Jade Imperium - May We Die In The Forest

Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-18 03:35:52
Research Camp
Day 4 of Gateway construction

"Another one?" Hokros whispers to himself. He gingerly crawls around the Claymore mine just as he gingerly crawled around the other ones he spotted. He doesn't know if he can defuse them, he doesn't know if they've got tamper-switches, but he knows where they are and he gives the traps a wide berth. Toa could've defused the mines, but then Toa ate a Narsai killdrone shortly after their crash landing. Hokros slithers into a passably good vantage point overlooking the research camp. There were better spots, with better cover, but then someone had already placed mines there.

Hokros pings Nahan's suit-vox. Nahan, the Quad's only other surviving trainee, should be in position. When the short single negative ping comes back, Hokros chances a risky vox-squirt and whispers, *I'm in position. What's wrong?*

The response back is equally terse. *There's a Narsai looking right at me. He doesn't see me, but I can't move up. I can mark but my angles are bad.*

*Take your time,* Hokros hisses back. *We're plenty far ahead of the main force- Wait. There's something written on the habs...*


The Imperials aren't hard to follow. They're moving in a column and while they leave quite the swath of mashed foliage, it serves to hide their numbers. Angel spots some flanking tracks as well - it looks like the enemy's got some of their forces following a little behind, watching their back as they move, but the tracks are almost equally as old. They're not a harassing force looking for the Delta team, they're just a rearguard.

Hugh's almost surprised as the afternoon dies off and the sun approaches the jungle canopy. There's been no harassing forces, no delaying action, no booby traps. Perhaps, if the Khiraba were fed the Cyllan's vox feeds from the brief gunfight, they might finally be paying you some respect. Anyone left behind to delay you would barely be a speedbump unless it was a sizable enough force, and if they left enough warriors for that, their forces would be just as split as yours. If this time-lapse footchase was over open terrain, Hugh would worry about snipers camped out ahead of them, but there's no room to escape after such an bushwhacking in the rainforest. For now, the team surges forward and Whiirr fauna scatters in their path.


Shenest looks around the dome chamber. Her team of Keepers has called this home for weeks, but she's ready to quit the quiet alloy building and its gutted, twisted monument to a long-fallen species. Rumors spread quickly, even in captivity (or especially in captivity), and there's a low constant murmur of what could be going on. The general consensus is that the Imperial forces are on their way. No paint markers have prodded the wherren warriors into their positions, but all the defenders are watching and waiting. In one corner, Zakpabo has joined Hoei and the other Turai. Their guards aren't stupid, however, and Swims-the-Black pays them close attention. Despite her grim confidence that the Imperials won't spare their lives, Shenest feels a tinge of excitement. Shenest won't stand up and fight if the time comes, and Masters help her, she's tried to get her Keepers to come around too, but the last time she tried to instigate anything her own people punched her out. Well, Hale was hardly her people anymore. Shenest considers the Rav-Turai, and files him under "bigger traitor than she could ever be". Shenest was just looking to survive. Hale, by contrast, is a brainwashed pawn at this point. The orbital survivors and their mother hen, Kosai? Shenest doesn't consider them her problem. They'll likely never join the Homeworlders, no matter what Davis sells them, but they're untrained and likely to get themselves killed should they get a backbone. Davis has given them all plenty of room, plenty of leeway, plenty of rope. It remains to be seen if it's enough for those survivors to hang themselves.

Shenest is snapped from her thoughts by Swims-the-Black. The wherren shipmaster is standing over Hoei. "Do not endanger yourselves," Swims says. "I was Alef-ka. I know your move before you make it. Whatever happens out there, I assure you there will be a serenity inside this dome the likes you have never seen."

Hoei is unimpressed. "A Caretaker? Then you are even more a traitor than your misguided wherren friends."

"I am also not Davis," Swims points out. "I was told to keep you alive, but 'alive' covers a wide range of conditions. Think on that before you speak to me again."


Arpana and Manus share grim looks. Nahan and Hokros had voxed back the confusing and troubling Narsai message. At least the two trainees hadn't been spotted and hadn't tripped those Firstdamned spinksucking paint mines.

"They have to assume we'd get Qulois' vox feeds," Arpana muses. "We have to assume that they know that we know they've already cleared 851. Why the offer to trade, if they've retrieved their people?"

Manus frowns at the dropchief. "Chief, I don't like this. This is another Homeworlder trap. Best to go in hard and rescue who we can, our way."

Arpana disagrees. "If they know we're lying about having their natives, then you can go in hard anyway. If they really did lose contact, if they don't know, then maybe I can get our people back. I can get something for nothing."

The Samal clicks his forearm carapace in frustration. "And if they ask for a proof of life for things we don't have? And what about the scouts saying they saw hostages just walking around?"

The Expansion chief shrugs in reply. "You think Davis has turned some of them? Then I suppose we do it your way, Samal. But you don't think it's better if I can get the hostages out of harm's way?"

"I think we're wasting time," Manus throws his hands up. "Don't waste the opportunity we made with our stunt with the wherren hostages, and don't waste Qulois' sacrifice. Talk to Davis, go ahead. Meanwhile, my people will be in position and this warboss here is going to get his warriors ready." Manus switches to intraquad comms, setting out positions for the rest of his team. They move in twos and threes into the jungle, quietly and cautiously approaching the areas they know to be trapped. The massive wherren warboss grunts and gives quiet signs to the horde of Chosen warriors lurking deep in the treeline.


Manus' interrogative snaps Nahan back to reality. The scout had been stock-still for a quarter-hour, almost forgetting to breathe. *Nahan. Hokros. Mark your targets.*

It's child's play for the nascent Khiraba to lock the sets of coordinates and vox-squawk them back. After all, the targets weren't even moving.

"Targets are marked, sir." Hokros similarly confirms his targets are designated.

Back in deeper forest, Manus gives Vilos Arpana the go-ahead to initiate vox contact on the Narsai channel.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-18 03:59:44
The comm room vox consoles blink to life. Someone's making contact on the channel Davis painted all over the camp habs.

*If someone is listening on this channel, get Garrett Davis. I wish to speak to him.* It's the same voice from the "proof of life" message and the night the Khiraba attacked Village 481.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-18 15:32:49
The comm room vox consoles blink to life. Someone's making contact on the channel Davis painted all over the camp habs.

*If someone is listening on this channel, get Garrett Davis. I wish to speak to him.* It's the same voice from the "proof of life" message and the night the Khiraba attacked Village 481.

Davis presses the transmit button and leans forward. "This is Davis. I have an offer to give to you regarding the Wherren hostages from village 815. You know who I am, but who am I speaking to?"

*I am Vilos Arpana, Expansion Dropchief.* The voice is confident for now, but then he's only introducing himself. *Your orange paint has been quite the conversation topic amongst the Emperor's loyal subjects. Speak your offer.*

"Well, that's one half of the equation," Davis says, and flips open his notebook. Know him? Davis scribbles into the pad of paper, and shows it to Hale. "But where is the one who cut us off before? I don't want to be negotiating with one half of the decision makers if he disagrees."

Hale shrugs and whispers, "It's familiar, but I don't know him. Probably some diplomatic post, but I'm just guessing here."


Manus fixes Arpana with a scowl. Arpana holds the vox out as if to coax the Khiraba leader into speaking.


As Davis finishes, the gruff voice from before interrupts. *Manus, Samal, survivor of your foolish and cowardly attack on Whiirr's orbital. Release your hostages or-*

Arpana takes the vox back quickly. *There's nothing to be gained by drawing this out, Garrett. If you're serious about seeing the innocents on both sides out of harm's way, let's skip this introductory blather, shall we?*

Davis looks over at Hale as Manus introduces himself. Hale nods and explains what he knows. "He's not the worst Khiraba by your standards, but every story I've heard about his people are all about hunting Narsai'i on Aikoro."

Davis nods back and hits transmit again. "I couldn't agree more, Vilos. You've already sent your proof of life, I suppose you'll want proof that the people here are fine."


Manus hisses, "This is bullshit. You've got one minute, chief. I swear to Vidas Lam I will blow those habs and let the Emperor sort it out."

Arpana nods again, thinking hard. What's the game here? What aren't I seeing?


Arpana again: *Releasing them would be proof plenty.*

"Well, I can't release all of them at once. Let me make preparations. We are preapred to release four hostages to you in the next few minutes. Is there anyone here you want to verify proof of life for the others?"

*Samal Varna,* Arpana replies. *Put him on.*

"I'm sorry, Samal Varna isn't available, he surrendered the camp and then he committed suicide. I do have Rav-Turai Hale here."

The vox pauses.


"Who did our scouts see walking around? Was 'Hale' one of them?" Arpana asks Manus. The Samal shrugs and taps his wrist impatiently.


*Fine, he'll do,* Arpana replies.

Davis releases the section of panel, but leaves it transmitting. He points out the still-lit section of panel and stands up. "Show's all yours, Hale. I've got to go downstairs and get the ones we're releasing ready to go." Davis heads out the door and hustles down the stairs, leaving Hale alone in the comm room. He doesn't even pause to look back.

The ex-Turai nods and tentatively shuffles over to the console. "This is Sexton Hale, dropchief."

*Stay strong, Hale,* the vox transmits. *Your rescue has arrived. How many of you are there?* Hale lays out the numbers, splitting up by orbital survivors, Turai, and Keepers. He mentions his fallen Turai killed in the ambush and later on in the jungle. Maybe the Imperials have some sort of roster, maybe they don't care, but nothing Hale says seems to set them off.


"Thirty?" Arpana whispers. "They've kept nearly all of them alive-"

"The dome," Manus surmises. "It'd match what the scouts saw. They have to have them in the dome." Manus triggers his intraquad vox, alerting his team to his theory.


Davis runs down the steps and over to Hoei and his Turai buddies. "Alright, Hoei, your wish has been granted. You're out of here." He hands him a rucksack.

-"What's going on!"

-"Where are you taking him?!"

The throng of prisoners, on edge from the camp tension and bereft of actual info, pressure Davis with questions.

"They've requested four prisoners from inside here to be sent outside, and these are the four that we agreed on." Davis nods to the rucksack. "That's other things that they requested, just hold onto it until Arpana asks for it. That came straight from him, clear?"

It's Kosai that helps quell the bursts of outrage: why aren't they saving civilians, why can't I go, etc. "People!" She shouts. "These four... er, three and a Keeper, are trained warriors. If anyone should go, they should. Once they are rescued, they can assist in our rescue. As for Hoei," Kosai continues, "he is s a troublemaker and likely our rescuers' concession to Davis. Tell them we have not given up hope," the Turai finishes to the soon-to-possibly-be-released hostages.

Shenest rolls her eyes.

Hale shouts down the stairwell. "Hurry it up! Also, what the hell am I supposed to keep talking about?"

"I don't know, favorite kinds of music, the weather, pick something!" Davis shouts back.

"Whetu!" Hoei shouts up the stairs. "Fucking traitor! Hale's a traitor!!!" the Keeper wails towards the stairwell. Swims pushes the man towards the dome entrance.

"I think that's enough of that," Davis says. "Northern edge of the forest. Go, and take your friends with you."

Hoei and the three recently-healed but surly Turai leave the dome with suspicion on their faces but hope in their eyes.


"They have thirty. Why only four?" Manus queries. "Why haven't they asked about our hostages? If they know we don't have shit, why is he bothering with this charade?" An urgent vox from his scouts turns Manus from Arpana. "Arpana, stop them. Nahan says one of 'em has some sort of bag."


"Davis!" Hale shouts down. "They don't want them carrying anything!"

"One second!" Davis shouts back, and runs up the steps to the comm panel. "You worried about bombs?" Davis says. "Sniff it, it's got no explosives on board. It's just a load of dirty laundry that I gave that pain in the ass to hump out of here. Or have one of your Wherren search it, you've seemed awfully cavalier with their lives so far."

There's an audible scuffle, and Manus replies. *I'll let that slide because you and your pitiful force of sad little beasts are going to be dead real fuckin' soon. You must think we're idiots if we're going to let that bag near us. Get on the dome loudspeakers. We will direct you to direct them to a safe area.* Manus hands the vox over to Arpana again. "This whole thing stinks," he growls. "Why those four? Why'd they shout traitor? Who shouted it?"

"Understood," Davis says, and mutters "Damn" under his breath as he intentionally leaves the transmitter on, then turns it off again.

He flips over to the loudspeaker console and gets on it. "Hoei, they've got instructions for you to get over to them. I'll have them for you in a second." He keys off the loudspeaker and looks over to Hale. "Keep an eye on them with the dome surveillance. Don't want Hoei trying anything stupid."

"I've got him," Hale replies.


"They're not hostages. You don't know they are. If they sent orbital survivors, if we recognized any of them, but no. That fucking rucksack is them fucking with us," Manus curses at Arpana. "They're Narsai plants, or he's turned them, or..."

"We've got four outside, Samal, which is four more than we had upon arriving here," Vilos urges. "We'll know if they're legitimate soon enough. Davis is waiting for instructions, however."

"Then tell him to... I don't know. Walk them... walk them east. I can't take the chance with these people, dropchief. If we had Qulois..."

Arpana nods, pensive. "Perhaps you are right, Manus. This is Garrett Davis after all. The objective has to be the Gateway above all else. We cannot afford distractions," he adds, his lined face hardening. Manus walks away from the dropchief and confers with the small group of wherren warbosses.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-18 19:05:57
Oros, resplendent in remnants of his tattered armor and animal hide, flanks Manus as the increasingly paranoid Khiraba stomps over to the wherren warbosses. Manus takes off his helmet and fixes the massive warchief with a grim stare.

"Kill all those who resist, but only those who resist. The Emperor will know His own."

The warchief grunts in response and initiates a chain of whiirr sign that flashes around the jungle from the honor guard to the scouts to the main wherren formation.

Manus takes in a deep breath of the Whiirr air and slides his helmet back on. He keys his vox. "I want that comm room vaporized. Shooters, prioritize Putupu and the one with the beard. Support the main advance with anything left over. Launch on my mark."

Manus nods to Oros. The big Rav-Turai grins and both Khiraba pop spear-bombs to their full length. The impellers hum in quiet anticipation.


*Garrett?* Arpana asks. *Still there? We had to coordinate the team that will take the hostages to safety.*

"Ready and waiting for your instructions. Hoei and his buddies are looking awfully lonely out there in the clearing."

*Then tell Hoei and his comrades to run towards the east treeline.*

"Understood," Davis says, and goes back to the loudspeaker. "Arpana says run for the east treeline," Davis says over the loudspeaker.

Thunder now, inside the comm room. A span of a heartbeat is all the time Davis has to register goddamn spear-bombs before his world goes black.


Cowboy's in the foxhole dubbed "Bravo". It's clear something's going down when Hoei and the three Turai who helped instigate the riot the previous day are herded out of the dome. The quartet of Imperials walk a ways out from the dome and then Davis is on the loudspeaker. Just then, Mola grabs Cowboy's shoulder and points to a handful of faint silver glints in the sky. Cowboy's seen spearbombs before, but so far they've all been inert, recovered from the dead or wounded Turai his team's encountered during this hell week on Whiirr. These are incoming.

A handful of them - the impacts sound like one prolonged explosion - hit the top of the dome. The antenna crumbles, shatters, and spirals in fragments into the grass around the habs. The split-second repeated pounding punches through the dome exterior and blasts bits of the comm room into the air. The dome, now closer to a volcano visually, isn't the only thing targeted by the ad hoc Imperial artillery. Hab One's hit in the roof twice and visibly sags. Foamcrete skitters up and off into the clearing, but the reinforcements added to the habs bolster the building for now. Hab Three is struck as well, this time by a single spear. The occupants are rattled but the semicylindrical building holds. Considering they could have spread those spears across nearly all the foxholes, it's clear the Khiraba really wanted that comm room out of the picture.



Semo sees a faint haze of blaze orange puff up in random spots on the west treeline.

"Multiple contacts to the west!" the Samoan shouts into his radio. His alert's quickly followed by a cacophonous roar to the south. It sounds like a great number of angry wherren are doing their best to get into the clearing as fast as they can, and they are tripping every marker Claymore they could possibly trip. The west treeline is a haze of orange, but the south border is being hit so fast it's opaque in spots.


A SCAR barks from the northeast jungle and Cowboy's splattered with Mola's blood. He turns to identify the attack and sees the muzzleflash of a second shot. This round punches through the upper strike plate and hammers Cowboy's chest. The Texan crumples and hits the foxhole dirt from a combination of shock, reflex, and impact. His rifle clatters next to him up against Mola's convulsing form. Cowboy doesn't see his SCAR, and he doesn't even see the EGLM attached to the rifle. What he does see, however, are the Claymore detonators.


Hugh holds up his hand in the "hold" position. A cavalcade of explosions, some the high light poofs of marker claymores, others the concussive deep punches of spear-bombs, rattle the treetops and scare avians into the sky. It's punctuated with a light crackle of rifle fire. You are close now, close enough to hear a voluminous battle cry echo through the forest from the south. You're too late to hit them before they reach the camp, but maybe you've made it in time to be fashionably late to the party.

Your best guess puts you on the southwest side of the clearing. It's not exactly the way the team approached the camp for their initial ambush an eternity ago, but right now you're about twice or thrice the distance you had the Sheen and wherren hang back before.
Dieter 2010-06-18 19:15:35
Cowboy tries to work through the pain, knowing the claymores are now only going to be effective for a brief time. He grabs the clackers and sets them off.

"Eat it, you goddamn sons o'bitches!" growls the Texan, keeping his head down from the incoming fire.
Gatac 2010-06-18 20:29:15
The hardest part of being the cavalry is knowing that you can't ride to the rescue quite yet. Hugh's "Hold" handsign shakes in frustration and anger, but it stays up for the moment.

Come on, DeFranco, blow the fucking mines!
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-20 16:18:17
Defranco obliges and the treeline disappears in a ring of fire that would make Johnny Cash proud. The flash is replaced by a tumultuous roaring storm of dirt, smoke, and debris. Trees rip and topple, falling into the obscuring gray smoke. After the deafening roar, the mewling pained screams of wounded wherren cascade over the camp, but even this is soon drowned out by the angry howls of those still able to fight.

Wherren charge out of the smoke, out of the remnants of the tattered southern treeline. They're painted in white Chosen glyphs - well, those that weren't sprayed with the paint mines. They're in a tight formation, like a charging Roman legion or Spartan phalanx. The outside edges have lost a lot of cohesion, and the wherren phalanx loses more as Claymore wounds catch up with some of the warriors. The front rank is 10 wherren wide and bright orange, with two obvious losses from Claymores. The eight that remain are all wounded to some degree, and run the gamut from "flesh wound" to "My guts will hold together long enough for me to kill you". This is despite the large OSHA orange patchwork shields (now fairly pockmarked and riddled with claymore pellets) that look like they were made from Charlie and Martin's bodies. A battle standard waves in the air several ranks back, high enough to escape the two-meter tall Claymore swath with minimal damage. The Chosen glyph flies upon a grawhahl-hide banner, and the rough standard is topped with the grisly head of Danny Kang.

At this point, with the ringing in your ears from the explosions and the thick smoke still billowing up from the trees, it's nearly impossible to tell what's become of the contacts Semo was shouting about or the sniper who wrecked foxhole B. Nobody sees Cowboy, but you know he's not dead. There's no movement from the shattered dome top where Davis and Hale were negotiating Hoei and the three Turai's release.


"Watch them!" Swims-the-Black bellows at the wherren guards inside the dome. The chamber lights are down, and Swims quickly adjusts the exterior transparency to allow sunlight in from the top. It's enough to see the Claymore smoke but it obscures the specifics of the battle. That's the only concession he makes on his way up the comm room stairs. An unintelligible curse echoes down the stairwell, and the shipmaster starts tossing debris down the stairs, desperately trying to clear the way to his friend. "Davis! Davis! Hale?!" he howls, but he gets no response.


The dome guards are clearly agitated. They don't know what's going on, except shit is getting real all over the place. Kosai manages to shuffle up next to Shenest, who's trying to keep a few of the more skittish prisoners calm.

"Your plan, when Hale punched you and I was out in the jungle?" Kosai reminds Shenest. "Now is the right time. Davis is gone, these natives are distracted, we outnumber the guards three to one-"

"No no no!" Shenest hisses back. "Even IF that worked, even IF there are still Imperial forces out there after those explosions, we're just as likely to be killed by them. A bunch of humans running around with guns, what are they going to think? We have no comm room, we have no way to tell them who we are."

"Then we take this dome and hold it. They've been ordered not to kill us, we have an advantage if we strike now."

Shenest shakes her head. "Orders from a dead man. Davis was the only thing really keeping us alive-"

Kosai grabs her. "All the more reason to stand up and take your fate into your own hands instead of sitting here waiting for a victor!"

"Sitting here is going to keep us all alive. Your plan, even if it does work, is going to kill someone, if not all of us." Shenest looks over the remaining two Turai, the two who haven't chosen a clear side. "You are supposed to protect us, and you can't do that if you're dead. The battle is out there! Don't bring it in here!"

Kosai's unshakeable. She's clearly decided her course of action well before this, and she's calm as she replies, "I have made my peace. If I die, so be it, but I will die fighting. All you who were with me on the orbital! You trusted me to keep you safe, and I've done my best. I ask that you trust me a little longer! Now is the time!"

"Keep quiet!" The wherren guards, taught to allow the prisoners a fairly large amount of freedom, are beginning to recognize trouble simply from body language.

"Consider the alternative." Kosai knows she's only got seconds, and she goes to a dark place. She stares down the lead Keeper. "If you do not stand with me, I will kill you. Make your choice!"

With that, Kosai springs towards Shenest. The closest guard darts in, trying to break up the fight before it becomes another riot, and Kosai shifts her lead foot - it's a feint! She slams into the wherren and goes for his weapon.


Cowboy's hurt, but he's not dead and he ain't deaf. He's across the camp and he still hears Semo bellow "FIRE AT WILL!" The southern line opens fire with rifles and beamers, then Semo punctuates it with an XM25 airburst. Even if the Texan was peering out of his hole, he wouldn't be able to see. Habs Two and Three block his line of sight to the south.

He does see Hoei, however. When the spear-bombs hit, he starts to take off for the east treeline. All three Turai prisoners with him jump on him and they force the Keeper prone into a sizeable clump of tall grass. They know better than to run around unarmed in a firefight, and when the Claymores let the wherren know that no, those weren't just paint, all four semi-released prisoners keep their heads down.
Gatac 2010-06-20 18:52:12
Hugh thought he knew where all the claymores were, but as the detonation goes off, the blast wave almost knocks him on his ass, and he winces for a few seconds as the explosion rattles his skull. He's fairly certain he'll be effectively deaf for the next few hours, unless a kauka can fix that, too.

He signs for the others to follow him as he cuts through the smoke, circling the clearing in search of something hidden that they can kill to help the base's defenders.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-22 06:18:45
The figures are silhouetted against the gray smoke even as they seek cover from the camp behind the still-lush trees and undergrowth that was outside the mines' blast. Hugh signals his team when he spots them, but it's clear that Angel, Luis, Zaef, and Arketta see them as well. They're not hiding so much as they were back far enough from the camp that there was no chance of seeing them. There's one Khiraba in partially-damaged armor who's barking muffled orders into his vox. A tall, wide man flanking the first wears piecemeal hide and carapace made from what might have once been Turai armor. He's completely hairless and shows massive kauka splotching. Zaef remembers the manta duel and the Imperial on the riverbank. The old man in the black skinsuit from the hostage message stands with them. He looks nervous, like he had a plan and now it's all falling apart.

There are two other unknown skinsuited humans with them, a male and a female who keep close to each other. Rounding out the group are four hulking wherren warriors. They're armed with Imperial beamers done up with talismans, and they're watching the group's flanks. They must know you'd be following them, but they don't seem like they've actually spotted you yet.

The guy barking orders, however, stops and cranes his armored head slightly, like he heard you sneaking up on him. Heard something in all this mess.


Between the claymore blasts and the fire pouring into the wherren formation, nobody can hear the shouting going on inside the dome, but there are two muffled XM10 blasts that are clearly NOT from the trenches.

*False gods try escape!* comes the halting vocalizations from the dome chamber guards.


The foxholes keep shooting, but the smoke is clearing slowly from the ravaged treeline. The setting sun casts confusing, constantly-shifting shadows through the literal fog of war.
skullandscythe 2010-06-22 08:14:41
Zaef frowns. Not many people get hit with Mantaship weapons and live to brag about it. Fortunately, that can be fixed with the toss of a grenade. He's kind enough to stand next to the CO, too; if the 'nade flies true, this could solve a lot of problems...

(OOC EDIT:Let's sprinkle some WD on that for good luck. We'll need it.)
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-23 13:05:08
Zaef pulls the pin and counts off. He wants this one timed right, and he wants to see if the big Kratos-looking motherfucker can shrug off a frag. The grenade arcs slightly left of the brute and airbursts.

The Khiraba leader whips his head around at the ping of the grenade spoon. "They're on us!" he shouts. To his credit, the Khiraba's fast. He ducks and rolls behind Arpana, which prompts the dropchief to turn in response. The big lieutenant in the Mad Max getup spins to face the team when the frag detonates. The huge man's obscured by the explosion. Arpana's presenting his side as he turns, and a black skinsuited boot spins out of the cloud of dirt and smoke. Through luck, skill, or both, the CO's roll takes him directly behind the dropchief as the grenade detonates. The chief soaks the blast and the Khiraba gets away with a handful of fragments that spark off his carapace. The other two skinsuited humans aren't as lucky. The grenade perforates the female's suit and she crumples, bleeding from multiple holes. The male is looking around like who did he say is on us? He dies confused. The four wherren stagger and stumble, grasping lacerations and looking for someone to take it out on. Finally, that brute of a lieutenant staggers forward out of the grenade blast. Blood pours from all manner of wounds across his back, his pseudo-armor's torn to shreds, but he's still alive. He points at Zaef and starts walking forward.

No doubt this is the enemy's command section, and if the dropchief is Arpana, then the armored Khiraba must be Manus. He comes up from his roll with a helmet spattered with Arpana's blood. He pops his visor and spots Angel first. The Delta marksman isn't used to Imperials recognizing him, but this guy does, and both men squeeze their triggers.

"For Aikoro!" Manus shouts. Anything more's cut off when Angel's first bullet strikes him center mass and pinballs around in his ribs. Manus' beamer doesn't have the recoil Angel's SCAR does, and the Khiraba's double-tap lands first, blasting through Angel's cratered strike plate and rending his arm and chest. Angel falls backward and Manus fires a third shot into Zaef. The rebel stumbles as the particle beam aerosols part of his thigh, but Zaef sees something Manus misses. Angel goes down but he's not dead. Through the red haze, blurry vision, and the flames that are curling up from his burning vest, Angel takes aim at Manus' head and fires the second part of that double-tap he planned. The veteran Khiraba's skull pops and he falls sideways onto the blood-soaked rainforest floor.

The wherren honor guard are already in motion, their wounds forgotten. One warrior is spraying arterial blood as he charges. Their beamers are in their hands but Luis and Arketta's weapons are already aimed. Luis' UMP chatters off its magazine - rounds rip bloody flowers into the human brute's abdomen and continue their assault across three of the four honor guard. Crimson geysers mix with flying brass and shattered limbs. Two wherren never break into their charge, and the third is barely limping along. Arketta dots Luis' I with her Tenner, planting a particle beam center mass on the fourth honor guard. The wherren ignites and skids to a halt, face down in the mud.

The lieutenant - the Rav-Turai - is still standing, still angry, and still moving towards Zaef. Vilos Arpana writhes his way out of the smoke, also somehow still alive, although he's missing a foot and his left arm hangs in tatters. Finally, one wherren hasn't quite bled to death yet. He howls his defiance even as his sluggish hands try to fire at the Deltas. In a surprising move that illustrates just how much respect the Khiraba have for their own people, the brute Oros grabs the screaming, maimed Expansion dropchief with one meaty hand and shields his body with Arpana.

Arpana considers that perhaps he brought this on himself. He realizes that his plan to divide the Homeworlder forces left Hugh's team outside the camp and able to flank them, he just didn't think they would catch up this quickly. He thought ten guards would be enough, and at worst would stall them longer. He thought the fake bombs would stall them longer. As much as his wounds pain him, it's more excruciating to realize that falling for Davis' painted message helped the Deltas catch up in time. If he had listened to Manus, had let them spear-bomb the camp in silence and charge immediately, they'd be in the trenches by now.

Meanwhile, Hugh's moved to where all three surviving tangos line up in his sights. His first shot is a clean kill on the last wherren honor guard. He fires his second shot only a moment after Oros yanks Arpana off his... foot, and Verrill's particle beam blows the scheming villain's chest open. The nigh-unstoppable warrior discards the corpse and keeps loping towards Zaef, although after having been targeted by Hugh and Luis, the brute's happy to reply. His beamer whip-cracks twice. Hugh chokes on a blast of smoke and fire, but the Delta captain's white-hot strike plate saves him from permanent damage. He still feels like he's been struck by lightning, though. Luis is cycling his weapon when Oros shoots him in the leg. Stanhill's UMP dances on its sling as he throws his hands out to break his fall. The fresh magazine skitters into the undergrowth, but right now Luis is concerned about the raw, bleeding meat that looked like his lower leg a moment ago.

Zaef has just enough time to draw his blades before the hairless monster - survivor of killdrone, grenade, beam, and bullet - crashes into him like a meteor. Zaef wonders if this guy was ever in the Arena, then he buries both blades to the hilt in the brute's guts. The Rav-Turai's meaty fist is already on its way down, and is a potent counterpoint. Zaef spins around and lands in a heap, unconscious, even as the pinioned Khiraba lieutenant finally topples face-down.

It's over quick, but then everybody could shoot.
Gatac 2010-06-23 20:09:41
Hugh blindly fumbles for the quick release on his plate carrier, coughing his lungs out from the smoke. The heat on his chest is burning, and when his glove slips out of his sleeve and lets a patch of unprotected skin cover the strike plate, he draws blood from his lip biting down against the pain. But finally the half-melted plastic snap disengages, and Hugh rolls away while the still-hot armor plate clatters to the ground next to him.

That...was too close.

After a few seconds of breathing in the intense aroma of dirty jungle floor, he digs his hand into the ground and pushes himself onto his knees. His eyes open to find Arketta crouched over Luis, trying to put his leg back together with the kauka. Zaef's on the ground, and so's Angel - Hugh can't see whether or not they're still breathing. Instinct makes the choice for him, and he scrambles toward Angel on hands and knees.

"You with me, Specialist?" he shouts at Angel, fumbling around in the marksman's carrying gear for his first aid supplies.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-23 23:24:31
The Claymore smoke is blowing off the shredded treeline when Cowboy peeks back over his cover and sees muzzle flashes light up the north side of camp. It's not his sniper friend - this new shooter isn't using a SCAR-H, but something else Cowboy doesn't recognize. The suppressive fire licks across the camp's northern foxholes and punches holes into Hab One's makeshift armor. Two beamer shots lance from a third shooter, not too far from the sniper's last known position. These catapult gobs of smoking soil into the air around Cowboy's foxhole.

The Texan grunts, spits, and retorts. His SCAR bucks and barks as it burns its mag into the fallen trees and smoky blast craters. Cowboy can't tell if he scored hits - after all, all he had to go on were muzzleflashes - but the incoming fire stops for the moment. The wherren along his northern line return fire as well, showering the treeline with particle beams and armor-piercing rounds.

Cowboy ducks back to reload. Anyone who tries to sneak up on him is getting the whole mag.


BOOM! Semo unleashes hell on the charging wherren with an airburst that scatters the front rank. The foxholes and Hab Three pick off what wounded they can see, but it's clear that their weapons training is only marginally effective at this range. Semo's the one holding the defense together, as each thunderclap from his XM25 easily drops as many oncoming hostiles as the massed firepower of the entire southern line.

"Contact west!" Semo shouts into his radio as a handful of particle beams flash out from the western edge of camp. Semo's foxhole buddy turns to face the new threat and takes two shots clearly meant for the big sergeant. Just then, another shooter sprays the defenders from the southwest treeline. This one's a twin to the rifle that's chattering away at Cowboy - some not-quite recognizable type of assault rifle. It's equally as ineffective, serving only to spatter dirt and spang rounds off the dome that looms behind the defenses.

"Sajuuk's down! Man dow- ARRGH! I'm hit!" Semo shouts again, then in confusion radios, "...with an... arrow? I'm okay, nevermind!" The scattered shots from the western front seem an equal mix of stone age and space age, but they have all marked Semo's foxhole as their priority.


The undercurrent of an unknown number of prisoners struggling against their guards filters faintly from the dome as the battle rages on. The miniature riot is deafening inside, but Swims-the-Black pays it no mind. He's nearly through the rubble that chokes the comm room stairwell on his way to Davis.


Luis gasps but welcomes the pain as Arketta tags him with his own kauka. He'll need a new pants-leg, but Arketta knows what she's doing. The pain fades in seconds and Luis gingerly gets up. He takes the kauka and heads for Zaef - Hugh has got a compress on Angel already, and Luis can finish off Hugh's work with the alien device after he's saved Zaef.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-25 01:41:57
*They're almost halfway,* Semo radios his comrades. He adjusts the XM25's rangefinder and sights again, ignoring the incoming fire from the western edge of camp. He knows he can do the most good blasting away at the horde of wherren. *Sixty meters and closing!*

BOOM! Another 25mm shell rocks the rushing warriors. They're spreading out some now and readying spears as they pour on the speed. They are also leaving quite a few of their own moaning or motionless in the grass behind them.

*Sir, if you're out there, I think we could use some support,* Semo admits. The pain in his voice indicates he's probably been tagged again.


Cowboy racks his bolt and gets back on the line just as another beamer shot slices into one of the wherren at foxhole Alpha. It's from the same spot as last two particle beams. Two more SCAR reports from that sniper add to the noise, but they impact harmlessly on the fortifications. The SCAR shooter's changed positions since last time. No doubt the third shooter's also shootin' and scootin'.


Swims-the-Black pushes aside the last heavy roofing plate and sees Davis half-buried under consoles and superstructure. He scrambles over collapsed foamcrete and kicks aside insulation and tangling vox-cords to get at his friend.


Zaef snaps awake with a gasp. Luis finishes up with the kauka, and Zaef feels the concussion mostly go away. He could stand another moment or two with the device's healing rays, but extra moments aren't something the team has.

Something else is wrong - oh yes, Zaef's unarmed. He sees his knives are still stuck in the hairless freakshow bleeding face-down beside him, and he notices something worrisome. The man is still breathing, although he's clearly out like a light.

Hugh helps Angel to his feet. The Delta marksman sways but keeps his footing. He could get back into it, but some kauka love would really make Hugh's first aid stick. For his part, Hugh's burned pretty bad. He's not going to die, but the pain is raw and constant.
skullandscythe 2010-06-25 04:14:59
Zaef manages to get up and walk over to the invincible Khiraba; his thigh hurts like a mother and his head is still ringing from that left hook, but he can still walk...and more besides. He whips out another pair of knives and decapitates the Rav-Samal who survived running into him once before, and almost lived to do it again. The head rolls forward a little, now that it's free from the neck, but still lies face down in the mud. The body itself promptly stops breathing, or anything resembling living. Turns out he can die after all.

Bloodied, tired and satisfied, Zaef plucks out the blades still stuck in the corpse and sheathes them alongside his new favorites, the ones that killed someone far stronger than himself. He then tries to do what he can for the rest of the team.
Gatac 2010-06-25 09:50:00
"Strike 6 to Camp, hang in there!" Hugh radios, his voice raw from pain and exhaustion. "We just creamed the Khiraba, and we're moving to help you with the snipers now."
Dieter 2010-06-25 16:07:47
Gatac wrote:

"Strike 6 to Camp, hang in there!" Hugh radios, his voice raw from pain and exhaustion. "We just creamed the Khiraba, and we're moving to help you with the snipers now."

Cowboy hears the muffled radio call in between loading a fresh mag into his SCAR.

"Great...(pulls receiver back)..Great news, Strike 6. Anytime you want to come over, don't bother to knock...the door is open. Keeping the channel open from here on out. Over?" is heard over Hugh's radio, just before a long burst of full auto.
Gatac 2010-06-25 16:41:32
The reply comes with a side dish of quick rustling through jungle and heavy breathing, obviously spoken on the run.

"Cowboy *huff* if you manage to *huff* get yourself killed before you can *huff* buy me a beer, I'll be *huff* very disappointed!"
CrazyIvan 2010-06-26 07:36:36
Angel looks up at Hugh with somewhat glazed eyes, groaning.

"Still here Captain. Nice fucking show the claymores put on."

He gets to his feet with the help of the wounded officer, aiming at the camp.

"World ain't spinning - that's just me, isn't it?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-06-28 21:37:12
More bullets pelt the northern foxholes as the spendiest of the three shooters blows off another magazine. Cowboy's not even concerned with the automatic fire. He's sighting in on the last spot that sniper fired from, hoping the guy decided to hunker down and aim instead of shoot and scoot. Cowboy thumps a 40mm grenade downrange and is rewarded with a bassy explosion, the crackle of another toppling tree, and the piercing Wilhelm-inspired wail of a human yelling "AAIIIEEEEE!"

The screaming continues in spurts. He's probably trying to drag himself away from the smoking crater.


Semo's down in his foxhole, patching himself up, when the shaman and a few other wherren from the west side foxholes pass him on their way to lend a hand to the southern line. Semo notices the shaman still has his smoke grenades from their inital assault on the very camp they're now defending, and shouts at the wherren witch doctor.

"Hey! Hey! Smoke!"

The shaman ducks down and pulls the grenades off his many-trinketed belts. "Smoke now?" He asks.

"Yes! Yes! That way!" Semo motions with his head towards the western flank. "That way!"

Two smoke grenades sail out of the trenches and billow out thick, choking clouds, concealing the western side of camp from the harassing fire from the enemy shooters.


The defenders inside Habs Two and Three vacate their positions for the southern trenches as well, spreading out into the foxholes and earthworks to pour more fire into the charging wherren. Two warriors leave Hab Three with an AT-4 and are trying to figure the launcher out.

Meanwhile, the enemy warriors spread out more, maybe fifteen abreast (but not that many deep now), and throw a volley of spears. The stone- and metal-tipped weapons plunge down across the trenches but many fall short. One warrior falls back, shouting for aid, while two more shrug off grazes. Taking incoming fire tempers the defenders' return fire, however, and only a few sprinting hostiles drop dead on the killing field.

"Ahhto-mahteeks!" Banur mangles the command but his intent is clear. The wherren with SCARs flip their selectors as the hostiles close.


For the most part, the gunfire sounds pretty distant to Angel. He's following Hugh - they all are - with a light step and the need for speed. The Deltas cross into the Claymore-ravaged outer treeline and get low smong toppled trees and jutting, broken branches. The sudden thunder of an automatic rifle and the sharp smell of gunsmoke stops them in their tracks. They're right on top of one of the Khiraba. Sure enough, Angel peers over his cover in time to see an armored Imperial in one of those cloaking ponchos. He's prone, with an unfamiliar black rifle braced on a large rucksack. Brass spins off into the brush as he sprays the southern trenches and riddles Banur with bullets. The warboss falls out of sight and the Khiraba reaches into his pack for another magazine. The pack, the stowed gear inside, even the magazine all look pretty close to US Army issue, although it's not quite accurate. Like it was recreated from surveillance footage and extrapolated from a handful of captured equipment. It's not hard to put two and two together and determine this specific Imperial more than likely spent his week shooting innocent wherren.

And right now he's out of ammo. Angel signals the team.


Davis wakes up to the yellow-orange Whiirr sunset coursing overhead, the shattered remains of the dome's comm room around him, and the sounds of a prison riot below him. Near-constant gunfire assaults his senses from all directions. Swims-the-Black peers at Davis, sees his eyes come back into focus, and howls in victory.

"You're alive! Good! We need you downstairs!"