Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 1

punkey 2014-12-25 04:50:40
The DL is represented as a blue line on 815’s voxes - the defense line, the furthest extent of allied control, and therefore the start of Taliban control. As the convoy approaches that blue line, the conversations and joking slowly fades away, replaced by quiet intensity and focus. The 815 are spread out amongst the convoy - up front, Hunter, Hale and Zaef sit behind the lead MRAP, Ngawai, Arketta and Hug'sh sit smack in the middle, and second from the rear lies Angel, Luis and Swims-the-Black. The crossing of that line is only marked by Arketta calling in a short SITREP to higher: "Home Base, this is Rocky 1-1, crossing DL, over."
"Copy, Rocky 1-1, good luck, out," the voice returns over the radio.
Angel, Hug'sh and Hunter mount the turret seats in their respective vehicles, and everyone silently checks their weapons one more time. With all due preparations complete, the convoy rolls on down the road.

Things are smooth and easy for the first fifteen minutes - smooth(ish) road, good sightlines, and the few buildings near the road only have a few curious faces watching the convoy rolling past. As the convoy approaches the first of the three main towns, though, this changes. Burned out cars start to populate the side of the road, and the number of cars actually on the road drops dramatically. The buildings are more and more pockmarked with bullets, and, finally, a half-mile outside of town, the convoy encounters a cluster of IED craters knocking out half of the road.

(Hunter Wits: Roll 1: 2d10: 2d10(7,7) = 14 vs.
1d8 = 4)

With one big warning sign already glaring him in the face - where one IED was successful, they usually put more - Hunter’s spidey sense starts tingling something fierce, and he takes that extra moment to look around before waving the convoy ahead. And right away, he spots another tipoff. Painted on the side of the earth-tone mud wall along the side of the road is a single white dot next to the craters. Innocuous enough, but Hunter knows that the contrast will be visible miles away, especially through binoculars - wait for the dot to vanish behind a vehicle, and you know that vehicle is sitting right on top of the bomb. He can’t see any wires or any triggers, but with the hairs on the back of his head practically trying to jump off and run away, he’s not exactly keen on driving over the spot either.

“Got an IED hazard,” Hunter calls over the local vox channel. “Go around.”
“Copy,” the Narsai’i driver of the 5-ton behind him calls out, and waits for the middle MRAP to lead the way. Ngawai climbs up to the front cab to keep an eye out for dangers ahead.

(Ngawai Wits: Roll 1: 2d10: 2d10(9,10) = 19
Roll 1: 2d8: 2d8(8,5) = 13)

And there, not ten feet off the road, she spots trouble.
“Stop!” Ngawai shouts, and the driver immediately slams on the brakes hard enough to bounce Hug’sh off the turret mount. “There, right there,” she says, and points. The driver squints where she’s pointing, then his eyes go wide. “Got a trigger wire, running off towards a building from the side of this little ditch,” Ngawai continues. “Looks like some kind of charge meant to tip these things over.”
Gatac 2014-12-25 14:08:03
(Hug'sh Wits: 2d10.hi (8,2) = 8, Cautious aspect: 1d8 (7) = 7
VS 1d10 (8 ) = 8 )

Hug'sh feels the momentary itch to bark out orders, but even if he wasn't just officially riding along as an observer, he still wouldn't be in charge - this is Arketta's command, after all. Instead, his eyes scan the village, trying to figure out the perch the bad guys are using. Which isn't entirely trivial, and that's what probably got this selected as a good ambush point for command-detonation traps. Still, with a few glimpses of the command wire and some basic trig re: the craters and the dot on the building, he narrows it down to a semi-tight sector - not enough to single out a hiding place, but certainly enough to keep his eyes open for further movement from anything in that area.

"Overwatch established, no contacts," Hug'sh calls down.
punkey 2014-12-25 15:12:26
"Any way around?" Arketta calls over the radio.
"We're in a ditch," Ngawai replies. "We can drive over the sides, but one way puts us back on the bombs on the road, and the other could be booby-trapped as well."
"Buildings get tight back here," Swims-the-Black responds from the rear.
"We can do it, but it'll get...uncomfortable," Angel adds.
"Better than sitting on a bomb," Arketta calls back. "We're backing up and going down side alleys, everyone. Everyone - and I mean everyone - have your voxes up and on map. We are not getting lost here."
e of pi 2014-12-27 12:20:37
"Copy," Luis says, and turns to look out the rear of the MRAP. With the convoy reversing, their MRAP is about to go from second to last to just behind the new lead. Even so, from the ditch their eyes are limited, even with Hug'sh on overwatch....actually. Luis triggers his vox. "Arketta, can we get a drone pulled in? I can tie into the camera feed off one and keep a better eye on our surroundings and our locations like that."
CrazyIvan 2014-12-27 21:45:51
Angel frowns and settles a little more securely in the turret before bringing his vox up.

"Drones...drones would be good. Can only watch so many directions at a time."
punkey 2014-12-29 01:31:20
"Copy, I'll pass it up," Arketta says, and changes vox channel to the command loop. "Home Base, this is Rocky 1-1, requesting drone presence over our AO, over."
"Rocky 1-1, Narsai'i drones are busy at the moment ten miles north and Sheen are all further towards the front of the advance," a Bashakra'i voice replies over the channel. "Ten minutes before Narsai'i drones can be tasked to your location, Rocky 1-1."
"Copy," Arketta replies. "Guess we'll just keep our eyes open. Rocky 1-1 out."

Arketta comes back into the team's ears after a few seconds away. "Drone support is inbound as soon as one frees up," she says.
"This is an unwelcome change," Ngawai grumbles. "I remember 815 getting support quick and in a hurry."
"The disadvantages of having to share resources with an entire front," Swims-the-Black replies.

The convoy slowly backs itself up and starts to maneuver down a plausibly complete second road - Angel, Luis and Swims' MRAP falls in behind the new lead vehicle, followed by a 5 ton, then Arketta, Ngawai and Hug'sh, then the final 5 ton and Hunter, Hale and Zaef's MRAP moves from second-to-first to second-to-last. The new route takes them from a two lanes per side main thoroughfare to a 1.5 lane total dirt road that looks like it winds in a lazy arc through the village. No large vehicle tracks are evident - probably because driving through side streets in a town that was questionably friendly at the best of times wasn't very high on allied forces' to-do list. But here you are now, doing exactly that. The street itself is pretty damn empty; a few vehicles stand parked on each "block", storefronts are open but empty, and the sides of the road are devoid of foot traffic. If you wanted to take an example image of what a street that knows that trouble is on the way looks like, this would be a pretty solid choice.

(Angel Wits: 2d10.hi = 2 vs. 2d8.hi = 4) / (Luis Wits: 1d6 = 6 vs. 2d8.hi = 8) / (Ngawai Wits: 2d10.hi = 6 vs. 2d8.hi = 6) / (Hug'sh Wits: 2d10.hi = 10 vs. 2d8.hi = 5) / (Hunter Wits: 2d10.hi = 10 vs. 2d8.hi = 6) / (Hale Wits: 2d8.hi = 4 vs. 2d8.hi = 8) / (Zaef Wits: 1d6 = 4 vs. 2d8.hi = 3)

Up at the front of the convoy, Angel and Luis have their eyes (well, Angel's high-end Imperial designer combat eyewear and Luis' golden optical implants) wide open and on the lookout for anything suspicious. The only shaky thing either one sees is the continued stillness along their chosen route. Angel's eyewear tries tracking for any motion, with nothing doing. Ngawai, up in the cab, thinks she sees something out of the corner of her eye, but by the time she turns her head, it's gone. Still, the bad vibes are enough that she double-checks that she's buckled into her seat.

It's Hug'sh, with his elevated vantage point and much wider field of view, that spots the first signs of real trouble - two men, hustling from house to house just out of easy view to the left, keeping pace with the slow moving convoy. They're both armed with AK-47s slung across their backs, but neither one has their weapon in their hands. It's only a fortuitiously mistimed move by the men that let Hug'sh see them at all.
"Got two shadows, moving up the right hand side of the road, just behind the buildings," Hunter calls out. "Hale, Zaef, do you see them?"
Inside the MRAP, Hale struggles to get a look out of the windows. "No, I don't," he says. "But these damn portholes are so small it's a wonder anyone can see out."
Zaef, on the other hand, spots them right away as they stupidly end up in the middle of an alley just as Zaef's window passes. Two men, one with an AK-47, one with an RPG. Neither one looks ready to attack - yet - but there's definitely something bad about to happen.
Gatac 2014-12-29 01:50:52
"Two more men with rifles on our eight," Hug'sh calls out. His left hand slides towards the bolt hand on the turret-mounted machinegun. "Perhaps we could issue a warning over the loudspeakers, make it clear that we've seen them? This is a bad place to be fighting in."
skullandscythe 2014-12-29 07:08:08
Zaef's frown melts into a snarl, and he runs one last diagnostic on his Tenner.

"Yeah, I see them alright, Hunter," he replies. "One with an RPG. We're already in the trap, they just haven't sprung it yet."

The Tenner comes back all green, and Zaef stands up and grabs the rail as tightly as he can.
e of pi 2014-12-29 22:53:17
"Good point," Arketta says. "Uh...someone who speaks the language here should do it, my 'English' is barely good enough as it is."

"All right," Luis says, and ties into the MRAP's loudspeaker with his translation software. "Hey, guys? We see you."
punkey 2015-01-02 02:58:18
The two pairs of hostiles freeze in their tracks. The three with rifles turn to run away, but the one guy with the RPG - who somehow manages to be skinnier than the other three - freezes and stares at Luis' MRAP.

(Insurgent Will:1d6 = 6 vs. 1d8 = 2)

Luis and Angel see his eyes harden. Decades of war, years of American presence, and centuries of conflict and bad history all come to the fore in the insurgent's head, and they all say one thing - "Fuck these guys". Except, well, in Pashto. It's a powerful moment for anyone who hasn't seen such a thing before, but the moment is somewhat overshadowed by his next action: pointing his RPG at the MRAP and shouting "Allahu akbar!"

(Initiative! As Angel is the only one that can both see him and shoot him at the same time, he's the only one rolling for initiative at the moment.
Angel: 1d8 = 5
Insurgent: 1d6 = 1)
CrazyIvan 2015-01-02 07:24:22
"Diplomacy was a nice thought."

Angel fires, trying to keep the burst short enough to end the threat of the RPG-wielding would-be martyr without littering the entire village with holes. Hopefully enough to discourage his buddies without convincing the entire village that the Americans in the truck need to die.
punkey 2015-01-02 21:29:19
(Angel Shoot, 2 round burst: 2d12.hi = 6; 1d10 = 10, 2d12.hi = 10; 1d10 = 4 vs. 1d8 = 1, 1d8 = 3)
(Angel Damage: 2d12.hi = 7, 2d12.hi = 10)

The Browning M2HB has a long and proud history as a sniper's weapon, the heavy and long barrel lending a degree of stability and accuracy that's hard to beat. Therefore, Angel actually has a fair degree of experience with the weapon system, and knows exactly how long to tap the butterfly trigger to fire single shots or two-round bursts. The unfortunate man standing at the wrong end of the M2HB gets the two-round treatment, as Angel taps and holds the trigger for the slightest extra moment. The weapon blasts a deafening BUP-BUP, and two saucer-sized chunks are blown out of his torso before he can react, dropping him straight to the ground. You don't hear any screams or shouts - people are too used to gunfire around here - but if there was any doubt about whether or not you'd have to deal with being shot at, that question has been answered.

And Arketta knows it. "Okay, we're shooting now!" she calls over the vox. "If you're not on a turret, get to the gunports on either side and get ready to defend! Drivers, let's get the fuck out of here!" Her words need very little translation to English, and the convoy hits the gas.
Gatac 2015-01-03 04:04:28
Hug'sh racks the bolt on his M2 as he tracks the two men on his side of the ambush. "Going hot!" he calls.
skullandscythe 2015-01-03 11:13:52
With a small sigh, Zaef takes position by the gunport. He aims for the remaining hostile, but he doesn't fire unless the other guy does so first.
punkey 2015-01-19 12:23:56
The giant diesels in the convoy all go from a rumble to a roar at the same time, and the convoy starts to accelerate in the narrow streets. Everyone on the turrets can hear shouting begin to ripple out through the village as people begin to mobilize - some running away from the convoy, some running towards the road. Here and there, a flash of weaponry - nothing long enough to get a bead on as the narrow side streets start to blur as you blow past them. Halfway through the town, the KLACK-KLACK-KLACK of AK-47 fire can be heard from nearby buildings as the bullets snap past you and impact the up-armored transports and trucks.
"'If this is going to be a shooting gallery, these trucks aren't going to last long!'" one of the drivers of the transport trucks calls out over the vox.
"Priority is keep fire away from the trucks and their equipment!" Arketta shouts back. "Keep an eye out for RPGs or -"
"'SHIT!'" the lead driver shouts. "'Short stop, short stop, short stop!'" Screaming brakes and big tires scrubbing over the dirt road sounds at the front, and everyone holds on tight as the convoy slams to a halt. "'Got a fucking semi-truck parked in the road in front of me!'" There's no hostiles present yet - the guilty parties must have dropped it off and ran - but from the shouting that everyone can hear, that'll change real soon.
Gatac 2015-01-19 13:29:47
"We're penned in down here," Hug'sh barks. "We could dismount, take the roofs and establish a circle of defense until the road is cleared."
e of pi 2015-01-19 21:56:09
Luis chimes in on the vox. "I can see what I can do about clearing the truck. Someone want to come watch my back while I see about hotwiring a truck that might be rigged to blow, while under fire?"
CrazyIvan 2015-01-20 17:36:21
Angel hunkers down in the turret, doing his best to cover a rather hostile sphere's worth of space with his weapon.

"Whoever is going, do it quick."
e of pi 2015-01-27 23:20:58
In the middle MRAP, Swims-the-Black pulls his weapon off of its mount - a M240L, 100 round box slung underneath and belt locked in.

"I have your back, Luis," he grunts, and pulls the bolt back.

"All right," Luis says. "Moving now." He opens to MRAP's door, the pneumatics missing as they help shove the armored hatch aside, and Luis jumps down onto the ground, Tenner at the ready. He slams the door behind him, and he's in the middle of a street full of gunfire. For barely a breath, he's not quite there, lost in imaginings of other scenes, but he throws a look back and verifies Swims is there.

Even in an urban firefight, sliding along the armored side of a truck, there's a certain type of comfort in hundreds of pounds of alien warrior hauling a machine gun and watching your back. He nods to Swims, and starts sliding beside the front MRAP, watching the street around them. The truck is thirty feet away, its dirty and rust-stained white sides pockmarked with bullets. The door hangs slightly open - it seems like whomever drove the truck into the street just bailed out and ran. Luis holds up at the corner of the lead MRAP for a moment, letting Swims catch up.

"Looks ditched," he shouts over the gunfire. "Cover me, I'll check it out. I'll wave if I want you to join me, once I check if it's wired to blow." Swims nods and takes a knee, shouldering his 240 and covering their approach. Luis takes a quick gulp of air, and makes the run to the truck cab. As he gets closer, his eyes search the doorframe and what he can see of the cab, looking for any sign of a trip. In the crack that the door hangs open, he doesn't see anything. Trusting Swims to have his back, Luis mounts the truck's fender and gives the door one more look, then pulls it open enough to slide in. It opens slowly--or maybe that's just his mind racing as he scans for trigger wires--but finally it's open enough to slide inside.

Of course, there's no key. Luis shakes his head.

"Couldn't have been that easy, could it," he grunts.

2d10.hi = 8; 1d8 = 5; 1d8 = 6

He turns his tenner around and slams the butt into the plastic housing of the steering wheel. The first hit just opens up a crack, but the second shatters loose enough for him to quickly rip the rest off, using the butt as a lever.

Red, black, green, he thinks as he checks the wires that the panel reveals, half trying to find the ones he's looking for, half counting for any that shouldn't be there.. "Like the wrong freaking gauge," he finishes aloud.

In the rat's nest, two wires stand out from the others. Following them down, he spots a blinking LED up under the dash. He leans down to see better, and spots an 81mm mortar round crammed up under the dash - point towards the driver's seat. The wires run into a lump of orange-ish home-made explosive caked onto the front and sealed with plastic cling-wrap.

Luis swears, but studies the wires. It's a simple enough circuit - trigger wires go towards a lump of wires just connected to a battery and the explosives. He pulls out a set of clippers from his gear, and gives it one cut...there. He lets out a breath, and then yanks the safed mortar loose, tossing it out the other window.

2d10.hi = 7; 1d8 = 5; 1d8 = 5

With a couple more snips from the same clippers, a twist, and a joggle...there, Luis grins for a moment as the truck's engine sputters to life. Just as he coaxes it into reverse, a cry grabs his attention.

"Contact left!" Swims barks, and fires a three-round burst from his machine gun in the rearward direction relative to the truck. Luis' head swings around to the contact--nd catches a faceful of tempered glass for his trouble as a few bullets zing through the rear window. Through the remainder, he can see about six fighters, 20-30 meters back - and more on the way. One's already bleeding from three holes on his chest, and Luis' medical opinion is he won't make it. Luis was just going to ease the truck back enough to clear the MRAPs, but that plan changes fast--he shoves down the pedal and aims the rear of the truck for the bad guys.
Gatac 2015-01-28 13:36:53
Hug'sh grunts as he swivels the (quite tight) turret ring into position to put some holes into anyone exposing themselves on the left side of the convoy.

"No visual, standing by!" he barks, hands wrapped around the spade grips of his M2.