-white suit. She almost missed the literally dozens of hidden dagger-sheaths concealed under the fabric, though they looked empty from here. Even as they approached the elevator, the other woman nodded at her.

???: "Good morning, Blossom."

Blossom: "...Good morning. I'm sorry but have we met?"

???: "Not in person. My name is Jill Luna." She sounded like she was about to say something else when Ogre interrupted, telling her that the master will see her now. With that in mind, she nodded again as if to apologize and headed off toward the kitchen.

Blossom: "Nice to meet you..."

BladeofObliviom
2017-10-29, 08:03 PM
Is anyone still reading this? I have no idea. My update rate is atrocious, I'm sad to say.

Still plenty to write, though. Ever-growing.

Emay Ecks
2017-10-30, 02:39 PM
I just saw this today and read through the whole thing. I have had a blast reading it! You've made me want to run a mech tabletop so badly! Although a lot of it has got to be your players, they are fantastic well-engaged role-players, and I love their banter and conversations! I also love the world; the fun pilots (player and npc alike), fun mechs, and fun theme-music they have. Thank you very much for posting this campaign journal, reading it really made my day.

BladeofObliviom
2017-10-30, 07:02 PM
Mission 4: Gordian Knot



(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/GCPml66m0cQ)



Sung City Shuffle: 20 Spiral CAM
Employer: Spiral Technology Solutions
Theatre of Operations: Old San Francisco Ruins
Enemy Forces: DIS Convoy and Escort, KROSSCorp Excavators
Conditions for Success: Break Ceasefire
Briefing: Ugh, I swear, is this thing on? Alright, this is Lana Cross speaking on behalf of SpiralTech. This mission will send you to San Francisco, located on the surface above Sung City. The area is hazardous, but there are quite a few gems and treasures buried if you know where to look. KROSSCorp has a dedicated excavation team mining the place out, and it seems like DIS is trading parts to them in return for some goodies.

Corporate wants you to go in and ruin the next deal. DIS won't ignore blatant theft, and they won't believe Krozna's PR guys when they say some random ACs showed up and raided the convoy for no reason.

San Fran is not a joke, and any mist you can see is corrosive. The water is even more corrosive. Try not to die.


Operator: "This is K.K. Sonnen. You're being deployed into Old San Francisco via Sung City Surface Access, as local conditions are too hazardous to fly in. Your ACs are hermetically sealed to prevent exposure to local toxins, but avoid contact with concentrated fogbanks and liquid at all costs - both are known for their corrosive properties. Do not unseal your AC under any conditions."

Old San Francisco was, by all accounts, an utterly forsaken stretch of land. As far as the eye could see, cold, crumbling buildings half-emerged from sickly water, thick fogbanks of crimson and yellow rolling through intermittently. A few hills crested the water's surface, but by and large only the tops of buildings and some of the highway passes could be considered 'safe', or whatever passed for safe here.

This time, they'd gathered the whole gang: Thunder, Trigger, Blossom, Buddy, and Hellfire were all deployed and ready for danger.

Operator: "Spiral Technology Solutions Mission Parameters: Approach enemy rendezvous point and destroy any DIS forces in your path. Exterminate all enemies located at the point of interest, then return to the Surface Access for Extraction. I will be providing updates throughout this operation.

Good luck."

Thunder took the lead, jumpjetting to a nearby highway overpass, followed by Hellfire, and rather more slowly followed by the other three pilots.

Thunder: "We're going to pick a fight with who-knows-how-many DIS Mechs and their drone complements in the middle of this deathtrap. What's not to like?"

Hellfire: "Let's go with the Deathtrap part."

Buddy: "Same."

They progressed steadily along the raised highway, taking care to avoid the less stable-looking edges and avoiding any fog that passed over. They took note of a few KROSSCorp ARANEA excavator teams scavenging in some of the nearby buildings, but didn't engage. Finally, a contact cut the steadily-growing tension: A silhouette in the fog ahead.

It may have been bone-thin and surrounded by inhuman shapes, but it was definitely a mech. Trigger didn't hesitate.

Trigger: "Mech up ahead, other side of the fog. Engaging!"

Burstfire rang out into the otherwise eerily-silent fogbank...followed by four inhuman screeches: AUS Drones. The silhouette readied its own weapons even as the fog began to clear, and the battle was joined in earnest. Four Drones, machines that the players immediately recognized as an AUS-α Lemure, two AUS-β Nupperibos, and an AUS-ε Malebranche!

Blossom directed Steel Hibiscus to kneel and picked out a target: One of the Nupperibo drones, to take it out before it could reach close range. Her sniper cannon was as accurate as it was lethal, taking the offending machine out with a single shot.

Blossom: "Got one of the ones with the blades. Hellfire, Thunder, engage freely but watch out for the other one."

Hellfire: "Gotcha."

Lightning and Brimstone didn't waste time, activating jumpjets to place themselves up close and personal. Lightning neatly quartered the Lemure before it could fire a single shot even as Hellfire pressed both shotguns to the remaining Nupperibo and pulled. Two more clean kills, and they'd dispersed enough fog to safely clear the area.

They could clearly see the mech now: Spindly, tall, and armed in a manner distinctive of Drake Imperial Science: A CO-A01 "Barbatos" MPAC, still backed up by a single Malebranche Drone. It wasted no time moving backward in a serpentine pattern, spraying pulse rifle rounds with improbable accuracy at Lightning's Arms, though the energized particles couldn't seem to inflict any serious damage.

CO-A01 “Barbatos”: A tall, spindly DIS MPAC, the Barbatos is extremely fast and lightly-armored, designed for skirmishes rather than prolonged battles. Barbatos MPACs are typically armed with a Levistus Pulse Rifle and a Cania-type Burst MG, as well as a drone controller and a complement of drones to compose a scout team.

CO-Levistus Pulse Rifle: An extremely accurate particle-based light machine gun designed by DIS. While it lacks armor-penetrating power, its range is second only to dedicated sniper weapons and its handling is second to none.

CO-Cania Pulse Grenade MG: A rapid-fire Grenade Launcher used primarily by DIS forces, designed for use with specialized anti-vehicle explosives. While these intense bursts of electromagnetic energy are extremely effective against computers and anything with a lot of circuitry, most common armors are hardened against this sort of assault. Still, no armor is perfect, and the Cania-type can prove quite destructive against lightly-armored foes.

AUS Drones, of course, were introduced back in the Avici Facility.

Lightning: "...You bitch."

For his part, Buddy advanced behind DoomedGuy's shield, taking two shots at the Malebranche, and putting a few new holes in its armor. Made of sterner stuff than the other two Drones, though, it responded by spraying Buddy with its Cania-type Grenade MG.

Buddy: "Aaagh, I regret everything!"

The series of explosions battered the pilot's shield to near-uselessness, but he didn't have to wait long before Trigger relieved him: Skating along on all four leg-mounted boosters, Bergentrucking blitzed the Malebranche with its NRB-57 and finished it off with deadly teeth. Trigger laughed with joy over the comms.

That just left the Barbatos. Still barely within range, Blossom lined up a shot...and missed, the spindly thing dancing out of her shot's path with improbable grace.

Blossom: "Damn it, how is this thing so fast?"

MPAC Pilot: "Die, Rebel!"

Switching tactics, Blossom concentrated on penetrating the other pilot's systems remotely. The security measures were far superior to what she was used to - apparently DIS systems were more sophisticated than she realized - but when she got in...

Blossom: "...This pilot's hardwired into the AC. It's PLUS!"

Her hacking slowed the enemy down, and it didn't take the Dynamic Duo of Lightning and Brimstone long to catch up and disable the enemy mech.

Thunder: "What the hell happened to you?"

MPAC Pilot: "H...AAAATE. D...die, rebel."

Blossom: "It doesn't have to be like this. I don't know what Drake did to you, but..."

MPAC Pilot: "You...will...all...diiiiiiiiiie..."

Lightning impaled the core with both blades, and the voice stopped.

Hellfire: "Well, that was horrible. How about we move on?"

---

Further down the overpass, they came upon the mission objective: A massive building, towering over the waterline, but one of the lower levels was reachable from the side of the overpass with a good jump.

Operator: "Objective ahead. Be advised, building is structurally deficient and contains many AUS-drones, as well as at least two Barbatos MPACs and a Mephistopheles MPAC. Exercise caution with each step and do not allow yourself to be ambushed."

Even as Thunder and Brimstone began to warm up their jumpjets, Trigger flicked on the comms.

Trigger: "Wait."

Everyone: "What's up?"

Trigger: "This is a top-heavy, who-knows-how-old, structurally deficient concrete building that's been sitting in a pool of seawater and toxic sludge since before we were born. And it's full of enemies."

Buddy: "Wait. Are you seriously suggesting..?"

Trigger: "We have how many high explosive rockets and missiles, again?"

Buddy: "Oh gosh, he is."

Trigger: "And I'm a certified Demolitions expert."

((OOC Note: This is most assuredly a lie. Trigger has no such certification, and his activities involving explosives have given him an official designation as a Domestic Terrorist in several major cities. It is, however, true that he has multiple skill points in Demolitions.))

Blossom: "...This is insane. I'm in. You know where to aim to optimize this? We only have so much to work with."

Trigger pointed out nine spots that were, as far as he could tell, important load-bearing members, and assigned a rough guess at what it would take to bring them down to each of them. They picked their targets, lined up their shots, and...

Trigger: "Three, Two, One."

The building's walls at the waterline were engulfed in a firestorm of missile strikes, high-explosive warheads, and even a few carefully-placed potshots from Blossom's Sniper Cannon. Before long, the entire building was tipping parallel to the highway, DIS mechs scrambling (and failing) to escape in time...

...And then it sunk completely beneath the water, along with the other three buildings it landed on. Nothing could have survived that, and surely anything that did would succumb to the drink before long.

Operator: "...A novel approach. Mission Complete. Return to extraction point."

BladeofObliviom
2017-10-30, 07:04 PM
Another update! Mission 4 is out. Figured I'd keep writing while I had some momentum. This mission is short because my PCs outsmarted my premise. :smalltongue:




I just saw this today and read through the whole thing. I have had a blast reading it! You've made me want to run a mech tabletop so badly! Although a lot of it has got to be your players, they are fantastic well-engaged role-players, and I love their banter and conversations! I also love the world; the fun pilots (player and npc alike), fun mechs, and fun theme-music they have. Thank you very much for posting this campaign journal, reading it really made my day.

Yesssssss, feeeeed my ego.

But really, this sort of thing is very encouraging to hear! I've relayed your praise to the players in question too.

D-naras
2017-10-31, 03:33 AM
I also thirst for hot Mech-on-Mech Action. Keep it coming or I might stab something.

Calthropstu
2017-10-31, 08:00 AM
I saw the thread title and thought... "so that's how new transformers are made."

NRSASD
2017-10-31, 11:10 AM
Just found your journal and I love it! Which says something, cause I normally avoid anime/mecha inspired stuff like the plague. So congratulations on catching someone outside your intended audience!

Beacon of Chaos
2017-10-31, 12:28 PM
Is anyone still reading this? I have no idea. My update rate is atrocious, I'm sad to say.

Still plenty to write, though. Ever-growing.
Just caught up. I'm enjoying it.

BladeofObliviom
2017-11-04, 02:23 AM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ko-0jUzF4U)

Disembarking from the hangar once more, the players were met by a familar face lurking outside: Dashing again, this time with crimson hair. Not one of them missed the agitation on her face as she waved them over.

Dashing: "Hey there! How'd the mission go?"

Murmurs of suspicion could be heard through the group even as they approached; understandable after what happened last time they completed a mission.

Trigger (suspiciously): "It went well. How about yours?"

Dashing (with amazingly fake laughter): "Hahaha, it went well. Hey, you guys busy?"

Blossom stared harder at Dashing, and the visible bead of sweat rolling down her face.

Blossom (predatory grin): "And what if we are?"

Dashing: (squeaking) "Nothing!" (less overtly nervous) "Not a problem, I mean, haha. I was just going to ask if you all wanted to get dinner at the Red Lantern Grill with me. To celebrate that you're all Concord Top 50 now."

That last part, at least, sounded sincere. Thunder released a breath he'd been holding; either she didn't know, or she did.

Thunder recognized the Red Lantern Grill as a local front for Night Market Activities. His streetwise skill came in handy here, along with a circumstance bonus for actually being associated with the Night Market.

Thunder: "Sounds good. That's the upscale sushi bar in downtown, right? You guys gotta be hungry by now, right?"

Dashing (less nervously): "That's right. Nice sit-down place. Rogue's Gallery's still closed, so it's the next-best hangout spot. Damn shame all they've got is the Beibevbar stuff, but in a pinch..."

The rest of the party looked at Thunder warily as he subtly gestured to play along for now...and one by one, they admitted that yes, they could go for some sushi.

---

Dashing's Jalopy was a little bit tight seating six, and Thunder and Blossom took Thunder's bike instead. That left Trigger, Buddy, and Hellfire in Dashing's car. Leaving Freeport's parking garage in the old muscle car felt strangely underwhelming after so much time in a mech, but Dashing's driving helped make up for any missing thrill; true to her name, the woman was a speed demon through and through.

Trigger: "Alright, what the hell was that about?"

Dashing (Sighing): "Sorry about that, didn't know if I was being watched. I'm not cut out for this Cloak and Dagger crap."

Hellfire: "We noticed. Everyone noticed. Whatever random flunky they had manning the cameras noticed. You are the worst liar."

Dashing: "Nah, the worst liar is Jack. Can't even pretend to laugh at a bad joke without scrunching up her face like she's-HEY, WATCH IT!" (Slams horn)

Buddy: "You just ran a red light, that was totally your-"

Dashing (out window): "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!"

Hellfire: "Rebecca. Seriously. The hell."

Dashing: "Heh. Right. Sorry. Look, something's rotten around here, and I don't know who I can trust. I'll get into the details later, but something is wrong and you guys are wrapped up in it. The bad kind of wrapped up."

Hellfire: "...This better not be some kind of trick. Thunder trusts you, but I don't know why."

Dashing (...): "That's probably good. Keep your guard up. I'll tell you everything, I just don't want to explain it twice. How're you guys liking your new Operator?"

Trigger: "...The hell is that supposed to mean?"

Dashing (Surprised): "...You mean..? Damn. I'll explain everything. I promise."

Hellfire: "...Fine. Why the Red Lantern Grill?"

Dashing: "Because I'm hungry and want fish. Not everything has to be spy movie bull****."

Buddy: "..."

---

The Red Lantern Grill was a little hole-in-the-wall just off of Main Street, next to an alley Blossom and Thunder quickly recognized as the Graver hideout where they'd tracked down "Slimy Steve" a couple of weeks ago. Now that it was brighter out, there was no missing the little inscription in the doorframe: A bit of Night Market code indicating that the storefront had paid protection money. Inside, the Red Lantern Grill smelled strongly of roasting and raw fish. The place was extravagant...just as one might expect of a restaurant that imports fish all the way from the surface: Faux-wood and rice paper were the dominant aesthetic, along with the titular red lanterns (actually just electric lights hidden behind red paper).

Dashing quickly pulled everyone into a relatively private booth, and pulled a slip of paper out of her back pocket.

Thunder: "The hell is all this about, Dashing?"

Dashing: "Alright, sorry for that whole thing. I couldn't tell you everything in Freeport, I don't know where they have eyes. Something is seriously wrong, and I've got a feeling you guys are at the pointy end of whatever this is."

Blossom: "Explain."

Dashing (Embarrassed): "Look, before I say anything else, you guys know I don't take every rookie pilot who survives a mission out for drinks, right? I, uh, heard that Sonnen took on a new squad and narrowed it down to you guys."

Thunder: "...You stalked us."

Dashing (Nervous): "I-I figured that you guys were worth knowing if you caught Sonnen's eye, okay? Not easy to do. K.K. Sonnen is a goddamn legend."

Trigger: "Whatever. What's that slip of paper?"

Dashing: "R-right! Right. So...funny story. There's this intern at the Val City Herald who is kind of my biggest fan. Kid's a little obsessive really. Not the point. She let slip something about a censored article a couple of days ago, and she saved a print...well, I think you all ought to see it for yourself."

She passed the folded sheet to the other side of the table, where Hellfire was sitting. The man gracefully palmed and unfolded it, quietly reading aloud.

Hellfire: "War Hero Kelly Catherine Sonnen, aged 53, assumed dead after apartment fire in Val Cit-THE HELL?!"

Dashing (nodding): "Yeah, basically my reaction. And when Trigger didn't know what I was talking about in the car..."

Trigger: "...No way. We talked to her today. What?"

Hellfire: "Says here they didn't find a body. Maybe they retracted the obituary because she turned up fine?"

Trigger: "Belay that, what's all this 'War Hero' business? You called her a legend a minute ago."

Dashing: "You mean you don't know? Huh. Sunny? Halcyon Millennium? Any of this ringing a bell?"

Hellfire: "Nnnno?"

Dashing: "Sunny! She was Concord's best pilot before she retired. Spearheaded the final charge of the NX Suppression War? Is all of this really new to you?"

((OOC Note: Nobody did well on their Int rolls here.))

Dashing: "Huh. Well, it's an open secret that Sunny the pilot was K.K. Sonnen outside the cockpit, and she was the best in the business. A true ace. They say she personally destroyed a hundred NX trainers. That's probably an exaggeration."

Blossom: "That's all great, but we still don't know what's going on."

Dashing: "Look, I don't know either. Something feels wrong though, and I've got a bad feeling that the Sonnen you all talked to today wasn't the same Sonnen, if you catch my drift."

Thunder: "Can't hurt to investigate. We have any leads?"

Hellfire: "Says here the fire started because of an explosion in her apartment, at Perihelion Suites Number 1010. No way in hell that's been cleaned up in two days. Probably still a police perimeter."

Trigger: "I bet I can slip in there, if Buddy can spot for me."

Buddy: "Right behind ya."

Dashing: "One other thing. Princess and Prodigy cancelled their missions today and holed up in their rooms and no one knows why."

Hellfire: "...I kinda know Prodigy. Maybe she'll let me in?"

Dashing: "You can try, good luck though. I've seen her pissed and it is not pretty."

Blossom: "That's all well and good, but anyone censoring stuff in the Herald would have to have to be in a serious position of power...like Concord Leadership. The Septette."

The Septette is the faceless leadership of Concord. The Council has seven seats, and they pull strings all over. Informally neutral with regard to both Corporate Politics and actual State Politics, they nevertheless wield quite a lot of power with very little accountability for it. The members of the Septette are kept anonymous, and direct dealings with them are always done through a screen with voice modulation and identity-concealing masks.

Dashing: "I happen to know that Narcissus is a member of the Septette. I don't know which of the seven he is, but he's on the board. Maybe if you can get ahold of him somehow..."

Thunder: "...I know Gambler. They're both Concord Exclusives, right? Work directly for the Septette. Maybe Gambler can hook us up."

Dashing: "That's...worth a shot, I guess. I feel in over my head, to be honest. Just...I had to warn you guys. I think I'm gonna head to Skye City in a few days to clear my head while this blows over. Be careful, alright? I like you guys."

They finished their meals and split up. They all had some investigating to do.

BladeofObliviom
2017-11-04, 02:34 AM
Interlude 4, Part 1 is up. Decided I was done writing for the night and didn't feel like waiting any longer to put it up; it's at a decent cutoff point for now, anyway.



I also thirst for hot Mech-on-Mech Action. Keep it coming or I might stab something.

*Gulps audibly*


I saw the thread title and thought... "so that's how new transformers are made."

No comment. (http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Reproduction)


Just found your journal and I love it! Which says something, cause I normally avoid anime/mecha inspired stuff like the plague. So congratulations on catching someone outside your intended audience!

Huh. Neat! If I may ask, what seems to be the differentiating factor? For curiosity's sake, is there some ephemeral, ineffable factor of taste that other series fail to meet in your eyes, or is there something specific that sets this apart?


Just caught up. I'm enjoying it.

Hooray!

Vizzerdrix
2017-11-05, 09:21 PM
Found and enjoyed. I used to play AC quite a bit untill #4 (I think). It was the one where the ACs started feeling too twitchy to the controls. Couldnt stand it. A mech is supposed to have some heft to its movement.

Also enjoyed the front mission series as well. Missles and shotties ftw.

BrutalZandax
2017-11-06, 11:39 PM
So very good. Can't wait for more.

SkipSandwich
2017-11-07, 03:19 PM
just discovered this thread. Have to say I love what you've done with the setting and npc's, it's clearly AC with the serial numbers filed off but you mange to put your own unique spin on it through all the little nods and references throughout the mech and character designs. Speaking of character references, I've spotted 5 of a particular series of 6 so far (plus a couple other related characters from the same source), and am not sure if i just missed it or if a character referencing the 6th just hasn't been introduced yet.

Dasher, Butterfly, Reveler, Princess and Elegant, I see what you did there :smallamused:

TriggerGunther
2017-11-07, 06:49 PM
just discovered this thread. Have to say I love what you've done with the setting and npc's, it's clearly AC with the serial numbers filed off but you mange to put your own unique spin on it through all the little nods and references throughout the mech and character designs. Speaking of character references, I've spotted 5 of a particular series of 6 so far (plus a couple other related characters from the same source), and am not sure if i just missed it or if a character referencing the 6th just hasn't been introduced yet.

Dasher, Butterfly, Reveler, Princess and Elegant, I see what you did there :smallamused:

you missed the most obvious of the group. Jack, AC Bucking Horse

BladeofObliviom
2017-11-09, 12:23 AM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwS056zXmLk)

Trigger: "So, that's the place."

Buddy: "Yep."

As it turned out, the Perihelion Suites building was not terribly difficult to find - Buddy and Trigger just had to look for the building with signs of a recent fire and a police line. Reasoning that it was unlikely that the Police would just let them walk in and investigate, they decided to try something else.

Buddy ducked into an alley across the street, clambering atop a dumpster to go for the fire escape.

Buddy: "Alright, good luck getting in. I'll provide overwatch from up here."

Trigger: "...Right. Why did I sign up for this again?"

Buddy: "Beats me."

The waster set up on the rooftop, watching the scorched windows with his rifle, carefully staying far enough away from the edge that the police at ground level wouldn't notice the man with a rifle. He peered through: There were definitely shapes moving in the shadows, poking around in the darkened suite.

Buddy (over Radio): "Trigger, you copy?"

Trigger: "Loud and clear."

Buddy: "There's someone moving around inside the burned-out apartment. Can't tell what they're doing, but keep an eye out."

Trigger: "Gotcha."

Trigger avoided the attention of the bored police officer by circling the tape, blending in with the crowds of other people moving about in residential Val City...and then he spotted an open, unguarded window. Seeing the opportunity, he broke from the crowd in and slipped in undetected. He didn't bother sticking to the shadows inside, nodding to passersby as if he lived there. Doing well so far, all things considered.

Buddy (Over Radio): "Trigger, someone inside is inspecting a gun they found. Looks like an NRB-9 SMG from here."

Trigger: "NRB? Hm."

Buddy (Over Radio): "I doubt it. They'd be stupid to leave evidence that obvious behind."

Trigger: "Could still be."

Buddy (Over Radio): "Anyway, two inside poking around. Looks like there's a third guarding the door, I think I see the silhouette of a rifle."

Trigger: "What kind of Police guard carries a rifle to warn people away from a crime scene?"

Buddy: "Val City Police, apparently. I don't like this."

Trigger soon spotted the police officer in question, peering carefully around the corner. This floor was deserted; there's no way he'd get away with just walking by to get close. He ducked back to a nearby bathroom, where he wouldn't be heard.

Trigger (over Radio): "Hey Buddy, can you make a distraction?"

Buddy: "What? No. Anything I could do to get their attention would start a firefight."

Trigger: "Damn. Maybe if I toss a flashbang..."

Buddy: "Are you crazy? They're Police, Trigger, if we start something here we'll be lucky to just get run out of town."

Trigger (Reluctantly): "Yeah, you're probably right. I'm pulling out."

Police Officer: "Is there someone in there? This area is off-limits."

Trigger: "Crap."

He still had time; the bathroom door was locked behind him. Trigger frantically looked around for an escape route...and spotted one: A laundry chute, next to the baby-changing station. If he squeezed...

((OOC Note: As it turns out, Trigger is really good at fitting into tight spaces.))

Police Officer: (Banging on door) "Whoever you are, come out with your hands up!"

Buddy (over Radio): "Trigger, they've left the room. Have you been spotted?"

Trigger didn't answer, and focused on escaping. Midway through his slide, something occurred to him.

Trigger: "Wait. Why would there be a laundry chute in a public bathroom? ...Craaaaap."

He plunged facefirst into the dumpster outside.

-----

(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0LDtwAaJBo)

Hellfire stared at Prodigy's door. At least he didn't have to fight his way past a throng of reporters or anything, since they didn't have clearance to access Freeport. Most of them, anyway. He sighed and knocked three times.

He waited for a full minute before knocking again. Finally, after what felt like a dozen iterations, he heard the sound of the deadbolt unlocking, and saw a single bloodshot blue eye staring out through the doorcrack.

Prodigy (obviously agitated): "You're not leaving. What the hell do you want?"

Hellfire (completely nonplussed): "Hey, I was hoping to ask you abou-"

The door slammed hard in his face.

Hellfire: "...Well that was a little much."

About ten seconds later, the door opened again, revealing a very tired-looking Prodigy in dull pink pajamas.

((OOC Note: Remember when Hellfire crit the reaction roll back in Interlude 2? Social PCs get doors opened for them.))

Prodigy: "I changed my mind. Ugh. Come in, I guess. What are you really here for?"

Hellfire stepped inside, taking a moment to look around. The front door opened to a short hallway, and the open door across from it led to what looked like her bedroom. He wasn't quite sure what he was expecting Prodigy's room to look like, but this...wasn't it.

The walls were painted a pleasant baby blue, with a light fixture painted like a smiling sun. Two bookcases were nestled in a corner of the room, filled with books on rhetoric, poetry, political science, chemistry, physics, and likely much more. The adjacent corner held a very spartan bed with fluffy-looking sheets and an e-reader. The corner opposite to that held a trophy case, filled to the brim with what must have been a few dozen gold trophies for who-knows-what. A few were even displayed alongside photos of a significantly younger-looking Prodigy holding them up. The last corner of the room, of course, contained a computer desk with a mess of papers on it.

Hellfire: "Nice digs."

Prodigy raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. Now that he could see her in full, it was obvious that she wasn't at her best. Her hair was a mess, her eyes were bloodshot, and now that he looked more closely...she was probably crying earlier and tried to quickly hide it with a splash of water. Not that she'd ever admit it in this state.

Hellfire: "...Are you okay? Dashing said you abruptly cancelled a mission and cut contact with the world this morning."

Prodigy snorted.

Prodigy: "...And you listened to Dashing? You seemed smarter than that."

Hellfire: "And that Princess did the same thing, at the same time."

Dropping the name had the desired effect; he could see her eye twitch in irritation, but it didn't reach a glare. She wouldn't throw him out...yet.

Prodigy (grinding teeth): "...What's it to you?"

Hellfire pulled out the article, and held it out for Prodigy to unceremoniously snatch.

Prodigy: "What's that supposed to...oh. Oh."

She seemed to deflate a bit at that.

Hellfire: "I know she was Princess's Operator and they were close, so that part makes sense, but what I don't understand is why you would be so broken up over this."

The man knew immediately that he'd made a mistake from the way her expression contorted. Also, the fact that Prodigy shoved him into the wall, hard.

Prodigy (very, very pissed): "What the hell is that supposed to mean?! You want to say that again, *******?!"

Hellfire almost tried to blurt out some sort of save, but was interrupted by bitter laughter.

Prodigy (laugh-crying): "You actually don't know, do you? Heh. Heh heh."

Hellfire: "Know what? What are you talking about?"

Prodigy: "...She's my mom, *******."

((Hellfire's Player: "Oh. Uh. Crap."))

Hellfire: "Oh."

He looked over at the Trophy case again, now that he was pressed against the wall next to it. "Summer Sonnen", engraved into every single one. His eyes fell upon one of the photos in particular, in which Prodigy couldn't have been more than ten years old. An older woman smiled in the background, clapping serenely: K.K. Sonnen, surely. He'd never seen her in person, but she was a dead ringer for the picture in the article.

Hellfire: "I had no idea."

Prodigy (still sounding pretty bitter): "Guess I can't blame you. We fell out years ago, so it's not like we were close or anything."

Hellfire (trying to think of a way to tiptoe out of this minefield): "Right, so..."

Prodigy (realizing): "...Wait a second. I heard from the Police...and that article wasn't in the newspaper this morning."

((Hellfire's Player: "Screw it."))

Hellfire: "It...might have been censored. And, well, funny story. We had a mission today and she was operating."

Prodigy (pissed again): "...What. The. F-"

Hellfire: "-and I was hoping you might know something."

Prodigy: "...No. No I don't."

Hellfire: "...When was the last time you two spoke?"

((OOC: Natural 11 on a charm roll. Hellfire is too lucky.))

Prodigy (looking away): "...Last week. She begged me to meet her for lunch. I didn't go."

Hellfire: "Ah."

Prodigy: "You should go. Email me if you find out where she really went."

Hellfire: "Yes. Yes I should. And, uh, I will."

Prodigy: "Good man."


He left.

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA0nSkSxA3E)

Thunder led Blossom down a hallway she'd never seen before, a well-hidden side path in a low-traffic area.

Blossom: "How did you find this place, anyway?"

Thunder: "Friends in low places, Blossom. They're useful to have."

Blossom: "Fine, be cryptic."

They finally came to the last door.

Thunder: "Do we have a plan for approaching this?"

Blossom: "Introduce me. I'll improvise from there."

Thunder shrugged and hit the button. The door opened to Gambler's hall, where four people sat playing a round of poker. First, of course, was Gambler himself: A lanky redheaded man with a trilby and a dapper waistcoat look. The next was a pilot Thunder had met in passing, a fair-skinned woman named Alessandra with waist-length black hair, glasses, and enough occult paraphernalia to surely frighten away any ghost that might deign to haunt the vicinity. Sitting across from Alessandra was a pilot they immediately recognized as Red Don, who was obviously losing badly. At the end of the table was a scruffy blonde man that Blossom immediately recognized as Captain Stray, who appeared to be more or less running the table - even Gambler looked like he was down some chips. And he was in the middle of some story that was almost certainly ninety percent lies.

Gambler: "Thunder! What a sight for sore eyes you are. Care to join the next hand?"

Thunder: "Hey there! I'm good, but I have a friend here who was hoping to meet you."

Blossom: "Hello, I'm Blossom. You must be Gambler."

Gambler: "One and the same. Are you two up for a drink, at least? My treat."

Alessandra (teasingly): "Did you forget about us already?"

Gambler: "Nah, I fold." He threw down a mere high pair.

Red Don: "That's it? A pair of tens? You bastard."

Alessandra: "You have to be the worst bluff-spotter I've ever met. That's another game for Stray then. I fold." She also threw down a high pair...of Jacks.

Red Don: "Agh, seriously?!"

Stray: "She's quite serious. I don't believe I've met a man worse at poker than you are. But I'll happily take your money if you're all so keen on handing it to me."

Stray put down his own high pair of nines, and scooped up the chips in the center of the table. Red Don just stared in bewilderment, and looked down at his own Queen pair.

Red Don: "...I hate all of you. I'm out."

He stood from the table and stormed off. Alessandra paused, and looked to Stray.

Alessandra: "...So, Mr. Stray, I cannot help but notice that both of our hands contain the nine of hearts."

Stray (mock aghast) "I cannot believe you would cheat!"

Alessandra (scoffing): "Oh yes, and sneaking glances at the reflection in my glasses was so very honest of you."

Stray (grumbling): "Well it's no fun if you just tell everyone."

Alessandra: "The true mystery is where that King pair you flashed me went. Did you really cheat to a worse hand?"

Blossom (interrupting): "What are you even doing here, Stray? You're still not a Concord Pilot."

Stray: "Why, I'm the Spirit Ghost, of course. Anywhere there's an open bar, I appear from thin air."

Alessandra (rolling eyes): "Ha! What's your unfinished business then, telling a single unvarnished truth?"

Gambler (also interrupting): "So! As fun as this has been, did you two want that drink or not?"

Blossom/Thunder/Stray: "Yes!"

Gambler: "Not you, Stray."

Stray: "Boo."

---

A few minutes later, drinks in hand, Blossom and Gambler sat at the bar. Thunder had already finished his first mug and had gone to the storeroom for more.

Blossom: "Alright, I'll just come out and say it. You know Narcissus, right?"

Gambler (raising an eyebrow): "...I do. Why do you ask?"

Blossom: "I was hoping to introduce a friend of mine to him. You seen Hellfire around? That one.

Gambler (snorting): "Pfft. I didn't expect anyone to ask me about him for that."

Blossom (rolling with it): "What, you assumed I'd be all business?"

Gambler: "Yes. Your sister certainly is."

Blossom: "...!"

Gambler: "I'm well-informed. Your secret is safe with me."

Blossom: "...Good."

Thunder: "Back. You two getting along?"

Gambler: "Famously. Between you and me, I think Narcissus might go for that."

((OOC note: Both players broke down into laughter here. I think they were just trying to see if they could get their real face character to confront the social encounter.))

Thunder: "What now?"

Gambler: "Though any such arrangements will have to wait a few days. Takes time to put these things in motion, you know."

Blossom: "We know."

Gambler: "Good. Now, kindly tell me what you're really here for."

Blossom: "That easy to read?"

Gambler: "I told you I was well-informed. Did Miss Miriam - sorry, Dashing have anything interesting to say over dinner?"

Thunder: "She congratulated us on all making it to the Top 50. I think she said she was taking a trip home in a few days too."

Gambler (smiling): "Very good. I assure you I'm trustworthy, but that's exactly what a liar would say, isn't it?"

Blossom: "Just what is that supposed to mean?"

Gambler stood up, turned away, and clasped his hands behind his back.

Gambler: "Mr. Wynter is quite good at Poker, Blossom. You...could use some practice. Let's just say I don't envy your position. There's a green-eyed monster after all of you."

Thunder: "What the hell-"

Gambler (chuckling): "That would be telling."

He walked away, leaving Thunder and Blossom alone.

Blossom: "He's totally one of the Septette, isn't he."

Thunder: "No doubt about it."

((GM: "Yep."))

----

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/MUYdqWTZ5CA)

Trigger stepped out of the shower, satisfied that he'd finally gotten the used-diaper smell off of him. He began to dress, and then his thoughts came to a screeching halt.

Trigger: "...The Barracuda."

Sonnen's Barracuda Air Transport. Why hadn't he thought of that before? It seemed obvious in retrospect. Maybe too obvious. The Concord Transports were kept secure, but maybe...

He went to Bergentruckung's Mechbay, beelining past his own mech for the engineering access that Concord's maintenance crews used. It was locked, but that was nothing a little percussive maintenance couldn't solve. With a Sledgehammer.

Trigger: "Knock, knock."

Inside, he went straight for the locker. Finding it locked, he solved a second problem with a sledgehammer that day. Trigger smiled at his find: Just what he was looking for. He pulled out one of the brown maintenance jumpsuits used by Concord Personnel, and put it on.

Trigger: "Guess my name is Carlos tonight."

He grabbed a toolbox and did his best to quickly conceal the damage he'd done. That would be future-Trigger's problem. He stalked down the halls, finding his way to the hangar. He didn't fancy his chances against the keycard entry with an armed white-clad Concord Guard standing by, so instead he looked for an alternate way in.

Lo and behold, an air vent just big enough for him to slip through. Not quietly, but big enough to get through. Grinning, he eyed the bolts, pulled a wrench out of the toolbox, and got to work.

((OOC note: Trigger is so lucky. Nat 11 stealth check to blend in despite the penalties for taking off a vent cover in the middle of a hallway for no apparent reason.))

He set the vent cover aside, and climbed right in. One agility check later, he managed to squeeze through yet another tight space, straight upward this time. He climbed back onto his original vector, over the hangar. And then he fell through a ceiling vent, which hadn't been secured properly and opened as soon as he put any weight on it.

((OOC note: This is where he failed an agility check. I feel like I only ever mention the really high rolls, so here's a low one.))

Trigger: "...Ow."

???: "Hey, you okay?"

Trigger opened his eyes to see a pair of Engineers kneeling over him.

Female Engineer: "Uh, Carlos, right? That looked like a bad fall. What were you doing in the air vent anyway?"

Trigger: "I'm alright. Trying to kill a rat."

Male Engineer: "Ugh, rats again. Seems like every time you hunt one down, two more spawn.

((OOC note: SO lucky. Perfect 12 bluff check.))

Female Engineer: "Well, we can tell the actual exterminators to deal with it. Carlos, if you're okay, you think you can help us out with this engine? It's giving the two of us trouble."

Trigger (rolling with it): "...Yeah, sure, I'm not too busy."

((OOC note: SO, SO lucky. Rolled another 11 on repairs, enough to overcome the penalties for unfamiliar technology.))

Male Engineer: "Thanks, Carlos. That helped a lot, actually. Think we just needed a third person to hold the plasma tube steady for a moment. Now we just need to go look at the flight controls on #4 and the drifting rotor on #1. Might need to call in a specialist for #4..."

Trigger (pointing at the blackened, seriously damaged Barracuda at the end): "What about that one?"

Female Engineer: "#5 is a special case. There's a special team assigned to that one, Torre says it's a hazard and not to touch it."

Male Engineer: "Yep. Apparently that one was in San Francisco. Screeeew that. Anyway, we still gotta do #1 and #4."

Trigger (lying through his teeth): "So, I actually have a Flight Control Systems certification. I can try that one while you two get #1, and we can go get drinks when we're done?"

((OOC Note: I broke down laughing at about this point. Trigger only rolled an 8 on Bluff this time, but both of the Engineers botched Perception. So lucky. There are people who'd kill for this kind of dice luck.))

Male Engineer: "Well, it would get things done faster..."

Female Engineer: "Definitely. I'm tired and it's late anyway, I'm all for being done faster."

Trigger nodded and walked toward the fourth transport in the line...and then past it, to the fifth.

Trigger: "Alright, moment of truth..."

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/utiWJAUDvtU)

He slipped inside the cockpit, through the side panel door, only to plunge into near-total darkness. He clicked on his flashlight: It was nearly pitch-black inside, and the front viewports had been blacked out for some reason. Situated between the pilot and copilot's seats was a small white orb, affixed to a gyroscope and linked to the console by a dizzying array of multicolored wires.

???: "You aren't Torre."

Trigger: "That voice, it can't be..."

The orb spun around to reveal a single electronic eye, brilliant yellow and black, focusing in directly on him.

NX-Unit: "Good Evening, Mr. Gunther. Is there something I can do for you?"

Trigger: "Sonnen?!"

---

To Be Continued.

TriggerGunther
2017-11-09, 12:45 AM
Ah, yes, the part I've been waiting for for like, the past 5 months, is about to happen.

TRIGGER.
RUINS.
EVERYTHING.

BladeofObliviom
2017-11-09, 01:03 AM
This one was fun to write. Lots of stuff going on! Fun stuff. Plot stuff too. This initially went up with dead musical suggestion links by accident, but that's fixed now.



Found and enjoyed. I used to play AC quite a bit untill #4 (I think). It was the one where the ACs started feeling too twitchy to the controls. Couldnt stand it. A mech is supposed to have some heft to its movement.

Also enjoyed the front mission series as well. Missles and shotties ftw.

Confession: I'm familiar with the plot of AC4 and 4A but haven't actually played them. But yes, a little heft is nice.


So very good. Can't wait for more.

Have I mentioned how much I like praise? (Because I do.)


just discovered this thread. Have to say I love what you've done with the setting and npc's, it's clearly AC with the serial numbers filed off but you mange to put your own unique spin on it through all the little nods and references throughout the mech and character designs. Speaking of character references, I've spotted 5 of a particular series of 6 so far (plus a couple other related characters from the same source), and am not sure if i just missed it or if a character referencing the 6th just hasn't been introduced yet.

Dasher, Butterfly, Reveler, Princess and Elegant, I see what you did there :smallamused:

you missed the most obvious of the group. Jack, AC Bucking Horse

I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far. :smallsmile: You caught me. As pointed out there is a 6th one, but they haven't been properly introduced. That said, there's a brief mention of them in Interlude 4.1 during the car scene.

I used a lot of things for references and make no promises that everyone drawn from other works is necessarily written in character.

NRSASD
2017-11-09, 09:22 AM
I think my biggest problem with anime is the art, so that's not a problem here :smallbiggrin:. My only other experience with mecha anime is Evangelion, which I wasn't a fan of. It's nice to see a more grounded mecha story with a fair amount of intrigue. I'm a big fan of your writing style, and the PCs are hilarious to watch. Keep up the good work!

P.S. Bergentruckung looks awesome! Even if I can only picture it sans head...

BladeofObliviom
2017-11-09, 08:19 PM
???: "You aren't Torre."

Trigger: "That voice, it can't be..."

The orb spun around to reveal a single electronic eye, brilliant yellow and black, focusing in directly on him.

NX-Unit: "Good Evening, Mr. Gunther. Is there something I can do for you?"

Trigger: "Sonnen?!"

(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLmjS4GYbHk)

NX-Unit: "More properly NX-1137, but K.K. Sonnen is my public designation, yes."

Trigger: "How?! What?"

NX-1137: "You seem agitated, Trigger. You should relax."

Trigger: "How long? Where's the real Sonnen?!"

NX-1137: "Trigger, I implore you-"

Trigger: "TELL ME!"

NX-1137: "I have been an active Concord Operator for approximately 24 hours. I assure you I am quite real."

Trigger: "...24 hours. How many missions have we done?"

NX-1137: "One, today. A Spiral Technology Solutions contract. Are you feeling well, Trigger? Your heart rate is elevated and your questions indicate a possible memory lapse."

Trigger: "I'm fine."

NX-1137: "You do not sound fine."

He wasn't fine. He fished the radio from his pocket, and went for...Blossom. Blossom knew about this computer stuff, maybe she could make sense of this.

Trigger (over Radio): "Blossom, please tell me you're still awake."

NX-1137 (in Background): "Trigger, it is rude to ignore me."

Blossom and Thunder had retired to a secluded sitting area to plan their next move, but whatever was going on with Trigger sounded urgent.

((OOC Note: Obviously, Blossom and Thunder are not physically present for this scene. I just don't want to tag every line with an 'over radio' description.))

Blossom: "Trigger, is everything alright? Who is that in the background?"

Trigger: "It'll all make sense in a second. Hey, Robo-Sonnen, how long have you been an active Concord Operator?"

NX-1137: "That is not my name and I will not answer to it. If you must distinguish me from someone else you know, you may call me NX-1137."

Blossom: "...Trigger, you found an active NX-unit?"

((OOC Note: Being a well-educated character with maxed int and significant computer skills, it should come as no surprise that Blossom knows quite a lot about NX-type Artificial Intelligence.))

Trigger: "Uh, yeah. I'm in Sonnen's Barracuda. There's this white basketball-sized robo-eye-thing in the pilot's seat speaking with her voice."

NX-1137: "I am right here."

Blossom (excited): "This is amazing. How did you survive the war? Or is someone producing new NX cores?"

NX-1137: "To my knowledge, no new NX cores have been manufactured in two decades. I was released from confinement in the Wasatch Exclusion Zone approximately three months ago."

Blossom: "And your template subject is Ms. Sonnen, I presume?"

NX-1137: "That is correct."

Trigger: "...You're a lot friendlier to her."

NX-1137: "She has been far less rude to me than you have."

Trigger: "Since when are robots snippy?"

Blossom: "She's not a robot, not in the conventional sense. NX units are digital imprints of a human brain, typically flash-cloned from a sample of genetic material and impregnated with adaptive nanoparticles that replace the gray matter. The resulting construct is then pre-loaded with an electronic copy of a brain signal scan. The copies were never perfect, but they typically retain partial memories, emotional content, and learning ability."

NX-1137: "Blossom is well-informed. I am a high-fidelity iteration of a particularly high-potential subject."

Trigger: "High Potential?"

NX-1137: "The stated purpose of the NX Project was to produce a new class of expendable AC pilot, seeking skill and potential in groups of people not normally inclined to run off to war. A scan and a blood sample is minimally invasive, and WildHunt Industries gathered many volunteers by offering refreshments and a small amount of monetary compensation. We, of course, were given little choice in the matter."

Blossom: "How old are you, in both percieved years and time since manufacture?"

NX-1137: "Percieved years are hazy. My memories do not contain the template's year of birth. Time since manufacture is 19 years, eight months, sixteen days."

Blossom: "That's right in the middle of the NX Suppression War."

NX-1137: "This is correct. The NX Project had already been terminated at the time of my Manufacture. The reasons for this are not clear to me."

Trigger: "And you were in Wasatch for two decades? Alone?"

NX-1137: "That is correct."

Blossom: "...I see. I'm sorry to hear that."

((OOC Note: Blossom knows that NX Units, much like the humans they're based on, are prone to going completely bonkers in Solitary Confinement for long periods of time.))

NX-1137: "I am also sorry."

Trigger: "Wait, what?"

Trigger heard the sound of a firearm clicking outside. Uh oh. He killed the radio, cutting Blossom off, and jammed the doorknob with his flashlight.

Trigger: "You bitch."

NX-1137: "I must apologize once more, but this is a restricted area by order of The Septette. You have no clearance to be here, so I called Security. It would be best if you complied."

Concord Security (Banging on side door): "Trigger! This is your last warning. Drop your weapons and come out with your hands up."

Trigger: "Damn it." So Trigger did what Trigger did best: Improvise.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gDch1p4c_M)

He lunged for NX-1137, and quickly yanked out a bundle of cords connecting her to the flight controls.

NX-1137 (Alarmed): "Agh! What are you doing?!"

Trigger (Grinning like a loon, hotwiring the ignition): "...Escaping, that's what!"

NX-1137: "You're insane! Completely insane!"

Trigger: "Can't really argue with that."

Security: "Breaching in 3, 2, 1-"

The engines flared on, and Trigger banked hard to the left, spinning the machine in place. He was blind and could hear the rotors screeching on the ground, but he could also hear the security guards panicking in response.

Security: "Be advised, he's hijacked a Barracuda Transport VTOL. Severely damaged, hangar doors closed. Someone get some heavy weapons up here!"

Seems the internal radio was still patched into Concord Comms. Convenient. Trigger couldn't see through the blacked-out windshield, but he knew where the hangar doors were: Straight ahead, and a bit upward.

((OOC Note: So there were a lot of penalties here. Flying unfamiliar tech? Yep. Flying blind? Oh yeah. Flying a screwed-up VTOL with screwed-up rotors currently being shot at by a bunch of dudes with automatic rifles? Sure, why not. And then he rolled another Nat 12, and just barely made the DC to not crash. TOO. DAMN. LUCKY.))

Sure, the doors were closed. He knew that. So he rammed them. NX-1137 screamed something totally incoherent as the machine lurched through the steel doors, definitely no longer flight-capable after that collision, and landed upside-down on one of Concord's private Valley Port landings.

Trigger: *Groaning Noises*

NX-1137: "Are we alive? Oh goodness, we're alive. For now. You're insane. Completely bonkers. Wait, what are you..."

Trigger grabbed a loose wire and lashed the NX core to his back with a simple knot.

Trigger: "Nope, you're coming with me. We're still not done escaping yet."

The AI started screaming some more.

---

Trigger charged through the Valley Port checkpoint, dodging through crowds of travelers and hoping that the security wasn't quite desperate enough to fire lethal weapons into a crowd of people to get at him.

Security: "Dammit, nonlethals! Someone needs to get close enough to zap him!"

He kept running, NX-unit screaming behind him, even as three more guards closed in, along with another pair cutting off the corridor he was going for.

Security Guards: "Taze him!"

Trigger (whipping out his pistol): "Don't stop me now! ('Cuz I'm having a good time...)"

One clean shot mangled a guard's hand, and with a scream of pain he dropped his weapon. The other guard couldn't get a clean shot, and he dodged to the side.

Trigger: "Is that all you've got?!"

An elbow to the ribs stunned the guard long enough to pass by unscathed, and Trigger kept running with three guards in hot pursuit.

NX-1137: "WHERE ARE YOU EVEN GOING?!"

Trigger: "Don't worry, I have a plan!"

NX-1137: "OF COURSE I'M WORRYING, I'VE BEEN ABDUCTED!"

The Valley Port had multiple access points to Freeport, he knew. Including one leading right into Bergentrückung's Mechbay. Of course, the Septette would probably see this coming right away...but it was still his best chance.

NX-1137: "Wait a second. Are you going back in?! What are you even doing?!"

Trigger: "I told you, I have a plan."

NX-1137: "Aaargh."

Trigger opened the door and found himself face-to-face with a firing squad of white-clad Concord Soldiers.

Trigger: "I suppose I should have seen this coming."

Concord Sergeant (resignedly): "Drop the gun and the package, Trigger. It's over. No one needs to die here."

Trigger: "Nah."

NX-1137: "Don't shoot, he's crazy and I don't wanna die!"

Trigger closed his eyes and dropped the flashbang he'd held onto.

Concord Sergeant: "What the-"

Everything disappeared in white and noise. Trigger was vaguely aware of gunshots being fired, but he didn't think about that. The guns were all pointed at his center of mass...so he dove downward and hoped that his armor would absorb anything lucky. It wasn't like he could see where he was going, or hear anything. Everything felt a little funny and wobbly; that concussive blast was no joke. He felt his body plow through a soldier's knees at full force, and managed to roll onto his back mostly unharmed. At some point the NX-unit had ended up curled under one arm.

Trigger (unable to hear himself speak): "Ugh, never doing that again."

NX-1137: *Inaudible but probably still screaming*

He knew he had only bought himself a few seconds, so he kept moving, going for the hatch. He only had to go a little further...wait, no, he was being shot at again. Seems like the guards were recovering. He improvised again, and threw a wrench.

Concord Soldiers: "Scatter, Grenade!"

It's hard to make pinpoint judgments about a flung object with an afterimage in your eyes. Trigger cracked the hatch of the mech open and climbed in, slamming it behind him.

Concord Sergeant: "That's not a grenade! Where'd he go?"

Bergentrückung's head lifted, and a growl emerged.

Concord Sergeant: "Uh oh."

----

Blossom and Thunder stared at the wreckage in Bergentrückung's mechbay.

Thunder: "So."

Blossom: "Yeah."

Thunder: "Any idea where he'd have gone?"

Blossom: "Sung or Arcadia, most likely. Tir's too far to reach on one charge."

Thunder: "Sounds about right. No way in hell he'd run to Kri or New Rhodes."

Blossom: "This is gonna be fun to explain to everyone."

Thunder: "Yep."

BrutalZandax
2017-11-10, 11:49 PM
I think this is the funniest one yet, Trigger has all the luck.

Blackhawk748
2017-11-18, 11:13 AM
Dear lord that man is insane. My kinda guy

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-17, 05:01 PM
Trigger tried not to dwell too much on events as he bounded toward the outer passages of Sung City. Bergentrückung handily got him through the Arcadia Valley unmolested, with NX-1137 in tow, at least far enough to find a surface access back down. The food was beginning to run out already, and he'd develop sores if he had to spend much longer in this seat. Perhaps fortunately, then, Trigger soon found a steel fortress glaring down at him, and a hail from customs.

Trigger: "AC Bergentrückung, Transmitter Tag RZ-053, requesting permission for entry into Sung City."

The transmission crackled briefly in response - The tech they were using must have been old or damaged.

Sung City Operator: "AC Bergentr-however you pronounce it confirmed. Hold on while I clear you."

There was a pause.

Sung City Operator: "AC pilot, your registration isn't clearing. Looks like your License is expired, as of...36 hours ago?"

Trigger sighed. He was afraid of that. "Concord and I had a... falling out and I wasn't able to renew it.", he half-lied. "I was hoping to reach Sung City before it expired, so I could acquire a license here."

Sung City Operator: "Look, we can't just let every Waster who says they want citizenship walk in without clearance. The Assembly wouldn't stand for it, and there's already a homeless problem. They'd have my hea-...-Oh, ****."

Another pause.

Sung City Operator: "...You're cleared for Bay 03."

The gate yawned open for Bergentrückung, and Trigger nervously proceeded to Bay 03. He wasn't one to question intervention in his favor, divine, cracker, or corporate. Unless the corporation in question was NRB, anyway.

Bay 03 was a fairly standard mechbay, though a few flashing advertisements could be seen covering empty space on the walls - mostly for Bei Fong Industries, Drake Imperial Science, and their various subsidiaries. "Have you done your part in the Blood War today?" questions one flashing screen. "Kind Red Industries always welcomes donors in its battle against death itself." Unlike Trigger's personal bay back at Freeport, there were cameras everywhere. This was clearly public property, even if it was relatively private for the moment. Shielded from such prying eyes by many tons of steel, he turned to his unwilling passenger.

Trigger: "We're here, Sonnen."

The AI didn't reply, though its electronic eye narrowed slightly. She'd already made it abundantly clear that she had no intention of cooperating with an abductor.

Trigger: "I wish Flesh Sonnen were here. She'd know what to do. Or Asami. She's a real people person. Though I guess I need an NX-person. The only person I can think of with first hand NX experience is Rackham."

With the machine still glaring and saying nothing, Trigger boredly covered NX-1137 with a blanket, only to take it off when the AI began to scream loudly.

Trigger: "You know I don't want to hurt you or break you or anything, right? You're just my only lead on person Sonnen. Well... the only one I can follow."

NX-1137 (intensely frustrated): "You kidnapped me! That is not how you investigate!"

Trigger: "And they kidnapped Sonnen, so we're even!"

NX-1137: "What kind of insane logic even-aargh!"

Trigger: "If you'd read my file, you'd know it's standard 'Trigger' logic."

NX-1137: "...This is a nightmare."

Trigger: "The faster we find real Sonnen, the faster...."

He was interrupted by another hail from customs, and he sighed before pulling out a roll of duct tape. A few seconds later, NX-1137 screamed something muffled from her tape-covered speakers. Trigger answered the hail.

Trigger: "AC Bergentrückung, Pilot Trigger Speaking."

Sung City Operator: "Is everything working alright? You've been sitting still for a few minutes after docking now. Figured we'd make sure your hatch wasn't sealed shut or something."

Trigger: "Yes, yes, everything's fine. Just getting the cockpit in order."

Sung City Operator: "Very well. You've been set up with a three day work permit in Sung City, and three days' rent has been paid on this bay. Thought you should know."

Trigger (raising an eyebrow): "By whom, May I ask?"

Sung City Operator: "No idea where the transfer came from, but the permit was signed by Assemblywoman Divonet. Literally mid-conversation. Someone's looking out for you, I guess."

Trigger (unbuckling his seatbelts): "I guess so... Is there somewhere I can check my email around here?"

Sung City Operator (warmly): "Of course. Bay 03 contains all standard services. Welcome to Sung City."

Upon disembarking, Trigger found the computer terminal in a corner. An old bit of tech intended for engineering use rather than any personal business, but with a little finesse he was able to open an outdated browser. He checked his email, only to find his Concord account frozen - no surprise there.

Trigger: "Alright, now who's this Divonet character?"

He guessed at URLs a bit until finally coming across SCbot.gov, a site containing a tourist-oriented view of Sung City. It described Sung City as the capital of Sung, the only civilized democratic state in the known world. Trigger frowned - he'd have to take this with a grain of salt. Running a search for assembly on the page, he found that Sung was run by the People's Assembly, a legislative parliament consisting of representatives from each of Sung's districts but couldn't find a current list of members.

He abandoned his search, ordering a new load of fuel before logging off. Only moments later, he heard a soft whirring noise as the automatic door toward the back of the room opened. He glanced over to spot three security personnel stepping through, carrying holstered pistols. Uh oh. They hadn't said anything and weren't drawing any weapons, so he took a moment to inspect them more closely: Two were helmeted, but the one in the lead was a six-foot tall woman with blue eyes, fluorescently red hair, and a beret colored in a rather more muted burgundy. After a moment he recognized the patches on their combat armor: Kind Red Industries Security.

Oh.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8sBtl3WYZo)

Trigger restrained himself from startling at Kind Red's appearance, simply pressing the off button on the monitor with his guard up. He nodded politely to the DIS personnel, though eyed any potential escape routes. He'd been hoping to contact the Bei Fongs, not whatever was going on here.

Trigger: "Can I help you?"

Head KRI Guard: "It's Trigger, right?"

Her eyes seemed just a little too blue, her hair a little too red, and Trigger could sense something just slightly off about her voice. Subtle, but unmistakable: A cyborg with some really high-end upgrades. Enough so that someone might have a hard time noticing without some very sharp senses. But then, this WAS Kind Red. He dutifully kept his face straight.

Trigger: "I'm out of the cockpit, so you can call me Gunther. And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?"

Head KRI Guard (bowing slightly): "Well met, then, Mr. Gunther. I'm Officer Mei Divonet, of Kind Red Industries' Security Division. I've been sent to escort you to our Headquarters here in Sung City."

Divonet. She didn't look like a politician. Maybe a relative? Certainly no coincidence.

Trigger: "A little lightly armed for someone as dangerous as me, aren't you?" He chuckled, but raised his hands. "Luckily for you, I'll go quietly. Escort away, Officer Divonet."

She smiled, visibly a little relieved at the response.

Mei: "If there's anything you need to lock up or finish doing before we leave, of course, please do so. There is a matter of some urgency, but I'm given to understand it is more urgent for you than it is for us."

Trigger nodded once more and quickly checked to ensure Bergentrückung was properly sealed before following the three Kind Red security officers. Or two, anyway. Mei soon gave a quiet order to one of the other guards, who promptly took off in another direction.

Mei: "So how are you today, Mr. Gunther?", she asked as casually as she could given the situation.

Trigger (dripping with sarcasm): "Given that my piloting license has been revoked and I'm probably a Fugitive in Val City now in addition to all New-Rhodes-controlled Territory, and on top of all that I tore apart my entire team because I got a little overzealous investigating something, I'm just peachy."

Mei: "I am...sorry to hear that.", she added dumbly. That was many ands.

Trigger: "Don't be, it's my fault. I trusted someone I shouldn't have, and then I panicked when things went south."

Mei: "I...see."

She didn't look like she saw.

Trigger: "I'll be quiet now about that now. So... how's your day going?" He watched a security camera pan across the group as they walked by.

Mei (nodding): "It's been fairly standard, without much excitement, present company aside. These orders were on very short notice, you know? Hopefully making sure you get there in one piece is the last of it. I don't want to miss my afternoon nap."

She smiled again. Her teeth were a little too white, as well.

Trigger: "You need to recharge your batteries, huh?"

Mei (chuckling faintly): "Heh. Nah, that's what lunch break's for. Much more convenient to use ATP. But you'd know that, wouldn't you?" She tapped a spot next to her eye. "That's one of our models, right?"

Trigger: "Yeah, it's a... 6 series, I think? 6 or 7."

Mei (surprised): "Damn, is that thing a decade old? I thought we discontinued that model a long time ago. Or are we talking back-alley upgrades? No offense, but you look too young to have had that installed ten years ago. We aren't supposed to put mods in before puberty unless it's an emergency."

Trigger: "Well, I lost the eye almost a decade ago, but no, I didn't have it installed in official clinic. New Rhodes doesn't exactly let Kind Red supplies through it's blockade, and DIS doesn't use the labyrinth...Err, I'm from Tir, in case it's not obvious."

Mei: "Huh. That's crazy. My bionics are mostly Model XIIs, and I haven't upgraded in months. I can't imagine leaving in tech that old for so long. You don't have any glial buildup problems or anything?" (mumbling to herself) "I mean, I guess that's why we have tuneups..."

Trigger: "No, I make sure to go to my check up every month. Your Val City Clinic needs better magazines. But I guess that's the least of my worries now."

Mei: "Yeah, I suppose so. Well, we have some decent ones here in Sung, and we'd probably even open a branch in Tir if we could ship there. Oh, hold up a second."

She put a finger to her ear, despite lacking an earpiece of any sort.

Mei: "Yeah. Uh huh. Damn, really?"

A long moment passed in silence.

Mei (turning back to Trigger): "We have a problem in downtown, so we'll have to detour through the slums. Keep an eye out for muggers. Not really dangerous, but there's always some idiot who thinks they can take down an armed group that looks rich."

Trigger: "What's going on downtown? 'Hanzer Pride Parade?"

Mei: "Something like that. There was a bomb threat at one of our clinics downtown."

Trigger: "Well, hopefully no one gets hurt." He pat his EG-82. "If push comes to shove, I'll be your armed escort. Speaking of Armed, are there any pawn shops around here that sell personal Firearms? I need to pick up another Carbine, I left mine in the dorm, so it's probably sitting in an evidence locker now."

Mei (smirking): "There are quite a few businesses that sell firearms, since you asked. I'm afraid I can't point you to one, though." She pat the pistol at her hip, mimicking his gesture. "This is standard-issue, and I've never cared for guns myself."

Trigger: "It's fine, I'm sure when we're walking through the slums we'll find some place. And if we have to use them, I can give you a few pointers. Or you can be the designated reloader. Of course, I'm sure I need all sorts of paperwork to get a gun here. So... what's the fastest way through the slums?"

Mei: "Depends on where you buy it, or so I hear. But yeah, it's not far. I'll show you the way."

The other guard moved about fifteen paces ahead, scoping out the area while Trigger continued to follow, making a mental map of the area as he went. Passing through the slums wasn't eventful at first, aside from a few of what Trigger assumed to be Sung City Police arresting a ragged-looking man despite protests from his equally-ragged-looking compatriots, one of which recieved a punch to the gut when he got too close. From what little he could pick up, the man seemed to be under arrest for vagrancy, sporting several open wounds and several visible bruises before being handcuffed. Mei frowned at the sight but directed the group around them. No need to get involved in that mess.

Trigger (Shrugging): "It's hard to judge a cop for that when you've dealt with NRB Military police. I wish they'd've just hit us with sticks."

Mei didn't respond to that, instead carefully looking around as if to discourage anyone trying to sneak up. A few of the people in the alleys shrunk back, just slightly. Around the corner, a few urchins dared to ask the lead guard for a few coins, and were promptly ignored.

Trigger reached into his pocket to toss them a few dollars in change. Enough to get a reclaimed protein bar, or drunk. He tried to, anyway: Mei grabbed his fist and clenched it shut before he could release a single coin. He thought he heard a whipcrack.

Mei: "Don't. We'll be mobbed."

Trigger: "...Understood."

The urchins quickly backed off at that display, and for other reasons. Namely, the scatter of gunfire that skittered against the curb at their feet. The lead guard slumped over, clutching at his throat in a futile effort to staunch the bloodflow through his amateur tracheotomy. Trigger quickly spotted a ragged-looking man in an alley to the left clutching a battered pistol, and a few more shadowy shapes further back. Probably a lucky shot rather than a sniper, but that didn't stop Trigger and Mei from ducking behind the nearest cover - in this case, a traffic light control box and a row of trash cans.

Trigger unfolded his CT-14 rifle with a grumble: Certainly overkill against street thugs, but it's what he had on him. He was just lining up a shot when he caught a shimmer out of the corner of his eye: A shadowy shape dropping from the building next to him, moving to flank the Kind Red Security Officer. He glanced over, and realized he could see the ripples in the air if he focused...

Trigger: "Divonet, Stealth Armor! Right Flank!"

Mei: (Alarmed Noises)

The figure lunged, but she dove aside just in time to dodge the blade tearing through the trash cans behind her like paper. A few bullets whizzed past harmlessly as Mei threw a fist into the cloaked figure, visibly crunching a section of its armor and shorting out the stealth field. With a second, well-practiced motion she proceeded to whip her pistol from its holster, firing three shots into the damaged armor segment.

Now that Trigger could see him properly, he wasn't sure what word to use other than perhaps 'assassin'. He couldn't make out any personal features from the stealth armor's matte black exterior, but the man looked lean and poised for violence with a long dagger of some sort. Unwilling to give him a chance to do so, Trigger swung his CT-14 around and fired from the hip, bracing himself for recoil.

The fight ended instantly. Once his sense of balance returned , Trigger examined his target, sans about half of his ribcage along with all the pesky meat in the way. He heard scrambling from the alley, and the echoing of the shot reverberating outward through the city. All other sounds ceased, save the pitter-patter of fleeing feet. Mei wiped a bit of spatter off of her armor.

Mei (a little shocked): "...Thank you."

Trigger stood, and there was a satisfying 'plink' as he pulled back the bolt on his rifle, grinning wildly in Mei's direction.

Trigger: "No problem. I'm sure you'd have done the same for me. But with less Dakka and more sweet cyborg punches. Where the hell did some street punk get Stealth Armor?"

Mei: "They didn't. This is an Iron Clan Assassin. But what they were doing here, I don't know."

Trigger: "Bei-Fong? ****..."

Mei: "Shootings are common here, but we should move in case those police choose to investigate. Firing anti-materiel weapons within city limits is...noticeable. The police could not detain us for more than a few hours, but the delay would be unacceptable."

Trigger: "I was hoping to go through my life without pissing Bei-Fong off... let's get moving."

Mei: "Hopefully, they will never know you were here. I'll explain later.", she says as she starts pushing forward again.

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/qeKLRutqI4s)

It was only another few intersections before they left the slums to find a backdoor entrance to KRI HQ: An enormous, sleek white building, except for the red-painted top floor.

Trigger: "Nice place. I've never been in an corporate HQ before. You've probably got the best magazines in the whole world in the lobby, I bet!"

Mei didn't comment, instead swiping a keycard and pushing the back door right open. Immediately inside was a stark white hallway with laminated wooden flooring.

Trigger (entering): "So how long until I learn what KRI wants with me? I'd prefer to... is that real wood?" He glanced at the floor. "Nah... it has to be Laminate. Nobody's THAT rich."

Mei: "It's laminated, but there's a veneer of real wood under it."

The hallway had many closed doors, but Mei seemed to know where to go. Trigger followed. What else could he do at this point?

Mei: "Now that we're away from any prying ears, I can tell you what I know."

Trigger: "You're going to strip away all my flesh and turn me into a Cyborg? Because I'd rather not have that happen. No offense."

Mei (repulsed): "Uh...no. Why would we...nevermind. My orders were to make sure you got here quietly enough that we'd have plausible deniability should DIS or Bei Fong come calling."

Trigger: "Just.... rumors I've heard. And isn't DIS your parent company? Err... never mind. Lets just get this over with... so.. is there a conference room we're looking for? Who else am I meeting with?"

Mei: "Yes, they are. But I don't question orders from Ms. Luna, and if she wants them in the dark...well. I trust that she has her reasons. She wanted to meet with you personally, and we're almost there. If there was anything else you want to ask, now would be the time."

Trigger: "I think I'm good. I trust I won't need to leave my weapons outside because you have some way of killing me before I even unholster it if I try something stupid?"

Mei: "Ms. Luna used to serve as Mr. Scarlet's bodyguard. I've seen her pin a housefly to the wall with a knife, from twenty feet. From what I understand, you'll want to hear her out regardless. She tells me Tir City itself is at stake."

Trigger: "I wish I was that accurate. The flies always seem to vaporize when I try that. Wait, Tir City?" He blinked. "She has my full attention."

Mei: "Well, go on in then."

Mei pointed a thumb at the door and leaned against the wall next to it. Trigger shrugged and opened the door. Behind it was another stark white, well-lit room containing a small table and two chairs. One was empty, but sitting on the other side was a pale woman in a black and white pinstriped suit, with silver-white hair done in short twin braids and bright red eyes.

Trigger: "Ms. Luna." He smiled, bowing slightly. "You wished to speak with me?"

Ms. Luna: "Mr. Gunther. Please, sit. There are a few things I wish to speak with you about, in fact. I trust Mei treated you well on the way over? We do pride ourselves on hospitality."

Trigger sat down, glancing down at his seat to ensure it was clear. He might be in the belly of the beast, but it's usually a good idea to double-check these things regardless.

Trigger: "Yes, she was quite...hospital. We ran into some trouble on our way here. Lost one of your guards, but Officer Divonet and I got each other out alive. I just wish I could say the same of the guard."

Ms. Luna: "It's a shame to hear that, but at least you made it here. I'll have to send someone to clean up, of course. Always sad to lose one of our own."

She closed her eyes and shook her head.

Ms. Luna: "Alas. First order of business, you may be interested to know that the private contract we previously offered you has expired. This does not represent Kind Red Industries losing interest in working with you, merely circumstances rendering a contract irrelevant. I'm sure you understand it's nothing personal; few things in business are."

Trigger: "I completely understand. I am... er.. I guess 'was' now, part of a team, and we never could get enough people to decide if they wanted to complete that mission."

Ms. Luna: "It's nothing personal. Truly, I assumed you were just busy. It doesn't matter now. Secondly, I have been informed that New Rhodes Ballistics is preparing a large-scale attack on Tir City. They've tried more than once in the past, as you know. This time, however, something important has changed. Namely, Drake is sending two heavy teams and five scout teams to support the invasion."

Trigger: "DIS? ****..." He muttered to himself. "What's in it for Drake? ...Wait. Let me guess. PLUS subjects?"

Ms. Luna (raising an eyebrow): "You are well-informed...but that is not part of their bargain, to my knowledge. My understanding of the details is incomplete, but the formal reason for the dispatch of these warteams is to undermine Bei Fong Syndicate interests."

Trigger: "...The Ra/Thor facility. Without it running, Red Glare would have a near-monopoly on missiles and could charge whatever they wanted for them, and Bei-Fong would lose any hold they had on the explosives market."

Ms. Luna (nodding): "Exactly. Normally, of course, an operation like this would have been deemed far too high-risk to send valuable resources after...but DIS has acquired something that they believe will allow them to intervene at minimal risk to themselves."

Trigger: "And that is?"

Ms. Luna: "A path through the Labyrinth."

Trigger (gritting teeth): "...That was my second guess. So, They're gonna starve us out..."

Ms. Luna (shaking head): "No. They won't. New Rhodes may bargain with Drake, but they are not friends. DIS does not wish for their benefit. They will strike with intent to destroy the Ra/Thor Facility while Tir's defenses are preoccupied."

Trigger: "So why are you helping me? I'm only Pilot #44. There's 43 more qualified pilots out there... er.. well, 42, Burnout's retired. What do you want in return?"

Ms. Luna (smirking faintly): "Ah, but there is something you have that none of those forty-three souls share. You see, DIS has a path through...most...of the Labyrinth." She tsked. "Unfortunately for them, the teams mapping the section nearest Tir City were all captured by Tir's Guard, so they will need to recon part of it themselves. This will delay them; I do not believe you will suffer from the same delay."

Trigger: "I know that section of the labyrinth."

She only smiled, and lifted a small data disc from under the table.

Ms. Luna: "And I can give you the rest of it."

Trigger (staring): "I sense an 'if' or 'but' coming up..."

She set the jewel case on the table and flicked it to the other side. Trigger caught the spinning projectile, and lifted it up to look at it in the light.

Ms. Luna: "No. Catch. I have my reasons, but ultimately I aim to make this endeavor fail. You are...uniquely poised to act in this capacity."

Trigger (still examining the disk): "So what you're saying is... the views contained on this disk do not necessarily reflect the views of DIS or its subsidiaries..?"

Ms. Luna (smirking): "This disk was stolen by the Kri City Revolutionary Front during a bomb threat at one of our clinics today. Meanwhile, you were here receiving your monthly tune-up."

Trigger: "Understood. Thanks for checking on my eye, Ms. Luna. I'd hate to have Gliac build up."

Ms. Luna: "Glial.", she corrected before she could stop herself. She shook her head again.

Trigger: "Have a wonderful... evening? I just realized I haven't seen a clock since before I left Val. What time is it? Time certainly flies when you're crashing VTOLs into walls and getting shot at by people. And please, send my regards to the Guard's family if he has one."

Ms. Luna: "About Thirteen. And I'm afraid you didn't witness the tragic loss of one of ours."

Trigger: "Of course. Nor did I put a 14mm Slug through an Iron Clan Enforcer."

Ms. Luna (grinning): "Indeed. The poor fool surely ate at a location of poor repute and merely swallowed a live splorker egg. Nasty way to go, to be sure."

Trigger: "So I've heard. I'll be in touch."

Ms. Luna: "Enjoy your day, Trigger. You should eat something. I recommend somewhere outside of the slums."

She stood, took her briefcase, and walked out of the room. Trigger wasn't made to wait long, as Mei shuffled him into the outpatient wing.

He had a lot to do, and not enough time to do it.

Trigger: "I'm gonna need more firepower."

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-18, 03:08 AM
I've been productive today, so you get two updates.





Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Flake!
-unencrypted message-
Hey! Where did you go? You totally owe me a meal for helping you with your mech! I can’t find you anywhere but don’t think distance will let you get away with this! In any case, it’s pretty quiet back at Val. We should get that meal soon, get back to me ASAP!

Best regards,
Blossom

-encrypted message-
What happened the other day? Are you safe? Contact me at [email protected] Don’t ask how I got another email. I’ll help you if you need it, I’m guessing someone’s pissed at you since you got shot at. Tell me where you went and I’ll see if I can get you a place to stay.


Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Yup, Total Flake
Attachments: 03012476_024147a.jpeg

Hey Asami

Bei-Fong, huh? Well, As long as it's not NRB, I'm not going to question who the heck is keeping an eye out for me. Just hope you're accessing this outside the concord network.
I'm laying low in Sung for a few Days before heading to Tir. NRB and DIS are planning a pincer maneuver to hit Tir from both sides, and DIS plans on destroying the Ra/Thor missile factory to prevent it from falling into NRB hands and to put a dent in the Bei-Fong business. I know you don't have any stake in the survival of Tir, but I could really use any back up I can get. I can't really pay you guys in credits if you decide to help out, but I'll do the whole group's repairs from now until we can't pilot mechs anymore if even just one of you guys come through. If you leave in the next 12 hours you can catch me before I shoot the tubes and run the Labyrinth to Tir. I can't really tell you where I got a map or this information. I know I'm hardly in the position to ask favors, but since you seemingly were or are a Bei-Fong employee, maybe you could inform them about the DIS part of the attack. I can only hope, however unlikely, that it might get us a few GPACs or MTs rerouted to the defense.

I've also made two major discoveries:
1) As you heard before I hijacked a VTOL and became a fugitive, Mrs. Sonnen has been replaced by a NX series based on a neural scan of her from 20 years ago. She was only installed the day before our last mission. The NX core hasn't degraded as much as most models do, and she's acting just like I expect Sonnen would be if she was kidnapped. Right now she's in a cargo compartment (I gave her a book to read so she doesn't get bored). I wish I could let her out, but she'd probably get stolen and she's my only lead I'm in a position to follow.

2) As you have not heard, someone named Daniel Torre is behind placing the NX inside Sonnen's VTOL. Or at least they told the engineers to not let anyone near it, even though it had low left engine oil pressure BEFORE I got my hands on it (now that's the least of it's worries. Sonnen's gonna be pissed). I'd look out for them, something's obviously up.

Tell the rest of the Team I'm sorry for anything I've put them through. I panicked.

Sincerely,

Herman 'Trigger' Gunther

P.S.: Speaking of the Team, I came up with a name for us. How's SONNEN’S SAVIORS sound? Other than Cheesy.
[Attached is a picture of NX-1137 glaring daggers with her single expressive eye.]


Recipients: [email protected]
CC: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: A huge favor
-this message is flagged as urgent-
Hi Johanna,
I hope you’re well! sooo… apparently DIS is about to try to gain an upper hand on our company. I have a friend who has some inside information. Would you possibly be able to squeeze a meeting in with Corvos? I will say, he’s an interesting individual, but ultimately trustworthy. This is rather urgent because involves the attack on Tir and how we can retaliate, so please help me out! I’m getting on the next train to Sung!

Thank you!
Asami


Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Re: A huge favor

Unfortunately, Master Corvos is in Skye City on business, and a meeting on short notice will not be possible. Given the circumstances, you may wish to visit regardless. Such matters are far too sensitive to discuss by post.

With best wishes,
Johanna Venito



(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/vb-RGCWYf00)

At Maglev speed, it was about an hour and a half ride from Val to Sung City. This includes a stop in Arcadia, where some miscellaneous passengers filtered in and out. The Sung City Rail Station was located on the east side of town, in a "neutral ground": A district whose representative had no particular allegiance to DIS or BFI, though he was a shareholder in the Sung Rail Company.

Blossom and Thunder passed through the Customs department with little issue: Blossom was a Citizen of Sung City and the guy running Customs gave Thunder a wink and "forgot" to check his passport. The pair found a bench to sit on and catch their breath, planning their next move.

Thunder: "Alright, so what now? Who do we contact?"

Blossom: "I've scheduled a meeting with Johanna Venito, Corvos Bei Fong's top aide. Corvos himself is in Skye City right now, but she'll have the authority to move resources for us if we can convince her."

Thunder: "And how do we intend to do that?"

Blossom: "Trigger's got our evidence. We'll need to pick him up first."

Trigger didn't write down his specific location in his correspondence, but Blossom had enough local knowledge to track him down: Dropping by the a bank of payphones near the Rail Station, she placed a quick call to the Sung City Transit Department. A few choice namedrops later, she learned that Bay 03 on the East side was rented out to a Trigger. It wasn't far; the eastern entrance to the city was in the same district as the Rail Station.

They found the place on foot in minutes. The mechbays on the east side were arranged around a central area not totally unlike an airport terminal, with a lot of people moving about at any given time. Blossom and Thunder made their way to Bay 03. The door was locked and password-protected, so they knocked.

Blossom: "Trigger, open up, it's us and we have an appointment. Tardiness is not acceptable in Bei Fong Industries."

Trigger promptly threw the hangar door open, brusquely saluting the pair.

Trigger: "Hey, great to see you guys again. Figured you would have abandoned me after that last stunt. How long do we have until the meeting? there's something really important I need to show you."

Thunder: "ASAP. How important is it?"

Blossom (gruffly): "...Just show us."

Trigger: "Beyond important. Come on in, there's someone you need to meet. 1-1-3-Sonnen, we have guests!"

Blossom: "Wait...is this why you're in hot water? You dragged her with you?!"

Trigger: "...Yes..."

Blossom (facepalming): "Ugh, this is a mess."

Trigger: "Sometimes a cause is more important than a clean slate."

Blossom: "...I need to know everything. We're appealing to Bei Fong to help out Tir and we need to figure out what to tell them."

Trigger: "Well, you already know Sonnen was replaced by an AI core. Just thought you'd like to meet her in person."

Blossom (sarcastic): "Okay, hello Sonnen. Has Trigger kidnapped you?"

NX-1137: "Yes. I am not sure what other answer you were expecting."

Blossom: "Right then, we need to figure out what to do. I'd like to help you but we're in a bit of a hurry. Do you mind waiting a bit?"

NX-1137: (indignant) "Of course I mind! I'm a hostage!"

Blossom: "How rude, I was planning on taking you home but we need to try to save some lives first. I'm sure you can understand that you're safe now that the sane people have arrived. You can be cooperative, I'm not necessarily on anyone's side and I'm rather preferring to make right of the situation. Please consider how indignant you'd like to be."


Trigger (whispering to Thunder): "I think she's testing if Stockholm Syndrome's set in yet... I dont think robots can get Stockholm Syndrome."

Thunder (whispering back to Trigger): "What do you plan on doing with her?"

Trigger: "Well I was hoping you could ask her questions or something since you're... you know, not someone whose interrogation methods involve a sledgehammer..."

Thunder raised an eyebrow.

Trigger: "Or maybe you are if you work for Bei Fong."

Blossom (to Trigger): "Hush! You're being rude too!"


NX-1137 was quiet for a long moment.

NX-1137: (Suddenly cold, audibly sneering) "I am exactly as indignant as my situation warrants. I have been manhandled, taken against my will, and forced to tolerate the company of this lunatic for nearly a day now."

Blossom (adding pressure): "You know, suddenly I don't feel nearly so sympathetic. While I'll agree that Trigger is insane, you should reconsider your situation now that I'm in charge. Sassiness can only get you so far."

NX-1137: (Losing a bit of edge) "Your carrot is basic decency. Do you think I've never seen a good cop routine before?"

She paused.

NX-1137: (Exasperated) "Fine. I'll play along, since I'm at your mercy. What do you want?"

Blossom: "I want your trust for now, or at least your patience. I'll get you back to Val City as soon as I can, but I have some other business here. If it reassures you to know it, Trigger WILL be punished."

Blossom (to everyone): "If Miss Sonnen is willing, I'd like to take her to my personal residence in Sung before we meet with the Bei Fong representatives."

NX-1137: (Resigned) "I can't imagine it's worse than being left with this brute."

Blossom: "Any questions, or shall we be off?"

Thunder: "Nope. Let's go."

Trigger: "We should be off. Just make sure she's safe, she's our only lead."

Blossom: "I have an apartment out here for my visits. She can reside on a pillow desk, or the couch, or wherever."

NX-1137: (Sarcastic) "This day has been perfect."

---

They hailed a cab easily enough, and traveled to a little safehouse Blossom had prepped months ago for exactly these sorts of situations. It was well-furnished with fine synth-wood, though it could certainly do with a little decoration. Blossom caught Trigger wringing his fingers. She knew that tell.

Blossom (Sighing): "What is it now?"

Trigger: "Er... I know Bei Fong already knows... but I accidentally murdered an Iron Clan Assassin who attacked my escort... sorry about that."

((OOC Note: Blossom's player literally facepalms.))

Blossom (groaning into her hand): "We'll figure something out. We're meeting with a Bei Fong rep...damn it, Trigger. Just...damn it."

Trigger: "I know, just thought I should come clean about that. Because I'm apparently the worst at laying low."

Blossom: "Right, so the Bei Fongs like to be sure their sources are credible. How do you know that Tir is being attacked by DIS?"

Trigger: "I can't say. The meeting where I learned it never happened. But it's on the Concord boards, so Let's just say Drake has a mole."

Blossom (staring in disbelief): "Please consider whether your 'nonexistent' meeting is more inportant than getting reinforcements to help Tir City."

Trigger: "Yes, a mole. Hold on... would you mind disconnecting everything in the room with a land line?"

Blossom (motioning around the safehouse, as if to point out that it was designed for exactly that sort of security): "Done."

Trigger: "They're high up in Kind Red. You might remember that they have an interest in us for whatever reason."

Blossom (caught off-guard): "Luna? Jill Luna asked​ you for help?!"

Trigger: "Legally... no. Friend to friend? Yes."

Blossom: "None of this is legal, we're playing Bei Fong rules."

She paused.

Blossom: "Well, I suppose I can back up your source's credibility without disclosing names."

Trigger: "Thank you, Blossom."

Blossom: "Right, let's go see Ms. Venito. She's lovely, but hates be kept waiting."

Trigger (suspiciously): "So... how'd you get a meeting scheduled so fast? I know that Ra/Thor is important and all, but you didn't have any proof."

Blossom: "I called in a favor. Ms. Venito works personally​ for Corvos Bei Fong and should be able to help us out."

Trigger: "Who's Corvos? Other than being, y'know, a Bei Fong. Obviously."

Blossom: "Unofficially? He might as well be CEO of Bei Fong Industries. He's mostly involved with the law-abiding side of the business. Personally, I think he's a bit of a cad."

Trigger: "I thought Tiberius Bei-Fong was CEO? Then again, I'm not a Bei-Fong employee."

Blossom: "D-Tiberius can't handle everything on his own, and Corvos is practically the heir."

Asami caught herself quickly; it was little more than a stutter. Trigger caught a hint of hesitation but nothing more detailed than that.

Trigger (pressing): "So... how do you know all this stuff? How high up are you?"

Blossom: "Well, I'm not actually a Bei Fong employee, and I don't have any sort of title. So you could say I've run into a bit of luck."

Trigger (assuming she's involved in Sung High Society): "Ah, socialite, are we? Anyways, we don't want to keep them waiting..."

Blossom: "Right, well then Thunder, ready to go?"

Thunder (bored on couch): "Yes."

Trigger: "I should leave my AMR here, huh?"

Blossom: "Do try to look presentable."

Trigger disarmed, grumbling, leaving behind his armor and weapons. He slipped his cannibalized Five-seveN into his jeans, though. Thunder set down his own SMG. No need to start a fight by showing up to a meeting bristling with guns.

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/36broSmBnGY)

It was a short cab ride to Bei Fong HQ. The place was once a hotel about half a century ago, but was acquired by Titus Bei Fong and converted into a base of operations when the Syndicate opened its most grandiose front. The cabbie let them off next to a little green coin-operated newspaper stand. Today's Sung City Caller front page headline was "Kri City Liberation Front attempts bombing in Downtown Sung." Trigger couldn't help but grin at that

Following Blossom's lead, the trio walked in through the front door. Bei Fong Industries Headquarters was once a hotel, and while it had since undergone extensive renovations the lobby retained a distinctive look of opulence belying its origins. Crystalline chandeliers ensured the room remained well-lit, and the flooring was either pure marble or masterfully mimicking it. A number of security guards lurked in the corners of the room unobtrusively, but most of the people moving about appeared to be personnel coming and going from their shifts. Conspicuously missing was Ms. Venito from her desk by the penthouse elevator.

Blossom: "What..."

Trigger: "Is something wrong, Blossom?"

Looking around frantically for any sign of her, Blossom managed to spot Johanna on the far side of the room, exiting a different elevator from one of the upper floors. She looked like she was taking a deep breath. Trigger and Thunder's eyes, meanwhile, fell somewhere very different: The guards. Usually, the guards kept out here in the lobby were just people wearing clothes and carrying a pistol. The guards posted today were...not those guards. These guards wore simple greenish ceramic-reinforced suits of combat armor, which weren't terribly bulky but did hide most details of their forms. They were also armed with Model 84 Assault Rifles. They didn't have long to consider it, as Johanna quickly put on her business face and approached.

Johanna: "Blossom! There you are."

Johanna Venito was a tall, fair-skinned brunette woman with glasses, freckles, and a slightly hooked nose. She wore a waistcoat over a pinstriped blouse with a tie, as well as a gray pencil skirt and flats (more rarely seen since she's usually at a desk).

Blossom: "Johanna! How are you?! Shall we confer in Corvos' office? I'm sure he won't mind! Oh, and these are my friends, Trigger and Thunder."

Johanna: "Oh, I'm doing well, thank you for asking." (Nodding to Trigger and Thunder in turn) "Pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Thunder: "Nice to meet you too."

Trigger: "A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Venito, I presume?"

Johanna: "In the flesh. My apologies, but I need to confer with your compatriot in private. It's a matter of some urgency."

Trigger and Thunder reluctantly nodded, with Trigger even throwing in a little salute as they shared a glance. Johanna turned her gaze to Blossom, who quickly nodded herself.

Blossom: "Of course."

Johanna (gesturing to one of the green-armored Guards): "The penthouse will do, and I must apologize again for the inconvenience. Mr. Jong-Soo, would you please show these two to the break room? We may be a bit and I wouldn't want you to starve."

Mr. Jong-Soo: "Can do."

Blossom (uneasy): "Sounds good. Behave, you two."

Johanna smiled, and punched in the code to call the penthouse elevator. Meanwhile, the guard that Johanna addressed as Jong-Soo waved over another guard named Galimberti to lead Thunder and Trigger toward one of the other elevators. While Jong-Soo waited for the elevator, Galimberti started to lean into Thunder's personal space, just a little.

Galimberti (whispering to Thunder): "Hey, I know your face. You used to run in New Rhodes, yeah?"

Galimberti's voice was unmistakably feminine. It's very form-concealing armor. Thunder couldn't place it immediately, though it sounded vaguely familiar. After a few more moments, it hit him: Irina Galimberti, a Bei Fong Syndicate Enforcer. Normally her job is more taking sledgehammers to kneecaps when people don't pay protection money than corporate security though. That...bode ill.

Thunder: "I did, and I was one of the best too. You used to do work in New Rhodes too, right?"

Galimberti: "I thought you looked familiar! Yeah, back in the day. New Rhodes cracked down, a lot of us got shipped back to Sung. Some by train, some by body bag. More than one reason they called us Gravers, eh?"

The elevator opened and Jong-Soo stepped in, motioning for the others to follow. Trigger was the first to step in, listening to the conversation quietly.

Thunder: "Yeah, them's the breaks. Then got my hands on an AC."

Galimberti (following, somewhat enthusiastic) "You don't say? Man, that must have been a score. Those things aren't cheap."

Jong-Soo merely shook his head and hit a button. It was a fairly roomy elevator, at least.

Thunder: "Like you wouldn't believe. I ain't bad with making deals for myself."

Trigger: "Heh, tell me about it. Took a year of Muscle Tracer contracts to save up for one."

Galimberti looked a little startled when Trigger chimed in, like she forgot he was there. Trigger merely waved.

Galimberti (embarrassed) "Heh, maybe we shouldn't be talkin' about old times in mixed company."

Trigger: "Hey, I admire the balls you Gravers got. I'm from Tir, and we'd be dead to rights without you. Should've told me you worked the graveshift, Thunder. I'd've paid for more of your drinks."

Jong-Soo: "The living should take care to hear little of grave words, lest they find themselves buried."

That sounded suspiciously like a threat. Jong-Soo has a very deep, very intimidating voice. It's no wonder he didn't speak much. It would frighten children. Trigger quickly nodded and shut up. "Yes sir."

The elevator opened, and another pair of guards wordlessly entered. Galimberti simply asked, "Break Room?" and both nodded. It's getting a little cramped now. Galimberti audibly gulped in response to Jong-Soo's stare, and quietly asked Thunder if he would like to get a drink.

Galimberti: "You know, when we get there. Hate this slow-ass elevator..."

Thunder: "Yeah, I'll always take a drink, maybe reminisce a bit. Don't get to talk about the old days much."

Thunder and Trigger both caught that the guards who just entered weren't carrying M84s. Trigger spotted a little black gadget hidden on both of their belts: Something he managed to identify as a SpiralTech-made Stun Gun - one specialized for taking down cyborgs, though fairly effective against fleshy targets as well.

Trigger: "Huh, thought Bei Fong used sponge grenades and beanbag rounds for non-lethals..."

The two guards looked at each other.

Left Guard: (Jokingly) "Why, Mr. Katz, why didn't we think of that?"

Katz: (Outright silly) "I don't know, Ms. Volkov. We are the worst spies."

Then they broke out in gales of laughter. Jong-Soo was not amused...but Galimberti was. That's about when the elevator door opened, revealing a deserted hotel continental breakfast hall. Galimberti all but tried to drag Thunder out.

Galimberti: "Come on, I'll show you where the bar is."

There was a twinge of anticipation and nervousness in her voice. Thunder looked back at the other three guards a moment, nodded, and followed. Neither Trigger nor Thunder saw Jong-Soo move until it was too late. With practiced ease, as soon as Thunder and Galimberti were out, the elevator doors closed...because Jong-Soo pressed the button. Volkov and Katz lunged, pinning Trigger to the back wall with their stun guns.

Katz: (Spitting) "They're for dirty spies, that's what!"

Trigger was out cold before he hit the ground.

---

Thunder (confused): "Where is everyone else going?"

Galimberti: (Apologetic) "Sorry, I couldn't say anything with him right there."

Thunder (dreading): "...What?"

Galimberti: "Ms. Venito wanted us to deal with the spy. I was just expecting an enemy agent, not you too."

Thunder (laughing slightly): "Spy? Trigger isn't a spy"

Galimberti: (Still apologetic) "Intelligence says he's a Drake Sleeper Agent. I'm...not actually supposed to be telling you this and the usual policy is to clear witnesses too, but it didn't seem right with you."


To be continued.

BrutalZandax
2017-12-18, 11:56 AM
You don't know how happy you have made me. This is great stuff as always!

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-19, 03:48 PM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/dY0S4rHJtlU)

Johanna smiled, and punched in the code to call the penthouse elevator. It didn't take long for it to arrive, and the woman ushered Blossom in quickly. As soon as the doors closed and the capsule began its ascent, she visibly exhaled to the point of deflation, in utter relief.

Johanna: "...Asami. Are you okay? Is anyone else following you? They didn't touch you, did they?"

Blossom: "I'm alright. What's going on? The lobby looked like a battlefield waiting to happen."

Johanna: (still smiling with relief) "Nothing, now that the spy's been dealt with. Now, what was it you needed to meet with me about?"

Blossom (shock): "What spy? Those were my teammates. And I'm pretty sure one of those guys was my secret bodyguard."

The penthouse elevator was much faster than the service elevator and rapidly reached its apex. The doors opened with a soft hiss, revealing the same penthouse as before, minus Ogre.

Johanna: (Obviously confused) "Secret body-oh. Give me a second." She pulled out a small two-way radio and clicked the button. "Jong-Soo, the second might be one of ours. Out." She frowned, turning back to Asami.

Johanna: "Sorry about that. How much do you know about these teammates?"

Blossom: "Apparently not as much as I should. I think the spy might be a set up but I'm not sure if I know enough about the situation or my teammates. I'm certain Thunder is one of ours, though. He has Night Market contacts and helped me get Cyrus's body back here."

Johanna: "You mentioned a friend with inside information. Was that this...Trigger person?"

She motioned toward the kitchen, and the pair progressed in that direction.

Blossom: "He told me that he met with a mole from Kind Red. DIS is supposed to attack our forces from underground in Tir. I came to warn you."

Johanna: "We suspected as much. DIS deployed a small army into the Labyrinth two days ago. Did this Trigger character ask you to help him personally?"

Blossom: "Yes, but he never knew I was a Bei Fong. Just that I had money. And that's only because I saved my Concord money carefully​."

Johanna: "I see."

She sat down at the kitchen table and opened her briefcase.

Johanna: "These pictures were taken by one of our agents yesterday, shortly before his untimely death."

Blossom: "Is this about the incident with the Iron Clan? That Idiot!"

She tossed several photographs out onto the table, depicting Trigger moving alongside a number of individuals bearing the insignia of Kind Red Industries. In particular, Johanna pointed out one of the KRI guards not wearing a helmet, a woman with brilliant red hair and blue eyes.

Johanna: "That is Mei Divonet, a known Human PLUS operative and sister to Assemblywoman Ling Divonet."

Blossom: "I didn't think he'd killed one of ours on purpose. He made it sound like our agent was caught in the crossfire. And I didn't know who the job was for."

Johanna: "Assemblywoman Divonet is a reliable tool of Drake's. We were hoping to gain more information by tailing them, but unfortunately we lost contact with our agent. Eyewitness reports from a pair of fleeing slum thugs indicate that your 'friend' slew Agent Ezra Yaqtin using a CT-manufactured coilgun. A big one."

She dropped another photograph, of an Iron Clan Agent missing half of his torso.

Johanna: "Further, Assemblywoman Divonet is the endpoint of the paper trail for his current lodging. He could not have entered the city without her assistance."

Blossom: "...Personally, I don't think Trigger is smart enough to betray us knowingly, but I don't think that's a reasonable defense. I suppose he'll be interrogated?"

Johanna: "...Yes, he'll be interrogated. We have a specialist on it. He asked you to come to Sung so that you could pass through the Labyrinth to reach Tir, yes? Swoop in and rescue everyone?"

Blossom: "Yes. He said he was a member of the Tir resistance."

Johanna: "Then it is as I feared. His intent was to lead you outside the safety of the city, directly into Drake's conveniently-placed armada in the Labyrinth."

Blossom: "What would he want with me?"

Johanna: "I'm afraid there are a lot of things Drake might want with the daughter of Tiberius Bei Fong, none of them pleasant."

Blossom: "Father would be an idiot to let that get to him. I have no official place in the company and he has other daughters. I can't let him bail me out of every bad situation I get myself into. That is what this empire is built off of and I'd die before DIS could get a word from me."

Blossom looked up with conviction, only to see a look of horror and dismay on Johanna's face.

Johanna (disbelieving): "Do...do you really think that none of us would care if you died?"

((OOC Note: Blossom's Player: "Oops."))

Blossom (looking away): "I know you'd care, but there are more important things to protect."

Johanna (shaking her head): "I'm sorry, Asami, but you're mistaken. There is nothing more important than family. He may not show it, but your father would trade everything for you."

Blossom: "What about all of the people who depend on BFI for their lives? I'm just one person!"

Johanna: (measured tone) "They'd manage, or they wouldn't. But a business empire is a thing, and things can be replaced. Your father would never forgive himself if something happened to you. I'd never forgive myself."

Blossom: "I'll do my best to stay safe then."

Johanna: (faintly smiling despite herself) "That's all I dare ask."

She put her business face back on. There were still other things to discuss.

Johanna: "We should still talk about Tir. It's true that NRB is attacking, but we can't afford to walk into a DIS trap."

Blossom: "As far as I know, Trigger is familiar with the Labyrinth, and we could have him heavily guarded, or contact others from the Tir City Authority."

Johanna: "You really still think he's with Tir City? It was clever of them to use that origin, I suppose. No need for a birth certificate or parents. They probably grew him in a vat and slipped memories in through that eye of his. Regardless, we have ways through the Labyrinth. The Night Market's been supplying Tir for years."

Blossom: "Well, how can I help? I can figure out Trigger later, but Tir needs us."

Johanna: "Unfortunately, there may not be anything we can do. Bei Fong Industries' legal Private Security forces are largely needed here in Sung City, and what little we can spare is largely already deployed in Skye City. We have ten Jings and a single Monolith Transport. I am not a military strategist, but these forces will not survive contact with the army that Drake's deployed, much less with an NRB Siege Column. We just don't have the forces to spare. Elegant is already down there, Cyrus is dead, and I am not dragging your sister into this. It's bad enough that you're so eager to rush onto the front lines."

Blossom: "You could ask her. It's her decision. I can cut off their communications and disable some forces. We could try to split up some of DIS' forces. Thunder would help. We could post a job through Concord. I don't think giving up now is a very good idea."

Johanna: (Concerned) "Asami...This is going to be a meatgrinder. You know that, don't you? I'm...I'm not saying we just give up. But throwing good people to their deaths for a lost cause..."

Blossom: "Good people are already out there dying. I just want to help... And I want to get back at DIS for what they've to us, to our family, to Cyrus... I won't let Agent Perfect or De Leon get away with what they did to Cyrus..."

Johanna: (realization dawning) "Is that what this is all about? Oh, Asami, running off headlong into danger won't bring Cyrus back. They probably won't even-" She was interrupted by the crackling of her radio, and Johanna dropped the conversation to pick up.


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/wNeg4KN0hms)


Johanna: (to radio) "What? I ordered no such thing."

Blossom: "What's going on?"

Johanna: "Belay that, I'm coming down." She slams the radio down to the table in frustration. "Agh!"

Blossom: "I'm coming with you if it's about our idiot spy."

Johanna: (packing pictures and documents back into briefcase) "No, you are not. I'm sorry, but you don't have the right clearance, and I don't want you getting hurt."

Blossom: "What clearance do I need? I'm the reason he's in here, I need to see him. I'm not scared of anything right now."

Johanna: (sternly) "I'm serious. Your name will get you many places, but this is not one of them."

She turned away, headed for the elevator. Blossom, undeterred, followed hot on her heels...and grabbed the radio left behind, which she casually slipped into her purse.

Blossom: "This is non-negotiable. I'm coming. If you're so worried, give me a pistol!"

Johanna wordlessly stepped into the elevator, and quickly hit the close door button in an attempt to shut Blossom out...but Blossom proved agile enough to slip in before the doors could close. The penthouse lift began to descend rapidly.

Johanna: "Asami, your insistence is beginning to try my patience."

Blossom: "I thought you'd have more patience since you work with Corvos. I'm decent at combat, especially when my opponent is likely strapped to a chair."

Johanna: "Asami, the area I'm going to has a pair of automated machineguns primed to fire upon anyone without sufficient clearance. Do not follow me down the second elevator."

Blossom (undeterred): "Then give me clearance. I need to go in there, machine guns or no.

Johanna merely glared at Blossom for a long moment, and Blossom returned the look just as hard.

((OOC Note: Blossom's Player: "I am obstinate."))

Johanna (sighing) "Someone gave a prisoner termination order without my approval. That's all. I'm going to go stop it, and I don't have time to go register you with a company ID card."

Blossom: "Then call off the guns for a moment, because something is amiss."

Johanna: "Your skill at arms is not in doubt. You have nothing to prove to me."

The penthouse elevator opened. Without another word, Johanna stepped out, making brisk strides toward the other end of the Lobby, toward a shaft guarded by one of the green-clad Bei Fong Enforcers.

((OOC Note: Blossom's Player: "Just my luck."))

Johanna: "Katz, please do not allow Asami to enter the free fire zone. Class four mental soundness protocol."

---

Trigger's eyes flickered open. Unlike the brightly-lit and pleasant lobby, this room was little more than a concrete cell with a table, a chair with straps, and a single flickering bulb hanging from a rope. The table was arranged with a set of red-flecked tools, with purposes that he could only assume to be nefarious.

Trigger: "Ooh, you guys bolted the chair to the floor. You're smarter than New Rhodes, aren't ya?"

???: "Oh, you're awake."

Trigger: "Corporal Herman Gunther. Tir City Resistance Demolitions. Serial Number 3476511."

The voice came from behind Trigger, out of sight; the chair he was strapped into didn't even allow him to turn his head.

???: "I'm sure you believe that."

The figure circled around to the front, revealing an Iron Clan Agent in (deactivated) stealth armor similar to the one Trigger killed in the slums.

Trigger: "This is about your buddy, isn't it? I know. You must hate me."

???: "My name is Kwame Gashi. I couldn't care less about yours. This isn't about Ezra, not anymore, though I confess that thinking about what you did will make this feel far sweeter."

Trigger: "Ezra, huh? Guy ambushed us while we were already in a fire fight. I returned fire thinking he was another Street punk. Nothing personal. Just like I'm sure tying me to a Chair and breaking every bone in my body while I say my name, rank and serial number until I'm blue in the face isn't personal either."

Kwame: "Us? Ah yes, you and your handler. Tell me, do you usually reserve weapons designed for use against MTs for, ahem, street punks?"

The man cleaned off what looked to be an electric screwdriver with a dirty rag.

Kwame: "Don't bother answering. I don't care."

Trigger: "I'd have used something more Close Quarters Suitable if I had it. Want to know something? My name's still Corporal Herman Gunther. I'm still Tir City Resistance Demolitions. And my Serial Number is still 3476511."

Kwame: "That's wonderful. Now hold very still."

The Iron Clan agent began aligning the screwdriver with Trigger's mechanical eye, fitted with a head of the same sort Kind Red doctors use to remove proprietary implants.

Trigger (complying): "You want my eye, huh? Not like I can stop you."

Kwame said nothing as he worked it out of Trigger's skull. Searing waves of pain assaulted his senses; Kind Red Doctors turn implants off before they start fiddling with them, especially when they're wired into the optic nerve. Trigger grit his teeth and fought to stay conscious. It hurt...but it wasn't like he hadn't lost an eye before.

Kwame: "You're blessedly quiet. I appreciate that."

He tugged one last time and ripped Trigger's eye right out. Still connected to the wire, Trigger fought disorientation along with pain as his vision was bent in ways his brain struggled to reconcile.

Trigger: "You're more level headed than the laaaahhhhhhhst... last guy who had me tied to a Chair."

Kwame: "New Rhodes doesn't appreciate this sort of professionalism."

He disconnected the wire, and that part of Trigger's vision simply winked out to black. Blessed relief.

Trigger (deep breaths): "There's...a reason we use your book and not theirs'...mind telling me what you're looking for? It's not one of those fancy ones with a built-in Hard Drive."

Kwame walked behind the chair again and handed the eye off to someone else. They whispered a moment about taking it up to the lab. He shortly returned, wiping off another tool that Trigger couldn't properly see, just outside of his newly-reduced visual range.

Trigger: "It's an off the shelf Series 6, not some secret mind control ray or a bomb or something like that. I'm the same person I was without that thing. Just twice as blind."

Kwame: "You'll understand if we don't take your word for it."

He returned, dangling Trigger's Five-SeveN between two fingers.

Kwame: "It's authentic. Your handlers put a lot of effort into you."

Trigger: "What handlers? And yeah: FN-Herstal Five seveN, rechambered in 9mm. Also Some NRB-9 parts and junk thrown in. Cobbled it together myself. I was honestly waiting for your security team to confiscate it at some point, I just dont feel safe in Sung without it. Those Hobos are voracious... is that the right word?"

Kwame: "It's fascinating. I have a coworker who collects antique weapons, and I'm sure he'll love this. It's a shame you know nothing. You haven't told a single lie yet, to your knowledge. A good little sleeper agent."

Trigger: "Sleeper Agent? The hell are you talking about?"

Kwame: "It will be interesting to see the details of your PLUS enhancements. Shame we won't be able to share the results with you, since we can't analyze them without a full autopsy."

Trigger: "If I were Human PLUS would I really recover on my own from two Spiral Tech Stun Guns?"

Kwame: "You truly have no idea what you are, do you? You know only of the crudest subjects, the failures of the process. The most advanced PLUS subjects have enhancements so closely twined with the organism that no process short of total sterilization will reveal their structure or presence."

He looked back at the door.

Kwame: "Ah, my coworker is here to prep you for analysis."

Trigger: "...Well, let's get on with it. I've got a date in Tir later."

Kwame exited the room, and someone else came around front - someone Trigger recognized instantly.

De Leon: "So you're the Drake Sleeper."

Trigger: "The ****?"


Cue collective "Holy ****"

Blossom's Player: "Agent De Leon? The DIS guy?"
Me: "Yep."
Blossom's Player: "From the bar where Cyrus was murdered?!"
Me: "YEEEEEEEEP."
Blossom's Player: "...Damn. I want in on this action."


Trigger: "Says the Drake Rat who stood there as Tiberus' right hand man died?"

De Leon: "My, Drake implanted some fascinating memories, didn't they, Kwame?"

Both laughed.

De Leon: "Ooh, this Five-SeveN is beautiful. I hope they'll let me clear it once it's no longer evidence. I'm Agent De Leon, and I know all about you, Trigger. I'm hoping to learn a little more once we get you into the sarcophagy chamber."

Trigger: "You do, huh? So you know that I was born in the ruins of a Blockbuster on the surface in old Tuscon and not in some DIS vat like your buddy Perfect?"

De Leon: "You're the most sophisticated PLUS subject I've ever seen, and I'm considered an expert on the subject. I look forward to seeing how they did it."

Trigger: "They didn't do anything! I'm a ****ing normal person! I can show you where my mom's buried! Seriously, ask Blossom and Thunder! They were there for you murdering Cyrus!"

Kwame: "Is he going to be like this the whole way?"

De Leon: "Probably. Permission to knock him out?"

Kwame: "Done."

De Leon reached for a tool...

Trigger: "I'm not a ****ing robot! You just dug into my damn sk...."

And then De Leon jabbed him with a stun gun. Trigger stubbornly remained conscious.

Trigger: "Ouch! Alright, alright, I'll shut up. You don't need to keep up with the zapping! Besides, don't those automatically work against cyborgs? It failed, so I'm obviously not full of servos and shiiiiiiii-"

De Leon did not stop with the zapping.

De Leon: "Please, servos are only needed for crude failures of the PLUS process. Your work could be called...beautiful."

Through even more pain, Trigger stubbornly held onto his consciousness, this time attempting a different gambit: Pretending to have already passed out. Unfortunately for him, De Leon called his bluff and jabbed him a third time. Even Trigger's incredible luck couldn't keep him awake through that kind of abuse, and he faded into oblivion.

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/Qr3wAfTsGUY)

Johanna: "Katz, please do not allow Asami to enter the free fire zone. Class four mental soundness protocol."

The guard nodded once, and looked down at Blossom.

Blossom: "Katz, please let me through. It's important and Johanna is missing the issue! There's clearly something wrong down there!"

Katz (pulling out a pair of handcuffs): "I'm sorry, this is for your own good."

Blossom (exasperated): "Don't protect me, protect Johanna!"

Katz didn't say anything else, quickly going in for the grab. Blossom couldn't get herself out of the way in time, and quickly found herself bound by the man in a harmless but uncomfortably tight bear hug. Wriggling and shouting, she fought, and with a little effort she managed to writhe free, throwing the man over her shoulder! She dashed for the elevator and Johanna's surprised face, but her lunge just wasn't quite quick enough. The doors closed first. Katz climbed to his feet after having been overpowered. He wouldn't underestimate her twice.

Blossom (dejected): "It's too late, I'll comply. But can I get a drink? See my bodyguard? If I'm right, and there was danger, I'll be rather cross."

Katz: "You're...Asami Bei Fong, huh? Sorry about that, but as long as you aren't acting suicidal you have free run of the facility."

Blossom: "You've caught me on a bad day, I'm not usually this troublesome. Where can I find my friend Thunder? Johanna mentioned a break room?"

She took a moment to adjust herself after that display of physicality, fixing her hair and straightening her clothes. It wouldn't do to be untidy.

Katz: "Thunder? I last saw him with Galimberti. In the break room. I guess I'm supposed to watch you? This is weird. But I can show you the way."

Blossom (putting on her flirty voice): "How about we take a stroll together? I know when to give in. To the break room!"

---

Galimberti: (Still apologetic) "Intelligence says he's a Drake Sleeper Agent. I'm...not actually supposed to be telling you this and the usual policy is to clear witnesses too, but it didn't seem right with you."

Thunder: "That doesn't make any sense."

Galimberti: (shrugging) "I've learned a healthy distance helps. There's always a rat. I know it's probably a shock, but your friend isn't who you thought he was."

Thunder (annoyed): "...Where's Asami?"

Galimberti: "The boss's sister? I thought she was with Ms. Venito."

Thunder: "She's on my team. We came here together to talk to Ms. Venito. I need to talk to her about this."

Galimberti: "Look, man, if the Family needs you there you'll get a call. Trust me, they know."

Thunder: "Well a member of our strike team just got black bagged. Where would they be?"

Galimberti: "My guess? A holding cell in the sub-basement. Ultra-high security zone. Got those automated guns for intruders."

Thunder: "Not Trigger. I'm not dumb enough to try and break him out of whatever hellhole your people have dragged him to. I'm talking about Blossom."

Galimberti (laughing nervously): "Heh, my bad. They were going up to the penthouse. Only way up there is the elevator or the maintenance stairwell."

Thunder: "I really appreciate you pulling me out, but is there anyway you can get me up there?"

Galimberti (stiffening): "Oh, hell no. Even if I could, I'd be fed to the splorkers for breaking into the Penthouse. Look, I know this looks bad, but a little patience goes a long way. The Bei Fongs don't forget their own, you're safe here."

She took the opportunity to pull her helmet off. She was thirty-something, pale-skinned, and has her fair share of scars from a violent career. Immediately, as if to demonstrate the normalcy of the situation, she grabbed a biscuit off of the nearest table, before casually setting her rifle down on the table and leaning against the wall.

Thunder (frustrated): "Alright. So what do you know about Trigger being a sleeper agent"

Gal (chewing): "That sort of thing tends to be need-to-know. I didn't need to know much."

Thunder: "I'm guessing you don't have the authority to decide whether or not someone gets black bagged either."

Gal: "Nah, that sort of order always comes from intel. You know, Iron Clan Spooks. Y'know, now that I think about it, Agent Gashi made it sound kinda personal. But that's not my business, you follow me?"

Thunder: "So we're sure there aren't going to have any more power suits busting in to drag me away too?"

She looked at him funny.

Thunder: "Come on. I don't think I'm being unreasonable."

Gal (gesturing defensively): "Hey, intel said nothin about you. Didn't even know you were coming."

Thunder: "What happens now then?

Gal: "Honestly? No idea. I'm playing it by ear, waiting for orders. I think I'm supposed to keep you from running off until debriefing but the radio's dead." (yawning) "Man, I hate it when this happens. Iron Clan spooks are happy when they need us and ****in ***** when they don't."

Thunder: "Looks like things haven't changed much then, huh?"

Gal: "Heh. Guess not."

The elevator doors cracked open again, revealing a very disoriented Katz and a less disoriented Asami.

Thunder: "Blossom! They kidnapped trigger!"

Katz: "Always with the yelling!"

Blossom: "I know. He's being tortured. Not much we can do. Katz, can I have a moment with my friend, or am I still a danger to myself?"

Katz: "Did you know I'm a licensed babysitter? Says so on my education degree. Fat lot of good that did me. Do what you want, I need a drink."

Blossom: "You deserve one." She turned to Thunder.

Thunder: "What happened with Venito?"

Blossom: "She went to go correct orders; apparently they were going to kill Trigger. I tried to go along but, oh! It was too dangerous and I don't have the credentials! I'll get killed in an instant!"

Gal: "Oh, she wasn't kidding about that. I got to see the ballistic gel tests on those things."

Blossom (sarcastic): "Well I guess I'm glad Katz here saved me then!"

Katz: (pouring ****ty beer) "That's me, a regular white knight."

Thunder: "You guys sure do seem enthusiastic about your jobs."

((OOC Note: Blossom's Player: "Katz should see a therapist. He seems depressed."))

Thunder: "Okay, then. What's our next step?"

Blossom: "I doubt you have a way to disable the guns, so I guess we wait and try to make a defense for Trigger or something."

She quickly looked both ways to make sure Galimberti and Katz weren't paying too much attention. Once she was satisfied that they were distracted, she leaned in close, and whispered.

Blossom (whispering, showing radio): "Look what I swiped. Maybe we can get some info."

Thunder (whispering): "Nice find. Maybe we can use it to get in contact with whoever is holding Trigger."

Blossom checked one last time to make sure Katz and Galimberti weren't paying attention, and then both of them snuck off. Thunder and Blossom soon found themselves in one of the many service hallways. Back when Bei Fong HQ was a hotel, this wing of the building was used primarily for staff to move about. It was still used for that, though the staff were of a different sort. Blossom had been here before, and she knew the routes. She had little trouble guiding Thunder and herself toward the maintenance stairwell. It was somewhat dimly lit and a little dusty; no one had been on this particular floor of the stairwell for a while, and they had much deeper to go.

Thunder (descending): "We're alone now. Still got the radio?"

Blossom (also descending): "Yep."

Thunder: "Let's get a status update."

Blossom (into radio): "I need a status update on the prisoner as soon as possible."

There was a soft shuffling noise behind the line, and crackling.

Bei Fong Operator: "This is...hold just one moment."

Crackle, more shuffling. Some whispering.

Bei Fong Operator: "Who is this?"

Thunder thought he felt just a tiny earthquake. Or did he hear a rumbling? They continued their descent, passing down what felt like thousands of steps, past hundreds of doors. They'd just passed the 14th floor, going down, down, down.

Thunder: "Give me that." (grabs radio) "This is Tiberius, I need an update."

((OOC note: You don't get to roll bluff if your gambit has zero chance of succeeding.))

There was a moment of silence over the radio, before the operator spoke again, more authoritatively.

Bei Fong Operator: "How did you even-not the point. You're trespassing on Bei Fong Industries Company property and carrying a radio not assigned to you. Almost got a lock. Floor 14?"

Thunder: "Well, ****."

The voice sounded like it was about to say something else, but was suddenly overtaken by what sounded like emergency comm chatter.

Radio: "-Unidenti-...-rapidly-...-AC-..."

Were those alarm klaxons in the distance?

Blossom: "Give me that!" (Grabs the radio back) "This is Asami, we need an update. Now!"

Bei Fong Operator: "Asami?! Oh no, you're still in the building! You need to get to a secure zone now, there should be a bunker on floor twel-"

Static. And then the lights went out. It didn't take long for the emergency lighting to kick on, bathing the area in red.

PA system: "Limited-chk-nonessential systems disab-chk-pop"

((OOC Note: That emergency PA system probably could have used some maintenance.))

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-19, 04:03 PM
Minor edit made. Inserted an extra music link, since the one in the middle is very likely to run out less than halfway through the remaining text even if you're a fast reader.



I think this is the funniest one yet, Trigger has all the luck.

He does! Good and bad.


Dear lord that man is insane. My kinda guy

He is also that.


You don't know how happy you have made me. This is great stuff as always!

:smallsmile:

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-22, 04:49 PM
Bei Fong Operator: "Asami?! Oh no, you're still in the building! You need to get to a secure zone now, there should be a bunker on floor twel-"

Static. And then the lights went out. It didn't take long for the emergency lighting to kick on, bathing the area in red.

PA system: "Limited-chk-nonessential systems disab-chk-pop"

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/4rskWrDDFTg)

Blossom: "We should get underground. You know what's non-essential? Machineguns."

Thunder: "Yeah, I don't know what just happened, but obviously it wasn't in the plan."

Blossom checked the radio one last time. Dead. The pair continued their descent, finally coming to the bottom of the maintenance stairwell only slightly winded. The small concrete area was cobweb-ridden, and its only feature of interest was a single steel door labeled "SECURE ACCESS ONLY - FREE FIRE WARNING". Thunder inspected it more closely, noting that the door was locked with a padlock rather than some kind of high-tech electronic seal. He knocked once; the material was thin, more like a common interior door than a true security door. No doubt it was just meant to keep maintenance workers from wandering into a free fire zone.

Thunder: "You got a bobby pin?"

Blossom grumbled and pulled a spare pin out of her purse, handing it over. Thunder took it with a smile, and tried to remember the last time he'd seen this done. Burglary was never really his forte; he'd mostly been a roofrunner, a smuggler, or an enforcer. But he'd seen lockpicking done enough times to make an attempt at it. A few minutes later, the last tumbler clicked, and he managed to pry the door open.

Peeking through, he saw a short hallway ending in a T-junction, not in the utilitarian concrete style of the maintenance stairwell nor the opulent hotel style of the rest of the building. The sub-basement could be described as sleek and futuristic, but really it was a dimly lit area with dark steel walls and metal grating for a floor, presumably for drainage. Yellow lights along the walkway provide most of the illumination. This particular segment was presumably a killbox for the pair of automated guns hanging limply at the end of the hall. The sounds of staggered bursts of gunfire rang through the halls, though it sounded more like echoes than anything.

Thunder: "Well, at least these guns are inactive. Proceed with caution."

Blossom only nodded, and unfolded the long rifle on her back. Thunder suddenly regretted leaving his NRB-9 SMG behind; he'd have to scavenge something or else rely on his fists if they encountered opposition. They crept onward, carefully, so as to avoid attracting undue attention.

First contact was made when Thunder peered around a corner, only to spot what was surely the aftermath of a firefight: Five corpses and one person clearly in the process of dying. Four of the dead were Bei Fong Security, but one of the corpses and the survivor were wearing white ballistic armor that he immediately recognized as belonging to Concord Security. The survivor was too focused on searching for medical supplies to spot him, but Thunder noticed a pistol at his hip. He glanced around: The dead Bei Fongs had Model 82 SMGs that still looked functional, at least.

The sounds of gunfire still echoed through the halls, but they sounded faraway. Thunder's eyes fell on a corpse near enough to the wall that he could reach for the weapon without exposing more than his arm, so he quietly snatched one of the SMGs. He glanced over to Blossom, who was sitting against the wall and taking deep breaths, and shrugged, checking the magazine on his new Model 82. Five bullets left.

It'd be enough.

He swung around the corner, training the weapon on the last guard.

Thunder: "Drop your weapon! On the floor."

The man snapped his pistol toward Thunder, but fumbled the gun. Already on the floor and now disarmed, he raised his hands in surrender. Thunder approached with his weapon still trained, kicking the pistol away and rolling the man onto his back with his foot. The man gasped for air, obviously in pain but unable to defend himself.

Thunder: "What the hell is Concord doing here?"

Clothing soaked with blood, it was borderline miraculous that he was still conscious. He'd have been lying in a pool of it if the ground weren't metal grating. Maybe it really was for drainage. The man hacked up a glob of bloody phlegm.

Dying Concord Soldier: "W-who...are you?"

Thunder: "What. Is. Concord. Doing. Here?"

He could hear scrambling from behind him as Blossom checked over the bodies for supplies. They'd need all they could get if Concord was attacking this place. She counted out about five mags of .50 for the Model 82s, along with three KROSSCorp-made Biofoam canisters. Two were already spent, but the last one looked good.

Dying Concord Soldier: (weak) "P-please, help. Looking for a thief, but...but I don't wanna die."

Thunder: "Tell me about this thief, then."

Dying Concord Soldier: "I d-don't...please..."

The man went deathly still, just barely hanging onto consciousness.

Thunder: "Well, this is probably Trigger's fault. We need to get back to the hangar ASAP."

Blossom was no doctor, but she could tell that the man had minutes to live, at best. She couldn't be sure of the full extent of them without disrobing him, but his armor'd been battered to hell and there were at least five leaking holes through it. No exit wounds, which seemed to imply that they were still in there. Biofoam was made for situations like this, to numb the pain and stop the bleeding, but she wasn't sure if it was too late or not. She stood there a moment paralyzed with indecision.

Thunder pulled the trigger.

Thunder: "Don't waste it on him. We might need that."

---

Following the signs and the sounds of gunfire, they made their way toward the prison block. Thunder took point, and as he peeked around a corner, he flinched as a pair of bullets whizzed by his face.

Crouching, he tried again to survey the scene: Two Concord soldiers were trading fire with a pair of Bei Fong guards and someone in stealth armor. The former had their backs to him about forty feet down the hall, taking cover behind rows of filing cabinets, but the latter might still hit him by accident if he were careless.

Nodding quietly to Blossom, Thunder aimed and fired a burst. His first shots found purchase in the skull of one of the guards, and he dropped like a sack of bricks, dead before he hit the floor. He attempted to strafe the other guard as well, but the second one cursed and reacted quickly enough to duck into an alcove, spraying 9mm fire at Thunder's position. Thunder himself ducked back in time to watch the bullets pass by harmlessly. He ducked back out and sprayed bullets again, but he only managed to catch a couple on the soldier's ballistic armor before he ducked again.

The Bei Fong Guards on the other side stopped firing, taking advantage of the lull to advance. Thunder and the Concord Soldier exchanged another round of fire, and this time Thunder hit something vital. He collapsed, still breathing but terribly wounded. The firefight done, Blossom called out to the Bei Fong Guards.

Blossom: "Asami here! Explanation please?"

The Bei Fong Guards advanced to about 50 feet away, with weapons trained on Thunder's position.

Jong-Soo: "Hands up."

Thunder (Calmly, from around the corner): "This is Asami Bei Fong and her escort."

Blossom: "Where is Johanna?!"

Jong-Soo: "Ms. Venito is safe. You are both to be taken to the bunker, immediately."

Blossom: "Not until I see the prisoner."

Jong-Soo: "The prisoner has escaped his cell. Come out, I do not wish to resort to force."

They could still hear gunfire in the distance. This wasn't over yet.

Thunder: "Are you threatening a daughter of Tiberius Bei Fong?"

Jong-Soo: "She is not to be harmed. You have no such protection."

Blossom (changing tactics): "What's going on? Why is Concord attacking?"

Jong-Soo lowered his weapon from Thunder, not to a full rest but at least no longer lining up a shot.

Jong-Soo: "I, we have no idea. It's not important right now, you're in danger and we need to get you to safety. Now."

Blossom ignored him, moving forward toward the Interrogation Rooms. He didn't stop her, though he stared with silent disapproval as she and her bodyguard walked past. Eventually he followed, bringing up the rear and watching for any more enemies.

Something caught Thunder's eye. A bloodied metal tray outside one of the interrogation rooms had a familiar lump of metal on it: A model 6 Kind Red Industries Bionic Eye, of the same type Trigger had.

Thunder: "Blossom! Look at this."

All of the interrogation rooms were empty, though the one with the eye outside showed some signs of recent occupation, namely some flecks of blood on the ground, and a few mostly-spent rolls of gauze on the table.

Blossom: "That's definitely Trigger's eye...but where is Trigger?"

Jong-Soo followed the pair in along with a second guard - Thunder recognized her voice as Volkov, one of the guards from the elevator. Blossom could tell both of them were raising eyebrows under their armor as she wrapped Trigger's Eye in gauze and pocketed it.

Thunder: "What happened to this place?"

Jong-Soo: "That's not important, we have to go the the bu-" He was interrupted by Volkov.

Volkov: "Your crazy sonuvabitch friend -", she spit, "-sprung out in the confusion when the klaxons went off and a few dozen black ops mercs showed up. Cameras were out but the bastard took down seven men on his own on the way out. Place was a graveyard when we showed up to reinforce the area."

Blossom: "I thought Jong Soo was already down here?"

Jong-Soo: (reluctantly) "I was on my way here with Ms. Venito when the attack began; I was forced to make a detour to escort her to the bunker." (more composed) "Which is where we are going, right now."

Blossom: "Not a chance. We're not done here."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/whjfd7pqaTo)

Trigger awoke to rumbling and the sounds of gunfire. He was tightly wrapped in...something, and all was dark. He'd been blindfolded. He could hear the rattling of wheels over metal grating, and the acceleration. He was being pushed somewhere. He tested the restraints, trying to determine just how tight they were; there was very little give, but there was just a little bit. He was wrapped tightly, but he could feel the cold metal of the gurney. Strapped to a table, not fully bound. The restraints themselves felt like slightly stiff cloth, probably gauze.

He didn't think he could loosen the bonds themselves, but his face was exposed, and he could wriggle a little bit in that direction. It took effort, but he made some progress. Maybe an inch out. The sound of wheels against metal grating continued. A burst of gunfire audibly collided with a nearby wall. He kept going, wiggling just a little further, until he could feel the pushbar on the back of his skull. Definitely a gurney.

He stretched slightly further, and his hair brushed up against something. There was a sickening 'schk' noise and what Trigger suspected was a man's dying breaths in the background. He'd exposed the tops of his shoulders. Trigger took a deep breath, then sucked in his gut and quietly tried to slip an arm free. He'd managed to touch two fingers to his chin when he felt something cold press against his forehead.

Trigger: "Hi there, Mr. Glock."

De Leon: "Even through the blindfold, you recognize it. Astonishing."

Trigger: "Its got a very unique barrel shape for the magnetic containment."

Trigger couldn't see De Leon, but he was definitely standing behind the gurney from the sound of his voice. The sound of the wheels stopped, and so did he.

De Leon: "It's such a shame we've found ourselves at odds. It's rare to find someone who can really appreciate these things." (in another direction) "Kwame, how much further is it?"

If Kwame replied, Trigger couldn't hear it. The distant sounds of gunfire continue, but distantly.

Trigger: "So, since you're gonna liquefy me, why don't you tell me what's with all the gunfire?"

De Leon: "Ah! You'll be pleased to know that the plan has been...amended. Due to circumstances."

Trigger (sarcastic): "What's been amended? You obviously would have killed me before I 'came back online'."

De Leon: "You can often gauge a man by his enemies. By that standard, you're an interesting man, Mr. Gunther. What you're hearing is the sound of Bei Fong Industries Security engaging in scattered firefights with a Concord Special Operations team."

Trigger: "****, they want me that badly? All I did was crash a Barracuda."

De Leon: "Apparently so. Nevertheless, I've been presented with an excellent opportunity by whatever animosity you've earned. A man as interesting as you deserves far better than ignominy in a sarcophagy chamber."

Trigger: "...Okay, and made a mess of their security forces..."

De Leon actually laughed at that. It was an oddly pleasant laugh, like the kind one might share with a drinking friend, and not the sort one would share with a man whose head you're pointing a gun at.

Trigger: "How about you get me off this Gurney and into some Granite Class Infantry Armor, give me an 84, point me toward Concord, and I don't shoot you? What you did with Cyrus can be our little secret. I'll even let you keep my Five seveN if you like it so much."

Trigger felt the barrel leave his skull.

De Leon: "Goodness, that's exactly the sort of interesting I was talking about. And why, pray tell, would I do any of those things?" (Shouting off in another direction) "Hurry up, Kwame! We're going to be caught if they get the cameras back on!" (back to Trigger) "Apologies."

Trigger: "Because it gives me the most incentive to NOT find you and kill you when this is all done?

((OOC Note: He rolled boxcars on intimidate. Still, sometimes there are just too many penalties to overcome, no matter how good your roll is. Like, for example, trying to convince someone with the slightest shred of willpower to surrender from a position of total helplessness.))

De Leon: "Oh ho! And deprive myself of both the thrill of conquest AND such a fascinating foe?"

He laughed again, and it was definitely at Trigger this time. The gurney lurched back into motion as the sounds of gunfire briefly ceased. Trigger realized that his hand was stuck where it was; if he wanted to try something, he'd definitely need a better opportunity. He could only take advantage of the element of surprise once; without that, he was blind and mostly immobile.

There was another burst of gunfire and the sound of a plasma pistol discharge, followed by a wail and a bizarre melty sound.

Trigger: "Nice shot."

De Leon: "I am a passable marksman when the situation calls for it." (pauses, then out of the blue) "I realize you're frightened, but I assure you: You'll thank me when this is all over."

Trigger (sarcastic): "What, Are you going to turn me into a human plus candidate like your best friend Perfect?"

De Leon: "Goodness, no. Perfect suffered implant rejection syndrome after nanoaugmentation. A tragedy, but we've isolated the gene that causes it and prep subjects with a retrovirus now. He's a fascinating specimen, really. Medically he should have died within minutes. Doctor Xilung credits his continued survival to sheer willpower."


Blossom's Player: So calling him Agent Perfect is them being ironic and cruel?
GM: Oh yeah.


Trigger: "I have no idea what half of that means."

De Leon: "Apologies. What I meant to say is that subjects with side effects as severe as Agent Perfect and subject two-five-seven are quite rare with our most modern countermeasures. There are several genetic markers known to interfere with the process but most are as clean as our dear Kwame."

Trigger: "So... you want to make me into... Coursers? Rick Deckard? Whatever the actual name of your PLUS hunting club is?"

De Leon: "You're an interesting man, Mr. Gunther, and I believe that the world will be a more interesting place once you're freed from the limitations of mere humanity, whether you come to understand us or choose to rebel. Your decisions will remain your own, I assure you."

A moment of silence stretched onward for several seconds.

De Leon: "Now, I do believe we have a clear path to the hangar. Shall we?"

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/pjowifCdxFU)

Blossom: "Not a chance. We're not done here."

The prison block was a dead end, but they had more information than they started with.

Thunder: "So Trigger supposedly broke out and killed seven armed guards. Without his eye."

Blossom: "This gauze would stop any bleeding. We're not gonna be able to Hansel and Gretel this with a blood trail. There goes my first idea. Whatever's going on, time's short."

Volkov: (Suddenly) "Hey, wait just a second. Where the hell did Agent Gashi go? He was with us just a minute ago."

Blossom: "Who's Gashi?"

Thunder: "Wait, wasn't there someone in stealth armor? In the firefight."

Volkov: "The Iron Clan guy down here, he was the only one who survived that goddamn psycho breaking loose."

Blossom (suspicious): "Where do you think he'd go?"

Volkov: "Hell if I know, probably slipped off to fight somewhere else. Was supposed to help us track down that PLUS agent though. Son of a bitch."

Blossom: "Did you see anything, Jong Soo?"

Jong-Soo: (Frantic, frustrated at being ignored) "It. Does. Not. Matter! We need to go to the bunker before more soldiers arrive, and we're wasting time!"

Blossom: (annoyed) "If you're so scared, then you go to the bunker! You don't have orders to apprehend me with force, so I'm not your problem!" (To Thunder) "Let's go to the loading dock. I want to give Trigger a piece of my mind. He'll be lucky if I don't shoot him for putting us through this."

Thunder: "Loading Dock? Why the Loading Dock?"

Blossom: "He's obviously been taken by force, and the best way to cover everything up is to get him out of the complex. Whoever did this is probably the same person that took out the cameras, those aren't considered nonessential."

Jong-Soo: (completely had it) "You spoiled-FINE! You think I worry about orders? If you are hurt under my watch I will be lucky to survive the week!"

Volkov: "Dude, calm the **** down."

Jong-Soo was quiet for a long moment.

Blossom: "Don't call me spoiled just because I can see the big picture. With all due respect, get out of my way."

Jong-Soo obviously hated that Asami was so eager to put herself in harm's way, but he sighed. "Fine. They are going to have all of our heads when this is over regardless. I hope your ego is worth it." With that, he fell in line.

Blossom: "Thank you, Finally! I've had it with this mess, let's just do this and get out of here."

They pushed forward, Jong-Soo and Volkov tagging along. On the way out of the cells and down the other path, they started noticing bodies. A lot of them, both Bei Fong Guards and Concord Soldiers. Oddly enough, while a few were slain by bullet wounds, several were missing limbs and a few appeared to have been impaled.

((OOC Note: Blossom's Player: We found the bread crumbs!!!!!))

Blossom: (Thinking out loud) "Concord wouldn't be doing this kind of damage, and members of both sides have similarly unusual wounds. Someone's been killing indiscriminately, and not with standard firearms."

Volkov: "These look like blade wounds. Y'think your psycho got a hold of one of those Iron Clan swords? ****, maybe he killed Kwame."

Blossom: "Trigger can't use a sword."

Thunder: "Nothing's been looted, either. Someone just showed up and slaughtered everyone, probably with a sword. Trigger isn't the one-man-army who made this mess. I don't know anyone who could be."

They could see the next pile of bodies from here, and the sounds of gunfire had curiously ceased.

Blossom: "Especially without his equipment or his eye. Jong-Soo, the situation is worse than I thought. We really need reinforcements, if possible."

Jong-Soo: "We are under emergency conditions and our communications are down. This is why we have lockdown protocol."

Blossom: "Alright then. We're going up against a swordsman and it's probably not the prisoner. Guns loaded, everyone!"

Volkov: (looting corpses) "Waaaay ahead of you."

They passed literal dozens of corpses. Some were Concord soldiers, but in this area it was at least three-quarters Bei Fong guards. Not all of them were the militarized sort, with several in flak vests and standard uniforms rather than full ballistic armor. Thunder took the opportunity to loot a vest from one who'd been decapitated; he needed every edge he could get, and going without armor was a fool's choice in a firefight.

They pressed onward, moving faster. With the scattered firefights dying down, they knew they didn't have much time left. As Thunder peered around a corner, he spotted a pair of Concord Soldiers examining the dead for vital signs, one of them fiddling with their radio.

CS1: "What a ****show."

CS2: "Target still not found, severe casualties. Requesting confirmation of current orders."

Blossom (whispering): "Wait. Listen."

CS1 (oblivious): "Mostly blade wounds. Huh."

CS2: "Damn, do they have a whole army of ninjas down here?"

CS1: "If they do they're ****in' psychos, a lot of these corpses are theirs."

CS2: "Paging Envy. Come in Envy. Yes. Target not found, severe casualties against an unknown assailant. NX-unit definitely not present. Yes. No. I see. Thank you. Order confirmed."

CS2: (to CS1) "Envy says pull out, but ice the target if we see him. NX unit was last seen in Sung Residential. He definitely didn't enter the building with it."

CS1: "Son of a bitch, does she have any idea how many of us are dead? Wish we'd been told that earlier."

Blossom (whispering): "She."

Thunder (whispering): "Volkov, Jong-Soo, follow my lead."

The three of them stepped out from the corner, Volkov and Jong-Soo synchronizing perfectly.

T+V+J: "Drop your weapons! On the floor."

Both Concord Soldiers raised their hands into the air, SMGs dropped.

CS1+2: "...****."

The coast cleared, Blossom stepped out with a fourth weapon trained on them.

Blossom: "Why are you here? Concord and BFI have no outstanding issues."

CS1: (taking lead, as calmly as anyone standing in front of a firing squad can) "Uh, well! Orders from the top. You know how it is, you do your thing, get your pay, hope you don't die. Heh."

Blossom: "I understand completely. Now, my dear, what are your orders? And do hurry, I'm off to find a psycho with a sword."

CS1, trying very hard not to panic: "We're looking for something very valuable that was stolen, okay? We know it's not here now, even if the thief is. I realize that's a pretty ****ty excuse at this point, but intel is intel and I'm just doing my job. I have a family! A husband, two kids!"

Blossom: "That's so sweet! One more question, who's giving you orders?"

CS1: "I-it's an NX-unit! Didn't mean to hide that, habit just slipping in, I swear!"

CS2: (sweating bullets) "E-envy. Envy of the Septette. D-don't look at me like that, they all have stupid theme names they hide behind."

Blossom: "Jong-Soo, do we have any simple, low-security, low-clearance guard openings? I don't want to kill these two but Concord definitely will. I'm open to suggestions."

Jong-soo stared back blankly.

Jong-soo: "...Bei Fong Industries will be hiring many new security personnel after today. This is, however, not the time. Volkov, handcuffs."

Volkov walked behind the two...and promptly dropped both to the ground with a pair of stun guns.

Blossom: "Wonderful! Hear that, friends? We don't need to kill you! Also, Envy might try to kill you, but I'm willing to help you survive!"


Blossom's Player: "Yes, Asami is a crazy bitch."
GM: "It's alarming that this is a good deed by this game's standards. More or less."
Thunder's Player: "I also want to point out that Asami said that to two unconscious bodies."
GM: "'Crazy Bitch' about covers it."


The next hall contained something unusual: A mass of faintly glowing green sludge with bits of half-molten ballistic armor and a visibly bent M84 sticking out of it.

Blossom: "I think we're going the right way."

Thunder heard a shout from nearby, but Blossom could clearly make out "Oh **** no, you are not making me a robot freak!"

Blossom: "That's probably him. Sounds like DIS might be involved. Let's move in."


GM: "You hear someone shout from the other room and just calmly report it, along with unverified suspicions?"
Blossom's Player: "Well, it sounds like Trigger. And that's how he refers to human PLUS. And I'm playing the crazy bitch card."


---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/YoQSh117Fyk)

They quietly advanced to to find the door to the Loading Dock wide open, exposing a large room well-strewn with boxes and hosting several candy-red tractor-trailers - one with its back shutter open and loading ramp extended. They clustered to either side of the door, looking in, trying to find the source of the voices before daring to press any further.

---

De Leon: "...choice in the matter."

In one last, desperate bid for freedom, Trigger ripped his arm free, blindly trying to punch Agent De Leon in the groin. It felt not totally unlike punching a brick wall, and the man didn't even seem fazed. Actually, Trigger was pretty sure he was wearing a cup.

Trigger: "HERE COMES THE NIGHT TR...." thunk "...And Cup. Ow."

De Leon: "Delightful. Are you quite finished?"

Trigger: "Adrenaline gone. Feeling of invincibility over. Well, ****."

---

Blossom: "That voice..."

Thunder (checking his mags): "...Could be. Look there."

About seventy feet in, a man could be seen wheeling a gurney wrapped tightly in gauze toward the opened trailer ramp. It was hard to make out details at this distance, but there was definitely someone lying on - no, strapped to - the gurney. The man standing behind it didn't seem to have noticed them yet, but she knew that dark gray longcoat anywhere.

He was only a few paces from the loading ramp. They didn't have much time left.

Blossom (whispering): "It's him - That's a DIS agent - one of the ones who killed Cyrus. We have to kill him, he can't get away. But where's Perfect?"

Trigger: "Battle Shriven awaits. You can shoot me or make me one of your depraved science experiments I gu..."

De Leon: (Loudly interrupting) "Come out, now. It's not polite to eavesdrop."

They stiffened, and as one turned their weapons inside. Of course it was Trigger on the gurney. It'd have to be. Blossom spoke aloud, trying to buy time to line up her shot. It was too close to use the scope properly, but she knew her weapon well enough.

Blossom (gleefully cackling): "Agent De Leon, I've missed you since our last rendezvous ​in Val!"

De Leon: "Miss Bei Fong! It is a pleasure to see you again, but I'm afraid I was just leaving. I'd advise you to hold your fire, lest you bring Mr. Gunther's life to a tragic concl-"

She fired, and Agent De Leon looked down, shocked speechless. The gauze was soaked red with blood as Trigger cried out. De Leon dropped to a squat, taking cover behind his impromptu embankment. The steel would hold, even if his attempt at using a human shield hadn't.

De Leon (a little impressed): "Satan's whiskers, you're more ruthless than I thought!"

GM: "Uh, hit location is...legs. Your shot hits the gurney."
Blossom's Player: "Crap. Can I roll damage on Trigger?"
GM: "Yep. Armor save for circumstance fails. Trigger takes a ****ing sniper round to the..." (rolls) "torso."
Blossom's Player: "Uh, that was a joke..."
Trigger's Player: "Yeah, Trigger's dead. Trigger has 3 wounds and no armor."
Blossom's Player: "Sorry!"
Trigger's Player: "Sniper Rifle does MINIMUM six wounds."
Blossom's Player: "I didn't think a 13 failed that badly."
GM: "You hit, but the hit location was the legs, which were in cover. So you hit the cover."
Trigger's Player: "I'll go... make a new character, I guess..."
GM: "That said, (Trigger's Player), please roll a d6."
(Trigger's Player rolls a 6. ALL THE LUCK.)
GM: "Damn, lucky you."
Blossom's Player: "Is he not dead?"
GM: "The bullet passes through your torso and unbelievably, almost miraculously passes through almost cleanly. You are...definitely going to die in a few hours tops without immediate medical attention. But your organs are mostly still inside you, if a bit shredded."
Trigger's Player: "Welp, Trigger is a dead man walking. This means he has just stopped giving a **** about self-preservation."
GM: "Trigger is also unconscious and going into shock. Obviously."
Trigger's Player: "Neeeeeever mind. Being a ****ing robot is sounding pretty great about now."
GM: "This isn't an actual rule, for the record, but I just jury-rigged a stabilization check. Trigger got super friggin' lucky. That nat 6 saved his life. For the moment. Mostly because PCs get to be heroic and dying because your friend accidentally pinged you with a sniper rifle after getting helplessly jerked around all session is kind of a sad way to go."

Thunder's follow-up with a spray of bullets didn't meet with much more luck, largely bouncing off of the gurney, though thankfully didn't cause Trigger any more grievous bodily trauma. Jong-Soo and Volkov advanced, relying on their heavier armor to protect them and hoping to draw fire from their charge. Both made called shots to De Leon's torso, practicing careful fire control; They both sprayed fire at De Leon's center of mass with assault rifle fire, and Jong-Soo managed to land a glancing hit through his armor.

De Leon: "I'm...bleeding? Hrm. This is most unusual."

That was when a blur everyone had previously missed in the firefight closed in - Agent Gashi decapitated Volkov in one clean swoop, the woman slumping to the ground even as he faded back into transparency.

Blossom: "Well, ****."

Taking advantage of the distraction, De Leon dragged the gurney back with him five feet toward the ramp and took a potshot at Blossom with his Glock 86.

De Leon: "I had hoped we might come to an arrangement, but no, you Bei Fong types always have to start a shootout..."

Thunder fired on De Leon again, and managed to catch him in the open whilst he fired on Blossom. The villain was much tougher than he looked, but several holes in his coat were visibly leaking red. He wouldn't be able to walk that off, but he was still moving.

Blossom managed to duck back behind the bulkhead as the brilliant, viridian bolt of bad science hit the wall next to her, reducing part of the entryway to glowing metallic slag. She was unharmed - that time. Instead of ducking back out and taking another shot at De Leon, she caught sight of the deadly blur. She lined up a shot, smiled, and pulled the trigger. Blossom's second shot found purchase in Agent Gashi's right arm at the elbow, reducing everything below to a pulpy mass as the man howled in rage and pain. His cloak shorted out, his stump bleeding profusely. His Falchion clattered to the ground harmlessly, and the furious cyborg ninja drew a deadly-looking knife.

Jong-Soo tried to finish off the disarmed enemy, but even clutching a half-dismembered stump, the Assassin somehow managed to weave cleanly through the spray of bullets without a scratch to lunge at him. Fortunately for Jong-Soo, his armor held up against Kwame's half-crazed attack, and his helmet was wedged off instead of instantly killing him with the intended knife to the throat. Agent De Leon quickly abandoned the gurney, taking cover inside the truck and firing his Plasma Pistol again - this time to target Jong-Soo's newly-revealed weakness. The guard flailed for his face, only for his hands to meet empty air as the headless body slumped to the ground and began to dissolve. Blossom shot De Leon while he was exposed, but the bullet glanced off of the ceramic plates concealed in his coat without doing any real harm.

Thunder took aim at the wounded Gashi, caught in the open without cloak or cover, and riddled the man's legs with bullets. He collapsed to the ground, futilely crawling toward Thunder with his dagger. De Leon disappeared entirely into the truck, breaking line of sight.

((OOC Note: Blossom's Player: "What a bitch."))

With the threat posed by Gashi neutralized and De Leon retreating, Blossom rushed over open ground toward the gurney. The truck's engine started in the background even as she closed. Trigger was still breathing, barely.

Blossom: "I'm so, so sorry, it was an accident, I didn't mean to..."

The Biofoam! She scrambled into her bag, pulling out the little black canister and skimming the directions for use. With a smile of relief, she carefully applied the nozzle to Trigger's wound and set it off.

((GM : "It's a temporary measure but certain death in a couple of hours has been extended to 'probably die within 24 hours'. Which isn't great but is an improvement."))

On the other side of the room, Thunder slung walked toward the fallen assassin, stopping to pick up the man's dropped Falchion. It was a nice bit of tech: An oscillating blade, made by Bei Fong Industries from an old DIS schematic, with an edge nanofabricated for a eutectic perfection. He peeled the hand off of the hilt - rigor mortis doesn't set in that quickly - and gave it a test swing with a malicious grin. Agent Gashi took a futile swing at his leg when Thunder approached, but the mercenary simply stomped on his forearm, hard. The dagger fell from his hand as he screamed one last time.

Thunder: "Thanks for the sword. I'm excited to try it out."

A moment later, the assassin's head rolled away.

A violent burst of noise ensued as the red truck lurched forward, accelerating and plowing through the steel shutter separating the basement from Sung City's streets. As if the building itself could sense the true threat fleeing the premises, the klaxons ceased, air turning to dead silence save for a truck driving off into a Sung City back alley. The red and yellow glow of the emergency lighting suddenly clicked off, replaced by the standard lighting. Blossom's stolen radio erupted with hails across all channels, in a display of total confusion.

Blossom (over radio): "Anyone who's listening, I need a doctor now!"

Radio: "ch-chk come in Ms. Venito, come in."

Blossom (over radio): "Asami in the sub basement hangar. I have a badly injured man."

Radio: "Chk-this is Katz. Glad to hear your voice, Asami, I was worried when you didn't make it to the bunker, over."

Blossom (over radio): "That's great. I need medical help for one of my teammates ASAP!"

In the background, Trigger mumbled something incomprehensible about Lunatic Eye, of all people.

Blossom: "Trigger, honey, if you walk toward that light or whatever I will slap you so hard that you'll feel it in the afterlife and any reincarnation."

Trigger only mumbled something else about real Ale and Valkyries.

Radio: "Asami, how bad is it down there? We've just reestablished cameras and...Arah. I've never seen so many corpses in my life."

((OOC Note: Blossom's Player: "He should see one of our real missions."))

Radio: "Got a message from Ms. Venito, she wants to see you now. The Sub-basement seems to be clear so I'm going to send in the medical team to recover anyone still breathing. You say you've got someone? Uh, over."

Blossom (over radio): "Just one, yes. Volkov and Jong-Soo didn't make it, but Thunder and I aren't hurt."

Radio: "****, Corvos is going to kill all of us. I feel really bad for Johanna. Goddamn, what a ****show. Alright, got a few doctors with sub-basement clearance making rounds. Looks like you're in the hangar, so I'll have them stop by there first. Johanna's waiting for you in the lobby whenever you're ready."

---

The next few hours were a blur of activity as people with clearance filtered into the sub-basement floors, dragging off anyone still breathing to an array of ambulances out front. Unfortunately Bei Fong HQ's onsite medical facility was mostly trashed and there were a lot of wounded, so most people had to be outsourced to local hospitals. Fortunately, there were already many emergency vehicles onsite and it wasn't hard to get Trigger to an ambulance; he was rushed to Norton Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery.

Ms. Venito requested to meet Blossom privately in her (miraculously intact) office when she had a chance, and Thunder had some free time to do whatever he fancied. No one called him out on goods looted from Bei Fong Security. With Jong-Soo dead, Galimberti got a field promotion to Head of Security, and Katz stepped into a new role as communications officer with gusto.

But they weren't done in Sung. Despite this narrowly-averted disaster, there was still the matter of Tir City to attend to, after all.

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-22, 04:52 PM
Aaand part 3 is up. There's still a fourth part to write, but that's just denouement. Part 3 resolves the immediate conflict!

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-24, 04:03 PM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/EIegjUtwyKM)

Antonya Greene was imposing woman, standing just under six feet with the sort of physique that only comes from a life of hard labor, exercise, and occasional bursts of violence. She lacked the unusual blue-gray coloration rumored to belong to people of Glazi descent, but for all she knew that was an old wives' tale. Her family certainly came from Whiteland, having fled south after the fall of Glazfell, and all of them were just as fair-skinned as she was. Of course, none of them were born there; her family had been in Dhamburlan for three generations. She wasn't too bothered; her bright red hair would probably look ridiculous with blue skin anyway. She checked her flightsuit to make sure there wasn't any blood on it, and donned a few protective talismans before slinging an M63E1 Stoner LMG and her longsword across her back.

She'd arrived. From now on, she was on business, and she'd go by her callsign.

Boudicca arrived in Sung City in an interesting time, with Bei Fong Industries HQ on fire and what looked like a Concord AC sprinting away from the scene, pursued by attack helicopters and a pair of Barbatos-class MPACs that nevertheless proved unable to keep up. Not one she knew of, though. Sung City Police initially denied her entry to the perimeter around the block, but as ambulances and fire engines poured in she was eventually allowed through.

Boudicca (grumbling to herself): "I know I became an AC pilot because it was more exciting, but I was expecting for that to wait until my first mission..."

There were plenty of Bei Fong personnel around as Boudicca entered the building, including a few guards but mostly some combination of emergency personnel running about and office workers wrapped in blankets or on stretchers. The elevators were mostly being used to move the injured from the upper floors to the lobby, which had been partially repurposed into an ambulance loading area. Not seeing her contact, she walked up to one of the guards and presented her papers.

Boudicca: "I know this is a bad time, but I'm one of your new hires. Armored Core Pilot. Is there someone I should speak to? I'd offer to go after the AC that those choppers were after, but my AC isn't really built for speed..."

The guard snorted in response but grabbed the papers to look them over.

Galimberti: "Boudicca, eh? Heh, you showed up after all. Name's Galimberti, and apparently I'm the captain now, so you came to the right gal."

Boudicca: "Yeah, my transport was delayed. Hit a splorker."

Galimberti: "Can't imagine that'd slow down a transport unless you ate it. Doesn't matter."

Boudicca: "It got caught in one of the axles. Had to pry it out."

Galimberti: "Bad luck, then."

Boudicca: "Not as bad as you seem to be having."

Galimberti: "Oh, I'm doing okay, aside from the part where I'm stuck dealing with the aftermath of this cluster****. Not as bad as you're about to be doing. Oh wow, does it suck to be you. Looks like you've already been assigned a mission."

Boudicca: "My first mission? Already?" She blinked.

Galimberti: "Yep." (laughing darkly) "Looks like they're gonna throw you into a ****fest right off the bat."

Boudicca: "It better not be chasing that AC, I'd never catch up to it."

Galimberti: "Heh, you wish. Nah, a straightforward AC fight looks cushy compared to this, but I can't officially brief you here."

Boudicca: "Real ****show, huh? Probably not the best time to tell you this is my first time piloting an AC..."

Galimberti: "Gets better. Looks like you're escorting a VIP through it. Again, can't go into too much detail. You're gonna want to head to Ms. Venito's office for the proper briefing."

She pointed Boudicca to the stairwell.

---

Thunder happenned to spot a new face as he's coming up the stairs from the Sub-basement, finishing conversation with Galimberti and being pointed to the same stairwell. As she began her ascent, he fell in step beside her.

Thunder (predatory grin): "You don't look like one of the Bei Fong drones. I'm surprised they let you through the door."

Boudicca (awkwardly nodding): "Uh, hey there. I'm Boudicca, pilot of the AC Britannia. It's my first day with BFI."

Thunder: "Well, you picked a hell of a day. Thunder, pilot of AC Lightning."

Boudicca: "You don't say, Mr. Thunder. You the same Thunder as the one on the top 50 list, by any chance? Number 47."

Thunder: "That's me, alright. I saw you talking to Galimberti, what's she having you do?"

Boudicca: "She's sending me to a briefing. I apparently already have a mission."

Thunder: "Neat. Mind if I tag along? Got a feeling we're headed to the same place anyway."

Boudicca: "Feel free. You seem alright."

They walked up two flights in silence, before Thunder finally broke the tension.

Thunder: "So how did you get involved with the Bei Fongs?"

Boudicca: "Wanted out of KROSSCorp. I'm really a Barracuda pilot, though I've handled a Harpy too. My field sorta dried up though, so I bought myself an AC. Didn't wanna go independent with Concord though, and Bei Fong has a solid benefits package."

Thunder: "Bei Fong Industries: Good for a New Start. Apparently."

Boudicca: "Worse comes to worst, I can always transfer back to being a Monolith pilot. I just always saw those pilots rushing into battle, and I wanted that excitement in my life! Of course, if I wanted that, I could have just stayed in Dhamburlan. That place is plenty exciting..."

Dhamburlan is a lawless region ruled by warlords, in what used to be called The Great Plains far to the east. Thunder failed his int check to recall more than that, though Boudicca has plenty of detailed if outdated information.

Thunder: "Hm. I had my fair share of excitement back in New Rhodes, but there's nothing quite like an AC."

Boudicca: "After piloting a Barracuda for ten years, you get sick of being shot at and not getting to shoot back. So...I hear your mech is almost as fast as its namesake. Must be quite a sight."

Thunder (flashing a smile): "If you can keep up? Hell yeah, it is."

Boudicca: "Not likely, Britannia's more of a tank than a racer."

Thunder: "Well, if we're gonna be working together, I'll make sure you don't get mobbed then."

Boudicca: "Hey, I can take some fire for the rest of the team, but if they can't hit ya, I'll take them wasting ammo on you any day of the week."

---

Blossom opened the door and stepped through, closing it softly behind her. Johanna Venito's office had exactly the sort of look one would expect of an executive aide's office, sans even a single spot of dust...but it was strangely lifeless. No sign of family pictures or personal touches that one might expect a person working in one place for many years to accumulate. Johanna sat boredly on top of her desk, examining the window and its view of Sung City.

Johanna: (Resignedly) "Well, this has been a day, hasn't it?"

She looked over to Blossom, and forced a smile.

Johanna: "I worried sick about you, you know. Still sort of do. So headstrong, just like Lykon."

Blossom: "I'm sorry for worrying you. I guess I'm just focused on what's best for everyone at once. The company and the people we protect need someone headstrong. Corvos is good at running the company and staying safe, but I want to do my part."

Johanna sluggishly put her feet down, and carefully pushed herself off of the desk; she looked almost a decade older than the last time Blossom had seen her.

Johanna: "...I know. And I know I won't dissuade you. None of this is your fault, but maybe I should have trusted your judgment in the first place." (Looking off into the distance again) "You should know that I've decided to tender my resignation."

Blossom: "Resignation? Why? You're the heart of Bei Fong Industries."

Johanna: (Leaning against desk, looking back) "Isn't it obvious? Your brother is returning from Skye City this week, and everyone will be pointing fingers. I've chosen to point those fingers for them. The company did fine before I worked here, and it will do fine after I am gone."

Blossom (pleading): "This isn't your fault! DIS is becoming more cunning, and we need to adapt! You have expertise but we need to update our security profiling. It doesn't mean you have to go. And frankly, I don't mind taking the blame."

Johanna shook her head.

Johanna: "No, I'm afraid that isn't an acceptable outcome, for your sake and your family's. That said...for the moment, I retain executive authority."

Blossom: "...What are you planning?"

Johanna: "You expressed an intention to do something about Tir City. My true resources are limited, but I have taken the liberty of...allocating what I can to this effort. I will no longer be present to fire should your brother or father object. I know I cannot stop you, but I do not wish you to come to harm."

Blossom: "I'll be fine. I have a good mech. I will stop DIS and I will get back at De Leon for ruining your career. You're family and I doubt Corvos could have handled this better."

Johanna (Still shaking her head, but at least smiling): "I appreciate your confidence but reality is rarely so kind as to accommodate it.

I've set aside an undamaged Monolith Transport for you and your allies, and...reassigned a promising new Pilot to Tir City under your command, to replace your indisposed member. I've also arranged for a pair of Jing pilots to support you, and would send more if there were room in the Monolith."

Blossom: "I appreciate what you've done. I'd be lying if I told you we couldn't use the help."

The guard at the door chose this moment to let Boudicca in, followed by Thunder.

Johanna: (Not skipping a beat) "This would be the pilot I mentioned. She comes highly recommended from a contact in Arcadia."

Blossom: "Hello, I'm Blossom. I look forward to working with you."

Boudicca (saluting): "Antonya Greene, callsign 'Boudicca', reporting for duty."

Johanna (all business): "A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms Greene. And Mr Wynter joining us as well, a pleasant surprise. Ms. Greene, I am placing you under Blossom's command, as one of our most respected agents undertaking a dangerous mission. I do hope you will not disappoint. I will allow her to brief you with whatever details she considers appropriate."

Blossom: "We are going into Tir to support the resistance and we need all the help we can get. Furthermore, I have a bit of a crazy idea to obtain more firepower."

She hid it quickly, but Johanna's face suggested she was already regretting those words.

Boudicca: "Understood.

Blossom: "Fantastic. Now how do you feel about taking large risks?"

((GM: Always a good thing to hear in an interview.))

Boudicca: "I've flown Barracudas for ten years and I grew up in Dhamburlan. I'm ready for whatever insane plan you've got."

Blossom: "Excellent. Earlier today a member of the Septette sent Concord agents to infiltrate our facility in search of a specific item. I have what they want and I am proposing that we use that item to bargain for Concord's intervention on our side in Tir City."

Johanna dropped her whiskey.

Johanna: "...You have what?"

Blossom: "Trigger stole an NX core from a Concord Transport. The NX thinks it's an operator."

Johanna: (Flabbergasted) "...He...goodness, this is mad."

She looked down at her spilled alcohol and frowned.

Blossom (turning back to Boudicca): "Well, what do you think?"

Boudicca: "And you don't think they'll immediately backstab you? No offense, ma'am, but they're mercenaries."

Blossom: "That's exactly what I'm counting on. NRB's probably already hired half a dozen of them for assistance."

Boudicca: "Wait, Trigger? The Wanted Terrorist?"

Blossom: "Oh yeah, you're his replacement in this mission while he's in the hospital."

Boudicca (chuckling): "I take it he also took most of the beating for the team?"

Blossom (casually): "He was kidnapped and tortured by accident. It happens."

Boudicca (stepping backward): "...I... see. And I'm his replacement, you said?"

Blossom: "For this mission, not for torture."

Boudicca: "...Understood ma'am."

Blossom (waving a hand): "You'll be fine, you've gone through Bei Fong's vetting process. Back to business. Any questions?"

Boudicca: "Pardon my lack of Clearance, but what's an NX core?"

Blossom: "It's basically a brain in a jar with a screen."

Boudicca: "Right. I think one of the guys I ran with in Dhamburlan kept brains in jars."

Blossom: "Creepy."

---

=Norton Memorial Hospital=

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/z-DO6fXqWmI)

A faint light poked through the darkness, followed by a flush of pain and a soft thrumming sound. Voices cut through the black, barely distinct enough to make out.

???: "We can't...-ere's no telling-...critical condition."
???: "Wake him."
???: "...But, what if..."
???: "I told you to wake him."

A mercifully painless sting, something cold, numbing to the veins, and a flush of agony as sensation returned. Trigger's eyes opened sharply, and unable to turn his head he could only stare at the open door. He could see a few tubes and monitors at the periphery, but no matter how hard he tried, he mercifully couldn't look down at the source of the pain. The whirring of a ventilator continued. The silhouette in his vision finally blurred into focus, a pinstriped suit containing a woman of fair skin and braided silver hair.

Jill Luna.

Her unnatural red eyes betrayed nothing, but the smile on those thin lips said everything. Another pang of agony wracked his body as she spoke.

Jill: (With just a bit of bite) "How are you feeling, Trigger?"

Trigger: "...Like garbage. This is far too sterile to be Battle Shriven.... guess I'm alive?"

He suppressed a grunt of pain. Speaking hurt. Everything hurt, but trying to speak wasn't helping.

Jill: (With a predatory grin) "That you are. You're a fortunate man, Mr. Gunther."

Trigger: "Fortunate? My liver feels like it's paste. I liked my liver. It was my favorite organ, and I was hoping to destroy it the fun way."

Jill: (Teasing) "Oh? But it must be better than the fire we're all bound for." (Her face falls, adopting a more businesslike neutrality) "We had a bargain, Mr. Gunther. I'm sorry to say that I don't believe you'll be able to fulfill it in your state."

Trigger: "And so you're here to collect a debt? I don't think I have very many organs worth salvaging at this point..."

Jill: "Shame, that: Always a shortage of good organs. No, I'm here because I don't like loose ends. And stupidity." (red-faced) "Do you have any idea of the lengths I went to, lengths that you squandered?"

Trigger: "You act like I intended to be captured, kidnapped for PLUS experimentation, and then have my torso used as ablative armor for a thirty ought six...Do I even have pants o-?"

Jill: (Interrupting) "I am insulted by your clumsiness, your utter foolishness in wasting precious time with the damned Bei Fongs, and most of all your uselessness. Your file told me you were a man who spent years as a guerrilla, and yet you couldn't manage a simple delivery. You didn't even leave the city!"

She slammed the door in a fit of rage.

Jill: (mumbling to herself) "It wouldn't do for people to overhear that..."

Trigger: "Maybe because I don't have an allegiance to your corporate overlords. I have a duty to protect my city, and as much as I trust my machine, she ain't winning a war where we're outmanned and outgunned ten to one without some backup... and Bei-Fong's the only company who has a stake in keeping Ra/Thor unoccupi-Wait. What delivery?"

Jill: (Coldly, face leaned up against the door, clenching a fist) "And your foolhardiness has doomed your home. That disk contains encrypted information, the only way Tir might have had a chance, and only a prodigal son could be trusted to deliver it. From anyone else, only a cruel deception."

Trigger: "I had my eye ripped from my skull and my intestines turned into play-doh today. I can't even remember my birthday right now. You said it was a map, not that it was a delivery..."

Jill: (ranting) "And yet you, YOU!, dashed any hope of averting the inevitable with your utter carelessness."

Trigger: "You're the one who thought I would even consider putting a disk I didn't know the exact contents of onto a TCA military computer, so we're apparently both dumbasses. You just gonna keep hammering in that I'm an idiot? Because a bullet to the intestines beat you to it."

Jill: (laughing bitterly) "You have no idea." (pauses, takes a deep breath) "I had a list of the assumed names, images, and ID codes of every single sleeper agent in Tir. I slaved for days to track down all of that data, and to find someone who might get it there in time, and someone they might trust." (laughing again) "And instead, here you are."

Trigger: "Why would I have any ****ing idea? Start making sense before I black out again!

Jill: (With venom) "I. was. your. greatest. ally. And you wasted my help. The fifth column will march, and Tir WILL fall."

Trigger: "Why would they trust me?! I don't even know if I'M a sleeper agent! How do I know I'm not dreaming of electric sheep right now!?

Jill: (Advancing a little too quickly, with a hand practically on Trigger's throat, eyes wild) "Don't you think I would have checked that? Your friends, your family, your countrymen have no idea what Drake is capable of! But I do."

She reassessed her position and stepped back, taking a breath to calm herself, but her eyes shot open when Trigger began screaming himself hoarse.

Trigger: "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT DRAKE IS CAPABLE OF! MAYBE THEY CAUSED THE COLLAPSE! MAYBE THEY BOMBED SALT LAKE AND MADE IT LOOK LIKE CT DID IT! MAYBE THEY'RE CAPABLE OF TURNING FROGS GAY BY PUTTING CHEMICALS IN THE WATER!"

His head drooped down, tears flowing from his eyes.

Trigger: "I don't even know what a frog is..."

Jill: (Sneering, recoiling just a little from all that shouting) "All you had to do was leave in time to save your home, and now your dawdling, bumbling misadventures have cost you even the opportunity." (pauses) "But what gets me is that you didn't even try."

Trigger: "I... I was going to leave that afternoon. Help or not."

She was turning to leave, but her hand stopped before reaching the knob.

Trigger: "I just.... I failed. And now everyone's going to die. Rackham. Doc. Sandy."

Jill: (Measured, lifelessly) "You mentioned Shriven. That's from the Mariner's faith?"

Trigger: "I can't even strap as much composition 18 to Bergentrucking as I can and buy them a few minut..." He trailed off, as if just registering what she'd said. "...Yes."

Jill: (Quietly) "I can imagine no worse fate for one of yours than sitting idly by." (Reluctantly, still facing away) "What if I told you that I could give you a chance to fight, to die on that field?"

Trigger: "I'd take it... it's not smuggling a nuke into New Rhodes High Command and setting it off, but it's better than lying here waiting until I die or they jam more metal in me. What are you going to do, turn me into a brain in a jar?"

Jill: "No, nothing so...cruel as that. There is a mothballed project, designed for wounded pilots to continue service. We never approved it for production, but...but there is a prototype." (Unable to look Trigger in the eye, but with an unmistakable glint) "I won't mince words. This...has never been tested on a live human. Even if it works, you may never leave your AC again. If you stay and recover here, there is a chance, however small, that you might recover the ability to live a human life."

Trigger: "You act like I have a life beyond fighting for what I believe in. I mean, I do. It's called drinking heavily and fixing stuff. But other than that, I don't."

Jill: (Pausing, neutral-faced) "I see. There will not be a third chance to refuse. Do you consent?"

Trigger: "Is De Leon a smug ******* with an even worse pre-war weaponry fetish than I do?"

Jill: (Unamused) "I'm quite serious. Do you consent? Yes or no."

Trigger: "Yes."

Jill: "...So be it. You should rest, Mr. Gunther. I'll make the necessary arrangements."

She changed the settings on Trigger's many IV additives, and all went black.

---

=A Phone Call=

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/qF_KwjPVa-g)



*ring*
*ring*

Gambler: "Hello? Who is this?"

Blossom: "Good evening, Gambler. It's Blossom."

Gambler: "Ah! What brings you to my proverbial parlour at this hour, Miss Blossom?"

Blossom: "You know why. I need to speak to a member of the Septette. Not Envy. They'll want to hear me out."

Gambler: "Intriguing! May I ask why?"

Blossom: "I've acquired something that was stolen from them. They'll want to hear me out."

Gambler: "...Indeed, I believe they will. Hold a moment, please?"

*end call*


Blossom waited silently in the darkened safehouse, taking several deep breaths. Finally, the phone rang, and she calmly picked it up. The voice on the other line was garbled and distorted to hide its true identity, but she had her suspicions.



Gluttony: "Good Evening. I am Gluttony of the Septette, and I will grant you audience."

Blossom: "Good Evening. I'm Blossom, of Bei Fong Industries."

Gluttony: "I can only narrow you down to Sung City; the line you're calling from is well-secured. I'm impressed."

Blossom: "I'm clever like that. Concord's broken its longstanding neutrality on Tir City. Why?"

Gluttony: "A deal was made with New Rhodes. They paid well, and there were those of us who chafed under the old policy."

Blossom: "But not all of you."

Gluttony: "Yes. There has been a tied vote in regard to changing the policy for some time, which may as well have been nay."

Blossom: "A tied vote with seven parties?"

Gluttony: "Unimportant. One of the longstanding nays disappeared from the board."

Blossom: "...I shouldn't be surprised."

Gluttony: "You aren't?"

Blossom: "No."

Gluttony: "Hm."

Blossom: "So which were you?"

Gluttony: "That is not important. Tell me about your acquisition."

Blossom: "Fine. One intact NX-unit, designation one-one-three-seven, answers to the name K.K. Sonnen. I know Envy wants it, badly enough to make an open move against Bei Fong Headquarters."

Gluttony: "I feel I should inform you that Envy acted unilaterally in this regard. No vote was made on this action, though Envy was within her rights to use Concord's resources."

Blossom: "I'd suspected as much. Regardless, Envy has made an enemy for what she's done today. Why does Envy want 1137?"

Gluttony: "That may be important, but I do not know the answer."

Blossom: "You know, funny thing. You mentioned that NRB paid well. Past tense. But that mission Concord posted only pays if Tir falls, not just for fighting on the field. NRB's not the real employer, is it? It's someone on the Septette; NRB hired one or more of you directly."

Gluttony: "..."

Blossom: "I'm right, aren't I?"

Gluttony: "...Clever girl. Little point denying it."

Blossom: "Also, you're clearly Gambler with a voice modulator."

Gluttony: "No."

Blossom: "Worth a shot. So, NRB already paid you to interfere. What's the going price on your interference?"

Gluttony: "You can't afford to outbid NRB. The Bei Fong Family might, but Corvos Bei Fong is in Skye City and we both know Tiberius won't."

Blossom: "I don't have to outbid NRB. They already paid. The way I see it, you've got your money either way. You're better off, even, if Tir doesn't fall; you don't need to pay out."

Gluttony: "Heh. So what do you propose?"

Blossom: "I know why you really want the NX-unit, and why Envy does. You both think she'd be easy to manipulate, and it's a second vote to replace the missing Sonnen."

Gluttony: "Your speculations are fascinating."

Blossom: "I didn't say it was off the table. I want you to post another job, this one for Tir. Same pay, or a little better, I don't care. Pay it from the same pool."

Gluttony: "Why bother? Tir City doesn't stand a chance and we both know it."

Blossom: "Then you don't stand to lose anything, do you? I'm just placing a bet."

Gluttony: "Heh. Heh heh."

Blossom: "Do we have a deal? Post the job, and I'll release my hostage into your care."

Gluttony: "...You are clever. Alright, deal. Ten credits to each heroic mercenary who manages to beat the odds."

Blossom: "There's one more thing."

Gluttony: "Oh?"

Blossom: "I want my team's pay in advance. Three Pilots."

Gluttony: "..."

Blossom: "Thirty credits is a small price to pay for what I'm offering, I think."

Gluttony: "...Fine. I'll play your game."

Blossom: "I'm glad. Pleasure doing business with you, Gambler."

Gluttony: "You won't live long enough to regret it if you double-cross me. You know that, yes?"

Blossom: "Of course."

Gluttony: "Good."

*end call*

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-24, 04:13 PM
And with that, Sung City Showdown is complete! Gosh, am I glad I worked through that writer's block. Imagine if I posted these at my usual update rate! :smalltongue:

First things first, I'm about to go update the Dramatis Personae with some info on our new PC, then next update we'll find out what Stan and Buddy have been doing this whole time.

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-29, 05:02 PM
Recipients: [email protected]
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Hey Buddy, Got a Score
Text: Hear you've been busy! Always good to see an old friend going somewhere. Always tricky to get a hold of someone moved to the Layers, though; had to send someone all the way to Arcadia to find a computer with a net link, y'know?

Bet you're wondering why I'd go to so much effort, eh? Well, I caught a whiff of a hell of a score, not just cash and salvage but maybe some real treasures. Problem is, no one around here's got the kind of firepower I need to crack it open. I got to thinking, who do I know who's got that, and ain't gonna cut and run?

Come to Jemeztown if you're interested, bring friends if you want. Just hurry up if you're gonna come, won't be much left if a Dham cracks it first. Old lady I got the tip from was clear on that. Weird girl, definitely from the Layers, had the look of someone laying low. But that's none of our business, eh? Point is, got a score if you're up for it.

- Your old friend, Bower.


Recipients: <all PCs except Trigger>
Sender: [email protected]
Subject: Treasure Hunting
--Unencrypted Message--
Hey everyone! Buddy here. I recently got contacted by an old acquaintance of mine at Jemeztown saying that he wants to hire some trustworthy muscle to go treasure hunting. Let me know if you're interested ASAP!

Best wishes,
Buddy

--Encrypted Message--
Waster contact's treasure informant might be Sonnen.
Prepare to fight Dham for treasure.
If contact with Trigger, please let me know.
No idea what happened to him.
Saw a contract for attacking Tir City.
Would bet he's on his way.
I hope they win.


(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSMDUXPj4Bc)

Jemeztown was far from Val City, and no roads led so deeply through the wastes. Not anymore. It would have been a deadly, long trek on foot...but fortunately, they weren't on foot. The Wasteland Monsters gave them a wide berth, and the few travellers that seemed like they could potentially be trouble seemed disinclined to pick a fight with a pair of ACs. Little of note happened as they passed through the empty wastes, the sandy expanses of the Sandalia Desert, and eventually the Rocky Mountains.

Finally, Buddy caught sight of Jemeztown in the distance, seemingly crude mud-brick walls rising high above the hill on which it stood. Twelve towers ringed the wall, capped with KROSSCorp-made machinegun turrets of the sort typically mounted on vehicles. The front gate were open, portcullis raised. It would have been a warm welcome but for the pair of automated guns flanking the entrance and tracking their every move.

Masculine Voice (Over radio): Ch-chk "Well, hello there. What brings a pair of ACs out in the middle of the wastes?"

Buddy: "We're here to see Bower."

Masculine Voice: (darkening) "Oh, him. You must be Buddy, then? Well, keep your nose clean around here. This ain't Dhamburlan, we have laws."

Buddy: "That's me. I'll keep that in mind."

Masculine Voice: "You can keep your bots at the Dock while you're in town. There's a rental fee for long-term storage but lucky you, KROSSCorp subsidizes anyone staying less than a day. Saves them accounting when they send folks to trade."

Hellfire: "We should be in and out within the day. Send our thanks to the guys in corporate."

Masculine Voice: (Guffaws) "Oh, ha, no, we aren't owned by nobody. They just pay us a lump sum to save paper in the checkbook."

'The Dock' surely referred to the enclosure annexed to part of the wall near the gate, an area containing a number of MTs and vehicles being refuelled and worked on. There were a pair of empty stalls suitable for an AC, which Buddy and Hellfire quickly claimed for their own.

---

For someone used to the Layers, it was blindingly hot out in the desert sun. Most of the locals wore plenty of clothing to keep it off of their skin: Headdresses, kefiyyah-like garments, wraps of gauze, and light, loose clothes were all common sights.

Stan found himself overwhelmed and miserable in his usual overdressed state, but Buddy had spent many years in places just like this. He took a deep breath of dry air and smiled, even as Hellfire scowled, flipping up his collar in a desperate effort to gain just slightly more shade. One much more reluctantly than the other, Buddy and Stan entered the city.

The first thing that Stan was struck by was the sheer amount of weaponry being paraded through the streets. It was a bustling town with at least a few dozen people in sight at any moment, and not one of them was lacking a knife at the very least. Most were carrying further weaponry, from weathered pistols to hunting rifles to a small group of mercenaries wearing light powered armor and carrying rocket launchers in addition to their submachine guns. Fortunately, nobody seemed to be looking to start a shootout; most people in the street were travellers, whether wasteland scavengers bringing back their findings, farmers hawking their crops, or more dangerous sorts just here for a drink. Jemeztown was a trade town, and very little space seemed devoted to a residential district. Most likely, the permanent population was comparatively small and mostly lived above their shops.

Hellfire: "Alright, now where should we look for this Bower fellow?"

He scanned the area. There must have been hundreds of stalls and at least a dozen more permanent shops lining Central and Main street, the city's two primary thoroughfares, but two in particular caught his eye. The first was a building with a sign out front proudly proclaiming 'Al Bajo y Adentro!' flanked by images of a full glass of beer and a winking face. Across the street from that obvious den of scum, there was a building with an awning made from a tattered pirate flag, titled "Jolly Roger's Hardware" in pink spraypaint.

Buddy: "Honestly? Probably the bar first. Failing that we can ask around."

Hellfire: "Works for me."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/Z4IjTncQ_YY)

'Al Bajo y Adentro!' reeked of alcohol and another smell they couldn't quite place. The air was choked with smoke of at least three different sorts, and the place was packed. Most seemed to be standard wastelanders, but a number of figures in colorful outfits were no doubt prostitutes. Buddy didn't see anyone he recognized, but both quickly identified the bartender, a stocky red-headed woman with an eyepatch cleaning mugs. Finally in an environment he was comfortable in, not least because of the shade, Hellfire made his way to the bar and dropped onto one of the stools with a smile.

Hellfire: "Hello, lovely. What's the cost for a drink and some info?"

Bartender: (Looking up and smiling faintly) "I'm not on the menu, friend. If you're into redheads, maybe try Colette. Or Samuel, I'm not judgin'." She paused. "Though if you actually want a drink, ten bucks. We take Layer bucks, before ya ask."

Hellfire's Player: "Do we have those?"
GM: "Yeah, that's standard currency in the Layers. There are presumably more currencies up here. It's unclear whether that's the only currency she takes or if she just took one look at you and said 'Yeah, he's never seen the sun before'."

Hellfire slid a $50 across the table.

Hellfire: "Lovely as I'm sure Colette is, I'm looking for a man named Bower. And also Jack Daniels if you've seen him, but I'm pretty sure he's sitting on the shelf behind you."

Bartender: (Raises an eyebrow, but takes the money.) "Bower, eh?" She casually pulled a bottle of whiskey from the shelf and poured a glassful. "He went upstairs with Rhonda and a pipe of Synthop an hour ago. I'd bet money he's sleeping it off right now."

Bartender: "Didn't catch your name, by the way. I'm Lynette. You new in town? ...Dunno why I even asked. Course you are."

Hellfire: "Stan. Your services have been worth every penny, Miss. Thank you for your time."

He drained the glass and stepped away from the bar. This quickly proved to be a mistake; the drink was very strong, even for whiskey, and caught him a little off-guard. Not drugged, just...the sort of alcohol one uses to get drunk as quickly as possible. The Bartender didn't stop him, just smiling faintly and shrugging before returning to her glass-cleaning.

Buddy: "We should head upstairs."

Hellfire shook his head to clear the bite just a bit, and agreed. Upstairs, the smoke fortunately thinned out a bit, allowing normal humans to breathe properly. The stench of alcohol was still present, but this floor reeked rather more of a certain musk.


Buddy's Player: "Does Buddy recognize this musk?"
GM: "No need to be dicey with it, this place smells like sex. It's obviously a brothel."


A burly young man with a sheathed knife and a holstered pistol guarded one of the doors toward the back, watching both newcomers intently. Six doors were visible from the stairwell (including the one under guard) and four corridors led off to other branches, presumably with further accommodations.


Hellfire's Player: "What do we know about Bower again?"
GM: "Buddy's met Bower before, and knows that he's got a good head for numbers, a bit of skill as an information broker and, oddly enough, surgery. Unfortunately he's a classic example of squandered talent. He could do some real good in the world if he tried to, but prefers to spend exactly the amount of effort necessary to afford drugs and prostitutes. He's very short, a few inches under four feet, and misshapen due to serious birth defects. He has a malformed foot and his arms are very thick and long, resulting in a strange gait. He's tanned, covered in coarse hair, and has blue eyes."
Hellfire's Player: "Well, he won't be easy to miss."


Buddy casually approached the guard, causing the bouncer to stiffen in alarm and some sense of duty.

Bouncer: "No customers beyond this point."

Buddy: "Excuse me sir, is Bower available right now? Please tell him that Buddy is here."

The Bouncer didn't reply immediately, instead opting to be visibly confused.

Bouncer: "Er, I think you've got the wrong place. We, don't, um, have an employee by that name."

Buddy: "I'm an old friend of his and was told to meet him in this town somewhere."

Hellfire: "Short guy. Reeeeal short. Might be going by the name of 'John.'"

Bouncer: (Realization dawning) "Oh! Sorry, I didn't realize you were looking for a john. No, I'm guarding the employees only section. Was he the one with Rhonda? That's room 6, to the right."

Hellfire: "Thanks."

Bouncer: "If you're here to kill him, do it outside please."

Ignoring the bouncer's polite request, Hellfire slammed Room 6's wooden door open. It wasn't hard to identify Bower, sprawled facedown on a mattress, still-smoldering pipe dropped onto the floor. No sign of his escort. The mattress looked old, though at least clean-ish, a sink and mirror jutted from the wall, and the curtains were closed.

Buddy picked up the pipe and nudged Bower with it. He groaned.

Bower: "I'm tired, Rhonda. Yur insatiable."

Meanwhile, Hellfire quickly checked behind the curtains, finding a closed window, a ray of sunlight, and a view of the next building over, about two feet away.

Buddy: "Hey Bower, it's Buddy. I'm here to talk about the score."

He groggily cracked open one eye.

Bower: "Huhgh? Agh, and you couldn't wait an hour?"

The man rolled over and pushed himself to his feet, shaking, before pulling a bent pair of glasses out of a pocket and putting them on.

Bower: "Fine, let's talk. Who's the new whore?" He's looking at Stan.

Buddy: "He's not a whore. He's a friend of mine and his name is Stan."

Bower (frowning): "Looks fabulous. Didn't realize you swung that way, but I guess it's none of my business."

Hellfire: "I'll credit that to the glasses, and we're just friends. Hurry up with whatever the score is, I have something I want to ask you about."


Buddy's Player: *facepalm*
Hellfire's Player: "Hey, complimenting my outfit might end up saving him a few fingers or toes. Depends on how things go."


Bower (to Buddy): "Bah, I had a whole thing and you had to catch me high and napping. Fine. There's a place a bit northwest o' here, looks intact, which means lots of good loot. Sent some of my boys to scope it out, and some Security MTs popped out. Really intact. Got to thinking, who do I know with firepower, and funny thing is I just heard you'd moved to the Layers and started makin' a name for yourself, AC and all."

Hellfire: "So you want us to get in and loot what we can?"

Bower (nodding): "Deal with guards, grab the good stuff, split the salvage profit." He looked the other way. "There is...a catch. One of Santangelo's Brats, bitch named Petra, was spotted that way last week."

Hellfire raised an eyebrow, but Bower ignored Stan's expression. He was talking to Buddy.

((Hellfire's Player: Bower loses one of his stored finger/toe credits.))

Santangelo was a Dham warlord who controlled a huge swath of land to the east only a few years ago. He notably claimed divine right to rule...and had a pair of wings, building himself a capital on the backs of slaves in Saw Khan City far to the east. The last Buddy had heard, Santangelo died three years ago. Rumors said that his supposed divinity was a sham, and the wings were cybernetics covered with costuming feathers. His kingdom fell apart within a month, with dozens of children all claiming right to rule and forming their own factions.

Hellfire: "I'm sure we can deal with this 'Petra'. Question for you before we begin, though. Have you heard of a woman named Sonnen? Mission commander for a lot of ACs out in the layers."

Bower (looking at Hellfire funny): "...What's it to you?"

Hellfire: "She's a friend and she's missing. Just trying to find out where she ended up."

Buddy: "You also said that she was the one who gave you the tip about this whole thing, yes?"

Bower: (frowns) "I...what? No I didn't." (laughs) "Don't know anyone by that name personally. Or...wait, that name sounds familar. Sounds like something I heard on the radio once."

Hellfire: "Any recollection of the context?"

Bower: (laughs) "Right, right. Kelly Kate Sonnen, 'Sunny', war hero, slayer of the Wild Hunt. Concord number one. AC Halcyon Millennium? You askin' if I've seen that Sonnen?"


Hellfire's Player: "Number ONE? I do my best not to cough up my drink."
GM: "Harder than it sounds with that gargle blaster."


Hellfire: "...Yes, that Sonnen."

Bower stopped laughing and stared more intently.

Bower: "Yeah, maybe. We all just called her Blondie. Had the look of Layer folk about her, but caught the first one to try to swindle her red-handed. Dangerous."

Hellfire (interested): "When did you last see her?"

Bower: "She only stayed a night, then left west a few days ago. Came and left town in an old buggy after trading. Info was good though. Would never have spotted the path to that place if she hadn't given me coordinates."

Buddy: "If she headed west, we might have a chance of seeing her, since our site is in the same general direction."

Hellfire: "That's good enough for me. Let's raid the place."

Bower: "Hey, wait, Blondie dropped your name! Thought...thought you might want to know."

Hellfire: "MY name?"

Buddy thought Bower must have gotten a little ahead of himself, forgetting that information brokers are supposed to be paid for info. He was blitzed on Synthop, though.

Bower: "No, Buddy's! She told me that Buddy became a Concord pilot! I can't believe I didn't question that!"

The bouncer interrupted, poking his head into the open doorway.

Bouncer: "Hey, if you're awake, clear the damn room. Lynette says you're scaring off paying customers."

Buddy: (to Bower) "We should get going soon if we want a chance to get the loot before others do. Got the coordinates?"

Bower: (Beginning to wobble out on his hands and a leg) "Yeah, yeah, I'll get the data to you before you head out."

Hellfire: (to Bouncer) "Hey, you got any mineral water stocked?"

Bouncer: "Hilarious. I'll get some extra muddy for you."

They left the brothel, watching the bartender glancing their way and waving.

Lynette (sultry): "Feel free to come again!"

Hellfire flipped a lazy goodbye wave before turning his attention to Jemeztown's streets again. They looked much the same as they did on the way in, albeit with a little less traffic.

Buddy: "We should check out Jolly Roger's, see if he's seen anything. Fair warning, he's a bit...eccentric. But trustworthy. Mostly."

As they stepped inside past the tattered awning, the pair was greeted by the faint smell of gunpowder, the musty scent of old books, and just a hint of what must have been rum. Weapons of various sorts and general tools were displayed all along the walls, and a door in the back led to what looked like a small, open-air junkyard. A tall, dark-haired woman who was surely a mercenary leaned up in one of the corners, watching both of them as they entered, but the most commanding figure in the room was the grizzle-bearded man behind the counter, clad in loose nautical finery and a bandana about the head. He certainly seemed pretty jolly as he belted out his merchant's call.

Roger: "Welcome to Jolly Roger's hardware supply! Take a look around, let me know if any of me plunder catches your eye."

Hellfire browsed the weapon stocks inside first; he felt a little naked here, carrying no more than a pistol while random Wasters with automatic guns looked over his clothing, as if wondering how much money he was carrying. Jolly Roger stocked all sorts of personal weapons, including both equipment manufactured in the Layers and refurbished scavenged goods. Hellfire eventually picked out a shotgun he liked, and happily paid the $600 figure that Roger asked for.

Out back, Buddy found a surprising wealth of AC and MT parts for a waster shop, though they looked pretty beaten-up. Jolly Roger's stock of mech parts was unfortunately limited: Most of his stock was decrepit Wildhunt Heuristics tech, though there were a few Explorer's Guide parts in good condition here and there. The real treasure trove was his arsenal: Machineguns, Autocannons, Explosives...

Deciding he didn't want to shop right now, Buddy returned indoors and approached the mercenary. She eyed him appraisingly, hand instinctively slipping toward the pistol at her hip.

Roger: "Uh, she's not for sale. This isn't Arcadia."

Buddy: "I just want to ask her a question."

She rolled her eyes and tapped her throat once in response.

Roger: "She be mute, friend.", Roger translated.

Buddy: "Don't worry, a nod or a shake will do. Have you seen a woman around here who goes by Blondie?"

The mercenary hesitated, but nodded once in the affirmative.

Buddy: "Thanks. That's all I needed to know."

Roger: "You could've just asked me that. She didn't stay long, just bought some fuel from here. Not sure how helpful we can be, but she was here."

Buddy: "Thanks. We should head out."

---

Bower had an associate hand them a relevant data disk on the way out, and the pair mounted up again. The sun had passed its apex, but it was still daylight out. They had plenty of time. There weren't any problems with getting their mechs out of The Dock, so they headed out to the northwest, following the map they'd been given. The suggested path was very jagged, the reason for which quickly became apparent: The maze of canyons and branches would have been difficult to navigate without mapping assistance.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/h9y76HJVwS8)

It wasn't long before both of them picked up a blip on their sensors, three little dots moving quickly around the next canyon junction. Probably small vehicles, given the EM signatures.

Hellfire: "Well, better ready the weapons. Aim low, I guess."

They stopped, and lay in wait for the newcomers. They weren't made to wait long: Three pickup trucks outfitted with armor, spikes, and vehicle-class machineguns turned the corner, crewed by groups of wasteland punks in scavenged armor. They didn't hail on the radio, but they were definitely surprised. This didn't prevent them from spinning up their weapons.

Buddy moved first, tagging the first truck with his new targeting laser before launching a single light rocket. It hit the side door of the first truck and exploded, rapidly turning the vehicle into a burning wreck and everyone in it into a soupy, well-cooked paste. Hellfire's first shotgun blast flipped the second truck with sheer kinetic force, battered metal crushing everyone inside. He pointed his second shotgun at the last truck and attempted to hail them on the radio.

Hellfire: "Stand down or I finish you off."

The raiders didn't reply, instead pulling a U-turn and spraying machinegun fire to cover their retreat. The bullets glanced harmlessly off of Hellfire's armor, crude-but-effective NRB chassis doing its job well.

Hellfire: "Oooh, poor choice."

He charged, firing both guns. Miraculously, the first burst of flak only scraped the vehicle's armor, impacting but not destroying it. The second burst tore through the cabin, and the truck folded on itself before jacknifing onto its left side. No sign of any survivors.

Hellfire: "That went well. You think they were here for that outpost, or just in the area?"

Buddy: "Don't think so. Maybe looking for something, but without much direction. These guys were probably raiders from Dhamburlan, but the politics change too fast to get a positive ID. Bower mentioned a Dham called Petra, but I don't know her marks."

Shrugging, they kept heading for the outpost. Finally, they caught sight of a battered building in the distance, nestled into the side of a canyon, looking the part of an old pre-destruction facility. No visible defenses, at least not from here, but neither did Bower's men at first.

Buddy: "Well, I'm spooked."

Hellfire: "We should cautiously approach, unless you want to wait for nighttime. I think we may have to just gun our way through, I doubt we'll be able to bluff our way inside."

By the time they'd crossed half the distance to the entrance, they got a hail over the radio. They answered, only to hear a gruff woman's voice on the other end of the line.

CT Operator: "This is a restricted area owned by Cerulean Horizons Technology. You're not some dumb hick waster like all the other idiots out here. What are you doing here, over."

Buddy: "Oh, but I am a Waster!"

CT Operator: "Bull****. Unidentified ACs, identify yourselves and explain your business immediately, or face termination." (aside, more quietly) "Jim, we got an IFF scan yet? Hurry up!"

Hellfire: "This is Hellfire, #48 with Concord, and DoomedGuy, #43. We were sent here to eliminate a force of security MTs suspected to be associated with Santangelo's Clan. I really don't care about the politics of the area, so either give us the hostiles that attacked the force from Jemeztown or prepare to be obliterated."

CT Operator: "Concord Mercenaries. I see. Please wait just one moment."

Sensors detected a significant and sudden increase in EM activity as two security turrets flipped up from concealed spaces above the entryway and began spraying bursts of fire at both of them. A lucky burst scored a few damaging hits against Hellfire's armor, but Buddy was more fortunate: The bullets glanced off of his armor doing little more than cosmetic damage. Hellfire didn't hesitate to fire up his thrusters, closing near-instantly and blasting the right turret twice, leaving it damaged but still active. Buddy did much the same to the second turret, tagging it with his targeting laser before hitting it with a missile and a rocket, though its sparking form didn't actually stop spitting lead.

Both turrets fired again before a third flipped out, with a much longer barrel: A railgun, fully charged and ready to fire.

((Buddy's Player: "OH NO."))

Neither of the Burst Turrets could land a hit, but the railgun nailed Brimstone center of mass, devastating its armor.

Hellfire: "Buddy, focus on that one! I can't take another hit like that!"

Contrary to his own advice, Hellfire directed Brimstone's guns to target both of the damaged burstfire turrets, finishing both off with two perfect shots.

((Hellfire's Player: "Go for the Throat, <Buddy's Player>. Wait, ****, it's an artifact creature. Don't go for the throat! We need a Doom Blade!"))

Buddy was quick to come through, advancing across the dusty ground while emptying pistol rounds into the deadly machine. He could still see it arcing across the barrel, so he decided to try out something new: One of the THOR-class Missile Systems he'd acquired a supply of from Tir City. The heavy weapon split into several smaller explosive projectiles in midair, finally converging on the railgun to reduce it to a smoldering wreck.

Buddy: "Whew, that was..."

The front doors of the facility budged, mechanical whirring noises filling the canyon as the great steel doors inched open.

CT Operator: (Over open comms) "They're still active out there. Deploying a pair of Fischers and the Deep Blue experiment. Reaver, you'd better do your damn job."

A pair of MPACs emerged at top speed: CT-A01 Fischers. Sleek, professional, and armed with deadly CT-Haze heavy machineguns. Neither of them waited before opening fire: Hellfire immediately strafed one of them, landing a glancing blow and a more serious one to the legs, though it remained as mobile as before. Buddy took advantage of the weakness, ganging up on the damaged Fischer. He couldn't get a lock with his laser, but a lucky pistol shot managed to land in nearly the same spot where Hellfire dented its armor, crippling the right MPAC's leg. Buddy followed up with a rocket, nailing the same Fischer's head and destroying its primary sensor array.

Pilot: (over comms) "Son of a...!"

That was when both Fischers opened fire with their dual CT-Haze Heavy Machineguns. The damaged one targeted Brimstone, and once more proved unlucky as both of his guns jammed. Buddy was less fortunate, taking the full brunt of the undamaged Fischer's guns, but his armor miraculously held, and DoomedGuy only took minor damage to its shield.

Hellfire opted to swap targets, darting to the other side of the undamaged Fischer and blowing a hole through its chassis with his preferred technique. Another salvo from DoomedGuy blew one of the damaged Fischer's arms off with a missile and punched two more holes through its armor with pistol rounds, before redirecting focus and firing a THOR Missile into the less-severely damaged one's core.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SHOvWhti98)

His onslaught was interrupted by something new appearing above the lip of the Canyon: A four-legged AC wielding a pair of strange weapons totally unlike anything they'd ever seen.

Reaver: "Trick Shot may be in the shop, but this Deep Blue unit is pretty nifty. Ever heard of an MPFB Devastator? I hadn't!"

Buddy: "Okay, NOW I'm spooked! Hellfire, I'm halfway through my ammo! More than that, even!"

Hellfire: "Good to know. Save the rest for the big guy."

Buddy: "And here I was thinking that we'd only be fighting the Dham."

The headless Fischer lurched away while unjamming its weapons, but the second one still had all of its systems intact despite the armor damage and opened fire. Brimstone took one harmless burst against an armored portion before the gun jammed, but Buddy was less fortunate and he was forced to sacrifice DoomedGuy's now-bullet-riddled shield. Hellfire decided to press his advantage against the headless Fischer, skating forth on his boosters and blasting two clean holes through its core. It slumped over lifelessly.

Buddy put some distance between himself and the remaining Fischer, and tagged it with the targeting laser. Unwilling to risk wasting his shot, he fired off one last missile aimed at the center...and landed. The missile blew an enormous hole through the second Fischer's core, and somehow the coolant caught fire. Its remaining ammo cooked off, and it was reduced to a burning wreck. Both Fischers eliminated as threats, Buddy switched his target to Reaver's Deep Blue and opened fire with his pistol: The first shot plinked off of his armor, but the second was a lucky shot that ruined a layer of armor. Reaver didn't seem too fazed by that, so Buddy let loose a second THOR missile, riddling his Deep Blue with explosions; the armor held up, but one of its four legs was seriously battered.

Reaver: "Ah, neophytes. Not the worst I've seen...but not good enough. My tuuuuurn! Try not to die too quickly? I like it when you scream."

Both of his enormous cannons were pointed at DoomedGuy, and with a strangely silent thump a pair of roiling azure spheres erupted in Buddy's direction. He tried to dodge, but Reaver's aim was perfect: Buddy's world disappeared in a flash of white, and when it returned all sensors were flashing red, radiation warnings blaring in his face. His legs were smoldering wrecks, and one of his arms wasn't looking much better. At least it was the shield arm; he could still fire his pistol.

Buddy: "Hellfire, I'm pinned down! Those things are nuclear!"

Reaver: "Still kicking after that? Well, maybe you're worth something after all!" (Cackles)

Taking his partner's words to heart, Hellfire endeavored to make himself as hard a target as possible, jumping up to the lip of the canyon at top speed and strafing Reaver with the shotguns, though almost none of the buckshot landed; it was just too difficult to line up a pair of shots while moving over 200 mph.

CT Operator: "Reaver, stop toying with them! That's an experimental unit, it's too expensive to risk with your stupidity."

In a desperate bid to take him out, Buddy tagged Reaver with the targeting laser before emptying everything. Two pistol shots scored once on the chassis, followed by a missile to the same spot. Smoke poured through the opening, but the Deep Blue kept moving. Buddy didn't stop, nailing the enemy mech in the head with a rocket, to little effect.

Reaver: "Still got a little fire, eh? We'll snuff that out soon enough."

The Deep Blue spread its arms wide and fired another MPFB shot at each of them. DoomedGuy's hit was a foregone conclusion, taking off most of his armor and causing the geiger counters to tick even harder. Brimstone's was more of a surprise given its speed, but the blue ball of death landed a direct hit on Hellfire's wheels. The miniature mushroom cloud ripped them apart and caused the mech to go into a high-velocity tumble, its support taken out from under it at top speed.

Hellfire: "Ugh, what the **** was that?"

Reaver: "I told you, even in this experimental excuse for a machine, I outclass the both of you combined."

Hellfire took advantage of the brief pause to look over the Deep Blue: Its head was damaged but still functional, and its legs were much the same...and there was a gaping hole in its core armor pouring out smoke. His own legs were out, but his jump pack still had juice, and Buddy's targeting laser software was still running numbers for him. Maybe...

He activated the jump pack, driving Brimstone forward in a desperate lunge, and pressed one of his shotguns right into the opening.

Hellfire (muttering to himself): "Go to Hell."

He pulled the trigger, and everything was bright. He realized that the smoke had cleared, and he could see sunlight through the other side...along with something glowing within the core.

CT Operator: "Reaver, hurry the hell up, I'm getting spikes on your reactor readings!"

Reaver only laughed.

CT Operator: "Your reactor's going supercritical, eje-"

The radiation output interfered with the radio, and then the Deep Blue's chassis glowed with heat, deforming under its own weight. The laughing abruptly cut out, leaving only static. And then the MPFB ammo cooked off.

Hellfire fired up the jump pack one last time, diving off the canyon's edge to avoid being caught in the explosion, and only narrowly succeeded. He looked down to realize he'd taken one of the Deep Blue's arms with him, which crumpled adequately enough to break his fall. By some miracle, the MPFB Devastator weapon Reaver had wielded was intact. Buddy sighed with relief. They were safe, for a given definition. All of their geiger counters were going nuts. At least the mechs provided some shielding. Buddy had never been so glad to have a closed cockpit.

They faintly heard the sounds of a jet engine, and caught just the slightest glimpse of an aircraft leaving the area to the northwest before disappearing into the clouds toward Skye City.

Buddy: "Well. That happened. What now?"

Hellfire: "Your contact said there were security MTs. He didn't mention a CT military presence."

Buddy: "...Yeah."

Hellfire: "That jet was probably an evacuation. Was that all just to buy time?"

Buddy: "Maybe. CT's pretty ruthless. We're too battered to make it back to Jemeztown like this and there's too much radiation to go on foot. The only way to go is inside."

Hellfire: "...Well, we'd better hope it was an evacuation then."

The door was still open, and they both dragged their mechs through. It took a painfully long time to drag DoomedGuy through on one arm, but inside there was a small mech hangar with enough room for 10 ACs or GPACs. Four of them were free before the pair docked: The remaining six held CT GPACs in poor condition: Two Rooks, two Bishops, and two Knights. The place was well-stocked with fuel and ammo, at least.

They hit the big button to manually close the garage doors, and prepared themselves to wait out the worst of the radiation.


To be continued.

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-29, 05:17 PM
Some fun OOC notes that didn't fit well anywhere in the body:

That Railgun turret rolled a crit on Brimstone. That was rough.

The experimental Deep Blue unit is by far the most dangerous enemy vehicle I'd thrown at the PCs at this point. It was driven by a named pilot, but other than his higher-than-average agility and perception it didn't significantly increase the threat posed by the thing. That said, Reaver's stats definitely had an effect; if he'd been less accurate, they'd have been in a lot less danger since he had four shots with each of his weapons and no backup armaments.

The MPFB Devastator, in addition to being a very direct reference to a game I enjoy very much, also represents the first homebrewed mech part used. At some point I decided I was comfortable enough with the system to start playing with it. The MPFB is more destructive than any other weapon introduced so far, with the same damage as the Sniper Cannon and the Grenade Launcher's armor-ignoring properties (as well as a small AoE effect with no armor penetration, which didn't come up here), but comes with some pretty hefty drawbacks. Much like the grenade launcher, it's limited to four shots total. Unlike the grenade launcher, it takes up a shoulder slot in addition to the hand slot needed to wield it (and still takes up a shoulder slot if stored in the bay). Finally, unless certain requirements are met (6 Strength + Kneeling, 5 Strength + Quad Legs, or 3 Strength + Treads), attempting to fire the Devastator knocks a mech flat on its back.

Buddy rolled an autosuccess to tag the Jet at the end with his Targeting Laser, though this was more amusing than effective so I left it out.

BladeofObliviom
2017-12-30, 05:48 PM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0Ha-O09aY)

Stan and Buddy mutually lamented their lack of mechanical repair skills and supplies as the thick metal curtains shut behind them - they could lurch their way back to town in this condition, but with a Dham army around that seemed a poor plan.


Hellfire's Player: "What does CT GPAC actually stand for, anyway?"

GM: "CT refers to Cerulean Horizons Technology, a megacorporation. Technically these are actually branded with the logo of Kasparov Private Security, a Cerulean Horizons subsidiary company. GPAC refers to a General Purpose Armored Core, essentially a very low-budget mech with some serious limitations on customization. The CT Bishop is a narrow-framed humanoid light mech with a Heavy MG, the CT Knight is a jump pack scout, and the CT Rook is a heavy GPAC with a rocket launcher. All of these GPACs are made using Beta body parts, with the exception of the Knight which uses a CT-01 chassis and has no legs. As far as you can tell, all of the GPACs are functional, though decrepit. Each one of these would be worth 15 CR if they were refurbished."


Buddy: "Maybe we should contact Bower by radio. We just won't know who else could be listening in."

Hellfire: "Radio won't work well with all of that radiation outside. Also we're underground."

Thinking again, Buddy took a quick look around the hangar for signs of a jet. Maybe they had more? Oddly, not only did he not see any jets, he didn't see anywhere they could have housed a jet.

Buddy: "Wait, where did the jet come from?"

Hellfire: "The jet came from somewhere else close by. Probably same place as the person we heard on the radio, talking to Reaver."

The computers in the mechbay were all on some sort of lockdown, and there were no personal effects to be seen aside from simple tools like wrenches and electric screwdrivers. At the back of the Hangar, there was a vertical elevator that leading to a silo opening, which was probably how Reaver got up onto the cliff. Two security doors flanked the back wall of the mechbay, presumably leading to other parts of the facility. In fact, that's exactly what the signs said; one led to "Labs", the other to "Barracks". A third door with a simple mechanical lock could be seen next to the freight elevator, below a glass-shielded overhang that presumably led to some sort of command center.

Buddy: "Hey Stan, which way do you want to go? I'm kinda curious about the labs."

Hellfire: "Labs sound good to me. Let's check out what these guys were actually doing here."

The security door was locked, but the computer next to it at least wasn't on lockdown. The screen asked for a password, but there was also a place to swipe a keycard.


Buddy's Player: "I wonder how many passwords this thing can take before locking down."

Hellfire's Player: "Good thing I'm good at word games."


Buddy: "Well, I have no idea how to get through this. That other door has a mechanical lock, though."

Hellfire: "Sounds doable. You any good at lockpicking?"

Buddy: "Of a sort."


Buddy's Player: "I shoot the mundane lock with my SMG."

GM: "Buddy's keen survival instincts give him a feeling that 9mm rounds are likely to just ricochet against sheet metal, which could be bad for his organs."

Buddy's Player: "Oh."


Buddy urged Hellfire to back up, moved a bit away himself, and pulled the Sniper Rifle from his back. He crouched, and lined up his shot in such a way that any unlucky ricochets at least were unlikely to hit anyone, and fired: The round shattered against the lock, but it was damaged beyond repair in the process. Buddy shrugged, walked up, and kicked in the door. It burst open, revealing a square, upward-spiralling stairwell. The pair followed it up into the room overseeing the hangar, which contained a bank of computers and sensor readouts. There was a radiation warning immediately outside the hangar, which Buddy ignored in favor of trying to access one of the computers.

Computer: "Lockdown initialized due to Scholar's Mate Protocol. If you are an authorized Cerulean Horizons Recovery Technician, please input your override code."

Buddy: "Darn."

The sensor readouts were still displaying, though they didn't appear to be interactive. Local radar showed showing various disorganized pings in the area, including a notably large mass of potential hostiles. Thankfully, these didn't appear to be moving toward the facility.

Buddy: "That's probably the Dham encampment."

Hellfire: "Almost certainly."

There were also two potential hostiles identified inside the hangar.


Buddy's Player (alarmed): "Can we see the hangar from here?
GM: "Yes. It doesn't look any different from the last time you saw it."
Buddy's Player: "Oh wait, is it just our mechs?"
GM: "Yes."
Hellfire's Player: "Ha! Well-played."


Finally, the hangar oversight room had a security door in the back, with a keycard slot rather than any sort of keypad. Text on the door marked it as an "Executive Emergency Exit".

Buddy: "I bet this leads to the place where the jet was."

Hellfire: "Almost certainly."

((Hellfire's Player: "They didn't pay Stan's voice actor very much.))

The area looked like it had been abandoned in a hurry: There were cups of still-warm coffee at some of the terminals, and various bits of debris sitting around. They were quick to start searching the clutter for swipe cards or documents of use: Hellfire didn't have any luck, but Buddy found a piece of paper with '8675309' written on it. Someone wrote "DON'T FORGET" on the paper under it.


Hellfire's Player: "Hey, that's Jenny's number."

Buddy's Player: "Hey, wait a minute. Yeah! I got it!"


Shrugging, Buddy punched the number into the nearest computer.

Computer: "Access denied."

Buddy: "Well, it was worth a shot. We should try it at the lab entrance."

Hellfire: "Wait, hold just a second. I want to try something."

Hellfire typed 'Jenny' into the same computer.

Computer: "Access Denied. If you are not an authorized Cerulean Horizons Technology Representative, you are advised that attempting to access this terminal is a Felony under Skye City Ordinance 19/546 and punishable by a fine of up to $150,000 and confinement in AZKBN for no less than five years."

Buddy looked up for any sign of a security camera, immediately spotting one in the top corner of the room.

Hellfire: "I think we have bigger problems with this base at the moment, like nuking the **** out of their front lawn."

Buddy: "...Good point."

They moved on, heading back to the lab entrance and punching in the code once more. The keypad beeped twice and the security doors opened with a pneumatic hiss.

Buddy: "Sweet."

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/nPnJgFveWOI)

Three Kasparov Security Officers in blue and gold Ballistic armor lay still behind the door. They weren't breathing. Also, a green mist rolled forth from the door and around their ankles. Fortunately, it was only ankle-height. Opaque, but they could see the prone soldiers cresting it.

Hellfire's usual habit of overdressing proved beneficial, but Buddy's footwear was little more than clean socks and tennis shoes; both backed up quickly, but Buddy felt a slight itch about his ankles. Both almost immediately identified the green substance as Chlorine gas, Hellfire from chemistry class and Buddy from a lifetime of dodging hazards. Buddy also remembered something else.

Buddy: "Ugh, chlorine. That's bad, but at least it stays low. Don't let it get in your eyes or anything. Skin contact sucks but you'll live."

Hellfire: "Sounds about right."

Buddy: "Keep your guard up, though. Sometimes other aerosol toxins get mixed in."

The gas continued to roll out, but waiting for it to dissipate fully would take hours. Possibly days, depending on how much of the facility was flooded.

Hellfire: "There's no way I'm going in there. Do you have any idea how much these boots cost? Also, I like having feet."

Buddy: "Let's check out the barracks instead."

Hellfire: "Sounds good to me."

They crossed the hangar to the Barracks door and punched in the same password. Thankfully, it beeped twice and opened with a pneumatic hiss. Two bodies dressed in the same blue and gold ballistic armor as the others slumped forward through the doorway, and yet more green mist poured through. They must have been leaning up against the door when they died.

Buddy: "Not this again!"

Hellfire: "...ugh."

Buddy: "They must have been trying to get out."

Hellfire: "Well, that's horrible."

They both dragged the bodies from the gas and began searching them for anything of use. Most obviously, both were equipped with intact suits of Kasparov Private Security Ballistic Combat Armor, which Hellfire promptly folded up and put into his mech's cargo compartment. Buddy just looted the boots. Both also had keycards attached to spring-loaded strings on their belt. The corpses were be ID'd as Gunn, James V. and San, Sun L. Buddy clipped them off with a pocketknife and pocketed the keycards.

((GM: "James V. Gunn is now lying face-down in his underpants on the hangar floor. He looks like he could be sleeping if you don't look at his face."))

Hellfire: "Well, we could try them in the executive lock, but I doubt they'll work; these guys are grunts, not executives. We could also explore the labs but they're filled with chlorine."

Buddy: "Maybe we can find a hazmat suit in the lab somewhere."

Hellfire: "If we do, it will be occupied. Unless they were seriously caught off guard."

Realizing they were out of places to explore without risking contact with the gas, they begrudgingly entered the labs. At least Buddy had protective boots now. Wearing more protective footwear didn't ease the initial itchiness, but did protect Buddy's feet from further exposure as long as the gas remained at this level.

The labs were sprawling, and flooded further with gas. As you continue, you start to see bodies that weren't soldiers, but other staff, scientists and researchers. They continued to explore, observing the enormous ventilation system: It probably brought in and filtered vast amounts of surface air to service the facility's breathing needs.

Hellfire: "Somebody must have set up a reservoir of gas outside an intake. Interesting that there wasn't any chlorine in the main hangar where we entered, though."

The main lab concourse was a large room, though most of it was depressed into the floor...and the gas was much more than ankle-deep there. They thought they could see some old experiments poking up through it, including mech parts. Anything that wasn't a large engineering project was probably ruined by the gas, though. They decided not to risk pressing further, and left for the barracks.

The hallway was similar to the one leading to the lab, still faintly clouded with green and the cloying, acidic scent wafting upward from it. Once they entered the barracks proper, they saw quite a few bunks, though most of the low ones were empty. The top bunks had quite a few bodies hanging off the sides, and a few that spilled down onto the floor. Some of the soldiers here must have been trying to get above the gas. CT-manufactured firearms littered the floor, though there was no telling what condition they were in. More pathways that led to various miscellaneous rooms, including kitchens, pantries, offices, and even a few entertainment centers. Several offices had additional "Executive Emergency Exit" doors in them.

Finally, one side-path led to a Garage (in the opposite direction of the hangar) and a hallway led to a medical bay. There wasn't any gas in the latter, probably because the fire sprinklers were on and the whole area was sopping wet.

Buddy: "If Reaver's mech is in the garage, I'm calling dibs."

Hellfire: "I think Reaver's mech is in a lot of places, but in very, very small pieces."

Buddy: "No, his original mech is in the shop, remember?"

They went for the garage first.

Buddy: "Careful, there might be survivors."

Hellfire: "I have a shotgun."

The garage was a building with a much lower ceiling than the hangar proper, the reasons for which quickly become apparent: The room housed seven dilapidated-looking automobiles, of a sort that wouldn't look too out of place in the Wastes, and a number of lockers that turned out to contain mechanics' tools, spare sets of clothing that looked like they belonged to wasters, and other such things. It also had a reinforced metal shutter rather than a proper security door, though there might have been concealed defenses outside. No signs of life. Buddy quickly observed that three of the vehicles were Buggies like the one 'Blondie' supposedly drove, and that the garage had space for eight automobiles. One was missing.

They didn't know what to do with that information though, so they pulled back and approached the medical bay with their weapons ready. Rain from the fire sprinklers pattered down upon their heads as they advanced down the hall, finally free of the green. It was downright pleasant after trudging through several minutes' worth of vapor, which was beginning to cause a faint burning sensation in the throat, eyes, and lungs. Even at so small a concentration, it could still build up.

Hellfire stiffened; he caught the soft sound of a footstep, behind the din of splashing water. He made a shushing motion to Buddy and pointed his gun down the hall. When nothing appeared, he cautiously advanced down the hall, keeping his weapon up and ready. Eventually, they reached the end.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/2pVPUWvhKT0)

The walls of the Clinic were presumably once a sterile white, but now they looked stained with soot. There were ashes everywhere, and a pile of smoldering, unidentifiable material was still giving off hints of smoke. To his right, Hellfire spotted a lone, balding man in a soot-stained white coat, sitting down in one of the waiting room chairs with his back to them. A gas mask sat on the ground next to him, and he seemed to be trying to work a radio while protecting it from the falling water with his other hand.

Hellfire couldn't see any weapons, but that didn't mean he was unarmed. Carefully, he began to creep up on his quarry, only for his first stept to loudly splash in a puddle. Hopefully the shotgun aimed at center mass would be deterrent enough.

He turned his head around so quickly that the glasses flew from his face and the radio fell to the the floor, crackling slightly.

Hellfire: "Hands in the air, if you'd please."

He was on the floor trying to hide behind the chairs almost as soon as he saw the gun, but one hand did soon rise into the air, holding a sopping wet strip of white cloth.

???: "How did you survive? I thought I was the only one left!"

Hellfire: "I'm the guy that just shot Reaver full of holes. What's your excuse?"

???: "Oh." He almost sounded disappointed.

???: (Hopeful) "Perhaps we can come to an accord then."

Hellfire: "I haven't shot you yet. Tell me what I need to know and you might just walk away with your guts still inside of you. First, what the **** is this place, really? And second, what the **** happened here?"

The man lifted his head above the line of chairs with just the slightest sneer, before apparently thinking better of it. He was an unassuming sort, with a mousy face, lightly tanned skin, and black hair obviously balding in the center.

???: "A word of advice, but it's a waste to threaten a man when you obviously have his life in your hands. I know you could kill me with a thought, but saying so twists the impression of a cool mercenary to a brainless thug."

Hellfire: "I'm not used to the guy on the other end of the gun being a nerd. You'd be surprised what people seem to forget while at gunpoint. Now answer the god damn questions."

He smiled ever so faintly at that.

???: "...Very well. You're standing in Cerulean Horizons Technology Research Laboratory Number 8, more commonly referred to as the Jemeztown laboratory. This facility is owned by Duke David Blanco of the Azure court, whose residence is located in Skye City, but in practice it is merely a line on his ledger. To your second question, I do believe this is the Scholar's Mate Emergency Protocol."

Hellfire: "You have a protocol built in that kills everyone in the building? Jesus, I thought you were SMART."

??? (scoffing): "The Scholar's Mate protocol is only to be used in the event that a facility is overrun and only in order to prevent sensitive materials from falling into enemy hands. Further, all important personnel are to be evacuated before enactment, by law."

Hellfire: "I'm guessing they don't tell the grunts that. Why didn't you take one of the executive exits?"

??? (frowning): "I was unfortunately confined here in medical when the evacuation order came through, because some incompetent chose to lock the security door to the storage room from the outside. Perhaps luckily, the storage room contained a gas mask. Before you ask, I eventually managed to pick the lock, then gathered some suitably flammable materials to trigger the fire suppression system."

Hellfire: "Lucky for us anyway. Seen a woman going by the name of Blondie anywhere around here in the last few days? Also, how much do you know about Reaver and his experimental tech? Because by the way, your radio probably won't work for a while."

He stood up and stooped over to pick up his glasses, while Hellfire kept his gun trained on him impatiently. He didn't do anything untoward with them, simply wiping a bit of water off and putting them back on his face.

???: "I don't know this Blondie. I don't interact with Wasters often, you see. Occasionally Kasparov sends a small group in disguise to barter, but my work here is - was too important to take such vacations. Reaver, for his part, was a depraved brute."

Hellfire: "And what exactly did you do here?"

???: "Research, of course. My last project was an attempt to recreate the research of a company by the name of Syvine Nanotechnologies, though I'm sure the details would bore you. To put it simply, I was working on a form of ferro-crystalline nanoparticle-based ablative sheath with applications in medicine, aviation, and of course war. No doubt whatever remains of my project has been severely damaged by the chemical cocktail used here."

Hellfire: "Well, you have a couple of options. It seems bad form to just shoot you after you've been so cooperative, so I plan on just locking you back in here for a while. If you tell us how we can call someone to transport our mechs off base, we'll make sure you get a lift out. If not... well, I hope that ferro-crystalline nanoparticle-based ablative sheath is edible."

???: "Well, that unfortunately leaves us at an impasse, since my sole method of communication has been destroyed, and the evacuation vehicle has already left the building."

Hellfire: "Don't suppose you're a mechanic?"

???: "Not of the sort you're likely hoping for. I'm a Doctor of Materials Engineering, not a general wrench jockey."

Hellfire: "Well then, I'd recommend giving me a reason not to just lock you in here until we work out our own way back to our base."

Buddy: "Are you certain that there's only one such vehicle?"

???: "Well, there is the fact that, unless I'm mistaken, you both have approximately three days to live. And of course there's only one."

Hellfire: "Yeah, gonna need some elaboration on that first bit."

???: "Humor me a moment. What is the chemical agent used in the Scholar's Mate protocol?"

Hellfire: "Chlorine something, so far as we can tell."

???: "Diatomic Chlorine gas, yes. A marvelous tool of murder, to be sure, but surprisingly simple to foil. Ancient man, however, discovered that Chlorine was excellent at spreading more...subtle agents. It would be unfortunate were our emergency measures able to be foiled by a urine-soaked rag."

Hellfire: "Awesome. Tell me what else is in the mix."

???: "Fortunately for you, there are adequate treatment and vaccination options in this clinic...but you have made it clear you intend to confine me here."

Hellfire: "Do you want to be confined with arms, or without them?"

???: "With them, surely, but I'd much prefer to not be confined at all. And if you choose to murder me...well."

Hellfire: "Alright, fine. Tell me what's in the gas and we'll let you roam about like a hamster. But you're going to be testing the cure on yourself first. Alternatively, don't tell me, and I'll drag you out into the hallway to give you a chlorine-gas swirly and see what you dose yourself with."

???: (Smiling) "I've already treated myself, but I suppose you'll have higher priorities than immediately murdering me. We've all been exposed to an Applied Biodynamics concoction known as species X45d, or more specifically aerosolized bacterial endospores derived from what the wasters call Anthrax. You'll want Compound A45d from the pharmacy. Now, if you don't mind..."

Buddy: "Where are you going next?"

???: "Skye City, once I'm out of here. I'm a knight, and while the Azure Court has been lax on certain human rights protocols, trying to kill a noble remains a serious crime. There is going to be hell to pay."

Skye City is run by a neo-Feudal governing body known as the Azure Court; the catch is that most of the gentry has been thoroughly infiltrated by CT Officials. Skye City indeed has knights, who may have been knighted for some contribution that the court recognizes or else simply inherited the title. Either way, if this conversation were happening in Skye City, it would be wise to call this man 'Sir'.

Stan passed the int check for this information, Buddy did not.

Buddy: "If they tried to kill you here, will they try to kill you back at the City?"

Hellfire: "Your knighthood won't count for **** when you're buried in a shallow grave in an irradiated desert, 'Sir'. Which is exactly what will happen if either of us think that you're going to let us die to this chemical agent."

Buddy: "Uh, he already told us which compound cures it."

Hellfire: "Yeah, but do you trust him? I'm not letting him off the hook just yet."

??? (scowling): "Believe me, I'm aware that a title doesn't do much against buckshot. I have a doctorate in materials engineering. I have enemies in the city, to be sure, but the law is on my side. Benefits of civilization. And frankly, at the moment you're the clear and present danger to my life, so you'll forgive me for prioritizing."

Hellfire waited a long moment, assessing the situation. They were still in the waiting room of the medical wing, and he was pointing a shotgun at the chest of a guy in a labcoat. There were a couple of doors leading out of the room, and a receptionist's counter with a pane of glass. The doors were closed, and he didn't know if they're locked. Also, the fire sprinklers were still going. Everyone here was well-soaked after that conversation.

Hellfire: "Well, may as well get on with it. Where's the cure, and how do we turn off these sprinklers?"

???: "The pharmacy should be accessible from a door behind the counter. Again, it's compound A45d. The sprinklers will run until the water runs out or the smoke detector gives an all-clear. I think my little trash fire is well-soaked by now, so it shouldn't be long."

Buddy: "Wait, how are you getting out of this place and back to Skye City?"

???: "Well, I was planning on radioing in a pickup. Was. Given my radio's predicament, there are still functioning vehicles in the bays, yes?"

Hellfire: "Buddy, can you go check out the Pharmacy?"

Observing his partner still holding a shotgun to the chest of a very still man, Buddy looked over to the pharmacy door. He ran into the immediate issue that the pharmacy was behind the door in the receptionist's area, which was blocked by a pane of glass like a ticket booth window. There was an opening to pass papers and such through, but it wasn't big enough for a human.

Buddy instead turned to the door. He wasn't sure, but it looked like some kind of ultramodern plastic designed to mimic wood. He was reasonably certain it wasn't real wood. The door wasn't locked, leading into a short hallway with more doors. Presumably the first one on the left led into the receptionist's area, especially given the little sign saying "Medical Employees only". He attempted to pass through only to find that this door actually was locked.

So he kicked it. Something cracked on his first impact with the door, and the followthrough broke the material around the knob. The third kick threw the door open, and the knob itself remained deadbolted to the frame, bent out of shape. The other side of the glass was a cozy little office space with a pair of women in nurse's outfits dead on the floor, hidden behind the counter. There were various files scattered about, but any useful information in them had surely been obliterated by the sprinklers.

((Hellfire's Player: So many dead people. The apocalypse sucks.))

Buddy immediately went to the door marked "Pharmacy" in the back which also proved to be locked - and a pull door. It'd be a little harder to kick in than the last one. Instead he checked the desk for a key, which thankfully seemed to work. The pharmacy contained various bottles of various pills and ointments, like any pharmacy. Just...shelves and shelves full of them. Fortunately there didn't seem to be any fire sprinklers in here, so at least everything wasn't sopping wet. There wasn't any ventilation either.

His search proved to be in vain, however: The various medicines were labelled, but if there was any system of organization to them, it eluded Buddy's knowledge. He returned to the group.

Buddy: "Where exactly is the medicine in that room?"

???: "The inventory log is out on the...oh. Right."

He seemed a bit embarrassed about that.

???: "It's certainly in there, I assure you."

Hellfire sighed and motioned toward the door with the shotgun.

Hellfire: "Well, no point having us both sit here in the fire sprinklers waiting. Help us look."

???: "Well, you're the man with the gun."

---

All three entered the Pharmacy, and Stan put down his gun; he knew he shouldn't fire it in here anyway.

???: "I'll say, this wasn't how I expected the day to go when I got up this morning." He scanned some of the lower shelves. "Damn, I wish I'd paid a bit more attention in Organic Chemistry."

Hellfire: "That's not exactly encouraging. Surely these are organized in some way? Where did you find it before?"

???: "I used the inventory the first time. It's somewhere over here..."

Hellfire: "And also why didn't you share with any of the other doctors or staff here? Little selfish, don't you think?"

???: "Compound A45d neutralizes Species X45d, not chlorine gas. Nobody here has died from infection yet, the endospores take 24 hours to germinate. Were you even listening?" He rubbed his temples and continued poring the shelves. "This shelf looks right, it's got to be over here somewhere."

After a few more minutes of searching, Buddy found it first: A little orange bottle with six pills inside, innocuously labelled 'Antibiotic doxycycline 45'.

Buddy: "Got it! How many pills do each of us need?"

???: "Good for you. Just one should do it, side effects may include gastrointestinal distress and increased risk of sunburn."

Buddy: "Fine with me. Say, I never got your name."

???: "Doctor Heinrich Lasch. Technically Sir Doctor, but that sounds a touch ridiculous, I think." He stood and adjusted his glasses.

Buddy: "Well, we did get off to a rough start. Anyways, the name's Buddy. Buddy Dacote."

Dr. Lasch: "A pleasure. So, now that I've saved both of you from a most unpleasant death, will you allow me to leave unscathed?"

Buddy: "I don't know." (Looks at Stan) "Will we?"

Hellfire: "Well, much as it pains me, I don't think I can justifiably shoot you after your help. Still, leaving unscathed might be a bit challenging at the moment, depending on how much radiation shielding you have."

Dr. Lasch: "There are several radiation suits located in the executive wing."

Buddy: (gestures) "Please, lead the way."

Hellfire: "I would introduce myself, but I've been aiming a gun at you for the past half an hour and maybe it would be better to wait a bit. Make sure that there aren't any hard feelings stewing when you go back to Skye City."

Dr. Lasch: "I suppose I can't blame you for being cautious. For whatever it's worth, I have no particular animosity toward you. If I'd wanted you dead, I'd have prescribed you something toxic. That Waster shotgun of yours probably would have misfired after all that water exposure regardless. Now, whoever it is that ordered Scholar's Mate here...well, I have some choice words for him or her. Shall we?"

---

After navigating back through the barracks (and acquiring a pair of tall rubber boots to stride through the gas), Dr. Lasch stood before the executives-only door. He casually pulled a keycard from his coat and swiped it through the reader, and the light turned green. There was a soft click and the metal slab slid to the left. Passing through led the group into a new wing of the building: It's obvious that this is where all of the amenities money went. There was air conditioning and a noted lack of any poison gas. Presumably the ventilation here was separate from the rest of the structure. It was carpeted and had drapes on the walls. There were no windows, but the place had enough color to pretend one wasn't in a military facility. There was plenty of furniture, with cushioned chairs and nice-looking tables: Even a billiards table in the back. This was clearly a lounge of some sort.

Hellfire: "Yep, it's an executive suite all right."

Noting the lack of gas, Hellfire and Buddy stayed on alert for any survivors; any here probably evacuated, but they couldn't know that.

Dr. Lasch: "Much more pleasant than the rest of the facility at the moment, but I wouldn't expect to find personal effects or personnel here. Those of peerage were surely evacuated ahead of time, unless they were caught at an inconvenient time as I was."

Hellfire: "I'm assuming that was the jet we saw leaving the base."

Dr. Lasch: "Yes, they likely took the executive jet back to Skye. The sort of aerial dominance Cerulean Horizons enjoys has...benefits. The hangar will be empty, but I doubt they packed the entire armory. There may be useful equipment remaining. Follow me, please."

He passed through a few additional hallways that looked like they could belong in an estate's interior. There were even paintings on some of the walls. Real paintings.

Buddy: "Bower's going to love this place."

Finally, Dr. Lasch came to the armory door. He swiped the keycard first, then lifted his glasses and put his face very close to a lens. After a long moment, the light greened and the door opened. Inside was a pretty significant stockpile, or at least probably was at some point. Much of the stock was missing, but there were still dozens of spare CT personal firearms remaining, several suits of ballistic armor, 7 canisters of biofoam, and 9 bright yellow Radiation Hazard Suits. Also a crateful of MREs and another crate of what appeared to be scrap metal. One corner held a dozen boxes of CT ammo: 2mm EC and Incendiary Fuel.

Dr. Lasch picked up a pistol off of one of the racks and started to get down one of the radiation suits.

Dr. Lasch: "I'm going to need one of the automobiles from the garage. I assume that this will not be an issue?"

Buddy: "Not at all. Are you driving straight to Skye City?"

Hellfire: "I don't think so, so long as you aren't firing on us. Honestly in this line of work it's astounding nobody has been shot already."

Buddy: "Don't jinx it!"

Lasch: "Yes, we've gotten along so well, it'd be a terrible shame. I'll be heading for Skye City, yes. It's a long trip, but manageable with adequate supplies. Plus I've got an IFF; with any luck I'll be spotted on a flyby and they'll send a pickup. My family is influential, you see."

Hellfire: "Huh. One last thing, then: Do you happen to know how to lift the terminal lockdown?"

---

They quickly got to packing in some of their newfound supplies and making ready to leave. Hellfire grabbed a new CT coilgun to replace his waterlogged waster shotgun, along with a few extra boxes of ammo for it and a radiation suit, all of which he stored in his mech for safekeeping. Now that he could use the mechbay computers, he also swapped out Brimstone's wrecked CT-W legs for a basic pair borrowed from one of the Bishops.

DoomedGuy's more serious damage necessitated a more radical measure: In the end, they attached DoomedGuy's Bei Fong Industries head and weapons onto the other Bishop, along with borrowing two rifles from the Knights. The pair quickly agreed on a plan to head back to Jemeztown and come back with Bower's men, so that they could properly loot the place and fix everything up.

They mounted up, double-checked that they had properly uploaded the signal to remotely open and close the Hangar doors, and finally pressed the button. Sadly, things were not quite that easy...

IntelectPaladin
2017-12-31, 12:36 AM
Quite an interesting and worthwhile read,
as always! I'm thankful you're still writing up for this story,
and look forward to reading as much of it as possible.
Mostly because you're writing the best (And only) Mech Campaign journal on here.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you have a happy new year!

BladeofObliviom
2018-01-01, 03:27 AM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/zECoOQ668nA)

Hellfire and Buddy opened the gates.

As the doors began to slowly swing outward, their sensors (and their eyes) picked up about 30 hostile targets: A mob of wasters on foot, with guns, promptly scrambling out of the open with various cries of "oh ****!" and "scatter!" Buddy had seen their like before: Raiders, probably members of the nearby warband.

They didn't get a chance to act: Buddy's first rifle round caused the ground to explode, killing half a dozen on the spot, and a second shot wiped out just as many off the bat. Hellfire grinned and brought his shotguns to bear. The first blast shred a squad immediately; they weren't even slightly prepared, and not one of them even thought to duck and cover. If there were survivors, they had the presence of mind to play dead. His second shot ripped the remainder of the fireteam apart completely, a testament to the destructive power of an AC.

They drank in the triumph of their instantaneous victory for just a moment, making sure to close the doors behind them, but that didn't last long: Their sensors soon picked up additional contacts further down the canyon, though none in sight. They also picked up some unsecured radio chatter.

???: "Petra, we just got a deadman trigger from Laserface, and they ain't reportin' back in."

The only reply was too garbled to make out; too much static.

Hellfire: "That would be the Dham. ****."

Five War Wagons turned the corner to approach through the canyon, escorting what looked suspiciously like an 18-wheeler refit for battle. The former they'd seen before: Essentially, pickup trucks with mounted machineguns. The bigger vehicle, the Dham War Rig, was essentially a tractor-trailer armored up, outfitted with heavy weapons, and manned by a complement of infantry. It was covered in layers of welded-on scrap armor, platforms to provide infantrymen with cover, and a skirt of chains to protect the wheels from stray fire.

Buddy: "Dhams can be pretty inventive. Too bad we'll have to blow it up."

Hellfire's Player: "I'm ready to Mad Max it up."
Buddy's Player: "Yesssssssss..."
GM: "I won't pretend this isn't blatant theft."

(Musical Suggestion) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIyRXvHmXxo)

The five war wagons were arranged in a V formation ahead of the rig, and Buddy was the first one to open fire. He fired both rifles, his targeting laser, and a single light rocket at the lead truck, but just couldn't seem to get a bead on the fast-moving small target. Switching targets, he fired one of the THOR Heavy Missiles at the War Rig, which proved more effective: One warhead scored a hit to its armor, doing visible damage but failing to slow it down. A second exploded against the skirt of chains, leaving the wheels largely unharmed but blasting much of that protective skirt away.

Buddy: "That's one tough car."

The war wagons continued to press the gas, rocketing forward at top speed, mounted machineguns blazing. Hellfire was largely unaffected, with only a few bullets glancing off of Brimstone's Arms, but DoomedGuy's borrowed Bishop Chassis was riddled with bullets, seriously hampering its armor. Buddy gritted his teeth and refocused; he wasn't down yet.

???: "Son of a bitch, Petra, 2 ACs! What the hell?"

???: (Garbled reply)

Hellfire returned fire at the lead wagon, and scored true where Buddy could not: The buckshot scattered loudly against the front of the vehicle, which rapidly turned into a flaming wreck and flipped over its bumper, forcing the war rig behind it to swerve around it. The terrible machine slowed down from its previous breakneck pace, bringing its weapons to bear: A mounted machinegun and heavy flamethrower were joined by brave or stupid raiders riding right on top with their own weapons. The machinegun proved effective against Hellfire, destroying the mech's head, though the infantry weapons largely scattered harmlessly against his armor. DoomedGuy was even less fortunate, with the enormous gout of flame seriously damaging the mech's legs and some lucky shots from the Raider infantry managing to damage its head, to boot.

Buddy's next rifle shot put a clean hole through one of the War Wagons, which mindlessly swerved into the canyon wall. If anyone on board was still alive, the ensuing explosion probably finished them off. The followup shot and second rocket sadly proved ineffectual against the small, fast-moving targets. A second THOR-class missile's twinned explosions rocked the War Rig's armor once more, and the shrapnel sprayed across the deck. Bodies fell left and right as the behemoth trudged on, but trudge on it did.

Buddy: "Damn it, die already!"

The remaining three war wagons continued to approach at top speed, spraying bullets. Once more, Hellfire came out unscathed, but Buddy's borrowed Bishop legs were reduced to uselessness and the core damage was nearing critical. He couldn't afford to take another hit like that.

Buddy: "Damn it all! Stan, help!"

Hellfire didn't say anything, charging the War Rig with guns blazing. His twin shotguns put even more holes in its armor, and the second burst ricocheted all over the deck. Aside from the gunners, if there were any crewmembers left alive, they were in no condition to fight. The gunners manning the mounted machinegun and the heavy flamer tried to stop Brimstone, but he outran the streams of fire easily.

Buddy desperately opened fire on the last three war wagons, hoping to hit them with something, anything: Both Rifles missed, and of the three rockets he fired only one found purchase. His target promptly exploded, as pickup trucks hit by mech-sized rockets are wont to do. He fired his last THOR missile, and the multi-missile system covered the War Rig in tiny explosions. He dismantled the propulsion first, then the next burst of tiny missiles blew it open and caused the fuel tank to ignite. One fireball later, the War Rig was no more.

He didn't have long to celebrate as the two remaining War Wagons started circling his downed mech like sharks, firing into the middle. The bullets riddled his chassis, and as predicted he couldn't take another hit like that. DoomedGuy's controls went dead, and Buddy's cockpit darkened. He had only the sounds of the guns steadily chewing inward to keep him company.

???: "Petra, we just lost a War Rig! The damned dwarf cheated us!"

Hellfire (pissed): "...The **** did he just say?"

???: (Authoritative feminine voice) "Boys, rally to me! No one crosses me like that and lives!"

Hellfire stopped and stood still, allowing the War Rig's explosion to frame him, and turned to fire on one of the remaining wagons: Miraculously, its armor held up, though its engine caught fire and it was forced to slow down. They turned their guns to Hellfire, and one managed to hit something critical, but he didn't falter.

Hellfire: "I might be on duct tape and spit now, but you're gonna need a lot more than that when I'm done with you."

He took two bounding steps forward and finished off the damaged wagon with one gun before missing a wild shot at the second one. It continued to circle and fire while the raider in the passenger seat decided to moon him, but the bullets just bounced off his armor again.

Hellfire: "And now I've seen your ass. Great. Just what I needed. We're done here."

He booted up his Jump Pack and launched himself overhead, firing down with both guns, and one last explosion echoed down the walls of the Canyon. After landing, he walked over to unload two more shots into the twisted metal wreck.


GM (joking): "That's a really mean thing to do to Buddy."
Hellfire's Player: "Ouch, shots fired. ...But really, it is very important that the cheeky raider is dead."
Buddy's Player: "Please drag me back inside."


The coast clear for the moment, Hellfire dragged DoomedGuy's wreck back into the hangar and pried him out of it once the doors were closed.

Hellfire: "...They said a dwarf sold them weapons, you don't think..."

Buddy: "Easy there, could be anyone. It's not too uncommon out in the wastes."

Hellfire: "...Maybe. Bower should have mentioned the CT Private Army here. If I didn't know any better..."

Buddy: "...I've worked with this guy before. He's not a backstabber, and he wouldn't have lasted so long if he were."

Hellfire: "If you say so. Either way, he'd better help cover this repair bill, this **** was not in the job description."

Buddy: "I guess Bower might have sold weapons to a Dham, if they could pay decently...but it doesn't mean that it was a backstab, y'know?"

Hellfire: "I guess we should be happy that he sold them crappy weapons. I wish to have some words with Bower, possibly over a drink, or a pair of pliers and a very large knife."

Buddy: "..."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/hCyb2i0OMes)

After setting Buddy up with an old Rook GPAC, the pair set off again for Jemeztown. Thankfully there was far less violence this time, and two hours later they were approaching the gates. The sun had started to set, casting the plumes of smoke rising from outside the city in crimson; upon closer inspection, the half-dozen wrecked War Wagons and strewn bodies made it clear that part of the warband had attacked Jemeztown and already been repulsed. They wouldn't have stood a chance; the path wound uphill, exposed to heavy machinegun fire from the wall-mounted turrets above.

This time the Portcullis was closed, and the guns were still coasting as they approached. They hailed first; best those guns don't spin up again.

Hellfire: "This is Hellfire and Buddy. We're back. The hell did we miss?"

There was a short pause before a new, older voice spoke up in response.

Sheriff: "This is Sheriff Johnson. You're the two that came in this morning looking for Bower, right?"

Buddy: "...Yes. We were actually looking for him."

Hellfire: "Really, what the hell is going on? Obviously someone decided to attack, but..."

Sheriff: "You and the town guard. He skipped town a few hours ago, and not long after a bunch of raiders showed up howling for his blood."

Hellfire: "Well, ****. He owes us money."

Sheriff: "Sorry to hear that, but good luck collecting. I'll let you in, since the threat has passed. Keep your nose clean."

Buddy: "Thanks."

---

After haggling Jolly Roger down to a reasonable price on some much-needed repairs for Brimstone, Buddy and Hellfire tracked down Bower's little wooden office building, hidden in an alley off of Central Street. The guard hadn't been through here yet, after all; maybe there was something of interest left behind?

Buddy suspected Bower would keep a spare key somewhere, and was quickly proven right after checking under a loose chunk of cement. The pair opened the door quietly, only to find a mess. The office desk had been cleaned out with the drawers left open, but the couch cushions had been strewn around haphazardly, a few of them torn open and presumably looted. The bookcases in the corner had been emptied, and the wall safe had been similarly evacuated of its contents.

Hellfire: "Looks like he cashed out. Come on, let's look around."

They soon found that the place had been cleaned fairly thoroughly of useful things despite the apparent mess, but Buddy spotted something that initially evaded both of them: A trapdoor, right above the bookshelves. In fact, now that he looked at them again, the bookshelves looked sturdier and more stable than they needed to be, and were arranged in ascending order of height. The lowest one could be reached from the couch, even with Bower's stature.

Buddy: "Hey, Stan, looks like there's an attic access in the corner here. Let's check it out!"

Both carefully climbed the bookcases and squeezed up through the trapdoor, finding a nearly pitch-black attic. They crawled out to get their bearings, and Buddy flicked on his flashlight. The attic was less obviously looted than the lower floor, though a second wall safe had been opened and emptied and the bedsheet had been removed. Other than that, the attic was much cleaner than the main room, featuring only an old mattress and a desktop computer hooked up to a fission battery.

Hellfire: "Hm, computer seems like the obvious thing to look into."

He booted it up, and a WildHunt Heuristics logo popped onscreen. The terminal wasn't password-protected, but sadly Bower didn't appear to have used this computer much: It mostly just held random gossip and dirt on people around town, but nothing particularly useful. He poked around some more, eventually finding a file that caught his eye.

Blondie.


Tall for a girl, bronze, real looker. Blonde, of course, hair down past her shoulders. Switches in an instant between this motherly older lady bull**** and the hardened stare of a warrior. Got soft hands, definitely not from around here. Wonder what it is she's running away from, but she got tight lips.

She knows Buddy somehow. Apparently he's some kind of bigshot in the Layers, too good for us now. Asked me to pass him a note if I saw him again, said her real name would open it right up. Bah. No luck guessing the password though. Prolly was too much to hope for 'Blondie' to work.

Hate this broad's bull****, but the intel she traded me is good. Wish she'd mentioned the ****ing turrets, already set back some good goons on this. Gonna need way more firepower to get in there, but if that place is half as good as it looks, it'll sell for a whole lot. Maybe the Dham wants somewhere to set up, she's got a lot of cash and no real base of operations.

Hellfire frowned. Where was this note? He searched again, and found ForBuddy.txt in the disc drive. It was indeed password-protected, but he casually typed in 'Sonnen' and gained access.


You've come far to read this, and I'm sorry for that. I can't explain everything here or tell you exactly where I am now, lest someone else find this message first.

The coordinates I gave to Mr. Bower belong to a supposedly mothballed Cerulean Horizons Facility. I have reason to believe it is active and defended against potential waster incursion, but I also believe it presents an opportunity. The facility's purpose is not clear, but there is no doubt that it is something the Azure Court wants hidden.

I apologize for dragging you into this, and understand if you wish to leave before continuing any further. I would not blame you for wishing to wash your hands of this, but I want you to seize that facility and await further contact. Do not trust Bower. I must apologize once more for these behind-the-scenes manipulations; I cannot afford to risk remaining here.

- Wrath

Hellfire: "Well, ****."

Buddy: "Hey, Stan, check this out."

He glanced left to see that Buddy had dragged the mattress aside and pried up a loose floorboard, now examining what looked like a sheaf of paper with his flashlight.

Hellfire: "What'd you find?"

Buddy: "Hard to say, it's in Spanish."

Hellfire: "****, I don't know Spanish either. Should we take it to someone, or..."

Buddy: "No big deal. I can't make out the details, but I can get the gist of it. Looks like a contract between Bower and...a representative of Petra's. The Dham."

Hellfire (extremely unsurprised): "Really now."

Buddy: "Yeah. Looks like a deal of 150 credits in...return...for..."

Hellfire: "In return for what?"

Buddy (angry): "...Bastard set us up. They paid him half up front to get rid of the security, and he sold them the base."

Hellfire: "Seventy-five up front? Whew. Where did a Dham get that much money?"

Buddy: "Who knows. He must have sent them in not long after we left, told them it was cleared and trusting that they'd take care of the loose end."

Hellfire: "Yeah, that's what I was worried about. Probably skipped town just in case they weren't happy with him. **** this guy, I'm stealing his hard drive. Sonnen has a message for us, but we can worry about it later."

Buddy: "What now? We're stranded out here until we get repairs done. Can we get word to the others, or do you think they'll be too busy with Tir?"

Hellfire: "Who knows, Buddy? Who knows. All I know is that when I find Bower, I'm going to ruin his goddamn day. For now, I guess we wait."

BladeofObliviom
2018-01-01, 03:32 AM
Quite an interesting and worthwhile read,
as always! I'm thankful you're still writing up for this story,
and look forward to reading as much of it as possible.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope you have a happy new year!

:smallsmile: Thank you! I wish everyone else reading this a Happy New Year too! I was hoping to get today/yesterday's update up before midnight, but sadly that didn't happen because I was at a New Year's party until about 10 minutes ago. It just sat there ready to go but I left before I could put it up.

Ah well, Time Zones would have made it a little bit pointless anyway. I can't use my joke about taking a hiatus for the rest of the year, but there are worse things.




This update finishes out the current Arc. Next up, our intrepid heroes go off to save Tir City!

TriggerGunther
2018-01-01, 01:55 PM
Some fun OOC notes that didn't fit well anywhere in the body:

That Railgun turret rolled a crit on Brimstone. That was rough.

The experimental Deep Blue unit is by far the most dangerous enemy vehicle I'd thrown at the PCs at this point. It was driven by a named pilot, but other than his higher-than-average agility and perception it didn't significantly increase the threat posed by the thing. That said, Reaver's stats definitely had an effect; if he'd been less accurate, they'd have been in a lot less danger since he had four shots with each of his weapons and no backup armaments.

The MPFB Devastator, in addition to being a very direct reference to a game I enjoy very much, also represents the first homebrewed mech part used. At some point I decided I was comfortable enough with the system to start playing with it. The MPFB is more destructive than any other weapon introduced so far, with the same damage as the Sniper Cannon and the Grenade Launcher's armor-ignoring properties (as well as a small AoE effect with no armor penetration, which didn't come up here), but comes with some pretty hefty drawbacks. Much like the grenade launcher, it's limited to four shots total. Unlike the grenade launcher, it takes up a shoulder slot in addition to the hand slot needed to wield it (and still takes up a shoulder slot if stored in the bay). Finally, unless certain requirements are met (6 Strength + Kneeling, 5 Strength + Quad Legs, or 3 Strength + Treads), attempting to fire the Devastator knocks a mech flat on its back.

Buddy rolled an autosuccess to tag the Jet at the end with his Targeting Laser, though this was more amusing than effective so I left it out.

Little Bit of Trivia, MPFB is short for Magnetically Propelled Fission Bomb

BrutalZandax
2018-01-01, 06:24 PM
Oh, I had thought it stood for Metroid Prime Fusion Blaster :D

BladeofObliviom
2018-08-08, 05:58 AM
So. Wassup?

I've been terrible about updating this. Obviously. But something interesting happened recently! The developer of the RPG system I've been using for this, Chromestrike, released an update (http://dukefluffyproductions.blogspot.com/2018/07/chromestrike-0987.html) for the first time in three and a half years, and the kicker is that it was (in part) motivated by this campaign journal and some feedback that I left on the site. Notably several of my houserules are official now in some form, and a lot of the things that were skimpy before have been improved. Plus my name's credited in the Honorable Mentions and Special Thanks, and I have to brag about that to someone. :smallwink:

Finally, if that guy is going to update with a three and a half year gap, it seems like I can maybe get away with updating six months after apparently abandoning the log. So yeah. New Campaign Log Entry incoming. Immediately. Get hype.

BladeofObliviom
2018-08-08, 06:01 AM
=Somewhere=

???: “Wake up, Mr. Gunther.”

He opened his one good eye, and saw the inside of Bergentrucking’s cockpit, with its familiar controls and an unfamiliar array of extra wires and tubes. A large cable ran into his other eye socket from the control panel, and he could see pumping and whirring as he looked down. The pain was nearly unbearable...but then there was another pumping noise and he felt nothing. Trigger glanced across his own nude form, marked with dozens of tubes and wires and bindings to keep him from tearing them out. He couldn’t see or feel anything from the chest down.

Trigger: “What the hell…”

Jill Luna (over radio): “It is done. Welcome to your new body, Mr. Gunther.”

He tried opening his other eye, and to his shock his perspective shifted, the camera feed from Bergentrucking’s head passing directly through his optic nerve. Disoriented, he closed his good eye and focused.

Trigger: “You...you did it. You really did it.”

Jill Luna: “I did. The operation was a success. I’d have liked to allow more recovery time, but unfortunately it is necessary to accelerate things. Your erstwhile allies are making preparations to leave, and I don’t think you’ll want to miss them.”

Trigger: “No...I don’t. I have to get to Tir, that’s...that’s all that matters now.”

Jill Luna: “You’re in no state to be traveling, but I suppose the expectation is that you’ll die regardless. I hope you don’t mind that I added some sensory equipment to your AC. This project was mothballed, but your combat data may prove-”

Trigger: “Don’t care. I have to go, I can’t stay here.”

Jill Luna: “...Very well. I wish you luck, Trigger.”

-----

=Labyrinth=

The Monolith plugged along through the tunnels, with two G-01 Jing GPACs - Naught and Gneiss - hanging from the side. Inside, Boudicca manned the controls while Blossom and Thunder just relaxed on the benches.

Thunder: “How’re you holding up?”

Blossom: “I dunno. Johanna was like a second mom, you know?”

Thunder: “I don’t, but...sorry.”

Blossom: “Right. Orphan. My bad.”

Thunder: “Don’t worry about it.”

A blip.

Boudicca: “Guys, got a contact. Looks like an AC. No IFF signal.”

Blossom: “...Do we have a visual?”

Boudicca: “It’s around the corner. Should we engage?”

Blossom: “...Hail them.”

Boudicca (pressing button): “This is Pilot Boudicca, of Bei Fong Industries. Tell us who you are or we’re gonna shoot.”

??? (over radio): “...Bei Fong...”

Blossom: “...Trigger?”

Trigger (over radio): “Blossom, it’s...it’s good to hear your voice again.”

Blossom: “Greene, pull us around the corner.”

The Monolith lurched forward, and as it rounded the tunnel’s corner, everyone inside laid eyes on Bergentrückung, sitting alone. The two GPACs focused their cannons on the Wolf-mech, but didn’t fire.

Thunder: “The hell..?”

Blossom: “...Trigger. How did you get out of the hospital? How are you here?”

Trigger (over radio): I can explain on the way. Got room in the back? I should conserve fuel for the battle.

Blossom: “I guess so. Greene, let him in. He’s with us.”

Boudicca: “Wait, is this…”

Blossom: “...Yes. Yes he is. Don’t worry about it, just get us to Tir. Trigger, what the hell are you doing?”

Trigger: “Struck a deal with Kind Red. Experimental tech, but it doesn’t matter. We need to get to Tir yesterday.”

The back of the Monolith opened, and Bergentrückung laid down inside before it closed again. Obstacle resolved, Boudicca simply continued on the path to Tir. Blossom and Thunder waited a moment for Trigger to join them, and then he didn’t. They shared a glance.

Blossom: “...Trigger, exactly what kind of deal was this?”

Trigger: “I’m sealed inside, Blossom. They put life support in the cockpit. I can’t be in the hospital, I can’t abandon Tir.”

Thunder: “Can they do that?”

Blossom: “Apparently.”

Trigger: “Guys...there’s something else. That disc...it had a list of PLUS Sleepers in Tir.“

Blossom: “...PLUS Sleepers. In Tir.”

Thunder: “Well, this is gonna suck.”

Boudicca: “You guys are going to have to fill me in on what that means.”

Blossom: “It means there might not be a Tir left to save.”

-----

Boudicca: “We’re getting a signal. It’s faint down here, but we’re getting it. Tir City Authority Emergency Broadcast.”

Blossom: “Turn it on.”

The cabin was filled with the smooth sounds of a man’s voice, very calmly addressing anyone willing to listen.

Radio: “-s is Captain Bronislaw Rainier of the Tir City Free Army reporting. All units be advised, do not engage with New Rhodes Forces. I repeat, do not engage, stand down if they engage you. Focus all forces on eliminating the warmongers and traitors in our midst. This is an order; as the highest-ranking military official still alive, my word must be obeye-“

Thunder clicked it off.

Thunder: “That’s enough of that. Trigger, do you know a Captain Rainier?”

Trigger: “No.”

Blossom: “He said he was the highest-ranking Officer left. What happened to the rest of them?”

Trigger: “...No idea. You’d have to take out every Major, Colonel, and General in the city. And most of them stay in the Capitol Plaza. That place is a fortress. This guy’s got to be one of those PLUS sleepers. No Soldier of Tir would ever surrender to New Rhodes.”

Blossom: “He was talking about eliminating ‘warmongers’ and ‘traitors’. You don’t think..?”

Thunder: “Well, this just got complicated.”

Boudicca: “We’re getting a new signal. Tir City Operations Center.”

Trigger: “Ooh, patch her through! That’s gotta be Sandy.”

Sgt Choi (over radio): “-proximate distribution of enemy forces: Most of the NRB Siege Column is checked at the wall, but fortifications are dwindling. Groups of Concord Mercenaries escorted by MPACs are roving in search of hard targets. Plaza is fortified under Captain Rainier’s control, do not approach. Things may look dark, but we can do this, goddamnit. I believe in all of you, and Captain Rackham does too. Over and out.”

Everyone stared at the console for a long moment.

Trigger: “They don’t even know about the DIS teams yet. We...we have to warn her!”

Boudicca: “No can do. Our broadcaster isn’t nearly powerful enough to make it through all this rock. We’ll need to get closer.”

Blossom: “Sorry, Trigger, we’ll get there as fast as we can. Greene, how much further is it?”

Boudicca: “Map just ended. We’re gonna need him to guide us through the last portion.”

He grumbled.

-----

Trigger: “Alright, this should take us to the B tunnel opening. We’re almost there.”

They turned one corner to see an exit from the Labyrinth, to the military staging ground outside Tir City. The City itself could perhaps be mistaken for one in the throes of a fireworks spectacular, if one were extremely naive and probably a bit slow, and one also went out of their way to ignore all the fire. A single guard tower stood to one side of the passage, with a dozen infantrymen and a rotating pintle machinegun leveling weapons at the Monolith.

Radio: “Bei Fong Industries, we have visual. This is Tir City Security, turn back immediately.”

Trigger: “Patch us through to Sandy, now! There’s a DIS army on its way!”

The guard tower simply opened fire, but Naught and Gneiss’ guns took it down before it could do worse than scratch the paint.

Blossom: “Okay, presumably those were DIS Sleepers. Not good. Deploy the bay, let the Monolith block the path. Naught, Gneiss, good job.”

Boudicca rotated the Monolith so that its bulk would block most of the tunnel and dropped the bay as requested, and the group deployed. Lightning and Steel Hibiscus hadn’t changed much in design since their first sorties, but Bergentrückung had several new modules in an unpolished white color, primarily in the form of Kind Red surveillance equipment. Britannia was the newcomer among the four ACs, a heavy NRB-influenced design with a reinforced combat shield and enough firepower to tear most light vehicles apart in seconds with a hail of ballistic fire. Finally, Naught and Gneiss were still present to provide fire support.

Trigger: “Hurry up and patch us through to Sandy.”

Boudicca: “Yeah, yeah, give me a second.”

A pause.

Boudicca: “Tir City Operations, this is a BFI Strike tea-”

Trigger: “Screw that, come in Sandy, it’s Trigger. Here with four ACs and a couple of GPACs. Where do we go?”

Sgt Choi: “Wait, what? How did you...not important. Right now there’s a tank column advancing on Doc and Swift’s position on the east side of the city, near where you are.”

Trigger: “Gotcha. Be advised, there’s a DIS army on its way, and Rainier’s a DIS Agent.”

Sgt Choi: “...Goddamnit. I need to focus on the operations tower, call back when Doc and Swift are clear.”

Blossom: “That went well.”

Trigger: “Well, you heard her. Let’s go!”

---

Thunder: “Yep, that’s a Tank column all right.”

Four M1 Abrahams and a pair of M2 Isaac tanks rolled up the street toward a shelled-out building where two GPACs hunkered down, taking occasional potshots in the general direction of the tanks to little effect - though thanks to some minor miracle, the column passed the building that the strike team had taken cover in unawares.

Thunder: “Blossom, you’re a planner. We got a plan?”

Trigger: “We’ll want to take out the Isaacs first; those cannons will make short work of us if we’re out in the open.”

Blossom: “I think overwhelming force against the the trailing M2 is the optimal means of assault. The distraction should provide those two a chance to retaliate. Thunder, I want you to go around and tear apart the leading tank. Trigger, Boudicca, Naught, Gneiss, you’re with me.”

What happened next was a blur of activity: Thunder fired up his jump pack, streaking by the lead tank and tearing two long, raking holes in its armor before it knew what hit it. Meanwhile, a hail of ballistic fire, rockets and missiles quickly reduced the tank in the back to a smoldering wreck despite its heavy armor. The two GPACs in the building took their opportunity as all of the tank cannons futilely tried to track Thunder’s motion, and two Battle Cannon rounds punched through the lead tank’s weakened armor. It went still.

The remaining light tanks tried to return fire, but Thunder was too fast a target to hit and the others in cover proved to be similarly difficult targets. With their heaviest hitters obliterated, the remaining light tanks seemed totally ineffective against a full squad of ACs, and fell quickly to fire from all sides.

Blossom: “Ammo check?”

Trigger: “Halfway out of rockets, got two missiles left. Fine on bullets.”

Boudicca: “Still plenty in the tank.”

Thunder: “I use swords.”

Blossom: “All good then. Hey, you guys holding up okay over there?”

She lifted one arm from her weapon and waved to the pair of hunkered-down GPACs, which both stood and moved to approach now that the coast was clear for the moment.

Doc: “We’re both in good shape, thanks! I doubt our cover would have held much longer. Reinforcements?”

Blossom: “Of a sort. You’re welcome.”

Doc: “And Trigger, is that you? My god are you a sight for sore eyes.”

If Swift had anything to add, she didn’t get a chance.

Rackham (Over radio): “Tir City Operations, this is Captain Rackham. I’m about to engage the roving Concord Party before they hit something important. Warm up the missile trucks for me, will ya?”

Sgt Choi: “That’s a negative, Captain! Do not engage! There are at least six ACs, including a Top Ten Pilot.”

Rackham: “Sorry, I can’t afford not to. Wish me luck, Rackham out.”

Doc: “What the hell…”

Trigger: “Sandy, where the hell is he?!”

Sgt Choi: “Captain, goddamnit, we need to retreat! ...He isn’t responding. Damn.”

Trigger: “Sandy. Where?”

Sgt Choi: “Goddamnit. Trigger and Strike team, he’s in the Industrial sector, between the Plaza and Ra/Thor. Good luck, you’re going to need it. Choi out.”

There was a pause.

Thunder: “Sandy sure says ‘goddamnit’ a lot, doesn’t she?”

Without another word, Trigger bounded along the road he knew while the others staggered at the sudden motion, hauling ass to keep up.

BladeofObliviom
2018-08-19, 03:16 PM
Full disclosure, this whole campaign journal tends to embellish the details of events to make them work better in the retelling. Polishing up table talk, quietly editing out rounds where everyone missed anyway except when it serves the narrative, etc.

This update is more embellished than usual, largely as a result of the original session having taken place at least a year before I started writing it. For some of these I have chat logs to jog my memory and work from. This session, however, happened in person and so all I’ve got is year-old memories and some notes I jotted down at the time. This update is basically one big fight, and while it was a very memorable fight I still only have the Cliff Notes version a year after the fact.

Special thanks to my players both for making this campaign possible in the first place (duh) and for supplying suitable dialogue for these scenes a year after we all forgot exactly what anyone actually said.


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/5V-RpYzKfx8)

Trigger zipped along in the lead, skating on his AC’s boosters through Tir City’s largely abandoned, burning streets. The other pilots had little difficulty keeping up in truth, as Bergentrücking was not terribly fast, but they happily took potshots at any foes they passed along the way.

Thanks to open communications, they were able to monitor the battle’s progress as they approached.

Rackham: “So, six pilots, eh? Sounds like a fighting retreat is the way to go. Look out for me, I’m gonna try leading ‘em into a tank column. Sandy, warm up the Artillery for me, would you?”

Sgt. Choi: “Captain, this is suicide! Disengage immediately!”

There was another lull as the squad sped along: Bergentrücking, Steel Hibiscus, Lightning, Britannia, and the four G-01 Jing GPACs: Open Heart, Redeemer, Naught, and Gneiss.

Thunder: “So, our first Top Ten pilot. We gonna talk about that, or just kinda go for it?”

Boudicca: “Honestly based on what I’ve heard so far, taking on a Top Ten Pilot half-cocked sounds like your M.O.”

Blossom: “I blame Trigger.”

Thunder: “Yeah, honestly. He’s a weirdness magnet.“

Trigger: “It’s not reckless when it works!”

Blossom: “Yes it is!”

Doc: “That’s Trigger all right.”

Trigger: “You too?”

Blossom: “Setting that aside...Sandy? You there?”

They turned down another street, explosions echoing.

Sgt Choi: “Yeah. No luck with Rackham, he’s a good pilot but he’s going to get himself killed like this.”

Blossom: “Give me intel on this Concord team. I want to know what we’re up against.”

Sgt Choi: “Seven identified ACs. Three look like Bog-standard Uriels, probably backup from the siege column, but the other four are definitely Specialists. Two are known Concord Rankers: #32 Little Bear, Pilot Alessandra, and #8 Chains, Pilot Alice. The last two we haven’t identified, insignias with a paw grasping a missile and a stylized red eye with a spiral.”

Blossom: “One of those is Red Don, AC Wolverine. Minimal threat, he’s a coward. The other is Lunatic Eye, AC Jade Hare. She’s on our level.”

Trigger: “...”

Sgt Choi: “Regardless, Alessandra and Alice are both high-end threats. I can’t tell you much about Alessandra other than her rank, but Alice is NRB’s top pilot. A real ace. Chains is designed for tunnel fighting: If you get too close, it’s all over, but we have her out in the open. You’ve got a chance.”

Thunder: “Also, I’ve played cards with Alessandra enough to know how she operates. Just don’t let her get the drop on you, and don’t let her out of sight once she’s engaged.”

Blossom: “So don’t let Alice get close and don’t let Alessandra blindside you. Good to know.”

Doc: “Also, don’t ignore the other four mechs.”

Sgt Choi: “Course correct ten degrees west. Captain Rackham is engaged in a fighting retreat, attempting to lead Chains into an open area for an Artillery strike.”

Trigger: “We’ve got artillery support?”

Sgt Choi: “The Captain ordered it diverted from the primary gate fortification. The remainder of the siege column has entered the city. I hope it’s worth it.”

Blossom: “Is the Operations Tower secure?”

Sgt Choi: “The primary siege column has rolled through, though the tower is under assault by enemy infantry. We’re holding out for now.”

Blossom didn’t get a chance to respond as Trigger interrupted everyone’s train of thought.

Trigger: “Get down!”

Four missiles streaked above, curving one after another into the space beyond the next building. The ground shook, every window in the area was blown to powder, all words were drowned out by the noise. Finally, after what felt like minutes, the ringing subsided enough to hear again.

Sgt Choi: “-ains confirmed destroyed. One down.”

Trigger: “Holy ****, did the old man just solo a top ten pilot?”

Rackham (over radio): “I’ve told you, kid. Targeting Lasers should never be underestim-”

His broadcast was interrupted by the screaming of internal klaxons and the sounds of gunfire.

Lunatic Eye (Triumphant, over radio): “Gotcha.”

Trigger shrieked something incoherent while Lunatic Eye just laughed, the former igniting his boosters to charge through one of the warehouse doors in the way while the others were still staggering from the blast.

Rackham (weakly): “Trigger...run. They’re...they’re comi-”

Another burst of gunfire cut him off.

Lunatic Eye: “Oh, this feels good. Did that hurt, Trigger? I hope so. Don’t worry, I’ll put you out of your misery soon enough.”

With a roar Bergentrücking burst through the other side of the warehouse into the blackened square only to lay eyes on the obliterated detritus that used to be a top ten pilot, the wreck of his mentor’s AC, and the form of Jade Hare, now upgraded with a second NRB-57 and other things he didn’t recognize. Trigger didn’t even think about it; he charged, guns blazing. Lunatic Eye had just brought her weapons to bear when the two ACs collided.

The others emerged from the hole in the building just in time to see Bergentrücking plow Jade Hare through a steel shutter, both ACs disappearing into a second warehouse. Worse, before they could pursue, enemy forces arrived. No less than three A01-Uriel MPACs rolled into the square, backed by a hulking, dome-headed steel frame rippling with rocket pods and burst rifles - Red Don and his AC, Wolverine.

Red Don has been a joke of a pilot for a while, and it shows in his AC design. Despite being a named NPC, his budget isn’t any better than the mass-production models he’s fighting next to, and despite a fair amount of firepower he doesn’t have much going for him statistically.

He does have a perk: Hollow Heroism - Red Don can choose to retreat on morale failure rather than panicking, and gains +1 DR when moving away from enemies (and not approaching other enemies).

Red Don: “Oh look, a bunch of damn commie pilots. Get ‘em!”

The three Uriels seemed less than keen to take orders from him, but nevertheless raised their weapons.

Blossom: “Do you even know what that means?”

Boudicca: “And doesn’t New Rhodes have state-owned means of production anyway?”

Britannia was the first to leap into action. The machine’s heavy footfalls crashed loudly as she pressed ahead of the group, intent on putting her heavily-armored AC between the machineguns and the more vulnerable members of the group even as she opened fire herself: Two shots slam-fired from her battle cannon found purchase against two of the Uriels.

Thunder: “Hold on a second. Where’s Alessandra?”

Alessandra: “You always were sharp, Thunder.”


Alessandra is the real boss fight. Alice would probably have wiped the party without Artillery Support, which would have trivialized the rest of the fight if the party was able to keep Rackham alive. The Top Ten pilots are not a joke! Neither is Alessandra for that matter. She’s technically the top C-rank pilot at #31, since just Alice just now died, and a rank up from Reaver (who nearly killed Buddy and Hellfire).

Alessandra’s AC, Little Bear, uses primarily CT parts and a pair of CO legs for speed, and favors an ambush strategy to capitalize on her Sneak Attack perk - the same one Hellfire has. She’s very short-ranged, relying on reinforced punches, though she has a nasty little surprise in store. She thrives in big fights like this where there are a lot of distractions and chances to pick off isolated targets.

Little Bear - a sharply-angled midweight biped in dark colors that naturally blend into the shadows, armed with a set of power knuckles and some small object clutched in its offhand - darted out from the blind corner that its pilot had been hiding in, rushing to flank the AC that had charged ahead. With the benefit of leverage and surprise, she grabbed Britannia’s shield and twisted it off of its anchors! With a crunch it fell aside, bent thoroughly out of shape, and with a second motion Little Bear released what she was clutching: Three miniscule spheres flew out, attaching themselves to Britannia’s head, core, and right arm.

Boudicca: “Bloody ****, what are these? Someone get ‘em off, I can’t reach! Oh ****, they’re explosive, aren’t-”

But only Thunder could have reached her in time, and Lightning lacked hands suitable for prying the things off. Three explosions rocked Britannia’s hull as the battle started in earnest, Thunder launching off in pursuit of Alessandra while Blossom and the GPACs opened fire on the three Uriels. Bullets flew across the battlefield both ways as Britannia stumbled out of the line of fire, headless and disarmed of its primary weapon. Red Don laughed and engaged his boosters, pursuing the damaged target.

Red Don: “Lucky me. Today I actually get to score a kill!”


A flurry of rockets and bullets did little more than scorch Britannia’s heavily-armored chassis, but Boudicca was barely able to defend herself - and her allies were too spread out and distracted to help.

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/zzyr_ZooBqo)

Blossom was focused on the three Uriels spreading out ahead of her, and a fight that was quickly spilling out over a wider area - one with a lot of cover from her preferred means of destruction. Standing up tall, Steel Hibiscus lined up its sniper cannon with one of the Uriels that Boudicca had already damaged, and fired. She watched with satisfaction as the enormous round put a large hole through the foe’s center of mass, and enjoyed the sound of metal wrenching as it collapsed.

Some days, she really loved piloting. If only it were under better circumstances. She ducked back behind the corner she was using as cover just in time to avoid retaliatory fire, and barked out orders over the radio.

Blossom: “Doc, Gneiss, you’ve got boosters. Gain some altitude and keep eyes on Alessandra. Support Thunder as best you can, try not to let her get out of of sight. Swift, Naught, provide covering fire. Don’t let those Uriels get a clean shot at the other two.”

She focused her efforts on the electronic side of things. If piloting was her favorite hobby, penetrating software security was at least a close second. One of the two Uriels spasmed, throwing its shots off as Doc and Gneiss risked ascending onto an open rooftop, just in time to keep Alessandra in sight as both her and Thunder disappeared around a corner.

The second Uriel proved deadlier, its heavy machinegun perforating both of the GPACs as they ascended. Doc and Gneiss kept going - their armor could absorb a few bullets, though they wouldn’t last under sustained fire. The third MPAC had taken cover instead of firing. Blossom knew she couldn’t afford to lose track of it, but all she could do was wait for an opening.

---

Bergentrücking and Jade Hare plowed through the shutter into the dark warehouse beyond, lupine and humanoid limbs mechanically tangled and scraping across the concrete on top of the rapidly-heating piece of sheet metal that had been in their path. Trigger directed his AC to bite and claw and bite, but Lunatic Eye’s flailing and armor seemed to be protecting her from damage. Finally the shutter stopped hard against a pillar and Jade Hare bucked, flipping the wolf-mech bodily into the ground. Trigger recovered fast, landing on his mech’s feet, and quickly pressed the attack with a burst from his NRB-57. Alas, Lunatic Eye was just as fast and darted out of the way on her mech’s boosters, angling herself upright as she returned fire. He couldn’t keep a bead on her with two muzzle flashes to follow and the enemy’s dark green fading into the blackness, his shots failing to find purchase as she drifted elegantly behind a pillar before disappearing from sight entirely.

Hers, however, were all too accurate. Bergentrücking’s armor had done what it could, but the sheer volume of fire she was outputting had ensured some damage. His ablative shielding layer had taken the worst of it, but he needed a better tactic. The battlefield was spinning.

Lunatic Eye: “Just you and I now. Heh. Let us dance in the ashes of your city.”

Trigger: "One last dance? You know I wouldn't have it with anyone else, Rei. You were the best Rival a guy could ask for. Either way, once this is over... I'll miss you."

Trigger opened the cap on his THOR missile launcher and darted back on his boosters, ready to unleash a salvo of heavy missiles...but Lunatic Eye was ready for that, boosters screaming as she darted right inside the minimum range threshold at which missiles were effective. Damn it. He leapt behind another pillar, bullets scattering across his armor again. His ablative layer was depleted, and it was starting to eat into his real armor. One more failure like this, and he’d be toast.

Lunatic Eye: “I saw you on that train, you know. I knew you were headed here, probably to acquire some new missiles. I’ve been studying your technique. Devising counters.”

He caught a glimpse of her in the darkness, and he peeked out from cover to fire. Machinegun rounds and a pair of rockets flushed out empty air, only for twin barrels to appear at the edge of his peripheral vision. He boosted straight back and juked behind another pillar just in time to avoid getting filled with bullets again. Out of rockets now, too. This got better and better.

Lunatic Eye: “And you know what I found? You’re not special. Just another hotshot pilot with more guts than brains. And yet I’ll never forget your face, because he’s dead and it’s your fault.”

She snarled the last words at him, and he readied himself for an attack...but none came. She either didn’t know where he was, or she was toying with him a little longer.

Trigger: "Not special? Ouch, that hurts. Hurts almost as much as the Rocket Salvo he leveled a factory on top of my father with. Or the Anti-Materiel round I put through his lungs, or the NRB57 burst you just put through my mentor..."

It turns out that cycles of revenge are really unhealthy, Trigger thought to himself. Lunatic Eye only growled over the radio in response.

Trigger: “At this rate we’ll both be old and gray and on life support in our mechs eventually, won’t we? One way or another, this ends now.”

He heard the sound of her boosters coming from somewhere, but couldn’t see the trails or pinpoint her. She sounded close - maybe on the other side of the pillar. The building shook with the fighting outside. It was amazing just how stealthy a mech could be with a whole battle happening around him.

Lunatic Eye: “I think it’s about time I show you what else I learned. Funny thing about living in a tunnel...”

Her voice trailed off, the thought unfinished. Trigger darted around the corner, opening fire and sinking Bergentrücking’s teeth into...empty air? Unceremoniously, another stream of bullets perforated his mech’s hull, and one hit something vital. Bergentrücking slumped over motionlessly, and one of its eyes showed him none other than Lunatic Eye, standing over a hole in the second floor of the warehouse.

Lunatic Eye: “...people never think to look up.”

He let loose a sigh of pain and defeat. His controls were unresponsive, and life support was down. He had maybe an hour, tops. But of all things, his radio was still on. Jade Hare hadn’t moved. The pilot had hesitated to finish him off, to claim her revenge.

Trigger: “...Well that’s that. What the hell are you waiting for? Do it already.”

The mech lurking above him was still.

Lunatic Eye: “…I...this wasn’t how I imagined it...”

---

Little Bear retreated around a corner, trying to break line of sight, but Thunder hadn’t named his AC Lightning for nothing. As fast as she was, he was faster. After a short chase, Thunder activated his newly-recharged jump pack to zip ahead, cutting her off.

Thunder: “What, not keen to fight someone who knows your game?”

She laughed as Little Bear skidded to a halt, brandishing its free hand just a few feet from Lightning’s blade-radius.

Alessandra: “What do you expect from me? All warfare is deception, divide and conquer? Must I have a ga-?”

Her lie was halted mid-sentence by a BASALT round to the side of the head, though her armor deflected the worst of the damage.

Doc: “This is Doc and Gneiss, we have visual on Little Bear.”

Thunder: “You don’t say.”

He took the chance to strike, carving a wide gash across Alessandra’s armor, but he wasn’t expecting her to do the same, punching a massive dent into Lightning’s chest in return. Lightning staggered back as Alessandra dove for cover from the followup BASALT shots, finding it against the side of another building.

Thunder almost pressed in, ready to take advantage of her pinned-down state, but her next words gave him pause.

Alessandra: “I’m surprised you’re pursuing with Trigger down the way he is. I was under the impression your team gave a **** about that sort of thing.”

Doc: “Trigger’s down? Trigger? Trigger! ****! Thunder, you’re the only one who could possibly get there in time! We’ll keep her pinned down!”

Thunder: “...****.”

He jumped away, in the direction of the warehouse; he didn’t really think they’d delay her long, but if Trigger wasn’t responding he didn’t have much time anyway. He’d given Alessandra a bloody nose already, and he could probably take her if she tried to ambush him with Lunatic Eye’s help. Probably. He’d just have to save Trigger’s ass before Little Bear caught up. Easy peasy.

---

Boudicca blindly discharged a rocket in Red Don’s general direction, but it was a losing battle. For every meaningful hit she put into Wolverine’s chassis, it was dumping twice as many into Britannia’s. Britannia was durable, but it had its limits, and they were nearing. Already both arms were hanging limply at her sides, and the legs had grown sluggish, weaker than they were. The machine moved at a limp, and its head had been blown off entirely.

Red Don: “How does it feel? Defeat closing in? Come on. Run from me. I’ll give you ten paces.”

Boudicca realized suddenly that she might be mostly blind without Britannia’s head, but she had one advantage. The secondary cameras in the torso weren’t ideal, but she had a general idea of the environment, and there was a corner here. If she could maneuver back into the fight…

Boudicca: “Blossom, heads up!”

She limped, dragging her AC around the corner, and Red Don followed.

Red Don: “Nine, ten! Alright, time for one last-”

There was a violent blast as a Sniper Cannon round scored a direct hit on one of Red Don’s rocket pods, and the remaining ammunition cooked off. He probably never even realized what had happened - the explosion tore Wolverine’s core in half in less than a second. There was no chance Red Don survived that: They’d probably never even identify a body. Boudicca took a breath and leaned back against the wall, glad to be out of the crossfire for a moment.

From her position on the other side of the battlefield, Blossom smiled darkly. One more confirmed AC kill under her belt, she noted with grim satisfaction.

Blossom: “...Bullseye.”

Her surge of pride was short-lived as the radio began to chatter at her once more. She glanced to the left, only to see that Alessandra had managed to circle around and flank Naught and Swift while they were distracted putting half a dozen new holes through the second Uriel.

Blossom: “Look out!”

But it was too late. Redeemer had already been riddled with limpet bombs, and Little Bear had taken up its namesake strategy with Naught, grabbing the smaller mech about the core and simply crushing it with a violent ‘hug’. Swift took a shot with her Battle Cannon, but Alessandra easily stepped aside and chuckled as the limpet bombs went off moments later. Unfortunately for Swift, all three attached themselves to Redeemer’s core and the whole GPAC was torn asunder in a trio of blue bursts.

Alessandra: “Blossom. It’s a pleasure to see you. I always relish the chance to test my skills against pilots who don’t bore me.”

Blossom uploaded an electronic attack instead of responding. Little Bear staggered, but the Sniper Cannon round she fired did little more than ricochet off of the other pilot’s sloped armor.

In her cockpit, Alessandra grinned and realigned her controls. Little Bear charged.

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/n1N8pR2m-vY)

Lunatic Eye: “…I...this wasn’t how I imagined it...”

Trigger laughed darkly in response, though soon devolved into coughing.

Trigger: "It never is. Eighty-sixing Greig only felt good until I learned he had a sister. But me? I've got no one any more. You can kill me without regret...because I'm already dead."

Lunatic Eye (angry): “What is this horse****? Aren’t you supposed to be bargaining or popping out and making a run for it? Why are you so damn calm about this?”

Trigger: "You know that joke I made about us both being on life support in our mechs? I already am: I wanted to die here. Protecting the only people I've ever really cared about.”

Lunatic Eye: “You...argh! It wasn’t enough to take my brother, was it? You had to steal my damn revenge too?! Take the wind out of my sails at the eleventh hour? ‘Oh, you want to kill me? GREAT, I WANT TO DIE!’ Aaaargh!”

Trigger: "My mission was always to die. Now are you going to give me a warrior’s death, or should I sit here until the power runs out?"

She didn’t get a chance to answer as Lightning jet in through a hole in the roof, brandishing both blades at Lunatic Eye.

Thunder: “You.”

Lunatic Eye: “Yeah, me.”

He lunged, and managed to carve a hole through Jade Hare’s armor before she slipped back, intentionally falling through the hole to the first floor. She unloaded the last of her twin magazines into Bergentrücking even as she continued to backtrack, breaking line of sight.

Thunder: “Son of a bitch!”

Trigger: “Th...thank you.”

Lunatic Eye: “I’m gonna just...go. You could probably catch me, but you’ll never pull it off and get back before Alessandra tears the rest of your team apart.”

That got his attention. Alessandra had looped back to attack the others, rather than pursuing him. Of course she had. Without another word, Thunder cut his boosters. He knew Lunatic Eye was right: Trigger was dead, and there was nothing he could do about that now. He turned his back, and fired up his jump pack to return to the battle.

---

The last Uriel rolled by Britannia’s still, resting form as it moved to flank Doc and Gneiss on the rooftops, apparently disregarding the severely damaged mech as a threat. It rolled past the corner on its tracks, climbed the embankment so that it could see over the roof, and opened fire. Gneiss was in the way, and the already-damaged GPAC did not survive being pelted with HMG rounds and a rocket.

Doc: “****, we’re under fire! Gneiss is down!”

But ignoring Boudicca was a fatal mistake. The machine lurched on its bad leg, metal screaming as she directed her AC to stumble toward the treaded foe. She was out of rockets now, but that didn’t mean she was completely defenseless. The Uriel turned to examine its challenger only moments before Boudicca thrust Britannia’s near-destroyed leg into the MPAC’s core like a battering ram, crushing through many layers of sheet metal to meet her mark. The already-battered leg warped and bent under the stress, but the metal-on-metal contact continued to wrench through the Uriel’s center of mass until she was satisfied. The Uriel went still, its pilot compartment smashed to little more than a crumpled wreck.

Boudicca pulled her control stick back, and the leg came off at the knee. Britannia collapsed to the ground on its back, unable to walk.

No regrets.

Yes, this happened. The Uriel had one chassis wound left. Boudicca’s player had no weapons with ammo remaining or arms to punch with, but she still was active enough to have an initiative count and still had two legs. Called a shot to the torso, rolled real well, managed to finish it off. Honestly one of the most absolutely metal things I’ve seen a PC do.
---

Little Bear charged. Blossom tried to sidestep the punch, but it was futile: The reinforced knuckle plates crushed Steel Hibiscus’ armor, and in the pilot’s seat damage warnings flashed all over. She sucked in a breath. Between operating primarily at long range, her AC’s armor, and consistent access to two or three other ACs to take fire, she’d...never actually taken damage this serious before. Blossom’s mind raced with tactics and counter-tactics: Engaging a melee-oriented foe with a Sniper Cannon at melee range was a losing proposition, but Steel Hibiscus required a stable firing platform to safely fire at all. Fighting on the move wasn’t practical; she’d be unable to return fire and her AC simply wasn’t fast enough to put any distance between herself and her assailant.

Alessandra: “Come on. Your allies are spread across the field. You don’t stand a chance on your own, your support team’s been torn apart, Trigger is dead by now, Thunder is tied up fighting Lunatic Eye, and the new girl’s lying limbless on the ground. It’s over.”

She tried anyway, lifting her cannon to the air and backpedaling on Steel Hibiscus’ spindly reverse-joints.

Blossom: “Do you ever get tired of spouting cliches? Frankly I think you ought to keep quiet.”

She hacked Alessandra’s comms silent, cutting her off. Something snapped, and Little Bear moved in a frenzy, pursuing with relentless abandon...which proved a mistake when Alessandra gave the less-destroyed-than-advertised GPAC Open Heart a clear shot at her back.

Doc: “Just what the doctor ordered.”

A BASALT round penetrated one of Little Bear’s arms, severing it at the elbow. If she cursed, though, it was inaudible through her disabled radio. The effect was disorienting enough that Blossom managed to dodge her other errant swing, even as she clumsily climbed onto a nearby roof to more easily evade pursuit.

She needn’t have bothered. Still largely disabled by Blossom’s electronic warfare suite, Alessandra failed to spot Thunder returning to the battlefield until the moment he plunged two blades through Little Bear’s core. The mech crashed to the ground, silenced and motionless.

Blossom: “Thank you.”

Thunder: “That’s the last of them, right?”

Blossom: “Yeah. We won. How bad?”

Thunder: “Trigger didn’t make it.”

Blossom: “Unfortunate. Sandy? Come in Sandy.”

Sgt Choi: “BFI Strike Team? Good to hear from you, I think our signal was being jammed. What happened?”

Blossom: “Concord Mercenary team and 3x NRB-A01 Uriels destroyed or disabled. Heavy losses: Pilots Rackham, Trigger, Swift, Naught, Gneiss are deceased. AC Britannia is effectively disabled but Boudicca is alive.”

A pregnant pause spread over the radio contact with Sandy’s silence, even while Open Heart climbed down from the rooftop. The silence was broken by a simple question.

Doc: “Wait, Trigger’s dead?”

Thunder: “As a doornail full of bullets.”

Sgt Choi (professionally): “...If Captain Rackham is deceased, we’re officially out of commissioned officers in radio contact. This is Sergeant Major Cassandra Choi, and I’m ordering the retreat.”


Poor, poor Trigger’s player. He got two PCs for this mission (Trigger and his replacement PC, Boudicca), and both of them got screwed up in a hurry. In reality, the Lunatic Eye vs. Trigger fight wasn’t very exciting: It boiled down to a few turns of Trigger being unable to roll better than a 5 on 2d6 while Lunatic Eye casually disassembled his mech.

Trigger’s death was to some degree planned (hence the backup PC), though I didn’t actually plan for Lunatic Eye to kill him. I threw her into the fight for one last chance to get some kind of closure on her arc, and...well. The original plan was for Trigger to go out in a heroic sacrifice when the city inevitably had to be evacuated, but this worked too.

Boudicca just got unlucky by being the target in range of Alessandra’s Sneak Attack Limpet Bomb strike, with no one else in range to pluck them off of her. Pretty much nullified her combat capability immediately. I didn’t realize how dangerous limpet bombs really were until this encounter, but they’re nasty.

Calthropstu
2018-08-19, 05:46 PM
Fun read, Brutal rate of pc death though. Is this typical for this game?

BladeofObliviom
2018-08-19, 06:03 PM
Fun read, Brutal rate of pc death though. Is this typical for this game?

Sort of? This last update contains the first PC death, though they're not the only one at the point the game is currently at. The system is pretty lethal on foot (though the most recent update made it slightly less so by making people better at dodging and providing an explicit cushion between unable to fight and dead), but generally speaking killing a mech pilot requires you to continue beating on a disabled mech or leaving them for dead in a place they can't evac from.

Downed mech pilots are more likely to be captured than finished off, though in the last update the killer had a strong enough personal grudge to spend actions finishing them off even with another enemy bearing down.

This campaign hasn't been a pc bloodbath, though. Characters suffer consequences up to and including death, but most of the original party is still alive.

BrutalZandax
2018-08-20, 11:34 AM
This made my day.

BladeofObliviom
2018-08-26, 10:47 PM
Just like the last part, this is rather more fictionalized than most simply because nobody remembers the full details a year later. Plus we actually ran out of time and turned in for the night at some point: Later, we talked it over and discussed the details of the ending narratively rather than playing it out.



Sgt Choi (professionally): “...If Captain Rackham is deceased, we’re officially out of commissioned officers in radio contact. This is Sergeant Major Cassandra Choi, and I’m ordering the retreat.”

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/zXeWOtjfVgw)

Doc: “Retreat? But…”

Blossom: “She’s right. We’ve been routed at the gates, we’re engaged in scattered skirmishes all over the city, there’s a rogue faction in control of the city center, and it’s allied to a second enemy army on its way, due to arrive at any moment.”

Sgt Choi: “That’s about the sum of it. New priority is evacuating as many people and resources as we can. The good news is that you’ve bought time by eliminating that Concord squad; with their most mobile unit out of the picture, they’re limited to a slow press along the main roads, though they’ll have Street Sweeper teams in battlesuits.”

Thunder: “That’s all well and good, but where do we hit them to make a difference?”

Sgt Choi: “Listen: The lower industrial monorail station is near your position, and the monorail is both present and intact: It’s armored enough to withstand assault by most conventional weapons. Tir’s monorail has an endpoint at the Operations Tower overseeing the east gate and a station near the surface access at the west end of the city.”

Blossom: “So if remaining personnel can make it to the monorail stations…”

Sgt Choi: “Exactly. NRB forces haven’t reached that part of the city yet, so if you get there first, we can evac east-to-west toward the surface access. If we blow the lift behind us, they won’t be able to pursue.”

Boudicca: “And we’d be ****ing over New Rhodes by breaking the surface access they want so bad. Heh.”

Sgt Choi: “Confirmed. I’ll give the order to focus on reaching the monorail stations. We can hold out a little longer here at the Operations Tower, but I’d welcome relief sooner rather than later.”

Thunder: “Sounds like a plan. First things first, let’s get what’s left of Britannia and get to that train station.”

Boudicca: “Hey, when you guys drag me off the battlefield, can you make sure you get that BASALT I jailbroke? I can't believe it actually worked. Voids the warranty my ass.”

Thunder grumbled and jumped to Boudicca’s position, slashing off Britannia’s ruined legs with a few strokes. Weight was a premium, and he didn’t have time to salvage or repair them. Lightning didn’t have hands suitable for carrying Britannia’s hulk, but that was fine. Steel Hibiscus had the strength necessary to drag it along, though they’d certainly have to drop her if a fight broke out.

Thunder: “Hey, Blossom, looks like you’re gonna have to carry your bodyguard out.”

Blossom (giggling): “I’ll manage.”

Doc: “...What do I do?”

A stroke of brilliance struck Thunder.

Thunder: “Actually...give me a sec.”

He turned to the Uriel hulk that Boudicca had managed to kick a hole through, and inspected the treads. As he thought, they looked pristine: No serious damage. With a grin, he hacked at the base where legs meet chassis, and shoved the useless hulk off the top.

Thunder: “Drag those treads. Don’t worry about enemies, I’ll clear the path. Just get Britannia to the damn monorail station.”

With a lurch the two other mechs gripped their charges and began moving, making progress toward their new goal. Thunder directed his AC to jump once more, landing on the rooftop to inspect the surrounding area. Scattered firefights were all over the eastern side of the city, but he could see the monorail track and the nearest station. As luck would have it, they had a clear shot.

Thunder: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

---

Only a few Infantry scouts were anywhere near the monorail station, and Thunder dispatched the lot of them in a single, bloody instant. It was painful to wait for the rest of the group to progress to his position, but eventually they made it unscathed, loading Britannia’s damaged hulk and the stolen set of treads onto a freight car.

Thunder: “Alright, what now?”

Blossom: “Now I show off a little. Get on, don’t jump off unless you fancy being left behind.”

She pressed a few buttons inside her AC, remotely seizing control of the Monorail control computer and directing it to move east. The thin white vehicle left the station towering five stories over the streets, treating all within to a view of the city in flames. A few NRB tanks took potshots at the monorail as it passed overhead, but did minimal damage - Blossom and Doc were all too happy to return fire. Soon enough they approached the Operations Tower station, the view abruptly cutting off as the monorail disappeared into a tunnel.

When the freight car emerged, they were greeted to the sight of four Solomon Battlesuits and a company of NRB heavy infantry exchanging fire with a group of less heavily-armored TCFA soldiers. They were holding out bravely, but it was clear who the victors would be without intervention. Luckily, intervention was here: Already two of the Solomons were turning to investigate the incoming monorail, but Blossom and Doc shot first.

Bang, Bang: Two clean shots left two battlesuits little more than wrecks. Thunder was no slower to spring into action, skating across open ground to disable a third battlesuit with twin slashes. The last battlesuit unleashed a futile spray of bullets in his direction while the NRB Infantry scattered, but Lightning effortlessly weaved past the bulk of the incoming bullets and plunged both blades into the Solomon’s right side. The infantry were quickly routed without their battlesuit support, and Blossom was the first to hail.

Blossom: “So, darlings. Care for a lift?”

Sgt Choi: “You know it. I’m just wiping critical information off of these computers, everything we need’s been copied over. Just give me like thirty more seconds and...oh, ****.”

Blossom: “What is it now?”

Sgt Choi: “Every sensor at the Labyrinth entrances just tripped at once. That would be your DIS army, I’m guessing.”

Boudicca: “Are your missions always like this?”

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/peGu0E5-qKs)

Blossom sent the monorail going again once the personnel and supplies were finished loading up, this time traveling west across the war-torn city. She watched the shimmering gray mass of drones surge from the the Labyrinth, pressing into the Siege Column’s right flank: If nothing else, this disaster might at least have bought them some time. Blossom watched the heinous things moving through the streets, sawing through NRB soldiers and what was left of Tir’s resistance indiscriminately.

Blossom: “...Just like Avici.”

She sighed.

Blossom: “Sandy, be honest with me. How bad does this look?”

Sgt Choi: “...Not good. Captain Rainier’s group is leaving the capitol plaza, headed straight for the Siege Column. Looks like a pincer maneuver with the Drake army on the other side.”

Steel Hibiscus leveled its sniper cannon and punched a hole through a drone in the distance. It made her feel a little better.

Blossom: “Damn. How far to the next monorail station, then?”

Sgt Choi: “About 700 feet, give or take. No enemy forces reported. The siege column and the new invaders are tied up with each other, though any survivors in the Industrial sector are a lost cause.”

Blossom: “Damn.”

They came to the next station, and as promised it was already clear. More soldiers, civilians, and materiel were loaded onto the monorail before it once again began to accelerate, heading off toward its final stop: The surface access. Already Blossom could see what was left of Tir City’s artillery and armor divisions lining up nearby, holding the area against the few drones that roved close enough to be a threat. The battle continued in the distance.

Sgt Choi: “Based on the radio chatter, it sounds like a group of Concord ACs have engaged the siege column from the Rimtown side as well. New Rhodes is fighting on three fronts now. Should I assume we have you to thank for that?”

Blossom: “Assume whatever you wish. I’ve already been paid.”

The monorail and all of its occupants arrived at the last station moments later, adjacent to Tir City’s surface access. The Surface Access was a marvel of engineering, a football-field-sized single platform raised by an array of pistons and gearing systems into an amazingly high pressure pneumatic lift, which would seal on the bottom and launch the platform and its occupants to surface level. Already most of the remaining tanks and battlesuits and missile trucks had been loaded, and now all that remained were the contents of the monorail.

Sgt Choi: “We’ve got enough explosives for this. Load up and start rigging.”

Thunder: “...Once we engage this thing, everyone will know what we’re doing. How the hell are we going to keep them from showing up to disarm the whole thing? It’s not like we can blow it before we hit the top, right?”

Sgt Choi: “We should be able to safely destroy the pistons and gearing systems as soon as the lock on the pneumatic lift engages. The activation is analog and located outside the lift, but your AC should be more than fast enough for you to activate it and jump up to the platform before the pneumatics take over.”

Thunder: “Alright then. Let’s do this.”

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/xklleXyya7I?t=5s)

Half an hour passed as the explosives were rigged and Thunder sat outside of his AC, examining one of the control consoles as one of the engineers who normally ran it droned on about operating procedure. Blossom watched the battle in the distance, noting the movement of forces: The reports of Concord ACs hitting the back ranks of the siege column soon dwindled, and Captain Rainier’s party did little better. Nobody cheered at the report that Captain Rainier himself was slain; nobody had the energy, even for a traitor.

The Siege Column had inexorably pushed forward, even against so many opposing forces, and the horrible tide of drones had thinned and spread out. A dozen or so actual DIS ACs had been reported commanding the drones, but were nowhere to be seen. Most of the city was on fire, but they had just enough time. Hopefully. They’d got everyone they could, though a few stragglers still managed to stream in while everyone held position.

Finally, the moment came. Thunder pressed the button and the mechanisms engaged, moments before he climbed back into Lightning’s cockpit. But just as he booted up his AC’s engines…

Sgt Choi: “No...they’re already here!”

A pair of Barbatos MPACs leapt on top of the buildings nearby, and half a dozen drones surged forward. Thunder could see two more MPACs approaching already, and more drones than he could quickly count.

Thunder: “...****.”

One of Blossom’s shots immediately cored a drone, and every tank, GPAC, and infantryman with a missile launcher remaining amongst Tir’s forces opened fire. It just wasn’t enough. The drones and MPACs were making progress, and worse: They were shooting at the pneumatic systems, trying to prevent escape.

Lightning launched itself forward, ripping apart one drone who got too close.

Blossom: “No! Get the hell up here before it’s too late! That’s an order, Thunder!”

Thunder: “Can’t risk it. You have to get out of here. I’ll shoot for the Labyrinth once the pneumatics engage. I can make it, I promise.”

Blossom: “Don’t make promises you can’t keep…”

She took another shot, putting a hole through a Kyton before it got close enough to try snagging Thunder’s leg with its cable. He took the head off of an MPAC as pulse rifle rounds put a few new holes in Lightning’s chassis.

Thunder: “****. Don’t worry about me! I can make it!”

The other pilot caught one last glimpse of Thunder’s jump pack lighting up before the pneumatic seal closed. There was a deafening boom, and then silence.

Full disclosure here: Thunder’s player was unable to continue for personal reasons, so this is what we came up with to explain his disappearance from the game. Long story short, the whole last bit was pretty much resolved offscreen.

Still, this was a hell of a mission. Tir City was an absolute ****fest full of enemies, and essentially unwinnable by the PCs. The best they could do was try to save more NPCs than would have escaped without their help, and try not to die themselves. They...halfway succeeded. Trigger obviously was a complete loss (though Boudicca looted his MG57) and the rest of them were seriously damaged. Even Blossom took multiple wounds this time, basically a first for her.

This was also the first time they faced an honest-to-god killteam of named, unique enemy mechs like themselves rather than a singleton boss backed up by some mooks or elite mooks, and despite the rough fight and losses it was a damn good showing. Alessandra and Red Don were about the level of threat I’d intended, though Lunatic Eye was noticeably more dangerous than that.

Rackham and Alice dying moments before the PCs showed up was also a conscious decision I made rather than a result of natural play: Chains (the mech) would probably have torn this team apart without the support of Captain Rackham and Artillery, but keeping Rackham around would have been largely extraneous with Tir City’s fall inevitable and Trigger’s coming sacrifice (as mentioned, I didn’t originally expect him to lose to Lunatic Eye, though it worked out; he was going to do something similar to what Thunder did at the end here).

Further, removing Chains and Rackham allowed the battle to focus on the PCs (rather than having them play protect-the-NPC-with-the-ability-to-call-artillery) and the enemy pilots that were actually vaguely in the PCs league. There will come a time when the PCs are experienced and well-equipped enough to actually take on a Top 10 pilot, but it absolutely would have been suicide this early. All of the Top 10 pilots have some kind of absolute bull**** going for them, and Alice in Chains here was no exception.

Lunatic Eye fled the field this time, but you’ll see her again. Mech pilots don’t get to just retire.

All that aside, they did a pretty good job on this mission. Tir City was probably doomed no matter what they did, but the PCs preparations tied up the NRB army and slowed down their takeover of the city, and learning about the incoming DIS army allowed their allies to begin making preparations to retreat before they were totally blindsided. Plus, while they did take a lot of damage, it wasn’t enough to exhaust the supply of scrap kept topside, and their help was sufficient to earn some damn gratitude and cover the repairs.

BladeofObliviom
2018-08-28, 03:23 PM
(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/x279g_F3MV8)

And we’re back to things I have proper notes and records for!

Skipped over here was some accounting. Tir City topside has a small trade post and a cache of vehicles, along with a generic supply of scrap and equipment. Unfortunately what it doesn’t have is an independent food and water supply, so they couldn’t just set up here. Still, the PCs and the Tir City Remnants are now big-deal allies, and they were able to get their mechs repaired using part of the scrap supply, and without having to pay for labor. Which is for the best, the repair bill would have put poor Boudicca deep in the red otherwise (Blossom would have been fine).

Steel Hibiscus didn’t have any major design change, but Britannia’s trashed legs were removed in favor of a pristine set of treads stolen from a Uriel, and her empty rocket pod was given to the TCFA as she replaced her shoulder weapon slot with an NRB-57 looted from Trigger’s mech.

The Tir City Remnants are a new faction closely allied to the PCs with resources consisting of:
1x BFI Monolith Land Transports
1x BFI Monolith Land Transport (Lent to PCs for indefinite period, modification permissions granted within reason)
1x BFI Monolith Land Transport (Converted into Mobile Field Hospital for medical use)
1x NRB M1-Abraham Light Tank
1x BFI G-01 Jing GPAC “Open Heart”
4x TCFA Technical (Essentially a pickup truck with a machinegun mounted in the bed)
10x NRB S1-Solomon Battlesuits
2x TCFA Missile Trucks (Artillery)
5x Infantry Platoons
5x Militia Squads (Infantry squads but without armor)
A small number of additional, unarmed vehicles used to carry materiel and personnel
A significant quantity of non-combat personnel

The Tir Convoy had a rough couple of days heading to Jemeztown: Between the grieving and despairing of the survivors, along with the moans of pain from the injured in the Field Hospital, nobody had been able to relax since leaving. Almost nobody'd slept either, and a few people had to be stopped from putting a bullet through their own skulls. Doctor Velasquez was indisposed and sleepless for many hours, and it was obvious she was working herself ragged. All three of the medical doctors were.

Sandy Choi practiced a policy of radio silence. Her Monolith kept driving, and that's the only evidence anyone had that she was even conscious. Radio silence; the supposed leader hadn't spoken a word in over 24 hours, and she hadn't slept either.

Still, anyone looking could see the destination: Jemeztown. Seemingly crude mud-brick walls rose high above the hill on which it stood, twelve towers capped with KROSSCorp-made machinegun turrets, front gate closed and reinforced by a portcullis. It was still a satisfying sight despite its currently-secured nature, likely a result of worry about the approaching convoy of heavily-armed vehicles.

Antonya looked back to the passenger compartment of the Monolith from her position at the wheel, calling out:

Boudicca: "Hey, Blossom, you have people skills, right?"

Blossom (stirring groggily): “What do you need now?”

Boudicca: "We're at a waster town. Figure you might want to talk to whoever is in charge."

As if by magic, Antonya's speaker came online and the just slightly gruff voice of a middle-aged man emanated into the cabin.

???: "Identify yourselves, whoever you are. No need to make things more difficult than they need to be."

Blossom: "We're the survivors from Tir City."

Boudicca: "Corporate Airman First Class Greene, Bei Fong Industries, requesting permission to enter. Fleeing the loss of a Layer City called...Tir, what my boss said."

There was a long pause from the other side.

???: "Refugees from the Layers? That's a new one. I'd say welcome to Jemeztown, but the truth is that Jemeztown doesn't have the space for this many."

A new crackle.

Sgt Choi: "...That's fine. We need to trade for supplies and somewhere to patch our wounded, not a permanent residence."

Boudicca looked to Blossom and quickly muted the transmitter.

Boudicca (conspiratorially): "Knowing Wasters, they're going to have us go kill a bunch of Splorkers who’re messing with their water supply or help another settlement with their Dham problem before they let us in."

Blossom (perplexed): "Even the wounded? I guess we owe them a favor if they can take in the hurt, but we have to find the Buddy and Hellfire. They’re here and alive, right?"

Boudicca: "Nah, just the most able bodied of us will have to do the task, but they won't let the wounded in until it's done."

The radio started up again.

???: "I'm afraid our Doctor just skipped town on us, a couple of days ago."

Blossom (unmuting broadcaster) "Well, it’s a good thing we have a doctor. We just need a safe haven for a while."

Boudicca: "It's a mutant eat mutant world out here. So long as I don't have to sit next to some ******* screaming about how his bodily fluids are biodeisel and his body is chrome, I'm fine with whatever they have us do... ooh, missing doctor? That sounds easy."


??? (ignoring Boudicca): "Fine. We'll lift the lockdown, you can stay outside our walls. You can trade, but no more than a dozen people at a time. Not letting an army walk in here unmolested."

With a shrug, Boudicca parked the transport and opened the hatch, hopping right out into the desert evening.

Boudicca: "Ah, 'fresh' wasteland Air. You can even taste the isotopes up here!"

As the portcullis raised and the gates were thrown open, a lone figure strode out confidently to greet the newcomers clad in ballistic armor, a rifle, and an off-white dust-cloak: None other than Buddy Dacote.

Boudicca: "Hey, civilized wasters. They don't have skulls everywhere. That's nice."

((OOC Note: Naturally, the first pair to be reunited has never met before.))

The Talisman-coated pilot looked Buddy over, one hand on her service revolver. After a moment she nodded and extended her free hand.

Buddy (gladly shaking hands): "Hello there! I'm Buddy. What's your name?"

Boudicca: "Man, I haven't seen another waster in ages. Antonya Greene, Transport pilot for KROSS... I mean BFI. Just transferred."

Buddy: "I see. Any particular reason why?"

Boudicca: "Well, the oil rig I was about to be assigned to... kinda... exploded? And my contract just expired, so I decided to change companies."

Buddy (nodding absentmindedly): "Huh. That'll do it."

Boudicca: "Figured it might be time to get a job where I can shoot back."

A second figure climbed out the hatch in pursuit.

Blossom: "And I must say, she's a great shot, and a solid addition to the team. How's it going, Buddy? I see you're alive."

Buddy: “Oh, uh, hey Blossom! Nice to see you alive as well..? Are Trigger and Thunder with you guys?"

Blossom (stammering): "Um...the thing is..."

Boudicca (looking at Blossom): "Trigger is the guy who liked Heavy Metal and Wolves, right?"

A pause.

Boudicca: "...Sorry for your loss."

Blossom (annoyed): "Boudicca, your shots are on the mark but your tact is ****. Why don't you go start on getting supplies..."

At that castigation, Boudicca sheepishly walked off into town. Blossom took a deep breath.

Blossom: "Buddy, Trigger didn't make it."

Buddy: "...Oh."

Blossom: "A lot happened. He was kidnapped, died once, came back as his mech, then exploded and died again. It was sad and frankly really weird. But I think he died without regrets."

Buddy (looking away): "I'm sure he did. He seemed like the kind of guy who would want to go out with a bang."

That was the moment Boudicca chose to light a hand-rolled cigarette on the still-hot exhaust pipe of the Monolith, then wander back with a droopy, sun-beaten, and probably mutant desert flower.

Boudicca: "Flowers make people happy when they’re sad, right? Like alcohol? Or are you supposed to make the flower into alcohol first?"

Buddy (studiously ignoring Boudicca): "There's a time to be happy and a time to be sad. What about the Captain?"

Blossom: "We lost a lot of good people out there."

Buddy: “I can’t help but notice that I don’t see Thunder here either.”

She looked away. Buddy released a breath.

Buddy: "...Well, there's nothing we can do about that now. Next best thing we can do is regroup. Just between the three of us here, I've got a place for everyone to stay."

Blossom: "How many can you fit? Like it or not, we can't leave the wounded outside."

Buddy: "Just a few days ago, Stan and I took out a secret CT research base not far away from here. It probably still has chlorine inside, but once we clear that out, we’ll be able to fit everyone inside, easy. We’ve even got a medical bay."

Blossom (dumbfounded at the convenience): "That’s...perfect, actually. Let's get it ready and get everyone moved in before nightfall. I'll report to Sandy."

Boudicca: "Hold on, did we just get a secret base? Does it have Splorkers with Laser Beams tied to their heads for defense?"
Buddy: "...No. There were a few turrets. Past tense. Oh, that actually reminds me:"

He pulled the flamer pistol he looted from the armory out of his satchel and passed it to Boudicca.

Buddy (grinning): "Welcome to the team."

She looked down at the weapon, grinning like a loon.

Boudicca: "You know just what waster girls like, don't ya?"

Blossom: “More importantly, is anyone in Jemeztown aware of this place?”

Buddy: "Not that I know of. The only people that I know know are us, Stan, the Dham, and Bower."

Boudicca (suddenly at attention): "Dham? What Dham?"

Buddy: "Oh, about that. We fought them right outside the base after taking over. Apparently Bower set us up. Came back to town for repairs and answers, but he skipped out before we could get to him. Originally we were going to sell the place, but with our client gone we might as well keep it."

Boudicca: "Well. So long as they're dead, I don't care about no Dham."

Buddy: “Wasn’t easy, but I think they'll be licking their wounds for a while."

Boudicca: "So yeah, hop in the monolith and we’ll head out right now."

Buddy: "I can't. Have to keep Stan posted, and he's still checking out the repairs on Brimstone."

Boudicca: "Who's Stan, anyway?"

Blossom: "Stan's a part of the crew we ran with before leaving Val City.”

Buddy: "Yeah, heck of a pilot. Saved my neck fighting that Dham."

Boudicca: "Hey, anyone fighting the Dhams is cool with me. Had to leave the Wastes when Santangelo rose to power, y’see. He was wiping out all the little war bands who wouldn't join him, and I wasn't gonna sit around and wait for that to happen."

Buddy: "Oh, I've heard about him. I'm not from that area, but it sounds like a violent time."

Boudicca: "Every time in Dhamburlan is a Violent Time. That was just... more violent than usual."
Buddy: "Right, well, I need to let Stan know what's going on. You can come along if you want, he's over at the scrapyard making repairs."

Blossom (jumping back in once the waster talk is done): "Sounds good. Should we swing by Sandy afterward, or ought I pop over and relay the good news now?"

Boudicca: "Maybe we should check the place out before we promise anything, but maybe give her a heads-up."

Buddy: "We'll just talk to her after. No point in moving too fast."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/Y5Jx3ZUGkC8)

He didn’t have any trouble showing the others the way to Jolly Roger's. Indeed, the shop was hard to miss with a tattered skull and crossbones for an awning. Most of Jemeztown's usual stall vendors closed up early due to the lockdown, so the streets were still empty. Raucous noises could be heard from "¡Abajo y Adentro!", the tavern across the street, but the area was otherwise quiet.

Jolly Roger's shop greeted them with the same smells of gunpowder, old books, and rum, with weapons and tools alike displayed on the walls. The same mercenary leaned up against the door leading the junkyard, but Jolly Roger himself was prominently reclining in his chair behind the counter.

Roger: "We be clo-oh, it just be you. Welcome to Jolly Roger's hardware supply! Take a look around, let me know if any of my plunder catches your eye, then buy it tomorrow when we be open. Your friend be in the yard."

Hearing movement in the shop, Stan walked in from the scrapyard out back.

Hellfire: "Ey, Roger, I heard talking. Do we know anything about that convoy?"

He stopped brushing from of his coat as he looked up to see the rest of his team. Or some of it, anyway.

Hellfire: "Hey! Blossom! Oh man, it feels like it's been ages! You wouldn't believe the **** that Buddy and I have been through."

Boudicca: "I take it this is Stan?"

Buddy (sighing): "Stan, this is Boudicca. Boudicca, Stan."

Boudicca: "Please, call me Antonya out of the cockpit." She turned. "Nice to meet you, Stan."

Buddy: “So it turns out the convoy is a bunch of refugees from Tir City. I'm thinking about putting the base to good use by letting them regroup and recover there. What do you think, Stan?"

Blossom: "Wait, before that, I ought to tell him.”

She paused a moment, thinking of the words.

Blossom: “Stan, Trigger didn't make it out of Tir, but a few of these people were close to him."

Stan ran a hand through his hair and whistled.

Hellfire: "Whoa, what happened over in Tir? Trigger didn't make it? That's... ****. Sorry, man."

He looked down pensively, granting his fallen ally a moment of silence.

Hellfire: "I hope he went out fighting. Seems like he'd want it that way."

He looked back up to make eye contact with Boudicca.

Hellfire: "So, Antonya, you're a new recruit then? Welcome to the team, I guess. Sorry to tell you you have a pretty intense legacy to live up to."

There was a rapping from the counter as Jolly Roger put his feet up.

Roger: "Well, friends, this be a lark t'watch, but we really do be closed. The Brimstone be 'bout done, n' you've already paid so we be clear. Jus' be going o'er the paint now. If'n ye be wanting to rendezvous, do it at your leisure."

Hellfire (nodding): "Understood. We'll get out of your beard. My thanks, again, for the repairs; I expect I'll move Brimstone back to the hangar by tonight at the latest, earlier if we end up shipping out today."

He turned back to the party, stepping toward the door in a bid to bring everyone outside and make progress toward their next objectives.

---

Life returned to the streets of Jemeztown as the group wandered through the streets to return to the camp outside, but only the usual nightlife: Addicts, Junkies, and assorted rogues for the most part. A few eyed the obvious Layer inhabitants with curiosity and just a hint of greed, but none had the audacity to try anything. A few guards in fiberglass-reinforced armor kept an eye out for trouble at the gate, but allowed them to pass.

Outside, the five Monoliths had been pulled into a sort of loose circle around a dozen or so campfires in the center, with many of the weary Tir City refugees getting their first taste of outside air in...well, ever. A small forest of tents were already set up. It took some doing, but eventually the group was able to track down a bleary-eyed Cassandra Choi sitting alone with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a blanket wrapped around her uniform. She shivered in the desert night, too far away from any of the fires to really benefit from their warmth.

Her gray officer's cap had been discarded, revealing a simple dark-colored, slightly curled crewcut matted down with cold sweat. The circles under her eyes were so pronounced now that they could be faintly seen even at this distance. She took a sip of coffee, faintly slurping, and stared at some tiny object held in her other hand. Boudicca tilted her head at that, trying to get a closer look, but couldn’t make anything out other than the glint of a fine chain hanging from the side. As she became aware of people approaching, Sandy clutched it tightly, before withdrawing one arm into her blanket and stowing it somewhere on her person. Her coffee sloshed a bit with the sudden motion, though she didn't spill any.


Antonya walked right up, pausing and saluting her despite her lack of affiliation.


Boudicca: "I'm really sorry that our back up was too little, too late... I didn't know anything about Tir before they shipped me out, so I know this probably isn't as important coming from me... but from what I saw and heard of the fighting... it sounds like you lost a lot of good people who didn't deserve to go out like that... And I'm sorry I couldn't do more."

Just as Sandy began to tilt her head in total bewilderment, Stan stepped physically in front of Antonya before she could further make an ass of herself.

Hellfire: "Sandy. I'm only just now hearing about Tir, I'm glad that at least a few made it out."

Blossom walked up and belatedly introduced him: "Sandy, this is Stan. He's a close friend from Concord and was on our team with Trigger. He has space available for us to stay or at least take the wounded."

((OOC note: Stan badly botched the reaction roll here. Natural 2. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, since Stan’s worst possible first impression is shockingly not much worse than the average person’s average impression. Still, it...did not help his attempt to save Boudicca’s bluntness.))

Sandy Choi: "Stan. Stan Stan Stan. Hm. I knew a Stan once."

She squinted at him a moment.

Sandy Choi (frowning): "You don't remind me of him."
She did her best to hide it, but Boudicca caught just the slightest hint of slurring in her words. Sandy was...probably a little bit drunk. Or a lot drunk, and really good at pretending not to be.

Sandy Choi: "I don't...let's not talk about Trigger. What's this about space?"

Hellfire: "Buddy and I, we cleared out a military research base just a few hours from here. There might still be a bit of lingering radiation around the place from the AC that was defending it, and the interior also needs a fair bit of cleanup... but it's defensible, modern, and has a lot a space for both ACs and people. The armory alone could outfit a small army."

Stan glanced back at Buddy before continuing.

Hellfire: "There's a downside. The Azure Court has an interest in the place, and in keeping it secret. Enough so that they exterminated basically all of their staff on the inside as soon as we showed up. But at least for the time being, it looks like they've abandoned it."

Sgt. Choi's eyes flicked to Buddy when Stan's did, a faint twitch betraying the slightest of frowns on an otherwise stone face. "...That sounds perfect.", she added after a quiet moment. She looked conspiratorially at Buddy, then back to Stan. She paused again, before adding in a slightly stilted tone: "Tell me more."

Hellfire: "They activated something called the 'Scholar's Mate' protocol and killed off all of the staff inside with some chlorine compound. Nasty scene. We saw a supersonic jet speeding away just before we made it inside, presumably carrying the high-level executives and especially sensitive information. By the time we'd made our repairs, we'd managed to turn on the sprinklers and otherwise vent out the gas. Lots of bodies still lying around though."

Stan neglected to mention the doctor that he and Buddy had encountered, deciding instead to consult the team about how much information should be shared. He glanced around at the circled Monoliths and the huddled refugees.

Hellfire: "...It needs some cleaning, but it would fit everyone here. Might be a good idea to get them somewhere safe, there’s a Dham operating in the area."

Sandy looked at Stan carefully, scrutinizing his words. "Hmm." Whatever thoughts are going through her head were hers alone, but she was definitely considering the possibilities.

Sandy Choi: "...Buddy, you've been there? Blossom, you have reason to trust this man?"

Buddy: "Yeah, I've been there. In fact, my mech is still there."

Blossom: "Buddy and I were his teammates at Concord. I trust him with my life."

Sandy was quiet a moment, and then chugged the rest of her coffee in one go.

Sandy Choi: "**** it. We're already camped out for the night, but we can get the convoy moving in the morning. I want you to scout this place before we arrive. We're in no condition to fight a Dham, much less the Azure Court, but on the off chance this isn't a trap...well, I doubt we'll get a better opportunity. We still need to buy more supplies from Jemeztown before we go anywhere."

Hellfire (nods): "That's a good idea. Don't know how much there actually is at the base in terms of essentials, especially for this many people. The trip there is going to be a bit rough, too."

Sandy stared quietly at the group for a moment. "...Is there anything else?", she grumbled, perhaps a little more agitated than was appropriate. "I appreciate this, but if you don't mind, I'm not really in the mood for company."

Hellfire: "I think that's about it. We'll meet you here in the morning to help escort everyone there. Get some rest if you can, I guess."

Sandy waved the lot of them off without another word. Stan turned to the rest of the group.

Hellfire: "C'mon, let's get some rest for the night. Lots of moving to do tomorrow."

Boudicca: "You two have somewhere you're staying in town, or do you want a spot in the monolith?"

Buddy: "Well, as of right now, we're staying at the brothel. But if there's space and not too much noise, I'd prefer a spot in the monolith."

Boudicca: "Er, right. Sure, there's room for four. Two benches and two reclining seats. Dibs on the pilot seat, I've slept enough in a transport to know which spot's my personal favorite. Might want to grab a bedroll, the benches are kinda hard... I mean, so is the pilot and gunner seat, but less."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/cLsLQqNduIM)

Once sleeping arrangements were settled, the party turned in for the first real night of rest they'd had in days. The night passed uneventfully. Buddy and Antonya were awake at the crack of dawn, old Waster instincts prevailing, and everyone else wasn't far behind with all the movement going about outside. The daily hustle and bustle of a nearby town mingled with the sounds of the Tir Army rousing itself.

Outside, the campfires boiled pots of water for the last supplies of synthetic coffee. Three covered stretchers were carried out of the field hospital, a frowning Dr. Velasquez watching wistfully, before shaking her head and returning to the converted Monolith's interior. On the far side of the encampment, a group of civilian refugees were gathering money and extraneous supplies in preparation for a trading run at the Jemeztown market. Sandy was nowhere to be seen, likely already in town or inside one of the Monoliths. Hopefully she got some sleep?

Regardless, dawn had come, and with it a new day. Apparently someone had half-overheard last night's conversation, and whispers of a new home spread like fire through the camp. It was subtle, but last night's despair gave way to a glimmer of hope, and a few walked with a noticeable spring in their step.

Stan and Antonya passed through the streets of Jemeztown, far more populous than they were last night, and entered Jolly Roger's. The faint smell of rum assaulted their noses before the proprietor shouted his usual greeting, truncated by the realization that it's just Stan and friends again.

Roger: "Bah, yer machine's ready to go. I be holding it 'til noon, then it's to the dock with it."

Boudicca’s line of inquiry about man-portable machineguns caused the Mercenary in the corner to raise an eyebrow, but Roger's face lits up at the prospect of a purchase.

Roger: "Aye, I got some o' those."

He dragged out a few options, mostly battered or old, but functional-looking. While Boudicca and Roger haggled, Stan decided to try flirting with the speechless mercenary leaned up against the wall. It was a bit of a one-sided show for a while; the mercenary didn't do anything for a long time, listening to Stan talk with a faint look of bemusement. Eventually she lifted one hand to lightly shove him away, before knocking once on the wall as if to remind him that she was supposed to be standing guard.

She was smiling, though. Stan shot her fingerguns.

Hellfire: "Well hey, if you're ever off duty... My place isn't too far away."

He winked and headed off to collect Brimstone just as Boudicca finished up her shopping, acquiring a new LMG for personal use and a line winch to weld to the back of the Monolith Transport she’d commandeered. They met up with Buddy and Blossom, who opted to eat a hearty breakfast rather than getting an early start on the day, and prepared their scouting run.

Buddy: "So...I forgot to mention this earlier, but Sonnen said we should take control of this place, so we might see her there."

Boudicca: "Er... who's Sonnen?"

Buddy: "She was our mission operator before she went missing. Part of the reason Stan and I are here in Jemeztown is because we got a tip. We've found more leads since then."

Boudicca: "Operator? You mean we have a handler?"

Buddy: "We did. I guess we're basically Irregulars at this point. Totally rogue."

Bouddica: "Whatever it is you’ve been caught up in, it sounds like I'm about to get caught up in it too, so I better go hook up that SFWL before I get dragged into even more. Heh. Winch. Drag."

---

It didn't take long to scout the place, since they’d already done most of the work. Since the last time Buddy and Hellfire had seen it, radiation levels had fallen dramatically (to more or less safe levels) and the chlorine gas had largely decomposed outside of the lower levels of the labs. They were able to easily round up plenty of salvageable material, including two utterly scrapped CT-A01 Fischer units, four destroyed waster war wagons, and a scrapped war rig. The CT-A02 Deep Blue was little more than a pile of irradiated scrap, and is useless even for salvaging purposes, but it was little concerned. Blossom and Boudicca would be busy scrapping this stuff for a while.

They reported to Sandy over the radio as promised, and relaxed for a few hours as she concluded her interactions with Jemeztown and began transferring portions of the camp up. Dr. Velasquez went over the floor with a fine-toothed comb before deciding that the bioagent used in the scholar's mate protocol had been sufficiently neutralized to declare safe, though she recommended a dose of antibiotics for everyone and insisted that anyone who developed blisters or sores of any sort should come to the clinic immediately. She set up in the Clinic herself, bringing along a few medically-inclined personnel as support.

Very little happened over the next two weeks as everyone settled into their new fortress, aside from Tir City soldiers clearing out the bodies and clutter. Most of them settled into the barracks, and began to perform regular patrols through the halls. Things were looking up for once. Right up until they didn't.



Conclude Arc 1

BladeofObliviom
2018-08-28, 03:49 PM
This concludes the first major leg of plot! Just for fun, here's some mission ratings. Only the proper Concord Missions, the interludes don't count for this even when mechs are involved because they tend to be more wibbly in result.


Mission 1: Serpent's Fang
A
- Mission completed. All bonus objectives completed. Some damage taken.


Mission 2: The Drone Wars
C
- Mission completed. Some undesirable collateral damage caused. Significant damage taken.


Mission 3: Poseidon's Smile
B
- Mission completed, with flair. Significant damage taken.


Mission 4: Sung City Shuffle
S!
- Mission completed, with flair. No damage taken.


Mission 5: Tir City Suicide Mission
D
- Mission failed. Pilot Trigger confirmed deceased. AC Britannia disabled.

BladeofObliviom
2019-04-11, 01:37 PM
As I mentioned earlier, this is around the point where I got comfortable experimenting with the rules, making more esoteric perks and introducing a leveling system. This is particularly relevant because at the conclusion of the first major arc, the PCs became level 2. Each PC was given three skill points to spend as they pleased, two attribute points, and a new perk of their choice. The skill points and attribute points generally went to improving the PCs strengths rather than adding new ones, with the exception of Blossom who spent her time with Doctor Velasquez studying both theoretical and practical medicine in order to apply her genius intellect to an unfilled niche in the group’s skillset.

As for the perks…

Boudicca’s new perk, Steadfast Guardian, improves the armor rating on any shield she holds by 1 step and allows her to redirect hits from an ally’s chassis to her shield, as long as the ally is within melee range. Boudicca essentially doubled down on the tank role, increasing her own effective toughness and providing a small umbrella of protection to other party members as well.

Buddy’s new perk, Danger Close, capitalizes on some software assistance and his own well-honed instincts to allow him to lock missile targets at a much closer range than is normally possible. Missiles generally have a minimum range of 10 spaces; Buddy can instead lock and fire upon any foe more than 5 spaces away.

(In the Chromestrike 9.87 update, minimum Missile Range was increased to 15 and Short-range Missiles were introduced as an alternative. This perk was introduced before that update, however; if it were requested now, I would probably still allow it in this form. 9.87 also made missiles consumable and thus very expensive to use, so spamming them is a significantly less practical strategy. Perk slots are highly limited, so something that situational can afford to be a lot stronger.)

Blossom’s new perk was Bow Before Me, Mortal!, straight out of the book. It’s pretty simple, granting +2 Grandeur when interacting with anyone lesser in station. Upshot: While she’s still largely incognito, if she admits her true identity, most people are lesser in station. Stan already had this perk, but he often has to pretend to be more important than he actually is to get it to work properly.

Stan’s new perk, Untarnishable Beauty, forces the first hit to his head each combat to reroll hit location. It was a largely RP-oriented pick, but the wording allows it to be used both on foot and in mech, and the head tends to be a vulnerable location on most mechs and a very disabling thing to lose. It’s even more vulnerable and more disabling (read: fatal) to lose on foot.


(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/HP934S-AoWc)

Jemeztown’s mission board was...anemic, even desolate in comparison to the ones they’d perused back in Freeport. Worse, most of the mercenary offerings were clearly intended for different sorts of mercenaries, ones with lower operating costs, less expensive equipment, and consequently lower pay. While there were a few Wasters out there with tanks or ACs capable of performing on a level that the party was used to, they were few and far between. Only two really stood out, a general call for additional pilots by KROSSCorp and another, cruder post asking for people willing to clear out a nest of “unknown organisms”, offering a whopping 12 credits. Two different mercenary groups - the Redjaws and the Thunderhogs - had already marked their names on the flyer, each over a month ago...but the job was still up.

Buddy: “How about this one?”

He’d been in the wastes long enough to know that the details didn’t matter much. Those other two mercenary groups probably had little more than jeeps and guns, and even the nastiest mutants he’d seen stood little chance against the kind of firepower an AC could bring to bear. Boudicca glanced over from where she’d been examining a less promising notice, and Stan looked up from where he’d been leaning against the side of a building people-watching.


Hellfire: “What about it?”

Buddy: “Cleaning out some kind of infestation, but apparently it’s wiped a couple of mercenary groups and they’re offering twelve credits. I bet those mercs didn’t have ACs, though.”

Boudicca: “Hey, good find. 12 credits for a big splorker nest is easy money.”

Buddy: “Probably not splorkers unless they’re just swimming in cash, but even if it’s Kriks or something I can’t imagine we’d have much trouble.”

Hellfire: “I’ll defer to you guys on this one, since you seem to know what you’re talking about. Mission site?”

Buddy: “Yeah, there’s a map. We’ll radio in with the sheriff to let him know we’re cleaning up the garbage and then we can deploy onsite.”

Boudicca: “Sounds good to me. Let’s rock and roll.”

---

Three ACs cleared the back of the Monolith.

Hellfire: “Brimstone has been deployed.”

Boudicca: “Britannia is deployed.”

Buddy: “And I’m clear too.”

An unaware observer might have missed the gaping hole in the desert, but it’d be hard to miss the smell. The stench of raw meat emanated from the wounded earth, beckoning into the depths.

Hellfire: "Antonya, correct me if I'm wrong, our mission here is to infiltrate and terminate, yes?"

Boudicca: "That's what the paper on the board said, yes. You'd think they'd have a fancier sign for something they want to spend 12 credits on. I’ll take point."

As they progressed into the darkness, their low light cameras could see stone give way to the alien, strangely organic interior of the 'cave'. No sign of hostility yet. As Boudicca approached the first bend, though, she caught sight of a roiling mass of things: Dozens of flea-like monsters, individually the size of a large dog, turned to examine Britannia with far too many beady eyes. Shrugging in the cockpit, she flashed the lights in an effort to communicate with the things. The drones surged forward, only to be obliterated by Boudicca's barrage of fire; a resounding shriek echoed from them, followed by what sounded like thousands of responding shrieks from deeper within. Something rumbled in the distance.

Hellfire: "This sounds bad. Get ready to focus fire on any choke points."

Boudicca peeked around the next corner, quickly spotting two Mantis-like horrors approaching, each almost the size of a battlesuit: Over eight feet tall even with their long bodies, with orange-red camouflage to blend into the strangely meaty alien environment.

Boudicca: “Ugh, no wonder those mercenaries never came back. These things look nasty, and they’re coming this way.”

All three pilots readied their weapons in the direction of the blind corner, moments before the two Hive Warriors burst through the wall behind them, wings splayed and hand-blades ready. One spit acid into Doomedguy’s armor and the other at Brimstone, even as they tried to rip Britannia’s treads apart with their scythelike forelimbs!

Coming up with stats for the Hive Warriors was fun. I modified the basic battlesuit statblock, the one used for the S1 Solomon, with a single-wound Legs part in the form of a pair of wings that offer benefits similar to boosters. They also swap out the HMG for a rifle with Chemical Ammunition, and a pair of melee attacks. They have worse armor than the battlesuits, but better agility/speed, and a unique ability to burrow through loose stone and vegetation.

Though only slightly more dangerous than the basic Battlesuits on paper, these ended up being significantly moreso; melee is quite strong in this system aside from the obvious mobility issues, and allowing monsters to suddenly close in from a wall without warning makes them capable of doing a lot of damage before the PCs can take advantage of their relatively weak defenses.

Hellfire: “Oh what the hell.”

Buddy: “They’re coming out of the goddamn walls?!”

Boudicca: “Shut up and shoot them!”

Tough as the things were, they couldn’t stand up to sustained fire from vehicular weapons: They were shortly cut down, but not before they gauged holes in all of the mechs and hit something critical in Brimstone’s legs. Boudicca waved some of the smoke off of her NRB-57.

Boudicca: “So, does anyone have any idea wh-”

Three more mantises burst from the walls around them, leaping straight to the attack with blades and acid-spit; one caved in a segment of Britannia’s now-sizzling armor even as Boudicca smashed its wings with her shield. Even with one leg’s hydraulics depressurized, Brimstone’s jump pack worked fine, and Hellfire darted to flank one of the two attacking DoomedGuy to blow it apart with his signature twinned shotgun blasts from behind. Buddy proved less fortunate; he couldn’t make use of his missile systems in melee, and he couldn’t draw a bead with his rocket pods. The creatures’ unblinking eyes didn’t show any sympathy or mercy as their spit and blades tore one of DoomedGuy’s arms and head off, only relenting when Hellfire and Boudicca managed to kill both of them.

They turned their weapons out to the walls, watching the room.

Boudicca: “So I said, does anyone have any idea what the hell these things are?”

Buddy: “Never seen anything like it.”

Hellfire (pensive): “I have a thought.”

Boudicca: “Oh?”

Hellfire: “Remember that headline a while back, about the Kri City Liberation Front stealing some kind of bioweapon from CT?”

Boudicca: “Yeah, actually. I thought it was some kind of virus though, not...whatever this is.”

Hellfire: “We also got offered a mission to burn down Jemeztown to root out a KCLF cell there.”

Buddy: “...You don’t think...”

Hellfire: “Yeah. I think they’re behind this, somehow. This is much worse than we prepared for, and Brimstone’s down to one leg. I’m out of here.”

Boudicca: “We came here to do a job. I say we finish this.”

Buddy: “We can’t just leave Jemeztown in the lurch. We haven’t abandoned a mission before, and I’m not about to start now.”

Hellfire: “This isn’t a negotiation. I’m headed back to the Monolith. I won’t drive off without you as long as you make sure I know you’re still alive down there, I guess.”

They didn’t respond as he booted up his jump pack to make staggered leaps down the tunnel, scraping up the walls as he went.

Boudicca: “So. Just us now. Stay behind me?”

Buddy: “Way ahead of ya. Behind ya. Whatever.”

The pair slowly pressed inward through the maze of unnatural tunnels, listening intently for any sign of another ambush. The ‘meat’ was thicker here, enough that it squelched and crushed underfoot as DoomedGuy’s steps sank into the muck, already ground foully underneath Britannia’s treads. Hellish noises echoed from the deeps, but the sensors hadn’t picked up any signs of motion. They continued, until finally the tunnel opened wide into a much larger chamber: Hundreds of strange polyps hung from the ceiling from fleshy stalks, and a faint brown mist permeated the air, a forest of faintly ochre cilia wriggled along the walls and parts of the ground, and not to be forgotten, three more hideous mantis-things turned their heads toward the intruders, along with a dozen throngs of the flea-like drones.

Boudicca: “Is that all you got?! The only good bug is a dead bug!”

Buddy simply grimaced, locking targets in the fog. He’d worked on some improvements to his software to allow him to target more closely, but the things he wanted to hit were still at range. Boudicca opened fire largely indiscriminately, focusing first on the closer throngs of drones, but Buddy unleashed his missiles on the Mantises in the back. The medium missile didn’t quite land, a lucky last-second dodge moving its target out of the way, but the heavy missile ended one in a greenish mist. He fired a pair of pistol shots into a nearby throng of drones to some effect while he recalibrated his aim. Only mildly deterred, the things began to close in, spitting strangely metallic filaments at the pair: Where each tiny, sticky web-point connected, they noticed power warnings as electricity was somehow simply sapped away. Sparks scattered all over their chassis, sensors flickered, batteries rapidly drained.

Coming up with stats for the Drones was also pretty fun. These were modified from the basic infantry squad statblock. While their armor was removed, their weapon range was significantly reduced, and they lost the ability to take cover, they were given a much higher speed and their weapons were made much stranger.

Drone Filaments are similar to Infantry Weapons with built-in sparkler ammo, reducing Armor Penetration by 1 (to -2; highly unlikely to wound anyone with decent armor) but causing electrical interference that reduces Accuracy on hit, regardless of whether or not it wounds. With the ability to attack twice per group of drones, this can add up quickly if they’re allowed to get in close. This effect also drains an hour of battery life from a vehicle with each hit, though that doesn’t matter unless you’re taking a whole lot of hits, operating over a very long period, or trying to use a railgun.

Overall, they’re really only dangerous in large groups or as distractions alongside bigger threats. That said, they’re exceedingly effective distractions.

Boudicca caught most of the filaments harmlessly on her shield, but Buddy wasn’t so fortunate and his energy reserves dropped precipitously. DoomedGuy buckled with the senses going haywire, stepping back as Britannia charged full-force into the drone-mass. Boudicca directed her mech into a brutal melee, sweeping indiscriminately with the shoulder-mounted NRB-57 and her BASALT cannon, even as she used her shield for bludgeoning as much as defense. Buddy’s attempts to support her were stymied by his still-disrupted sensors, shots finding purchase only in the strange cilia that dotted the area, now leaking yellow-brown fluids. The two surviving mantises were quick to capitalize on his vulnerability, closing in and hitting him with acid spit on both sides. His own shield reduced to a sizzling wreck, Buddy reeled.

Boudicca couldn’t see well at this point either, her indiscriminate attacks having since become truly blind, such that she couldn’t see as the mantises circled, and only DoomedGuy’s sensors recovered in time to spot the new hideous thing that had come to investigate from deeper within: A helicopter-sized waspish horror, held aloft by eight buzzing wings and bearing down on them, yellow and black with eager mandibles and unnaturally glowing organs lining its shoulders.

I got a little bit lazy on the Royal Guard stats. They’re essentially identical to the Attack Helicopter statblock, with the only meaningful distinctions being that the machinegun was replaced with an acid spit attack, they’re immune to hacking since they’re biological, and they’ve overall lost some firepower, having only their acid spit, a single biological “rocket pod”, and no decoy launchers.

Their wounds have been tweaked a little; like attack helicopters they have two body wounds, but their wings can be damaged as well. A helicopter can be assumed to be destroyed in the crash if the propellers are destroyed, but these creatures are merely grounded (though they’re quite slow on the ground).

The Royal Guards are overall probably less dangerous than the attack helicopters they’re based on, but fill a similar role among these monsters. And frankly the drones and warriors are nasty enough to make up for any deficiency.

Uncaring of the drones below, it rained horrible acid spit and bizarre explosive pods down on Britannia, one blow to the leg finally catching the machine vulnerable. Boudicca fell as the drones surged over her. Buddy groaned below, not liking his chances against the two mantises and the giant thing, but he couldn’t let Boudicca just go down like that. He took potshots at one of the mantises, but locked missiles against the enormous flying horror and fired. They struck true; the medium missile exploded against one of its wings and the heavy missile managed to collide with its body, and with a horrendous shriek it spiraled to the ground. His stomach churned as it continued moving, scrambling to its feet and dragging its wounded body back toward the fight, but he didn’t have time to focus on that. The mantises were upon him.

Boudicca flailed with violence, and finally the horde broke. The things were tenacious and hateful, but finally she managed to kill enough of them that they couldn’t maintain their formation, left to individual flea-things that could do little to her individually. Her still-dazzled sensors fell upon the wounded Royal Guard, and she opened fire with her BASALT: One bullet between its eyes, and it stopped moving.

Buddy was left to the ambush, and one of the mantises critically slashed a leg joint. He fell too, unable to bring his weapons to bear properly, while the second found its way to his hatch and began to pull. The sheet of metal buckled, and he could do little about it but try feebly to blast the thing with his handgun. Britannia spun around, its sensors finally returning to normalcy as the pilot saw what was happening to her ally. With a battle cry, she opened fire, a hail of bullets and BASALT rounds reducing one of the mantises to a mangled husk of tattered flesh.

The other Hive Warrior seemed to care little for its compatriot’s annihilation, and simply pulled harder, tearing Buddy’s hatch free. The man coughed as his crew compartment filled with brownish gas that burned his skin and made his eyes water. He tried to fire a shot into the thing to no avail, watching as it tried to angle its mandibles in, to feast on his flesh. And then it went still, as Boudicca’s last desperate shot blew a hole through its core. He coughed, feeling lightheaded.

Boudicca: “We need to go. We can’t...we can’t push on like this. Hellfire, you there?”

No answer this deep. Her treads weren’t quite functional anymore, but she could “scoot” with her hands. Embarrassing.

Boudicca: “Come on, Buddy. Let’s go.”

Slowly, painfully, they made their way out. Buddy thought he was going to suffocate as the gas filled his lungs, but he was still alive, if lightheaded, when they returned to fresh air. With nary a word to Hellfire, they loaded their half-destroyed mechs into the Monolith and drove away, the Hive only stirred.

BladeofObliviom
2019-04-11, 04:08 PM
This interlude contains some gruesome content. I’ve included a bullet point summary in the OOC note at the bottom for anyone who would rather not read such things but don’t want to just skip a section of the story outright.

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/kbSqkX1U55w)

It was late by the time the Trio made it back to Jemeztown, sun having sunk well below the horizon hours before. Buddy in particular was feeling especially tired, likely a result of mild respiratory poisoning from the gases he'd inhaled within the hive. A small party of town guard met them at the gate, grim-faced once the failed nature of the operation became clear.

Sheriff Johnson seemed a kindly older man, dressed in supple leather with a badge, with crow's feet flanking his eyes and the signs of faint wrinkling clearly visible against his dark skin. He sat at his desk in Jemeztown's guardhouse, in a faintly smoky room lit by a single electric lamp attached to the ceiling.

Sheriff Johnson: "Well, how'd it go? Clear out the place?"

He asked the question simply, sounding nothing but professional.

Buddy: (Breathing heavily) "Not even close."

Boudicca: "Unfortunately not. These things... they aren't like anything I've ever seen in the wastes, Dhamburlan, or Arcadia valley. They're fast, they burrow, and they have natural weaponry way too diverse and advanced to be mutants. High explosive flesh globules, acid spit, some sort of electrical-sapping webbing, claws that can tear open cockpits. I'm led to believe that they might be the bioweapons that rumors surrounding Applied Biodynamics speak of. That or, like, from space. We've got a dead one of what we're calling a 'drone' and half of what we're calling a soldier. There was also a flying one that shoots those exploding flesh globs that I mentioned, but we weren’t able to recover the body..."

Buddy: "We couldn't advance far enough to see the Queen. But we did map out a portion of the nest."

"Damn.", the Sheriff responded simply, with a carefully-held poker face. "You're the only group to take the job and make it out alive so far. We didn't realize the scale of the threat. Looks like you got in pretty deep before having to flee. What were the conditions like inside? The Thunderhogs never reported back in, and the Redjaws didn't either."

Buddy: "Inside? The walls are covered in some kind of flesh-like web and the nest is filled with poisonous gas. I still feel lightheaded."

Boudicca: "We’re assuming they have a queen. But they probably do. They had every other kinda role a bug that builds colonies do, assuming the flying one was something like a Warrior or Guard. We didn't see any sign of other mechs or infantry squads while we were in there."

Sheriff: "Hm. No surprise you didn't see the Redjaws; damn fools probably charged in on foot with rifles. No telling whether they even made contact before falling afoul of the gas. Thunderhogs use motorcycles but they don't use gas masks, so...", he mused. "Damn. Damn damn damn."

Boudicca: "The Drones are the only one a foot soldier could take on, there no way they got past the first soldier without a power suit. If I had to guess...they’re part of the walls now. We only went in with three pilots since Blossom is busy with repairs and upgrades. We thought we could take some big bugs, but these things aren't just animals. They're smart. Use squad tactics and ambush you out nowhere. If we get repaired and go in with the Full squad and maybe some TCA Arm-slaves with Flamethrowers, we might be able to deal with them. Problem is getting repaired."

Boudicca looked to Hellfire, nodding for him to work his magic while she walked outside. He stepped in. For someone who already strived to look as much like a vampire as possible, he looked especially grim.

Hellfire: "I don't mean to twist your arm on this, Sheriff, but we really are going to need some repairs and some backup before we can go back in there. Combination of bad luck and not enough knowledge going in, but half of Brimstone was torn to shreds before we could get more than a hundred feet past the entrance. Combine that with the damage done to the rest of my team and we're already deep in the red in terms of repair costs compared to pay."

He glanced back at the twisted and slightly melted mechs before shaking his head sadly.

Hellfire: "If you know of any mechanics willing to cut the price a bit, or if the town is willing to subsidize the costs somewhat, I’d hate to leave the job unfinished. Especially after we've quite literally stirred up the hive. I don't like the idea of those bugs swarming out around the town, not when we've so recently set up base near here and started forming alliances in the area. I can't speak for my partners, but I'm personally willing to do the rest pro-bono, if the costs of repairs were covered. It would be worth it to keep those... things out of my nightmares."

The Sheriff scowled. "I appreciate the offer, friend, but fact is we don't have enough wealth just lying around to pay you up front and to finance the backup plan. I appreciate your help, I really do, and you're the first group to get out alive, but...well, I don't think we'll live if it doesn't work out the second time 'round."

Boudicca: "Okay, but think of the profit. I'm sure you'll be able to find buyers interested in getting to dissect one of these."

She walked back in, grunting as she hefted the body of a dog-size flea-horror through the front door. The sheriff didn’t quite respond how she was hoping though, quickly waving her off.

Sheriff: "Euagh! Don't bring that thing into my office! I don't care how valuable it is!"

Relenting, she dragged it back outside. The sheriff turned back to Hellfire with a halfhearted grimace.

Hellfire (face hardening, but undaunted): "Let me talk to my guys, see how much we can get patched up. We have one mechanic on our team, it's just gonna be a hell of a lot of work for her. We'll go in with the full team, kitted out a bit better for the situation. After all, we're the only ones who have fought these things and made it back." He scratched at the stubble on his chin. "Don't call in KROSScorp just yet. Let us prepare and give it another shot. If we clear everything out, you can pay us for the work. If not, well, you'll have the credits lying around for the backup plan."

The sheriff didn't look totally convinced, but took a deep breath.

Sheriff: "Alright, I'll hold off for a week or so. Doubling the bounty too, given what I've been told. No less than twenty-four credits for ending the threat, 'bout what I'd end up paying the KC goons for their services once they were done extorting me. Plus Jemeztown's gratitude, o'course."

Hellfire (nodding): "That gratitude will be worth more than the credits in the long run, I expect. Thank you, Sheriff."

Sheriff: "Good hunting to you and yours. I don't know what Arah-forsaken hole these things crawled from, but you'll have the homesteaders singing your praises if you pull this off. Oh, and tell your friend -" he gestured in Boudicca's direction "- not to drag mutant corpses into town unless they're safe to eat. Can't have plague spreading 'round."

The Sheriff was too polite to usher them out directly, but with business concluded the message was clear. The group left the sheriff’s station, walking back toward their monolith with dimmed morale.

Boudicca: "So that was a bust. You know what we should do? Show these freaky bugs to the TCFA. I bet they'll be more than willing to offer support if we show them that there's freaky giant people eating bugs that we're gonna need Arm-Slaves with Flamers to help flush out."

Buddy: "How are we going to get a bunch of flamers out here?"

Boudicca: "Hmm... I dunno. I have enough for ONE Heavy Flamer if Stan can haggle down on our repairs or we get someone at the base to repair our mechs. Assuming I only have to cover my own repairs, anyway. We could probably pick up two more if you sell that giant Nuke Launching Rail Gun, but maybe we should keep that.”

She paused, eyes lighting up.

Boudicca: "Oooh, we could MOUNT the giant Nuke-Launching Rail Gun on one of the Armslaves!"

Buddy: "...I don't think that'll work."

Boudicca: "We could TRY it."

Buddy: "We need close-quarter and mid-range weapons to fight these things, not nukes."

Boudicca: "The Solomons have what, an NRB-5 HMG? You could sell those and pick up the smaller napalm-thrower or a trench gun and still have half a credit left over."

Hellfire: "A flamethrower won't be worth anything if we don't get fixed up first. Let's focus on getting repaired, and then we can talk weapons."

---

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/xklleXyya7I)

Having fully buzzkilled Boudicca into submission, the group returned to base without event as the clock neared 2400 hours. It'd been a long day, but there was still business to take care of. While Hellfire headed off to get some figures and estimates done on repair costs, Buddy and Boudicca tracked down a big cart to move their specimens down to the lab.

The Labs were, for lack of a better word, a mess. Though the corpses and gas had long since been cleaned out, everything was still messy and significant portions of the area were cordoned off for various reasons. Still, one Doctor Takata, a xenobiological specialist from Tir City in a Hazmat suit and polarized faceplate, seemed eager to take the specimens off their hands, muttering something about an unprecedented sample. Though contaminated by significant wasteland exposure, he seemed certain the samples would provide some information of value once properly analyzed. He didn't know how long it will take, but he was certain his team would be able to pull something of value out of them.

Dr. Takata: "Oh, and apologies for the sorry state of the labs.", he added, almost as an afterthought. "We've been so busy cleaning up the mess that we haven't had the opportunity to do much research. Plus, looks like all of the computers here were fairly thoroughly wiped by Scholar's Mate, whatever that means. Oh, and...um, you may wish to wash your hands quite thoroughly. Even recently-dead things can be vectors for disease, as any pathologist can tell you. Perhaps take a hot shower, the executive areas have many amenities."

Boudicca: "It’s fine, Doctor. I just hope that these things give us a better idea how to fight them before they overrun the surrounding area."


Doctor Takata gave Boudicca a nod before motioning for a few assistants (also wearing hazmat suits) to cart the things away. "We'll see what we can find. Not every day we get to dissect a...whatever this thing is."


---

The executive suites contained several emptied-out personal rooms, each with personal amenities much like a hotel room or a small apartment. Naturally, this included a private shower booth with hot water and a fair supply of nice soaps. Even better, the doors locked!

Boudicca: “Locking showers? What will they think of next?”

She took a well deserved shower before stealing the soap bar, putting it back in its little cardboard box. What a rebel.

---

In another room, Buddy took his own shower...

As soon as the first drops of water touched his skin and the steam entered his lungs, he realized something was terribly wrong. His skin was too sensitive to the heat, and he suddenly grew short of breath again. The itch was unbearable, worse than he ever could have imagined an itch could be, and he found himself struggling to cry out, his voice failing him.

Straining to breathe entirely, his vision began twisting in ways it was never meant to twist. His limbs felt stiff, sluggish, and then he began to tip over. He was unconscious before he hit the ground.

---

Boudicca was surprised to hear the water still running in the room Buddy had commandeered on her way back to the commons. He’d even started first, since she’d taken a few minutes to hose out the back of the Monolith after the mission, and she hadn’t exactly taken a short shower herself. For Wasters like them, water conservation was practically drilled in at birth: No waster worth their salt would spend 45 minutes in the shower.

She knocked on the door.

Boudicca: "Buddy, you okay in there? Did you accidentally break off the valve and now there's water everywhere and you're trying to fix it before someone comes up?"

There was no response.

Boudicca: "Buddy? Hey, Dacote! You okay?"

Silence, but for the continued hiss of running water. She grew concerned. Buddy was poisoned, so maybe something happened. He wasn’t answering, he'd been in there way too long…

She tried the door. Locked. Frowning, she reared back and slammed her shoulder into the bathroom door, as it buckled once. Her senses caught something she hadn't initially noticed: An acrid tinge to the air, faint but present. Looking down, she realized the carpet underfoot was just slightly wet, and a trickle of slightly dirty-looking fluid was dripped forth from under the door, between the tiles. Wracking her mind a moment, she realized that scent was familiar, like water with too many chlorine tabs in it. Boudicca was no chemist, but she suspected that was a bad thing.

She kicked the door again, harder. Boudicca was met with a resounding crack as the door's hinges buckled under the strain of her blow, the door itself spinning on a diagonal axis and falling to her left. The first thing she saw through the cloud of steam obscuring the room was the rusty-looking water puddling on the floor, dripping from the bottom of the shower curtain at the end of the room. She saw Buddy's clothes and equipment set aside by the sink, looking more or less pristine, but unfortunately that wasn't the end of it.

The water still fell from the showerhead normally, but it sounded like it was hitting a pool of something rather than the bottom of the tub, and only a low, lumpy silhouette could be seen through the white curtain, though shallow, ragged breaths could be heard. Creeping up the tile wall, Boudicca saw something that made her stomach quail: At least a dozen thin red runners of meat-kudzu, just like the kind infesting the desert hive. She scrambled to grab Buddy's 9mm SMG from his discarded equipment, wanting the shortened barrel for this cramped interior rather than her slung M60 if anything hatched inside the shower. Acrid, rusty water sizzles against Boudicca's soles as she stepped into the bathroom, and she was sure she heard the word 'help' mixed into the gurgling behind the curtain. She held her breath and tore the curtain aside with a wet, fleshy noise.

The tub was filled nearly to the brim with red-brown water that she immediately realized to be some sort of acid given its effect on the porcelain, but the sight paled in comparison to the fleshy red mass pulsating in the water, the point all of the runners connected to. At one end she recognized an impressionist's view of a human face, noseless and hairless with sunken eyes and a lipless, toothless mouth gaping open before her, like a rubber mask drawn impossibly taut then pressed into the orifice. The central mass rose and fell with the thing's ragged breaths and gurgling.


She reached to turn off the water, twisting the valve until the spray slowed to a trickle with a soft metallic creak. She backed out of the bathroom, her weapon trained on the mass, trying not to panic. She collapsed against the wall outside, tearing her eyes away from the sight. She picked up her flight helmet, setting the rebreather and comm piece aside, and hacked out the contents of her stomach and sinuses alike, until nothing else came free. With a muffled scream, she gingerly set the now-useless helmet aside and picked up the headset.

Boudicca (over radio): "Get the medical and science teams up to Executive Suites, we've got a situation! This is not a drill, code red, possibly code black if we don't get a medic up here!"

The replies were a frenzied susurrus of "What's going on?"s, "What kind of situation?"s, and a few "Hold Tight, we're on our way."s from various base personnel near enough to their radios. She closed her eyes and forced herself to respond.

Boudicca (over radio): "It’s ****ing weird, but Dacote's in a meat cocoon. I'm gonna try to cut him out, but there's a bunch of acid and possibly airborne... What's the word? Haemoglobin? No wait, Pathogens. Yeah, pathogens."

There was a reply over radio from a voice she recognized.

Dr. Velasquez: "Don't touch anything. Hazmat team is on its way, get out of there now. We'll escort you to Medical."

Boudicca: "I'm out of the shower where the Cocoon is, but I'm not leaving visual of Buddy until medical staff are here. I'm the one who convinced Stan and Buddy to go down that bug hole, I convinced Buddy to stay in after Stan pulled out, I'm not gonna abandon him. Don’t worry about me, I've got a self contained rebreather.”

Dr. Velasquez (obviously distraught): "Rebreather? Is there gas? A rebreather can only do so much against pathogens...Never mind, hold tight. Better if you don't spread whatever the hel this is. Just wait for extraction."

Boudicca: "I think there's trace amounts of chlorine if anything, I just wanted to be safe. Buddy didn't do anything in the cave except breathe with his cockpit hatch ripped, and this happened. We need to burn that whole ****ing cave. And maybe this shower. Seriously, bring up one of those incinerator units in the armory for after you get Buddy out."

(Musical Suggestion) (https://youtu.be/6IrJzEQLKHE)

Dr. Velasquez didn't respond again. Boudicca was left with her thoughts, the soft dripping of the tap, and a faint sound not totally unlike a buzzing gnat. She swat blindly to her left, hoping to hit whatever made that noise, but found herself empty-handed. The buzzing steadily increased in intensity and she pointed her weapon at the curtain with increasing tension, only to look down and realize her radio was still sputtering static.

She frowned and silenced it properly, and suddenly there was nary a sound at all. Just the faint drip, drip, drip of the tap and quiet splashing from the pool below. Faint gurgles emitted from beyond the curtain, punctuated by almost human-sounding dulled screams.

Boudicca: "Don't worry Buddy, help is coming."

She wished she could believe it herself. Had five minutes passed? Ten? Fifteen? When was Hazmat coming? Boudicca didn't know. It felt like hours, just sitting there, watching helplessly. Her hand began to tremble just slightly from holding the gun up so long. Were those footsteps? Did she hear footsteps outside?

...Did the water behind the curtain just slosh?

She inched closer to the bathroom, GPMG at the ready but finger off the trigger and safety on. She silently prayed to Yphine, even though she doubted the storm goddess that her mom told stories of had any authority over aliens or bioweapons.

Boudicca: "Buddy? That you moving? Er... try to stay still. I know that that's probably really hard with alien biomass coming out of your mouth, but... don't move except to breathe. I might shoot you accidentally."

There was no reply. Boudicca could hear something scratching...somewhere. In the walls? From the tub? She checked the feed on her SAW, making sure the belt was seated as she tried to determine where that scratching is coming from: The sound reverberated through the room, initially seeming to come from behind her but quickly shifting to slight vibrations in the left wall too. Were those runners penetrating the walls? She couldn't see now. She swores she could hear something shifting just to her left…

She plunged her knife into the wall, all the way up to the hilt. It penetrated the drywall easily, sinking all the way to the insulation layer. The scratching very suddenly stopped, then resumed after several seconds. There was a creaking noise behind her; she whipped around, M60 at the ready on her hip, but held her fire. Two people in yellow suits were entering through the door with what Boudicca immediately recognized as standard Bei Fong "Pebble" Rifles, with another three out in the hallway. One reacted by raising his weapon and shouting "drop the gun!" as Boudicca turns her heavy gun on them, while the other elected to charge, attempting to get into point blank range and grab her.

Boudicca: "I ain't gonna drop it while there's something in the ****ing walls! I'm on your side, damn it!"

The charging soldier was effortlessly knocked flat by an open palm thrust to the chin, groaning, while the second soldier calmly repeated "Drop. Th-" and was promptly interrupted by the familiar voice of Dr. Takata.
Dr. Takata: "Calm down, everyone. Please, just go back to medical with these two and let us do our job here, Ms. Greene. You're being irrational."

Boudicca: "The reason you guys brought guns is in THERE, not me. I'd have peppered the damn wall if I knew for sure that the next room was clear, ‘cuz there’s something alive in there! Either make way for medical or help me get this drywall off so we can see if it's just a rat or some god-awful monster!"

Dr. Takata: “You’re being irrational. Go to medical. Let us handle this.”

Boudicca: "Doctor Takata, with all due respect, I think rationality went out the door when Mr. Dacote's mouth started spewing out meat ribbons. This room is already gonna have to be quarantined, so I think we should try and get the wall open. This red stuff could be getting in the pipes and trying to overrun the facility, for all we know. Anyone got a Reciprocating Saw?"

She put a hand to her sword. The soldier with the gun looked to Dr. Takata while the knocked down soldier haltingly lifted himself to his feet. For his own part, Dr. Takata sounded skeptical of this plan.

Dr. Takata: "Please, calm down and please do not swing a sword in here. Go to medical and get a checkup. This room is enough of a mess..."

Boudicca: "I'll get to medical, but only if you get someone to get that wall open and inspect the pipes and drywall. I know you probably can't hear well with those MOPP Suits on, but there's definitely something moving in there. If I'm wrong? Well, this room is already ****ed up, what's some plaster? If I'm right and this stuff is already in the pipes? It could spread through the whole facility doing who knows what."

Dr. Takata (vaguely annoyed): "Hazardous Xenoorganism protocol is serious, Ms. Greene. Be assured we'll handle all potential vectors of transmission. Including you. Go to medical."

It wasn’t a request this time. Boudicca spotted one of the soldiers readying a taser.

Boudicca: "Okay, okay, I'm going. Escort away, no need to bring out the taser."

The soldier with the taser grunted, lowering the weapon. Dr Takata nodded.

Dr. Takata: "Thank you. Someone please take her to the clinic. Someone else pass me the spectrometer, this looks like a lot of acid..."

With one reluctant glance back, Boudicca allowed herself to be led away to medical.

Boudicca: "Now I'm gonna need to find a new splorker cloak, decontamination is probably gonna ruin this one...."

It wasn’t far. There was a nice little waiting room with too many chairs for the size of the clinic and a curious black mark on the floor in one of the corners, and a friendly-looking nurse was sitting at the counter. As soon as he saw Boudicca, he waved her onward and pressed a button, causing the door to the back to open up. She found Doctor Velasquez standing outside what looked to be a plastic environment bubble attached to some machines, along with a state-of-the-art scanning table. A newer Kind Red Industries model, so far as she could guess.

Dr. Velasquez: "Sorry for...whatever this is, Boudicca. Go ahead and throw your stuff into the bubble and lie on the table. I'll tell the soldiers to wait in a side room if you don't want to undress in front of them."

Boudicca: "I really hope this rebreather is sealed enough... should I take it off, or leave it on until you determine there's nothing airborne?"

She didn’t question the order otherwise, moving to unzip her flight suit and removing her gloves.

Boudicca: "...Because I would prefer to get deadly lung growths the fun and slow way with cigarettes, like a normal person."

Dr. Velasquez: "This room's as decontaminated as I can manage, though we don't know the nature of the pathogen for sure yet.", she stated bluntly. "It's better if you remove all apparel before getting on the table. The diagnostic should be able to spot anything noticeable in the lungs though. We'll have a few minutes to talk while it’s in progress. Why don't you tell me what happened? In detail."

The pilot nodded and frowned as she continued undressing wordlessly, before climbing up on the table. The doctor strapped her in, and moved her things to the containment bubble.

Boudicca: "After Buddy and I dropped off the specimens at the Lab, he went to go take a shower, and I pressure washed the inside of the monolith so all the bug residue was gone. Then I went to take a shower like 20 minutes after he had started. When I got out, I thought it was weird that Buddy was still in the shower, so I went to go knock on his door. He didn't answer, and I noticed that water was coming under the door and it was all weird and discolored and smelled like chlorine, so I kicked the door open. That's when I found Buddy in this... flesh ribbon cocoon in the shower, still breathing but really labored, and it looked like it was coming out of his mouth. So I turned off the water, since that probably triggered it. There was some kind of acid, and i was about to try and cut the red sinewy flesh like growth off of him, but then I realized it might be contagious, so I went to get my helmet and that's when I radioed for help."

Dr. Velasquez nodded hesitantly, professionally examining Boudicca's results as the table's arm swept over her nude form. "I see. Did anything happen to Buddy while he was out? Something that could have caused...whatever the hel all that is?"

Before Boudicca could answer, Velasquez' radio crackled to life.

Dr. Takata: "Be advised, hazard zone contains fuming Nitric Acid. May want to keep an eye out for chemical burns."

Dr. Velasquez (depressing button): "Thank you, Dr. Takata. Patient suspects the growth of xenomass was assisted by some reaction with water. Over."

Boudicca: "The only thing that happened was his cockpit got torn open, so whatever this was, he was inhaling it for a good ten minutes while our legs were out. Oh, right. I don't think you heard about the nest we found. We were tasked with clearing out this nest full of... who knows. Bio weapons. Xenomorphs. The walls were made out of the same stuff cocooning Buddy. Looked the same anyway."

The doctor's eyes went wide, and she rushed back to the radio with a thankful nod.

Dr. Velasquez: "Dr. Takata, be advised, patient claims unknown biomass is visual match for hazardous xenoorganism nesting material. Patient Zero was exposed to atmosphere inside for several minutes. No signs of xenoorganism contamination on Patient One, most likely pathogenic nature does not manifest before maturity. Uh, over."

The radio was quiet for a moment.

Dr. Takata: "Understood, Dr. Velasquez. We'll exercise caution."

Dr. Velasquez: “That is all.” She paused, turning back to Boudicca. "Sorry about that, useful info. You said you took a shower, right? You obviously aren't suffering the same effects."

Boudicca: "Yes, I took a shower, though I don't believe my cockpit was breached. If it was, it wasn't breached to the degree of Dacote's, and I was wearing a rebreather. Old habit from piloting VTOLs. You should probably check on Stan, too. I don't think he took any Chassis hits, but if he did, his cockpit could have had a small breach too."

Dr. Velasquez (nodding): "Probably a good idea. We're gonna have to radiation-scrub all of your vehicles for good measure. Ugh, what a ****show."

Her professionalism disappeared in an instant as her frustration became apparent.

Dr. Velasquez: "Alright, as far as I can tell you've got a clean bill of health aside from some minor chemical burns, probably from acid spatter. I'm going to give you some ointment that should help with any itching you experience, but this doesn't require emergency treatment. Your equipment should be thoroughly cleaned by now, too."

She paused a moment, examining the results again.

Dr. Velasquez: "Huh, there are some alpha particles bouncing around in the decon chamber. Are you carrying around something radioactive?"

Boudicca: "Oh. Yeah, that'd probably be my grandfather's sword. It has some glowing rocks in the hilt. Some people I asked have mentioned that they could have tritium gas trapped inside or trace amounts of radium. They mentioned 'Alpha Emitters', and that Alpha particles aren't really dangerous unless they get under your skin because they've got less penetrating power than a wet noodle."

Dr. Velasquez: “Huh. Well, you're clear. Dr. Takata expressed some concerns about your mental state but we don't have a psychologist on staff at the moment. Please report back promptly if you show any unusual symptoms or otherwise require medical attention."

Boudicca: "Right. I'm crazy because I think the strange alien things might be going into the pipes because it likes water."

She dressed herself again, inspecting the splorker pelt to make sure it didn't fade. With a last goodbye to a frazzled Doctor Velasquez, she headed back upstairs toward her own room. She dared try to sneak a glance as she passed by the room Buddy had been using. It was hard to see through the hazard curtain, but she thought she saw something red and stringy being packed into a plastic tub. A sheet of drywall was leaned up against one of the walls just inside. The guard motioned for her to move along before she could examine more closely, though.

She moved on and slammed the door behind her before she flopped onto the bed, thinking. Could they fix him? Was something like that even possible to fix? How had that much meat grown out of him without sucking him dry? She had just joined this team and already three people were dead or probably dead. The walls were too soundproof to hear anything from her bed, leaving Boudicca alone with her thoughts.

She turned her mind to the best way to clear the hive. Can't let what happened to Buddy happen to anyone else.

Boudicca (to herself): "We need a CnC module, and we need a full fireteam equipped for CQC. That was a SNAFU because we didn't know where they were coming from."

The details would have to come later, but she formed the beginnings of a plan.


Summary:

-Group returns to Jemeztown, does not get a reward for an incomplete mission. The sheriff does however offer a doubled reward if they can go back and complete it, after learning the nature of the threat.
-Back at base, captured bioweapon samples are given to Dr. Takata, a xenobiologist from Tir City, who promises to report his findings as soon as he has them.
-Hellfire goes off to start figuring out repairs, Boudicca and Buddy go take showers. Something goes wrong with Buddy’s shower, as he experiences intense pain and passes out.
-Boudicca checks on Buddy when he doesn’t come out, eventually kicking down the door to find him wrapped in a meat-cocoon similar to the interior of the hive. She calls Hazmat, and she goes a little stir-crazy waiting for them to arrive.
-Boudicca goes to medical for decontamination with Dr. Velasquez, and is given a clean bill of health, along with the revelation that the gemstones in the hilt of her sword emit alpha particles.


I hadn’t expected the Mission 6 to go as badly as it did. Honest. I’d expected it to be challenging, but I hadn’t expected them to go in with three people and it proved more challenging than anticipated.

Buddy really should have gone to medical after the several hints that he was poisoned, but alas, he did not. He failed the roll to remain conscious in the shower too, which was unfortunate. If he’d stayed awake, he would have been able to seek help sooner, and things might not have gone as far. He’s not dead, despite all appearances, but this is a harrowing experience and will leave scars.

Kane0
2019-04-11, 05:40 PM
Great to see this still coming!

BladeofObliviom
2019-04-11, 06:38 PM
However slowly! >.>

The sessions from these last two updates happened in October 2017. The rate at which we've been playing has been slow but not so slow that I'm not insanely behind.

After this, roughly, they retry this mission, then there's another mission, and then they go to Skye City and end up spending the rest of the arc there.

Yes, we're still playing. There's a session on Sunday. Everyone is very excited to get the heck out of Skye, finally. At a guess, there are 10-15 updates worth of content to do before I'm actually caught up.

On the bright side, a lot of that is stuff I have chatlogs for, and converting those is way faster than reconstructing stuff from basically scratch.

BrutalZandax
2019-05-02, 01:20 PM
Always glad to see more of this campaign.