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Making a Splash

Episode 01

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#1
Vertigo

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No one could ever accuse Cameron Core Solutions of being anything other than eager to please. While it would take the better part of a day to get the combat teams ready to go provide security for the Obsidian operation the technical staff had shipped out within the hour. Most would consider them lucky. The Damask Rose was not knowing for comfort, but for being a short term mobile base of operations with as much efficiency of space calculated and implemented into her hull. Cramped might be the word, especially when certain members had to maclonize themselves for mission objectives. The drone techs, by necessity of time, found themselves booked on regular commercial flights with all the amenities that entailed. That the Engineering exec, Gulg Boa, was also going to oversee the initial instillation saw an unusual high quality trip for mere computer jockeys, albeit a brief three hour flight.

It also placed them on site early enough to become hostages when several dozen pirates overran the facility, aided by former OSF drone fighters.

What personal items may have been loaded into the Damask Rose would have to wait. Even the legalities of Gabe's contract would have to wait. The DR's cargo shuttle brought them all up quickly. A quickly glance showed barely a quarter of the mecha berths were occupied; the rest of the variable fighters and all of the drones were planetside. While everyone else was left to their own accord, Kes was shuffled off to the bridge, a message from the Ops Director waiting for her.

"Kesendra, sorry for the rush job, but we have a unique situation here. Several hostile forces overran the OSF's main drone facility and took most of the staff hostage approximately two hours ago. They've issued ransom terms to Obsidian's ruling council, mainly demands for ore rights and various amounts of currency. We know there are about a dozen gunmen inside the facility in the main control room. About a dozen more outside with an orbital shuttle loading as much tech as they can strip out of the facility. We also have reports of two or more variable fighters, but they're older models, most likely Thunderbolts. There are also six or so 2nd gen drone fighters sqwaking OSF IFF codes, but consider anything flying as hostile. They're not much more the SW1 relics. The trouble is the ground."

Fred Russo's face faded to reveal a schematic of the facility. Four rectangular buildings, each roughly symmetrical to the others, sat in a wagon wheel around a central court yard. A large landing pad sat outside the complex some couple hundred yards. An orbital shuttle straddled the pad, roughly twice as big as the DR's own shuttle. The western building highlighted itself. "The hostages, including our own personnel, are being held here. No one has breathed a word about executions, but pirates generally don't leave witnesses behind when things go bad. We also have several VIPs on site, including our own exec, Gulg Boa. Others include several Obsidian government officials."

Russo donned a slightly amused grin. "This provides CCS with an opportunity. First, we can look good to our employers if we can resolve this quickly and efficiently. Second, we can send a message to future employers if we show we don't back down in bad situations. Finally, we just plain don't take kindly to people kidnapping our own. The DR will defold right on top of the base, where you will hit them hard and hit them fast. Use the shuttle for a quick combat assault. I'm leaving individual assignments to you, other than a recommendation that you use the Q-Rhea's as top cover and have someone on ELINT in case the pirates have someone waiting in ambush. Explosives might not be the best idea when you get inside. Oh, and anything you can take intact that might lead us to their base of operations would almost certainly get our contract extended. Hendrick mentioned something about incentives. I couldn't care less, just get it done, Kes. Good luck."



#2
schanze

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A whine broke from speakers mounted throughout the ship. Crew activity ground to an immediate halt. All turned to listen to the message from the bridge:

"Unit members: please report to the Commons for mission briefing. All unit members to the Commons."

Ten minutes had passed since the meeting with Russo. It took another ten for everyone to gather in the Commons on Deck 2. The space was tight but designed to appear as open as possible. It had enough room for some chairs and an entertainment area. On one side three ratty couches were arranged in a U around a coffee table. The center of the coffee table contained a holographic emitter. Normally used for downtime entertainment, it now displayed the mission area and details on hostile positions. Kes sat on the coffee table and addressed the rest of the unit on or directly behind the couches.

"Russo let us know that we've had a complication. Gunmen overran our Obsidian operation two hours ago. They took hostages: some government officials, one of our execs and a number of techs. Corporate wants us to rescue the hostages and kill or scare off the bad guys. We can expect a good payout if we do this right."

Kes turned toward the floating screen. It displayed a 3D layout of the facility. Labeled arrows appeared to represent the two forces. The Damask Rose, the largest arrow, decended from its fold point and disgorged a shuttle, two Rheas and a 171 ELINT. The shuttle made for the base while the Rheas and 171 engaged the patrolling airpower.

"Dwer, Eric and I will take air positions to keep the mecha occupied and provide cover for the shuttle. The rest of you will be on the ground. The shuttle will land you as close as possible to the building with the hostages. Clear the building and keep the hostages safe. Injuries caused by our actions will forefit any payout."

Kes turned to Olga. "I'll let you figure out the ground plan. No explosives on this one: we can't risk collateral damage. The rest is up to you."

To the rest: "All details of the drop, equipment and so on are available on the network. We have about two hours to get ready."

"Any questions before we break?"

#3
CrazyDreamer

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Olga decided to give some orders before people started asking the wrong questions.

"Hyu heard de lady! Dis iz hostage rescue in a compromised friendly environment, so melee und semiautomatic only, schmall bores und frangible rounds preferred! Tiff, hennyddink approachink de schuttle on open ground can meet Herr Frowny Face, but dat's it!

"Tommy, hyu're in de pilot's seat. Quola, get access codes for de facility systems; Hy vant us in und dem out as soon as ve hit an access point. Nick, schtudy de schematics und suit up; as soon as ve get a pinpoint on de hostage locations, hyu're gun dark und gettink dere you vay. Tiff, grab de doctor und prep de schuttle for field medicine.

"Natalya, Rod, hyu're vith me on point hall schneaky-like. Nick und Quola vill be vith us ontil dey need to schplit uff for der missions; everyone else eksept de docs iz Teem 2. New guy, hyu're vith Mack."

#4
gradius

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Upon hearing the green light for explosions, Tiff did the only thing she could, shot to her feet and snap a salute. "Aye aye Momma!"

Without noticing how close she came to smacking the person on her right with her salute, she received her further orders and dashed off to get the doctor, prep meds and field dressings and a whole lot of explosives. "Teeheehee!!"


Roderick, the one standing to the side whose face almost met her elbow, could only stare after her and suppress a shudder. Then he turned back to Olga and nodded in a largely more neutral level of exuberance. "Yes Ma'am."

#5
Coolhand

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Quola gave Olga a quick nod as a response. Turning she grabbed Dwer by the arm and began pulling him to the door.

"I know you don't like it, but we need to get you mac'd up early so you can adjust. Won't pay to have you disoriented on a real op. If you don't feel you can walk, wait for Kes to show up." Quola's voice was much more serious than usual, she got like that on missions.

Text scrolled across Kes's vision.


"You sure he's up for this?"

Dwer gave the room a brief salute before he was dragged out the door, the look on his face was beyond words.

#6
Rivel

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"One of these days I'll be appreciated for who I am, rather than my snappy fashion sense." Nick offered to the general crowd. He was also glad he'd gotten his sneak-suit refurbished and recalibrated. Not the newest tech, but still very snappy.

"Should we be attempting to take prisoners of the hostage-takers, if we get the drop on them?"

#7
Abaddon

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Tommy listened attentively as the orders were issued. He couldn't supres his grin when he was told he'd be in the pilot seat, "No problem, I'll get us down fast." He stood up an inclined his head to Quola, "I'll be in the bay getting everything set up."

Jo had been sitting quietly next to her husband, mentally going through a list of supplies she'd need. She giggled when Nick made is comment, "I'd appreciate you more if you could cook."

#8
Vertigo

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"We all have our uses, Nick" Eric said jokingly. "Least you get to see some action. I usually wind up babysitting the drones."

He nodded toward Kes. "I'm going to go get the ELINT gear calibrated and coded. Don't particularly feel like having Black Beard listening in on our channels."

OOC: You have until this Weds for any last comments, then I'm dropping you all into combat.

#9
schanze

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Kes responded to Quola a second later.

He'll be fine once he's in the cockpit. Make sure he's had anti-nauseals before putting him in. Maintenance crew complained.

The holographic screen clicked off and she rose from her sitting position.

"Hold them if they surrender, Nick. Do not feel pressured otherwise. Hostage protection is the prime objective."

Kes tugged the sides of her shirt to smooth the creases. She looked around.

"Any more questions? No? Okay, I will be in the hangar if anyone needs me."

With that she turned and headed for the crew lifts.

#10
jester

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"Copy, Team 2 with 'New Guy'," responded Mack with a quick thumbs up as he stood to head for the load out bay.

 

He scanned the equipment load which looked like the standard assault kit, just a little heavier on medical supplies - probably because of the hostages. CQB was not his favorite and not having to be "all schneaky on point" was a little bit of a relief. Glancing over at 'Gabe', "Let's go 'New Guy'."



#11
Rivel

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"Roger that." Nick said, taking care of the official business.

 

He started heading towards the armory and locker rooms.  "You never asked me to cook!" he laughed.  "You should try me, what I lack in skill, I make up in panache."



#12
Rallye

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He walked in equal stride with Fong, the various vents and nozzles of the interior blowing his mane asunder. Almost as if by instinct, he ran his fingers through several times to fix it. He sighed when Mack quipped, largely because of the excitement he once knew suiting up for action was largely gone.

 

"Whatever, smart ass. Just remember, keep your veil on and stay ten steps behind me."



#13
Vertigo

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As combat folds went, this one was fairly uneventful.  The Damask Rose popped back into real space in low orbit over the drone facility.  All three mecha launched first, with Dwer and Kes taking up protective positions around the Rose as Eric settled back to play rearguard.  Tommy edged the shuttle out shortly afterwards.

 

As luck would have it one of the many dust storms Obsidian was famous for was blowing over the target area.  Sensors could barely make out the station's guide beacon, but the swirling clouds were playing merry havoc with radar, thermal, and all the rest of the imaging gear.  Eric's ELINT barely provided data on the ground clutter, although it did relay the relative structures and the enemy shuttle on the ground.  Even more fortuitous was the fact that of the suspected pirate forces only four mecha were at the site, all grounded in GERWALK.  Not wanting to waste the element of surprise, Tommy dove the shuttle into the atmosphere, the three CCS mecha following in trail.

 

There certainly could have been smoother rides.  The storm coupled with the steep descent buffeted the small craft around, rattling everyone inside.  At about two miles from target Eric broke away to take up an overwatch position, but didn't light off his sensors in order to maintain the stealth approach for as long as possible.  Cloud cover broke a mere thousand feet from the facility, and Tommy's aim had proven to be true.  A few pirates clad in environmental suits scattered as the shuttle came down quickly between all four buildings, eschewing the landing pad in favor of cover.  Pilots raced for the enemy mecha, VF-11s, as Dwer and Kes broke cloud cover a few seconds later.  The rear and side hatches dropped as Tommy touched down.  Wind howled at the doorways, trying to snatch weaponry from hand.  From their vantage point the CCS could see individuals rushing to the doorway, about eight strong in total.  They all carried small arms of one variety or another.  There were doors central to each building leading directly into the courtyard the team now occupied.



#14
Abaddon

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"Three"

 

"Two"

 

"One"

 

"Launch"

 

Tommy gunned the power and brought the shuttle up to full speed, heading down towards Obsidian. Sitting next to him Jo started calling out instrument readings, "Power levels stable. Reading the beacon." She double checked the readouts, "Bring us 3 degrees left. Angle of decent good. We're golden." As if in disagreement with her statement the shuttle lurched violently to its side, caught by an agressive crosswind. Tommy smoothly corrected and bumped the power up to 103%.

 

Depressing the push-to-talk button on the controls Tommy spoke to the shuttle occupants on the intercom, "We're headed in folks...this is going to be rough. Hang on." Grimacing he wrestled with the controls to keep the shuttle on course.

 

Presently they broke the cloud layer just infront of the complex. "Holy shit!" Jo squeaked as she watched the buildings approach far quicker than she would have liked. Recovering quickly she went back to calling out readings, "220 AGL...150..."Tommy brought the shuttle into a tight turn to bleed off speed causing her stomach to drop to her toes, "75..oh God...20." She gripped the handrests of her seat in preparation.

 

"Here we go." Tommy called as he slashed the power and brought the shuttle down the last 10 metres to a rapid landing. As soon as the landing gear touched the ground he slammed his left hand onto the hatch release, popping the hatches for the rest of the team to egress.

 

Following the lead of Jo, Tommy rapidly unstrapped himself from his seat and rushed to the exits following the team. He and Jo took up positions on opposite side hatches, weapons raised to the ready, prepared to provide coving fire as required.



#15
CrazyDreamer

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As soon as they were through the cloud cover, Olga's virtual HUD (courtesy of sari-C) lit up with wireframe buildings and maps. Looked like they were heading for the courtyard. . . . Okay, that could work. The LZ was going to get hot as hell if the enemy pulled back into the surrounding buildings and started raining fire from above, though.

The shuttle shuddered and swung as Tommy fought to bring it to a landing other than "crash." It didn't look likely that the rear ramp, which Olga and Team 1 were next to, would end up squarely facing the primary target building, but at least they weren't going to be facing the other way. In fact, that was the optimal solution; Team 1 was intended to get behind their guard and liberate the hostages before the enemy knew they were in danger of losing, not charge straight up the middle.

The shuttle began its final descent into the courtyard. "Teem 1, ve're cuttink trough a side buildink und enterink de target buildink from de back. Teem 2, secure de LZ und den come in de front."

Touchdown! The ramp dropped as Olga hit her harness release. "Go!"

Olga charged towards the courtyard door of the side building closest to the hatch, hoping to at least draw the attention of anyone who would otherwise think to turn the shuttle's rear exit into a haven for hot lead and explosives. Once Team 1 was secure inside, she'd give them directions to the egress point they would be using.

#16
Rivel

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Nick entered the armory a bouncer, and left it a ghost.  His environmental suit was bedecked with thin plates of fabulously expensive 'armor'.  The bullet resistance was easily put to shame by EX-Gear or even by heavy marine kit, but it was a masterwork of metamaterials, holo-emitters, and circuitry.  Underneath, Nick had smears of anti-glare 'paint' under and over his eyes, his face hidden under the frighteningly blank faceplate.
 
Another mission, another feeling of his heart seizing in his chest, adrenaline building in his veins, and then they were down and Nick found his no-mind.
 
The door opened and, after Olga, the first thing to pass through it was his hand curving in an underarm pitch.  "Flashbang out!" he yelled into his com, hurling the device at the target building.  Anyone tracking the large Meltran was going to have a bright, horrible day. The next thing to pass through it was Nick himself, or at least a tarmac-colored blur that resembled Nick.
 
Nothing could offer invisibility.  Not really.  There was simply too much involved in the process.  What you could do, however, was flat plates on opposite sides of a person together, and the metamaterial/fiber-optics involved would give a decent pass-through.  All the sharp corners and angles were faked with holographics.  The environmental suit did a good job of masking his IR signature, although he would eventually cook himself to death if he didn't let the suit take care of that every now and then.
 
He dove and rolled and was up and running, pistol out.  The pistol wasn't covered in smart-camo, but the suppressor helped a bit.


#17
Coolhand

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Quola was bedecked in much more standard commando gear, head to toe everything was black and well armoured. What set her apart was the special equipment she carried. Her left arm was covered in a sort of gauntlet with a highly sophisticated touch interface, a supplement to her Sari-C that gave her invasion attempts a bit more oomph. Secondly was the fact she wasn't wearing a standard helmet and instead one that integrated a suite of data visors and its own set of processors, this aided her in data collection and again augmented her implants abilities in combat situations. Across her back was a much less sophisticated breaching shotgun and several breaching charges adorned her belt. An SMG was slung around her shoulders via a synthetic strap, allowing her to free up both her hands when required.

 

As the shuttle crashed down her right hand was already flying over the gauntlet interface, her eyes darting backwards and forwards as she processed information. She was attmpting to find the location of the hostages whilst simultaneously trying to confound the enemies information systems. Security personnel would find their cameras going dark, fire suppression systems activating randomly and all manner of alarms and safety locks activating. Keeping her head down she followed Olga across the courtyard, taking hold of her SMG as she did so and switching functions to her visor unit.

 

She hit the door just as Nick's flash-bang went off, her visor automatically dimmed to try and compensate as she averted her eyes. SMG at the ready she checked the interior for targets as her hardware started feeding her map information, she sent the feed to Olga and took to the nearest piece of cover.



#18
Coolhand

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This cockpit was strange to Dwer, not just the interface elements but the way it was lit and the way he had to sit felt strange to the veteran valkyrie pilot. That was the only real complaint he had about the machine though, the Queadluun-Rhea handled like a butterfly with the power of a VF-19. Everything felt natural, intuitive somehow. Controls were where he felt they should be, almost to the point the mecha responded to his very thoughts. Now if only he didn't have to macronise to fly the damned thing.

 

He and Kes both punched through the clouds simultaneously, their Rhea's back to back and as close together as possible. Something two inferior pilots would not be comfortable doing, but he'd flown with Kes before and the two trusted each other enough not to fuck up. Four targets lit up his HUD, VF-11s still on the ground. He opened comm to Kes.

 

"Easy pickings, I'll take left you take right."

 

Both pilots rolled out of formation, their maneuver resembling an opening flower. Dwer aquired both of his designated targets and let rip, both the arm mounted gatling laser cannons roared to life. He split fire, one arm for each grounded GERWALK. It was too dangerous to use the larger bore weapons or even missiles with the ground team in the area but the lasers were likely to be more than enough to cripple two helpless targets. Continuing his descent he maintained fire, as he got closer he switched his focus to a single target before pulling off and regaining altitude.



#19
schanze

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Kes rolled out of formation and took aim at the right two -11s. In an ideal world the mecha would have pilots attempting to launch. In such a world the enemy would be denied eight assets. She'd settle with these four.

 

The arm-mounted laser cannons opened up on the -11s below. Particular focus was paid to the cockpits of each.

 

The Rheas regained altitude and started to arc for another pass.

 

"Eric. Anything incoming?"



#20
Rallye

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'DOOOF!'

 

The concussion grenade reflected off of his single lens wraparound shades as he nipped the heels of Team Alpha that went running into the torrent of wind rushing into the bay. As his boots hit the ground he angled-up his primary to a swiveling 360°, searching for anything unfriendly moving off into the distance. When his sight came back around full circle he spotted something fairly far off dashing towards cover. Running onto the dead grass, he went prone in a flat, hard bounce. Sighting through his scope he let off a round, missing completely and tearing a chunk out of the corner of the building.

“Fong— got eyes on two at my twelve, heading due west from Alpha’s position. Possible decoy or fire support teams.”

He spoke as his ear canal transceiver picked up his voice through the vibrations of his skull, augmented it through a small wireless relay and sent it onward. It was most likely that Team A was headed towards where the hostages where, if these guys did things by the book. He himself wasn’t interested in saving the hostages, playing the hero should be left up to the true do-gooders. His detachment, Team ßeta was charged with securing the landing site, then ringing the front door bell. Good thing too, because he had ditched every trace of help gear— traded band aids for bullets. Molten lead can cure anything.

The charcoal two piece with armored flak jacket was no frills much like his weaponry of choice. From the Seburo line up were his secondaries, the M5 was tucked in the small his back behind the fanny pak, a CX’s at each hip, an MN23 fastened to his back. The honor of the heavy duty frontal assault went to Matsucorp’s Neo 715eb, its double drum cartridge frothing with high velocity dum-dums. The fanny he was hauling smokes, ‘willie petes’, thermites, and some chewing gum. From bones to balls to bullets he felt not a quiver of doubt as he began to inch forward foot by foot, waiting for his comrade whilst keeping eyes on that building. He inwardly grinned as his mind indexed through his all-out assault layout. Hostages? What hostages?







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