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  1. - Top - End - #121
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Blackhawk748's Avatar

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    Dear lord that man is insane. My kinda guy
    Quote Originally Posted by Guigarci View Post
    "Mr. Aochev, tear down this wall!" Ro'n Ad-Ri'Gan, Bard
    Tiefling Sorcerer by Linkele
    Spoiler: Homebrew stuff
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    My Spell, My Weapon, Im a God

    My Post Apocalyptic Alternate Timeline setting: Amerhikan Wasteland


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  2. - Top - End - #122
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BladeofObliviom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    Spoiler: Undermine (Interlude, Trigger solo)
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    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)

    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)

    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."
    Spoiler
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    Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

  3. - Top - End - #123
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BladeofObliviom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    I've been productive today, so you get two updates.

    Spoiler: Interlude 4A, Sung City Showdown, Part 1
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    Spoiler: Extracted from Inboxservice.Concord.net and Inboxservice.BFIndustries.com
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    Recipients: TriggerSTS@tirca.mil
    Sender: blossom_ab@concord.net
    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 blossom_ab@BFIndustries..com. 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: blossom_ab@BFIndustries.com
    Sender: TriggerSTS@TirCA.mil
    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: JohannaV@BFIndustries.com
    CC: TriggerSTS@TirCa.mil
    Sender: blossom_ab@BFInsustries.com
    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: blossom_ab@BFIndustries.com
    Sender: JohannaV@BFIndustries.com
    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)

    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."

    Spoiler: Whispered Side Conversation
    Show

    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)

    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.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2017-12-18 at 03:10 AM.
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    Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

  4. - Top - End - #124
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RedKnightGirl

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    You don't know how happy you have made me. This is great stuff as always!

  5. - Top - End - #125
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BladeofObliviom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    Spoiler: Interlude 4A: Sung City Showdown, Part 2
    Show


    (Musical Suggestion)

    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)


    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 ****?"

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show

    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)

    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.))
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2018-01-01 at 01:34 PM.
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    Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

  6. - Top - End - #126
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by BrutalZandax View Post
    I think this is the funniest one yet, Trigger has all the luck.
    He does! Good and bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk748 View Post
    Dear lord that man is insane. My kinda guy
    He is also that.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrutalZandax View Post
    You don't know how happy you have made me. This is great stuff as always!
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  7. - Top - End - #127
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    Spoiler: Interlude 4A: Sung City Showdown, Part 3
    Show


    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)

    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)

    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."

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show

    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)

    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!"

    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show

    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."

    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show

    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)

    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!"

    Spoiler: OOC Note (long)
    Show
    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.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2017-12-22 at 05:41 PM.
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    Aaand part 3 is up. There's still a fourth part to write, but that's just denouement. Part 3 resolves the immediate conflict!
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    Spoiler: Interlude 4A: Sung City Showdown, Part 4
    Show
    (Musical Suggestion)

    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..."

    Spoiler: Setting Note
    Show
    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)

    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)

    *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*
    Spoiler
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    Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

  10. - Top - End - #130
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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    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!

    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.
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    Spoiler: Interlude 4B: Hell in Jemeztown, Part 1
    Show

    Recipients: buddyd@concord.net
    Sender: GuestUser@ArcadianDreams.com
    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: buddyd@concord.net
    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)

    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)

    '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."

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show
    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.

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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."

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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.))

    Spoiler: Setting Note
    Show
    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?"

    Spoiler: OOC Quote
    Show

    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)

    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)

    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.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2017-12-30 at 03:42 AM.
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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    Some fun OOC notes that didn't fit well anywhere in the body:

    Spoiler
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    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.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2017-12-29 at 05:20 PM.
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    Spoiler: Interlude 4B: Hell in Jemeztown, Part 2
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    (Musical Suggestion)

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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."

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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)

    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)

    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."

    Spoiler: Setting Note
    Show
    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...
    Spoiler
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    Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

  14. - Top - End - #134
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    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!
    By Shoreward.

    Spoiler: My RPG title, somehow.
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    {]GNU Terry Pratchett.[}

  15. - Top - End - #135
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BladeofObliviom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    Spoiler: Interlude 4B: Hell in Jemeztown, Part 3
    Show
    (Musical Suggestion)

    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."

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show
    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)

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC quote
    Show

    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)

    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."
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2018-01-01 at 03:47 AM.
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  16. - Top - End - #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by IntelectPaladin View Post
    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!
    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!
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  17. - Top - End - #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Some fun OOC notes that didn't fit well anywhere in the body:

    Spoiler
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    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.
    Spoiler
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    Little Bit of Trivia, MPFB is short for Magnetically Propelled Fission Bomb
    Spoiler: PROUD PILOT OF AC BERGENTRUCKUNG
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  18. - Top - End - #138
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    Oh, I had thought it stood for Metroid Prime Fusion Blaster :D
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  19. - Top - End - #139
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    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 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.

    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.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2018-08-08 at 06:00 AM. Reason: Forgot link. Dishonor on me and my cow.
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    Spoiler: Mission 5: Defend Tir City, Part 1
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    =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.
    Spoiler
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    Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

  21. - Top - End - #141
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BladeofObliviom's Avatar

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    Aug 2011

    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show
    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.


    Spoiler: Mission 5: Defend Tir City, Part 2
    Show

    (Musical Suggestion)

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show
    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.”


    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show
    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)

    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)

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show
    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.”


    Spoiler: OOC Notes saved for the end
    Show
    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.

    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2018-08-25 at 02:36 PM.
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  22. - Top - End - #142
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Fun read, Brutal rate of pc death though. Is this typical for this game?

  23. - Top - End - #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    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.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2018-08-19 at 06:05 PM.
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  24. - Top - End - #144
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    RedKnightGirl

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    This made my day.

  25. - Top - End - #145
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    Spoiler: OOC Note
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    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.


    Spoiler: Mission 5: Defend Tir City, Part 3
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    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)

    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)

    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)

    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.

    Spoiler: OOC Notes
    Show
    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.
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  26. - Top - End - #146
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    Spoiler: Interlude 5
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    (Musical Suggestion)

    Spoiler: OOC Note
    Show
    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)

    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)

    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
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  27. - Top - End - #147
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    BladeofObliviom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Hot Mech-on-Mech Action: A Campaign Journal

    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.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2018-08-28 at 03:50 PM.
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